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How to use professional copywriters to achieve maximum impact marketing
Plus 5 Time-Tested Copywriting Tips!
Prepared by Osborne Communications, Inc.
Dear Fellow Marketer, It’s a challenge to create just the right copy for your marketing materials. You know your product is good, but conveying your message on paper is not always easy to do. You may feel you lack the writing skills to persuade readers, or maybe you’re just not sure what to write or how to develop an effective call to action. I created this guide to help you incorporate creative and successful copywriting techniques into your marketing campaigns. Inside you’ll learn the characteristics of effective copywriting, along with five tips to make your copy stand out from the crowd. There are also times when it makes more sense to hire a professional writer, especially when you’re not confident in your writing skills, or if you just don’t have the time. I’ve included a few tips on how to recognize when you need a professional copywriter, and then added some valuable information about the copywriting market. Finally, you’ll read some guidelines on how to find and work with your writer, and then added some resources if you’re interested in finding out more about copywriting techniques and services. The team at Osborne Communications is ready to answer your questions about copywriting. To find out more about how we can help you achieve your marketing goals, please call us for a free consultation. Wishing you successful writing,
Jennifer Osborne President, Osborne Communications, Inc.
What is Copywriting?
Quite simply, copywriting is writing words that persuade and sell. The goal of your marketing materials is to make readers aware of your product or service, its benefits, and then to convince them to make a purchase. The words you use to convey this message will influence your readers’ buying decisions. By learning how to write effective copy, you will be more successful at generating new leads and increasing sales. Effective copywriting has a number of characteristics. First, it is written in a style that the reader appreciates. Your message should be clear, concise, and easy to understand. Second, it is written with the reader’s point of view in mind. It contains details about the benefits of the product or service offered and explains how those benefits offer value. Third, effective copy is persuasive. It convinces readers that their lives will be better after they purchase the product or service. Your message should clearly explain why a reader should take advantage of your offer.
Time-Tested Copywriting Tip #1 Write a Strong Lead
Your first sentence or two creates your readers’ first impression on the reader. Will they read on, or move on? The lead sentence needs to communicate a complete message, as well as entice readers to keep reading. You are not only introducing your product, but you are also convincing readers that if they keep reading, they will be able to take advantage of a valuable offer with indispensable benefits. How can you hook your reader? Here are a few ways to start a sales letter or e-mail: • Lead with your offer • Ask a question (be sure to answer it in your copy) • Highlight one of the reader’s fears (that you product or service will solve)
When to Use a Professional Copywriter
You invest a lot time and effort in designing your marketing campaign and developing ideas for strong offers, so you owe it to yourself to maximize your impact. Copywriters provide several benefits to your organization. Writing is a talent that improves when done often, and copywriters use these skills every business day. Second, through experience and training, copywriters have learned how to tap into emotions and phrases that engage the reader and trigger response. Finally, a copywriter provides an objective second-opinion about your entire campaign and can help ensure that your offer is compelling and that you have planned for every aspect of the campaign. If you’re a fantastic writer with plenty of time to devote to marketing, then consider writing your own campaigns. After all, no one knows your business better than you. If on the other hand, you lack
marketing experience, keep a busy schedule, or dread writing, it might be time to find a professional copywriter. Do these situations sound familiar? • You procrastinate when it comes to writing projects because you do not enjoy writing. • You lack the time it takes polish your writing into a professional document. • You know what you want to say but you struggle to find the right words to adequately convey your message. • You struggle with spelling, grammar, and punctuation rules. If these scenarios describe you, then start looking for a copywriter who can fulfill this role for you.
