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How to train your copywriters if you need something more than SEO-texts

Profile photo of Helen Black Submitted by Helen Black October 26, 2016

In the last two years I have participated in several projects, where I had to train copywriters a lot telling them about analytics, sales, information style, design and many other things. This process and has been very time-consuming and preventing me from accomplishing my own tasks on time, but if I hadn`t been doing this, I wouldn’t have been able to delegate anything.

For example, I asked my assistant to write a newsletter having made a general outline beforehand, but when the draft was received I needed to rewrite everything. The author hadn`t had any commercial and visual thinking yet, as well as the ability to gather information from the right people.

To find a copywriter for your company who not only can write thousands of characters without spaces, but helps to solve certain problems, is not an easy thing.

That`s why employers hire people who have portfolios with somehow meaningful texts. It is assumed that they will be able to write SEO texts at the start, but to accomplish an increasing number of tasks they will need to develop themselves professionally.

 

clark-copywriter-

In this post I want to tell you about some elements that slow down the development of potentially gifted employees and unsuccessful recruitment. I have also gathered some useful mechanisms that I try to explain to the copywriters in the first place and a series of necessary references. They can be directly applied in the work.

What prevents the development of those striving to learn

I think it is the lack of a competent leader-locomotive in the copywriting department.

 

The team and its interests should be defended by the leader.

While working on one project I realized that my staff did not have some specialized technical skills and information, so I asked the technical director to organize a Saturday lecture for copywriters to solve the issue.

On another occasion we discussed that it is impossible to write 10 normal texts a day as the writers go crazy from such huge volumes of work.

It is important to understand that when people want fast and good results it is not always tyranny.

 

If you have limited knowledge about the profession, it is difficult to understand that normal work takes time. One day I once again defended the copywriters and then bothered a designer asking to finish the illustrations for a newsletter faster. Fortunately, I noticed the irony at once.

Working fast vs working good

 

Without guidance, newbies might miss useful and not always obvious things

In no blogs on copywriting have I seen the advice to learn the basics of web-analytics. But how can you start to edit a little bit serious text without having looked in Yandex Web Vizor first?

 

The lack of experience is the lack of critical thinking

For instance, Dan Kennedy’s books are often recommended for beginning copywriters, but in order to compare it, it is highly recommended to read Katerina Eroshina`s review, where she advises to critically analyze the examples of Kennedy.

The copywriters need to be coached and trained a lot. It is not enough to give them library books or send “Read it” emails. You need to talk to them, check their understanding, delegate tasks and teach on examples.

 

Failing to recruit a good copywriter

The position of a novice copywriter usually attracts those from the humanities field interested in music, culture, literature, travelling, etc. They do not have any network in these fields yet, but can easier make a living in the commercial sector. These guys usually meet the norm in the number of signs in a text, but during their free time they try to realize their potential in the spheres of their interest.

They can easily skip the interview stage and successfully complete the test, but having got the job, they are reluctant to learn new materials and generally behave like “Don’t touch me, I’m just writing the texts”.

What can you do?

If you see the potential of a person, try to explain the benefits of possessing marketing skills in any job (What’s the point of good things if nobody knows about them?) and the need to develop himself. If the person strives to learn something new, more interesting tasks than rewriting and SEO will be delegated to him or her.

copywriting requires constant work and development

What I try to explain to copywriters

In my opinion, the person who wants to develop as a textwriter only limits himself. When being asked to write an article, the one is thinking about the article instead of inquiring : “What`s your initial purpose?”. Sometimes you don’t need a text to achieve a goal, or it may happen that you need something more than just a text.

Once a software company asked me to “do something on Facebook”. “Maybe our customers are there”, they said. I asked for the access to Google Analytics and found out that the best traffic had been generated by their blog on Reddit which had not been updated since 2009. In 2011, I rewrote the main page text for an online store of ecological household chemistry. After a while, the owner of the store complained that the sales hadn`t increased and demanded back the money he had paid. It turned out that customers had read the text, chose the products and added to their carts but dropped out at the order stage because of the extremely inconvenient order form (4 steps process with a huge number of lines to fill in).

