Copy: An Art or a Science… Or Both?

I got this email from John-the-copywriter this week: You seem to approach things very systematically. I tend to approach things intuitively. Instead of using a set process, I begin by thinking about where the prospect is (their current perspective). I then “build a bridge”, so-to-speak, from where they are to where I want them to be. This is a system of sorts, but very loosely defined. His email got me thinking about systems, formulas and repeatable practices in copywriting… …which just so happen to be central to the foundation of the zero-to-CRO-landing-page course I’m creating right now.

 There was a time when I believed copywriting was an art. But those days are long gone, as I told John: Over the years, I’ve moved away from “copy as art”, and I’ve given up on trying to convince people that copywriters are the ones who come up with slogans and advertising campaigns — the whole world thinks that’s the work of creative directors, designers and marketing managers, so fuck ’em. I’ve moved toward a harder, data-driven and largely measurable approach to copywriting.

 I can’t work any longer in a world where we ‘guess’ at what will work. When your copy is tied to real dollars, I have a hard time saying, “Hey, guys, just trust me on this one. I’m the talent, after all.” For me, I take comfort in repeatability and measurability. And, from what I’ve seen, my clients and the growing crowd of copy hackers out there feel the same way. Data = good.

 Guessing = bad. ……..But the truth is that there is a lot of art to copywriting. It’s the art that keeps people from pushing their copy from good to great. From clear to clear and compelling. Consider tone. Is the tone or voice of your copy something you can measure the success or failure of? Perhaps. Do you know what tone to develop based on data?

 I have yet to see a survey question or data set that leads me to understand what tone will work best for X audience and Y product. There’s an art to it. Because, as much as copywriting is sales, it’s also, well, writing. Now, just because something is an art does not mean that it is boundless and without rules or restrictions. If that’s what it meant, what could the pretentious among us possibly discuss whilst walking through art galleries? There must be rules for art! So, with that in mind…: Check out today’s post It’s about getting personal and honing your tone Now, let’s be real: even if there is an art to copywriting, you will be far better prepared to explore your artistic side after you have the systems, processes and formulas down. Which is why you should stay tuned for more about my upcoming course… where I will be shattering a s***load of myths about where messages come from and showing you the EXACT process I follow for landing and home page optimizations. Read about how your personal story & a fun tone can keep people coming back