One day you’re looking over the bids from a group of prospective copywriters. Or you’re writing a check for your copywriter’s last job. It seems like a lot of money. Is it worth it? It’s just a bunch of words.
And then you’re hit by an idea. “Maybe I could write my own copy. Why not? My high school English teacher said I had talent. I write pretty good business letters. It might be fun!”
This isn’t something to be taken lightly. Your sales pieces are critical to the success of your marketing campaigns. And your campaigns are critical to the success of your business. Should you take a chance on writing your own copy? Might you get even better results if you do?
Let’s consider these three alternatives.
Yes, You Should Write Your Own Copy!
There have been a number of businesspeople – with no copywriting experience – who have written highly successful sales pieces for their own companies. One of the best examples of this is the master marketer I worked for at the beginning of my career.
With no training in copywriting, or even in marketing, and no advertising budget, this entrepreneur just started writing sales letters to sell his financial courses.
His big breakthrough came when he wrote a sales piece for his commodity course. The style of the piece was revolutionary for its time, and it was soon widely copied. The piece didn’t just sell a commodity course. It sold a dream. And the way he did it was by telling his own rags to riches story, showing how he was just like the reader and leaving the impression that if he had been able to make a fortune trading commodities, there was no reason why the reader couldn’t do it too.
Now, this man had three things going for him that you would want to emulate if you wrote your own pieces.
#1. Although he had no training, he definitely had a skill for writing. His folksy tone came across as sincere – and its seeming simplicity made it seem perfectly possible for anyone to do what he had done (which, of course, belied the actual talent he had to be able to create that appearance of simplicity).
So, if you can write from the heart, explain things clearly, and have the imagination to create a story that carries the reader along, you’ve got an excellent start.
#2. This entrepreneur understood who his buyers were – what they were really after and what they would find appealing. He knew what their hopes were, what they were concerned about, and what they wanted to hear. And he wrote directly to that. So, if you have that kind of understanding of your customers, you have the next piece of the puzzle.
#3. I think he must have read up on some of the principles of copywriting. Either that or he had a natural understanding of basic rules, like talking about benefits, not features, and always including a strong call to action.
If you’re serious about writing your own sales pieces, you should carefully study all the principles discussed in The Advertising Solution and [study all of the additional resources we provided]. The legendary copywriters knew what they were talking about, and you can learn a lot from them.
It doesn’t hurt for you to give copywriting a try. Who knows? You may end up doing a better job than a paid writer.
No, You Shouldn’t Be Your Own Copywriter!
Writing is not easy. But the better the writing, the easier it looks. That means you might read through a sales piece and think, “That doesn’t look that hard to do. I could do that myself.” But in fact, it might be very hard to do, and require an inborn talent to accomplish.
And it takes more than being good with words to write an effective sales piece. It takes knowledge of the principles of good copywriting. And along with that is the role of experience. Someone who has been writing for years and knows what works and what doesn’t is more likely to write a piece that brings an excellent response than someone who is trying to write for the first time.
Plus, you may think you really have a handle on who your customers are and what would appeal to them, but you may not really know them at all. Unless you’ve done some serious surveys on their demographics and habits, you may not know their range of ages or what interests they have.
An experienced copywriter, especially one who has written in your niche before, may actually have a clearer idea of your target population than you have.
Finally, writing good copy takes time. And I know you have your hands full running a business. Can you really afford to spend your precious evenings and weekends writing a sales piece?
While I applaud the initiative and enthusiasm of non-copywriters who want to try writing their own sales pieces, I just want to emphasize that this is a skilled activity. Dabbling in writing a piece could turn into a marketing disaster.
But, if you still think you can pull it off (and who knows, you just might be able to), then do plan to test how your piece does by running a split test against the piece you’re already using, or against a new piece written by a professional. That’s the only way to know for sure whether writing your own piece is a good idea.
You Could Lend a Helping Hand
You may not be ready to sit down and write your own sales piece, but you can – and should – put your imprint on a piece and play a very important part in ensuring that it has the success you hope it will have. Even an A-list, professional copywriter needs your to help create the best piece possible.
Your personal story may be very compelling subject matter for the piece, and you need to share it with the copywriter. And you clearly know critical facts about your product or service that make it stand out above your competition. In fact, you know your business better than anyone else!
Your copywriter won’t know unless you tell him or her. It’s your story that will raise your sales piece above the cookie cutter level. So make notes about everything that you think could be a valuable addition to the piece. Then talk to your copywriter.
This is especially important if the piece will be written as though it came directly from you. It needs to have your “voice.” Let the copywriter get a feel for how you like to come across – what your personality is like – so that it can be incorporated into the piece.
Working with the copywriter in this way can be the best of both worlds. You have the satisfaction of contributing to the success of the piece, without having to go through the chore of writing it. And it will be a chore if writing is not something you love to do.
So, those are your three alternatives:
a) You can try writing your own piece.
b) You can let a seasoned copywriter do it.
c) You can let a copywriter do it, but you provide the needed input to get a piece that sounds like it came from you so it has the professional touch.
About guest blogger Craig Simpson: Craig is the nation’s leading direct mail consultant and coach. He sends out over 300 mailings per year for his private clients. You may contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or to order his books, The Direct Mail Solution and The Advertising Solution, visit Amazon.com