How to hire a copywriter

Most people aren’t entirely sure how to hire
a copywriter. Some people aren’t even entirely clear
why they need professional copywriting services.

The issues

The basic idea of hiring a copywriter is to generate
sales and new business. The copy and content are
supposed to deliver real information in a clear,
comprehensible form for customers. Forget “whiter
and brighter”, this is about talking people into parting
with their money.

Your ad copy needs to provide information and
incentives to buy.

The problem is that people interested in buying
products and services aren’t necessarily interested in
reading a PhD thesis. They simply don’t have the
knowledge base to understand materials of this kind.
They need, in effect, a “from the ground up” form of
knowledge to find the values they’re looking for.

Nor are ad readers and site browsers likely to be
impressed with too much technical detail and legalese.
You don’t need to be a software expert to buy the
software you need. You need to understand the
products and services clearly. You shouldn’t need a
law degree to buy a phone plan. The fact is that most
copy semi-delivers on these needs, providing a mix of
“shopping list” information with disclaimers, etc.

(
This does NOT mean dumbing down, particularly in
B2B copy and web copy, where nursery rhymes and
clichés aren’t exactly appreciated by readers. It means
providing useful information in clearly laid out forms,
while promoting products and services.
)

Ad copy and web content

Most people are experts in their own business. They
know far more than anyone else. They understand
their markets; have great business models and great
products and services, but they need to communicate
the values of their businesses through their ad copy
and web content.

The problem is that their level of knowledge is way
beyond that of their clients.

Ad copy and web content must translate effectively
into clear values for readers.

They need to build a bridge between their expertise
and the audience.

They miss business opportunities in areas where they
really do have superior products and services to sell.

Lack of understanding of the power
of information

Some people simply don’t understand how powerful
ad copy and related information can be. These are the
people who think they’re buying classified ads when
they buy expensive full page dedicated ad copy and
web content. They don’t get the idea that they’re
paying for hard sell copy, not “lawnmower for sale”
standard information.

Let’s clarify:

1.        Ad copy is all about sales, showing values.

2.        Promotional web content (landing pages are a
good example) is a form of copy designed to provide
useful information to support purchasing decisions.

In fairness, I have seen people who were clearly out of
their depth in purchasing copy and web content. I had
one unforgettable experience where a middle manager
didn’t like the idea that their products were called
“leading” products. I’d checked out their competition,
which were selling old-style products at twice the price.

Their own designs were infinitely better, and they
really should have been able to obliterate their major
competitor in the market with one ad campaign.
Instead, they got lost in a word like “leading” and
wound up, to my horror, with very unambitious,
second class stuff that really just reiterated their
existing website content. I’m happy to say I didn’t write
the resulting pathetic mess.

This is frequently the case where the responsibility for
buying ad content is delegated too far down the line.
Junior and middle managers tend to opt for less
aggressive copy. They buy copy which is “corporate”,
but doesn’t actually do very much. They also buy on
the basis of “what they think the boss wants”, not
what the business needs. The result is pretty lousy,
uninteresting copy with far less business value than it
should have, particularly for big money outlays.

As a matter of fact, senior managers are more
receptive to business values and much more likely to
appreciate the value of added business opportunities.
Sales and marketing managers, in particular, are far
more alert in terms of identifying market advantages
and opportunities.  The “C level” people are always in
the loop, but the people buying their ad copy and site
content often aren’t.

How to hire a copywriter- The 3
quotes method, with a twist

The best way to hire a copywriter is the “3 quotes”
approach. Sound out 3 copywriters, then:

Which seemed better informed on your business and
could speak the language of your industry?

Which had more sales ideas, or more inputs about copy
ideas?

Which of them offered cross-marketing ideas, or
business options you haven’t been exploring?

Which provided you with the more interesting, sales-
oriented response?

Most importantly- Which one was asking you the more
relevant questions? (Remember that you’re the source
for information related to copy and content.)

Notice that you’re not asking about rates, experience,
or asking for a pre-rehearsed sales spiel. That
information should already have been provided for
you on their websites.

You’re asking about values for your business.

What can each copywriter do for you?

What added values are they offering? (Web content,
press releases, brochures, flyers, letter drops, B2B,
etc.)

That’s how you hire a copywriter. Get a good one, and
they’ll be able to do any work you need.

If you’re looking at getting productive copy, talk to me.
I’m happy to assist.