I’ve recently written a piece for the Professional Copywriters’ Network (our industry network) explaining that copywriters aren’t valued enough, because they don’t put the message first.  

This is bad for writers. 

So what?

Put bluntly, you don’t care about my career satisfaction. You care about your business’ success.

Well I’d like to make something clear. The reasoning behind our message first approach, our message first manifesto isn’t just because copywriters are sick of being undervalued.

It’s because Ben, Martin and I are thoroughly sick of seeing businesses like yours struggle for the lack of high quality messaging and written content. From not putting your message first. 

Message First Marketing Delivers Success for Clients

In the article I mention above, I focus on what the current marketing trends mean for writers. But they don’t just leave copywriters struggling with poor briefs, content by committee, and a lack of confidence.

They leave your business struggling to run a successful campaign because your budget, your time, and your processes aren’t putting the message first.

Let me break it down for you.

Marketing is sales. In the words of David Ogilvy, “we sell or else.”

The key driver of sales in any marketing campaign is the message. Yet businesses like yours too often find themselves in a position where that message –  and the copywriting that underpins it – is forced to submit to other considerations. 

Where the words which will convert a lead into a sale are dictated by the space in a wireframe, the requirements of search engine relevance, or the personal preference of people ill-equipped to judge content on its ability to deliver leads, sales and profits.

Entire brands are built around a visual identity, with no thought to the brand’s core message. Your budgets are swallowed by design, development, search and social advertising, with copy increasingly dismissed as a commodity that can be bought for pennies per word, or slotted in at the last minute by writers given cursory briefs, limited space, and no right to challenge decisions made in meetings led by artworkers and keyword researchers.

Know this. This is no way to deliver clear, smart, successful marketing campaigns. Only by putting the skill of copywriting – the message – back at the heart of the marketing process will you achieve success.

How Our Manifesto Uses Message-First to Deliver Great Marketing

That’s why we’ve written our message-first manifesto. Five commandments that we live by to ensure you get great copy and successful marketing. Here’s what they are, and how they deliver results for you:

1. Message Must Be at the Heart of a Brand’s Identity

What your brand is trying to say must be the key factor in what defines your brand’s identity. Brand books dominated by colour schemes and font choices must be balanced out by core values, unmistakable tones of voice, and a clear, compelling message. 

By putting the message first, we make sure your whole brand is focused on what will deliver results, not just on what looks nice. 

2. Message Must Lead Design, Development and Channel Choices

Your campaign will succeed or fail on the strength of its message, and as such the message must be the central basis of your whole campaign. Messaging should not be limited by the constraints of pre-existing design and development, or unduly influenced by search volumes. The right message in front of the right prospect will always outperform a mediocre message with strong design, or one at the top of an unsuitable search result. 

By putting the message first, we make sure everything from the graphic design to the search terms you target are focused on delivering the results you need.

3. Message Must Be Determined By The Needs of The Final Audience

Marketing messages must be determined and defined by the needs of your final audience, and those creating the message must be given access to the thoughts, language and responses of these key targets. Budgets and time must allow for in-depth customer research, interviews, and post-campaign data analysis to allow messages to be tailored and perfected.

By putting the message first, we undertake the research, the interviews and the analysis to make sure your clients are engaged, and that they take the actions you need.

4. Message Must Be Judged On What Sells, Not What Is Liked

Marketing is a results business, and as such messaging must always be judged on whether it successfully influences and convinces the target audience, not on the preconceptions of the client, the copywriter or other marketers. Writing must whenever possible be evaluated using performance data. The writer must always focus on informing a client about why a message will be successful, instead of asking for feedback based on opinion and personal preference. 

By putting the message first, we don’t put you in the position of having to be the judge of what works. Instead, we use best-practice and in-depth analysis so that you can focus on what matters – the results we deliver.

5. The Skill of Creating a Message – Copywriting – Must Be Valued

Copywriting must be valued. If copywriting is not valued, message will continue to lag behind design and channel when it comes to brand identity and budgeting decisions. If copywriting is not valued, message will be hamstrung by a lack of access to customers, research and data. And if copywriting is not valued as the most powerful, most effective marketing skill, campaigns will continue to fall under the wheels of personal preference and preconceptions instead of being determined by results. 

By putting the message first, we make sure your attention is focused on powerful, effective copy. Copy that delivers results. We don’t ask you to value us based on what we say. All we ask is that you trust us to put yourself in a position where you value us based on what we do.

We’re Sick of You Getting Poor Work

I know that if you’re used to tossing a brief to a freelance copywriter, our in-depth message first process can seem like we’re asking a lot from you.

We’re asking for you to give us more information, more access than you’re used to giving. We’re asking for you to trust our triple-strength copywriting process over your own preconceptions. And yes, we’re asking for fees that must seem insane to anyone who’s worked with an offshore content mill.

But we’re doing it because we know this delivers fantastic work. Work that compels, convinces and converts. 

Work that sells. 

If you’re sick of getting poor copywriting work, if you can see the value of putting the message first,  if you want to grow your business, we’d love to work with you.

And if you’re not there yet, we’ll be here when you are. It might be sooner than you think.