I realize this headline might come off as a bit controversial. There is so much that goes into branding, how can copywriting be the key to success? I’ll tell you why. Without a message, you have no brand at all. If you aren’t able to write down your message and define it, then you aren’t able to get across who your company is and what you offer.
When most businesses brand, they focus on the logo, color scheme, and tagline. I argue that a well-crafted brand is all of the above plus a website and the marketing materials that go along with it, which is where the copywrting comes into play.
A great copywriter should be able to sit down with you and ask a few simple questions about your business, take those answers and craft your message. From there, you will understand your business’s characteristics.
When I am helping to define a company’s branding message for a website or marketing materials, I ask seven important questions. I’ll share my favorite two with you:
1. What sets you apart?
2. Who is your ideal customer?
Many businesses are surprised they don’t know the answers off the top of their heads. They seem like such simple questions, but often it can be like trying to define a word that you know what it means but can’t figure out how to describe it to others. You might know the definition, but if nobody else does, what good does that do you?
When a copywriter is asked to write copy to help build a brand, here are some of the materials this may include:
1. A clear and concise few sentences or paragraph
2. Tagline or slogan
3. Product description
6. Company profiles
7. Many, many, many more
In all of the copy, the brand’s message needs to be reinforced again and again. For example, if after answering the questions and defining the message, it turns out the core concept of your doggy grooming business is offering incredible customer service and only organic products, this needs to be said again and again in the copy. Every part of the copy needs to address customer service and organic. From the CEO’s profile to the tag line that goes on the business cards.
Creating great brand identity is not just in the design, but the really important parts lie in the words that accompany the design.
Do you agree or disagree with my assertion that copy is more important than design? I’d love to know your thoughts.
Case studies are in high demand. With ROI being the important acronym on the market today, a case study is a sales tool that companies cannot be without.
Simply defined a case study is: “a detailed account of a company, industry, person, or project over a given amount of time. The content within a case study may include information about company objectives, strategies, challenges, results, recommendations, and more.”
I write case studies two different ways. The first is in as an article and follows this format:
1. A problem is identified. The customer looks for a solution.
2. The customer finds a new product that might help solve his problem that is offered by a company. The customer tries this product.
3. Wonderful news! The product worked and the customer is thrilled because his problem is solved. He tells everyone how wonderful this product is.
It’s a success story written in an article format, trying to pull out some of the human elements. It’s a feel good story and is usually around a page or two in length and has a design to give it a corporate feel.
The second way to write case studies is in short form. Instead of writing a story, I identify three facts:
1. The problem
2. The solution
3. The results
These are usually only 200 words and are much more focused. They don’t go into a ton of detail, but instead work to really showcase the results.
If a business invests in having a case study written, there are several highly effective ways to put that case study to use to get more clients and make more money. I’m going to share a few with you below:
1. Feature the case study on your website
By having the case study on your website, any prospects who come across it will have instant proof that you have had success before and aren’t afraid to share the results. In fact, you want people to know how great your company is.
2. Provide to sales people
A case study can be used as a sales tool. Anyone going into a sales meeting armed with solid proof that the company they work for had such a happy customer, they were willing to be interviewed for a case study has a pot of gold with them. It adds credibility to the company and the meeting.
3. Turn the case study into a press release
Use the case study to generate publicity. Try getting your name in the media for your amazing results.
4. Mail it to prospects and customers
Not only is this a great way to keep in touch, but it gets you in front of potential customers again. Reminding people you exist is half the battle of gaining new clients.
5. Give it away for free
Use the case study as an added incentive. Sign up for our newsletter and we’ll give you a case study that shows how our product truly helped another company and how we can help you do the same.
In the end, a case study is basically a giant testimonial from a really happy customer. Every company should be using these as a way to sell their services or products. It’s like the best Yelp review ever.
Do you have any questions about case studies? I’d be happy to answer them and show you how a case study could help make you money.
Hiring a professional copywriter means you will have more time and energy, and you’ll make more money. Not a bad deal, is it?
