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Message & Media : Writing Identity Crisis Averted

18 tips for copywriters and content developers to improve their cross-channel writing skills

January 2013 By Pat Friesen
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Recently, I experienced an identity crisis. While I've built my career as a copywriter, I now had a client asking me if I also was a content developer.

Hmmm. I hadn't thought about it. And frankly, I didn't know.

What I did know was that on any given day, you'd find me writing emails, direct mail, space ads, whitepapers, e-newsletters, landing pages, website pages and ads, blog posts, package inserts, and a whole lot more.

So was I content developer? I thought I might be, but I also thought it was wise to confirm the definition before billing myself as one. Here's what I learned:

A (traditional) copywriter's job is to attract, persuade, promote and sell. That means the years I've spent using words to sell and generate leads for everything from hog sperm and burial insurance to bloodletting chairs and designer sweaters hand-knit in Peru qualify me as a copywriter.

A (digital) content developer is responsible for presenting information for which the reader has been searching. The business objective of content is to engage the reader and establish the provider of it as an expert or trusted resource.

Because content needs to be keyword-rich to attract search engines, a content developer also needs to understand search engine optimization (SEO) writing. As a blogger, e-newsletter contributor and writer for websites, it appears I am a content developer. Whew! Question answered.

Here's what's fascinating to me: While I've become a cross-channel writer, I use the skills I originally learned writing for traditional direct mail. And you can, too, if that's your background. But if you're not a direct mail writer, here's a tip: Traditional direct response techniques work for writing digital content, too. The goal of both is reader engagement that leads to action … a click, a call, a visit to your store or website. Here are 18 tips for cross-channel writing:

1. Know your audience so you can build rapport and create content that connects with your readers.

 
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