I love business quotes. One of my favourites is from Sam Pettengill, an American congressman from the 1930s.
“The successful producer of an article sells it for more than it cost him to make, and that’s his profit. But the customer buys it only because it is worth more to him than he pays for it, and that’s his profit. No one can long make a profit producing anything…unless the customer makes a profit using it”
A copywriter’s job includes convincing a would-be customer that a product/service on offer is worth more, far more than the dollars in her hand. So, it helps to know what a client thinks about marketing before accepting a brief. A business that follows this principle makes writing advertising materials easier and gets better results.
Marketing is one word that has been so used in business circle that sometimes it’s hard to grasp what the person speaking to you have in mind. When some people talk about content marketing, email marketing , affiliate marketing, online marketing etc, it could be that what they’ve in mind is either advertising, selling of product/service or both. And therein lies the problem for a copywriter.
But what does marketing really mean to you as a business owner?
Does it mean advertising or selling of product/service or both? Or does marketing represent something more extensive to you? To run a successful business in any field today, it is not enough to just go out and sell your products/services.
You must adopt a marketing approach that places the needs of your customers at the heart of your business. This is what Sam Pettengill was referring in his famous business quote above.
And in my personal experience, I’ve come to appreciate how this is vital to being able to craft better advertising copy for businesses that reflects that quote or adopt marketing approach as set out in the definition provided by the Institute of Marketing. You will find the definition at the lower part of this article.
A client that views marketing as advertising or sales is more likely to be unable to provide you with the most relevant information you need to write a compelling sales copy to engage the prospective customer that he is after his custom.
Because he may not have considered the needs, wants and concerns of his prospective customers and how the product/service he is creating fulfils those concerns. Customer needs were not at the forefront of his product/service development.
The expectation is that advertising will deal with that. For such people, the approach is simple. I have a product/service. I’ll hire a copywriter to write advertising materials. And boom; sales will go through the roof.
So, you get into a situation where your project over-view form comes back half-filled with gaps that leave you struggling to make a sense of what he is trying to achieve with such product/service. This could be frustrating. Agreed, advertising and sales are relevant components of marketing. But understanding the role each plays in the whole marketing process does a business a whole lot of good.
What Is Marketing and What Role Does Advertisement Play in It?
As mentioned earlier, many people think that marketing is a fancy name for selling. But in fact, this is far from the truth. Advertising, selling and other promotional activities are important aspect of marketing, but they are only a part of what marketing is about.
To appreciate this, let’s consider the definition of marketing from the Institute of Marketing…
Marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.
It is clear from this definition that marketing doesn’t start from the perspective of products and services. It starts from the customer with a range of requirements that needed satisfying.
It involves identifying what these requirements are.
And satisfying them by meeting as many of these requirements with your product/service. Your product/service is therefore, a response to the requirement. It is the ability of your product/service to fulfil that requirement that forms the basis of your advertising.
It also means that if these customer requirements are not correctly identified, anticipated and satisfied, no amount of advertising can make sales happen.
I don’t know about you. But I know no one who buys a product or pays for a service that offers no benefit to him/her even if it is promoted.
So, it is unrealistic to hire a copywriter to write advertising messages for a product/service that offers no real benefit. If you’re a copywriter reading this article, my message is simple.
If your client cannot explain to you convincingly why someone should pay for a product/service, don’t accept the brief. It will tarnish your reputation.
And if you’re a business owner, before you hire a copywriter please be sure you’ve an answer to that most important question- “why should someone buy your product or pay for your service?” If you cannot, you haven’t grasped the meaning of marketing yet.
Please go back to your drawing board and find your reason for developing your product/service.
To bring marketing and advertising to a personal level; think about the last product you bought or the last service you paid for. Why did you buy it? Why were you happy to let go your hard-earned dollar in exchange for it? It may not necessarily be because you read a captivating sales copy written by a wonderful copywriter.
Ok, let’s assume you got to know about the product/service through an advertisement. But was that why you paid? I guess not really.
You paid because it was right for you:
• on value/benefit
• on price
• on convenience
But it was never right for you because it was promoted.
Advertising simply brought it to your attention if that was your case. To buy or not to buy depends on other factors that are beyond the control of advertising or copywriting. It depends on it satisfying your requirements.
The Take Away…
Marketing should be recognised as a process that extends through every aspect of business, from production, through advertising, to delivery of product to customer and beyond. When you think about marketing, think of it as United States of America; one country, 50 federating states. Think of advertising as a federating state- a slice of a pie.
Don’t fall into the trap that you can sell anything if you get a good copywriter to write a mesmerising sales copy. If that’s your view, I have got news for you; “sales are not a given” even with the best advertising campaign.
Do you agree? Share your point of view.
P.S. And if you’ve a product/service that offers real benefit, get relevant content support for your advertising campaign.