Updated: Apr 26
Why is it essential to get marketing copywriting right? What makes good copy in general? If you are starting or growing your own business and can only do one thing in terms of copywriting, what should that be? In today’s episode of the Harvest Growth Podcast, we interview Joybeth Sullivan — our very own Copywriter here at Harvest Growth.
If you’re an inventor, entrepreneur, or product marketer, listen to this podcast interview with our expert copywriter, where she gives you advice on how to write powerful copy for your website, social media, paid ads, videos, and more.
In today’s episode of the Harvest Growth Podcast, we’ll cover:
Why it is essential to get marketing copywriting right the first time
How you can continually test, tweak, and optimize your copy to create compelling, relevant content
Various methods, tips, and tricks to develop marketable copy that grows your business
The importance of market research and identifying your key features and benefits from the beginning
How to “unstick the creative mind” when you experience writer’s block
And so much more!
About The Podcast Guest
Joybeth Sullivan is the Copywriter at Harvest Growth, creating both internal and external content. She has been on the Harvest Growth team since 2020! Outside of Harvest Growth, she has published many articles ranging from long-form editorial pieces to buying guides across local and international websites, including AutoWise, GearJunkie, Gear Hungry, and Improb. Her background includes a dual degree in English and Entertainment & Media Studies. During her undergraduate years at UGA, she was the Editor-in-Chief of a local book press, interned as the Marketing & Publicity Intern at the University of Georgia Press, and was cinematographer on an award-winning short film, “The Dreams of a Flightless Bird.” In her own time, she is also a creative writer. Her favorite form of creative writing is poetry, and she won the 2020 Virginia Rucker Poetry Prize for her poem titled “pilgrimage palindrome 22.”
FULL PODCAST TRANSCRIPT BELOW!
JON: If you're an inventor, or entrepreneur, or product marketer, listen to this podcast interview with our expert copywriter here at Harvest growth that's going to give you advice on how to write great content, powerful copy for your website for social media posts for videos everything you need to market yourself and your business better. Today I'm excited to have on our Harvest growth podcast one of our favorite employees, Joybeth Sullivan, who is our content writer at Harvest Growth. Let me do a quick introduction and then she's going to take over and actually work through a lot of content advice.
So whether you're a content writer, a marketer, you know on social media, a video editor, producer, marketer, etc., anything in the field of marketing, content is king and Joybeth is really a master at it. She’s going to share some great ideas and strategies that can help you with your content writing whether it's blog posts, social media posts, video scripts, etc. So she's going to go through a lot of really valuable information on this on this podcast interview, but first, let me do a quick introduction. So she's been with us for a while as our content writer at Harvest Growth as I mentioned, which is an internal and external role. What that means is she does almost all of the content writing for Harvest growth for our company. So as we post out to Facebook, Instagram, etc. Most of that writing you're going to see is right from Joybeth, as well as email follow-ups, automatic emails, that kind of thing. And then she also does external, we call it, but dealing with client content so similarly might be organic social media posts, video scripts, etc. So her role is truly all about the content.
She comes to us with a lot of great, experience from doing buying guides, how-to guides, and a real product focus, which is great for us certainly as a company and for many of you as listeners who are product marketers, having written for Auto Wise, Gear Junkie, GearHungry, Improv, major online publications.
She's got some great experience from there. One of the things that got us really excited
as a company bringing on Joybeth originally was her double major in English and Film so,
I mean, it couldn't be more perfect, I think, for Harvest Growth. So hopefully she stays with us for a long time because it really is what we do. English: It's kind of that writing side. We do a lot of writing here at Harvest Growth, of course. A lot of its writing for video or for organic social media, etc. But then that film background is so important so she gets it right. So she's got great product experience that she'll share with you today from her background. But also what she's done here as well as that, you know her schooling that's been so helpful for us in her own time. She was also a creative writer. I find this interesting. She won the 2020 Virginia Rucker poetry prize. Joybeth. I've got to ask you because I am a poetry novice. I will tell you it's the one standardized test that I absolutely failed in high school coming in for college, long story short. I don't know why I even took it. Iy was one of the colleges I applied to either take three tests or two tests. But when I sat they gave me three choices and so I'm like, I'll do poetry that sounds easy and I completely bombed it. So I am no poet. What is that? How did you win that Virginia Rucker poetry prize?
