“Positioning is thinking in reverse.” – Positioning by Al Ries and Jack Trout
Great copywriting is a skill that takes hard work and practice to master. You need to apply creativity – and sometimes a little bit of poetry – to write killer taglines and headlines that grab attention, amuse, and persuade. And if you work in a specialised field like, oh I dunno say, B2B software, understanding the industry jargon is yet another dimension you need to grapple with.
But no matter how good a copywriter you are, your wordsmithery is headed straight for the waste paper bin if doesn’t use one key piece of information: the brand positioning for the target audience.
To write truly great copy that connects with an audience, you need to know what to say and how to say it. Whatever message you come up with needs to be informed by the positioning. It needs to be on brand.
Why does brand positioning make copy work harder?
In one word, consistency. And differentiation. OK fine, two words.
Integrating brand positioning forces you to communicate a simple message or set of attributes and feelings in every piece of copy you write. Every customer interaction with the brand is an opportunity to repeat this message and differentiate the brand from its competitors.
But brands are built slowly over long stretches of time. So building that image only works if every piece of copy is infused with that positioning. Writing copy within the confines of the positioning shell is a way to not only make sure the brand sounds like itself, but also to reinforce that brand image.
This kind of restriction may seem heretical to a role known for its originality, but instead of thinking of writing consistently as some kind of paint-by-numbers game, think of it as a creative restriction. It’s a problem that you to solve. With words!
What is positioning again?
Positioning isn’t supposed to be a complicated topic. It’s basically the thing you want customers to think about when they think of the brand. It’s a route to differentiation, a way to get customers to choose the brand over its competitors.
You can position anything: a company, a product, a country.
The goal is to own a position in your customers’ mind using the only reality that counts: what’s already in their heads. And it’s usually a combination of 2 or 3 adjectives or a simple statement. The best positioning is as sharp as a knife.
Apple has always been positioned on simplicity and creativity, Microsoft around productivity, and Amazon on easy abundance.
These are not complicated ideas, but then that’s the point.
Great copy infuses the brand
If you’re a marketing manager looking to hire a copywriter, one of the surest ways to get the copy you want is to provide a positioning document. It’ll make your copywriter’s job easier and their work that much better.
If you’re a copywriter, make sure you ask your client for their brand positioning doc. If they don’t have one, pitch the idea of writing one for them. We’ve just completed a brand positioning deck for one of our clients, so we’ve got some thoughts on how to do this.
We’ll cover that next time.