Copywriting is the single most important component of Internet marketing. You need copy that attracts clients and converts lookers to buyers. So when you hire a copywriter, you need to get the most benefit from your investment.
Many of my clients tell me, “I paid for copy and it is sitting in a drawer, not my website.” Or they used up their budget for websites that do not attract clients. So here are 9 killer mistakes most professional service businesses make when it comes time to develop your website.
1. Writing copy – not content strategy.
Copywriting is more than putting words on paper. Your copywriter should help you fine-tune your content strategy before writing a single word.
Who is in your target market? Where is your competition? How are you unique?
Your copywriter should ask a series of questions at the very beginning. Expect to complete a questionnaire or participate in a phone interview. Most likely your copywriter will uncover surprising benefits and selling points. You will also get ideas for giveaways and features to add value and promote your business.
2. Creating a website that drowns out the copy.
Ouch. Every so often I write great copy for a website — and the client gives me a tan font on a beige background. Or a well-meaning web designer creates sites that buzz, whir and chirp. Or the copy gets lost in a sea of images, buttons, icons and more.
Your copywriter should offer to work with the web designer to create a site that attracts clients.
Think of your website resources as a football team.
The copywriter is your quarterback. She (or he) will call plays and move the ball to the goal posts so you can score.
The web designer is your offensive line. He (or she) will protect the quarterback and make sure your message gets through.
3. Expecting miracles.
Every so often I get an email like this: “Can you revise our sales letter so we will start getting lots and lots of sales immediately?”
Well, if you have a compelling offer for a service your market really values, and you attract traffic to your website, you will see fast results.
Often your goal will involve getting visitors to sign up for your ezine, not buy immediately. For a “soft” service like coaching, you will need to build relationships over time. Measuring results will be harder.
4. Asking “just a tweak, please! And hold the heavy stuff.”
Good copywriters can’t just tweak a few words in fifteen minutes. They want to learn more about your target market and your goals. Hire the copywriter for a diagnostic review (sometimes called “blueprint,” “critique” or “breakthrough”). Competent copywriters will include suggestions to improve your copy (even a tweak or two as needed).
5. Choosing one version of copy without testing.
For some projects (especially websites) you may be thrilled with copy and explore no further. I recommend asking the copywriter how to compare 2 versions (and if she can help you). You can compare anything. Which headline works best? Does your photo bring you more sign-ups (or cost you)? Does a blue or a red headline deliver more business?
You test one element at a time. And you must have something to be tested: sales or sign-ups for your complimentary product.
6. Insisting on industry experience.
Some of my most effective work has been with services that were completely unfamiliar when I started. I was forced to ask lots of questions, so I didn’t assume what “everybody” knows about benefits and features. Often your copywriter will import out of the box thinking: what’s old-hat in one industry will be exciting and fresh in yours. When in doubt, test.
7. Choosing a copywriter based on a free diagnostic consultation.
Who’s got time these days? Good copywriters are always busy. I like to say I work for myself, selling my own information products. When times are slow, I become my own best client.
Anyway, a complimentary consultation is nothing more than a sales pitch. You won’t get a sense of what the copywriter can do for you or what he’s like to work with. And you rarely get ideas you can use to bring in revenue. Your whole dynamic will shift when money changes hands.
8. Hiring a friend or relative to write copy.
No one should have to choose between family and business. Enough said.
9. Choosing copywriters by their hourly rate.
Prospects often ask copywriters, “What’s your hourly rate?” Then they say, “Wow – that sounds too high” or “That sounds too low – is there a catch?”
Instead, begin with what you need. If you wrote the copy yourself, you would need at least 20 hours for a website (maybe more) and even more for a long-copy sales letter (10-30 pages). Now calculate your own hourly rate – not the copywriter’s. If you charge $100 an hour and you write your own copy, you give up 20 billable hours or $2000.
Or consider how many new clients you might win from better copy. If you average $1000 from each new client, and your new website gets you 2 more clients, you break even by paying $2000. Hopefully you will get many more.