By D'ARCY RAHMING
MR PROLE was a greying, middle-aged English literature teacher who taught me in the 11th grade. He stopped me one afternoon in the school's walkway, stroked his short beard and told me some words that I have never forgotten. "You are a good writer," he said. Even though English language and literature had always been strong subjects for me, his words were enough to give me the confidence, even to this day, that I needed. I could influence others with the written word.
Writing to make people take action is a highly-paid skill. It is called copywriting, and it lies at the heart of direct response marketing. Dan Kennedy is the world's highest paid copywriter. He makes $25,000 plus royalties for writing a sales letter. There are many copywriters that make a six-figure living. Why would someone pay that much for a simple letter? The easy answer is that a good copywriter can make their clients millions of dollars.
There are many different ways that things are sold, and each requires a particular type of copy. Writing copy for a website, and copy for a TV or radio commercial, requires a different skill set even though the principles are the same. For example, people do not like to read long e-mails, so if they receive an e-mail that they camnnot quickly make sense of, they move on. Whereas with a long sales letter, people will read it if it is interesting and appears to solve a problem they are having.
I learned the art of copywriting from Dan Kennedy and his business partner, Bill Glazer, through seminars and books. Dan describes writing copy like this. Imagine that a guy is lying on his couch after eating a huge meal. We know what we call this condition in the Bahamas. Now you have to write well enough to convince him to get up, walk across the room and make a telephone call, log into a website or some other action.
The number one mistake I see people making with their advertising and sales pieces is letting graphic designers write the copy. Copywriting is not a skill that is valued in the Bahamas, in part because very few people are measuring the effectiveness of marketing. Clients often want to see a beautiful ad with a lot of colour. I believe there will be a shift in the way ads look in this country when merchants finally begin to demand provable results. The most important part of the copy is the headline. This will be the subject of the next article.
NB: D'Arcy Rahming holds a Masters of Management from the J. L. Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. A lecturer at the College of the Bahamas, Mr Rahming has clients in general insurance, retail, the health and medical fields, sports federations and financial services. To receive his marketing newsletter FREE got to http://DArcyRahming.com or contact him directly at email@example.com