Marketing 101 for Writers: Get More Assignments and Make More Money by Knowing the Basics
Want to make it easier to land well-paid writing assignments?
There’s a reason why companies pay copywriters so much money to write effective copy and content …
Because without it, their marketing machine – and therefore their business – would cease to exist!
You have massive power as a writer to help clients attract and engage prospects with useful and relevant marketing materials, build trust, and ultimately turn them into customers (and sales!).
And whether you’re writing “pre-suasive” content or persuasive copy, understanding the basics of marketing will help give you a huge advantage as a writer.
You’ll be able to have more meaningful conversations with existing and potential clients. This often translates into those clients seeing you as a valued partner in their success, rather than as “just a writer.
Your higher perceived value will also pave the way for charging higher fees and building stronger relationships with your clients.
Are you ready to learn some marketing basics for writers that will help fast-track your career?
Let’s get started.
What Is Marketing?
This includes anything a business does that has the intention, at some point, of selling something.
For example, public relations and customer service efforts are part of a company’s marketing because they’re meant to sway public perception of that company in a positive way. And if people view that company in a positive light, they’re more likely to become customers.
It’s similar for written communications from a business. All the content they publish on their website, social media, or other channels is meant to engage and build relationships with their potential customers.
And as people get to know and trust the company through their content, they’re also more likely to buy the company’s products and services.
Can you see a theme developing here?
Nearly everything a company does can be viewed as marketing.
This applies to essentially every organization, whether it’s a large corporation or a small nonprofit. They all need to get the word out about their business and engage with potential customers in a meaningful way, with the eventual aim of moving them toward taking some kind of action.
Seth Godin, a bestselling author and entrepreneur, offers this definition:
Marketing is the generous act of helping others become who they seek to become.
A core goal in all marketing efforts is to take the buyer on a journey toward achieving what they want in life, as well as solving whatever problems they may have. Essentially, as Seth Godin says, to help them become who they seek to become.
Whether someone wants to reach a long-term goal or needs a more immediate solution to a problem, a company’s marketing messages should convey how their products or services can help that person achieve their goals.
If a company can clearly express the benefits and value they can offer a potential customer, their marketing will be much more effective.
And keep in mind that without marketing, businesses would cease to exist!
This is why businesses have an ongoing need for writers to help them communicate their marketing messages to potential customers.
In fact, in this recent blog post, AppSumo identified 99 different marketing channels businesses commonly use. From writing website content to social media posts to video scripts, the opportunities for skilled writers who know the basics of marketing are nearly endless.
Why Is Understanding Marketing So Important for Writers?
A foundation in basic marketing is highly valuable for writers.
Understanding where your writing fits into the larger scheme of a business’s marketing strategy is vital.
Being familiar with marketing fundamentals will help you …
1. Be a Better Writer
The intention of all forms of marketing and copywriting is to get your prospect to take a certain action, such as sign up for an email list or schedule an appointment for a consult.
And all the steps you encourage a person to take over time as they interact with the company will ideally lead to a sale.
If you understand this intention, as well as what you’re trying to get a potential customer to do at each step of the process, you’re almost certainly going to become a better writer.
We’re going to discuss the sales process in more detail later in this article, but you can likely already see how customizing your writing for each stage of a customer’s journey will produce a better written product.
Having a good understanding of your prospect will also take your writing to the next level. It’s easier to write an engaging and compelling piece when you know exactly who you’re writing to and what their goals are.
2. Get Your Foot in the Door More Easily
When you’re speaking to potential clients, they’ll be able to tell if you have a basic understanding of marketing and how your writing fits into the bigger picture.
And that will automatically get their attention.
They’ll start to see you as a potential ally and collaborator with valuable ideas to share, rather than a writer they’ll need to direct more closely.
Companies know that all writers will improve over time, so they’re often accepting of some technical editing or other writing guidance along the way.
But if you possess marketing knowledge on top of your technical writing skills, you’re going to quickly set yourself ahead of the competition.
3. Get Better Results from Everything You Write
Once you’re familiar with all the parts that go into a marketing campaign, you can write those parts more effectively.
For example, if you’re writing an email series that encourages the readers to go to a specific landing page, you’ll be able to include that focus in the emails you write.
And better yet … you can offer to write the landing page as well!
Knowing how all the pieces of a campaign fit together means you can easily work on a range of different projects from one client.
