7 Big Things Small Businesses Need

I’m going to lay out some lesser-known, higher-leverage, “slam-dunk” items copywriters can provide for businesses.

When you sign a client, the scope of the work might be small. If you don’t play your cards right, you’re one and done in a few short days. But it doesn’t have to play out like this. If a client is looking for a copywriter, the work they’ve hired you for is the tip of the iceberg.

I’d compare it to what they say about thirst.

“By the time you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.”

It’s the same for copy.

By the time a business realizes it needs some copywriting support, there’s already a backlog.

Sometimes, you’ll find the backlog goes all the way back to the BASICS. So it’s wasteful that most copywriters get a gig, do the work, and then move on. Here’s a better way. You tweak this, improve that, and before too long, you are kind of important. Then you take over the company.

Let’s get into it.

NOTE: Any biz owners or current clients, hello! Look, I don’t attempt takeovers. This is just a Machiavellian mini-drama that appeals to copywriters. It’s comedy. It’s a bit of fun, okay?

Empathy “About” Matrix

Good marketing is about getting to the truth about what you’re selling. I first read about this exercise in a Jay Abraham book and I’ve seen it repeated in different formats in multiple places because it works. Set up a spreadsheet with four columns. Title the 1st and 3rd columns ‘Problems’ and ‘Frustrations.’ In the 2nd and 4th columns, rewrite the problems and frustrations in clearer language. Take these pains and frustrations and thread them through a story that shows how well the business understands its customers. You can do this in 250–300 words and eleven times out of ten it’ll be better than what’s on their ‘About’ page. Show it to them. “I thought this might be useful to you.” If they like it, use your matrix to do . . .

The Basics (not direct response)

I nearly didn’t write this because it’s so basic and obvious some of you will stop reading. Well, be gone! It’s so basic it’s genius. Most people think they’re above this but it’s the foundation of our plan. As well as their ‘About’ page, offer to revamp their Services, Testimonials and Contact page. Other pages could be; Our Story, Our Mission, Staff (ewww.) For some reason, local businesses like restaurants, hotels, indie gyms, physios etc. are terrible at this. All stiff and awkward. No concept of pitch or tone or voice. You can also offer to create a lead magnet for them. This requires more research tho, so charge an extra fee. Now every word on the website belongs to your hand.

Ghostwrite for Founder

This is about flipping quick one-off cash gigs into a retainer once you have their trust. Most business owners have a sub-optimal (crap) presence on Twitter and LinkedIn. They have strong characters and good ideas but jack-squat consistency. They’re busy of course, but the upside of fixing this — and your pitch — is twofold: it improves their feedback loops with customers and makes it easier for people to know and trust them and buy from them. It’s an opportunity for them to tell stories, share flaws and create their own legend. Write them an origin story thread or three fresh tweets and offer them up. They’ll be flattered (everyone’s favorite subject is themself.) You are now “chummy.”

Time for a Package (direct response)

6 ads, 2 autoresponders, 1 sales page, 2 email sequences (buyers and non-buyers.) Something like that, depending on their needs. At this point, you’ve written not just the words on the website but the entire funnel. You ARE the marketing department.

Lexicon Development

This is a kookie one but I guarantee no one else is doing it. Not sellable in the same way as the others, but pay attention. A big part of standing out online — in ads, emails, social media, wherever, is developing words and phrases that you own. For example, Ben Settle always spells guru ‘gooroo.’ Matt Furey might have been the first person to spell naked ‘nekkid.’ Closer to home, Ed Latimore’s made memes out of coffee and crackheads. Tahm Giovanni has typed the word “keto” more than any other human. Eddy Quan and Jose Rosado won’t stop banging on about tropical fruits. They’re not “big ideas,” as much as verbal tics. They’re ritualistic. They make the biz both unique AND predictable, which leads to trust. Look for phraseology your client can invent or tweak or own. Encourage them to do so. You are now chums who also happen to share private jokes. It’s only been two weeks.

Pet Project

They have an email list and post on social but there’s no differentiation. There’s nothing they do that no one else does. Nothing to identify them as them. So the opportunity is for you to pitch them a new marketing asset that you can own. It can be a channel they’re already using, but what you do is give it a new name and identity. Let’s take email as an example. Tim Ferriss has “5-Bullet Friday.” Perry Marshall has a “30-Day Street MBA” email sequence. So there’s no excuse for any business to be satisfied with running a newsletter. Call it something. This applies to all channels. Regular reels, LinkedIn carousels, mid-week Facebook Lives, YouTube series, a podcast. Most businesses would be much better off picking ONE channel where their customers hang out and creating a regular series. A huge improvement on posting all over the place with nothing to separate them from the noise. You can own this.

Common Enemy

You’ve heard of Blair Warren’s One-Sentence Persuasion Course? “People will do anything for those who encourage their dreams, justify their failures, allay their fears, confirm their suspicions, and help them throw rocks at their enemies.” Having a “common enemy” in the marketplace is a power move. Important: unless you want to scare the client, the common enemy shouldn’t be individual people or specific companies. For example, in the health space, Van Man’s big idea is “Get in, we’re taking down big toothpaste!” Meanwhile, Greco Gum stands against mainstream chewing gum having the constituent ingredients of artificially-flavored car tires. When you find a common enemy and pitch it, you’re home and dry. You can tell the CEO you think it’s time the current Head of Marketing moved along. In a nice way.

P.S.P. French

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