Sometimes at the dawn of the 20th century, a copywriter named John E. Kennedy, coined the term "Salesmanship in Print". He understood something most technology companies miss.
He understood that well-written clear, crisp, compelling, gizmo-, jargon-, hype- and bullshit-free sales copy, based on well-established marketing and sales principles, can out-produce a live sales force any time of the day, and you don't even incur the exorbitant cost and headache of managing a sales legion.
The other reason why some of the most profitable technology companies go for "salesmanship in print", as opposed to large sales forces doing cold prospecting grunt work, is that the copy is consistent and predictable. That means, its performance can be tracked and improved.
Send out a salesperson to meet ten prospects, and you'll get 10 different meeting processes. No consistency. And how can you improve something that is inconsistent to start with. What to improve? What is the pattern that could be improved? Hell knows.
And now you may say that you still need a large sales force to drum up new business. Fair enough. But then how about the lots of solo techies and small tech companies out there. They don't have sales forces, yet, many of the gross well over $1 million per person.
They use kick-arse copy. Their sales copies do all the legwork, and they meet only those prospects who are ready, willing and able to become paying clients. The sales copy has already qualified these prospects to the hilt, and they've demonstrated unwavering commitment to move forward.
Whereas in larger technology companies the majority of the sales force are busily chasing deadwood prospects. This is why b20% of the sales force are making 80% of the revenue.
That is, not mainly for the copy itself. Many copywriters mistakenly believe that copywriting is about writing the words and that's all. That is, copywriting as a sequence of tactical steps of writing word after word on a piece of paper or on a website. But that's not all.
It's about the overall strategy of what those words are to achieve in the context of your selling and your overall business strategy.
There are many considerations here, including but not limited to timing, your offer, the state of the marketplace, the bullet points, the description of the market's problem and your solution, your credibility and many others. It's all like a puzzle, and the words you write are just one piece of the puzzle.
Small results can come from some occasional good copy in an ad, on a postcard or on your website. But the consistency comes from a good business development strategy. It's the work that has to be done even before writing one single word.
Copywriting is like cooking in a way. Before you start cooking you need the prepared ingredients, the tried and tested (tasted?) recipe, a kitchen to cook in and all necessary cooking gear. And of course you need a cook or a team of cooks who actually know how to put the pieces together.
Good copy doesn't fall from the sky, and most technology professionals have never learnt how to write copy. Although many mistakenly believe they can write copy because they can write technical documents and specification. But they're not the same. They know how to write to inform and educate. But they're not skilled at writing to sell.
We have to go through several exercises to find the verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs, phrases and other bits and bobs that best describe your business and your offers. Then, and only then we can start assembling these bits and bobs into comprehensive copy.
The problem is that when technology companies use their own office- or technical staff to write copy, they don't have the patience to go through the necessary preliminary steps. They start cooking, and when the oil is sizzling hot, they realise that the recipe has gone missing, the dog has eaten half of the ingredients, and instead of stainless steel pots, they only have some old beaten-up aluminium pots and blunt knives with last week's menu clearly visible and smellable on them. And on the top of all this upheaval, someone has forgotten to chop wood, so the fire is on its way out. And in their desperation, they try to make a gourmet meal out of this pile of rubbish over the heat of a cigarette lighter.
Then they fail and declare, "This copy crap is totally useless. Let's go back to cute pictures and fancy slogans, the cold-calling centre in India and an army of cold-prospecting peddlers."
Good copywriting is the approach smart technology business owners use. With the aid of a computer and a printer or the web, you can reach out to thousands of prospects with the press of a button or the mailing of a letter. Great promotional copy liberates you from having to run a large sales force, over 80% of which are just cruising and you pay for the cruise, and 43% will be working for your competition within one year.
The purpose of having great sales copy both on your off-line materials and website is to gradually warming up your prospects to taking certain actions, like making a decision and buying something from you. And the key of achieving this is not assembling a legion of salespeople and sending them out to pound pavements, but accomplishing even better results using salesmanship in print. Sending out your written salespeople.
It's a typical problem for most technology companies. When they want to increase their sales, they choose the least effective method: They hire more salespeople and send them out to do more cold prospecting drudgery. But this approach is both expensive and ineffective. In many cases greed-driven commissioned salespeople antagonise their best prospects, so when they are ready to buy, they automatically go to the competition. Then salespeople start chasing new prospects even harder. And a few become - usually one-deal - clients, but the majority, again, land in the welcoming arms of the competition. Then the cycle repeats over and over again.
Some people say, "This copywriting stuff is bullshit, man! A picture is worth of a thousand words."
Well, in a way, yes... But which thousand? Pictures don't talk about that.
When you see a picture of surgeon with a scalpel, how do you know if she's about to perform a life-saving heart surgery or an autopsy on someone whose heart surgery went apeshit? From the patient's perspective the difference is unspeakably huge. As a former embalmer, I can report to you that the difference can be somewhat profound.
When you see a man with a spade, is he a gardener or a gravedigger? As an ex-gravedigger, I can confirm the difference is staggering.
When you see a woman with a knife, is she a family-centred housewife about to kill a chicken for Sunday lunch or a psychopath about to slay her family?
Do you know that doctors and butchers wear exactly the same kind of coat? Well, the difference is only visible after they finish their shifts.
