What makes the difference between a GREAT copywriter and a mediocre one?

24 replies
In your opinion, what makes a copywriter great or mediocre? Is it in the ability to use persuasive words? is it the amount of time they have in research?
#copywriter #difference #great #makes #mediocre
  • Profile picture of the author Rich7
    Maybe an ability to get under people's skins.
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  • Hi fated,

    It's a great question.

    And it certainly helps if you know all the best copywriting techniques, do extensive research, choose the right words and persuasion tactics - selling with great empathy to your target audience.

    Trigging the key emotions making them "want to buy" and justifying the purchase with logic.

    But when all is said and done what really matters the MOST is -

    The client must have a barnstormingly excellent product or service.

    The most important thing I've ever learned or will ever learn in the wonderful world of copywriting was from Mr Gary Bencivenga (the best writer in the world).

    "A gifted product is mightier than a gifted pen"


    Steve
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  • Profile picture of the author AT-Copy
    To me, the difference is that a great copywriter researches the product, market and demographic almost obsessively.

    If you truly know what your market wants, what's missing from the market and how a product can solve the problem, writing the copy becomes easy.

    As Steve says though, if you're promoting a mediocre product the process is much harder.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rezbi
    Desire and persistence.
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  • Profile picture of the author Horny Devil
    Banned
    Originally Posted by fated82 View Post

    In your opinion, what makes a copywriter great or mediocre? . . .

    Try to hire a great copywriter. Chances are he/she is booked up for months ahead. A great copywriter is rarely - if ever - without work.

    Try to hire a mediocre copywriter. Chances are you'll have hundreds (even thousands) instantly hammering at your door to take the gig.

    Therein lies the difference.
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  • Profile picture of the author GregTraver
    [DELETED]
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    • Profile picture of the author Jeremey
      Proven, measurable results. That kind of experience allows a "great" copywriter to come into your project and say, "I know what you need to do, because I've made it work thousands of times before."

      There's a lot more tangible elements of a great copywriter, but it all comes down to results (in my opinion).

      How much money have you made your clients? How have you improved their results and returns? Are you leaving money on the table?

      "Great" copywriters are in demand because the answers to all of those questions are overwhelmingly obvious (in a positive sense).
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  • Profile picture of the author GregTraver
    This is almost a Catch 22 scenario as it is a combination of both persuasion and solid grasp of problem (solution) for the intended audience.
    The MWR is to get the click. So I will have to go with persuasive words in the end. One can have performed exhaustive research but if it is not communicated in a compelling manner, the reader will not click.
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    • Profile picture of the author RickDuris
      In a word, hunger.

      The difference between a mediocre copywriter and a great copywriter is their level of hunger.

      And the best ones never lose their hunger.

      Stay hungry,

      - Rick Duris
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      • Profile picture of the author arfasaira
        I'd say apart from all the above, a great copywriter never stops at upping their game and their learning to become even better at what they do...

        They are persistently honing their craft and are never satisfied until they are are learning even more.
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        • Profile picture of the author Mark Andrews
          Banned
          Always striving for excellence.

          Always wanting more.

          Never being satisfied.

          Never being satisfied with the status quo.

          A great copywriter always wants to go
          the extra mile - s/he strives to become a
          true specialist
          within their chosen area
          of excellence.

          A mediocre copywriter on the other hand
          is easily satisfied. S/he wants to just churn
          out any old copy, for his / her focus is on
          the short term monetary gain only for him
          or herself.

          It essentially boils down to whose priorities
          you put first and an ability to put yourself
          into the shoes of other people.

          A great copywriter will have no problem
          doing this whereas any old content writer
          positioning themselves as a copywriter
          will struggle with the psychology of
          empathy.

          A great copywriter loves psychology,
          loves other people, has an incurable
          and insatiable appetite not only for
          more knowledge but understanding
          how this new found knowledge will
          benefit other people.

          A great copywriter is someone who
          revels in helping other people or
          businesses. S/he enjoys being in the
          thick of the action taking responsibility
          for everything they say and do.

          A mediocre copywriter on the other
          hand will just have a lets make do
          attitude.

          This and a few other factors is what
          separates out the 'men from the boys'.

          Smoking hot,


          Mark Andrews
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          • Profile picture of the author Micah Medina
            Originally Posted by Mark Andrews View Post

            A great copywriter is someone who
            revels in helping other people or
            businesses. S/he enjoys being in the
            thick of the action taking responsibility
            for everything they say and do.

            A mediocre copywriter on the other
            hand will just have a lets make do
            attitude.

            This and a few other factors is what
            separates out the 'men from the boys'.
            I think Mark is closest to the "right answer".

            When I think of great copywriters, I hesitate to think "well, the great ones sell the most widgets". That depends really greatly on the client and the market and the product and the situation.

            Copywriting is about numbers, and yet.... at the same time, it isn't.

            Moving units is the easiest thing to point to if you're asking what separates a mediocre guy from a terrible one, but...

            When I think of the leap to great I think market research and life experience.

            When I sit down with this person, can she make me interested in *herself*? Is there a personal magnetism in her storytelling that crosses over to the product? Do I read something she writes and attach immediate overwhelming authority to that person?

            If you're great, you'll write a paragraph of text or a blog post or a single sentence in an ad and I'll know it.

            Mediocre ones just sort've seem like washed out photocopies of other people, places, stories, products I've seen elsewhere.

