“Never skimp on your creatives (copywriters and graphic designers) when the outcome of a campaign matters. It has come back to bite me every time I tried.”
~ Brian Kurtz
A lot of people ask this question – because obviously there are many things you ‘could’ invest in to build your business and you need to keep an eye on your cash flow and priorities.
My personal opinion is that investing in professional direct response copywriting (coupled with some strategic marketing advice) is something you should do as early as possible in your business life because cost-effective lead generation and conversion is a crucial element of any successful business. It goes along with the idea that if your business is struggling, the last line item you should cut is your advertising. In the right context, effective direct response copy designed to communicate with your target market can generate substantially more sales and profit.
Consider Developing Your Own Copywriting Skills
I have noticed that business owners who understand and have studied direct response copywriting themselves are usually more successful in their marketing than those who simply outsource their copywriting or try to do it themselves based on the assumption that ‘they already know how to write’. High-converting copywriting is not the same as ‘good’ writing.
Web-copywriting, in particular, is a highly specialised skill that has changed dramatically over the past few years as search engine algorithms have become more sophisticated. One of the benefits of web-copy is that it can be easily optimised after it is published if testing indicates that this is required. On the other hand, print materials for offline use need to be carefully considered beforehand, as, once published, they are expensive to modify.
Copy and Design are Primarily About Communication
One of my clients was running an online/offline promotion for their mixed martial arts business recently and they tested two different promotions. Their goal was to enrol 50 new members in a 13 week self-defence course for women.
The first campaign focused on the sense of empowerment women feel when they know they have self-defence schemes and it featured the light airy facility, women-only classes, the results they delivered (before/after online videos of them defending themselves), etc. Ads, landing pages, brochures, postcards were all elegant and upbeat.
The second campaign focused on the threats women face and their need for self-defence skills so they can feel comfortable. It was pretty dark, some of the images were grainy, and the whole thing was designed to highlight the gravity of the problem. When the business owner showed it to his team they were sceptical but they decided to test it on just 10% of their list and advertising spend.
The second campaign attracted some negative publicity, but it also delivered a 45% conversion rate up front, and with retargeting nearly 70% conversion. The first campaign delivered a respectable 9% conversion (16% with retargeting).
The point here is that if we had followed our competitors’ (or even our designer’s) advice, we wouldn’t have created or sent the second campaign at all… and a lot of women would have been left feeling vulnerable. Direct response professionals (especially copywriters and designers) understand this and their focus is on connecting people who have a problem with an effective solution, rather than being politically correct and ‘nice’.
So, Should I Hire a Professional Copywriter?
If you don’t have the time or interest in learning direct-response copywriting yourself then the sooner you hire a professional (and trust their judgement) the sooner the rewards of effective communication will show up in your bank account.
Even if you do choose to invest your energy into studying copywriting yourself, a professional copywriter will usually deliver a substantial increase in leads and sales. The one additional suggestion I would make is that you look for a direct-response copywriter and ask them some questions regarding their approach to copywriting.