What is a Copy Warrior and Do You Need One?
What image does the word “warrior” conjure up for you? Probably a mythological soldier type ready to go to war for what he – or she – believes he – or she- has to protect. Sword and shield in hand.
Well that’s pretty much what springs to mind for me. I’m the Copy Warrior – sword in hand (well pen or keyboard) – ready to take on the battle to ensure my clients benefit from clear, accurate copywriting that is going to deliver a clear message about who they are, what THEY stand for, and why they are the ones to deliver for their customers against the competition.
Is being a copy warrior really necessary?
Is “warrior” too strong a word for what I do? Well, no. When I consider how my days are mostly spent, I realise that I am CONSTANTLY doing battle – battle to protect what I have written through the various review and editing stages, ensuring that what comes out the other end still does the job.
Has it been filtered too much? Has it lost its message? Has it completely lost the plot? And the worse case scenario – is it going to do my client more harm than good now that it’s been changed?
Sometimes I go to war over a single word. Is that worth my time? Sometimes, yes, it is. If the replacement word is completely inappropriate, I simply refuse to make the change. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t. In these cases, I have to protect my clients from what they don’t know. When I stand my ground like that, the message gets across and I’ve done what I am obligated to do – protect my client’s reputation. If you hire a copywriter, let them do their job.
I just can’t let it go if the word replaced doesn’t actually mean what the client thinks it does, or it’s so archaic that it doesn’t belong. Choice of word has a lot to do with the register used. If it’s formal, the vocabulary must match. (My personal bug bear is when I hear that a suspect has been “nabbed” in a formal TV news report! He was “arrested” for Pete’s sake!)
The copy warrior protects your reputation
In some cases, I’ve had to guide clients away from words that have a damaging meaning in the context used. I’ve actually had to warn a client against a word that had a bad sexual connotation that the client just didn’t understand – the kind that would be brought out on international chat shows and ridiculed – for the world to see and laugh at. They say there’s no such as bad publicity, but I disagree. If it hurts your reputation, you don’t want that kind of publicity. This product was going to be marketed internationally and the client was well known. Disaster averted!
I don’t fight every battle though. I can make my point and move on if the substitute word has a similar meaning and it’ll do. That’s just a matter of preference, and that’s OK.
So what I do really, as the Copy Warrior, is that I protect my client’s reputation, especially when they are planning to expand into international markets. Here the scrutiny is much more intense on words and messages that seem off point. It gets noticed. Always.
A copy warrior is a must if you go international
When you want to build trust in a new market, the last thing you want is potential clients not buying from you because they question your capability simply based on how you present yourself in your marketing messages. (Remember, first impressions count.) And just because it’s right in your country, does not mean it’ll be relatable internationally. A common mistake I see is some countries using English that is too formal. Writing copy that is not conversational and relatable on an emotional level just isn’t going to sell.
It’s so easy to look at bad copy, particularly incorrect grammar or archaic language, and think, “Well, if they can’t even get THAT right, how can I trust them or their product?” Customers buy because they trust you, and trust is that much harder to win when you “read” incompetent. Often it’s not a judgement on your use of language, but the fact that you didn’t care enough to get it checked by an expert. That then leads to your leadership skills being indirectly questioned.
So as a business looking to build trust, especially internationally, you need a Copy Warrior to go to battle for you (and sometimes against you) to make sure that the copy, the message you put out, is credible, relatable to your target audience, and reflects who you are as a company.
Protect your corporate reputation – find your Copy Warrior.