JOYBETH: So I wrote a poem that was for a creative writing class that I took when I was in college and that was a class that was actually all about walking and writing, the art of walking, and walking and talking about what it means to be walking. And so I was assigned to write a poem about a pilgrimage and I decided to write a poem about kind of making my 22nd birthday a pilgrimage and so I wrote that poem like on the day of my birthday and then I submitted it for this poetry prize, and I won it. And it was really awesome because that was kind of I've been writing poetry, you know since I was young and so that was the first sign that I kind of got recognition for it and poetry is my favorite form of creative writing. I really have tried to write a narrative and short stories and maybe one day I will, but on the side when I'm doing creative writing poetry is my favorite thing. But I totally understand poetry is a little bit confusing, and I don't know there's a lot of poetry still for me that I still like, I don't fully understand that but I love it.
JON: What's funny so as you know, and especially infomercial scriptwriting oftentimes, there's a lot of rhymes, right? So we're going for that cheesy. If it's a gadget, you know as seen on TV type product which isn't a fit for everybody but for some products so I can rhyme I can't write poetry. I think they're very different but we'll have to take that expertise and get you more involved rhyming in our funny spots so that's good.
JOYBETH: I can see how poetry in some strange ways actually can translate to, you know,
all forms of writing because with poetry you write in stanzas most of the time. And so you kind of do a thing where the whole part is really important and it makes sense altogether, but then the little stanzas kind of stand-alone. So that can kind of translate into writing about products and doing social media posts and making a Facebook campaign where you're writing all these different things, but at the end of the day, they all have the same message. So that's what I love about writing is you can figure out ways for it to all connect and incorporate in every single day.
JON: Now some of our listeners would not consider themselves copywriters, even though we really all are right where they were composing emails or video scripts, you know, it's important to get that writing right. But in marketing specifically, why is it so important to get copywriting right?
JOYBETH: Right. So obviously like you said when I'm doing copywriting for Harvest growth, there's a bunch of different things that I'm doing. Do for blog posts for instance when I'm writing for Harvest Growth when somebody goes to Harvest Growth, they want to be finding information and they want to be finding valuable information that's easy to understand, well researched, that's correct information and they can just be like, wow, I learned a lot from that. So instead of just you know being like, “Okay. I'm going to write about this topic and I don't know that much about it, but I'll just kind of write about it and figure it out as I go.” Well, that's an issue if you're not doing research beforehand. But if you prep for that blog post, you do research beforehand, you make sure that you know everything about it, you make sure that you're using language that everybody can understand. And when they look at that, then they'll be like, “Wow, Harvest Growth. It's a reputable company and that's awesome.”
And then for example when you're working on Facebook ads for clients when you are writing copy that is what helps consumers stop what they're doing look at this ad and read it and most of the time they're not watching the videos with sound. So that's why with Harvest Growth, we’re a video company. We write a lot of stuff. So the combination of doing a really valuable video that they're probably not going to watch with sound with short and sweet copy that's going to have them stop and be really interested in the product along with, you know, copy that goes along with that is just so important.
And then the next form of copy they'll press on that they'll see the website and then if the website is full of typos or really hard to follow hard to understand, and that they're going to exit out immediately. So just little stuff like that: having this consistent message throughout all the copy that you write is so important, you know.
JON: Yeah, and I think you voiced it. I always like to say you could recognize bad copywriting way more easily than you can recognize good copy running especially as a consumer, right? So if they’re reading your blog post or your product description, if it's written poorly, whether it's typos or incorrect grammar or whatever, it really stands out. And, it leads to decreases in sales. They will think, “Is this a real, legitimate company?” Especially the direct-to-consumer space where oftentimes the website is the only interaction they have to build up that trust. It's about getting it right and sometimes clear, concise, and simple is about it. Well in your words what makes good copy or good content?
JOYBETH: So in my own words with that, I think that what makes good copy is first of all,
I think that I learned a lot as you said with my experience in college when I majored in English, a lot of the stuff that I did was research-focused. And so I would be tasked with writing a 20-page research paper on… trying to think of an example of a class I took that I, you know, went into knowing nothing about. I took an 18th-century British literature class obviously going into that I knew nothing about that. So when I had to write a paper, the first thing I did was do a lot of research. And when you're translating that into my experience with writing for websites, like AutoWise, a lot of the stuff that I started with AutoWise, I was, you know, like I don't fully know what this is, but as a writer, I always want to write accurate information — make sure that everything that I'm writing is backed up by so many people, you know, because when you read stuff and when you post stuff, you're showing the experts. So making sure that you sound like a human being, you know, you're doing research. No one wants to read something that sounds like a robot.
