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Is Analysis Paralysis Limiting Your Success as a Copywriter?

Do Less Thinking, More Writing


copywritin

Like doing a jigsaw puzzle, the hardest part of writing is getting started.

Hey Susan,

I’ll get right to it. Here is my problem:

I’m in discussions with a prospect to advertise his mining haul truck dealership. The target, obviously, is mines looking to add haul trucks to their fleet.

The buyer persona is where I’m getting stuck. We’d want to get our messaging in front of the decision makers at the mine. Heads of Engineering, Fleet, Operations, Finance, and obviously the CEO. The CEO would make the final decision, but he’ll take in account all the input from these other departments.

I find researching consumer personas much easier, as finding the deep insights to form the message around are much easier to find online through social media, reviews, etc.

For the B2B corporate world, I’m finding much difficulty in identifying these deep insights. Finding the pain points to solve. I’ve looked in trade journals, magazines, mining discussion groups, etc.

I know there are more resources I can look through. But my observation is these big corporate decision makers don’t really share their major problems. Probably something to do with professional decorum and not wanting the wrong people to know what problems they face. They take care of when and where they share their woes.

The prospect will set me up with appointments to talk with some of his trusted customers to interview, and I’ll have access to his sales team. This will help, but I really want that ungated feedback. The type that they (target market) display when they think they are in a safe place to do so. This seems to be where the best insights come from.

Just how do I dig and find this information? I’m sure this is a typical problem for large corporate b2b, and I’m interested to know how you go about it.

Thank you, once again,

Cuyler Callahan


Hi Cuyler,

I hope you’re not disappointed in my answer. I think the solution lies within what you wrote in your email:

“The prospect will set me up with appointments to talk with some of his trusted customers to interview, and I’ll have access to his sales team.”

If it were me, the above idea would be my starting point. The fact that the client is willing to set you up to speak with subject matter experts is fantastic. That’s not always the case.

Trusted customers and the sales team should give you the information you need to determine your buyer personas and build your messaging.

At the very least, start with those conversations. Then, if you find you need more information or have gaps in your research, you can reevaluate. But I would think you’ll gain a wealth of knowledge from those conversations.

I do a lot of work for a big data analytics company. When they’re starting a marketing campaign for a new data-driven product, they set me up with their salespeople, subject matter experts and occasionally satisfied customers. I interview them — sometimes individually, sometimes all at once in a conference call — and get a fast education on what’s important to the customer and what makes my client’s product superior to competing products. From there I’m usually able to write whatever copy they need.

write your copy

Interviewing sales people, subject matter experts and customers should net you plenty of selling points to write your copy.

I think you might be worrying unnecessarily. Start with those conversations and see what you learn. I hope my response, while perhaps not what you were expecting, gives you the comfort level to proceed to that next step.

Regards,

Susan

Thanks, Susan,

This is a great answer. To know you write successful copy from insights gained through conversations held instills confidence that I’ll be able to do the same.

I was worried about the ungated feedback, but if you, an expert copywriter, have had success with the interviews, then I’m sure that is, like you said, the place to start.
Thanks, again, for taking the time to answer me.

Cheers,
Cuyler

Cuyler,

You’ve heard the expression “analysis paralysis?” Instead, think like Nike, “Just do it.”

When I write, I don’t always have a clear outline of where the copy is going to take me. So, I often start with what I know to get the ball rolling.

I write the sections of the copy that I feel comfortable with at first, even if that means starting at the end or the middle. In fact, writing the first paragraph and headline is often what I do last.

Once I get started with the copy, I know I’ll figure it out. I’ve found that writing method works for me better than spending excessive amounts of time up front analyzing the material or waiting for inspiration.

It’s a bit like doing a jigsaw puzzle. You have lots of random pieces that you need to assemble into place to create a single, cohesive image. You spill out all the pieces. The easiest part of the puzzle is usually separating out and then assembling the edges. So start there. The next easiest part might be the pieces that all have a specific color or recognizable image on them.

