When to Hire a Copywriter & What to Expect When Working with One

If you’re in business, you may have found yourself asking questions like: “Do I need to hire a copywriter?” or “When should I hire a copywriter?” or even “What exactly does a copywriter do?” The last one always gets me giggling because it’s a mystery to so many people. I’ve lost count of how many people ask me questions about copyRIGHT when I identify myself as a copyWRITER. (As an aside, I’m not convinced my family understands it, so no shade thrown.) 

So why the giggles? If you’ve ever used the internet or bought any product ever, you’ve  interacted with the work of a copywriter. Spoiler alert, you’re here now. It’s not some new industry born into the age of the internet. Although, fun fact—before I realized I was a copywriter and had been doing it for 15+ years, I thought it went the way of Mad Men. 

Au contraire.  “Copywriters” have been around since the latter half of the 1800s when John Emory Powers took on the first ever full time copywriting role as part of an advertising agency. He even later marketed himself as a freelance copywriter! Enough of the history lesson…let’s talk about what people like me do, and when to hire a copywriter for your business. At a high level, a copywriter is someone who writes for marketing and advertising. It’s a specialized skill, different from creative writing and journalism, and if you run a business, you will at some point need to work with one. 

Should You Hire a Copywriter? 

It’s easy to get trapped in thinking Do I really need to hire a copywriter? No one knows our business, our products better than we do, and it’s not like writing a novel or an essay. How hard can this really be? The truth is writing your own “stuff” can be incredibly hard! Business owners in all industries, including marketing specialists who write for other businesses, still struggle to come up with the wording of their own websites, offers and other advertising. 

Copywriting is both art and science– carefully combining research, skills, best practices and of course creativity to communicate a specific message to a targeted audience in a way that makes them both feel a connection and feel compelled to take action.  

What is “Copy?”

It’s art, it’s science, it’s messaging. But what does that mean?? 

When you read a billboard, that’s copy. When your favorite brands show up in your inbox, that’s copy. When you watch a commercial or advertisement, even though you’re not reading written words, the script was written ahead of time, and yup, you guessed it, that’s copy. 

Found mostly in marketing and advertising, copy always has one of just two possible jobs: 

  1. To incite the reader to take action, or 
  2. To keep them reading to the next line. 

That’s it. It doesn’t matter what kind of copy, either. 

  • Website Copy
  • Brand Messaging
  • Email Copy
  • Sales Copy
  • Long-form Copy
  • Short form Copy
  • Landing page Copy
  • UX Copy
  • SEO Copy
  • Social Media Copy

Even content marketing like blog posts and thought leadership articles are copy, and while it has a completely different feel than sales copy when you’re reading it, every line still must do one of those 2 jobs.

What is a Copywriter Hired to Do?

Writing is only part of the gig. Research and strategy lay the groundwork for writing effective copy. Highly effective copy is based on many factors and moving parts: who is reading it, why they’re reading it, what they’re thinking about at the time, and what action you need them to take once they’re finished reading. The most effective copy is written in Voice of Customer (VOC)

Voice of Customer (VOC) is a specialized market research technique that a copywriter will be able to help you with. When your copy is based on VOC research, it speaks the language of your audience by using the same words and phrases your audience already uses, captivating their attention and resonating with their worldview. 

Market Research

Market research truly is a crucial step you cannot skip– if you don’t know your audience, you cannot write to them. It doesn’t matter if you’re rewriting your website or planning your next promotion, a certain amount of market research is necessary to ensure the success of your project. 

Market research is fundamental and foundational to any writing you need done in your business. Writing to your audience about your business without first doing the market research is like throwing spaghetti at the wall– sure, some of it might stick, but it’s mostly just a mess that confuses people (I mean, why throw spaghetti at a wall??) Market research is the essential first step of my REACH Visibility Trajectory, the framework I created to help businesses reach their ideal prospects. When we work together, we will always start at this step. 

Brand Messaging

Brand messaging should always be the follow up to the market research phase. When you stake out your brand positioning and nail your brand messaging, it means you have a specific way to talk about yourself, your business, your target market, their problems, and the way you solve those problems. More importantly, you talk about all those things in a way that resonates deeply with your ideal prospects. 

Engaging with your audience through your brand messaging is the second step in my REACH Visibility Trajectory, because engagement is how you align your customer’s needs with your brand values and voice.   

Website Copy

Maybe you’re wondering about your website. The website is about you and your business, right, so we can skip the market research stuff? Skipping the market research is just one of a few common mistakes when it comes to writing your business’s website. That’s why market research and brand messaging are #1 and #2 in my process and website copy is 3rd

Website Copy Mistake #1: 

Assuming you don’t need the research because your website is about you and your business. The truth is the function of your website is to act as a roadmap to your business and to mimic your customer’s journey. Voice of customer research plays a big role in that because you have precious little time to capture their attention and prove to them they’re in the right place. They need to know “what’s in it for me”, and VOC helps make sure they see themselves in your stuff.