So I remember I learned something when I was working on buying guides at AutoWise was that… I'm not entirely sure what place was doing this… but there was something about how large corporation was trying to make a way for like artificial intelligence to write buying guides, but they couldn't figure it out because when they were doing this, a robot can’t write these product descriptions because nobody wants to read something that sounds like a robot wrote it. So making sure that you sound human and sound personable on top of that is so important in every form of copy you do.
JON: So, it's a good way to put it I think you know, I know you're not a Gearhead by you're selling, so you don't you don't know how to repair your own car. I like it right. There are other employees. That's what he does all the time on his own. So he probably knows I would say more about cars and all the details than you do but that's something I want to bring up. I think it's so important again for listeners to realize you don't need to start off as an expert right you right. You do need to become that though, right? You need to research and understand it and putting in research can help you get over that hurdle. And oftentimes, you know, we might be experts. If you're marketing a product for example, as you know, to speak in the words of an inventor and entrepreneur with their own product, they certainly are experts on that product, but they're not experts on their customer, for example, right at the end consumer. So doing that research might be the step that's necessary. But making sure that you truly are an expert, not just in what you're selling, but also who you're selling to, I would say.
JOYBETH: Oh completely.
JON: So one thing you've told me is that a good copywriter really helps the ideal customer consumer solve a specific problem or achieve a personal goal by going through this process. Can you walk us kind of through that process again? So how does a good copywriter really help their customers solve a problem?
JOYBETH: Right. So when you're trying to release a product, you really want to make sure
that you have a consistent message like I was saying. And before you even do anything, before we even start writing website copy, before you start writing Facebook ads, you really need to figure out what your main features and benefits of that product. It is something that we do at Harvest Growth when we take on any clients. We're doing market research like that is the foundation of everything that we do and in that, you're going directly to the consumer figuring out, “Hey, this is what our product is about, this is what we are saying about it. This is what we think the great features and benefits are. Here's a list of 15 features and benefits. Let me know what you think.” It helps you figure out what the important ones are, what, you know, is the sweet spot for you of like when you hear about this product, what's that mean to you? And so when you're doing copy, something that I really like to do is, I learned about this when I was taking some Digital Marketing Lab courses a while ago, is when you're writing your copy kind of think about what this consumers life is like before the product and then think about what the consumers life will be like after the product, and this can be on a really small scale. So say that you're working on, you know, a product that is going to help their grass grow. So this was an example that I learned about when I was taking Digital Marketer courses before their grass was gross. They're embarrassed about their house, you know, they didn't like their lawn and now after, they're enjoying their Saturdays outside, they're really proud of where they live and all that stuff because of your product. So figuring out, you know, what is it that you're selling to them that they're going to love? And then also when you're writing your copy, just knowing what your copy is selling, you know, like what is it that you know, when you're writing the first hook of the copy. There's something called a pain benefit hook. So what is this? It's the same thing as the before and after grid where you're like, “Are you struggling with this? Well, here is our product, and here's how we're placing it to make you see that this is a problem that is going to solve and this is how it's going to do it.”
JON: Yes, well said, you know that goes back to the roots of infomercial marketing where right historically kind of the quote-unquote cheesy ads always start off with that black and white over it exaggerated the problem and led to a solution. “Have you ever had problems with your grass getting brown or whatever, right?” So yeah, it's going into that problem first and addressing it, and that's often still done in these Gadget or Gizmo types as seen on TV campaigns, but not as much in digital at least. In a different way, right? So it's not going to be as in your face, but the problem and solution, I would say, still needs to be in your mind as a copywriter or if you're running scripts for videos, etc. The problem solution is really the core of what you're going after figuring it out and figuring out what your consumer’s problem is. Not what yours is right. You come up with your invention for a certain reason, but consumers might want it for a different reason or having slightly different problems. That goes back to, as you said, researching and figuring that out with consumers directly. Yeah, go ahead.
