Estimated reading time: 25 minute(s)
If you’re a marketing leader in a complex industry, it can feel like winning the megabucks lottery to find a copywriter that draws powerful business insights from your brand—and then uses them to mesmerize your audience in a fluent, engaging, and brand-aligned way.
But perhaps your actual experience outsourcing quality copywriting has not measured up. Slow turnaround times. Weak business sense. Lackluster creativity. Zero “wow” factor. The need to corral multiple writers turning in hit-or-miss SEO copywriting. These are just a few of the many issues that can crop up when you entrust your brand expression to an unknown quantity: the outside copywriter.
How on earth can a contract writer or content marketing agency cover the intricacies of SaaS fintech, AI-supported cancer screening, fine chemical manufacturing, and other topics you might cover? How is it possible when you yourself—a company executive and de facto subject matter expert—don’t even know everything there is to know about your industry?
In-house copywriters: the good and the bad
Plenty of marketers decide to take the in-house route and hire staff copywriters. This can solve issues with execution. But you should also know that this approach can bring its own set of frustrations and delays.
First, there’s timing. An in-house writer can take weeks to source and hire—and months to fully ramp up. What’s more, do you know how experienced and senior your new copywriter should be—and why? Jean Tang’s piece on copywriting sourcing options contains helpful tips and information.
Even once you find that right writer and they’re in the door, 5 things can happen:
- The quality of their work may not always live up to the quality displayed in their portfolio. Will you be clear on how to assess their skills, manage their work, and continuously train them to get better?
- They may experience delays in working through an ambitious content wish list—especially given shifting initiatives from higher up, and cumulative internal responsibilities.
- On the flip side, they might not be kept fully busy all the time, due to the natural ebb and flow of marketing—day to day and season to season.
- You’ll find that even though your new copywriter is exclusive to your brand, they may not be exclusive to your priorities. You may end up sharing this person’s output with one or a few colleagues or departments.
- Down the line, there is such a thing as working too closely to your brand—and resting on the laurels of what one already knows. Without the constant stimulus of fresh insights, a copywriter’s skills can become rusty and their language uninspired and stale.
We feel your pain. To be relevant and visible in the modern marketplace, you need to create quality blog copy, sales collateral, landing pages, pitch decks, and other content on a regular basis. But finding a writer that quickly “gets” both the big picture and finer points of your product or service—and can articulate them with poise, polish and minimal revisions—is a challenge every marketing leader faces sooner or later.
3 steps to outsourcing quality copy quickly
Take heart! The truth is, it’s possible to partner with a top-notch copywriting team that ramps up to your business offerings quickly, is able to express them in your voice, and works efficiently to tight deadlines: every time.
Here’s a quick glimpse at our own tried-and-true tactics for rapidly getting up to speed on complicated subjects—and turning them into crisp, compelling copy and content just as fast.
Step 1: Quickly ramp to insight
Often, companies spend a tremendous amount of time in the dreaded “discovery” phase of a project. Let’s say you’re working with a contract writer. They chat with stakeholders. They sit in on multiple brand meetings. They may even get an assigned desk. To learn your business, they immerse themselves, spending days and even weeks to get up to speed.
Don’t get me wrong: information is important. But insight is what you’re really looking for here, and a trained copywriter unearths it with speed—cleanly, and without any added fat.
For example, at MarketSmiths, we definitely request reams of source material—existing assets, brand books and guidelines, aspirational content, PowerPoint decks, and so forth. But we know better than to get caught up in sweeping industry histories—or minute product technicalities. All of our investigating is ruthlessly directed toward answering this essential question:
How can we turn this piece into the tidal wave that pitches your audience headfirst—happily and willingly—into the exact message that best serves your brand?
When you work with a top copywriting agency, its copywriters are inherently lightning-fast learners. Being exposed to many different industries and businesses means they can quickly identify common market forces, and “manipulate” the resulting messaging efficiently and effectively.