The copywriter that is not interested in web-analytics will constantly get into stupid situations.

 

Sometimes the copywriter needs to complement a text by pictures and other elements, as well as to think of text and graphic blocks positions on a web-page. Yes, it is all about design, and we have designers to do this job, but there are no reasons for which copywriters should not be able to think visually.

What about the readers? Let’s cast the bait on social networks and catch readers. It turns out that to attract them you either need to have a popular page or be friends; with famous people who will spread your text. This is the territory of SMM specialists.

And these are not all related skills. To be a good author is a worthy goal. But nowadays there are so many good authors that you need to look for the ways to make your text stand out . In addition, the more you know about how people think (analytics, design, social networks — it’s about the people), the more interesting ideas come to your mind.

 

What you can use for the initial development in copywriting (Useful tips for the initial development in copywriting )

  1. General knowledge of how advertising works

The ultimate reference here is “Ogilvy on Advertising” by David Ogilvy. It is a must read. One of the founders of the advertising market seems to be a brusque but intelligent person, as his book also addresses the issues ofadvertising ethics. David writes that he terminated the contract with Rolls-Royce, when they released a batch of defective machines. And the final chapter of the book is devoted to reflections about the “usefulness” of advertising in society.

Ogilvy didn`t favour creative advertising and called to produce the ads with specific numbers and facts instead of vague cliches like the best, professional etc. He studied a lot of researches, e.g. before making the ads for a margarine factory he spent 10 days reading about the process of margarine production. He didn`t deny the importance of super ideas (the concept of one of the successful advertising campaigns came to him in a dream). But those ideas just crowned the successful result achieved by preceded meticulous work.

In this book I first found out about “Before” and “After” pictures and lots of other things.

One more book I’ve been recommended to read is Joseph Sugarman`s “The Ultimate Guide to Writing Powerful Advertising and Marketing“.

 

  1. Clear and concise text

Here is a list of relevant examples you can use:

 

 

  1. The ability to gather information

I divide all products and services into rational, emotional and household.

Rational (for example, selling optical panels) and domestic (calling a plumber) ones provide answers

Emotional product

As for emotional products and services, here money are paid for the extra cost. Phil Barden in his book “Decoding: The Science Behind Why We Buy” writes that we have been going to Starbucks not only for coffee but also to have ‘a short holiday’.

For rational services and products it is easier to form the supply: you need to learn what questions the customers ask and convincingly answer all of them in order, starting with the most frequent ones.

To form the supply of emotional services is way much harder as people may have different view of the abstract value. But there is still some statistics.

Anyway, it is necessary to know what your customers think and feel. If you don`t communicate with your customers, ask those who do. When I get into a new sphere, the first thing I do is talking to salespeople.

 

  1. The ability to negotiate

It is not only about ‘sales copywriting’. We learn to negotiate all our life, beginning in childhood when we ask our mothers to buy something and promise to behave properly, and ending with getting a job.

Here is the reply of a businessman to a letter once sent by my assistant:

‘Thank you for the invitation. It is not really clear to me what my company gets from this. I won’t be able to help you until we speak the only understandable language of numbers.’

Conclusion: if you need something from others, think what you can give in exchange.

  1. Storytelling

 

Storytelling can bring you a lot of interested readers that can transform into loyal customers

People love to read about other people’s experiences.

In ‘Save the Cat’, a screenwriting guide, Blake Snyder mentions the rule: when the main character first appears, he or she should do something to win the love of the audience and attract them to his side.

To illustrate, there is the story of Natalia Babayeva from “Mann, Ivanov and Ferber”. She describes how her husband, a designer, was starving as a student, buying expensive books on design, as the result he has become a great professional.

