Copywriting is one of those disciplines that vexes small business owners. On the one hand, they know they have a need for strong copy because it attracts and persuades prospects to become customers, and existing customers to become repeat customers. When it works, it’s brilliant.
On the other hand, its deceptive simplicity makes it seem like something anyone could do just that—and coupled with media portrayals that peg copywriters as overpaid, creative misfits breeds a kind of contempt for the craft.
What is Good Copy?
At its best, good copy sells. Period. As “The Father of Advertising” David Ogilvy famously said, “If it doesn’t sell, it’s not creative.”
On its way to selling, however, good copy may also creatively alter our perspective, identify overlooked connections between consumers’ experiences, spark the consumer’s imagination with a powerful headline or lead, reflect the copywriter’s capacity for immersion and listening skills—all while avoiding the use of jargon and hyperbole.
But good copy is also succinct. So much so that it’s often difficult for non-marketers—especially entrepreneurs and small business owners—to fully grasp what’s so special about it.
To help clarify, here are five ways a great copywriter can make (or save) your business:
1. Drawing Customer Insights
More and more businesses are using online surveys as a way to engage customers and to determine what product changes, improvements or upgrades would hold the greatest value to them. Without question, surveys are a great tool for divining customer insights—but who has time to complete online surveys?
So, surveys are a great tool for drawing customer input. But you won’t get the maximum benefit of those insights until a skilled copywriter persuades your customers to participate.
2. Indirect Customer Analysis
When a business hires a copywriter to write a direct mail or email campaign, the marketing director or marketing manager will generally provide a packet of materials that includes basic customer profile data and examples of campaigns that have (or haven’t) worked in the past. A sub-par copywriter will review this material and go right to work.
But a great copywriter will review this material and set it aside. Because at that point, the real research begins. The copywriter will gather and analyze ALL material that’s been published on the product or service, as well as the company, including tear sheets of previous ads, brochures, annual reports, catalogs, article reprints, press kits, letters from customers, web forum comments about the company and its products—not to mention competitors’ ads and materials.
The copywriter performs all this research because complete immersion in the product, the company and the marketplace is a key component to creating high quality copy that sells. And, fairly often, during the course of this research, the copywriter will unearth information about the customers’ views that shed light on something the company was either unaware of or not acting upon.
So the great copywriter not only delivers consistently effective and profitable campaign pieces, he or she also yields indirect customer analysis that can impact the way you do business.
3. Lead Generation
Although leads serve a variety of functions—list building, e-newsletter list acquisition, sales leads, etc.—lead generation is simply the act of generating consumer interest in the products or services you sell.
In business, of course, nothing is more challenging than bringing in new customers. Existing customers are much easier to sell to, but you need that constant stream of new customers to achieve sales goals and grow your business.
So, lead generation is the heavy lifting that falls on marketing in order to keep the sales funnel thriving. And it’s where a truly great copywriter can make or save your business.
4. Sales Letters
Sales letters are where copywriters can really make a huge difference to your business. Depending on what product you sell or service you provide, a well-crafted sales letter can be a godsend. From new product launches to re-releases to special offers, nothing can elevate demand for your offering like an expertly written sales letter that fully articulates your value proposition and prompts the reader to take action right now.
Either integrated with your existing marketing plan, or on an as-needed basis to supplement sales, you can think of sales letters as “sales on tap.” Each time you mail a package that was written by a pro, you can bank on meaningful results—and you can thank the copywriter for that.
5. Autoresponder Series
Autoresponders (those simple follow-up messages that you set up in your email service provider account) serve a variety of functions—everything from pre-launch warm-ups, to welcome emails, to customer follow-up. They’re all valid for the purposes of communicating with your audience.
However, a great copywriter can leverage your autoresponder series to lock in prospects who are on the fence about whether or not to buy your product or service, or to upsell new or existing customers to your next-level offering.
For example, the sales letter you just sent out may contain an overarching sales theme with five sub-themes. Whereas your in-house staff may be inclined to fire off autoresponders that echo the overarching theme, a great copywriter may opt to peel out each of those five sub-themes into five separate autoresponders. Since each message addresses one specific concern for your audience, the effect is a series of targeted mini-sales letters which, in turn, result in more sales.
Although copywriting may appear deceptively simple, this vital business skill is essential to pretty much every business’ profitability—and working with a great copywriter can make a significant difference to your bottom line.