After all, you want it done properly.
You know your business better than anyone. You have the contacts… The happy customers, the product designers, the innovators.
And you need a case study, a white paper, or an autoresponder series. Or perhaps a new squeeze page, social media campaign or tender submission.
So why not do it yourself?
Well, the thing is, writing just isn’t that easy.
Perhaps a good analogy would be to consider two race car drivers: The first a skilled professional, the second an enthusiastic amateur. Even if the professional is given a lesser car to drive, there’s really no question who would win a race.
Now imagine the same race, but in poor conditions such as low visibility, driving rain, and high winds. The professional’s advantage is only increased.
Coming back to writing, it just isn’t as easy as people imagine. It takes time, effort, and numerous editing runs to produce a great piece of sales or marketing copy… even for professionals. And this time, the poor conditions are a competitive market, complex technical products, and customers overwhelmed by choice.
Your project, whatever form it takes, must keep the reader’s interest. Nobody will reach the end if it bores them.
It must be persuasive, as ultimately the reader will be asked to take action. This is true even for educational copy, which may point readers toward email signups, sales materials, or further educational content.
And it must be concise. This is actually a prerequisite for being interesting and persuasive… Nobody wants to read five pages where one would have been enough.
And as renowned author, poet, and philosopher Henry David Thoreau put it:
“Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.”
Simply put, writing in a persuasive, engaging, and concise manner is difficult, and takes both time and practice.
Just like race car driving.
And another issue people have when writing about their own products is they’re simply too close to them.
Believe it or not, this can really be a hindrance.
When you’re trying to sell in writing (or at all, for that matter) it’s important to understand that people’s perceptions are the most important thing. No doubt your product has features and benefits which set it apart from the competition, but choosing the right positioning is vital.
There’s a wonderful scene from the first season of Mad Men, where Don Draper has to figure out a way to sell Luck Strikes cigarettes in the wake of overwhelming new research proving that smoking is harmful.
He’s sitting in a meeting with his boss, Roger, and his clients, Lee Garner Sr. and Lee Garner Jr., and he asks how the cigarettes are made.
Lee Sr.: We breed insect repellant tobacco seeds, plant them in the North Carolina sunshine, grow it, cut it, cure it, toast it…
Don: There you go. There you go.
[Writes on chalkboard and underlines: “IT’S TOASTED.”]
Lee Jr.: But everybody’s else’s tobacco is toasted.
Don: No. Everybody else’s tobacco is poisonous. Lucky Strikes’… is toasted.
Roger: Well, gentlemen, I don’t think I have to tell you what you just witnessed here.
Lee Jr.: I think you do.
Don: Advertising is based on one thing: happiness. And do you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of a road that screams with reassurance that whatever you’re doing is OK. You are OK.
Lee Sr.: It’s toasted. [Smiles] I get it.
Now obviously I’m not suggesting you start selling poisonous products and pass them off as something else.
But this scene really illustrates the point: The tobacco company were too close to their product to realise they could differentiate themselves.
I write for a lot of high-tech and cyber security companies, and one of the biggest issues is always customer understanding. Most people simply don’t understand the products, which makes selling based on actual features difficult.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t do it – you should – but you can’t only do it.
On the one hand, your educational content must explain your products in a way that anybody can understand, and which holds readers’ interest while they learn.
On the other, your marketing materials must sell in a way that doesn’t rely on a full and intricate understanding of how and why your products work better than the competition.
I’m skilled and experienced in both mediums, and I specialise in this combination of writing.
Let me help you.
And yes, I love Mad Men. I’m a copywriter, and it’s a show about copywriters. Go figure.