4 Surprising Traits Clients Want in a White Paper Writer

I had an opportunity recently to interview some clients about their experience with white paper writers. (As well as those who write special reports, ebooks, and other types of “long form” content.) The results were interesting — to say the least. Much of what these clients said didn’t surprise me. For example, they were unanimous that “meeting deadlines” was a desirable trait. However, there were a few characteristics they emphasized that I didn’t expect to hear. So if you write white papers — or are thinking of getting into this niche — take a look at the list below. These are traits you may not have realized are so important to clients. (I didn’t.) 1. A fan of white papers. This is the trait that surprised me the most. Many clients I spoke to preferred to work with writers who have a demonstrated interest in white papers. As one client put it, “I want a writer to be a fan, to read white papers, to have an opinion as to which ones are great. And why.” That makes sense. After all, there’s a reason Stephen King writes suspense. He’s a fan of the genre. White papers, too, is a genre. So if you’re going to craft these documents, read them. Study them. Become an aficionado. 2. A strategist. Almost unanimously, clients told me they want a writer who can strategize the development of a white paper. That means collaborating with the client to develop the topic and approach, dream up a great title, and basically be the brains behind the piece. Strategist. And writer. One client put it this way, “I...
Double the effectiveness of testimonials

Double the effectiveness of testimonials

There’s a good reason why some websites (mine included) feature so many client testimonials. They build belief and credibility like no other copy element can. In fact, these days, prospects get suspicious if your website doesn’t feature clients or customers saying great things about your products and services. But there’s a problem with testimonials. According to eye path analysis—a method of studying where eye balls linger on a web page—people tend to look at testimonials rather than read them. So a client may have given you a glowing endorsement, but beyond the fact that the testimonial is there and gets noticed, the message itself may not be getting through. I found this recently when I was shopping for a web designer. I visited one site and was knocked out by all the testimonials that designer had—some from professionals I recognize and respect. The thing is, I didn’t actually read any. I simply looked at all the testimonials and said wow. Obviously, you want your testimonials to get read as well as noticed, because if you do your marketing copy will be that much more persuasive. So how do you do that? Here are some ideas: Give them headlines. It may seem strange to add a headline to a testimonial, but try it. It can work well. The way I do it is by pulling a key statement from the testimonial and then creating a headline around it. A headline for a testimonial raving about a training program might be: Hard to Impress Sales Team Gives it 5 Stars. Even if prospects don’t read the actual testimonial, they’ll likely notice...

How to write copy, faster

Yesterday I was writing a sales page for a new program I’m offering. It wasn’t a particularly complicated job so I didn’t think it would take long. In fact, I sat down to write at 8am and figured I’d be done and sipping a congratulatory Starbucks by 10am at the latest. Not so. 10am came and went and I wasn’t nearly finished. The writing was going so painfully slow that I felt like banging my head on the keyboard. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Why was I struggling to write this thing? Why couldn’t I figure out what to say and how to say it? Why couldn’t I get this damned thing done? Pretty embarrassing for a guy who wrote a book on copywriting! Now one of the advantages of writing copy for your own business is that you can give yourself a deadline extension! But I really didn’t want to do that. I needed to get the thing done. That day! So I asked myself, “Okay, mister copywriting expert. If someone asked you for advice on how to write copy, faster, what would you say?” Fact is, I get asked this question all the time in workshops. Here’s how I answer it. Clearly visualize the prospect sitting across from you. Decide what you need (not want) to say and the key points you need to make. Have a conversation. For some reason, I wasn’t doing that. I got caught up in “gotta get it done” panic and forgot those basics. So I took a breath. Relaxed. And followed my own advice. Did it work? It did....

Writing for Ad Agencies & Design Firms (Part 2)

I was overwhelmed by the response to Part 1 of my teleclass on writing for ad agencies and design firms. More than 2,200 people downloaded the recording or listened to it on my blog. Part two is now available. You can listen (or download) it using the player button below. As a reminder, this is a recording of the original live teleclass I did a couple of years ago. If you have any questions on this topic, please post them as a comment. I’ll reply!...