You’ll also be able to tie them all together seamlessly and get better results from everything you write.
4. Make More Money!
Your marketing knowledge makes you more valuable in the eyes of a potential client.
Instead of needing a lot of training up front, you’re more likely to be able to write what they need from the start.
Businesses appreciate a writer who can also contribute to their marketing plans. And once you have your writing project assigned, they know they can count on you to get the writing done with minimal direction.
As your marketing expertise grows, your writing fees will, too.
6 Simple Marketing Lessons for Writers
Marketing is a dynamic process that’s always changing.
This is good news for writers, because it means that companies constantly need new content to keep up with their marketing efforts.
But on the other hand, nearly all marketing campaigns share certain basic marketing principles that make them successful.
Let’s go through the top six marketing lessons for writers that we feel can help improve your craft and raise your income.
Lesson 1: Marketing 101
Marketing has three core functions in any company:
- Attract prospects
- Turn these prospects into customers
- Get those customers to buy more
This process is called “ascension.”
You want to start by attracting potential customers who would be interested in your product. For example, if a company produces infant safety products, they would want to target new parents in their marketing efforts.
Then the next step would be to convert these prospects, or leads, into customers.
And once someone has bought one of the company’s products or services, the company’s goal shifts to keeping that new customer happy and encouraging them to buy additional products.
Marketers recognize that it’s much less expensive for a company to keep an existing customer than it is to acquire a new one. This is why many companies include robust customer service and support.
In each of these three phases of marketing, companies need specific written materials.
Remember that all companies must sell to survive. And they can’t sell without you, the writer!
Lesson 2: Buyer’s Journey
All of us are on a journey when it comes to making a purchase. Sometimes the journey ends quickly — “No, this isn’t for me.” But the outcome all companies are striving for is “Yes, this is for me!”
This is what’s known as the buyer’s journey, or the customer’s journey.
If someone is facing a problem or looking for information, they typically go through three stages as they work toward answers:
- Awareness — they know they have a problem but aren’t sure what to do yet.
- Consideration — they start to examine different options or ways to deal with their issue.
- Decision — they make a final decision on how they’re going to solve their problem.
For example, someone might have a leaky tap in their bathroom. At first, they’re probably just aware of it and may not want to do anything about it yet.
But as the leak gets worse, they’ll probably start to look into ways to fix it. They might search online for do-it-yourself options or consider hiring a plumber for the repair.
Finally, they’ll have to decide whether they’re going to buy some supplies to fix the tap themselves or who they’re going to hire to fix it.
No matter what problem a person is trying to solve, companies need specific types of content to help prospects move through the buyer’s journey, and ideally purchase one of their products or services at the end.
This is why copywriters who understand this marketing fundamental are highly sought-after. You’re in an excellent position to help companies create all the pieces they need along the buyer’s, or customer’s, journey.
We’ve broken this journey into four separate stages of what we call our AWAI Copywriting-Content Continuum.
A diagram of our Copywriting-Content Continuum is below:
The stages we’ve identified are as follows:
- Stage 1: Content that Builds Traffic/Awareness/Leads
As someone becomes aware of their problem or “want,” they may start reading articles about the topic, download a free report, or watch a video about it.
- Stage 2: Copy Linking to a Direct-Sales Page
During the consideration phase of the buyer’s journey, a person usually starts looking at potential products or services that will help solve their problem or that offer what they’re looking for. In this phase, they’ll be more interested in looking at articles or videos that review specific products, or product pages on a website. They may also want to interact directly with a company to get answers to their questions via chatbots or email.
- Stage 3: Direct-Sales Copy: Buy/Order Now
When they’re close to their buying decision, a person will be more likely to read direct-sales materials, such as sales pages, video sales letters, or magalogs.
- Stage 4: Retention Copy and Content
After they’ve made their purchase, an entirely new phase of copy and content is needed to keep that customer happy and potentially ready to buy additional products.
As a copywriter, your job is to move a person forward to the next phase of their buyer’s journey.
Now, don’t assume this means you have to write all the different types of copy and content that exist.
You don’t even need to write content from all the different phases. Simply understanding the goals of each phase and how everything works together is enough.
You can easily specialize in writing content for only one stage of the buyer’s journey. For example, if you don’t like writing sales copy, you can specialize in writing for the first stage, which aims to raise awareness of a product or service through largely informative, “pre-suasive” pieces of content.
