Why you should NEVER write your own copy

The Judgement of Solomon - Nicolas Poussin [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Before I tell you why you should NEVER write your own copy, I want to share something with you.

The very best copywriters in the world WILL NOT write copy for themselves

That’s right. And while I’m sure a bunch of copywriters out there will get their panties in a bunch over that statement, I’ll stand by it. I’ll also tell you WHY that is true.

The very best copywriters will write YOU amazing copy. They’ll get YOU a ton of sales. But they will NOT write sales copy to promote themselves. Instead, they’ll get someone else to write it for them, or at the very least give them an outsider’s perspective.

If that doesn’t make sense, I’ll explain it using a simple analogy:

YOU CANNOT CUT YOUR OWN HAIR.

Why? Because your perspective of yourself is limited. And that is an inescapable truth.

Solomon’s Paradox — Why our self-judgement sucks (scientifically-backed statement)

Don’t take my word for it. There are studies that prove it. In fact, there’s even a name for the phenomenon. It’s called “Solomon’s Paradox”.

The name comes from the legendary King Solomon who, as the story goes, was infinitely wise when it came to the matters of his subjects. He was also notoriously bad at dealing with his own personal matters. In fact, due to his antics, you could say he was single-handedly responsible for the ruin of his kingdom.

So, what’s Solomon’s Paradox all about?

If like me you’re fond or research papers, there’s a cool study (Grossmann, Kross, 2014) where researchers ran a series of experiments to prove that we are wiser about situations when we’re detached from them. The full study is right here.

But in essence, here’s what it’s all about.

Remember that friend of yours with the cheating partner? Yeah, that same one who wouldn’t listen to reason and kept dating the lying creep instead of breaking it off?

That’s Solomon’s Paradox at work. You were wiser about your friend’s situation because you were detached from it. And your friend was on the opposite end, drowning in crap and coming up with all sorts of “valid” reasons for wanting to stay in it.

So what does all this have to do with copywriters and not writing your own copy?

Well, nobody is immune from Solomon’s Paradox. Copywriters are no exception.

Sure, we are the undisputed masters of selling. Our career is completely focused on studying and understanding the key principles that make people click the BUY button.

A huge chunk of what I earn goes right back into market research, scientific studies in consumer psychology, courses, 1:1 mentoring, and mastermind groups. And I’ve successfully used that knowledge to help companies make quite a bit of money.

But I’ll be honest with you; when it comes to writing copy to promote myself, I get a trusted, competent colleague to give me an outside perspective. Invariably, we find I’ve missed a number of key elements that end up making my copy 10X more effective.

Is it because I’m stupid? Ok ok… let’s not go there.

The truth is, writing copy for yourself is many many times harder than writing it for others. When you’re “selling yourself”, your perspective is limited and your judgement is badly skewed.

There ARE a few exceptions to this rule, but trust me, you and I fit nicely and squarely into it.

So let’s not be presumptuous. You’ve got a business and you’ve invested a ton of time, money and energy in it; do the right thing, get help with your copy — do it NOW.

Yes, you can write a first draft of your copy if you’ve taken the time to really study the principles in depth. But trust me, you’ll be missing crucial points that could be making your copy many time more effective.

I’m not asking you to hire me specifically (actually yes, I am, so just get in touch and let’s talk). Just stop trying to do it all yourself. Remember:

YOU CAN’T CUT YOUR OWN HAIR!

HEY LISTEN UP!!!

I’d really love to hear your take on this. Does this make sense to you? Do you think it’s idiotic? Talk to me!

Leave a comment in the comments section below. I’m open to it all.

Bibliography

Grossmann, I., & Kross, E. (2014). Exploring Solomon’s Paradox: Self-Distancing Eliminates the Self-Other Asymmetry in Wise Reasoning About Close Relationships in Younger and Older Adults. Psychological Science, 25(8), 1571–1580. http://doi.org/10.1177/0956797614535400

Good copywriters charge premium fees (and they’re worth every penny)

Good copy is an investment

I know it’s a cliché, and that it can be misleading, but very often, price is a good indicator of skill and value offered.