Once that’s done, you’ll probably be able to see one or two other easy-to-do areas. As the picture begins to takes shape, you pick up some momentum, completing more sections and eventually tackling the hardest areas to finally complete puzzle.

copywriting

As your copy takes shape, you’ll be able to envision the whole write-up.

The point is you don’t have to know where every piece goes before you start working on the puzzle. Start with the easy parts and you’ll soon pick up steam. Can you see how the same technique might work for writing copy? Less thinking and more doing.

Permit me to share a quick story. I refer away my business’s overflow. My current clients keep me pretty busy. But I average about 90-100 new business inquiries each month for my copywriting services. (I track them, so that’s not a guess.) I refer those jobs to about eight other freelance copywriters who are “on my team.”

Our agreement is they pay me a percentage of each job they get from me as a referral fee. This system works well for all parties — the client gets their job done by a talented professional; the freelance copywriter gets new clients without doing any sales work; and I make some passive revenue. It’s grown into an effective business model for me.

Some of the copywriters on my team have been with me for a few years. About 18 months ago, I expanded and brought into the mix a 28-year-old girl. She was a freelancer doing copywriting work nights and weekends while keeping a full-time, day job during the week. She had much less experience than the other copywriters but impressed me with her go-getter attitude, so I took a chance and brought her on. Good decision.

She killed it!

She booked and completed more jobs than anyone else on the team! Within one year, she quit her full-time job to do freelance copywriting full-time. 

What made her so successful? She never said “no” to any referral I offered her. It didn’t matter if I asked her to write a website for a company that makes latrines or draft a brochure for a top NYC law firm; she jumped at the opportunity. She never hesitated. No matter what job I offered her, I could always expect an immediate, enthusiastic reply, “I love writing about latrines!!!” Seriously, she said that.

What she didn’t say ever was, “I don’t know how to handle this client.” Or, “I don’t know how to write this type of copy.” She just did it!

She was almost too naive to know she should have lacked confidence in taking on some of those jobs. She said “yes” to every single project I offered her and then figured it out. She cranked out jobs daily, getting smarter every day.

Almost every time I signed onto my computer, there was another referral fee from this girl. She still works with me, and she is amazing! She claims to have learned a lot from me. But I’ve also learned a lot from her, especially about having the courage to “go for it” and just “get ‘er done!”

Contrast that with another copywriter on my team. He’s an older gentleman who has been writing for 30+ years. Impeccable credentials. He also has some unique specialties that provide value to my business and my clients. However, his approach, the opposite of the 28-year-old’s, frustrates me.

Every time I email him about a specific job I want to refer, he writes back with questions such as:

  • Can you get a few more details so I can determine if this is in my wheelhouse?
  • Is the company well-established?
  • Do you know what the client’s budget is?
  • Will you find out if he’ll be providing an outline of copy points?

You get the idea. I like him but he drives me crazy. Referring a copywriting job to him means a lot of discussion about the project and often me trying to convince him to “give it a shot.”

In most cases, all I have is the initial inquiry (typically an email). I know exactly as much as he does. But before he takes on the job, he wants some kind of guarantee that they’ll be a good client who is a perfect fit for his abilities. Let me tell you, that is NOT how you make money!

writing project

I advocate for taking on the writing project, even if you’re not sure of your approach, and then get to work.

He reminds me of a Hollywood movie star carefully weighing every acting opportunity.
  • Will this role further my career?
  • Is the director someone with whom I’ll enjoy working?
  • Will my acting method be effective in this role?
  • Might I win an Oscar for this performance?

Look, unless you’re Robert Freak’n De Niro or Meryl Streep, take the damn job and then do your best work!

So, bottom line. Be more like the 28-year-old. Take on the job. Just do it, even if you’re not 100% confident in your approach.

Good luck!

Susan 

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