Content is king
The phrase ‘content is king’ originated on the web, reminding us that information is more valuable than visuals. But the principle holds true for every kind of communication. Although presentation and branding are important, what you way is ultimately more important than how you say it.
A copywriter helps you establish exactly what you’re trying to say, and to whom. Then they find the words to express it as clearly as possible, in a way your audience will understand. So when people meet your marketing, they will immediately see why your product or service is important and relevant to them. Making this first, basic connection is far more important than trying to impress people with flashy design.
A sound investment
Content comes remarkably cheap, considering how crucial it is. Even if you’re just creating a basic leaflet, your design and print will cost far more than a freelance copywriter.
Moreover, your copy can live on and on. For example, a concise summary of what your business does might work very well on your website’s home page, welcoming visitors and confirming that they’ve found what they were searching for. But it could also be used in leaflets, brochures, presentations, reports, directory listings and sales letters. In fact, it’s an indispensable part of your marketing, and will pay for itself many times over.
Don’t do it yourself
While you probably can’t print your own brochure or build your own website, you can certainly do your own copywriting. The tools of the trade are in your hands right now. We write all the time at work, then blog in our spare time. Couldn’t you just write it yourself and save the money?
Of course you could. Many people do, and the results are all around us: dull websites, unread sales letters and confusing presentations. And those who get professional help with their copywriting are grateful, because it means they stand out from the crowd. As Red Adair said: ‘If you think hiring a professional is expensive, try hiring an amateur.’
Not sexy enough?
Some of the reluctance to hire freelance copywriters may be to do with product perceptions. Designers can dazzle you with their visual invention. Web developers can grant you access to a password-protected secret garden where your new site is being carefully cultivated. Print reps can bring in boxes of your wonderful, shiny new brochure. But copywriters just email you a boring old Word document.
You need to think carefully about the business value of what you’re buying. While it’s important to reach the appropriate quality standard, marketing should not be a creative love-in where you just indulge your own sensory whims. Every component of the marketing machine should perform as well as it can.
The view from outside
It is very easy to get too close to a communication project. The result is too much focus on in-house concerns, or a lack of essential background. There’s a danger of overestimating what the audience knows – or how much they care. A freelance copywriter can help by taking the part of the audience and ensuring the fundamentals are covered.
By asking very basic questions, the copywriter can sometimes find new angles and approaches, or uncover key issues that need to be addressed. In fact, a willingness to look a bit stupid can be a real asset to a writer. As Zen master Shunryu Suzuki put it: ‘In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.’
Making ideas real
Creative dialogue can help to firm up the details of a new product, service or business plan. Some clients value this ‘strategic conversation’ with a freelance writer more than the words themselves. In the early stages, writing down an idea is a crucial step towards making it real. But it’s essential to choose your words carefully if you want that idea to develop in the right direction.
Working with a copywriter brings focus to that process. Since good writing is about achieving clarity and avoiding ambiguity, involving a copywriter often forces the client to resolve conflicts and choose between mutually exclusive options. This can help to get projects on the right track.
Words are very powerful, shaping the way we think about ourselves and the world. On one level, the company description discussed above is just content to fill up your home page. But on another, it’s the essence of how you want your business to be perceived – by your people, your customers and the world at large. Since this goes to the very heart of your strategy as a business, it’s easy to see why freelance copywriters who can add value in this area are so appreciated by their clients.