I absolutely love words, grammar, and punctuation. Love them. Of all the tools for tempting and persuading your customers, I think language is not only one of the most powerful, but also the most genuine. When it comes to optimising website conversions, colour-schemes and layouts are incredibly important, as is your font choice and use of images… but these appeal to a primitive part of the brain where words provide more context and, arguably, more meaning.
Writing good copy doesn’t come naturally to everyone. In fact, I’d go as far to say copywriting is an art. If you’re honest enough to admit your writing sucks, and opt to employ the services of a professional copywriter, the next tough job is finding a good one… but how do you distinguish the good from the bad? How do you know whether you’re dealing with an artist, or a sharlatan?
Here’s five things your copywriter should never say:
1. ”We’re cheap.”
Of course you want to pay the lowest price, and newer copywriters looking for experience will struggle to find work if they charge the earth, but there’s a difference between being cheap and being value for money. Firstly, you have to appreciate you get what you pay for. Secondly, if that’s their best quality, what kind of copywriter are you dealing with? Instead of them trying to explain why they’re worth their money, they’re trying to entice you with a lower price. Good copywriters will be able to justify their costs.
Remember: If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.
2. ”We can write about anything.”
I think this is a fairly common one as well as a bit of a delicate one. This is because a good agency will have many different experts, with many different specialties, who can write about many different subjects in many different ways. But no writer can write absolutely everything.
Defining a specialty, and learning a craft takes time. And just because a copywriter is able to write one thing well, doesn’t mean they’re able to write all things well. If you were to ask a Mummy Blogger to write an in depth whitepaper on Managing Office Assets, it’s unlikely the result will be much good.
Remember: Jack of all trades, master of none.
3. ”We don’t have an example of our work”
If that Mummy Blogger reckons she can write an in depth whitepaper on Managing Office Assets, she should be able to show you an example of her previous work that indicates that. If she can’t, it’s probably because she doesn’t have any, or has a reason she doesn’t want to show you. Same goes for an agency.
Remember: The proof is in the pudding.
4. They don’t ask what the copy’s for
Ok, this one’s not about what bad copywriters say, but actually what they don’t say. Because if your copywriter doesn’t ask you what the copy’s end use will be, they don’t know who will be reading it, and therefore won’t know how to write it.
The tone, style, structure, and even terminology is likely to be completely different when writing a web page versus a flyer, versus a newsletter, versus a blog post, for example. Where the copy will be published should be of the utmost importance to a copywriter, or they risk writing something totally irrelevant and therefore totally useless.
Remember: There’s no such thing as a stupid question.
5. They don’t ask why you’re after new copy
If you’re looking for a copywriter to rewrite or refresh existing copy, the reason for doing so should be important to them in guiding how the new copy will be written. They need to understand what worked and what didn’t, and then apply it. They need to understand what’s right and wrong, and then apply it. They need to understand what you like and don’t like, and then apply it. If they don’t there’s a risk of a repeat, and then you’ve essentially paid for a(nother) big mistake.
Remember: A little learning is a dangerous thing
Choosing a great copywriter
If you can keep your wits about you, and interview a copywriter or copywriting agency with these things in mind, you’re way more likely to land yourself a decent professional who knows what they’re doing. Be ready to share your business’ life story, make sure you give feedback, and be prepared to invest.