You made difficult decisions this year, but you made it through. The engines are rumbling again, and the race is on to re-establish brands in markets with short memories at the best of times.

Restart = opportunity

Save for the super labels like Nike and Apple, almost every brand is at ground zero. What you did in the past doesn’t mean anything because rules, perspectives, values, priorities and expectations have changed. If you can figure out what your people need to hear from you, you can create lifelong affinity by being the first new [whatever you provide]; they’re trying out in this new world. And everybody remembers their first.

Why start with the copywriting?

“Without the right words, design’s lipstick on a pig.”

A web designer (of all people) said that to us a long time ago. It stuck because it’s true. A gorgeous design will turn heads, but only the words can activate minds and wallets. Like we said above, your customers and prospects will want to know what you stand for, but they’ll also want to know what you can do to make their lives better, and what that better will look like for them.

Also, when people leave your site, store, event or webinar, they’re not taking the fancy design and razzle dazzle UX with them. All they’ll have is your message: the words you want them to use when they think and talk about your brand. Once in their heads, those words will guide their minds back to you over and over.

How to start with the copywriting

First, you should find yourself a copywriter. And yes, you could theoretically write your copy on your own, but you could also theoretically re-tile your bathroom or replace your car’s breaks.

The value a professional copywriter will bring you is two-fold. They’ll give you an unbiased perspective of your business, which can be hard for you because you’re neck-deep in it. And they’ll craft your message for the audience you’re going for, and the real people who make up that audience.

When you have your copywriter, you should go through your current copy with a hyper-critical eye. As you do, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is it interesting copy you would want to read?
  • Is it understandable for anybody with a basic knowledge of the subject matter?
  • Is your value proposition clear? Will readers know how their lives will improve with you in it?
  • Are there mistakes that need to be fixed or updates that need to be made?

Jot a few notes down and give it to your copywriter, along with all your copy. If they’re good, they’ll come back to you with a few guiding questions of their own. Once they understand what you want (and what your customers are going to want from you), they’ll start writing.

We like to start with the general messaging (value proposition, home page and about us copy, maybe a high-level brochure or pitch deck) to establish a tone and manner of communicating. Once that’s set, it’ll flow through the rest of the materials so everything you say sounds like it’s coming from the same place.

What can you expect from starting with copywriting?

Firstly, you can expect to be reinvigorated. You’ll have a new story to tell prospects, customers, employees and yourself. You’ll have new words to describe your offering, your mission, vision and values, your products and/or services and your people. And you’ll have a new elevator pitch you can start practising.

You can also expect creative inspiration for the design, because while art and copy are two different things, they work together and feed off each other. Even one new sentence can take designers and UX architects in directions they may not have otherwise gone.

Most importantly, you can expect to be more positive about your business’s future in this new world. You’ll have stress-tested your message against the realities of the ’20s and you’ll feel more confident spending the bigger bucks on turning heads.

Copywriting will never be the most expensive investment you make in your brand. But it will always be the most important investment, and should always be the first one.