Most businesses don’t realize the importance of strong writing. Nor do they understand how a copywriter makes the difficult job of selling a product or service easier. Or how using a copywriter frees up time and energy for other aspects of the business. In case you are one of those people, I am going to use this post to explain why hiring a copywriter could be the best decision you will ever make. I will go so far to even suggest it can be the difference between success and failure.
Quite simply, we write copy. Copy for a website, brochure, blog post, or promotional material you’ve never even thought of. Thanks to the Internet and social media, there is a bigger demand for quality writing than ever before. Additionally, copywriters are experiencing greater freedom making them (and me) even more effective. Hiring a copywriter can take an ad campaign or website from plain to successful.
The reason we are able to achieve so much just with words is because we understand them and know how to use them to our advantage. Every word that goes into a project is given careful consideration. Creating that all important hook in a promotional piece or writing the tone of a website is both a skill and an art form that copywriters excel at. In my own process, I experiment with the important words, the ones that do the selling, to see what word best fits with what I am trying to accomplish. My goal is always to drive traffic to my clients’ businesses.
Many businesses choose to hire a freelance copywriter rather than have one in-house. The reason? Most freelance copywriters, myself included, are used to working with short deadlines (sometimes only a few hours) and stressful situations, while still being able to deliver effective and hopefully brilliant copy.
Additionally, what may take the non-professional writer four hours to complete, I can have done in around one hour, most likely with better results. In the business world time is money, and paying a copywriter opens up many hours to accomplish tasks other than writing brochure copy or proofreading a press release.
There are two answers to this question. The first is you can and should expect to receive copy that engages current and potential customers, sells your products or services and positions you as a professional.
The second answer is less about the copy and more about your business. You can and should expect to spend less time writing, editing, proofreading, and researching marketing materials for your company. That is now the job of a copywriter.
You can also expect to make more money. Good copywriting will drive sales by explaining to potential customers why they need you, and getting at their deepest emotions.
Paying someone to write may seem like an unneeded expense when you know how to write perfectly well. In addition to making more money and having more time, which I’ve already covered, there is a third reason why hiring a professional copywriter is worth the investment. You’re too close to your business.
Having an objective opinion can help you see your business in different ways. A copywriter can come in and really see what is working and not working in your business, take that information, and craft marketing materials that contain effective messaging.
Think about all the expenses of your business. What do they accomplish in the end? Is it clear and effective communication with your current and potential customers? If not, what can be more important than that?
Hiring a professional copywriter is a business decision that will change almost every aspect of your business for the better.
The only question left to ask is how can you not afford to hire a copywriter?
When I was younger I used to make myself multiple lists of new years resolutions. I never kept a single one. Ever. It wasn’t because I didn’t try, it was because I would give myself impossible goals to reach.
Not only that, but half the time I had no idea what exactly my goal meant. Save more money? That sounds simple, but really that goal doesn’t just involve eating out less, it’s also includes taking the time to keep track of money, figuring out where I’m spending that I can cut back on, etc. A better new years resolution would have been: track my spending using Quicken.
The past few years I’ve gotten better at making resolutions. The reason? I follow five simple steps that allow me to make goals that I can follow and are beneficial to me and my life and my business.
There are a lot of business owners who are making social media their #1 goal for 2011. Whether it’s to get started on Twitter or to get more involved in accounts that are already set up, behind losing weight and saving money, I bet it’s high up on many people’s lists. However, in order to make smart goals, I suggest following these five steps:
By making goals that are specific, you have something tangible to work toward. For example, you don’t want to make your goal to join Twitter. Instead, your goal should be to tweet once a day. This is something you have control over and can work toward.
Don’t set your goal as something that most likely won’t happen. If you’re just joining Facebook, don’t make your goal to have 3,000 followers by the end of 2011. Unless you’re a big name brand, that’s just not going to happen. Instead, set a goal that is optimistic but attainable, perhaps trying to get 10-15 new Facebook followers a month.
Take the time to sit down and think about what will really make a difference in your business. Do you have very old web copy on your site that no longer applies to what you do? Then don’t make your 2011 goal to get 1,000 more Twitter followers. Those 1,000 followers aren’t going to do you half as much good as a really well-written website.
