Noisy Badger content strategist and copywriter Victoria Lancaster writes how the best copywriting incorporates lessons from both fiction and traditional marketing, and she shares the one question to ask yourself before building that content plan!
You could say I had a bit of a head start when it came to writing.
I was brought up in an Italian-American household of storytellers, and I learned early on that those of us who could eloquently share stories had an undeniable advantage: influence.
If you knew how to tell an engaging story, with the hooks in all the right places, people would listen to the end. And if you rewarded people's attention with a good climax, lesson or punchline, people would ask for more, and more, and more.
Thanks to my creative writing MA in Paris (where I learnt from respected writers such as Evie Wyld and Dragan Todorovic), I gained a thorough understanding of why we turn pages, and what makes us switch off.
I'll go into some specifics in a future blog, but in short, you want to communicate the soul of a story while trusting thousands of years of narrative traditions to create the building blocks that help you craft believable characters and engaging plots. Sometimes it takes agonising over the perfect word, and other times you need to know when to let a sentence breathe.
After my MA, I wanted to find a career that would allow me to continue my novel-writing while still flexing my writing muscles in any way I could. After working in and around the publishing world, I was still lacking something. I was around words all day, but I wasn't using them, so I started responding to requests from business owners in my circles to help with their copy.
My copy relied on my creative writing skills
I used my wordsmith abilities to write everything from web content and company blogs to book proposals and bios. I realised that it didn't matter how stiff or corporate a business or industry might seem, I could still incorporate creative writing - in fact my copy relied on it.
I came to copywriting quite naturally, and in fact it never felt like “copywriting”. For me, it only ever feels like I'm helping someone tell a story.
These stories should have a hook, an unputdownable quality, relatable personalities, and an evocative essence. I realised that creative copy and content strategy is something that all businesses need but don’t necessarily have at their immediate disposal, especially as telling our own stories is hard to do. What feels important for you might not be what people care about, and that's where a creative copywriter can help cut to the meaningful points, sharpen the plot and keep your audience engaged.
Your business is part of your customer's story
Companies, regardless of their brand, industry or clientele, share things in common with any great novel. Not only do they have a brand story - how the founders met, their shared values and experiences - but each product and service has a reason for being in existence.
More than that – and this is something I try to keep in mind in all my work – is that businesses are part of their customers’ stories. It’s my job to blend the two.
Most companies know they need general copy but they might not realise how much of a difference effective copywriting can make. For a recent copy client, I wrote hundreds of listings for a luxury homestay service. Just by changing the copy and creating colourful, redolent listings, the clicks and bookings went up immediately. Why? Because I found the story and character in each home and injected it into the copy. A customer can then build that luxury home into their own story - which I think is rather beautiful.
This brings me to Noisy Badger and our content offering.
Audience and authenticity
I met Hajar on our MA course. We instantly bonded over our love of words but also over our conviction that words can be used strategically and influentially to help businesses tell the stories behind their people, products and services. Too often we pigeonhole people as being creative or corporate, but humans are far more complex than that - and at Noisy Badger we try to embrace both sides.
Fiction writers are often encouraged to tell their story and not worry about audience, while copywriters put audience front and centre. We try to combine the two approaches to create that beautiful balance between authentic voice and strategic, data-driven content.
Copywriting isn't just about words on a page. Whatever the plan, schedule, character counts or channels, you want your prospects to connect to your mission like they would any great novel.
I'll share a blog on specific creative writing techniques that will help with your content strategy, but here's the first question I'd love you to ask yourself when building a content plan or writing your next product page:
What story am I building for my customer?
Let me know in the comments - I'd love to hear them!