A chilling collection of client fears and the copywriter tricks we use to ease them
The clock reads 4:00 PM. There’s a familiar soreness in your eyes that only a computer screen has the ability to inflict, and your hand is so badly cramped it’s fixed into position around your mouse.
How has this happened again?
How have you let another work day slip, yet be no closer to finding a copywriter. Despite looking at dozens of sites and reading hundreds of message board threads you don’t feel any wiser.
The same happened yesterday. And last week. And the two days you spent on this the week before that.
You’re stuck in a loop. Delirium sets in. You can’t carry on like this.
You have a business that needs you and clients relying on you!
Nodding, you agree with your inner monologue. It’s reasoning: we all go a little mad sometimes and it’s important to carefully decide what’s right for your business, but this is getting ridiculous. This is taking too long!
Time to make an executive decision. Time to pick a copywriter.
Flicking back through the websites of writers you’ve shortlisted you finally settle on one. The power of their copy compels you to write an email requesting their help with copy for your business.
You hit send.
It feels good. For a moment, you relax. You’ve chosen.
But then you remember the horror stories you read in those business forums.
The tales of the copywriters who butcher the copy you wrote when all you wanted was an edit.
The stories of copywriters who ghost clients, starting projects then vanishing for months with no explanation.
The nightmare of clients who paid for copywriter — an affordable copywriter — only to get pages of waffle back that doesn’t sound right at all.
Your stomach is in knots. What have you done?
WHAT HAVE YOU JUST DONE?
This doesn’t have to be your horror story
As copywriters we understand you’ve got fears. Reasons for holding back on booking us and getting the copy your business desperately needs.
I spoke to several of my copywriter pals to get to the root of these evils and banish your nightmares by sharing with you the (very nice and sensible) tricks we use to help you get the best experience possible.
1. Channelling your spirit
A big fear is getting copy you’re unhappy with because it doesn’t sound like you. Especially if we ghostwrite on your behalf and it’s your face and name at the end of it. The last thing you want is reams of copy that doesn’t fit with your business. But, as speaker and copywriter Kate Toon says, we are masters of séance.
“Being a copywriter and ghostwriting a piece is (if we’re sticking with the horror theme!) like running a seance. You talk through us. To make sure we get you we listen carefully to your ideas, values, words and promises and breathe new life into them. Our aim is to sound like you, but a polished, comfortably conversational and more connected version. This way, you get schmick, smooth, seriously awesome words your customers will eat right up rather than something resembling Frankenstein’s monster!”
Kate Toon (KateToon.com)
2. Copy that never dies
A well-written piece of copy should be harder to kill than Dracula. With timely tweaks a single piece of content could offer your marketing plan a chance of eternal life. A very valuable thing indeed, as copywriter Annie explains.
“You may think the fear is paying for copy that “doesn’t work,” as in it doesn’t perform and you feel you’ve spent money unnecessarily. What you may actually be scared of is knowing how to maximise the copy’s potential. For example, a downloadable eBook can also be used for blog posts, landing pages and even social copy. Once you realise you have a single asset that can multitask for several of your content channels, it’s value and the potential to make it work hard for your business, grows enormously.”
Annie Thorpe (Thorpewritingservices.com)
3. The strange case of features vs benefits
Copywriters are taught early on to sell benefits over features. It’s all to do with getting the audience to make an emotional connection with the product. However, as Andre points out, if you’ve got a hot new item or service naturally you want to sing about its transformative powers.
“Clients fear the copy won’t be effective because I’ve focussed on benefits instead of hitting readers over the head with a bunch of technical features. Features that could be drenched in jargon and are overly complex. So instead I explain the difference between selling a mattress and a good night’s sleep. This seems to do the trick most of the time when demonstrating the power of benefits over features.”
Andre Spiteri (Maverickwords.com)
4. The curse of marketing
Copywriting and content marketing get a bad name, because ultimately, it’s a form of marketing and encouraging sales. The idea of sales makes people feel icky in an Exorcist, projectile vomit kinda way. Not being overly pushy is a good thing, but as Louise rightly points out, it shouldn’t be something you fear and avoid.
“Lots of clients, especially those new to business or online marketing, worry about coming across as too salesy or pushy in their copy. It’s particularly common in the health, wellness and coaching industries where trust is currency. While ‘bro marketing’ is definitely a thing to be avoided, I like to remind clients that if they have a product or programme that benefits people in some way, they’re doing them a disservice by not telling them about it. Copywriting techniques, like the benefits over features approach Andre mentions, make the decision to buy easier for the consumer ad still stays true to the client’s values.”
Louise Shanahan (thecopyprescription.com)
5. 28 industries later…
Some copywriters specialise in a particular industry. Others don’t. It would be impossible for us to become the level of expert you are. Even those who do specialise (or niche as we call it) can’t be expected to know absolutely everything. So, you may worry about how we can write for you. Just remember, it’s our job to write and connect you to your audience. Copywriter Mary Whitehouse sums this up perfectly.
“Some clients are afraid I won’t understand the details of their product or service because I’m not an engineer/doctor/financial adviser, [insert name of your industry here]. Just remember, as your copywriter it’s my job to write and connect you to your audience through your messaging, just as Kate said earlier. I’m here to help your client understand what you do so I make sure I understand enough to make it understandable to your clients.”
Mary Whitehouse (word-service.com)
How we get to know enough comes from a thorough briefing process, which is something every copywriter worth their salt will go through with you. In detail.
6. The root of all evil
Of all the fears, actually paying a copywriter is the biggest. There’s a very real fear of getting ripped off, short changed and generally screwed. We get it. There are some evil copywriting cowboys out there. But where there’s bad, there’s also good and us good’uns have a few tricks to try help you out, as these lovely folks explain.
“To allay money fears, I suggest clients check out a copywriter’s website. For me, personally, I’ll point out all the fabulous testimonials from previous customers saying how fabbo I am and basically, ‘Trust me. I’m a clever copywriter.’ I also send them to my website portfolio so they can see for themselves the range and quality of my work.” Heather Millar (zestcommunications.com.au)
“Regular conversations show I know what I’m talking about. Referrals from other clients and copywriters should also help put your mind at ease. Plus, I offer unsure clients a chance to test me out on a small paid job, usually a bog article.” Kate Merryweather (dotcomwords.com.au)
Seeking out a copywriter with a small ‘try-before-you-buy’ service is a great way to find out if you’re a good match, without blowing your budget. For me, that’s The Tasting Paddle.
“Your fear is that we’re not value for money, because who could possibly know the bones of your business better than you? So surely, writing a few hundred words about it won’t take long. Therefore, why spend the cash? Unfortunately, it isn’t just a few words on a page. As a copywriter, we learn the tricks needed to dig deep and find your audience’s pain points and deliver the screamingly-good solutions they’re searching for. It’s the research, the client interviews, the time we take to consider language. That’s the value you’re getting from us.” Cal Chikwendu (calchikwendu.com.au)
Working with the right copywriter is a real treat
Like any collaboration and partnership, working with a copywriter should be a positive experience. You get to work with someone who cares about you, your business, your clients and digs deep into everything you do and offer. The result is messaging and copy that works hard for your business by attracting the right people.
Working with someone for the first time might feel daunting, but if you’re haunted by any of the fears mentioned in this post and they’re stopping you from working with a copywriter then it’s time to tackle them head on.
My advice: email the copywriter you’re thinking of working with. Ask them the questions that are giving you the heebie-jeebies. In most cases, they’ll be more than happy to help. Myself included. Door is always open.
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