Why Ignorance and Copywriting Go Hand in Hand

October 3rd 2017       Sally Ormond       business writing, content creation, copywriting, sales letters

Sally Ormond

 

Why should you go to the trouble of finding a copywriter who can create your content for you when you have a team of people already working with you?

They all have the necessary basic qualifications for work and can write pretty well (some better than others).

Granted, they’re often tied up with their daily workload, but it doesn’t take that long to knock out a sales letter, does it?

All you have to do is tell them the product/service the letter is to be about, and they can just get on with it.

In fact, thinking about it, even the office junior could do it. That way, your sales and customer service team can get on with their important roles without the extra burden.

Am I mad?

Am I trying to make my profession redundant?

Nope. But, more often than not, going through the above thought process is the only way a company realises the value in professionally written content.

A case in point

[Names have been excluded to save blushes.]

A few years ago, a new client approached me asking to create a sales letter for them.

For years they had followed the thought process above. They had a capable team who worked tirelessly for the benefit of the company, so who better to write for them?

They were wrong.

The letters that were being produced were wishy-washy. Their focus was blurred. They said the same thing everyone else in their industry was saying, so there was nothing to make them stand out.

A lot of companies claim to have innovative ways of doing things, and these guys do, but that wasn’t coming across.

Why?

The people writing the letters were too close to the business. Therefore, they couldn’t see the benefit of what they did from their customers’ perspective.

With sales stagnating, they turned to me for help.

I didn’t want to know the ins and outs of the business (I didn’t need to) I just wanted to find out:

  • What made them different from everyone else?
  • How they benefited their customers?
  • Who their customers were and what was important to them?
  • The type of tone/language they wanted to use

These guys are fairly ‘young’ in their industry, and their methods unconventional, and wanted me to show that through the sales letter.

So that’s what I did.

The language I used was visual, the tone playful-yet-professional, the focus was 100% on what they could do for their customers.

As a result, this letter outperformed everything else they’d used.

Then the usual thing happened. My contact moved on. He did pass me onto his replacement, but our first call didn’t go well. I was informed that they would no longer be outsourcing this type of thing because it takes too long to brief an external writer and they had plenty of staff who could create the letters.

Sound familiar?

There was nothing I could do to convince him otherwise, so that was the end of a beautiful relationship. Or was it?

About six months later I got an email out the blue from them asking if I would write another letter (like the one that had performed so well), but this time focusing on a different aspect of their service.

And so the relationship continues.

The moral of this tale

You see, it doesn’t matter how great at writing your people are (which means they can spell and are reasonably competent at grammar), they are too close to your product/service to write about it objectively and from the viewpoint of your customers.

That isn’t just true for sales letters. All your content will benefit from an external pair of eyes.

Being outside your business, we can look beyond the details and focus instead on what is important to your customers.

Next time you’re about to embark on some in-house content writing just think about this tale and decide what you want – content that shouts about your business that’s bland and ignored, or content that focuses completely on your customer and grabs their attention.

A final note

One last thing – if you take the smart option and get in touch with me (or one of my fellow writers) please take on board our advice.

Many years ago, while still a bit green, I created a sales letter for a client. He took one look and insisted it be changed to include three areas of his service without talking about the benefits to his customer.

I tried to argue my point, but he shouted me down and forced me to ruin my strong letter by watering it down. It bombed. To this day I wish I’d had more confidence to stand up for my ideas.

Remember, you’re not paying us for our time; you’re paying us for your experience, insight and accumulated knowledge, so use it wisely.

 

Sally Ormond is an international copywriter. Working across all industries, she creates on-brand content for on and offline marketing as well as internal communications.

Tags: business writing, content creation, copywriting, sales letters
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