Time-Tested Copywriting Tip #2 Create a solid offer
Let readers know exactly what they stand to receive when they take you up on your offer. Be direct and explicit and make sure they know what they have to do to take advantage of what you are recommending. Your offer should either sell the reader on your product or educate the reader so that they will be more inclined to purchase. What offer works best for software? Recently, MarketingSherpa conducted a survey of software marketers to learn what types of marketing offers produced the most good quality leads.* Top offers were: • • • Free trial – 54% Webcast – 41% White paper – 35%
Choosing and Working With a Copywriter
While you may find copywriting services readily available, you will want to invest more time into choosing one that is right for your business, your goals, and your budget. You are making an investment and trusting someone else to convey your message, so you will want to do a little bit of research. Here are a few tips: • Hire a writer with experience in your industry. They will not only have a better concept of your market, but they will also know some of the language and terminology unique to your business. Take time to talk with your prospects and read what they have written. This will help you decide if you have similar styles and business philosophies. Involve your writer at the start of the project. Ask for ideas that might help lift response rates. Choose the right writer for the project. Make sure the writer’s experience and skills match the requirements for your project. While you don’t want to hire someone lacking the talent you need, you also don’t want to hire an overqualified professional, either.
Three Ways to Work with a Copywriter
When it comes to working with a professional or freelance copywriter, you often have many service options. Some offer a comprehensive communication strategy package, while others prefer to write the content and leave the design, development, and implementation to someone else. Another option is to have a copywriter review what you have already written. Copy only – This is your basic copywriting service, where you hire a writer to provide the copy for your chosen medium. You will have to provide the background materials, a clear purpose, and a solid description of your expectations. Once you communicate your objectives, the copywriter will transform your thoughts into writing suitable for the communication strategy you’ve chosen. You or another professional will manage other the elements of your marketing effort, such as campaign development, graphic design, and follow-up analysis. Soup-to-nuts – Many copywriters enjoy, and even specialize, in helping you design a campaign from start to finish. They will offer advice on how to structure your call to action and which offers to use for best results. They can recommend other professionals, such as graphic designers, to ensure a complete and polished look. If you want the total package, find a copywriter who offers total project management. Besides copywriting, this service typically includes: • • • • • • Consulting with you on key elements of your campaign, such as what to offer your prospects to get the best response Developing a plan to measure you results Working with your graphic designer on concepts and layout – this can be very important Adjusting the copy once it has been placed into a graphic design. Ensuring that the campaign moves smoothly from the designer to the printer to the mail shop. Following up with you to help you analyze results.
Time-Tested Copywriting Tip #3 Repeat your Call to Action
Early in your presentation, tell your readers what you can give them and want you want them to do. An example of a call to action is “Call our 800 number right away to receive this informative free white paper.” Repeat the call to action to remind readers of the steps they need to take to receive the benefits you’ve discussed. Your call to action should tell your readers when and how to respond to your offer. If you could choose just one thing for your customer or prospect to remember about your sales letter, it would be your call to action. That is why you must it more than once in your sales letter.
Copyedit & review – If you already feel relatively confident about your writing skills, you may just need
a second opinion to review your work. Copyeditors will not only proofread for grammatical and spelling errors, but they will also offer suggestions on your organization, word choice, and clarity of ideas. The goal is not to rewrite your entire piece, but to correct errors and help you ensure that you have presented a clear, concise, and effective message.
Time-Tested Copywriting Tip #4 Use a Johnson Box
By highlighting your key message in an easy-to-see place in your marketing materials, you call immediate attention to your purpose. State your message in simple terms and persuade the reader to continue with the rest of the letter. A Johnson Box, sometimes called
What Do Copywriters Cost?
Many copywriters charge by the project, while other set an hourly fee or charge by the word. Depending on the type of copywriting, hourly rates can range from $35 - $150. Expect to pay a fair price for quality work. Writers who are adequately compensated will feel good about their projects and invest their full energy into creating a superior product. Copyediting will cost less, so if you are on a budget and have some writing skills, you may want to try this approach first. Here are some average hourly rates for typical copywriting projects, according to the 2007 edition of Writer’s Market: Advertising copywriting Copyediting for advertising Computer/technical white papers E-mail ad copywriting Newsletter editing Newsletter writing Web page writing $92 $58 $107 $80 $63 $82 $150
If your copy budget is smaller, consider offering an extra bonus for performance. You could pay an additional commission for leads generated, sales closed, etc. This not only provides the writer with extra incentive to produce high quality work, but it also rewards the writer for a job well done. At the same time, you benefit from the additional leads and sales while staying within your budget.
