5 Characteristics of an In-Demand, High-Value B2B Copywriter
Let's say a prospective client contacts you and is looking for someone to help them write their next white paper for an important marketing campaign.
Your goal is to present yourself to that client as a high-value B2B copywriter, so you become the obvious choice for them, worth every penny and more of the professional fee you plan to charge.
How do you do it?
You communicate what I call the five points of value to them …
#1. Writing Skills
The first one is obvious — writing skills. Clients want to know you're a writer who can write fresh, accurate copy that's creative, strategic, well written, and presents their company in the best way. They want a B2B writer who is a good communicator for their brand and their products.
Although it may seem like there's a glut of freelance writers, few of them are skilled B2B copywriters. B2B companies are looking for skilled writers who know how to write B2B copy and content.
So, position yourself as a very good writer, someone who can write accurate, creative, fresh copy that reads well and works well.
How? With your freelance website!
Well-written copy on your freelance website demonstrates your writing skills. In addition, showcase your skills by putting your best B2B samples on your site so clients can easily see your copywriting ability.
Demonstrating good B2B writing skills is the first step in establishing your position as a high-value B2B copywriter. The time you invest in developing those skills is well worth it.
#2. Project Expertise
The second point of value is project expertise. Do you know the best practices of writing the particular type of project the client needs written?
For example, do you know how to write a white paper? Do you know how long white papers typically are? Do you know how they're structured? Do you know the best practices of researching and writing the white paper?
The more you can demonstrate your expertise to a client, the higher value you will have to that client.
When I'm talking with a client about a particular project, I will often try to find ways to communicate to the client that I understand the best practices of writing that project.
For example, if I'm inquiring about how long they expect their white paper to be, I will ask the question like this, "Mr. Client, the ideal length of a white paper is typically 6 to 8 pages long. Now, do you see the white paper being longer or shorter than that for some reason? Or do you want to go with the ideal length?"
So what I'm communicating there is that I understand how long a white paper should be and I'm asking if this white paper is going to be an exception to that rule? Is there some reason it needs to be longer or shorter?
When you’re talking to a client, always look for ways to communicate your expertise on the particular type of project they need to have created. It’s a subtle way to demonstrate your value.
#3. Understanding the Strategy
The third point of value is an understanding of the client’s communication or marketing strategy. You need to understand why they're creating this particular piece to begin with and how they're going to use it.
For example, if they're going to ask you to write a white paper, do you understand how white papers are used? Do you understand why companies use white papers? How do white papers fit in their marketing campaigns and their communications strategy? What's the benefit?
You shouldn’t be writing a project in isolation. You should know the big picture of how it fits into their overall marketing strategy.
For example, you should know white papers are often used in lead-generation campaigns. They're often posted as a free giveaway on websites to capture email addresses and names of potential clients. They're often used at trade shows as handouts.
They're also often used in other ways to help a company sell their products and services by generating leads and establishing thought leadership in the industry.
You need to know the big picture and have an understanding of the client’s strategy. You don’t need to become an expert at it, but you do need an understanding.
If you’re talking to a client about a white paper and they say something like, "We’re going to use it in a lead-generation campaign next month." And you ask, "What is lead generation?" Well, you’re not likely to land that client.
So, you need to have an understanding of the client's strategy. Ask them questions, but demonstrate you understand their strategy, because if you do, then you’re going to be much more valuable to them.
#4. Understanding the Product or Service
The fourth point of value is a familiarity with the type of product or service your client is providing.
This is very important.
Clients really don’t want to have to educate you extensively on their products and services. Yes, they expect there will be a bit of a learning curve to get you up to speed because their forklift trucks are different from someone else's forklift trucks. But if you have no idea what a forklift truck is, then that's going to be a red flag.
They're going to go, "Wow, this person doesn’t understand anything about our products and services." Just as with their marketing strategy, you don’t need to know all the details, but you do need to be familiar with their products.
For example, I do a lot of business with companies that do training to professional audiences. So I know a lot about training in general. I know a lot about the big events that they put on, the private coaching, the online programs. I'm not an expert, but I'm very familiar with the type of services they provide.
And that makes me valuable to those clients because they don’t have to educate me on what they do. I have a general understanding of training for professional audiences. And that means I can get up to speed on their products and services very, very quickly.
That understanding is valuable to a client. It saves them a lot of time and trouble.
#5. Understanding the Target Audience
And finally, the fifth point of value is an understanding of the target audience. If you understand the audience your client is targeting, then that makes you very, very valuable. Let me give you an example.
A few years ago, I worked with a veterinarian who was transitioning into a copywriting career. His target market was companies that sold to veterinarians. Not surprisingly, he got two or three clients almost immediately because he understands what motivates veterinarians to buy products, services, and equipment to use in their clinics.
So that gave him a huge advantage. It made him very high value to potential clients.
Now, that doesn’t mean if you’re targeting companies that sell to architects, you have to be an architect in order to write for that market.
But you do need to understand their target audience well. If you understand their world, then that's going to make you very valuable to clients because you already have a basic understanding of their target audience.
So those are the five points of value: writing skills, project expertise, an understanding of the strategy, a familiarity with the type of product and service, and an understanding of the target audience.
If you can communicate those five things to a potential client, then that positions you as a high-value B2B copywriter to them. And then they’re likely to be eager to hire you and pay your professional fee.
Meet a High-Value B2B Copywriter
Now, let me give you an example of a high-value B2B copywriter just to illustrate how important these five points of value are.
Many of you may know who Gordon Graham is. Gordon is known in the industry as “That White Paper Guy.” He's one of the leading experts on writing white papers.
Let’s look at how Gordon Graham offers the five points of value when he's talking to a potential new client
Does Gordon have writing skills? Absolutely. He's a great writer and he demonstrates it on his website and in all his marketing materials.
Does he have project expertise? Well, yes he does — he's written over 150 white papers. He wrote the book on writing white papers. He knows writing white papers backwards and forwards, up and down.
Does he understand the strategy? In other words, does he understand how white papers are used by companies in their marketing and in their branding? Yes, yes, he does. He's written articles about it. He knows this strategy very well.
Is he familiar with the type of products and services that his clients provide? Well, he specializes in working with IT companies, data management companies, and technology companies, so he's very familiar with the type of products and services his clients provide.
And finally, does he understand the target audience? Again, yes he does. He has a deep understanding of those who read white papers to help make buying decisions — engineers, senior executives, and other B2B buyers.
So he hits those five points of value completely. And therefore, he's a high-value B2B copywriter with a long list of clients eager to hire him. And, by the way, they have no trouble paying his professional rates.
Developing Your Five Points of Value
Now, do you need to hit all five points of value to be valuable to a client? Well, no, you can be weak in one or even two areas.
You may be talking to a client where you have the first four — the writing ability, project expertise, an understanding of the strategy, and you're familiar with their type of product or service.
But you’re not really familiar with that client's target audience. You can still get the client and still position yourself as a high-value B2B copywriter. You just have to understand your one weakness and work to get up to speed as quickly as possible.
So those five points of value are very, very important. If you can communicate these five points of value every time you speak to a brand-new potential client, then they're going to be more eager to hire you and more likely to pay your top professional rates.
Remember, even the experts had to start somewhere and then built up their value more and more as they grew in their careers. You can do it too.
Do you have any questions about how to get started as B2B copywriter? Please share with us in the comments below so we can help.
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