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What is Marketing Copywriting? 

 “What is marketing copywriting?” – a prospect asked on LinkedIn recently. “And what is the difference between marketing copywriting and advertising copywriting?”.  

I didn’t think much of the questions because I didn’t believe there wasn’t any difference.  

To me, marketing and advertising generate sales. But, after a while, I realized that there are differences to both forms of copywriting.  

So, I decided to write a blog post about it. 

And thus, here I’ve produced three key facts that answer the question “what is marketing copywriting?”. 

The Purpose of Marketing Copywriting 

Let’s start by addressing the key difference between advertising copywriting and marketing copywriting: the purpose. 

Marketing copywriting has the task of turning audience members into qualified prospects. In other words, your marketing copy is the first line of offense for the promotion of a product, service, idea, or cause. 

Your marketing copy should not focus on closing a deal, but getting the audience interested in closing a deal. And you can do this by having a fair exchange – their contact information for a valuable offer (content, product trial, etc.).  

From there you can set the wheels in motion for your advertising copy to turn that prospect into a customer. But always remember – marketing copy gets people on the negotiation table; and advertising copy closes the deal.  

Who Do you Write For? 

Now that you know what sets marketing copy apart from ad copy, let’s clarify for whom you’ll be producing the marketing copy.  


Obviously, you want to grab the attention of the people who will be using your offer.  

The users are the ones who will decide whether the offer is worth the money. Which is why you should load your marketing copy with empathy when writing to the user. 

Telling an empathetic story can give you an edge when writing to the user. You can illustrate the pain points, unexpected benefits, and testimonials from past users to connect the prospect and the offer. 

Marketing copywriting can take the user one step closer to picking your offer to fulfill whatever need or want they have.  

Decision Makers 

When marketing your products or services to a business, chances are that you’ll have to promote your offer to more than one person. 

In companies with more than ten employees, you must focus on the decision makers. And they usually are the department director/manager and the person in charge of purchasing. 

Me, being a freelance copywriter, have to focus on marketing to creative directors (in marketing agencies) and marketing managers. And I do so by focusing on helping the department present better campaigns at a faster rate.  

If I had to market myself to the user of my copy – the business owner – I would have to put emphasis on how profitable my work could be for their company. 

When marketing to other businesses, remember that the buyer might not be the end user, but the head of a department.  So, adjust your pitch accordingly. 

Community Members 

If you’re a trade association, a non-profit, or a government entity… you are not promoting products and services. You are promoting ideas or causes to a large group of people. 

You’re looking for your community to join your cause. So, you must help them clearly understand your proposal. What it is, why it is important, and how you’ll make it work. 

Thus, your marketing copy should take more of a public relations approach. And you can add the element of storytelling to make it as relatable as possible.  

Anything that helps you connect the community with your cause would suffice. The important thing is that your marketing copywriting should feel informative. So, make it as easy as possible for your community to get where you’re coming from. 

The Marketing Copywriting Philosophies 

There are two distinct ways in which your marketing copy can carry out its mission – through retail marketing or direct response. 

Retail Marketing Copywriting 

Use retail marketing copy on offers sold at retail stores (i.e., Walmart, Costco, etc.). You could also apply it for offers that you wouldn’t consider buying right away, like insurance. 

The purpose of this type of copy is to keep a brand fresh in the mind of the audience. But remember that retail/brand marketing is an expensive endeavor. You must buy a lot of space (TV, radio, online) to deliver your message constantly. 

Now, while retail copywriting is not what I do, I’d like to offer some unsolicited advice: avoid the Hollywood-esque approach to retail marketing.  

Hollywood marketing puts truly little focus on your brand. That is because those campaigns put more emphasis on high production, celebrity use, and clever writing. So, you’re throwing away a huge chunk of your budget to promote a celebrity or the agency looking to win an award at your expense. 

Retail marketing is about planting the brand in the minds of prospects. Use your copy to highlight the ways you deliver in terms of fulfilling the needs or wants of the audience. And avoid over-produced budget wasters. 

Direct Response Marketing Copywriting 

Use direct response marketing copy to promote direct-to-customer offers. It’s what I do for a living, and the most practical of the two marketing philosophies. 

You can easily measure the effectiveness of a direct response campaign. While you have no way to track how much actual influence does your retail marketing efforts have on the market. 

Direct response marketing copy should look to turn the audience into qualified prospects. If your copy is not carrying out that deed, then you must replace it with more effective copy.  

How do you turn your audience into qualified prospects? By offering something valuable – a gift or a trial period – in exchange for their contact information. And once you get their contact info, you can then go ahead to present a more “direct” offer. 

For direct marketers, the best course of action is to use direct response marketing copy to engage their audience in the hopes of turning them into qualified prospects. 

What is Marketing Copywriting? 

Starting now, you should have a clearer idea as to what is marketing copywriting. You now know that you can write marketing copy to address an entire community, the decision-makers of a company, and the users of your product or service.  

You also know that there are two approaches to marketing copy – the retail marketing philosophy and the direct response marketing philosophy. 

And you now know the purpose of your marketing copy: to turn an audience into qualified prospects. 

Do you have a comment or question on what is marketing copywriting? Let me know your point of view. And, if you think this article could help someone you know, feel free to share with colleagues and friends.

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