“So, that afternoon, I stole her copy of “Tested Advertising Methods” (by John Caples, still a great resource book I recommend to writers)…
… and read enough of it, before she stole it back, to realize I really COULD figure out the gig.
And I did. ”
~ John Carlton
What Sets the Greatest Copywriters Apart?
Let’s assume that you truly believe that great copy makes a difference to your outcomes, the next question you need to ask yourself is: How can I identify (or become) a great copywriter?
As the quotation at the head of this blog demonstrates, anyone who really wants to learn copywriting can… but it demands the same kind of commitment, time, training, investment, and willingness to learn new things as any other valuable skill.
Do you have that kind of time and commitment?
If so, I recommend that you invest in two basic program to get you started:
- John Carlton’s Kickass Copywriting Secrets of a Marketing Rebel ; and
- AWAI’s Accelerated 6-Figure Copywriting Course.
Work through these two problems diligently and follow the principles you learn and you will have the basic copywriting skills needed to write copy for your own business. They are both intensive and require an investment of time and energy, but they will set your feet firmly on the path to write your own copy.
If you aren’t in position to invest your time in learning how to write your own copy, or you aren’t willing to look at your business from an outsider’s perspective (many people, especially extroverts find this hard) then look for a copywriter who is passionate about honing their craft because those people will care enough to do the research needed to understand your business, your customers, and the pain-points your product addresses and write copy that communicates that message.
On Templates and Magic Bullets… aka “The ONE Letter That Solves Everything!”
The Bad News: There is no simple universal solution!
The only way to obtain the perfect sales letter, web copy, email campaigns etc. for your business is to write them or have them specifically written for your business. This is actually why you need to do some copywriting training if you plan to write your own copy. Most business owners sabotage the templates they purchase because they don’t understand what is going on within them, so, instead of customising them, they neuter them.
Templates are the closest thing to a magic bullet, but they still demand your thought and understanding. Even when you use a template that is specifically written for your niche, most business owners aren’t used to thinking beyond the phrases they like to use to describe their own business so they miss their customers’ trigger points.
What About Those Secrets You Mentioned?
There are at least 40 secrets behind every successful sales letter and campaign, including technical, physical, psychological, and emotional components. I use a checklist for every piece of sales copy I write to ensure that I have addressed all of these issues. My experience writing copy, evaluating copy, and analysing results proves that you need all of these elements. I’ve also noticed that there are two factors that transform the outcomes on sales letters:
- Depth of Research;
- Passion and Emotional Engagement.
The best copy is written by people who are passionate about the depth of the problem and the power of the solution. This might be a copywriter who has done their research and can put themselves in the prospect’s shoes, or it might be the business owner themselves. It can be manufactured, but it can’t be faked.
I was talking to an A-list copywriter and asked about his biggest failure and the lesson he learned from it. He spoke of a project where he was completely convinced that the product was ineffective despite testimonials and other proofs. He just didn’t believe in it and even though he had written a strong sales letter he still felt it lacked the stamp of authenticity. He was right. In the end, he gave it to the company and said, “Send out 1000 of these. If you don’t get more than 15% conversion I’ll refund my fee for the letter.”
They sent out the letter which converted at 8% so he refunded his fee. As he told me, “The lesson I learned was cheap at the price of the time and effort I invested: Copywriting is Art as well as Craft and Science… you need to really care and believe in what you’re selling. That has been my guiding light for accepting jobs every since and it part of the reason why I’m an A-lister: I only work on projects that I believe in.
Trying to Choose a Copywriter?
You’re not looking for an academic writer, a technical writer, a creative writer, or a journalist (unless you are writing an academic paper, technical piece, novel, or journal article). Make sure your copywriter is trained in direct response copywriting and is committed to honing their craft.
I block out 3-6 hours every week to read, practice, and hone my copywriting skills and I work with other copywriters in a peer review process to ensure we’re all growing in our craft. It’s interesting to note that the longer we’ve done this the more consistently we’ve written sales letters that over perform.