As a business owner who is constantly pressed for time, you probably realize you can get more clients with less effort through online marketing. To accomplish this goal, you probably know you need to create website content.
As you get busier, you may be tempted to hire a copywriter to create some or all of your website content. But how can you hire resources without breaking the bank and losing even more time? It is important to understand what your copywriter needs – what’s reasonable and what’s critical to your own online marketing project.
Often when business owners reach me, our dialogue goes like this:
Caller: “Hey, Cathy, I need some copywriting! And I want you to do it.”
Me: “Great. Our first step is the Copywriting Diagnostic and Plan.”
Caller: “Oh no. I just need copywriting.”
If you can relate to this dialogue as the Caller, you are not alone. In fact, you may talk to yourself this way when you write your own copy.
Many business owners think copywriters just pick up their pens (or sit down at their word processors) and start cranking out copy. And if you hire a discount copywriter from a bargain shop, that’s exactly what you may get.
The problem is that your copywriter needs to spend a great deal of time getting to learn you and your business… before writing a single word. That’s why most experienced professional copywriters will insist on a diagnostic or planning session before you begin. What you get from the diagnostic is usually some or all of these benefits:
… a sense of whether you and the copywriter are on the same page (literally)
… a sense of how the copywriter really works (as compared to what she promises in a proposal)
… a list of recommendations that you can apply on your own if you decide to do it yourself (or take to another copywriter if you prefer)
…an understanding of your ideal client’s backstory
… a clearly articulated message strategy
… a definition of your niche that you can use to create marketing materials (which is not always the same as the definition from your business coach or branding consultant)
Some copywriters include the Diagnostic in a package. I keep the consultation separate and then deduct the cost if you decide to work with me on copywriting. That way, you aren’t committed: you can take the Diagnostic and go wherever you like.
Unless your copywriter has lots of time on her hands (not a good sign), she will be far too busy to conduct this Diagnostic free. Occasionally copywriters will offer a special free critique, but you need to be aware that these free sessions are primarily marketing tools. You should get some good advice but not a Diagnostic that can be used to write your copy.
When you hire the copywriter after a Diagnostic, you get content that really reflects your business and targets your niche. You get copy that really works for you.
When you hire a copywriter who doesn’t offer a diagnostic, you get a bunch of words that may or may not relate to what you offer. Sure, you save money and you may see copy fast… but I bet you won’t be happy. And now you’ve invested in something that isn’t working for you.
That’s like buying a ticket to Chicago because it’s cheap and closer to where you live, even though you really need to go to New York to accomplish your goals. Few of us would say that’s a wise investment.
In fact, when I talk to clients who regretted hiring a professional copywriter, they usually acknowledge that they skipped the Diagnostic. Low-end copywriters have to work fast so they cut corners… and this particular short cut can be fatal to your message.
My version of the Diagnostic session can be found here.