Savvy Speaks: Copywriter or "Marketing Communications Consultant?"

Savvy Speaks: Copywriter or "Marketing Communications Consultant?"
Savvy Sisters - Wed May 04, 2011 @ 08:16AM
Comments: 37

Last week we covered the topic of outsourcing - when and how to pass off projects to gig workers. This week we tackle a related question: what's the difference between a copywriter and a marketing communications consultant? Is there a difference or is it just semantics? What can you expect when you hire one or the other?

 

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Michele

Here's how I consider marketing consultants to be different than copywriters.

To me, a marketing consultant (in B2B content marketing) as someone who helps define the strategy and build out the content plan. These are the folks who help clients map their content to the buying cycle, identify content gaps, and build an editorial calendar.  Not all consultants have the inclination or skills to be a great copywriter.

In turn, a copywriter is somewhat tactical and should be hired when you know what you what content you want to create. As the name implies, copywriters should be very deft at writing. Like a consultant, a good copywriter will ask the right questions to learn about the audience, but they don't necessarily set up the plan.

Both roles are very important and should work in tandem. But, companies need to determine if they need help with the plan (a consultant) or world-class copy (a copywriter). Sometimes, you'll be able to find someone with both skill sets, but often people focus on one area.

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Jamie

Cog vs. Machine

Any good copywriter is, by nature of how she does her work, a good marketing communications consultant, but not every communications consultant is a good copywriter.

Good copywriting comes from having a strong understanding not only of words, but of the context of those words, the mindset of the people reading those words, and the action those words are meant to drive. A good consultant, on the other hand, may be able to come up with a solid strategy, but unable to translate that strategy into strong copy.

From an employer's perspective, I think a "copywriter" is seen as someone who takes direction and completes smaller, stand alone tasks, while a consultant is someone who can see the Big Picture and steps up to help drive the bus. Both provide a valuable service, but the first is seeing only one cog while the second is gettign a sense of how the whole machine runs. Often, the role is dicated by how much leeway the employer is willing to give and the writer/consultant simply scales his services depending upon the need.

Wendy Thomas

Wendy

Although I have called myself a copywriter on occasion, I have never called myself a "marketing communications consultant", it reeks too much of the "sanitation engineer" for a garbage man school of thought. 

Not to be completely Zen but: I am what I am and the writer you need for your job is the writer you need for your job. Look straight to the skills and accomplishments of the writer and beyond any fabricated titles. 

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Kate

I go back and forth on this one. While "communications consultant" sounds a lot snazzier at MBA reunions, most of my clients would give me a blank stare if I called myself that. A good copywriter IS a marketing communications consultant. It's our job to find out what makes the customer tick and then mold the copy to kick them into gear. We should be very comfortable creating or working with marketing tools like creative briefs, buyer personas, messaging maps and etc. 

Anyone who calls himslef a copywriter and thinks it's just putting words on paper with no thought to the marketing aspect won't last in this profession very long.

So I call myself a copywriter when I talk to clients and "Corporate Communications Consultant" at cocktail parties. And I smile to myself because it's actually the same hat - one just has a few more bedazzles on it. ;  )

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Heather

For me "copywriter" is the generic.  I am not sure Marketing Communications Consultant is exactly right for me either but I do agree that to truly communicate what I do "copywriter" is too simplistic.  I recommend a tag line such as "Copywriter - Focused on B2B Communications" or "Copywriter - Specializing in Memorable Ad Copy".

Lets face it not all of us are witty enough to write GroupOn ads and others would slit their wrists before agreeing to write a 10 page white paper on reducing your postal costs through better address quality.  Not all Copywriters are created equally so why should our job title claim that we are?

 

Have you ever hired a marketing communications consultant or copywriter? Do you feel there is a difference?

Are you a marketing communications consultant or a copywriter? Why do you call yourself one or the other and does it make a difference in your work life?

 

Comments: 37

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Wake up and move into the 21st century. Copywriting is an old fashioned idea, from the days of long copy.

Now content is at the heart of marketing. You can't just bring in 1,000 words on something and make it fit your strategy.

For example, White Papers and Case Studies are no longer things the salesperson leaves behind on a visit - they are key engagement tools, defining the problem and the peer group (is it right for ME?) respectively.

Marketing Communications (MarComms) is also an out of date phrase. It encapsulates the idea that you create a message then marketing has to communicate it. That is "talk at" not "engage with" - push or interruption marketing.

Marketing has taken over the role of the consultative salesperson. It is now their job to open up a discussion which outlines a problem or opportunity, lays out the options and guides them towards the one which suits their needs best.

That means thinking more like FAQ than copy. It means allowing for different answers. It means responding, not proposing. It means letting prospects sell the idea to themselves. It has to be at the core of your business strategy - so it has to be done by the Marketing Director in collaboration with a good, conceptual wordsmith. Not a copywriter. And most definitely not a marcomms person.

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