I once got a message on LinkedIn from a man who wanted website content. After hearing my hourly rate, he told me he had found a source charging $5 for 800 words. “Would your content be different? If so, how?” he asked me.
“Yes,” I replied. “Mine would actually be good.”
Unsurprisingly, he didn’t write back. But his question reminded me of many conversations I’d had with clients boiling down to “why should I hire a copywriter?”
There’s always some spoken or unspoken alternative option. Instead of a content farm where I can get 800 words for $5. Instead of writing it myself. Instead of getting my intern to write it.
The fact is, anyone can write some content. If your goal is to have words on paper (or the internet), there are a thousand cheap ways to accomplish that. You don’t need a copywriter to generate a block of the English language.
So when do you need a copywriter?
First of all, a copywriter is a professional writer, usually with a marketing and advertising background (and often a journalism or public relations one as well). There are three key scenarios where you need that expertise:
A good copywriter can make a complicated subject relatable. Consider this example from a recent client of mine:
“Strategy augmentations need to include early failure detection, failure mitigation and post failure cleanup. Copywriting Client Inc. elements set a new industry standard for controlling ferrous contaminants.”
These sentences make perfect sense to the people who wrote them and mean nothing to almost anyone else. When you’re close to the work, it becomes almost impossible to look at your words objectively.
My client’s new website describes the same service this way: “Equipment with a custom-designed Copywriting Client system spends more time operational and needs fewer, less expensive repairs than a regular piece of machinery.”
This happens across industries and there’s a very good chance what you write about your business is Greek to people on the outside. A copywriter helps you communicate clearly to Joe Average what you actually do.
Anyone can write words. Not just anyone can write words inspiring action.
Doing nothing is your customer’s default mode. You have to convince them it’s worth their while to do something. Whether you want them to call, buy, or share on social media, having a copywriter craft the message is mission critical.
Remember the last time you were motivated to donate to a cause, or make a purchase, or share a blog post with your networks. It wasn’t an accident. You were driven to act by words – the donation pitch, the ‘buy now’ button, or the blogger’s wisdom.
Copywriters inject a backbone of marketing strategy into every word. They know what your customer needs to hear to move them past their default “do nothing” mode.
Not all persuasion needs to end in a purchase. Often in the process of running a business, you develop stakeholders who aren’t customers (and may never be.) Nevertheless, they influence your customers and you need them on your side.
Politicians have speechwriters to win hearts and minds. Organizations have copywriters.
Think of a land developer trying to build community support for a condo development. People in the community probably won’t buy a condo down the street. But if they heavily oppose the project, the developer could get a reputation for dividing communities – not a great look for people who market building them.
You can probably think of examples in your own business where a non-customer impacts your bottom line. A relationship that important deserves a copywriter’s powers of persuasion.
Those are the three main situations where you need to hire a copywriter. Next time you run into one of them, before you tackle the keyboard, give your local copywriter a call.