To start out, I would like to express my gratitude to master copywriter Russell Martino for educating me on the extreme depth of the copywriting process and the life of a copywriter. I wasn't always like this. I have previously uttered the words, “it's just copy, anyone can do it,” “just hire anyone,” “just dictate it,” and worst of all, “just write it yourself, all I need is some copy.” Being uneducated about copy and copywriting made it very hard for me to do my job.
Being uneducated was even more detrimental because I ran my agency as an ABC (all by copy) institution. I bought every swipe file on the market, negotiated multi-use licenses and I became the world's best swiper. I also attempted to teach clients how to use a swipe copy and repurpose it.
But please heed caution because, in some cases, repurposing works brilliantly, and in other cases, it does not. If you are a dentist who does cavity fillings and I have copy from another dentist who also does cavity fillings, then I can take the copy from dentist A and repurpose it for dentist B. Now, this should work but you cannot do the repurposing yourself. Kennedy says that this shouldn't work because REALLY GOOD copy is written in the client’s language, voice, and is so customized to them that it simply cannot be repurposed by someone who is not a professional copywriter.
When people would buy my program, they didn’t realize what they had signed on for because I had never underscored the magnitude of what I was asking of them. My whole system, which I sell for tens of thousands of dollars, needs around six funnels, a little north of three dozen HTML web pages, various Infusionsoft campaigns, at least six phone scripts, and around three dozen print elements. This is just to give you a rough idea of what is required for my process to work for a client’s business successfully. Now, this is more content than you wrote in one semester of college. I was asking my clients to do all that copy in less than a month while they had their business life, family life, personal life, and everything else that they had going on.
So when you say, “I WILL WRITE MY OWN COPY,” remember what exactly it is that you are signing up for. I downplayed that fact and I lost customers because of it. I disappointed clients because they took on a project that they had no ability to fulfill. This was absolutely not their fault but neither they nor I were entirely educated about copy. This leads to broken relationships. I learned the hard way that I cannot sell my system to people who do not have the means to produce quality copy at the speed of light.
Every copywriter is afraid of this first time buyer. When they land a deal, every copywriter is shaking in their boots praying that the client is a seasoned buyer. A copywriter should ALWAYS ask new clients, “have you ever paid money to someone to write copy?” If the answer is yes, they should follow-up with, “who was it? When did you buy it? How much did they write? How much did they charge? Can I see their work? Did it work for you and why aren't you hiring them again?” The copywriter should want to know what it is that they can do better than the old copywriter.
Unfortunately, this conversation rarely happens because copywriters may desperately need the money or are scared to poke the sleeping bear. Now some clients are unwilling to share that information but the main issue is not a lack of information but a lack of proper understanding and communication. Many copywriters and buyers have relationship issues.
A potential client will call the copywriter and ask for some samples. So the copywriter will send over some samples but the client has absolutely no idea how to evaluate the samples. The potential client will then inquire about the cost. The copywriter responds and says it will be X amount. But the client is shocked at the price of and walks away from the deal with a bad taste in his/her mouth. The issue is that neither party is speaking each other's language.
I found myself in a very sweet spot of becoming a copy broker because I speak both people’s languages. I have spent tons of my money buying copy. I pay money, buy copy and implement it. Therefore, I have a lot of experience working with both sides. That experience make me realize that there is most definitely a need for translation.
So why would a copywriter come to work for the eLaunchers family. Is it because I have deals and they don't? Without a doubt, that is part of it. I spend a lot of money acquiring deals. It is most definitely good to be an eLaunchers copywriter. But the biggest thing that my copywriters appreciate is that I have pre-educated the client, defined the rules of engagement for pre-copy theater, and determined the scope of work.
So by the time my copywriter talks to the client for the first time, those three things have already happened. Those three things are critical in ensuring a good relationship between client and copywriter. The client now knows what they are buying, why they are buying, the effect of copy, the amount of money they will spend, the duration of the project, and their next steps after writing the check. THAT is what I provide to my copywriters and they love it. So if you are going to hire your own copywriter and if you want to curate a mutually beneficial relationship, learn to buy copy the way that I buy copy. Only then, once you have educated yourself, can you start buying copy on your own.
When someone becomes my customer, I educate them on the importance of having good copy and copywriter that you are willing to trust. Why? Because as someone who is not an expert in copywriting, you WILL NOT KNOW THE DIFFERENCE between GOOD copy and BAD copy. Therefore, you need to be able to trust your copywriter.
Now, in order to really determine if the copy is good, you can take the copy that the copywriter wrote, bring it up-market, and get it critiqued at elaunchers. We host a ‘Copy Critique’ event where we bring Dan Kennedy in and we all go to Ohio. There, Dan reads your copy, rips the copy apart, and then my copywriters in the room come to you and tell you that they will fix everything Dan told you to fix. That is how my days with Dan in copy were born.
In an earlier post, I discussed the issues of bad copy along with the “poisoning of the well” effect. I know people who talk to me, say hi, pick up my calls, and come to my booth but they will never buy from me. They have a mental “X” over my name in their head. They have already made up their mind that they will not buy from me and sometimes I just cannot change it. That is what “poisoning the well” is akin to. It is making all your prospects like the one whom I just mentioned. Leading with bad copy is walking away from deals.
If you want good copy, it is important for you to understand the copy buying process. This post definitely helps. I discuss the importance of managing copy in the overarching marketing theater. Dan gets into the mechanics of what to write and how write it. Russell provides insider knowledge from a professional copywriters vantage point.
I want the profession of copywriting to be standardized, systematized and streamlined to fall under a specific process. Some copywriters won’t like this. They may say that they don't want to be controlled by a controlled process. If their work was a system, they would be demystified with their secrets out in the air. Yes, there is truth to that but the upside of educating the client is huge. The client comes to a copywriter mentally prepared to play and fiscally prepared to pay. The rules of engagement are defined and the role of a copywriter is now budgeted. That is my goal.
On the other end of the spectrum, I had a client, who was making about $74 million in revenue and planned to exceed $110 million in a few years, with a large data problem. I asked her who would do her copywriting work and responded that she did not have a copywriter or even a budget for one. These two encounters showed me the lack of knowledge surrounding copywriting and I made a pledge right then to try to change that. On the other end of the spectrum are publishing companies who have the process of copy buying down to a science. They even have professional copywriters buying copy from freelancers. But between these two extremes, there is a middle ground. You do not need to have the expertise of a publisher but a solid basis of information on copywriting is critical to having a successful relationship with copy.
As a copy buyer, which is what most of you reading this post are, should first look at the numbers that are crunched by the data scientists and identify the perfect opportunities to strike. The copy buyer’s job is to understand the scope of the project and then determine how much of type I, II, III, and IV copy is needed. A copy buyer’s next step is to find available swipe copies from inside or outside the organization. The goal here is to see if we can find a model to follow so the copywriter can simply do copy assembly rather than having to do everything from scratch.
When a professional copywriter assembles copy from a pre-written, well-tested swipe file, they are not reinventing the wheel. Therefore, they are much more likely to be successful. The copy buyer should also schedule an interview with the copywriter and determine what research material the copywriter will require. Finally, a truly successful copy chief should put together a detailed scope of the work needed, present it to the client to ensure that they are not missing anything, get the green light, then send everything to the copywriter. When the copy buyer sends the project they need to ask, “how much will it cost? Are we on the right track? Are we missing anything?”
If you are going to buy copy for a project, this is the role that you are signing up to do. This is what I do at eLaunchers.