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18th February 2019 Jemma Green

Copywriting Day 2019 — Trainer Q&A

Image of Jon Hawkins

Ahead of Copywriting Day — putting words in their place we caught up with our guest trainer, brand and language consultant Jon Hawkins, who has over 20 years’ experience in the copywriting world.

Jon was head of brand language for BT for over a decade and now guest lectures at Lancaster University Management School, as well as leading his own consultancy business.


Q: Is there a difference between writing copy for corporate organisations compared to cultural organisations?

A: Not really. If you think there is, you’re probably stuck in a set of misapprehensions about who you’re writing to and what they’re like. Corporations are made up of people who enjoy experiencing music, arts and culture in their free time — and cultural organisations are corporations too. It’s too easy to use perceived differences to excuse sloppy copywriting or bad writing habits.


Q: What are cultural organisations already doing well in their copywriting? Where can they improve?

A: Cultural organisations generally have a brilliant advantage over commercial organisations because they’re writing about interesting stuff, not trying to flog toothpaste or car insurance. So, generally I think the subject matter tends to shine through.

They can improve in being bolder and more direct when they’re asking for something. And perhaps in taking a few more risks to sound different from their peers.


Q: What are the key things we need to think about when writing copy for different audiences?

A: First, don’t get fixed on certain stereotypes. There is no typical ‘business’ audience. There is no typical ‘millennial’ audience. These are just the inventions of lazy marketers. They won’t help your copywriting, they’ll hamper it. Instead, pick a real person, or invent one, the sort of person who’ll be reading your copy, and write direct to them one-to-one.


Q: How can copywriters use behavioural science to improve their copy and how will you explore this at Copywriting Day 2019?

A: Copywriters have always sort of used behavioural science. It was just called marketing. Or audience targeting. Having said that, a better understanding of the unconscious biases that affect decisions can certainly help get people to act.

At the 2019 Copywriting Day we’ll peek into the cognitive biases most relevant to arts marketers, and show how to put little ‘nudges’ into your writing to tap into the power of those biases.


Copywriting Day — putting words in their place takes place in London 21 March and Leeds 28 March.

You can follow Jon on Twitter @thisishonk