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May 12, 2011

How to Choose the Right Copywriter for YOU

What Type of Copywriting Are You Looking For?

What kind of copy are you looking for? There are many different kinds. First, there is copywriting by niche specialty. For example: copywriters who only write for alternative health, or financial, or self-help markets. Second, there are copywriters who specialize in the type of copy: landing pages, white papers, video scripts, etc. There is advertising copy. There’s corporate copy such as marketing collateral, newsletters, and product literature. There’s slick ad agency copy. There’s branding, direct response, and B2B. There’s web SEO content and web sales copy.

For the sake of this report I will divide copy into two primary types: copy designed to sell and copy designed for other reasons. Now there is some copy that is supposedly designed to sell, but has no way of measurement. The most powerful type of copy and the hardest one to find is the one that sells. If you just want content, you can find that cheap anywhere.

Think Marketing Strategy First, Copywriting Second

What will your marketing strategy be? Unless you yourself know and understand marketing strategy it’s important to get some feedback on this. Copy is one part of three things: Your message (the copy), your list (or target market), and your marketing strategy (the process of getting the prospect to your copy, through your copy and to your order page).

Good copy multiplies sales results. But you can’t multiply zeroes. If your strategy is off you’ll get zeroes. Almost every copywriter offers a “free” consult. But that’s like trying to go to your doctor and asking for a free visit for him/her to tell you what’s wrong with you. A good doctor will tell you he must be paid for his time, just like any qualified professional.

Usually you get what you pay for, and paying for marketing advice is a good investment because without the correct strategy, the quality of the copy is irrelevant. Keep in mind that you may THINK you know what you need, but unless you are a marketing expert, you may be way off. The right copywriter will be able to help you formulate and clarify an effective marketing strategy, not just write the copy for you. The right copywriter will be a marketing consultant first and foremost.

Which Skill is More Important: Sales or Writing?

Think sales ability first, writing ability second. Advertising is salesmanship multiplied. You’d be far better served having a door-to-door sales person write your copy, than an English teacher, novelist, or business writer.

Why is this? Good writing is persuasive. But getting a person to open their wallet or purse to give you money is going another step further. There is a structure to sales. There is a process that takes a person from not interested, to interested, wanting to know more, and deciding to make a buying decision. That process is different from any other style of writing. In fact great copy can easily be transferred from one media to another. For example, a great sales letter can be turned into a script for a live sales presentation. Conversely, a live sales presentation can be edited and turned into a sales letter.

Experienced professional sales closers are rare. Even more rare are those that can write. There is lots of copy under the category of “marketing copy” that doesn’t really get the job done. Copy written by ad agency copywriters, freelance writers, and even journalists who specialize in commercial writing. Unless the copy has the underlying structure of sales and is asking for a response from the reader that is measurable, it’s really not copywriting that sells.

There are many wannabe writers out there. And even more wannabe copywriters since it’s been turned into a home-based business opportunity. Many, who have no background in sales or writing, are attempting it. Sadly, there is an ocean of mediocrity. And with all the deception it can be very easy to be led astray. If you have to choose between sales or writing ability, choose sales. Sure it may not be the most elegantly worded copy, the rhythm may not be perfect, BUT at least it will have the structure of sales. And that’s what you are ultimately after, right?

Know What You Want the Copy to Do

Know your outcome. This comes straight from Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Or you may have heard it from Tony Robbins. It’s critical to know exactly what you want. Few who go in search of a copywriter have this clarity. This requires some thought beforehand. What specifically do you want the copy to accomplish? What do you want the reader to do as a result of reading the copy? Signup for your free ezine/offer? Compel them to watch a free video. Get them to make a purchase?

When you know your outcome, you will be much more likely to find the copywriter that can help you achieve that outcome. If you are unclear about it, how likely will you be able to find a copywriter who can achieve it? When you can tell the copywriter specifically what you are trying to achieve, they are much more likely to hit the nail on the head.

How Much Will You Invest in Your Copy?

What is your budget? If you only have a few hundred dollars, you may be better off getting a copy critique of your copy or writing a rough draft of your sales pitch yourself and then having a writer edit it – or getting some basic courses on direct marketing so you have a better idea of what good copy entails.

There are wide ranges in fees: Anywhere from $500, to $1500, $2500, $5000, $10,000, even as much as $25,000 plus royalties on sales. But even at that price range you aren’t gonna get a guarantee of results. With business there are risks and rewards. There are too many different factors for anyone to promise you a certain result. If they do, that is a red flag. It can be very risky to take the advice of a rookie copywriter. Like taking legal advice from an inexperienced attorney when you are charged with a crime. Either you buy a copy critique from a known professional copywriter or have a friend read your copy.

Make sure what you are saying comes across clearly, Find out if there are any spots where they stop reading, and ask them if the claims are compelling and most importantly believable. If not, why not?

Do You Have Realistic Expectations About Copywriting?

Have realistic expectations. Almost every copywriter promises to make you more money. The truth is, copy is only one part of successful marketing. And even the absolute best copywriters in the world bomb 20% to 30% of the time. Yet nobody seems to talk about this. That is why the typical guarantee you will see is this: if you don’t make money, we will happily rewrite it for free. That’s ok on the Internet if you aren’t spending a ton of money on your marketing campaign. But what if you ARE spending a lot on advertising or marketing offline to promote? If anybody could actually guarantee you success, they would guarantee to make you money or else refund their fee. But they won’t, because they don’t want to work for free.

Why You Should Consider a Marketing Partner

How to get the best chance for success: Partner with him/her. The deal that all clients are glad to make that no copywriter wants is this: I’ll pay you after I see the sales with a percentage of sales that your copy brings in.

What’s wrong with this? It’s pretty lopsided. Clients fail to implement correctly or something else goes awry. It’s far too easy for the copywriter to end up getting nothing out of the deal. What is fair? Paying a reasonable up front fee and then a portion of sales generated. So be willing to put some skin in the game. The copywriter will work very hard for you when motivated by a share in the potential revenue. Wouldn’t you? This is how it has worked with several of the largest direct marketing companies for many years. The best copywriters in the world realized at some point that they were creating assets for these companies. And that as such they should share in some of the profits generated.

When you follow these guidelines you can find the best copywriter for you. Especially if you are looking for a copywriter that can boost your sales. You don’t need to hire the most expensive copywriter to get the job done.

Ken Hoffman is a strategic business advisor and direct response copywriter. He is the author of “Scientific Advertising For The New Economy.” Download his free report, “17 Website Conversion Strategies To Boost Your Bottom Line.” Download it now from