 

  1. About content-marketing

A good practical article on content marketing can be found in the Megaplan regular newsletter. They write about what it is, who needs it and how to use it. Megaplan is a corporate CRM system for sales increase and administrating businesses on the Internet.

The later Megaplan experience summarizes the results of the 2 year newsletter distribution. ‘We thought our topics would be interesting to entrepreneurs only. But 52% of our readers are employees’.

We continue writing about business. But now we see that our readers` interests are much wider. From a magazine about business our newsletter (ezine) is turning into a magazine about work and happiness. That is why we have started to write about the internal dismissal, the English language, the fulfillment of dreams and personal development. And these topics are consistently more in demand than articles about accountant control and goal setting.

To make a conclusion, the audience is not the same as you draw it in your imagination: we have studied the preferences of our readers and found out how to become more useful.

You have to always know your readers.

The main problem with content marketing today is the channels stuffed with the information of the same type. In 2011, I kept a blog of Aweb and it was quite fresh. We have become renown. Now only lazy Internet agencies and web studios don’t have their blogs.

If you are going to engage in content marketing and you have some competitors, think about how you will be different.

Everybody is puzzling their brains over this.

Another significant issue is emotional burnout. You may realize a good project and write a cool manual; the people around say ‘Cool!’, share you on Facebook and….that’s it. The founder of Megaplan, Mikhail Smolyanov, once complained that he had created a great product but businesses were just too lazy to implement it.

If you feel the need to give or create something, just do it without expecting something from others. Perceive it as personal growth, because when you write or teach, you systematize your knowledge. Accept the fact that most often people don`t want change. It will make you feel much better.

 

  1. Visual thinking

Important points in the text should be demonstrated graphically.

Examle of how to demonstrate information graphically

Look for something to show. Use the “Follow me” principle and guide your customer through your services on the website.

For example, your business is installing Windows operating system. Even if you have a website with all the Windows versions and profiles listed, and the cost calculator, many people still do not know how to install them. They have plenty of questions. How to measure? Who is going to get old windows? How long will the whole work on replacement take? Is it possible to do when it’s -20 °C outside? What if the new windows will not fit? Can I pay by card?

New customers will be more likely to come to you if your website answers all their questions describing the whole process, explains what can go wrong and how to avoid it, shows the nearest store where they can see samples, informs them about work schedule, phone numbers. Additionally, It is important that your employees read agreements and explain all details in comments in the margins as well as introduce customers to the managers.

To make your website work and develop the skill of visual thinking, I recommend ‘Don`t make me think’ by Steve Krug. You will learn that:

  • The initial page should explain customers what the website is and what they can do with it.
  • The first screen is the area people see without scrolling down the page. It if doesn’t make people interested, scrolling down doesn’t make sense.
  • People usually use the website not in the way it was created for.

.

And lots of other things. The book is very easy to read and useful to everybody. It is a so-called manifest to common sense.

  1. Basics of Analytics (Google Analytics and Yandex Metrika)

Place the text on an external website (or ezine) — highlight links using the URL Builder

You can see from what source people click on your link.

For example, I go to the link and insert:

  • in the “Address of website” — http://matilda.com/
  • in the field “campaign Source” — blog_netpeak
  • in the field “campaign medium” — quest_post
  • in the field “campaign Name” — netpeak_questpost_1

.

Click on the “Submit” button to get the link

 

  1. Promotion in social networks

Promotion of the company

The copywriter is by default considered to be responsible for all “content”. People turn to him when the idea is born to start a page of the company or to provide SMM services.

The media and entertainment industry must be present in the social network. Software companies and web services can tell you about the updates and provide technical support. Social networks can be useful to online stores, but first it is better to make sure that SEO, context, expansion, sales, postbridge, newsletters – all function well.

 

Self-promotion

 

Self-promotion

A friend in court is better than a penny in purse. Make a list of interesting people and find them in social networks, subscribe to their profiles and leave sensible comments to their posts, try to help them by sending useful information for some important project. Meet these people offline after.

