Prospect awareness is a big deal for copywriters. If your prospect is completely unaware of what you’re trying to sell, well, good luck with that.
On the other hand, if your prospect knows you and your product as well as your competitors’ and their competing products, and they TRUST you, it’s easy peasy to make the sale. All you need do is let them know why they should buy it from you and not someone else.
That’s a perfect example of low hanging fruit. Easy pickings.
But what about everything in between?
Let’s start with trust. If there’s zero trust (because they don’t know who you are), you’ll need to develop that along the way.
If they’ve heard of you in a good way, that’s step 1 of trust dealt with and they’ll be happy to hear more about what you’ve got.
If they like what they hear, then they’ll probably check out the product a little further (eg. read more of your sales copy).
If they still like it, they might decide to check you out (which is why mini bio’s are often included in copy), or they might have a question about the product you haven’t yet answered. That’s a signal to add some proof or tell them about the feature and benefit you’ve been saving up for exactly this moment.
At this point, they may wonder who else is using it (that’s the time to insert a testimonial).
And if they’re getting hooked, they’ll also be thinking about the price. That’s a strong suggestion for you to price anchor them.
And so it continues on to the call to action. If they stop at any point, it’s either because your copy got boring, lost their trust, or they realised it wasn’t for them (if they don’t get past the headline or first paragraph, then they were never your target audience in the first place).
Think about these things when you next write some copy.
PS. How do you know where the sticking points are? Hook up your sales copy with a scroll tracker (I use mouseflow, but there are plenty of others). You won’t know why they hung around certain areas of your copy, but at least you have an idea where to look, and having fixed it, you can send more traffic and see if it improves (don’t forget to start the tracker off from scratch again though).
No matter where you are in business, your ultimate success (along with integrity, reputation and happiness) depends on your honesty (cheating is an option, but anyone can do that, which is why there’s no value in it – money yes, value no).
Imagine if families spent all their time talking with each other in marketing speak:
At breakfast: “Who else wants to lose weight and 10x their income in the next 12 hours?”
At lunch: “This offer is going away forever if you don’t eat your sprouts.”
At bedtime: “Last chance. Miss this and you miss out. You snooze, you lose.”
If we’re in a place where we know everyone is trying to sell something, we feel at ease doing exactly that. But what if we talked to everyone as our natural selves – no context other than being yourself. If you’ve not done that recently (eg. at a network meeting) give it a go (and then try the same tactic in your writing).
The best copywriting inspires people to do something. If that thing they’ve been inspired to do actually works, they become lifelong fans (and not one-hit wonders).
One way you can help your business is to create what Mutual Capital VC CEO Rick Sapio calls a ‘Catalysing Statement’.
It’s more than a sound bite. It’s the reason a business exists. It’s a single statement that gets everyone excited.
It pulls all the stakeholders together into a single mission. It talks to customers in such a powerful way, they will never buy another brand. “Because You’re Worth It”.
“A computer on every desktop” said Bill Gates when he announced his mission for Microsoft (and IBM told him he was wasting his time).
“I had a dream…” and millions wanted it too.
It’s all about a vision. It’s why the USA landed a man on the moon in less than 8 years using materials that hadn’t yet been invented.
It’s how you can start thinking about your vision. For me, it’s being number one in your customers’ eyes. “No one remembers who came second”.
Being number one for me, means caring more about your customers than any of your competitors. Do this and they will remain loyal.
Here’s a couple of ideas to help you get hired as a copywriter.
The first is the rule of Simple. Simple ideas. Simple words. The title of Ernest Hemingway’s best known book “The Old Man And The Sea” consists entirely of three letter words. Was that accidental? No. He agonised over every word of everything he wrote. Use simple words.
The second has everything to do with getting work, and it also happens to be a simple idea and a three letter word: Ask.
People love to do favours. Especially when they believe the idea came from themselves.
So here’s the bit that matters. Instead of asking directly for work, reframe it as a question. Eg. “if I were to write a blog piece for you, and it got you some attention – or even work, would you consider hiring me for further work?”
Here’s the 7 steps I would do if I were to start a copywriting business from scratch:
1. Decide who my audience was in terms of business size (the larger the business, the more they will understand – and budget for – the cost).
2. Decide on the industry I wanted to write about – in other words, become a specialist in a specific industry or a niche within an industry.
3. Make sure all my online positioning (in other words everything I put out there) focused on that industry – starting with a blog.
4. Make a list of all the businesses I can find that fit my criteria (business size and industry).
5. Focus on one of these businesses at a time. Find the right person most likely to be interested in what I do (if they have a marketing department, it will be head of marketing).
6. Send them a letter in the first instance explaining who I was and that I’d like to work for them on a freelance basis.
7. Follow up multiple times, but I’d never ever push them. I’d simply remind them who I was, what I did, and that I was for available for hire.
If you do this right, you will never need to dilute yourself across different industries, and you will become the expert in your field with the possibility of becoming a keynote speaker at some point (should you wish that).
Searching for that elusive USP? It’s tough when your product doesn’t seem to hit the mark.
US brewer Anheuser Busch (and all brewers) are in the same boat. I mean, a beer is a beer right? WRONG. Of course not. It’s a bird, it’s a horse, it’s a pinup girl…
Here’s some of the ways Anheuser overcame their ‘commodity’ problem:
1. Use your logo to tell a story. They added an Eagle to their logo implying it was the Eagle of beers (later one of their brands, Budweiser, was dubbed the King of Beers – there’s no limit to this).
2. Be first by creating a geographically unique market out of thin air: “First National Beer”. “Brewed Exclusively in Hell, Michigan” (I made that one up, but you get the idea).
