Teaching people to become better business writers seems to be something of a growth industry. Most copywriting companies – including ours – offer writing courses, and many training specialists do the same. Add in all the books, articles and blogs on the subject, and you’d be forgiven for assuming that everyone’s thirsty for copywriting knowledge.
It’s probably truer to say that growing numbers of those with the knowledge are super-keen to share it – but either way, this situation prompts two questions:
1. Is it possible to learn effective, persuasive copywriting from training courses?
2. We were all taught to write at school – isn’t that enough?
I’m pretty sure the answer to the first question is yes – I’ve seen people do it (with practice, more on this later). More importantly, many people really need to learn these skills, because the answer to the second question is generally a resounding no. Our school English lessons didn’t prepare for us business writing. And that’s not just the kind us copywriters do, but also the reports, presentations and emails that are a daily part of all sorts of jobs. Unfortunately, many people aren’t very good at them.
So which aspect of writing did our education miss out? I think it’s something fundamental: most of us weren’t taught to consider the reasons why we write. We can string a coherent sentence together – but that’s very different from writing to get results. The curriculum didn’t cover thinking about the effect our words have on the reader. And that’s the gap copywriting training can fill.
But there’s a third question: is the usual business course format – group sessions, workshops, whatever you want to call them – the best way to learn? If all you want to know is where to put a comma or how to use apostrophes, the ‘back to school’ setting is fine. But for many people, writing for results means adopting a major shift in approach. Learning how to write well is really unlearning how to write badly – and this takes practice.
So you can have your ‘stand-up’ to get the ball rolling, but don’t expect an instant transformation. As every copywriter knows, the only way to learn properly is on the job, by toiling over draft after draft until convincing, persuading or educating the reader becomes second nature. Of course, this process requires guidance along the way, from someone who can explain the failures and encourage successes. It’s where copywriting training becomes copywriting coaching. And – if you’ve got the time and the will – it works.
To find out more about our coaching programmes, email us or call 01423 505513.