            Market research is a little more nuts and bolts, but it's related. Can your personal mojo be infused over to other niches, people, places? And will you adopt that second skin or will you just sort've "play yourself" in a different picture?
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  • Profile picture of the author max5ty
    One of the big differences in the two is their ability to sell.

    Many great copywriters all came from a strong sales background.

    It's easy to read all the books and get all the theory down...but knowing how to sell will always set the two apart.
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  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    This was the subject of an old thread.

    How To Measure Your Copywriting Skills

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  • Profile picture of the author Paul Silver
    I think its the time the have invested in research.

    Not necessarily research into how to write better copy, but market research.

    I remember Gary Bencivenga mentioning on a tape that he would spend up to three months researching a market before even writing a word of copy.

    The world moves a lot faster these days then it did back when he was actively writing a lot, but I think a lot of new and younger copywriters skip over this crucial step.

    So a mediocre writer may be able to produce a piece that converts using the tried and true methods you can learn from books and courses, but the guys who earn huge profits really dive into the market and truly understand what makes their customer base buy.
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  • Profile picture of the author ThomasOMalley
    Great copywriter = great sales

    mediocre copywriter = okay or poor sales
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  • Profile picture of the author Pusateri
    Great copywriters have mastered the skill of grabbing and holding the reader's (or viewer's, or listener's) attention.

    If you can get their attention, if you know what will keep it, and how to manipulate it, you can take them where you want them to go and get them to do what you want them to do.

    You can't use your persuasive skills if you can't keep their attention.

    Research is indispensable because it tells you what the market is seeing, and is interested in, but you still need to know how to apply it in getting their attention.

    Unfortunately it's a hard skill to teach. That's why so many write so much that's so boring. The most common advice is to use "power words," but the results can be clumsy and cliche.

    There's a whole world of verbal variables to work with. As a copywriter you're conducting a symphony, not just playing a fiddle.
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  • Profile picture of the author sethczerepak
    It's more about their selling skills than their writing skills. Great copywriters understand why people buy and they use that insight to create offers that sell.
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  • Profile picture of the author Shazadi
    Intent.

    Communication skills are great, but if you aren't really invested in helping your readers, it comes across on paper. Hence the hyped up, scammy excuses for copy on many sites these days.

    Good writing can be taught. A poor personality is harder if not impossible to change.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jennie Heckel
    Hi All,

    Interesting comments.... I enjoyed reading them.

    To me when a client say's "I'm a good copywriter or I wrote good copy for them..."

    They are generally referring to the $$$ dollar value the copy I wrote for them DELIVERED per visitor/lead, i.e. (Cost Per Click or Hop) and they are thriilled my copy converted well with their current traffic (or their affiliate's traffic.)

    They are saying "MY COPY MATCHED THE MARKETING" so the copy SOLD to their specific traffic (visitors/list/affiliate's list) and they made money.

    Most clients want marketing copy that sells and sells well, and does it over and over again -- and continues to do so for the long haul. That's why many of the WSOs I write copy for are re-launched, because they converted so well the first time and are relaunched to other traffic sources.

    The "match of copy to marketing angle and traffic source" is critical too.

    I feel many copywriters would write higher converting copy if they knew more about the traffic sources they are writing for and adjusted their copy accordingly.

    All copywriters should learn about their client's marketing (before they start writing) and how their clients are obtaining the traffic and how the "angle of the marketing" i.e. (totally cold ppc, warm list, affiliate list or hot forum traffic) can significantly change the appeal, tone, style and even length of the copy.

    I have successful sales letters STILL selling for my clients over 10 YEARS later with only minor edits over the years to freshen the copy.

    To me that is the mark of great copy... If the copy continues to meet the needs of the audience (visitor) over the long haul -- over years of time, over wide visitor variation and traffic sources and with consistent and solid conversion rates.

    Now on the question....

    About how to determine what exactly a "great copywriter is"?

    I would say, go to the classic copywriters of old. I still re-read my private collection of the great old classic copywriters books and find "new gems of inspiration" each time I reread them.

    This may be due to new copywriting and marketing information I have researched and now all of a sudden -- (the light bulb goes ON) and a new inspirational thought finally "clicks" from having read copy one of the great copywriters wrote.

    If you are a copywriter and when you want to take a break from writing copy...

    You spend the time researching new copy.... Then You LOVE WRITING and READING AND RESEARCHING ABOUT COPYWRITING!

    That may be one of the critical "Key Factors" that separate the average copywriter from the ones who become good copywriters.

    Is they are always intrigued with reading better copy and studying it because reading and studying great copy "inspires them to write better"!

    One thing I have noticed over the years, is the more time I spend studying great copy (and applying what I have learned) the easier writing HIGHER CONVERTING COPY IS!

    Good luck to all with your copywriting projects during this holiday season!

    Jennie Heckel
    Sales Letter Copwriter
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  • Profile picture of the author Curtis2011
    Originally Posted by fated82 View Post

    In your opinion, what makes a copywriter great or mediocre? Is it in the ability to use persuasive words? is it the amount of time they have in research?
    The great one will make sales
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  • Profile picture of the author Tyler S
    I suggest split testing or at least comparing the figures between the two copy writers.
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  • Profile picture of the author Lezelbezel
    A good copywriter does everything everybody else already said.

    A great copywriter wakes up and realises that writing copy for other people's businesses is, fundamentally, a really dumb idea.
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  • Profile picture of the author montozza
    desire! great copywriter is constantly writing or thinking about catchy titles for the new articles.

    great copysriter is writing even when he is not paid for that, just to stay in shape
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    “You can automate everything except content and relationships.”

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