The Copywriter's Crucible

Copywriting and Blogging Dead? Bar Humbug.

The run up to Christmas is a time to reflect on the past year. It’s a time to think about which areas of your business are working, and which need an overhaul in the New Year. Some people are taking this reflection seriously, with copywriting legend Bob Bly and blogging supremo Brian Clark both being forced to question the future of the well written word in 2008.

The rise of social networking sites, such as YouTube and Facebook, swallowing time and attention has raised questions over the marketing value of carefully written sales pages and well thought out blog posts. Some are saying that the plethora of new tools at a marketer’s disposal has diminished the need to keep copywriting and blogging in their arsenal.

Cheap copy and Facebook

Bob Bly questions whether the decline of print ads and abundance of badly written websites suggests the art of copywriting is dying.

The internet’s literary form is still struggling to evolve from its keyword obsessed past. An entire industry of content writing chop shops has grown to feed the demand for words, shipping out articles wielded together from parts scavenged throughout the web. These articles might not be pretty, but they’re cheap. And they’re availability from low paid writers, both home and abroad, has damaged the valuation of writing amongst some businesses.

Brian Clark comments on a similar lack of faith in the value of well written words, in response to a post by Stormhoek’s marketing mastermind Hugh Macleod. It would appear that some marketers have abandoned blogging altogether, hoping that the billions (supposedly) on the verge of being thrown at Facebook will turn it into the dominant marketing platform. When there’s so much buzz about user generated content, many fail to recognize the value of useful, informative blog posts.

Brian is too savvy to get flustered by those without the foresight to see where marketing is going: the ease with which you can publish online means that every business is now a media company, and need to be telling their story if they want to build credibility. Blogs are not, after all, just online diaries but a web 2.0 powered content management system.

Content marketing is not just about magazines

When I first abandoned my corporate ladder to live by my wits and word processor, I realised that I had to find a way to differentiate myself. I had to be able to offer value to clients beyond merely stringing sentences together.

So I jumped upon the business blogging bandwagon, hoping to join the anticipated revolution in corporate communication. Learning that blogging can get you to the top of Google and build relationships with customers was just too enticing to not absorb and share with potential clients.

By the end of last year, I saw blogging grow into the engagement philosophy, which in turn was enveloped by content marketing. The shared ethos is that of providing useful content which appeals to customers’ interests, rather than dictates with one way sales spiel.

With the movement being driven by smart marketing brains, such as those of Joe Pulizzi and David Meerman Scott, it should only be a matter of time for the philosophy to start penetrating mindsets, and websites, on both sides of the pond.

An effective content marketing strategy demands good writers. Writers who can engage with informative, valuable content that sells by building trust in a business’ expertise. You’re not going to pickup this quality of writing from the content chop shops found via Craigslist or Elance.

B2B buyers use the internet as well

Ecommerce has hit the headlines yet again this Christmas because of the frenzied online spending spree. The same movement has occurred, but with less fanfare, for B2B buyers, the people marketing agencies are desperate to reach.

It’s not enough just to chat at your exhibition stand and get a brochure into the B2B buyer’s jacket pocket. The first thing they’ll do when they get back to the office will be to visit your website, which means it needs to be well written and offer insight that differentiates your business. Yet more demand for writers who can take your news and convert it into engaging copy that entices and sells through education.

So is the marketing demand for copywriting and blogging dying? Far from it. It’s still evolving.

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