One of my favourite assignments as a copywriter is to help entrepreneurs promote a new business, product or service in writing. Over the years, I’ve helped clients as diverse as sales trainers, electricians, marketing companies, property developers, digital agencies, gourmet food shops, IT consultants and driving instructors to express their offers in writing – usually at the early stage of planning or building the enterprise.
The power of words in that situation simply can’t be overstated. There really is something almost magical about writing. It makes ideas real, generates commitment and focuses energy. Just by putting thoughts down on paper, we can shape our futures. It’s easy to see how this benefits the entrepreneur as they plan or develop a business.
Although most entrepreneurs generally feel positive and confident about their ideas, they sometimes find it hard to do them justice on the page. Working from a fresh perspective – the outsider’s perspective – the copywriter can make sure that their client’s marketing pitches the offering to the right audience, with the right tone and the right emphasis.
Sometimes, the appropriate ‘level’ for the message may be far ‘above’ that envisaged by the entrepreneur. Often, when they see what I’ve written, my clients say ‘I could never have written that,’ or ‘I don’t recognise myself’. This type of feedback confirms that the entrepreneur may simply be too close to his or her product or business (whether emotionally or intellectually) to communicate its selling points effectively. If the business is a one-person startup, it’s easy to see why.
Talking an idea through with a good copywriter (one who asks questions) is a great way to road-test a new idea. ‘If we translated this idea into marketing messages,’ the entrepreneur is asking, ‘Would it fly? Would the proposition be consistent, compelling and capable of converting interest into actual sales?’
Here, the discipline of copywriting can act as a useful reality check. The flip side of confidence is over-confidence, and entrepreneurs are prone to many delusions and self-deceptions, brilliantly documented in this post. But the copywriter cannot spin straw into gold; to make convincing copy, they can’t work with unclear, inconsistent or self-contradictory ideas. As part of the briefing process, they can help the entrepreneur to iron out these knots and kinks in their thinking – provided they’re ready to put some tough questions to the person who pays their bill.