Editor's Note: The following is a guest post by Katie Yeakle. Additional comments by Brian T. Edmondson are indicated in itallics.
When you want more sales, you need the right kind of writer.
In the past, there was only one clear choice – a copywriter. Today, things aren’t as simple. Content specialists have entered the market. Depending on your needs, they may be the superior option.
I’ll show you how to make the right choice. By the time you finish reading, you’ll understand the difference between a copywriter and a content specialist. Not only that, but you’ll know exactly which one to hire to maximize sales in three common promotional situations.
First things first...
What's the Difference Between a Content Specialist and a Copywriter?
Both content specialists and copywriters operate within the direct response framework. This means they write with the intention of generating a specific response, such as a social media like or share, email newsletter sign-up, webinar RSVP, or a purchase. What separates these writers are the tactics they use to get the desired response.
To be clear, when you are hiring a writer, you don't just want to hire any writer; rather a writer who specializes in not just writing, but writing in a manner that is proven to get your prospects and customers to take action.
When you're looking to outsource you'll see a wide range of prices from writers. A good content or copywriter will be significantly more expensive than just a regular article writer. Regular articles writer's just simply research facts and write articles while writer's trained in the art of content marketing and copywriting are specifically trained to write in a manner that will lead to sales. What's the point of paying for content and copy if it doesn't generate revenue?
Content specialists use content to build brand awareness and push for action. Social media updates, blog posts, newsletter articles, and advertorials or “native” advertisements are their playground. Their call to action is sometimes obvious, but more often it’s a subtle push. This helps keep your product or brand top of mind in your desired market and “warm” a potential audience for later sales efforts.
"Native advertisments" are ads that look very similar to articles. You may have seen these in regular newspapers where you'll see a long article that looks similar to the other articles in the newspaper, but it's actually a piece of content selling a product or service or trying to get the reader to take some type of action. These "native ads" are also found on the internet.
Copywriters, on the other hand, are pure sales writers. While they can write content, copywriters prefer copy that leads to a sale. PPC ads, emails and autoresponder sequences, landing pages, short or long-form sales letters, video sales letters … this is where a copywriter shines.
Given these differences, which writer should you hire? It depends on your situation and goals. Let me walk you through three of the most common promotional situations to show you what I mean...
While in most cases you are better off outsourcing your copy needs to a professional, every business owner should have a basic understanding of what good and effective copy is. Reading a few good books on copywriting and studying the copy of the competitors in your market cna help with this. This way you are able to evaluate the content and copy you are outsourcing and determine if you are working with a competent writer.
Scenario 1: A Promotion to Your Own "House" File
For this first scenario, let’s focus on one of the most common challenges marketers face – promoting products and services to your existing e-mail list and customers.
Here, you have an audience that’s already familiar with your company. They’ve bought something or raised their hand as warm prospects by subscribing to your list. Now, you want them to take the next step and buy additional goods or services.
Who should you hire?
The best copywriter you can afford!
A top-notch copywriter crafts engaging emails and sales pages to pull additional revenue from your existing house file. And, even if you email your list daily, an experienced copywriter can make your sales emails something your audience buys from regularly.
When writing copy, especially to your own house list, it's important that the copy is written in your "voice" so there is a consistent tone to your messaging. A good copywriter will want to interview you and review past materials to get a feel for what your voice is.
Scenario 2: Attraction and "Warming Up" Cold Traffic
Attracting and winning over cold traffic is tough. Whether you get this traffic from organic search or paid placements, you have to make a great first impression.
Here, a content specialist gives you the advantage. Why? Modern web browsers are both sophisticated and skittish. Sniffing out sales pitches and running away – fast – is what they like best. To get around their defenses, you must offer them something they crave … high quality content.
Think of it as a “give to get” value proposition...
You give engaging, informative content. Your targeted audience gets hooked. They begin to know, like, and trust your brand. The relationship blossoms and warms up, giving you have a friendly environment where readers are highly likely to become your best and most valuable buyers.
This is getting more and more important as people are becoming blind to straight up advertisements on social media networks. You want to use a two-step approach where you are offering value first, then moving them into your sales process. Today you can actually publish long form content on networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn, delivering value to people on those networks then driving them back to your website where you can use more traditional sales approaches.
Scenario 3: New Product Launch
Bringing a new product to market is a major investment. There’s a lot money, time and resources on the line. So which writer should you hire for the best results?
For launches, content specialists and copywriters work together to maximize response. Here’s how...
Your content specialist “pre-warms” your target audience with an advance campaign of social media teases and articles. Pieces that highlight benefits of the product without mentioning the product itself can generate substantial interest before the first promotional materials go public.
The promotional materials themselves – landing pages, sales letters, and follow up email sequences – do the “heavy lifting” needed to close the sale. Here, you’ll want a highly skilled copywriter. Get the best you can afford for copy that hooks the reader on the first line and doesn’t let them go until they’ve bought.
With the copy written, a content specialist can extend the life of your launch, too. Use them to pair an established sales letter with a steady stream of freshly written advertorials or mini-case studies. This will draw new, organic interest and traffic to your offer.
One final caveat, when it comes to hiring a copywriter you generally get what you pay for. Don't be lured in by cheap article writers and copywriters. In general, they're cheap because they simply can't write copy and content that gets results. The old adage "you pay what you get for" is especially true in the world of copywriting and content marketing.
Want to Know More About How to Hire and Get the Most From Content Specialists and Copywriters?
I’ve briefly covered the differences between a content specialist and a copywriter. You’ve seen how each can help you with common promotional efforts. Yet depending on your marketing needs, you may still have questions.
For answers, visit American Writers and Artists, Inc (www.awaionline.com). Our extensive library of free content covers every part of the copy-content relationship. Plus, if you’re looking to hire a well-trained copywriter or content specialist right now, AWAI’s DirectResponseJobs is the web’s premier private jobs board for experts of both types. There’s no charge to post an ad and only AWAI-trained writers have access to it.