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A few words...

How do you choose the right copywriter for you?

Engaging with a copywriter is an important part of communicating your business messages, but have you thought about how to choose the right copywriter for your project?

Like any specialist, copywriters can have different areas of expertise.  So, if you are working to budget, but you want copy that achieves results, here are 10 questions you should ask any copywriter before you engage.

1. Is English your native language?

If the answer is “No.” then you should look carefully at all the communications between you.  It may not show during your initial enquiries, but chances are you will soon identify this as a problem.  If you do, then the materials you are producing may suggest that your business has cut corners and this may damage your professional image.

2. How do you develop your copywriting skills?

You will be able to assess some professionals by the years of experience they possess, but this is not always the best indicator of skill.  A good copywriter is always honing their skills and trying new techniques to appeal to different audiences – a good copywriter will admit to learning something new every day. You can always learn more about the target audience, and what motivates them to act – and it is this ongoing professional development that improves the reach and effect of your messages.  Words are the tools of a copywriter and a skilled copywriter uses words to increase your business profitability. Choose a copywriter that has a plan for continuing their own education.

3. Do you keep abreast of latest trends and messaging platforms?

Your copywriter should be aware of new trends, be learning from peers and be willing to try new vehicles for getting your messages seen by the right audience.  Does your copywriter use platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn, or Google+ and Facebook? Social media is a fantastic way of content marketing; it’s not just about the words that your copywriter uses, it’s also about where these words are seen, and by whom and how often.  Good copywriters should have ideas about utilising different vehicles for promoting your message, and should be able to explain the value (or otherwise) in trying them.  Finding out how they keep up to date with trends could be very important for your campaign or project.

4. Which Professional Organisations or Influencers are you connected to?

Find out whether your copywriter is in contact with, or connected to appropriate individuals or groups.  Is the copywriter in touch with influencers in sectors that are relevant to your campaign or project? There are many professional groups that a copywriter should belong to but it’s also important that they can appeal to influencers that will positively affect your campaign objectives – find out how they would do this

5. Do you have any peers that can provide you with constructive criticism?

Copywriters should use editors or reviewers to make sure their work fits the scope and reads well – especially when working to tight deadlines.  It’s often difficult for a copywriter to review their own work objectively and most copy can be improved by being reviewed by a peer. You may not be the best judge of what is great copy – you’re probably too close to your product or service and probably not a copywriting expert.  It’s worth finding a copywriter that can turn to someone knowledgeable that tells them honestly what needs to be improved, and can make suggestions on how to.

6. Do you base your copy on Direct Response Marketing?

Good copy should demand a response from the audience! Newsletters, blogs, brochures and websites are NOT just about the copy!  Direct Response Marketing is not the only way that a copywriter is trained, but it is a proven technique of getting a reaction.  Your copywriter should take time to learn about the audience for your message, and should be absolutely clear about the action you want them to take before writing anything. You business wants a measurable return on the investment you are making; the copywriter you engage should apply the principles of Direct Marketing to be far more effective in achieving your project or campaign objectives.

7. Do you have a solid grasp of how your copy fits into my overall campaign?

Copywriting is not marketing!  Marketing sets the stage for the sale, identifies the target market, prepares them to receive the message, creates the offer, chooses the most effective media platform and determines the timing of the message. Your copywriter will close the deal with the right message.  A good copywriter will focus each piece of material on achieving a single, definite, action. 

8. Do you understand H2H (Human to Human) communication?

If your copy is to be really effective, your copywriter needs to understand your audience’s pains, fears, joys and other emotions.  A mature, experienced copywriter will often be more effective at hitting these emotions by having a deeper understanding of the human psyche. This is not persuasion, this is helping to choose those things which directly meet their needs and achieve their goals.

9. Do you have a method for gathering the required information from clients?

Your copywriter should be organised and efficient - understanding the campaign objectives and the target market sufficiently at the beginning of the project will prevent delays and will produce a more accurate first draft every time. Questioning at the outset is vital to your project or campaign and your copywriter should provide you with a comprehensive questionnaire.  

10. Do you have a comprehensive checklist to make sure your copy is ready?

You must be confident that when you receive draft copy from your copywriter, it is as good it can be. Like the questionnaire at the start the process, a final checklist (assuming it is used diligently), means you can confidently launch your campaign. Typos, mis-spellings, headlines, emphasis, accuracy and layout should all be covered to make sure the (final) draft is ready to go. There may be some “back and forth” checking before you sign the project off as complete, but before you engage a copywriter you should know that they have a method for checking the quality of their work.

 Finally

Ultimately, your mailing, social, print or web copy will be tested by how clearly it speaks to your target audience, and the responses it evokes.  The psychology behind the copy is as important as the quality of the writing, and the strength of the message. Any copywriter that achieves all these may be expensive but your business should achieve a better Return on Investment

 

 

 

 social media for business isn’t just about telling…is it?