But if you’re drawn to writing direct-sales copy, you can specialize in writing for the third stage that focuses on the purchasing process.
For a full breakdown of all the different types of copy and content that companies need, as well as how much copywriters charge for these projects, download AWAI’s free Copywriting Pricing Guide here.
Lesson 3: Meet Your Prospect Where They Are
It’s important to know where your prospect is in their buyer’s journey.
You’ll want to be able to answer these questions before you start writing any type of project:
- Who are you writing to?
- How aware is your prospect of their problem or need and possible solutions?
- What actions have they taken so far?
Knowing these factors ahead of time will help you tailor whatever you’re writing to speak to your prospect more effectively. You can address the issues they’re concerned or excited about within the moment, whether they’re just starting to become aware of the problem or opportunity or are ready to buy a solution.
Advertising pioneer Eugene Schwartz identified five levels of awareness that can also help you gauge where your prospect currently is:
As we discussed in the previous section, specific types of content are published for people at different stages of the buyer’s journey.
For example, here at AWAI, the marketing materials we create for people who are completely unaware of our company are very different from those we create for people who are already familiar with us.
If someone has already taken one of our courses and knows the quality of our products, they are at “The Most Aware” level of Eugene Schwartz’s scale. At this point, if they see another AWAI course that interests them, they likely just want to know how much it costs and what’s included.
On the other hand, a person who’s at the “Completely Unaware” level may never have even heard the term “copywriting” before. Perhaps they feel unhappy in their current career and are interested in a change, but they likely haven’t started exploring any options yet.
At this point, they might be searching for possible careers they could switch into or other ways to pursue their dreams. This search could bring them to our free resource What Is Copywriting?: AWAI’s Essential Introduction to the Copywriting Industry.
They might also be moved by our long-standing sales page for The Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting, which starts with the question “Can You Write a Letter Like This One?”
This sales page is written for someone who’s unfamiliar with the copywriting industry, and it discusses the basics of the industry and the many benefits of becoming a copywriter.
Knowing where your prospect is in their buyer’s journey is vital for writing any of these pieces of copy and content.
To help with this process, many companies will create what they call customer personas. These are short profiles that list any personal attributes of their ideal customers. The profiles are fictitious, but they provide a helpful overview of what their potential customers might be interested in, their age range, or other relevant information.
The customer persona can go by various different names:
- customer avatar
- buyer persona
- marketing persona
- customer profile
Most companies will provide you with a customer persona to help you with the project you’re working on. But if they don’t, this is another project you can offer to complete for them. All it takes is gathering some basic information from the company about their ideal prospect and summarizing it in a template like Modern Publisher’s.
Whether you create a customer persona or get it from your client, understanding your prospect and meeting them where they are will make all your writing more effective.
Lesson 4: The Sales Funnel
A sales funnel refers to the copy that is used at each stage of a buyer’s journey.
As a person “moves through the funnel,” they’re exposed to specific types of copy as their awareness of a company and their products increases.
For example, in business-to-business (B2B) marketing, on average 27 different pieces of content — or touch points — are needed from raising awareness of a company’s product to making a purchase. And each of those 27 pieces of content is part of their sales funnel.
Hint: If you want to find an industry where both content and writers are in huge demand, look no further than the B2B industry. This is where many AWAI members have found their first clients and have since built thriving careers.
As an example of a sales funnel, let’s look at someone who’s interested in becoming a web developer. They might go through the following steps as they research their options:
- They start with an online search for web development training. From here, they might click on a Google or Facebook ad, or simply click on one of the search results. The ads or the search result may take them to a blog post or article about web development training.
- They read the blog post or article, which mentions one or more companies that offer web development training programs. They can then click on a link for more details on a company, which will take them to a landing page.
- The landing page will typically offer a free report or other lead magnet the reader can sign up to receive.
- After signing up for the report, the reader starts receiving emails from the training company. These emails will introduce them to the company and describe the programs the company offers.
- They may click on a promotion in one of the emails, which takes them to a sales page for a training program.
- They may buy at this point … or not. If they don’t buy, they’ll likely receive a follow-up series of emails with additional information about web development and the benefits of the company’s training programs.
