Saturday, April 1, 2023

If You’re a Professional Copywriter, There’s a Book You Should Read


Scott D. Parker

We talk a lot here about fiction writing, but there are a good number of folks who make a living with a day job that also involves writing. I’m one of those fortunate individuals. I’m a marketing/corporate writer for an oil and gas company so I get to write and create content all day long. That includes my lunch hour fiction-writing sessions.

The corporate environment in which I find myself Mondays through Fridays is a good one, the most creative one in which I’ve worked. Everyone feels zero issues with chiming in on items, even if it’s a writer like me commenting on a design element or one of the designers suggesting different words.

As with fiction, it’s always a good idea to hone one’s skills. Unlike fiction, however, there are a lot more books about corporate writing and copywriting and marketing writing. My boss mentioned one last week. It’s by Robert W. Bly and it’s called The Copywriter’s Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Copy That Sells. The other sub-heading is A Master Class in Persuasive Writing for the Digital Age. My boss’s comment was that he might need to get the physical book because, as he listened to the audiobook on his commute, he kept wanting to make notes or underline passages.

I hadn’t heard about the book, so I read the introduction online and scanned the table of contents. The next thing I did was order a copy. This is the 4th edition, from 2020, so it brings in the various digital components of the modern internet. Since I also have a commute, I went ahead and ordered the audio as well. That way, I can follow along while driving, the book in the seat next to me, a pencil marking my page so I can underline key passages (at red lights only!).

Now, I’m only up to Chapter 3 (Writing to Communicate) but the content in Chapter 1 (Introduction to Copywriting) was excellent. Chapter 2, however, the one entitled “Writing to Get Attention: The Headline and the Subject Line,” has already been put to good use. I had to write a series of emails for a customer event and, if you’re like me, if the subject line of an email doesn’t grab me, I’m more likely to delete it unread. Bly’s chapter really helped me hone those five email subject lines this week. It’s pretty nifty when something like this book can pay immediate dividends.

If you write marketing material for a living, I encourage you to check out Bly’s book. I bet it’ll help you. I’ll report back when I’ve finished the book, but I was too excited about how just a couple of chapters already helped me rethink certain aspects of my day job that I wanted to share.

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