I cringe every time I see another copywriter selling “copywriting” services…
In fact, most people who sell their services sell totally the wrong thing.
Selling copywriting is selling words on the page. Words on the page are worthless.
Blah, blah, blah. There you go. Words on the page. At a price-per word of $.10, I just made $.30.
And believe-it-or-not, there are writers that bill that way.
No wonder so many writers end up broke.
And so many other service providers, too.
Let’s say, for example, that you build websites. If all you do is set up a hosting account, install WordPress, install a theme, and fill in content, you’re a complete commodity. Give my kids in grade school an afternoon, and they could probably figure out how to do that. In fact, they could probably do it better than you.
Those skills, by themselves, are pure commodities. As such, they fetch commodity prices. And will never earn you the kind of high fees and premium pricing that you no-doubt are wishing for.
Same goes for so many other skills.
And so when you walk around selling your services as the actual deliverable, you’re going to be met with so much resistance, your head will explode.
When you do get work, whatever fees you negotiate will be meager, because you’ll be competing against everyone else who promises to put words on a page, install website software, or complete whatever menial, mediocre task the client dictates to you. (Because you definitely won’t be the one deciding your fate in this situation.)
That’s a recipe for disaster.
A major step up: sell solutions to problems…
Gary Bencivenga once wrote, “Headaches, problems, desires—human wants—these are your markets!”
There’s a tiny sliver of businesses out there that, when they hear the word “copywriter,” know exactly what problem that person can solve.
So, for example, when I go to Weiss Research, and I say, “I’m a copywriter,” it’s shorthand for, “This person puts together selling messages that will help us get more new customers in the door, and help us with getting our current customers to spend more, more often.”
And since EVERY business needs more customers, spending more, more often — and the fact that they don’t have it is one of their pressing problems — it’s an in.
For Weiss, or one of the Agora companies, or others of their ilk, that’s all contained in the word “copywriter.”
But for the vast majority of businesses, it isn’t.
And so you talk about the problem in different language.
I have a friend who has generated over $1.4 billion in client results on Facebook. He has a funnel strategy he uses. He has copywriters on staff, and writes copy himself. One of the major services he provides for clients is copywriting — Facebook ad writing, landing page writing, and so on.
And yet, how do they describe what they do?
“Online marketing and lead generation.”
Because for the most part, the people who they sell to are not in the direct response world. They’re not out looking for copywriters. They’re higher-ticket businesses (such as financial advisors) who want qualified leads to talk to. And more generally, they want online marketing that drives business results.
He offers lead generation. He offers to “grow your business.” He offers to show you hidden profit opportunities in your business, and then put his team on going out there to grab those profits for you. And occasionally, because it’s what clients are buying, he sells what he does as Facebook Advertising.
Those are the pain points for his market. Those are the problems they want to have solved. That’s what they desire.
… And, that’s what they’ll choose his agency and pay a premium for.
Let’s say you’re not selling marketing or business-related services at all…
Let’s say, for example, that you sell windows.
You could specifically say that you install windows. La-di-da. So do a dozen other contractors who’d have someone at my house this afternoon, measuring everything and drawing up a quote.
But why would I want new windows? What problem would cause me to suddenly be in the market for replacing my windows?
— Well, it’s winter in Nebraska right now, so I may feel cold drafts every time I walk by a window.
— Or I may have gotten my latest gas bill, and gasped when I saw how much we had to pay for heating our home last month.
— Or maybe I’m selling my home this coming year, and want to get top dollar.
— Or maybe I care about general energy efficiency, because I want to reduce my carbon footprint.
That’s a handful of reasons that might have someone in the market for windows next year. None of which are explicitly, “I need windows.”
So what if, instead of addressing the commodity-level service deliverable, I took a step back and spoke to the problem itself?
The cold drafts, gas bill, and carbon footprint could all be spoken to with a single consultative selling conversation, built around the idea of a “Home energy efficiency audit.”
This could be a free, no-obligation consultation where we walk through your home, measure for drafts, analyze your heat leakage, determine the insulating efficiency of your windows, walls, and roofs, and more.
At the end of that, we’d have a clear picture of your biggest energy efficiency problems. Which, if your home has older windows, would no doubt include the windows. And the clear solution would be replacement. At which time measuring and quoting would be a desired solution to a clearly-defined problem, for which you are the preferred solution vendor.
If you’re selling the house, we could offer a pre-sale window analysis. We’d come out, inspect your windows, and work with your Realtor (or one that we may have another side arrangement with) to determine what new windows would cost, and how that may impact either the price or speed-of-sale on your home.
In either case, this service package would immediately distinguish you from all the other commodity-level service providers who simply sell “new windows.”
Plus, by speaking to the problem itself — a cold house, high energy usage and cost, or selling your home and looking to maximize value — you’re likely joining the conversation with prospective customers BEFORE they are out looking for the commoditized version of the solution. You get to them before everyone else.
This means your selling process has to be a little bit more sophisticated, to walk them through the problem-solution discovery process. But it also means your total market is likely much bigger than those service providers who only get to speak to customers after they’ve done their homework and decided on the solution.
Also, the people who you catch at the problem phase, versus the solution phase, will likely be more loyal, better to work with, and less price-sensitive than someone who has already decided what they want and is now simply looking for the lowest-priced solution.
Everything changes once you identify a process to sell the solution to a common problem…
And by common, I mean there are enough people out there ready, willing, and able to pay to solve the problem to keep you well-fed.
Depending on the size of the problem, the value of having it solved, and the number of people, this could mean you only need a handful of people with that problem.
For example, those copywriters who get away with calling themselves copywriters because they write long-form copy for the biggest direct marketers on the planet can be well-fed with a handful or even just one client relationship.
A good A-list copywriter can actually choose to work with one company for their entire career, and never want for anything.
With a different focus, on a different problem, for a different group of people, you may need something more.
I have a friend (and reader) who is doing well using his marketing skills to solve a very specific problem for software companies, that has an immediate and substantial impact on their bottom line.
In 15 minutes, he can get on the phone with a software company CEO, identify how he might be able to solve the problem, give them an idea of what the impact would be, and present them with a solution.
At that point, it’s a no-brainer to just go ahead with it.
And because he’s focused on providing a high-quality, measurable solution to an expensive problem commonly experienced by people with money…
He can charge significant fees for that service.
This is actually a simple process…
If you want to learn more, make sure you’re a BTMSinsiders member before tomorrow at 1 PM Central. And sign up for the Members-Only webinar for The Client-Getting Blueprint.
I’ll share the exact process for getting clients, based on solving a pressing problem.
I’ll break it down, plus be answering questions on the live call.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,