JOYBETH: I was just saying you'd be surprised about you know, you might be right making this product, and you might think that this feature is the number one feature and then you go directly to the consumer to find out that there is now this feature that you think is, you know, a feature not that interesting and they'll look at it and be like that's why I want that product. So that kind of ties in with knowing, who you're selling to, like knowing your exact target audience, knowing that you can even do it down to the nitty-gritty of what is the specific person that this would be the perfect product for even creating a really extensive buyer persona. You know figuring out what do they care about in the day-to-day? What's there? You know, what are they passionate about?
What is their income? What's their age? What's their gender? Your product might market to a lot of different audiences, but kind of honing it down and figuring out who exactly is this product for, and then when you're writing your copy, that makes it all the more personable and all the more, you know, able to get them with what you're writing.
JON: Yeah, very true and something you touched on before as well as the difference between features and benefits. You worded it a little bit differently, but it's finding out what features are most important but speaking to consumers and benefiting from language. So really how it's helping them. You know, past podcast guess we've had on the Harvest Growth podcast early on in, a good friend of mine Bob Circosta who is the original TV shopping host that's been on HSN for 40 plus years. We've taught a lot of courses together and in his podcast interview, he reiterated added training that he talks about frequently, which is whiz Gat. What's so good about that? So when you talk about a feature drilling down, it's a really easy way to find out. Okay, what are those benefits in many people's minds it's until you get it once you get features benefits you get it but it's sometimes it's almost like, you know taking calculus for the first time, it's until you turn that corner. It's hard to understand, and that's a great way to really dive deep on. Okay. What's so good about those other words? What is the benefit for your consumer that they're going to take away from the feature that you're selling, you know, one at a time, etc.?
JOYBETH: Yeah, and so, for example, you know the features of a product would be…
We have this specific technology, and then the benefit would be the technology can do this. Like why should you care about that? About this technology? It's because it can benefit you in all of these amazing ways. So really, you know, going down actually making a list of like, okay here are my features for this product. Here's what I'm going to focus on in the copy that I'm writing. Here's the benefit. So I'm going to be certain that I'm explaining to you because when you're writing your copy, as you said, The client is the expert on the product. You've learned a lot about the product from the client. So you're now this expert on this product. But when you're writing this copy, you’re writing copy for people that have no idea what this product is, you know, you want to educate them and inform them, and you want to write to them as if this is the first time they're seeing it because a lot of the time it is very true.
JON: So let's shift gears a little bit and talk about one of your big clients is Harvest Growth. Right? So you work for us as full-time employee helping many of our clients, but also a lot of your work is for us as a company by itself. So we do something called a lot of blogs, but also something called organic content. Can you, first of all, describe what that means for those in the audience that don't know what we when we say organic or does it mean and talk about why we do that? Why do we blog? Why do we write organic content? How is it helping us as a company?
JOYBETH: So organic content is anything that the specific company is releasing on its own, and it's not paid social media by any means, you know, it's when you look at their website that's their organic content. And when you press, on say, that they have a section with a blog and say it's a product where they need a lot of different how-to's: how to use our products, how to use this to exercise, all that kind of stuff. So and then also, of course, their social media. So first for Harvest Growth, it's the Harvest Growth LinkedIn, Facebook, and the website. So it's really really important because it helps build the credibility of the place that you're writing the organic social media for, and if you were to hear about Harvest Growth and then Google it and the website looks like it was made by someone with their eyes closed and had no new information, then you would be like, is Harvest Growth still around? And so making sure that you have social media that you're posting constantly and it's not just, you know random. It's with nothing of value. It's really important content where you're focusing on. Okay, here's what we're about. I'm going to make a post showing you about writing all about our process when we're working on video shoots. And here's information on why we are experts in the digital marketing sphere. So that way, when people are looking at your information, they know exactly what they're looking at.
JON: And a lot of companies put their content on their main corporate website, which is one good solution for sure. You've helped us at Harvest grow to develop a completely separate content-driven website, really in part because we're big believers in educating an audience to know whether or not someone becomes a client. We want them to succeed, right? We want product marketers to do better. That's what drives us as a company. We love working directly with them. But sometimes you know it may be budget-driven or other reasons that they are not ready yet. So for that reason, we put together another site Infomercial Marketer.com which you developed for us and looks great and has some really helpful content as well for anyone looking to get in the space of marketing their product or their service their business online or on TV.