Website Copy Mistake #2: 

Making it all about what you do, instead of the transformation the reader can look forward to after working with you. The best websites have a strong hero message, meaning they feature the reader as the hero of the story, with the business in a supporting role as the wise guide that helps them get where they want to be. 

Website Copy Mistake #3: 

Putting all the resources into designing a website, with little investment in the words. The common assumption being that since there’s really not a lot of words to come up with, how hard could it be? 

True, it’s not a lot of words, but picking the best ones isn’t easy. 

Although, coming up with website copy can actually be easy breezy, IF you’ve put the work into your brand messaging ahead of time. 

Offers & Sales Messaging

Writing offers is a combination of your brand messaging and your sales messaging. 

Your brand messaging informs your sales messaging, which varies depending on numerous factors, including the audience, the product, the season or the terms of a specific promotion. But your sales messaging must still always reflect your brand messaging.  

Good copywriters use the rules of storytelling to craft messaging that shares information and communicates with an impact, influencing the feelings and actions of the target audience. 

Marketing, Promotions & Advertising

Marketing covers everything you do to get attention for your business, not just ads. Some businesses have even moved away from traditional ads and focus their ad spend exclusively on content marketing

While some people argue that copy and content are separate, they’re often 2 sides of the same coin, or different ends of the spectrum of sales vs information, but both play a role in the sales funnel. 

Your social media posts, time sensitive promotions and offers, building relationships with your prospects and audience through email marketing: a copywriter can help you maintain your brand’s voice and values through consistent messaging at all points of your funnel. 

Not sure what I mean by funnel? You might consider working with a copywriter who specializes in funnels, because a funnel is how we automate your relationship with your audience

Thought Leadership, Lead Magnets & the Resources That Back Up Your Expertise 

One key takeaway I can share from 5 years in business is the value of turning everything you do into a resource you can share with your audience to provide value and demonstrate your expertise. 

These resources can be used as what is called a lead magnet in marketing, or a free resource that you use to grow your email list. 

Something that goes hand in hand with turning everything you do into a resource is creating thought leadership content. 

What is thought leadership in marketing? Thought leadership is part of a content marketing strategy where you publish regularly on your expertise, with a heavy focus on trends and the changes in your industry. 

Online Business Profiles

Does your business have a LinkedIn page? A Facebook page? A Google business listing? Ever sit there staring at the blinking cursor, cursing yourself, wondering why it’s so hard to fill these things out? You’re not alone. A copywriter can help with this. 

Do All Copywriters Do the Same Thing? 

If you’ve ever looked for a copywriter to work with, you may have noticed that many copywriters include their speciality in their title. You might wonder how exactly a B2B copywriter is different from a personality driven copywriter or a B2C copywriter.

The key difference is the audiences they write to. The B2C copywriter is writing from a business directly to the consumer. The B2B copywriter is selling products or services from one business to another and focuses on crafting offers and messaging that resonate with decision makers in businesses responsible for purchasing goods and services for their company. But just because they are writing to another business doesn’t necessarily mean it’s never personality driven copy. It really depends on the business, the audience, the products or services being sold. 

It’s important to keep in mind that regardless of if the message is B2B or B2C, it is ALWAYS a human on the other side of the screen making the decision to buy or not. They might be motivated by different factors based on whether they are buying for themselves or procuring goods/services for a business, but they still make decisions the same way all humans make decisions: based on a feeling, justified by logic. There is a time and place for personality driven copy in the B2B space, and a good copywriter can help you with the research and strategy that reveals the when and where.  

Direct Response/Conversion Copy vs. Brand Messaging/Awareness Copy

Direct response, or conversion copy, is exactly like it sounds: the goal is for the reader to take a desired action immediately. The goal is to convert them from just a reader to a buyer, right then and there. 

Think sales letters (even the video kinds), sales pages and time sensitive promotions.

Brand messaging is the kind of copy that’s meant to build up an awareness of the brand, meant to establish a sense of like know and trust between brand and reader. 

Brand messaging is found in web copy, in advertising, profiles and business listings. 

Why You Don’t Pay Your Copywriter Based on Word Count

In many scenarios, it’s common to think of paying writers by the word. It’s easy to assume more words = more work, more time, and less words = less work, less time. But in fact it’s the opposite when it comes to copy.

A copywriter has to take ALL the words possible, analyzing and assessing and determining which ones will be the best ones, and then distill them down even further from there to fit into headlines and other small spaces. It’s important to remember you are not paying for the number of words you end up with on your website or in your sales letter: you’re paying for the process and expertise, for the way the copywriter specializes in identifying and utilizing the best words to deliver your message.  

Do You Need a Copywriter? 

Do you struggle to come up with the words to say when coming up with offers, promotions, your website or your business profiles? Then you would certainly benefit from working with a copywriter. A VIP copywriting service could be just what you need!  

Some of my favorite projects include helping clients in the coaching space move from 1:1 to 1:many, developing brand messaging and writing website copy. Know you need support in these areas but not sure exactly what that looks like? Schedule a consult and we can figure it out together. 

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