Do not set a goal for all of 2011. That leaves you 12 months to forget about the goal and therefore, not achieve it. Instead, set time increments. If your goal is to get new website copy, set several goals that will ultimately lead to new copy. For example, your first goal can be to have hired a copywriter by the end of January.
New years goals are hard to keep in the first place, so try to set goals that won’t only help your business, but get you excited thinking about them. If social media doesn’t get your tongue wagging, but the thought of using a case study on your website does, then make your goal to write a case study.
What goals are you setting for yourself in 2011?
p.s. I wanted to let everyone know in 2011 I am changing my blogging schedule from Mon-Wed-Fri to Tues-Thurs. So look for new posts Tuesday and Thursday mornings!
The writing process is an important tool to master. Having a guide to follow makes writing feel less daunting and more manageable.
Do you have a press release or newsletter you’ve been meaning to write for weeks or perhaps months? Do you blame it on being lazy, but really, you just have no idea where to start (plus, maybe you’re a little bit lazy)?
So where to begin? I’m going to break this down into five steps.
The first step doesn’t even require you to write! You’re welcome. This step is simply to identify the message you want to get across and the best way to accomplish that. Is it an announcement about your company? That would work best in newsletter form, or perhaps a press release. Is it a musing on a new development in your industry? That works best as a blog post.
Once you know your message and your format, it’s time to write a topic sentence. You remember those from 7th grade, right? Write down once sentence that encapsulates the main idea you’re trying to get across. A lot of times, you can repurpose this for your headline.
An example: when thinking about this blog post, my topic sentence was:
To provide an informative, useful, and easy to follow guide to the writing process.
So now it’s time to do the writing. I always think of this time as rough draft time. It takes the pressure off. Another trick I use? I am not allowed to stop until my first draft is done. No coffee breaks, no phone calls, no email, and no bathroom breaks (unless it’s a true emergency).
I suggest you start the process by organizing your thoughts. Use headers as a guide.
An example: I knew my five steps before starting this post. It helped me corral my thoughts and be more effective. Plus I write faster when I already know my main points and structure.
This is where you’re going to spend the most of your time. Writing is time consuming, but revisions are legendary. So where to begin?
This is the time to take a good, hard look at what you’ve produced. Is part of it funny but the rest professional? That is going to confuse readers. Did you use jargon but forget to define it? Is it too long and nobody will get through it without losing interest? Is it too short and you didn’t get your point across? Do what you need to do in order to rework it, even rewriting parts if necessary.
An example: See the paragraph directly above this? Where I ask 4 questions in a row? It used to be 7. Way too many. I took some out and reworked the others to include everything I wanted to say.
The difference between revisions and editing is now you’re not changing the content, you’re perfecting your grammar, syntax, and word choice.
This is the stage where reading out loud to yourself is extremely helpful. You’ll catch weird flow, and if you use the same word too many times. You may even catch a stray comma that doesn’t belong.
Occasionally during this stage I’ll print out what I’m working on and read it off-screen. That’s usually for longer pieces, but it can be effective for catching mistakes.
And anyone who has previously read my posts knows I’m a huge proponent of the 24/48 hour rule. What is that you ask?
After I’m done pre-writing, writing, revising, and editing, I sit on my post. Not literally, but I close my word doc and I don’t open it for 24 hours. At that time I read the post again. If necessary, I rinse and repeat steps revising and editing.
If I’ve got the time, I wait another 24 hours and rinse and repeat again.
An example: I caught 2 grammar mistakes by reading out loud. I used to instead of too. And the second is too embarrassing to share.
Congrats! You get to put all that hard work into the world for everyone to read. Or perhaps just 2-3 people, depending on who it’s going to.
If it’s a blog post, format it to the blog.
If it’s a newsletter, drop it into whatever e-mail marketing tool you use. MailChimp, Constant Contact, whoever.
If it’s a press release, make sure you know how those are supposed to be formatted and then submit it.
An example: You’re reading this, aren’t you?
This 5 step process is the one I use and the one I advocate. Is it too much for you? Did I just scare the bejesus out of you with too many steps? Do you have a process you use that works for you? I’d love to hear about it.