Why your words, not the words of your copywriter, are the key to success


Are you thinking of hiring a copywriter? Here’s how a professional copywriter (me) would approach your project….

The short version: I write copy across a range of industries. So to ensure my copy gets you results, I do research. That means learning about the benefits (“why” your business/product/service is great) as well as the features (“what” your product does). Because the more I know about your business, the more powerful your copy becomes. To uncover the benefits, i use a brief, such as this one

The long version: Have you heard the one about give 500 monkeys 500 typewriters and they’ll bash out the words of Shakespeare within 500 years?

When you can’t wait that long for your copywriter to deliver, you need a brief.

Because when the copywriter really understands what you offer, you get copy that really sells what you offer.

Here’s an example.

There was once a carpenter who knew his trade like nobody else in the industry. With knowledge handed down by seven generations of carpenters, Jack possessed the perfect mix of an artist’s vision and a craftsman’s hands.

He knew the exact wood to choose for any environment. The effect different temperatures had on different woods. And he was like a sommelier, using his sense of smell to judge age and quality.

As Jack got older, arthritis started to affect his hands. Work took longer to complete; standards began to slip. With a heavy heart, he realised he would have to close.

Jack’s last day of business was his 53rd birthday. He’d saved money, but not enough to retire on. Not that he wanted to. His mind and spirit were young. In any case, he was used to working. He wasn’t going to sit around feeling sorry for himself.

A long-time customer, Sarah, heard of his situation.

Sarah was going places. She’d built up a multi-million-pound business within 10 years. How? She’d made good contacts in South America, where high-quality wood was cheap and plentiful.

That wasn’t all. Sarah had a sixth sense when it came to recruiting sales staff. At least it seemed that way to her competitors. She always found people who, even though they often didn’t come from a sales background, knew how to get results.

So she offered him a job selling kitchens.

“Why do you want to hire me?” said the puzzled (now former) carpenter.

Sarah knew someone with an unrivalled insight into wood would be able to sell her kitchens.

For her, hiring Jack was a no-brainer.

Sure enough, Jack became her best salesman. Customers responded to his knowledge, his ability to explain the details, and to highlight advantages that other competitors couldn’t see.

How does this benefit you?

The more a copywriter knows about your business, the easier it is to sell your business.

That’s why you need a brief.

A brief is the quickest and easiest way to give your copywriter the insight and knowledge they need to do the job.

After all, nobody knows your business better than you, right?

So tell the copywriter everything about your business.

Why you operate in a particular way.

How you solve your target audience’s problems.

Why you’re different to your competitors (there’s usually a way to show how you’re different, ie better).

Forward any comments or emails with comments from customers.

Features tell, benefits sell

The copywriter’s role is to filter that information, polish it and create copy that explains how it will benefit your target audience.

Because the “benefit” is key.

People buy based on their emotions (the benefit) and back up their decision using logic (the feature).

Let me explain.

Think high-end cars. Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lexus.

Why do people buy these cars? It’s not just to get from A to B.

They might say it’s because of the features. The engine. The plush interiors. The advanced security.

Yeah, right.

They buy them for the prestige. The ability to make heads turn. And to attract a partner.

These are the emotions. The features are secondary in the buying decision.

It’s the same with phones.

Why do all those people queue for days outside Apple stores when a new iPhone is coming out?

It’s not because they don’t have a phone. They could go to the second-hand shop and walk out with a phone within minutes if they wanted to.

It’s something else.

And it’s the copywriter’s job to uncover that “something else”.

Because that’s what will sell your business. You need copy that focuses on your benefits (what does your busines do for your customers?) ahead of your features (what does your business do?).

And a brief is the perfect way to find out the benefits.

Here’s my brief

Have a look and let me know what you think. Feel free to use it for your business. And please let me know if it helps you find the “something else”.