Advantages of Professional Copywriters
Even if you have adequate writing skills, hiring a professional copywriter can be to your advantage in many ways. • Copywriters save you time. Because they have the knowledge and experience, they will often complete the project faster and more efficiently than you. They focus on one aspect of the project – you may be pulled in many different directions throughout the day and find it hard to concentrate on writing. Copywriters write every day. Writing is a skill that improves with constant exercise and practice, and copywriters will have the experience, education, and resources to produce high quality results. Copywriters keep up with what’s working in the industry. They stay abreast of changes in trends and advances in technology. This will help you adapt your marketing campaigns to the changing environment, as well as be a marketing trendsetter in your own industry. Copywriters can help you refine your marketing plan to include stronger offers and better response drivers. Based on their experience, they can often recommend improvements to your strategy to increase your success rate and return on investment. Your business gains an expert resource without full time pay and benefits. By contracting with an independent copywriter, you avoid the costs of hiring employees and paying wages, insurance, employment taxes, and related office expenses. Copywriters can be a virtual resource for you, allowing you to keep a smaller staff. If you don’t require a full-time copywriter, you can contract with one on an as-needed basis. You minimize overhead costs but still benefit from having an expert writer on your team. Copywriters have connections to other professionals such as graphic designers and printers. You can rely on their experience to choose the best professionals to complete and implement your project, rather than spend time researching service providers on your own.
Time-Tested Copywriting Tip #5 Always add a P.S. to Sales Letters
A P.S. is your last chance to emphasize your call to action in a short, simple statement. It is almost always read because it is separated from the body and stands out. It’s your final opportunity to encourage your readers to take advantage of the great deal you have just offered.
Additional Copywriting Resources
Books: The Copywriter’s Handbook: A step-by-step guide to writing copy that sells. By Robert Bly. The Elements of Copywriting: The Essential Guide to Creating Copy That Gets the Results You Want. By Gary Blake, Robert W. Bly The Adweek Copywriting Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Powerful Advertising and Marketing Copy from One of America's Top Copywriters. By Joseph Sugarman Words that Sell, revised and expanded edition. By Richard Bayan Call to Action: Secret Formulas to Improve Online Results. By Bryan Eisenberg, Jeffrey Eisenberg, and Lisa T. Davis On the Web: www.copywriting.com – articles, training, resources, and networking opportunities www.marketingprofs.com – a comprehensive site for marketing resources, including tips and articles on copywriting www.marketingpower.com – the Web site of the American Marketing Association; a resource for marketing advice, trends, tools, and best practices
Osborne Communications helps Sage Software Business Partners create high impact marketing campaigns to achieve sales results. Whether you need to generate new leads, nurture prospects, or stay in touch with existing clients, we’ll help you determine the best messages, offers, and marketing tactics to produce results. We provide a range of copywriting and marketing services, from basic copy-editing to full-service start-to-finish marketing campaign creation. Craft powerful messages for customers when you team up with our professional copywriters for your next: • • • • Web site Direct mail E-mail Newsletter • • • • White paper Success story Brochure Powerpoint presentation
About Osborne Communications
Sage Software Preferred Vendor
Osborne Communications joined the Sage Software Preferred Vendor program in 2006. Our marketing services are pre-approved for Sage Software co-op fund eligibility. We can take care of the paperwork for you, so you’ll pay only the portion not covered by your co-op funds.
© 2008, Osborne Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. Sage Software and the Sage Software logo are registered trademarks of Sage Software, Inc.
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