As you can see from my blog, I do some writing. But I do not consider myself a professional copywriter. My strengths are messaging strategy, and determining what stories and content themes need to be “out there” to drive business results; and I’m pretty good at writing narratives, scripts and presentations.
But when it comes to putting pen to paper for promotion channels requiring…short, sharp, pithy copy that hits someone over the head with value and relevance in seconds; I’m okay but certainly not great.
This, to me, requires a unique talent. When I need to break through the clutter with an effective email, landing page, search ad, etc., and want to ensure true greatness in the copy, I get help from those who are freakishly talented at distilling messaging and/or writing compelling, tight copy that truly speaks to an audience.
For example, a while back I created a messaging framework that was used to develop a webinar and sales collateral. Later, it needed to be translated to microsites, emails, online ads, etc. While I was comfortable developing the general message and language, I did not feel gifted enough to write all the copy on my own—particularly where pithiness was critical (email subject lines, advertising copy, etc.). I knew I needed folks who could consult or write it in a way that would deliver calls-to-action; whether it was an agency or other third-party expert, or someone in the company. And by-the-way, sometimes it’s not marketers that are best at this stuff—one of the best thought partners I ever had for tight succinct messaging was on our tech team; he was a master at listening to or reading long narratives, and pulling out the most important message and true intent (brilliant at it without even trying).
You may be saying, why not just take your best shot using best practices and guiding principles, and test your copy to see if it’s working? I then ask, why not also invest the time and money to write something that’s worth testing in the first place? I think many miss the opportunity for great copy simply because they don’t step back and consider what it will take to get there.
With that said, here is some practical advice to consider as it relates to copywriting:
- Invest in great copy. Many spend thousands of dollars and months of time, on research and strategy, but expect great copy to be delivered in a couple of days. None of the work means anything if you don’t get results, so invest at least as much if not more in great copy as you do on other things. Isn’t copy after all, the “product” that may ultimately get people to take action? Why would you not invest heavily and thoughtfully in that? Try it and see what happens.
- Do some due diligence: a) consider and incorporate the company’s style guidelines as well as best practices in the marketing industry; b) consider best practices for each delivery channel; and c) assess what’s worked for others in your business or company.
- Seek out those on your team, in your company and/or in your network who are great at listening and digging for or picking out, the nuggets and underlying point/value of a story or message. Even if you are good at this, it may be better to get help from someone who is great at it or at least, not as close to the messaging.
- Get feedback from those who can immediately scan a page and dissect its true intent, and/or who understand the target’s mindset. These types of folks can often make you aware of where you may be missing the mark, even if they aren’t writers who can fix the copy.
- Get feedback from customers and frontline representatives. Ask them point-blank how/if they would respond to said copy.
- And of course, test and refine.
The point is: if you are out of your strengths-zone when it comes to great copywriting, recognize that and work around it to get the help and results you need.
This article originally appeared on Lydia’s Marketing Blog
Lydia, from the bottom of my heart…
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Your first point nailed it. Many businesses do spend quite a bit of money on their website design and then use weak copy. Or those who do seek a copywriter’s services will want the trifecta of “Fast, Cheap, and Good.”
As the saying goes, pick two.
If anyone outsources their copywriter, they’ll get their money’s worth by communicating their expectation clearly and honestly share with the copywriter their marketing history. What’s worked? What hasn’t? A good copywriter will ask lots of questions but also listen.
Most businesses don’t have a clear idea of their target market and/or buyer personas or psychographics. This is when the research skills of a copywriter come into play and why a copywriting project may take a few weeks. Copywriters strive to know the buyer inside and out.
Once you know your buyer and what motivates her to buy, then it’s much, much easier to craft copy that will hook her and persuade her to take action.
Although it may seem all of this takes too much time, trust the copywriter. It will be worth it.
Thank you for your comment Mary, glad you liked it. I preach a lot about the importance of great copy that hangs from a well-defined strategy, and the fact that both require a serious investment. I think it’s important, so guess I’ll keep on preachin’ and building the business case to show that it works and is…more than worth it.
Only do what you do best
Get other folk to do the rest
Right on Lydia.
When I need help with my marketing and messaging for example, I consult with the experts in that area. Likewise, as you’ve correctly pointed out, if people need some copy, it only makes sense to go to someone who specializes in writing.
If only more people would do that, we wouldn’t have such a colossal amount of junk floating around the Internet these days!