One day, an operations manager at a fellow digital marketer agency approached me. He asked if I could introduce him to a good copywriter. So naturally I agreed and asked what he wanted them to write. And he responded with “everything”. I wanted to make sure I was understanding his request so I said, “you are looking for a copywriter to write everything for all your clients and you want to know who that person is, how much they charge, how you can make a profit, and how can you bring them into the position of a staff writer. Is that what you are asking for?” He was thrilled that I understood so when I said “no” two seconds later, he was slightly shocked.
I explained that you cannot have a copywriter write everything for all your clients. He said, “well, I do not have money to hire multiple people.” I responded that this is not about money. This is about the right person playing the right role for the right customers. As an agency, you are in the authoritative position of diagnosing a need and prescribing a solution. If your solution is calibrated ONLY for your profitability and not on potency for the client, you are then in a position to inadvertently hurt someone's business. Your client will blindly follow your recommendations because that is what they pay you for. Nonetheless, you must know that there are four different types of copy:
- Persuasive sales copy
- Aggressive follow up copy
- Long-term nurture copy
- Visual, sequential, descriptive copy
Persuasive sales copy is essentially a salesmen in an article. People will either read it and buy or they won’t. It is a sales letter, a free report, a video with a pitch. There is a saying by Adlai Stevenson that really struck with me, it read: “do you remember that in classical times when Cicero had finished speaking, the people said, ‘how well he spoke’ but when Demosthenes had finished speaking, they said, ‘Let us march.’” Type I copy is written by a copywriter who has traits of persuading like Demosthenes. You want your type I persuasive copy to have the impact of “let's march.”
Type II copy is called the aggressive follow-up copy. Someone who can write type I copy can write type II copy. They are capable but they will not enjoy writing it and you will probably overpay for having a type I copywriter write a type II copy. An aggressive follow-up is instrumental but you must be careful because aggression in copy is a variable that must be negotiated between the business owner and the copywriter. Eventually, the buyer will meet the seller and the goal is for the client and the copywriter to have an understanding about the message of the content. The aggression needs to be discussed and the copywriter must be completely in-sync with the message that the buyer wants to put out. So an aggressive follow-up is presented to people who raised their hand but then chose not to buy. The idea is to say, “why aren't you buying? Why aren't you buying? Why aren't you buying? Hi, can we talk?”
Type III copy is called long-term nurture. In this type of copy, the aggression is gone and now, you want to provide awesome content. You will absolutely not be able to justify a type I or II copywriter even attempting to write type III copy. While type III and IV copywriters are not as expensive as types I and II but they are all of equal importance. Type III writers need to be prolific. If you are going to have 10,000 words from types I and II then you should have 100,000 words for III and IV. This type of copy says, “alright, you said no. I understand that you are not ready so let's stay in touch. Here’s something you that might find interesting.” This is educational material, delivered on a periodic interval, to keep your company’s name in front of the client and keep it at the top of their minds. Let me be clear, this is not a pitch and you should not be asking for money or appointments. The goal is to build a relationship with your prospect. This is simply keep-in-touch copy.
Finally, type IV copy. This type of copy is a visual, sequential, descriptive copy. This type of writing is what journalism and technical writing students are trained for. It is articulation in words and infographics. It is a “here’s what is about to happen now that you have invested.” You may remember the AAA maps that people used before GPS. You would go to the office and get a map of your destination. That is type IV copy. If we tell you how to go from point A to point B with step-by-step directions, you will do exactly what we tell you. People tend to like to be told about the next step and the subsequent steps. This reduces their anxiety. When I am driving, I like to know if it’s a next right. But in addition to that, I also like to know if I am getting on the highway after I make that right turn. It makes me less anxious and the same applies to your prospects. They are anxious and if you do not address their anxiety problems, type I copy cannot sell and type II copy will not be able to follow-up. At the end of the day, before, during, or after the transaction, type IV copy MUST be consumed in order to make the relationship ENJOYABLE. That is the end goal for all businesses: to have your customer walk away and feel good about what they just bought and be begging to come back for more.
You need ALL four types of copy and no one human can do it all at the speed, skill, and cost effectiveness that you would desire. It is my personal suggestion that you need at least two copywriters, possibly three. Typically, I hire a type I writer, a type II/III writer, and I ask the client to write type IV copy. Many clients come to me and they say, “we have a lot of content that needs to be repurposed, can you use it?” I say of course we can take it. Then what we do is we use that content as research material for type I and II. We use it as raw material for writing type III copy. And we can outright repurpose it for type IV copy. But, be aware that simply because you have a dropbox full of word documents, it DOES NOT mean you have copy that can be swiped.
As I explained before, copy is single handedly responsible for giving you an ROI on ALL your marketing expenses. It serves as the 'main part' of your marketing theater. Everything else is a catalyst that either enhances the effect of copy or facilitates the delivery of the copy. Without POTENT, PERSUASIVE, and RELEVANT copy, everything else is a moot point.
Now I have some homework for you. Look at the last $100,000 you spent (on anything for your business or for your family). In your mind, evaluate what specific entities occurred to make you spend that money. Then see if you are able to identify and distinguish the different types of copy. Consider what was the specific blend that made you buy. But remember that what you evaluate here will not be the secret to unlocking profit in your business. YOU are NOT your BUYER. You are your seller but the point of the exercise is to make you cognisant of the different types of copy.