Exploring the copywriting style – “Epistolary”

Depending on whether you’re a client or a copywriter, your reaction at hearing these words is either one of either smugness or one of exasperation. There is a reason why copywriters loathe these words, because it is often unclear what the client wants when he/she chooses to use either of these two words (or worse, both) to articulate feedback.

Nonetheless, what they often mean is that they want something that stands out and helps a larger group of people react to and remember their brand’s communication (who doesn’t?).

One of the easiest ways to do so would be to attempt a completely different style of writing, one that you wouldn’t typically associate with advertising copywriting. Let’s look at one such style – epistolary.

You don’t have to Google it (I did) because it’s just a fancy way to say ‘write letters’. And who doesn’t like writing letters? They’re among the most involving, expressive ways to convey a meaningful message without having to worry about a finite word limit or adhering to a particular format, much to the dismay of your 8th Grade English teacher.

Picture this – How does it feel to receive a well-written email from someone you’re expecting to hear from? Satisfying, right?


But what about getting a poorly-timed email in the middle of a stressful workday when every buzz and chime of your phone has you reaching for it almost instantaneously? Annoying and pestering to the point of hitting that unsubscribe button? We can relate.

But that’s the great thing about an email – The ability to constantly present yourself into people’s inboxes day after day, no matter the nature of engagement because you have no control over your reader’s emotions.

And when used unexpectedly and judiciously in copywriting, this style is a great way to get people to pay attention because of the intensely personal tone of voice that is usually adopted.

At the risk of facing copywriter-backlash, there’s something very “clutter-breaking” and “quirky” about putting up something as personal as a letter in a public space. Picture a white backdrop on which are laid a bunch of words in a couple of paragraphs; our prying eyes can do little else but stop and read it.

It’s extremely easy to draw attention to an official letter simply because you expect it to be important. It’s something that’s ‘for your eyes, only’ and as is the case for people who apply to other jobs while in office (looking at you), it’s also quite ‘NSFW’. And this is a wonderful way to get people to read something that isn’t private or secretive at all and in fact, quite the contrary. 

While this style is often overlooked by clients and creative directors alike on account of being too ‘wordy’, it can serve as a much-needed recess from the regular bombardment of promotional messaging and offers a chance at storytelling that isn’t necessarily ruled by CPC maximums. An added benefit is that it conveys a sense of urgency.

So, whether you’re a freelance copywriter, an SEO expert, a brand manager or a seasoned ad exec, perhaps you could consider trying out this age old form of writing to breathe some new life into your marketing campaigns, because I’m fairly certain that they need it.

Clevertize is one of the Award Winning Top Agencies in India. It has worked with many national & international clients like eBay, Nando’s, David Lloyd UK, METRO Cash & Carry, Sobha Ltd., TATA Motors, Barbeque Nation to name a few. 

Clevertize is an integrated marketing communications expert, known to marry marketing with technology.

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Paraj Singh

Senior Copywriter

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