Many people are dreaming of a career in Marketing. So to get ahead of the game, they decide to study, get a certificate, or participate in a workshop to level up their skills and land their dream job.
If that’s you, do me one favor. Scrutinize your uni, school, or platform of choice. Then check if they will teach you this most important skill of a Marketer: Copywriting!
If they do, the program is probably of good quality and you are set to be the king of the plains. Well, sort of…
How I Ended Up In Marketing
TL;DR: If carefully curated, personal stories bore you, click to scroll down to “Copywriting — The Most Important Skill For A Marketer”.
“What do you want to do once you finish school?”
When people asked me this question more than a decade ago, the dreams of becoming an adventurous wayfarer or baker were long gone. (*sigh* Oh, my innocent and pure career aspirations as a kid…).
So instead, my answer was probably something like:
“I guess I want to be in Marketing!”
Back then, I didn’t know a thing about the corporate world, let alone Marketing. It just sounded like the least boring of the five departments I was familiar with: HR, Accounting, Sales, Procurement, Marketing.
Marketing as part of the educational apparatus
Throughout the years that followed, I enjoyed around 7–8 years of so-called “business” education in the forms of a traineeship, a Bachelor’s, and a Master's program. And oh boy, they bombarded us with Marketing.
- Marketing Basics
- Advanced Marketing
- Digital Marketing
- Online Marketing
- Strategic Marketing
- Marketing Research
- Global Marketing
- B2B Marketing
I’m sure I might have even missed some on the list. Now, others might have had a different kind of experience but this is mine: none — I repeat, none — of these fancy courses has taught me about the really important skills for a career in Marketing — including the most important skill.
Imagine you want to start your career as a pasta chef. At pasta school, they teach you everything about Spaghetti Carbonara: You know exactly how long the tomatoes were sundried in the beautiful Sicilian town Pachino. You know the cow that produced the milk for the very first batch of Parmigiano cheese — by name. And you would probably be able to spot the chicken that is ready to lay the perfect eggs for your sauce.
Yet, once you leave pasta school, you realize, that they have never taught you about the most basic (and probably most crucial) skill— cooking pasta al dente.
That was me after 8 years of noodling myself through the educational apparatus of business studies.
Copywriting — The Most Important Skill For A Marketer
There you have it! Now let me clarify one thing: I’m not saying that all Marketers will write copy. And I’m not saying that all copywriters are Marketers! I’m saying that as a Marketer, you have to understand and know the value copywriting has for your company.
David Ogilvy described it quite accurately by saying:
“Copywriters may not be the most visible people in agencies, but they are the most important” (from his book “Ogilvy on Advertising”)
Even though the book is from the 80s, this statement still holds true in many ways.
So what is Marketing?
To understand why I believe that Copywriting is such a crucial skill, we need to briefly define what Marketing is. A column in the New York Times in 2017 by Charles Duhigg described Marketing as follows:
Maybe not the most charming description but nonetheless true to the point. Marketing is about storytelling. And good copywriters are the Shakespeares of the corporate machinery.
Not convinced yet? Let’s have a look at a few typical jobs within contemporary Marketing and explore how copywriting (or the understanding and appreciation of it) will help you.
On a side note: nothing of the below was taught to us at uni. But hey, at least I can draw a very pretty SWOT chart now! I’m looking at you, education system!
You might think that performance marketing is all about tweaking and squeezing campaigns and analyzing numbers and results to get the best clickthrough rates, cost per acquisition, and return on investment. Whereas that’s certainly true, you should not forget that the success of your ads significantly relies on your headline (and the body text to a lesser extent).
Now you might have a copywriter to do that for you but nevertheless, you need to understand the magic of copywriting to understand your ads and guide your copywriter if necessary. Otherwise, you will only know if the copy was good AFTER you analyze your data (and the money has been spent).
Print Marketing (aka the “old” marketing)
OK, this is for the OGs here. What makes you NOT throw away the pamphlet you get from that eager insurance guy at the train station? Apart from his pure personality, it will be the content of the flyer. You need to understand what makes people NOT throw away flyers.
The same goes for big billboards. You need to know what makes people stop to look at your billboard. Copywriting will teach you this.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
As the organic part of Search Engine Marketing, it’s a no-brainer why you need copywriting skills here. A well-crafted headline, blog post, or website text attract readers, create newsletter signups, and lead to increased sales for your company.
Are you writing the copy yourself? Maybe. But even if you don’t, you are well-advised to understand how smart copywriting can generate serious organic traffic.
Social Media Marketing
Similar to Performance Marketing, there's a very analytical side to SMM. Yes, you need to know all about nifty campaigning and mysterious algorithms, engagement, conversion rate optimization, and the reason why Zuckerberg's stare looks a little creepy.
But Social Media Marketing essentially is based on posts. And in most cases, these posts are images with text or videos. And believe it or not, for both you need someone with good copywriting skills.
Email Direct Marketing (EDM)
Some say it’s dead, some make millions from it. No matter which team you belong to, it should be clear that emails require text. And if you engage in EDM, writing the right subject line might be the single most determining factor between whether your email is opened or gets a direct ticket to Spam-land.
I could probably name many more Marketing functions but would probably always come to the same conclusion — copywriting is key.
Brush Up Your Copywriting Skills Now!
Marketing is about selling a product, a service, or an idea to SOMEONE. As a Marketer, you are talking to that someone via an SM post, an email, or a TV commercial. In Marketing it’s all about finding the right voice and words to connect with your audience — in short, copywriting.
Having the skill of copywriting or at least understanding the psychology of it will greatly benefit you in your career as a Marketer. So make sure you level up the basics before you start learning about remarketing campaigns, sales funnels, and all the other fun stuff.
Do you think that a good copywriter could have avoided these face-palm-worthy Marketing blunders?
I certainly do :)