So infomercials, that term is often thought of as 30-minute infomercials or two-minute infomercials that are on TV on national TV, and we've done that for 15 years as a company, and everyone knows my background with Oxi Clean before that. But this is a little bit different. The term has kind of changed recently where infomercials now refer a lot too. So we got a lot of people searching for infomercials and coming to us and saying, “Hey, I want to do an infomercial for Facebook or infomercial for YouTube.” It's not the correct way of saying it, right, it's, but that's why we term this way because it's what people are saying, and at the end of the day, it's very similar, right? So we run the digital side of our business very similar to the TV side in terms of how we generate results, right? The videos are going to look different, right? One's going to be two minutes and widescreen. You know the problem/solution with the testimonials kind of a very specific pattern for TV. And then the other might be a 15-second square video specifically for Facebook. So it's again the look and feel are going to be different. But the end goal of this type of style of video is to sell more products profitably, right? So spend a dollar, whether it's on TV or digital, and generate multiple dollars in return. So I encourage anybody listening to this if you want to see some of Joybeth's work, check out InfomercialMarketer.com, and you can learn a lot as well from some great tips beyond what she's done already, and he's going to we're going to talk some more about this as well. But specifically about how to Market your business. That's a great resource to go to after you finish this podcast.
So I'd like to shift gears again, and let's talk about the process. So again, for any listeners that are thinking about okay, I need to sit and write for a video or write the copy for the website or the product listing, whatever it might be. Where do they start? You know, what would you recommend? Is there a process?
JOYBETH: Right? So like I said before, everybody when you're working with different clients, every starting point is different, and so with Harvest Growth specifically, we work with clients that just had the blueprint of their product, and they're coming to us at the very beginning, or they are already on digital media, but they want to go on national TV. And so, with that being said, my process is also different depending on the different clients all that stuff. But with that said, the way that we do things at Harvest growth is very much in unison with getting my creative wheels turning. So I've talked a lot about research, but that's because as a copywriter, that is my foundation and what I think is just so so incredibly important. But the first thing that I do is that survey, and while that survey is only, you know, it's usually one page, sometimes two pages with a little bit more of a complex product. But that becomes kind of the foundation for me for all my future documents. So in the same way, if you're starting out you, and you are really wanting to hone in on copywriting, that's really important to just have in whatever way, whatever form, have this foundation of here's what my product is all about. Here are all these features and benefits and then go from there. And so with that, you can have access to exactly what the consumers are thinking, and then from there, I can work on paid social media, organic social media, website copy, TV scripts, and everything else.
And of course the amazing thing about being with Harvest Growth is we're working with 25 clients at once which is just so exciting and fun for somebody who is a creative writer and wants to be writing about a million different things. So for me whenever I get stuck, say I've been working nonstop. I'm working on this one client, and I'm working on 20 pages of website copy, and I'm starting to be like, hey, I don't want to sound repetitive, I want this to be new and exciting. So I definitely will kind of take a step back, work on something else for a little while and let it rest for a little bit. That's really helpful for me. I know everyone always says, you know, you're working on something, just walk away from it for a little bit and come back. But I mean it really is helpful because if you're sitting there losing your mind trying to figure out what to write about, you might start writing in circles or not writing as good as you want to be, so just really making sure that you give yourself space to take a step back. When in that same process as we've talked about earlier, but as a product marketing agency, we’re experts about everything marketing, but the clients are really the experts about their product. So reaching out to the clients to get more information from them and hopping on a call with them and being like what are you learning about recently with your product? Do you have any new testimonials? Do you have any new angles that you want this product to be released for that you haven't really talked about before? So just really making sure that through the whole process, you're not getting lost in all the details, but you're really making sure that you remember, okay, this is what I'm writing about. This is what's exciting about it and then making sure that everything that we’re doing kind of translates that excitement to the writing.
JON: That's very well said I hear all this stuff and I think back to you know, starting this company many years ago and realizing how important content is and copywriting is but in the early days, you know, I felt like I had to do it all and so if wheels were failing, I got stuck which is why I'm so grateful to have you. I finally feel like okay, I've got these 10 ideas. And now Joybeth can help us get all those done. Right? Let's make this all different for real. Before I would get these ten ideas and maybe they're all good hopefully, but where do I start? Which one's right, to begin with? So what's your advice you do a lot of copywriting again for us as well as for clients, if you're giving advice to an inventor, entrepreneur, product marketer, that's listening. Where should they get started? Also, you know, is it blogging? Organic social media? Is it, you know, a website copy? LinkedIn posts? There are so many things you do: video, blogs, and that kind of stuff. So, where would you get started if you were one of these new entrepreneurs or entrepreneurs, right?