As one expert said: ‘In today’s world, even the coolest person is doomed to misery and meaninglessness of existence, if he is not able to build life-giving connections.’

 

Building connections anytime you can is really important

Last thing

In the “Atlas of new professions” (a major study made by 2,500 experts) there given the forecast that the profession of copywriter will have been obsolete by 2020.

Computer programs (bots) that are connected to huge databases with texts, articles, manifestos, literary works, etc., are capable today to generate texts of average quality of a given literary form on any topic, using standard syntax.

The main consumers of average quality texts — SEO workers. Given their love for automation, I have no doubt that with the development of such technologies they would prefer to buy a program. Many processes in SEO run ‘by hands’ five years ago, e.g. collecting semantics,are partially or fully automated today.

If you think this is fiction, read another article ‘Just How Good Can Wordsmith Content Really Be?

Summing up, I want to underline one more time the necessity of the main points, which should help to train your copywriters: explain analytics in details, tell about sales, convey information style, teach basic design skills. Never stop motivating your team to grow and give them the ability to improve their skills. To reach maximum productivity, try out the techniques shared within the article because their reliability have been checked by our team and I believe that at least some of them will work for you. Remember that the team is as good as its leader or vice versa…


This post was originally published in http://netpeak.net/blog/how-to-train-your-copywriters-if-you-need-something-more-than-seo-texts/ by Helen Black

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24 Responses to “How to train your copywriters if you need something more than SEO-texts” Leave a reply ›

  • Profile photo of Sunday William Profile

    Hi Helen,

    This post is quite revealing especially as it has to do with teaching copywriting.

    In today’s Internet marketing world, to say that writing sales copy is important is a understatement.

    Sales copy is as important as the oxygen in the air for an online business.

    Indeed, the job of an SEO should be looked beyond SEO-text, they include the infusing of promotional techniques on the context and content to persuade readers or audience to take action.

    Training copywriters for optimal persuasion can be achieved by showcasing facts and figures where it worked!

    • Profile photo of Helen Black Profile

      Hi Sunday,

      I am pleased to see you found this post relevant and informative. I totally agree that sales copies play quite a significant role in the internet business sphere.

      For sure, in order to create a good sales copy, you have to go deeper to the nature of content marketing.

      This post is concetrated on the topic of working with copywriters’ department to help them improve their skills and create top quality content.

      I totally agree that the ability to work with copywriters is essential for the overall success of online business strategy.

  • Profile photo of Black Profile

    Hi Helen,

    Thanks for sharing this comprehensive post about copywriting. I have enjoyed its content and the lessons it has provided.

    My best takeaway what has been highlighted is the advise to those who train copywriters to “Never stop motivating your team to grow and give them the ability to improve their skills”. Thanks for this awesome post!

    • Profile photo of Helen Black Profile

      Hello Black,

      Thank you for the feedback! I am so glad to see you liked the post. That supports its value for marketing specialists.

      I totally agree that one of the main components of successful work with copywriters is constant motivation and growth stimulation. For sure, you don’t have to forget about self-improvement as well.

      I hope that you will also like my future posts as much as you enjoyed reading this one!

  • Profile photo of Celine Profile

    Hey Helen,

    A well written and focused based post you have shared here. It reveals to the novice what it takes to do copywriting and it also reveals to the expert what it takes to improve on their copywriting.

    The ten useful tips discussed in this post are timely. However, every copywriter must be made to understand that his/her skills and experience should target provision of value to the audience.

    • Profile photo of Helen Black Profile

      Hello Celine

      I cordially thank you for such a feedback. I hope that the information from this post will be really useful for you.

      As you have mentioned, in this post I tried to underline the necessity of improvement of one’s copywriting skills and the significant role of the content created by copywriters’ department.

      For sure, all of those tips have to be supported by the desire of a copywriter to grow, as motivation plays curcial role in creating valuable high-quality content.

