The beginning of this month during GKIC’s INFO-Summit, I had the opportunity to present insights on copywriting alongside ‘master of dark arts copywriting extraordinaire’ and fellow grizzled veteran of many wars, John Carlton.
John worked with Sir Gary Halbert, Prince of Print, intimately, for many years, thus earning a Purple Heart and a grand collection of stories; most not suitable for public telling.
Carlton is a renaissance man, rich with life experience and right up at the very top of the list of Living Greats.
We both have our Halbert connections and remember our times with Gary fondly (even the ones that scared us) and value our lessons learned from Gary highly. We are both troubled by the lack of depth of knowledge we observe in many newcomers to direct marketing and copywriting.
Anyway, Carlton and I go way back to when mastery mattered, and people like he and I aspired to it, worked at it, fought for it, paid hefty dues for it.
It’s something as a marketer you should be thinking about too.
As I mentioned in this month’s No B.S. Marketing Letter (if you aren’t currently receiving the No B.S. Marketing Letter, you can get two free months of it here), ‘just because you think you can’t doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.’
Many people think they can’t write or think they write well enough. These trains of thought mean in their minds they think they need not make an effort to learn more or aspire to know more.
On the flip side, entrepreneurs who are the ones that tend to hang out at the top of the money pyramid and are on the most successful, most enviable businesses list, pay top dollar to acquire the best copywriters they can afford, and study what works and what doesn’t.
Whether you think you can write and do, think you can and don’t, or think you can’t and don’t, working to understand copy techniques that drive response is a path worth pursuing.
When you do, you can look to boost your response and achieve exceptional return on investment.
When you don’t, a belief that direct-response copy doesn’t work, an argument that long copy fails, and ‘your business is somehow different’ will most likely be your party line. You’ll also be hanging at the bottom of the money pyramid, with your main marketing strategy being to discount your products and services.
If you think you can write, but have never studied from copywriting masters and don’t continue your pursuit of good copy, danger lurks. Swiping bad copy because your competitor or a big brand name is using it. Presenting a perhaps, well-written message that doesn’t appeal what-so-ever to your target audience.
Believing you can write and choosing to hire a copywriter can have similar consequences. There are many copywriters out there. A few exceptional. Some pretty good. Many mediocre to not so good to awful. The fact that so many businesses don’t pay attention to their copywriting puts you at a huge advantage when you take the time to educate yourself on the science of good copy.
Note I say science, not art, as USA Today would have you believe per their “Win $1 million in free ad space” contest. Copy is a science. There are precise reasons for doing one thing over another. Using certain words, techniques or strategies in one situation and choosing to not use them in other circumstances.
So when you hire someone to write your copy, it is critical, to have an idea that what you are being handed is reliably good.
Yes, not every piece of copy is going to work as well as you’d like or expect—but this is not the way to decide if you should hire a copywriter or not.
Knowing that you are looking at reasonably good copy and understanding why it’s good will help you make better decisions, hire better copywriters and get better results. (Inside “The 7 Key Questions Every Copywriter You Hire MUST Be Able to Answer To Write Killer Direct Response Copy and Create Marketing Campaigns That Will Outsell The Pants Off Your Competition!” is what every business owner should ask before hiring a copywriter.)
Another reason to pay close attention to your copy has to do with being able to attract customers and clients for whom price is not a determining factor in their purchasing. When I wrote No B.S. Marketing to the Affluent in 2008, I made much of the concentration of both wealth and discretionary spending power in the hands of leading edge boomers and seniors. Now in 2012, this is proving true.
Control of money by leading edge boomers and seniors is in the 50% neighborhood. As I show in chapter 12 of my new book, No B.S. Marketing to Leading-Edge Boomers & Seniors, print media and direct mail is vitally important in effectively and successfully marketing to boomers and seniors. This is the media they value, they trust, they pay the most attention to and that they have the most respect for. It requires knowing how to write. Ignore this and you risk half of the population’s money—half of the population that is at the top of the spending pyramid.
Michael Wolff wrote in USA today that “Johnny who can’t write has gone into advertising.” In his article he suggested that all you need to do to get people to pay attention “save Facebook”, “make digital media a decent business” and “move more merchandise” is to bring back the copywriter.
I concur. If you want to stand out among the crowd and rise to the top of the money pyramid—seek out, aspire to and fight for better copy in your ads. Delay equals lost revenue. The time is now to fill this gaping hole in your persuasion strategy.
NOTE: Another one of the “living greats” is Mark Ford (aka Michael Masterson). The chief strategist behind taking AGORA Publishing, the largest internet-based publishing company in the world, from $8 million to $380 Million Mark is notoriously known for taking one business from $180,000 to $135 Million in 11 years.
He too found it disturbing that there was a lack of depth and knowledge in copy-writing—so he co-founded AWAI specifically for the purpose of teaching people how to understand and execute the science of copy-writing.
He spoke a couple of years ago at SuperConference. His wisdom in regards to business and intimate knowledge of copy-writing are worth paying attention to. Here’s a free essay by Mark written for GKIC readers: [link to pdf by Mark Ford]