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October 10, 2011

Why Copywriting is the Litmus Test of Your Online Marketing Readiness

Online marketing requires considerable planning, especially to those promoting a service. Service business owners and independent professionals face multiple challenges of promoting themselves as well as communicating the value of their services.

Therefore service business owners often question whether they are ready to launch a full-scale online marketing effort. Almost always, the question can best be answered by the copywriter – the resource charged with creating and implementing the business’s message strategy.

Copywriting as a Litmus Test

The Merriam Webster Online Dictionary defines a litmus test as, “a test in which a single factor (as an attitude, event, or fact) is decisive.” They give an example of a political party using gun control as a test for a candidate’s acceptability for office.

Over the years, I’ve become convinced that copywriting is the litmus test of an online service business owner’s marketing readiness. For example:

A few years ago I got a call from someone I’ll call Jeanne. She wanted me to write a sales letter for her new high-end coaching program. She had spent a few thousand dollars with a marketing coach who was helping her schedule the launch, with dates for preview calls, letters and joint venture partners. Now she wanted me to work on the copy for the sales letter.

“Terrific!” I said. “I’ll just need some information.”

Jeanne was scheduling a 6-month program. What topics would be covered each month? She didn’t know and she wasn’t planning to decide right away.

Now I was hearing alarm bells. I asked Jeanne for some testimonials from previous clients. She didn’t have any. She had just left her corporate job. She wanted to begin a high-end program, working with a 12-person group over 6 months.

“Okay,” I said. “Maybe your corporate background qualifies you for coaching. Let’s see how we can present your experience.”

Jeanne’s life history was extremely colorful. She had come through some challenges and overcome setbacks. She could have published a memoir. But, she warned me, “You can’t use this in the copy! It’s all private. I just wanted you to have some background.”

In the end, I couldn’t do anything for Jeanne. She just wasn’t ready for copywriting. But the truth is, she wasn’t ready to open the doors for her business. And, like many business owners, she didn’t realize I could have helped her develop a product strategy and brand so she could avoid arriving at a dead end in this way. Sadly, from what I can find online, she’s given up the business and returned to the corporate world.

Copywriting Creates Action

When we start to write copy, that’s where the rubber meets the road. The gaps show up immediately. Even if you’ve worked with half a dozen other consultants, you often won’t know what you need till you start to write. That’s because copywriting requires you to answer questions like

What are you offering?
Who is going to benefit?
Why will they benefit?
Why will they care?
Why are you qualified to deliver those benefits?
How can you make them believe you are qualified?

Once you answer these questions, you know you are ready to share your service with the world. You have a solid offering that prospects can evaluate. Now you can begin creating your actual sales letter – your online advertisement – and get ready to enjoy the rewards.

Are you getting the best possible results from your online marketing? Copywriter Cathy Goodwin creates compelling website content for business owners who are pressed for time. Discover how you can increase your online marketing revenue and attract more clients without killing your productivity or your bank account. Download your free 5-point checklist to assess your own website: