Sometimes in business, “what got you here won’t get you there.”
It’s a mantra many small business owners accept… at least on a superficial level. They realize that to grow, they probably have to change a few things (“scale up”). But, in their guts… they utterly reject the notion. I’ve seen this chaos firsthand in my role as a copywriter.
It’s not hard to see why this happens. If you’ve built a successful business, the LAST thing you’d wanna do is let a stranger — a copywriter — speak for you.
“Copywriter? What the [bleep’s] a copywriter?”
Honestly, what could a copywriter possibly get right? They know nothing. They weren’t there in the beginning to share your vision. They never sacrificed a night of sleep for your sake. They didn’t have to skimp and save… go without pay… to get the business off the ground. They didn’t pass on countless weekend BBQ’s… school plays… vacations… because the business was calling.
So if ANYONE’S gonna open their mouth to tell the world about your business, it’s going to be you. Unless of course, doing so would be hazardous to your financial health.
Small business owners are their own worst enemy
You have to know when to pull back and let someone else do what they do best. Many small business owners simply refuse to do that. The TV show, The Profit (CNBC), loves sticking it to these types. It makes for good drama — plenty of conflict. The audience laughs at them. And often these owners — stuck in control freak mode — exit the show without making a deal with Marcus.
Of course, hiring someone to speak for you — whatever the medium — is no silver bullet. Hiring a pro comes with its own set of issues.
I deal with these issues a lot in my work. Real quick, if you don’t know what a copywriter is, you probably — no DEFINITELY — shouldn’t hire one.
Anyway, a lot of business owners get touchy when I submit a draft that goes against what they imagined. Sure, during our initial discussions, the owners admit they have a problem that needs fixing. They say they REALLY wanna to grow the business. They say they’re willing to try something new… and TRUST my expertise.
But, when it comes down to it and it’s THEIR name on a website, a sales letter, a brochure, a video… and the language is a little edgy… maybe “uncool”… elementary… provocative…. out-of-character… shocking… blunt… sappy… whatever, they quickly turn on me.
Pretty soon, they’ve forgotten why they hired me. They ask for fundamental changes in the copy, complaining of the damage it’ll do to their reputation.
The end result is usually limp, neutered copy that fades into the background, like an ice-cube on a Maui beach. The business owners stew. They curse me under their breath. They swear off copywriters forever.
I’m not happy either. I always want my work to produce for clients. My hope is to partner with them for the long haul… as they evolve. When my work ends up on the cutting room floor, there’s NO chance of getting rehired.
Personally, I’ve found working with marketing managers of large companies MUCH easier to deal with. In fact, one client — a medical device company that does $500 million in sales — has never asked for any type of revision. Rather, they treat me like a quasi celebrity. Every time I hand in a project, they fire back with “Awesome!”, “Thank You!”, and “Great Job!”
Now I’m not complaining about DIY business owners. I get them… I’m one myself. That said, if you’ve made the decision to hire someone for creative work, and you’ve vetted them properly, you need to get out of the way. Let them do their magic for your sake.