“If, as a copywriter, you know from experience and talent what should be done in a project or ad… then pure professionalism demands that you stand up and make your case.
If that requires a little attitude, maybe a little bullying or bludgeoning of the client, then that is part of your job: You treat the gig as if the business was yours, and the consequences personal.”
~ John Carlton
Are You Making this Mistake When Hiring a Copywriter?
The biggest mistake a business owner can make when hiring a copywriter is to request a specific item and then get a quote and time-frame for delivery without any additional discussion other than briefing materials.
Many people think about hiring a copywriter the same way they think about ordering at Subway: pick the basic flavour, then add or subtract ingredients until your meal suits your personal preferences and dietary requirements. You can get away with this occasionally, but unless you are hiring budget copywriters who simply take orders and fulfil them, you are losing a lot of business opportunities with this approach.
To use the meal analogy, giving orders like this is like going to a high-end restaurant and then telling the waiter what you want on the plate, rather than choosing a dish and trusting the chef to create a masterpiece of complementary flavours. In a restaurant, you simply don’t get the intended experience (if they allow you to eat there at all), with a copywriter it will reduce the potential success of the campaign.
The Problem with Simply Giving Orders…
If you’re hiring an external copywriter it means that you acknowledge that you don’t have quite the right person in-house… or that you are too busy to execute this particular task. Since you’ve decided that you need some extra help, doesn’t it make sense that you try to maximise their value to your business?
Most copywriters have experience that goes far beyond their ability to actually write copy that delivers results… and the best ones will ask as many questions about the mechanics of delivery and the supporting collateral as the project they are being asked to write. That’s because no single item appears in a vacuum… and nor does any single campaign. Context matters as much as content!
If you simply say, “I want a landing page, white paper, email campaign, authority book etc.” without inviting input from the copywriter about the context because you believe you already have all the other pieces in place, you lose the opportunity to have a fresh set of eyes identify missing or extraneous elements of your campaign that could potentially multiply your ROI.
I was studying a client’s campaign the other day and realised that there was one particular point where an unusual number of people were dropping out. When we looked at what was happening at that point we decided to remove that step… immediately our sales numbers spiked and that gave us an idea for a streamlined campaign with fewer elements that is actually converting even better.
You really can’t divorce the copy from the campaign in which it’s embedded.
Does That Mean I Don’t Trust My Marketing Team?
Absolutely not! This is not necessarily a reflection on anyone in your business, it’s simply an acknowledgement of the fact that no single person or team has all the answers.
Assuming your marketing team shares your goal of positioning your company so that you can see more of your product or service at higher profit margins and they have the expertise to do that, the chances are that they’ll have designed an effective strategy to achieve this objective. I would be willing to wager that if they’re committed to your success they would also agree that a fresh set of eyes on the project might be able to suggest ways of boosting response.
…The Same Principle is True for Designers, Website Builders, and Other Specialists Too
No matter how much you know, you do not know everything about everything… and you also probably know more than you can actually do. For example, I know a bit about design… enough to share principles and rough sketches with a designer, but I guarantee that any designer who also understands marketing will have better ideas and execution than I do. The same is true of your website builder and your campaign builder… with the proviso that they also understand marketing.
Understanding Principles of Direct Response Marketing
Generally speaking, expert technicians may not be your best marketing resources in any area of your business if they don’t also understand marketing. This is usually most obvious when it comes to graphic and website design, but it also applies to copywriting and campaign strategy.
I am no longer shocked when clients or other specialists focus more on technical expertise than outcomes, but I am still saddened. “I like the look / sound of this one better.” Or “This website will do all this… (list of 40 different features).” are the wrong responses. The appropriate response relates to your target market… what your ideal client will notice and respond to (even more than what they like), and ways of making their path to purchase smoother.
Direct response marketing is about creating such an irresistible offer that your ideal client cannot do anything but take action. This applies to every aspect of your marketing and positioning. Just as every element of your copy is designed to lead your reader to the next sentence and the one after that, so every element of your campaign should leave your prospect eagerly waiting for the next step… or the next communication.
So, How Do I Maximise My Marketing ROI?
If you’ve decided to outsource any element of your marketing then you should be talking to people who are not only great at their particular specialty, but who are also passionate about marketing because marketing lies at the heart of your business’s success.
You can identify these people quite quickly when you talk to them since they don’t only talk about the specifics of their craft, they talk about impact and ask questions about related aspects (design, copy, website, campaign design, media) that will affect response. What’s more you’ll usually notice that there is an element of humility in their approach… because they know that the proof of the pudding is in the eating. ie: you can’t predict results for certain until you test the results. They will probably also talk about short-term and long-term profitability because they know from experience that many campaigns work well up-front and then fizzle and die while others gain traction over time and deliver steadily increasing returns for 1-, 2-, 5-years or even longer.
Personally, I’ve noticed that a team of freelancers who are hand-picked for a specific project or series delivers better results than the agency model of operating. I suspect this is because effective marketing flourishes with a regular infusion of fresh perspectives and ideas and the kind of personalities who prefer the challenge of freelancing to the security of a monthly salary are more open to this approach.
The Six-Step Approach to Maximising Marketing ROI
- Know what you want to achieve and your budget for achieving this goal;
- Outline the campaign, make a list of assets required (include those you already have), and media to be used;
- Find your creative team and appoint a lead person. Creatives are generally happy to collaborate and incorporate others’ input, but you need a leader. Most projects require a minimum of copywriter and designer.
- Ask team to analyse and refine the campaign, evaluate existing assets, and determine what else is required.
- Create assets and launch campaign;
- Test, measure, and refine.