Hopefully by now you have figured out -- or started to think about -- who will be doing your types I - IV copy. But before you decide exactly who will write for you, you first need to decide WHAT needs to be written and its TYPE of copy. Frankly, even thinking about the different types of copy is even more important than who will actually write it because once you DEFINE the ROLE, it is easy to assign the role to the most adept person. In classic business administration, you can have multiple humans in a role and you can have multiple roles in a human.
There are a variety of different configurations and you just have to figure out the one that works best for you and your writers. You could have four separate people for types I - IV or you can do some sort of a combination. A possible mixture that I personally find to be successful is to hire two writers to start with. One would do type 1 and type II work, another will do type III and type IV work. A professional copy chief can tell them what to do.
The first person you want to hire is a copy chief. The role of a copy chief is to be a copy strategist who reads the numbers, collaborates with the data analyst, goes through the customer's value optimization (more thoroughly explained by CEO of Digital Marketer, Ryan Deiss on his blogpost www.digitalmarketer.com/customer-value-optimization), does the copy call, articulate the sales arguments, determine the scope of work, and then delegate the work to the other writers.
At eLaunchers, the chief does about ten percent of production work and about ninety percent of it is done by a principal writer. We use our principal writers to write type I and type II copy and a technical writer to write type III or type IV copy. So if you are going to write your own copy, now you need to fill those roles. If you are going to hire a freelance copywriter, don’t go to online places where you can buy cheap labor. You want to go to a reputable resource that trains copywriters on how to write copy. The organization, AWAI, (American Writers and Artists Institute) has an entire ecosystem of writers, some of who make seven figures a year and others of which are looking for their first opportunity. You can hire whomever you want from there. Or if you really like your competitors copy, call them and ask them who their copywriter is.
Hire someone that you are willing to trust. Finding a writer online or through social media is equivalent of online dating, you might get lucky but usually you will run into what Dan calls ‘monkeys with typewriters.’ You never know who you are going to get. If you are uneducated, any writer off the street could tell you they will do an amazing job and you would not have the means to determine their competency. Being uneducated about copy when hiring a copywriter is like being a tourist in a foreign land who decided it would be a good idea to head into a dark alley in the middle of the night thinking “oh what could possibly go wrong?”
So how can you tell that the writer that you hired is a poor match for you? Talk to them, ask for samples, read the samples as if you were a prospect of whatever they are selling (even better if you can get someone who is actually in the market for whatever they are selling), see how you feel. If you know of a writer that is out of your budget, you can schedule a consultation to get a second opinion on the work of the copywriter you are thinking of hiring. Most senior copywriters will sell you their expert opinion of the copy you show them. You should check references and talk to their past clients.
You can do all of this (and it will be beneficial to you) but to an extent hiring a copywriter for the first time is something of a black hole. If you are doing this for the first time, you will be nervous and understandably so. If you are not nervous, then you probably don't know that magnitude of what you are getting into or you simply do not care all that much. Either way, just remember that the fear is mutual because you look pretty scary to a copywriter who is about to take your money and hope that you are not a crazy client with unreasonable expectations.
Your writer may or may not be your lead strategist but they are definitely key in helping you identify your message to your market. They should also have a consultative role in picking your media platform, marketing mix, intensity, and frequency of your marketing buy. They have right to know everything because everything that you tell them gives them the power to be a more educated writer on your behalf. So if something may seem like data noise to you, still send it over because it may be a particularly important piece of information your writer can run with.
Be prepared to pay them to educate themselves on your and your company. When they are billing you for research, they are not learning how to write. They are learning how to write for YOU and that must happen on your dime or it WILL NOT happen. If that does not happen, you will pay in the quality of you copy receive. It will be substandard copy that is tweaked only to context and not written exclusively for you. Such copy will not be effective. That is bad copy.
Russell and Dan talk about how to tell if copy is good or bad. Let's say you wrote copy for company A. If you can take all of the information about company A out of the copy, replace it with some information about company B, and it works beautifully for company B, then it is BAD COPY. That copy is NOT written to your specific context, situation, and voice. It should effectively articulate you and your company while creating a differentiation between you and your competitors. The copy you receive may be good enough but if you want it to be great, then the trick I just mentioned is a good gauge to determine the quality of the copy.
Let me add something else, neither you, the business owner, nor I, the data scientist, have the means to evaluate if a copy if good or not. So don't ask me or someone like me to read copy and see how I feel about it. Hire a professional copywriter to give you a comprehensive copy critique on the copy that is written for you.
The ultimate test is actually deploying it to your market and measuring its success. If it makes you money, it is good copy.
Good copy is largely situational. The quality of copy you need largely depends on who you are competing against and the other options your buyer is faced with if they do not buy from you today.
From Jeff Walker, I learned that when you are buying something at launch, there are five levels of disbelief that need to be eradicated or at least temporarily suspended for your potential customer:
- Is what they are selling a problem that I have?
- Is this company legitimate and will they solve my problem?
- Will they solve my problem the say that they will?
- Will their solution work?
- Will their solution work for me?
Your copywriter’s job is to either give you eradication or temporary suspension of disbelief. They should establish trust and credibility while building an ambiance where buying from you becomes a natural progression.
Here’s the copywriting ‘formula’ that is used in writing the framework of the Ultimate Conversion Concepts Platform.
- Context and data around the problem
- Statement of problem
- What are the implications of this problem
- Why is it a problem:
- If it gets worse:
- If it is ignored:
- What is the upside if we fix it:
- Framing all the written material with "Common agreement". (Obviously…, clearly… we all know… etc.)
- Proposed Solution:
- Based up on the facts that are presented, (and I think you will agree) I think we all agree that it is prudent to proceed in the following way.
- Statement of solution
- Identify how the solution will solve the problem.
Here is what a copywriter is not. He/she is not a con man who will participate in sucking your client dry. Most copywriters will be productive only if you have a business that is legitimate, moral, and based on a system where lying, cheating, and stealing is unacceptable. If lying, cheating, and stealing is still a factor for you, then most copywriters will fail because they depend on your ability to acquire relationships, get more money from people who already gave you money, and have them become engaged in advocacy to eventually give you meaningful referrals. That whole process is called ascension, retention, and advocacy. If lying, cheating, and stealing is NOT out, then that whole ascension, retention, and advocacy process breaks. Breaking that process means that your customer lifetime value goes down considerably.
Now what is the secret to ascension, retention, and advocacy? It is one word: CONSUMPTION. If your customer fails to consume what they buy then they will subsequently fail to realize the transformation that your copywriter has promised to them through the copy. Losing that is a huge loss because when they don’t realize the value, they will resent the transaction. So the transformation your copywriter has promised has to be delivered and the delivery of that transformation is contingent on what they consume.
Lack of consumption leads to lack of satisfaction which leads to lack of ascension, retention, and advocacy. Lack of ascension, retention, and advocacy will lead to lower customer lifetime value. Lower lifetime value will decrease your ability to justify the money you spend on the acquisition of customers.
This is where level IV copy plays a critical role, it enforces visual consumption and keeps track of the promised transformation therefore making ascension, retention, and advocacy the next step in a natural progression.