When writing sales copy isn’t simply 'writing'

Huh? Of course writing means writing… or does it?

Well, the simple answer is yes. When someone puts a pen to paper or starts pecking away on their keyboard, then yes – it’s writing. In those cases, it’s pretty cut and dry.

But, on the other hand… depending on the reason that person is writing to begin with…it may involve much more than simply writing or typing some words on a page.

And most people don’t think much about it – but what really happens before that person starts to write?

Let’s take Bob the Copywriter, for example:

XYZ Corp wants to promote their new high-tech printing services to businesses in the area. So they decide to hire Bob the Copywriter to write a really compelling sales letter they will mail out to all of these business with the hope that they will generate a bunch of new leads.

They agree on a fee of $1000. Bob simply gathers some product information on XYZs new services and whips up a quick sales letter. In 3 or 4 hours, he’s done and gives it to the company to mail out to 1000 businesses.

After waiting 2 weeks from the mailing date, they have received a grand total of ZERO new leads.

Unfortunately for XYZ, the promotion failed miserably!

This time is different.

Bob gathers the same product information as before, but instead of just writing up a down and dirty sales letter again, he decides to spend the necessary time to do some deeper research. He wants this letter to be as successful as much as his client does. (and the fee is the same $1000)

So here’s what Bob does:

• He gathers the service information, studies it, weeds out the biggest customer benefits
• He researches and studies information about the company itself
• He researches and studies the “target market” that will get the letter and tries to figure out their “hot buttons”
• He researches and compares XYZ’s biggest competitors and what they offer
• He researches and studies different alternatives to the “service” itself
• He  reads trade magazines and online forums that the “target market” uses
• He may survey others in the business about their thoughts on the service
• And, at each step, he takes lots of notes


• He compiles and sifts through his notes, finally coming up with a “main idea” for a letter
• He writes 10-20 possible headlines
• He writes a first rough draft, including everything he has learned that could possibly be important to the final  reader of his letter
• He re-writes and revises the letter, maybe 5-10 times, removing unnecessary words or ideas, adding ideas, and tweaking words or paragraphs so they will be more compelling
• He puts it aside for a day or two, then reads it aloud and maybe even has others read it
• He makes the final version of the letter, and finally submits it to XYZ for the okay and mailing.

XYZ generates 16 new leads.

This time, Bob is a hero (well, maybe not), but… hecause he put in the time and effort to make this mailing as successful as it could be, and the results proved it.

What was the difference?

As you can see, instead of Bob spending 3-4 hours total to just write a simple “letter”, if you tallied up all the time he spent, it was over 15 hours.

But 10 of those hours were spent before he wrote a single word.

That, my friend is why.The hours of thorough research and time spent studying all the different aspects of this service, the company, and the target market was the difference.

This is when writing (or I should say effective and compelling writing) isn’t just writing. It’s actually spending all the time researching and studying BEFORE the actual writing begins.Someone who writes without that preparation just isn’t looking out for your best interest and success.

The bottom line is this, when you are quoted a price to write any sales materials, whether it is a postcard, a sales letter, an e-mail, a website, or whatever…

Keep in mind that the lowest estimate you get will probably get you the lowest response, just like the Scenario #1.You almost always get what you pay for.

And specific results are not ever guaranteed either.  What I can promise you though, is that any writer who spends the time to do the necessary homework before writing will have a much higher chance of success than a writer who simply writes the quick letter.

For more details or information on my copywriting or marketing services, go to my website at www.crestviewmarketing.com, e-mail me at mclark@crestviewmarketing.com or call me at 603-686-5140.

Merrill Clark
Crestview Marketing Services

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