  • Profile photo of Carl Profile

    Hey Helen,

    The best copywriters out there are those who can perfectly combine marketing skills with their content creation skills. Therefore, I agree where you stated that

    If you see the potential of a person, try to explain the benefits of possessing marketing skills in any job (What’s the point of good things if nobody knows about them?) and the need to develop himself. If the person strives to learn something new, more interesting tasks than rewriting and SEO will be delegated to him or her.

    • Profile photo of Helen Black Profile

      Hello Carl

      Thank you for the comment! the fact that you liked this post is really inspiring!

      The block you highlighted was written based on our work with copywriters dept, so I can say that it is supported by real evidence.

      Copywriters have to see the aim of their work and feel their professional growth dynamics in order to stimulate them to work harder and improve their conent quality.

      I hope that you will also like my future posts as much as you liked this one.

  • Profile photo of Sarah John Profile

    Hi Helen,

    A good copywriter is an asset to the client! Thus, it becomes necessary to place value to what they do and how they do it.

    However, if there is need to train copywriter so that better results could be achieved, then it would be good to ensure that from the onset the copywriter is open minded.

    Yes, if you have a copywriter who is willing to learn or who is ambitious then he/she would be opened for training.

    Copywriting is not just a process of writing sales copy, it should involve knowing mindset of the customer and providing the related skills, texts, and tools to persuade the customer into taking action!

    • Profile photo of Helen Black Profile

      Hello Sarah,

      Thanks for summarizing the main points! For sure, copywriting is extremely complex and when working with copywriters, the one shoudl always remember about constant training and improvement of knowledge and skills in a great variety of spheres.

      Copywriting is not just about writitng – it requires attention to the theme, deep analysis fo the main uissue, individual approach to each client and constant update of professional qualification.

      This post was written to help team leads improve their copywriting deptartment and help the team grow together with self-improvement.

  • Profile photo of James Ling Profile

    Hi Helen,

    This is a powerful post and one that readily exposes the underlying roles of a good copywriter.

    The truth remains that most copywriters will think their task rest only on the ability to create text based persuasion or promotion.

    They must understand that their task also involves ‘delivering’ that copy, in the most suitable formats to the target audience.

    • Profile photo of Helen Black Profile

      Hello James,

      That’s great to see you liked my post. Thank you for the feedback! I tried my best to demonstrate the man points of working with copywriters.

      For sure, it is important to constantly stimulate copywriters to work better and improve their skills. And that includes educating them about their responsibilties in the process of self-improvement.

      Healthy enviornment within the team is possible when all copywriters are willing to produce a better work result, to upgrade their professional level and cover new topics and issues.

      Thats is the key to successful copywriting service.

  • Profile photo of Paul Profile

    Hey Helen,

    Copywriters that are good will depend on the expectations of the recruiters.

    If the recruiter only expect text-based writers then those who are able to deliver on SEO texts would be termed good.

    However, thinking outside the box is something that must the acknowledged from the best copywriters.

    When training copywriters, the ability to think outside of the box must be acknowledged.

    • Profile photo of Helen Black Profile

      Hi Paul,

      The main issue of the current post was workign with already formed or just forming department of copywriters with long-term targets tha include creatiing top quality content.

      Sometimes it is really hard to develop a strong team that knows wha to do and has motivation and clear target. That is why I have collected all experience we had when working with copywriting department.

      It is important to work with people, talk to them, educate and motivate them to stimulate professional growth of your employees. For sure, it requires creativity and self-improvement.

  • Profile photo of Amit Sharan Profile

    Hi Helen,

    Team leaders that are proactive must find this post motivating in that they can now take vital steps to improve the efficiency of the copywriting department.

    The ten useful tips for improving the copywriting department as highlighted here are welcoming. I guess it is time for marketers to take swift action for progress!

    • Profile photo of Helen Black Profile

      Hello Amit,

      The main aim of this post was to help managers that work with copywriters to increase the efficiency of their work. Moreover, it can also be useful for copywriters themselves, and to everyone who works on the content creation.