You don’t meet up with friends just to tell them about you, your lot, your plans, your news and not ask how they are, how the family is doing, what they’re up to or how they feelabout something, do you?  Someone I know, (and someone that will remain nameless) regularly posts updates on Facebook and other social media pages, telling the world what she’s up to, how fantastic her recent holiday was, what she has planned for the weekend, how she’s feeling about the weather or how her recent trip to the doctors went. She never posts a question asking us what we think of the latest news, never sends out good wishes or offers of help and support, never asks how we are or whether we enjoyed our holiday; poor show don’t you think? Worse still, she occasionally uses Facebook to ask if “any of her lovely friends out there” could do her a “really big favour”. Who needs friends like that huh?

Imagine how customers would regard Ms Nameless if she communicated with them this way. Never posting anything of real value to them, never offering help or advice, never showing how important their business is to her, but then asking them to “do me a huge favour and complete this quick survey for me” Who needs a supplier like that huh?

What businesses and brands post online says a lot about how they regard friends, connections and customers.

Many brands will see social media as a vehicle for promoting a new service, publicising their latest successes or broadcasting their future plans – they may have a website that runs a “Latest News” page with regular bulletins, some will blog from time to time with a review of a recently completed project and may even tweet what’s on their mind” nowand again. Don’t get me wrong, news is always good to throw into an overall marketing mix, but those brands that get the best from communicating online are those that reallyengage with their audience – showing friends, connections and customers that they care, finding out what people want from them and, sometimes,  offering something for nothing.

Failing to ask customers for their opinions on, say, a new product or service, or to gather feedback on industry news or to offer free help or advice, is a mistake many brands and business make when socialising. Those that ask questions, invite comments, give something away (not just an as incentive to fill out a survey) and get involved with their consumers, will make more friends, get more from business relationships and, ultimately, be more successful.

How does your business engage with the world online? Do you get annoyed by receiving emails that just tell tell tell? Do you struggle to get the balance right when posting on social sites for your business or brand?

Why not share some of your likes (no pun intended, honest), and dislikes below; I’m interested to know whether you think you’re getting enough from your marketing communications.

 

 

writing press releases quickly and efficiently

Posted on September 19, 2012

Get to the point, get a response.

It’s usual to have a tight deadline when writing a press release for an agency. To be able to write an impactful, press release quickly I must be clear about the subject right away; I need to list any specific details that must be included and look at how the subject will appeal to target readers.

By asking a few questions, I can quickly begin to map out the copy and highlight key points to be included.   For example, recently I wrote about an electronics manufacturer that had just been awarded a big defence contract:

“So what is so newsworthy about the clients’ new contract?  Is it their largest contract ever? Does it represent significant growth for the client and/or the industry as a whole? Does it highlight a specific product, service or accreditation that the client wants to promote, what driver or challenge does the new contract provide for?

Can I have all relevant product details, should I name who awarded the contract? How does the client feel about it and can I get a quote from them?

Does the contract mean that the client will be recruiting? Will target readers empathise with the subject, be impressed by the outcome or respond as a result?”

Once I have all the information I need to create a newsworthy press release, I can then quickly produce a 300 word item that will appeal to readers, interest them, stir their desire and, (hopefully) cause them to act.

Do you have some news that you’d like customers, partners and the public to know about? If so, give me a call or drop an email– This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

 

 

 

social media for business isn’t just about telling…is it?

You don’t meet up with friends just to tell them about you, your lot, your plans, your news and not ask how they are, how the family is doing, what they’re up to or how they feel about something, do you?  Someone I know, (and someone that will remain nameless) regularly posts updates on Facebook and other social media pages, telling the world what she’s up to, how fantastic her recent holiday was, what she has planned for the weekend, how she’s feeling about the weather or how her recent trip to the doctors went. She never posts a question asking us what we think of the latest news, never sends out good wishes or offers of help and support, never asks how we are or whether we enjoyed our holiday; poor show don’t you think? Worse still, she occasionally uses Facebook to ask if “any of her lovely friends out there could do her a really big favour and....”. Who needs friends like that huh?

Imagine how customers would regard Ms Nameless if she ran a business and communicated with them this way. Never posting anything of real value to them, never offering help or advice, never showing how important their business is to her, but then asking them to “do me a huge favour and...” Who needs a supplier like that huh?

What businesses and brands post online says a lot about how they regard friends, connections and customers.

Many brands will see social media as a vehicle for promoting a new service, publicising their latest successes or broadcasting their future plans – they may have a website that runs a “Latest News” page with regular bulletins, some will blog from time to time with a review of a recently completed project and may even tweet what’s on their mind” now and again. Don’t get me wrong, news is always good to throw into an overall marketing mix, but those brands that get the best from communicating online are those that really engage with their audience – showing friends, connections and customers that they care, finding out what people want from them and, sometimes, offering something for nothing.

Failing to ask customers for their opinions on, say, a new product or service, or to gather feedback on industry news or to offer free help or advice, is a mistake many brands and business make when socialising. Those that ask questions, invite comments, give something away (not just an as incentive to fill out a survey) and get involved with their consumers, will make more friends, get more from business relationships and, ultimately, be more successful.

How does your business engage with the world online? Do you get annoyed by receiving emails that just tell tell tell? Do you struggle to get the balance right when posting on social sites for your business or brand?

Why not share some of your likes (no pun intended, honest), and dislikes below; I’m interested to know whether you think you’re getting enough from your marketing communications.