Yes, you can get a project done on the cheap. Put your project up for grabs on a content mill, slap a few of $100 bills on it, and you’ll have a bunch of “copywriters” falling over each other, yelling and screaming, “Me! Me! Pick Me!”

Tempting, I know. But when you think about it, what does this attitude tell you about these “copywriters”?

Cheap “copywriters” who are willing to write sales pages at $2000 a pop, aren’t making enough money to make a decent living, which means they need to churn out as many projects as possible per year. And guess what — they won’t have any trouble skimping on quality.

So where does that leave you?

You guessed it. Your business is not only down a couple of thousands, but you’re now stuck with a poorly-written sales page that might even perform WORSE than what you had. And we both know that is going to cost you even more money in lost sales.

On the flipside, you can expect a GOOD copywriter to charge you upwards of $10,000 for a sales page. If that sounds a tad steep, bear with me while I put it into perspective.

We’ve already agreed that the cheap, sloppy copywriter is going to cost you anywhere between 2 – 5 thousand dollars in fees and lost sales. That’s money down the drain that you’re never going to recoup.

On the other hand, the $10k you pay for GOOD copy is an investment destined to pay for itself over and over again. You see, copywriting is meant to do one thing and one thing alone — bring in more sales i.e. more sales than what you’re currently making.

For instance, by charging premium prices, I drive away A LOT of potential business. But that’s intentional.

A competent copywriter will typically work on very few projects per year. That guarantees he/she can invest all the time and energy needed to make the project a stellar success.

There’s no way you can do that when working on a dozen different projects per month.

REMEMBER: Good copy is an investment, bad copy is an expense, and doing nothing is just as bad.

The key take-aways here are:

  • Investing in good copy is like buying seeds and water with the intent of growing food. At the end of the day, you can’t eat soil and rocks.
  • Bad copy scares people away, and I guarantee you will NEVER see them again.

On a final note, you might think doing nothing saves you money. In reality, if your copy is not converting, you’re bleeding money. Doing nothing is like having a gashing wound and not covering it up with a bandage.

If you do not invest in GOOD copy, your business will bleed to death.

Are you sending out a tramp
to sell for you?

Let me paint a picture for you. Run with me on this one, ok? Just play along.

I want you to imagine that you’re in the market to hire a new salesperson. You post a vacancy and two people turn up:

The Candidates

GORDON

  • Wears t-shirt and jeans to the interview.
  • Slouches.
  • Has a pot belly.
  • Reeks of cigarettes.
  • Yellow teeth.
  • Hasn’t used a comb since his hair started falling out.
  • Isn’t exactly the most eloquent of types.
  • Salary expectation: €7.00 per hour flat.

ALEX

  • Wears designer suit and tie, matching belt and shoes, classy cufflinks and an array of accessories displaying good taste and finesse.
  • Walks and moves with grace and authority.
  • Lean and evidently athletic.
  • Firm handshake, confident smile and friendly sparkle in his eye.
  • Fresh breath.
  • Pearly white teeth.
  • Very well-groomed from head to toe.
  • Faint hint of cologne, not overpowering.
  • Speaks with confidence and authority on every subject you discuss.
  • Salary expectation: €40.00 per hour plus commission.

The Test

Well, I’ll agree that the difference in salary is remarkable. But consider the chances of success of one versus the other. Let’s give them a trial run by sending them to a client each.

GORDON’S ATTEMPT

Gordon turns up at the client’s office unannounced.

It turns out the client is out on business, so Gordon’s trip is wasted. He speaks with the client’s secretary and sets an appointment for the next day.

The next day, he turns up for the appointment, five minutes late. The client isn’t very pleased but plays the polite host.

Gordon’s opening statement is, “Yeah, so we’re selling this and I though you might be interested…”.

As the meeting drags on, it becomes more and more evident that Gordon is sorely unprepared. He knows very little about the product he’s trying to sell and sadly, even less about the client’s business, his needs, and how the product would help fulfill them.

