First up, let’s be clear. Everyone, even copywriters, make copywriting mistakes.
I’m not picking on entrepreneurs who write copy.
For most entrepreneurs, writing your own copy early on makes a lot of sense. If you’re bootstrapping, you might not have the cash to hire a conversion copywriter.
And if you’re still testing your offers and your market… well, you’re less likely to drive a pro copywriter crazy if you just write your own copy.
But there is a risk.
Writing Your Own Copy? Know The Formulas.
The big errors I see entrepreneurs make? Arranging copy on the page in no strategic order.
From consuming a lot of marketing (which most entrepreneurs do), you’re probably familiar with copywriting language. With the tone, the techniques.
But unless you know the structure or the strategy beneath the copy, those surface copywriting skills are wasted.
See, copywriting takes your prospects on a very specific sales journey.
Knowing how to walk the buyer down that path takes copywriting training. As in, deep time inside Copyhackers’ Copy School.
Or, very close attention to the proven copywriting formulas.
Formulas are really about the hierarchy of messaging. They’re about what’s said first, next, and so on. And as you’ll see, sequencing of copy matters.
Case in Point: Copywriting Without Formulas
The other week my client soft-launched their brand.
I created the brand messaging (a sort of copywriting playbook) and they wrote their own copy.
At first, it followed the proven messaging hierarchy. I was thrilled and jumped on sharing it with my network…
Only to realize as the days progressed, the copy kept morphing. Sections disappeared. New pieces appeared. Bits cropped up in unexpected places.
I watched it unfold, thinking about all the people in my network who KNOW what good copy looks like…
More importantly, visitors were getting confused. Because the hierarchy of messaging matters.
You can’t move pieces around or leave pieces out without missing steps in the conversation with your reader. The risk is that you end up sounding something like, “Here’s a problem you may have. Now buy this. Bye now.“
The Art of Copywriting Formulas
Conversion copy is the crafting of an argument that follows the train of your visitor’s thoughts. Sequentially.
For example, here’s a sequence of copy and in brackets, what the prospect might be thinking:
- Here’s a problem you may have (Why yes, it is!)
- And here’s how it’s impacting your life (You got that right.)
- But it doesn’t have to be this way because a better solution exists (Oh, really?)
- Here’s why our solution will fix your problem like no other (I’m listening.)
- Check out the details of this solution (I want this.)
- Here’s the next step (Ok, maybe.)
- And here’s why you’re safe taking the next step (I’m in.)
The right sequence of messages – the formula or hierarchy – depends on the prospects’ stage of awareness.
Get it wrong and you risk boring them, scaring them or sending them to your competitors.
As an entrepreneur, if you’re DIY’ing your copy, make sure you know these formulas inside-out.
Even if you decide to hire copywriters all the way…
You should still be a student of copywriting. Because copy is the biggest lever in almost any business; it’s the one thing that boost sales, in the least amount of time.
And if you’re using a copywriter…
Be Careful Revising Your Copywriter’s Work
Designers, developers, they all have reasons to make changes. Maybe they want the pages to be shorter or to fit a template layout.
It’s up to you – as the entrepreneur – to know why, based on the visitor’s likely awareness, each piece of copy has earned its way.
In that exact order.
And that conversation is a lot more dignified if it happens before the pages go live. Because after it goes live, you just look like a scattered entrepreneur who’s second-guessing your team. Rather than a messaging pro, who knows what converts.
It’s far more strategic to have a THEORY behind your copy before you go live.
Then, if you don’t get the conversions you need, you can ask, “Was our theory about what will convert wrong?” Rather than randomly changing lines of copy.
Have Your Designer Work Directly With Your Copywriter
Don’t let the work of copy and design happen in silos.
Have your designer talk to the copywriter before they start designing.
The designer should be clear on why the copywriter included each piece of copy, so they know how to position it on the page and the implications of nixing it or moving it. (Which I don’t recommend designers do unilaterally.)
The best designers and internet marketers take a copy-first mentality. They know that the message dictates the layout. And the copywriter dictates the message, based on deep customer insight.
Should Entrepreneurs Write Their Own Copy?
It really comes down to your willingness to invest the time. Copywriting can be learned by almost anyone – but you can rarely wing it.
First, you need to decide on the core set of messages for your brand. We can help with that.
Then, you need to deeply understand copywriting formulas, so you can plug your brand’s key messages in anywhere you need to sell.