JOYBETH: So the first thing that I would say is just really investing in your writing is so important because I know we've talked about this before, but if I'm going to be reading something and I can't really understand or decipher what it said and if it's full of typos. Even if it's writing formatting — it’s just as important as the words. So when you're writing, make sure that you have good separation. You have a really powerful introduction that really brings people in and then working on keeping their attention throughout and making sure that you have really valuable information. So I think that when you're working on your product, no matter what you do, making sure that you're really investing in your writing. And so depending on what you're comfortable with, that might look a little different. So If you're more comfortable with writing kind of short and sweet messages of social media doing something like that, then really focusing on getting a good organic social media presence. One of my favorite things in this job that I'm doing right now is doing content calendars. So prepping, you know for the month of April, I'm going to be doing 15 posts for this client and I want to make sure that it's really different, every post is different, but also all have the same message and that it's capturing their attention. And so really preparing in advance of being mindful about what you're putting out there because if somebody goes to your social media and every caption is the same, then they're going to be pretty unimpressed and you’ll lose their attention quickly. But if they go on to your social media and see that you have written: here is how to use this product, here's testimonials, and here's how you can see them in a way that you can see that these customers love this and I have this written out for you. Here's an educational video about what's in our product. Like everything that they need to know about that. So making sure that what you’re writing throughout the whole process is really easy to understand in these short and sweet little messages. But if you are somebody who feels more comfortable writing long-form, then making a really great blog on your website will be really awesome thing to invest in and no matter what you do, whether it's long-form on your blog making sure your website is really really honed in on in terms of the writing content. Or if it's an organic social media presence — you think that your product would do really well on social media, then no matter what, that is making sure that you have this content regularly. So doing something as simple as okay, I'm going to pull up a calendar on Excel and I'm going to make sure that I have three posts a week. I'm prepping for that in advance. I'm making sure that I'm proofreading it, checking it for typos all of that stuff, and it's regular, you know, three times a week, 15 posts a month. That's a really great place to start.
JON: Yeah, like I said, it's about what you like, right when you like a certain type of copywriting you're more apt to do it. And that's so important because regular content posting whatever the platform is, right? Whether it's your own blog on your website, Twitter, Facebook, you name it, It's about being regular and consistent. So you have an audience that can follow you and learn about your product, etc. So finding that form that definitely works for you and you're more apt to do it. Well, I think so. I'd love you to share some tips and tricks. Our audience has, you know, a kind of summary for those that are listening. I know what I want to write. I've got some basic guidelines. What's some general advice that you ou can give them to write well?
JOYBETH: Right. So I did kind of I was thinking about in the same way that attention spans are short, and a lot of times when you're writing your content you want to make sure that you are writing in a way that really captures attention fast when it comes to when you're first starting out and you're trying to figure out… what can I do? What can I do to improve my writing content? It can feel pretty overwhelming. Like where do I even start? What are the things that I should really focus on? So I kind of made a little bit of a list because as a writer, I process things through writing. Everything that I do, I make sure that I write it out before really thinking about it. So before you even begin to write it's still important to do things.
So I'll reiterate again knowing your target audience, knowing your top three features and benefits, and then knowing the specific problem your product solves. So basically having an elevator pitch if somebody were to be like, okay tell me in one minute everything about this product. Think about what you would say to convince them of this product. And then like I said throughout the whole process, researching! Look at your competitors, learn all about your market, you know, if you're looking to release a product in the automotive industry, then make sure that you know everything about what's going on in the automotive industry, like really take time to focus on that.