The client grows impatient with Gordon and dismisses him with a casual, “I’ll get back to you”.

Of course, he never will.

Gordon has left a very lasting impression on the client. Regrettably, it is a very negative one, which will most likely be very hard to reverse.

Not only has he not brought in any money, he has actually left you in the red.

ALEX’S ATTEMPT

Alex calls the client and sets a meeting for three days from the date.

He spends those three days researching the client’s business and industry in minute detail. He draws up a detailed report of the client’s major needs, including a specific action plan of how the product will address those needs and dramatically improve the client’s business.

On the day of the meeting, he turns up at the client’s office ten minutes early and elegant as always. He greets the client with a firm handshake and a warm, sincere, “Pleased to meet you”.

As the meeting starts, Alex temporarily sets aside the product and focuses completely on the client’s business. He demonstrates remarkable insight into the industry and proves himself familiar and sensitive to the client’s challenges and needs.

Furthermore, he doesn’t fail to compliment the client about his strengths and successes.

Once he has built rapport with the client and demonstrated know-how and authority, he makes his first mention of the product.

He presents his customized report to the client and walks him through it, backing up his claims at every step with relevant research and data.

Through this solid build-up of tiny steps, Alex has completely won the client over, and he secures the sale as naturally as night follows day.

The end result doesn’t require further elaboration.

A pretty parable…

but what’s the point?

I guess the outcome was pretty predictable.

Don’t get me wrong. I have no doubt Gordon would eventually still manage to pull in a sale or two, IF he happened to meet someone who desperately needed what he was selling, ANDcouldn’t find it anywhere else. But you can rest assured his skills and presentation would have nothing to do with the sale.

On the other hand, Alex elevates the status and image of your company.

He charms his way into clients’ pockets and more than makes up for his sizable paycheck. He leaves nothing to chance, approaching every prospect with meticulous preparation and focused energy.

Sure, Alex costs six times as much as Gordon, plus a hefty commission.

But when you consider the significant returns, I think you’ll agree that he’s an investment seriously worth considering.

A twist of the tale

Now let me toss you a thought.

What if your salesperson isn’t a physical, human being? What happens when your salesperson takes the shape of words on a website, leaflet, billboard, or even a radio or television advert?

Here’s what gets me.

Most people wouldn’t think twice about picking smart, suave, eloquent Alex over half-baked, slouchy Gordon. And yet, when it comes to using words as their salesperson, they’ll call in Richard the IT guy and have him write down a couple of paragraphs, “cause you know, he’s from the UK, so his English is gonna be good”.

Of course, Richard is great at the tech stuff. But when it comes to sales, he’s as clueless as a camel roaming the Arctic Circle!

Having Richard the IT guy write your text, is like sending Gordon in for a sale. Of course, Richard doesn’t reek of cigarettes, but the results of his writing will be equally dismal and will have the same negative impact on your business.

If you want your text to be an effective salesperson, it must have the same characteristics as our star salesman Alex:

  • Well-dressed and well-groomed i.e. free from spelling and grammatical mistakes.
  • Firm handshake, confident smile and friendly sparkle in his eye i.e. written in a style that is appealing.
  • Speaks with confidence and authority i.e. equipped with arguments that are well-researched and designed to sell.

So at this point… here’s my shameless pitch

It’s time you stopped calling on Richard the IT guy for your text. Leave him be, he’s busy enough as it is.

Get in touch with me instead.

Here’s why:

  • You’re getting a focused, dedicated expert. I am a writer by profession… you know… as opposed to being an IT guy (nothing against them, really… just saying).
  • Your text will take on the persona of the Star Salesperson your business needs. I have invested a ridiculous amount of time and money (and still do) into researching what makes words sell, and I spare no effort in using my knowledge to full effect.
  • Your investment will keep on giving. I guarantee that once I put my expertise at your service, my work will pay for itself many times over.

If you understand exactly what I am talking about, if you can relate to it, and would like to discuss how we can work together, click here and use the form to leave me a private message.

I will be in touch shortly for a chat – no commitments, no strings attached.