Have you ever seen an old print ad from the early 20th century? Take a look at one of Coca-Cola’s first ads to get an idea. It’s almost unrecognizable: paragraphs upon paragraphs full of information about the product. Compare that to today’s simple, visual-heavy ads, and you might wonder if there’s any work left for an ad agency copywriter.
In reality, ad agencies need copywriters more than ever. Companies are producing more content than at any time in the past, and in more forms too! Copywriters are the invisible hand that crafts the copy we all tend to take for granted. So, what does an ad agency copywriter do, and how can you find reliable copywriters for your next marketing campaign?
The Role of an Ad Agency Copywriter
While all copywriters are expected to write copy, ad agencies require a very different approach to this work. Of all the copywriting jobs out there, none calls for more versatility and creativity than working at an ad agency. This is due to the fact that ad agencies rarely produce the same type of content twice.
A technical copywriter, for instance, is probably going to write manual after manual. A ghost blogger will produce one post after another. But at an ad agency, you might write copy for a product’s packaging in the morning and finish the day by writing headlines for a company’s website. To be a successful writer at an ad agency, you’ll need to work with a wide array of client expectations.
That’s not the only challenge for copywriters at ad agencies. The nature of creative work means that copywriters need to know more than just Microsoft Word. It takes a unique set of skills to be a successful copywriter at an ad agency.
Unique Skills Ad Agencies Expect of Copywriters
Mastery of the English Language
Although we expect all writers to dominate the English language thoroughly, ad agencies need copywriters with highly advanced writing skills. Poetic devices like alliteration, assonance, and even creative use of meter are essential for writing short texts like slogans. At the same time, copywriters might be asked to draft long scripts for promotional videos or commercials. There are few situations where so many writing skills are needed.
This becomes even more important when working with the strict constraints that ad agencies have to deal with. It might surprise you to think of limitations in the context of creativity. Nevertheless, creative jobs still have boundaries they have to respect. For instance, a customer might want a box for their designer shoes to have text around the lid. There’s a limited amount of physical space that can be used, meaning your text has to conform to that limit.
Businesses want their values to shine through in their marketing. It’s the copywriter’s job to figure out how to best express those values through their word choices.
While most copywriters will pour their content into Microsoft Word or directly into WordPress, life is not so simple at an ad agency. Creative companies like ad agencies tend to use programs like Adobe Creative Cloud to handle all of their collaborative creative work. This means you might have to use Adobe InCopy alongside InDesign.
InDesign is the industry-standard application for publishing and typesetting. It gives designers full freedom to layout copy and images to their liking, along with advanced color controls for print jobs. If you work in an ad agency, you may be expected to put your copy directly into these programs. InCopy allows you to write in a dedicated word processor and then export text into InDesign templates.
Get familiar with Adobe apps if you intend to work in creative environments. Even copywriters might want to brush up on their Photoshop and Illustrator skills, as being able to draw or design a creative illustration with your copy is an invaluable skill.
Skilled copywriters of all kinds are expert researchers. However, when we look at the demands of ad agencies, there’s an extra component that goes beyond simply Googling information and adding it to your copy. Marketing research means investigating other companies’ ad campaigns to identify successful approaches to writing. Likewise, studying the history of advertising can tell you what works and what never has.
Since ad agencies will call for copy in a variety of forms, it’s likewise essential to research examples of successful copy in these situations. A good modern example is that of the bar code. Many companies have started to add text to their bar codes as a cutesy way to sneak in an extra message. If you don’t research best practices, you could end up making a bar code that’s completely useless.
Why Is Good Copy So Important for an Ad Agency?
Businesses worldwide are guilty of treating copy as an afterthought. Ad agencies are no exception. Perhaps because ad agencies typically place more emphasis on visual elements than text, the copy itself is secondary to the design of the page. Copywriters at ad agencies frequently find themselves forced to squeeze tons of talking points into small spaces because designers have already laid out images and graphics.
Ad agencies are unlikely to change their priorities any time soon. Similarly, clients will continue to be dazzled by flashy graphics and impressed by slick layouts. If copywriters aren’t going to get their due, then you’re going to need some top-quality copywriters to get the job done. But there’s a bigger reason to hire the best copywriters in the business.
Good copy converts. While your beautiful design might make a consumer pick up your content and give it a glance, the copy is what keeps them reading. The copy is what sells them on the product or service. And how do clients decide if they’re going to continue using a particular ad agency’s service? Simple: did we sell more or less after the last campaign?
How to Find an Ad Agency Copywriter
If you’re an ad agency, or a business looking for a copywriter with this unique skillset, how do you find a quality copywriter? It’s not an easy process. While you can approach it like a typical job opening, copywriters tend to get work via word of mouth. You need to hunt them down.
The hard way is to search for copywriters’ business websites, contact them all, ask for samples or review their work, and give them a job to see if they’re a good fit for your style of work. This is like panning for gold, it’s going to take a lot of time to sift through the dirt for a nugget.
So what’s the faster way? You can reach out to an established copywriting agency that brings writers to you. Here at SteadyContent, that’s exactly what we do. Our writing staff has a broad range of experience across a wide variety of topics. Whatever you need, we have the writer for you. Call SteadyContent today or visit our website to set up a meeting so we can help you find the copywriter you need.