Yes, a picture is worth of a thousand words. But which thousand? You'll never know that without words.
The fact is that instead of more and fancier pictures, we need powerful words. Simply because...
Good copy can be your weapon of mass destruction to convert more of your first-time visitors into returning visitors and then paying clients. Also, you can use words to entice clients from your competitors.
Just imagine. Your headline alone can make as much as 2,100% difference in your response rate.
Great copywriting makes the desired difference in your sales. The right words used in the right context in the right sequence will. Hard and heart hitting messages will.
One thing to consider. One face-to-face appointment with a prospect cost about $350. Besides, most technology companies lose some 75% of their new sales leads.
It is both good and bad.
Now calculate how many appointments your people have a week, and multiply that number by $350.
That's it, my friend. You are forking out a small fortune chasing people all over hell's half acre, hoping that some day they will do business with you. Some may, but in the meantime you may run your feet to the bone in the pursuit. Also consider the money you spend on the chasing process.
Masterfully crafted copy means you can dedicate more time for what you do best and your messages furnish you with qualified sales leads.
It will help you to increase your...
Heavyweight copy - when written correctly - can be your greatest salesperson you ever employ...
Written incorrectly though, your sales copy can undermine your salespeople's effort to sell your services..
Great technology companies understand that selling at high margins can't be achieved by chasing prospects using flesh-and-blood peddlers, but they have to use great sales copy to attract highly qualified prospects who are ready, willing and able to buy their services.
If we look back on history, it has always been the power of spoken or written words which inspired people to take specific action.
Military generals have always used words to inspire their troops before battles. Can you imagine Lincoln doing the Gettysburg Address by projecting a nice Flash-based website on a screen?
Presidential candidates have always used words to invoke trust and respect in their countries' citizens. They go around campaigning themselves, and I've never seen even one candidate to send out one of their flunkies with a Powerpoint presentation, "Run this show to for the crowd".
Business leaders have always used words to motivate their people for better performance and their target markets to buy from them. Can you imagine selling $1,000,000 plus complex solutions through cold calling or door-to-door?
And strangely enough both military generals, presidential candidates and business leaders motivate their people into action by talking about what's in it for them, and how they'll be better off by winning a battle, voting for a specific politician or working more effectively.
And this is what the art and science of copywriting is all about. With this in mind, under the umbrella of copywriting I write...
White papers (According to TechTarget and CMO Council studies, are one of the most effective sources for helping readers to make purchasing decisions) and case studies. And I dare to say that if you don't have a white paper and some case studies in your marketing mix, then you're drastically reducing your chances of being able to connect with high-level decision-makers.
Different marketing pieces have different response rates. On the top of the pile you have white papers at 79% response rate. Closely behind white papers are case studies. Then there is a huge gap, actually the proverbial Grand Canyon, and then you have the rest. Many of them at lower than 5% response rate.
What all these pieces have in common is that they are expected to gently advance readers in your sales funnel, closer and closer to the point of taking the next step, and to purchase the next appropriate offer in your arsenal. The offer that will further improve their condition. But not by pitching them but offering them valuable information.
All my writings are based on the direct response principle, that is, recipients are expected to make an instant decision about their next actions. This makes my marketing campaigns fully trackable, measurable and quantifiable, so in the next steps we can work on improvements. And the great news is that I've never come across a service that can't be at least 70% pre-sold with written words, without the involvement of one single salesperson.
And a few things I do not write. I simply don't have interest and/or expertise in these areas...
Here are some examples...
Yes, you can achieve all this by employing armies of salespeople, but, as we discussed earlier, you're not a cattle farmer for whom headcount gives the bottom line. You're a business owner who is supposed to create maximum revenue with minimum overhead costs (hence minimum headcount), and in doing so maximising your profits.
The format of my copywriting work is somewhat unique. While most copywriters do the work FOR you in a "tell me what you want and get out of my way" fashion. I prefer to do the work WITH you, so I give the copywriting knowledge and your people give industry- and business-specific knowledge.
Also, I'd like to encourage you to read this article on what to consider before hiring a copywriter: Ten Things To Do Before Hiring A Copywriter
Many people believe their stuff is better than their neighbours'. And maybe it's better. But in the market's perception , stuff is stuff is stuff. As one of my marketing mentors, Dan Kennedy once said is fond of saying...
"There hasn't been an original idea since Moses came down from the mountain."
But what makes the stuff different from other companies' stuff is it's marketing, including it's promotional copy. Copy on your website, copy in your brochure, copy in your follow-up email and everywhere else. The key is to create a perception of difference in the market. And let's forget the nonsense that...
"Our stuff is so good that it sells itself."
Well, nothing sells itself. And Mozart hasn't been the only creator of great stuff who died poor as a church mouse.
Remember, most of the selling takes place in the absence of the salesperson, and while buyers are pondering over your materials. Well, reading your copy. So, what is in your sales copy? If you want to improve it, then let me know.
So, if you want to enjoy the benefits that crisp, clear compelling sales and marketing copy can put into your piggy bank, then follow the link and read my On Becoming A Client document. Relax, there is no obligation here. I've created this package to help people to decide whether or not there is a sound financial justification to initiate the engagement... either with me or another copywriter. The documents are for your own benefit. You return them to me if and only if you decide to go ahead with the copy, and to go ahead with me.