And then once you start writing, I recommend downloading Grammarly Pro and getting a subscription to that because that is such a game-changer when you just make sure that it's not even just typos with Grammarly. It helps you rephrase sentences in a way that's really understandable to any crowd at all and it helps you just really focus on your content and make sure that you don't have anything that would just turn away a customer really quickly. And then consistency is very very very important. So, producing good content with intent and purpose behind everything that you do really regularly. And then something that I've learned a lot with specifically marketing copywriting is that clarity and simplicity over big, impressive words is kind of the way to go. So as an English major, obviously, I love words and I love really really confusing words and in poetry, I'd probably throw in words that are kind of, you know, if you read that you might be like, okay, I'm going to Google and figure out what that word actually means because I'm not sure. But when you're writing marketing copywriting, doing that is not the thing to do. Making sure that you're using conversational words — words that are really easily understandable, like the first time reading it that the customer can just read and understand quickly. That's really important. So making sure that the clarity and simplicity are great. So when you're writing it, if you have a really long sentence with all these complex words cut that sentence in half and replace the complicated words with words that are not easily understood.
JON: I was going to reiterate I think that's so important to speak simply while realizing your audience. It’s tempting, especially as a new copywriter to try to sound fancy right just to prove you're a good writer, but proving it is better actually when you're speaking simply because everyone can understand.
JOYBETH: Yes, definitely and even with you know, working on InfomercialMarketer.com, that has been so fun to do and I'm really really proud of that website and it's because working with you and everybody else at Harvest Growth. But of course, we know a lot about direct response marketing and infomercials, but this website is specifically for explaining every little thing about the ins and outs of infomercial marketing. So learning about, I'm not going to throw in this word “DRTV” because what if somebody doesn't know what DRTV stands for? So what is direct response? Here's a paragraph about everything about direct response in a way that you'll understand that anybody who has no idea what it is will understand. So that's just an example of instead of just being like, “We do DRTV marketing.” Somebody's not getting what you're thinking.
JON: If I could add that? I think that's a great point to bring up. One of the techniques that we do is, you know, you're well-versed in what we do and sometimes it's hard for all of us to remember a time when we didn't know everything that we know we're experts in our field. So we always like to share something especially important and pieces of content like that with an audience that's new. So for us, we share with a brand new employee that was new to Harvest Growth and it was just learning everything near the basics. But to make sure it kind of all made sense to the layperson.
JOYBETH: Right, definitely. And then another tip for when you're starting writing, making sure that your headlines or your first sentences are directly related to the problem that your product sells and the features and benefits are really really important. So the first thing that you do is take a lot of time, you know, for your website, like what is the first thing that a customer is going to see because when they see it, they're probably not thinking, oh, I think that a copywriter spent a lot of time to come up with those three words on the front of a website, but they did, you know, so making sure that the short and sweet things are really really great and honed in on is important. So, you know with Facebook or Instagram ads sometimes all the person is going to see is that first sentence, so you really want to do it where they see just that first. Then, they'll click on the website or they see that first sentence and they'll press “see more” and want to read more about your product. So making sure that that first sentence the headlines are really really really great. And then finally, like I said, writing conversationally. I learned really quickly when I was doing a lot of buying guides. I was doing like 12 a month. And so I sometimes I, you know, halfway through the month was starting to just be nonstop writing and suddenly I would maybe start to sound like a robot. And I remember I had an editor be like, hey when you're proofreading obviously proofreading is important check for typos, but also read out loud what you write, you know, you can be so wrapped up in typing away everything that you might just be like, oh that was good. I'm going to just close my laptop and call it a day, but genuinely I will be sitting in, you know, we're working from home right now. I'll be sitting in my room reading out loud what I wrote making sure that it sounds good and often. I read it out loud and then realized oh, I need to change this small word. I need to change the sentence and rephrase it to where it makes sense. It sounds conversational because you know, we live in a social media world and social media is closer to a conversation than, you know, an email.
JON: So that's great advice and I think too if you think about saying it out loud that can
be a great way to do content generation as well. So many of our listeners may not feel like they're writers. It's a different unique skill set, right? It's so important for all of us as business owners to push content out there right to get the word out about what we are, what we're doing, how we can help all that kind of stuff. So content is so important, but if you're not a writer that can be a good way to start as well. We've had some clients over the years that especially for long-form content what they'll do, just speak right recorded and then get it transcribed. And that's something you could do on Fiverr or there's software that'll do it. You know, they can transcribe the audio file and you have to clean it up afterward but starting by speaking can be a way to clear that blockage if some of us going to sit down in front of a keyboard and locks us up, right if that's the case with you and that's a good way to start as well.