      I am pleased to see you liked the post. I hope you have found here some information that you will use in the future to imrpove your skills.

  • Profile photo of steven Profile

    Hello Helen,

    What happens to the copywriters that are not interested to adapt to the new realities of the web?

    I have encountered a couple of copywriters who solely focuses of text-based content writing without considering areas such as visual insertions, promotion, website optimization, and social networking.

    It would be difficult to train a copywriter who doesn’t adapt to the change and prefers doing his/her duty the old school way.

    That said, team leaders must ensure they recruit proactive copywriters from the onset so it would be easier to train then for improved skills when appropriate!

    • Profile photo of Helen Black Profile

      Hello Steven,

      All marketing specialists that are unable to adapt to the changes within the market meet the same destiny as all competitors within all markets that fail to cope with its demands.

      This article was written by the manager that has a great experience of working with copywritters on the basis of the experience he received when improving the department’s productivity.

      All experienced specialists are all for the improvement of their skillls and therefore a proper strategy will be positively accepted.

  • Profile photo of Winford Moore Profile

    Hey Helen,

    The art of copywriting is fanciful on its own but there is much more to be done if success is to be sustained.

    Copywriters must explore outside of their basic training. Indeed, every copywriter and their trainers must reflect on this:

    To be a good author is a worthy goal. But nowadays there are so many good authors that you need to look for the ways to make your text stand out . In addition, the more you know about how people think (analytics, design, social networks — it’s about the people), the more interesting ideas come to your mind.

    There is more to merely using text to persuade readers online!

    • Profile photo of Helen Black Profile

      Hello Winford,

      Thank you for the comment. For sure, in case you are working at at copywriting department or you seek for the job within the sphere, you have to go deeper and show something more than just standard positive qualities of a copywriter and the awareness of all the basic guidelines used in this sphere.

      Nowadays a lot of copywriting specialists fail to develop their carreer because they cannot go further and start working with content on ann advanced level.

  • Profile photo of Hafiz Akinde Profile

    Copywriting involves lot more than just assembling texts together to lure people into taking action.

    You need a bit of versatility to excel in that field. Study your client’s needs thoroughly, understand their target audience, create a compelling copy, and market it vigorously.

    That’s when you can begin to see results. Now, a single copywriter cannot single-handedly do all these with effectiveness. You need a team of well-trained copywriters who can learn on the job while also putting their own skills to play.

    Thanks for sharing this, Helen.
    Hafiz Akinde recently posted…The Top 7 Ways To Make Money BloggingMy Profile

    • Profile photo of Helen Black Profile

      Hello Hafiz,

      Thank you for the feedback.

      I truly believe that to become a really good copywriter, the one has to do more than just copywriting. And, for sure, in case the had of the department or manager is able to stimulate this kind of development, it is a first step to the evergreen content, top ranged posts and a growth of your readers number.

      I am pleased to see you have highlighted just that and I hope that it will be useful for you in the future.

  • Profile photo of David Profile

    Helen, I find that most people who call themselves copywriters know very little other than a specific format they have already worked in.

    They certainly are trainable in SEO and analytics and complementing images and text and WCAG…but what an effort. It’s worthwhile if you’ll have them there as full-time employees over the long haul. But if you just need them for short or occasional project, it’s not worth it at all. Even for the long haul, it’s much better to find people who already have a lot of what you need.
    David recently posted…What’s it like to be a ghostwriter?My Profile

    • Profile photo of Helen Black Profile

      Hello David,

      Thanks for the comment. Your opinion of training copywriters is really interesting. All the techniques presented in the article are based on our 100% unique and real life experience of traning our copywriters team.

      There are many specialists that are also interested in working intensively with their copywriters and helping them grow. This post is targeted directly to this type of managers and team leaders.

      I strongly believe that you can only develop your business when you develop your team, help them grow and show the best results they can. Therefore, working with your team is always worth doing.

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