LIES COPYWRITERS BELIEVE: “IT’S ALWAYS THE COPY’S FAULT”

My husband loves working on old trucks. There are several in our machine shed right now that are in various stages of rebuild.

To be honest, I don’t know much about fixing up old trucks … or new trucks … or even remote control cars, but I do know there are certain things a truck has to have in order to run well.

An engine, for one. A gas tank, transmission, battery and steering column to name a few more.
In fact, there are hundreds, even thousands of parts that have to work together to get the truck in tip-top shape. 

Come to think of it, the offers we write for are a lot like that too. Copy is just one part of the equation, and yet it’s often the first thing blamed if a campaign doesn’t perform as expected.

It’s not always the copy’s fault.

In this article I’m going to break this lie down and show you how to respectfully stand behind your copy with confidence.

An Early Lesson

I learned really early on as a sales copywriter that it’s really easy to blame the copy when campaigns don’t go well. After all, copy is one of the first things target audiences are exposed to in ads, funnels and email. It only makes sense that if sales aren’t happening, it’s all the copy’s fault … right?

WRONG. Totally, completely wrong. 

Assuming it’s the copy every time a campaign doesn’t perform is a big mistake for several reasons. I’m going to break those reasons down, but first let me give you a parallel that I think helps clear this up. 

Let’s say my husband brings home a new project truck – a 1977 Chevy Silverado. 

“The owner said it runs!” he exclaims. “Let’s hop in and take it for a spin!”

He pours some gas in the tank, climbs behind the wheel and turns the key to the ignition with the anticipation of a kid at Christmas. 

Nothing happens.

“I don’t understand. The owner said it was fine – that all it needed was gas. Why isn’t it working? This is stupid. There must be something wrong with the gas. I’m never using this kind of gas again!”

Yeah, he’d never say that.

He knows there are so many other things that also have to be in good working order. Yes, that 1977 Chevy Silverado needs gas to run … but that’s just ONE piece of the puzzle. 

When the Chevy doesn’t start, he dives under the hood and does a thorough inspection to see if he can spot any existing or potential issues that might be causing the problem. 

The same thing applies in marketing campaigns. There are so many factors that go into creating campaigns that produce ROI. If even one of them is off, it can skew the results for the whole campaign. 

There are certain things that need to be in place before the copy is ever written and certain things that need to be done well after the copy is written in order to get best results. When you know what those things are and how they work together with the copy, you can quickly identify where the breakdown is occurring.  

Let’s take a closer look.

Before Copy Is Written

So much of what we copywriters do depends on what goes on before we ever enter the scene, including target market research, exploring brand voice, offer creation, and audience building and engagement. 

When a campaign doesn’t work as planned, ask these questions first:

  • Is the target audience well defined? Does the client know exactly who they are marketing to?
  • Is their brand voice relatable to the target audience?
  • Is the offer something the audience really wants? Does it serve the target market?
  • Is the client showing up for their audience? Have they been nurturing and engaging well with them so they’re a familiar face?

Campaigns that get the best results have a well-defined and researched avatar, a consistent, relatable brand voice, an irresistible offer the target audience wants, and a company or face of the company that’s actively engaged with the audience and building their list.

After Copy Is Written

A lot goes on in campaigns after the copy is submitted too, including traffic and targeting, sales funnel optimization, email integrations, sales processes and client/customer service. If everything checks out with the “befores”, ask these questions:

  • Are the ads set up correctly to target the right traffic sources? Are all ads linking to the correct URLs with pixels installed?
  • Are the funnels working well? Is the design and layout clear and easy to follow?
  • Are the emails hooked up and sending correctly?
  • What is the client’s sales process like? If they’re doing sales calls, what’s their closing rate? 
  • Does the client have good customer service and give their clients and customers a good buying experience?  

Putting It All Together 

Knowing how all the pieces of a campaign work together gives you a roadmap to help walk the client through if they’re questioning your copy or discouraged about how their campaigns are performing. It’s not helping the client at all to allow them to blame the copy without first exploring the campaign as a whole. 

This roadmap is also really helpful for you, too. If there is a problem with the copy, you can walk through this roadmap yourself to identify where the breakdown for you occurred. Did you not capture the client voice well or create a CTA that was confusing or unclear? Regroup and do better next time.

More From Christa Nichols

Did you find this article helpful? There’s more where that came from! Written Results Academy, a full-scale training platform for sales copywriters, is launching this November.

Written Results Academy delivers the high-level sales copy education needed to land dream clients, charge what you’re worth, and get consistent results for clients over and over again. Click here to join the waitlist and learn more about Written Results Academy.

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