3. Get sexist. The ‘Budweiser Girl’ poster campaign lasted 30 years (please don’t get sexist).
4. Launch a campaign. Anheuser’s USP in 1914 was its year-long newspaper campaign against the threat to personal freedom from prohibition.
When prohibition arrived anyway, they created a new alcohol-free product called Bevo (first to market USP). Half the brewers went bust during prohibition – but not Anheuser.
5. In the 1930’s they used heavy horses to show their historical connection with brewing (“you may love your new car, but you can always rely on a traditional brew” – selling old as new).
6. In the 1950’s they used their 100th anniversary to differentiate. And they attached further differentiation using the association of famous historical characters with their “The Beer of YOUR Lifetime Too” campaign.
7. By 1960 they’d become number one by associating their brand with the mass market. The “people like us drink beer like this” concept, or as they put it “Where there’s life, there’s Bud” (“you’re alive, we’re alive, fancy a pint?”).
8. In 1965 they introduced ‘value’ as a USP with the simple slogan “It’s worth it” (can you see how easy it is to create USP’s? – just add a copywriter – that’s part of the value that members of Science of Copywriting can sell to get new clients).
They missed a trick though. They made it about the beer, not the drinker. L’Oreal stole the idea 7 years later and made it personal (“YOU’RE worth it”).
9. Give it a nickname. Why not use a nickname as your USP? And let’s make it all warm and cozy “Fancy a Bud, bud?”.
10. You can even USP on sound, as in the famous fizzy “Buscssssshhhhh” sound of the cap popping off campaign in the 1970’s. Schweppes did the same thing in the UK.
Here’s a BONUS entry: “If Heineken created copywriters, they would probably be the best in the world”. But since they don’t, you can always join our weekly newsletter and learn how to copywrite like a pro.
A question I often get is “what am I doing wrong?”. The problem with the question is it’s an assumption: “nothing’s happening, therefore it must be me”.
And the problem with that assumption is it’s true. Without you nothing will happen. We all know that, so we do stuff, and then we do more stuff. And still it all comes to nothing.
Then we get desperate and we start asking why the world is so unfair. We blame the planet.
The planet doesn’t respond of course, it has no idea what we’re talking about. It just gets on with what it knows best. And it does that by servicing needs (read James Lovelock’s gloriously detailed study on Gaia).
How does (or can?) the universe know? It listens. Every single element in the universe is unique and monitored – every electron in its own unique space (quantum mechanics).
If anything is out of kilter, the universe responds and fixes it (entropy is the key).
How does all this affect us poor copywriters struggling to find work? It tells us we don’t listen. We become self-absorbed in our failure. The vicious cycle of destruction.
We try networking and that fails for the same reason. We try cold calling, same result. We ask people why nothing’s working, same answer.
To make your fledgling copywriting business successful, you must forget yourself. Looking at yourself is looking into the past. It’s already written. No changes will be found.
So what do you do? Come back tomorrow and I’ll show you.
“When you read something that makes you angry at someone on anti-social media, stop and wonder who started it and why.” – Rick Green – Bloomberg Senior News Editor
This almost always involves a case of injustice. Injustice is huge when it comes to emotional persuasion (which is why it’s used so much on all media channels where the clicks the thing).
Injustice hits our amygdala nearly as fast as pain. Nothing bypasses our consciousness quicker than our sense of what’s right.
The hardest hitting stories are full of injustice.
“Old age pensioner’s much loved pet dog tortured by gang of fourteen year olds.”
“Boy, 8, dies due to overworked doctor’s misdiagnosis.”
“Innocent woman stoned to death in backward thinking country.”
It’s easy to throw rocks at enemies when you employ injustice. And it makes no difference if it’s real or fake. Mud sticks even when it doesn’t exist.
If you’re already feeling a sense of injustice, that’s why.
So be careful when you use this in your copy. It’s perhaps the most powerful weapon in use today.
“Reputations takes years to build and seconds to smash”. We’ve all heard it, and we believe it. But is it true (and does it matter).
Reputation is another name for integrity. Actually doing or being what you say you are going to do or be.
“Integrity takes years to build and seconds to smash”. That’s not true at all. Integrity can be built in a single event. It doesn’t mean it lasts.
We invented reputation as a ‘wisdom of crowds’ way to measure integrity. If enough people say something, then it must be true.
Which means reputation is a sphere of influence thing. Reputation matters more than integrity because of that (we’ll always trust the wisdom of crowds – it’s why we look at reviews – we know there will be fakes, but we trust in the overall picture).
With this in mind, we now have the background necessary to build reputations. And the simplest way to do that is through the rhetorical tool of association (which is why celebrities and well known events are paid so much to sponsor products and brands).
Reputations can be crushed by it too. Trump is king of that (and look what happens when you do).
When we sell products, it’s not just the discount, bonus or other trickery, it’s the value of reputation we’re selling too.
There’s a Latin phrase – Amor Fati. It translates as Love Fate. German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche is famous for coining the term and trying to live by it.
But the concept goes back thousands of years, with writings from Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius and others claiming it to be the only way to live a full and happy life.
I last came across it when I had my bathroom rebuilt and the builder, on encountering a tricky problem he didn’t want to fix, said “it is what it is”.
I told him it wasn’t and could he fix it anyway. He did.
We always have a choice. Accept things as they are, or not. The least stressful is to accept. Amor Fati.
Yet how is progress made? How can we evolve as better copywriters? Do we accept our flaws “it is what it is” or do we strive for more?
Nietzsche certainly did, right up until his full and final mental breakdown. Everything he wrote was done with intent to explore all possibilities. He was never content with anything.
When your clients learn you care this much about your work, they will also be impressed. And if you do nothing else, you will have found your USP.