freelance copywriter, copywriting tips, freelance commercial writer

Every once in a while a freelance copywriter is handed an assignment with the encouraging words, “you won’t have to do much, this product sells itself.”

Oh how I wish that were true, just once. Then my job would merely consist of jotting down a few explanatory notes and collecting big fat checks...............

…..Oh! Excuse me! I was just drifting off in fantasy land for a moment there….

The truth is even “really, really, really great products must have someone to help it find its market. And this, alas, involves actual hard work.

The point here is that the old saying, “build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door,” is flat out wrong. Sorry Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The work begins in one of two ways. The most common way is to build a “portrait” of the person most likely to want and need what this product will do for her. In other words, what problems does she have that must be solved?

Sometimes, however, I approach this question from the opposite direction. Reworded, the question might be, “what kind of problem is this product a solution for?”

Let me explain. Several years ago, I did some volunteer work for a group of unemployed executives and middle managers. These people were professionals who had been downsized and were facing a very tight job market.

One of the exercises I had my students work on was to identify 3 to 5 problems they were very, very good at solving.

I wanted them to think of themselves as solutions to certain business problems. Then I made them understand that somewhere out there was a hiring manager suffering from one of those very problems and was desperate for a solution.

When these very depressed and worried professionals grasped the idea that someone out there was looking for THEM (or at least the solutions they were very good at delivering), their entire outlooks changed.

Of course the job wasn’t done there. All I had shown them was that they were the “better mousetraps.” The problem now was that those hiring managers had no idea where the paths to these students’ doors were located. We had to draw them a map.

The job of a marketer, and by extension a freelance copywriter, consists of helping people who need a better mousetrap, find the path to that door. Here are the steps:

  • identifying and locating the people who have problems your product can solve,
  • sometimes educating these people that their problem exists, what the consequences of that problem might be and how much not solving it now may cost in the long run,
  • showing the value of the solution,
  • showing how to distinguish this solution from among all the other competing solutions,
  • showing how to find this solution,
  • creating a reason to purchase this solution, and
  • creating a compelling reason to purchase this solution NOW.

It helps me sometimes to think of my job as laying a trail of bread crumbs from the door of the person with a problem to the door of my client, whose product holds the solution. Only after this trail of bread crumbs has been lain, will they beat a path to my client’s door.

COPYRIGHT © 2006, Charles Brown


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