Here’s an example from my own workday. Monday morning, I’m on a kickoff call with a real estate technology startup that’s disrupting residential property management. That afternoon, I’m applying takeaways gleaned from that same call (without sharing anything, obviously) to download the skinny on a food service startup that’s automating meal delivery. This constant cross-pollination generates insights rapidly—and skilled agency writers like ours recognize and leverage them without missing a beat.
Before you begin working with a freelance writer (or copywriting agency), be sure to get a sense that they understand the perils of getting mired in information overload—and the importance of getting straight what matters most to your audience.
Step 2: Custom fit your brand voice
You’ve likely encountered this scenario: A fresh piece of content you’ve commissioned arrives in your inbox. You open it and begin to read. All of the facts check, the features are accurately represented, and the benefits are reasonably articulated. But something is missing. “Yes,” you think, “This is all true… but we’d never say it like that!”
So we’ve come to the matter of voice. As Jack Kerouac said, “The voice is all.” And in an increasing parity marketplace, where every product and service is highly commoditized, often it’s your voice that sets you apart.
Just look at JustWorks. They administer payroll and benefits in an industry that feels 1,000 years old, with stodgy competitors that sound and look every bit their age. But with ad campaigns that range from awkward humor to far-fetched fantasy, they’ve brought a fresh voice to the conversation—one that consistently communicates genuine empathy for anyone stuck in the tangle of business admin. Better still, their product reflects that sentiment, offering a simple interface, 24/7 support, and zero paperwork.
Because of this, and because they pay deep tribute to truly effective content marketing, JustWorks has shot to the fastest growing HR technology company in the U.S..
It comes down to establishing a razor-sharp point of view. Ideas are filtered through your brand before they’re put to page. What’s your attitude about the category? How are you easing or reinventing lives (and make no mistake: that is what you’re doing)? Apple’s famous “Think Different” slogan isn’t two words. It’s a summation of a viewpoint on the entire category of personal computing—and even more broadly, an attitude about how life ought to be lived.
To skip draft after draft of “this doesn’t sound like us,” work with a writer who understands that voice stems from values. Writers who lack this kind of strategic experience are unable to transmute this point of view into language. Like Method actors, the best copywriters navigate voices freely, nimbly, and with powerful conviction.
Step 3: Repeat great outcomes
Once you have that great work, that juicy messaging, you need to insert it into the marketplace—a.k.a you need finalized and published deliverables. Websites, blog copy, social posts, leave-behinds, banner ads, trade show displays. Nothing happens unless you put it out there. And then, you can move the needle: turbo-charge traffic, persuade readers, and draw in qualified leads by the bucketload.
Once you’ve done it, you need to do it again to stay relevant. Splash. Rinse. Repeat. Grow visibility and revenue. Simple as that.
In our view, the best way to get this kind of result consistently and cost-effectively is to match your supply to your demand—only and exactly when needed.
This on-demand model for copywriting takes a page from Uber and Lyft. The cars are out there, and they come to you on request.
Similarly, a copywriting agency serves up deliverables as needed—instantaneously, and without the need to pay anyone a full-time salary.
And quality is a given.
If you need an email campaign, you get—and pay for—email specialists attuned to your industry who can deliver an email campaign, stat.
The same goes for an ebook, a lead generation campaign, ad copy, even a name or tagline. The new generation of copywriters is on-demand.
Outsourced copywriters who cut to the chase
There’s merit to bringing someone in-house. They’re exclusive to your business, they build an ongoing knowledge base on your offerings, and they’re right down the hall if you want to stop by with feedback or praise.
On second thought, you can get the same things and more with outsourcing—even (and especially) that virtual high-five. The key? Limit yourselves to writers who practice the above principles, essential to driving ROI through copy and content with speed—and at scale.
If you’d like help creating copy and content on-demand, look no further than MarketSmiths. We get results fast—and we’re ready when you are.