Joanna cuts straight to the point. She says there are not a lot of copywriters who get what copywriting really is. Because “expert” and “copy” are terms that are thrown around loosely, the space quickly becomes confusing.
Copy is everywhere, and copywriting exists to get people to say something. Since the version of yes that you are trying to get them to say comes in many different forms, the actual results can become vague.
But as a business, you don’t want vague. If you’re investing in copy, you need a business result.
Be a Student of Copy
Joanna believes all business owners should start out writing their own copy, to understand what truly good copy is.
Copy must convert and persuade. Pay attention to what is going on around you and keep a swipe file. A swipe file should be anything that caught your attention and made you have a reaction. You need to be a student of copy.
Once you’ve done that, go find the why and understand why you keep responding to these various pieces of content. By teaching yourself these things, then you can start testing them and implementing them in your own space.
“What works… is basically eavesdropping on your customers… where are your visitors, where are your prospects, what are they talking about, what are they saying they care about and why don’t you just use exactly the language they use? They’re already speaking in natural language, why wouldn’t you just go take what they’re saying?”
Source this from surveys, customer reviews, interviews, competitor’s reviews and you’ll be amazed at what people share and how deep they go.
As a student of copy, Joanna is always reading and upping the intensity to continue learning and growing. Then, it’s time to test these hypotheses and see what they can contribute to the conversation.
Listening to your customers and prospects is part of the research process, which will make or break you. This is how you write content and copy that makes people care, because you are able to get into their heads.
Selective Hearing: A Skill
When it comes to listening to customer feedback, Joanna is also selective. As someone who is deeply affected by negativity, she takes notes and useful feedback but doesn’t let anyone shove her away from her vision.
Joanna references Game of Thrones, and how easy it is to overlook yourself as a trusted authority to make decisions. In reality, you’ve been making them all along. You don’t always need permission from your advisors.
You could apply the same mindset to the advice she is sharing in this podcast. Joanna says that as much as she can say, do this and don’t do that, you won’t truly know what works until you put it in front of your audience.
“Never expect that things that work for other people will work for you. Take them, try them, but don’t just blindly go forward with what you learn in a blog post or what someone told you works really well.”
Testing isn’t Optional
Because we are in a constant state of optimization, you have to keep reading and studying and evolving, and that’s why testing is so important.
Businesses know they should test, but they get impatient because it takes time to create an effective plan that gives real results. However, Joanna says that the best way to combat this impatience is to focus on the smaller checkpoints.
The sooner you can get the client quick wins through emails or Facebook ads, they will be more willing to take the time for testing something that takes a lot longer like a landing page.
Focus and Execute
You hear about all of these trends which makes it hard to focus on what is important. What should you work on? Joanna says you should focus on getting better at one thing: executing closer to where the money changes hands.
“You get to the point where you realize well hold on, it all really does come down to what’s on the page or what’s in the email because that’s where we talk to the customer. That’s the customer interaction point. That’s where the money can change hands. Although the theory in all of that other stuff is good, we find that we get a lot of referrals to us from the consultancies that are up at the top of that where they’re like ‘Ah, we need to execute on something now.’ And I’m like ‘Yeah, you do! You should have been executing on it the whole time!’ Invest closest to it where the money changes hands.”
Connect with customers and focus on copy that converts. It’s the words you use that get people to say yes.
“You tend to want to edit out the feeling, but that’s where the sale starts to happen where they’re actually feeling that pain and then you get into that solution.”
Joanna talks about the importance of defining the problem and illustrating moments where the client suffered because of the problem. Once the client is feeling the pain of the specific problem you are going to solve, that’s when you solve it for them.
Her challenge to you is a tough one: in the next thing that you write, specifically a landing page, no more than 10% of the words can be yours. Goodluck!