7 copywriting insights for business from 2018 Tuesday December 18, 2018

Image for Nottingham copywriting blog post about 2018
How did 2018 treat you? I found it to be a pretty amazing year for all sorts of reasons. And it was also full of interesting changes for copywriting and content. There are plenty of articles around about content trends for 2019 and what we can expect to see. But how about considering the copywriting-related insights that 2018 has brought? Here are just some of mine…

1. Perfect the process

I know, I know. “Process” doesn’t sound very exciting. But, as I’ve found over the past 15 years, process is everything in copywriting! It’s the mechanism through which the content that companies want is the content they actually get. It takes time, effort and lots of cups of tea. 2018 proved to be a great year for fine-tuning the copywriting process on an individual basis with clients. It’s definitely a two-way street and it never really ends. I’ve seen how content becomes even better through a clear and thoughtful system of development, from initial idea through to final draft. I know it doesn’t sound like the most exciting thing, but if you get the process right, you’re much more likely to get the copywriting just right. And that’s what we all want, isn’t it?

2. Showcase client voices

Why use copywriting to tell everyone how great you are when your clients can do it for you? It’s not only more convincing and authentic (another big content trend in 2018) but people like it. A lot. I really noticed the interest that my clients gained through case studies in 2018. Now, I know that the phrase itself sounds rather dry and dull. Sadly, many company case studies often prove to be just that. But what my clients and I really noticed this year was that a positive and entertaining story from their customers’ perspective really gets people talking, both in real life and on social media. Oh, and there was another great benefit… giving their clients free publicity also helped to strengthen their relationships with them! Not a bad year for the power of the case study. I’m sure that this trend will only continue to grow in the year ahead.

3. Turn off the production machine

Sadly, this year I saw a continuation of the trend in which some companies approach content and copywriting as if it’s a production machine: pump in the messages, aims etc and out comes a neatly packaged little item of content. And repeat. While this formulaic approach may work in the short-term for some sectors, I’m not sure that it does much good for anyone from a more strategic angle. I noticed how this transaction-based approach to content depersonalises copywriting and removes the opportunity to be creative and develop a more meaningful relationship with clients. Create content quickly? Sure. Produce content to meet client requirements? Of course. Be reliable and consistent? Definitely. But don’t overlook the advantages of building a meaningful and longer-term connection between company and copywriter. This year, I saw first-hand by working with certain companies, how converting content into currency does a disservice to both clients and copywriters. For some, creating content is a transaction. For me, creating great content calls for a more patient and personal approach.

4. Try something new

“Try something new. Be creative.” That’s exactly the sort of thing you would expect a copywriter to say. But I really noticed this shift in 2018: an appetite for content that offers something a bit more than the bog-standard. This year, lots of companies have been asking for something more creative than the standard set pieces of business content. And it’s been an interesting process achieving that while still retaining the standards of credibility and consistency which companies need. The trick is to balance the creative with the credible. To match a more imaginative format with a laser-like focus on sharing the benefits of the business. It’s exciting to see that companies are looking to do something a little different and I hope to see this trend grow in 2019.

5. Consider the long and the short of it

Another trend I’ve noticed this year is for clients and publications to ask for shorter content, alongside the usual longer articles. This fits with the general move in marketing towards more bite-sized content. Even in very technical industries, companies are starting to see the advantages of brief but punchy copywriting. This of course brings up other issues. Like how you tell a story quickly without losing any of the vital technical detail. But it doesn’t mean that long-form content is going out of fashion. Not at all. There will probably always be a demand for good in-depth content. But I do think, based in what I saw throughout 2018, that companies are recognising the many rewards of creating high quality shorter-format content.

6. Go beyond the superficial

Linked to a couple of the points above, 2018 really highlighted that a little bit of depth creates better copywriting. By depth, I mean the effort that is put into understanding the goals for specific piece of content. But also, the depth of the relationship between copywriter and company. Sure, shallow connections can yield good results, but I’ve noticed that the companies willing to invest more time and effort into communicating what they want really do benefit from better quality content at the end. It takes a little more work but, ultimately, it should mean that content works more harder for them. This of course links to companies building longer-term connections with their copywriter. When your copywriter knows your business well it makes sense that they’ll do an even better job writing about it, doesn’t it?

7. Stop doubting yourself

It never fails to surprise me how many incredible and productive companies out there still doubt that they have anything interesting to say. And 2018 highlighted that fact once again. And it hasn’t changed in my 15-plus years of working with companies. This year, I sat across the table from leaders of companies with an enviable reputation who still think that they don’t have any interesting stories to tell the world! But “business as usual” is a beautiful, incredible thing, especially in the current climate. Let’s hope that in 2019, companies really recognise the value of their achievements and find the right copywriting approach to celebrate all of them.

Thank you, 2018!

So, there you go. 2018 was a great year for highlighting the importance of process and of deeper connections in copywriting. It also revealed that there is a growing appetite for more creative approaches to developing stories about business. Goodbye, 2018. Here’s hoping that 2019 proves to be just as informative, interesting and creative for business copywriting!

Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, December 2018

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