The following diagram shows the stages of the sales funnel that we just described:
The reason it’s called a “funnel” is that a lot of people typically enter the funnel at the top, and fewer and fewer people continue all the way to the end.
In this example, a lot of people would click on Google ads or search results as they start their research. But not all of those people will click through to the landing page. And even fewer people will sign up for the lead magnet and carry on through the rest of the steps.
At the end, significantly fewer people will actually buy the product than started out at the top of the funnel.
This is all part of the design of a marketing campaign. But, regardless of who eventually buys from a company, all the parts of the funnel need to be there to support their journey.
Lesson 5: Metrics
The only thing you really need to know about metrics is the fact that everything we do as copywriters is measurable.
Whatever piece of copy you write, the results of that piece can be tracked and measured.
And marketers keep a close eye on these measurements to see how their marketing campaigns are performing.
You don’t need to know the details of how they record and analyze metrics — that is up to the marketing team within the company. But if you really want to impress a client, ask them this simple question:
How will we measure success?
If you’re writing a blog post, how will you and your client measure its success? By how many social shares it gets? By how many comments readers add?
Or if you’re writing an email series, will its success be measured by how many recipients open the email or how many click on a link within it?
Asking these types of questions will show a client you’re sincerely invested in their success and interested in providing a valuable service.
You’re going to hear a variety of different terms when it comes to metrics and tracking marketing campaigns. You don’t need to know the definitions of all these terms right off the bat, but over time you’ll naturally start to understand what marketers mean when they use them.
This is a quick overview of the most common terms you’ll hear when marketers talk about metrics:
Don’t worry about learning the definitions for all these terms right now. Just know that when they come up, your client is talking about metrics and how the company measures the success of their marketing campaigns.
And if you ever need to know the exact definition of a term, look to AWAI’s Ultimate Glossary of Copywriting Terms and Direct-Response Definitions, where we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of definitions for nearly every marketing and copywriting term you’ll ever encounter.
Lesson 6: Testing
There’s a saying in marketing: Always be testing.
This simply refers to the fact that marketers are always trying different things, then measuring the results using metrics.
As we said at the beginning of this article, marketing is always changing. And the best way to stay on top of any changes is to keep testing to see what works best.
Testing is another area you don’t need to know all the nitty-gritty details about, but know that it’s an important factor in any marketing campaign.
Marketers will test nearly everything, such as these elements:
- types of copy and content
- creative elements like font or images
Almost anything can be tested in a marketing campaign, down to the smallest details.
And when marketers test different approaches, they typically do it in what’s called an “A/B split test.” For example, if they’re testing an email message, they may send a certain email to one half of their list and a different email to the other half of their list to see which one performs better.
This would be an A/B split test, because they’re testing two different variations on a piece of content and comparing the results.
These are a few other examples of things marketers can A/B split test:
Testing also needs to follow certain guidelines to make sure it’s useful and accurate.
A test won’t be helpful to any marketer unless they clearly know what they’re measuring and how to interpret the results.
The general rules of testing are as follows:
- Test only one variable at a time so you know what’s being measured.
- Decide exactly what you want to learn from the test ahead of time.
- Judge whether the test is meaningful and relevant. If it isn’t, redesign it.
- Determine how you will use the information gained from the test.
- Make sure your test will be statistically significant and valid.
Again, don’t worry about knowing the particulars of testing. Your job as a copywriter is simply to know that testing exists and to be able to work with your clients to create the copy and content they’ll need.
Ways to Use Marketing Knowledge to Your Advantage
When you’re speaking to a potential or existing client, there are many ways to use marketing knowledge to your advantage.
A key factor is to look at where your writing project fits into the larger picture of the company’s sales funnel and the buyer’s journey.
Try asking your client the following questions to help get some clarification on this:
- How are people getting to the page you want me to write?
- Where will I be sending people next?
- What’s the ultimate goal?
Knowing these details will already set your project up for success. But if you want to take it to the next level, brainstorm some ways your client might be able to improve their campaign.
And don’t be modest here. The material we’ve covered in this article is more than enough to give you a few solid ideas for strengthening any marketing campaign.
Once you have at least three good ideas, share them with your client. Or if you’re talking to a potential client, tell them what you like about their current marketing campaign, and then politely share your suggestions for how they could make it even better.
Taking steps like these will increase your value in the eyes of nearly any client. They’ll see your marketing knowledge as the asset that it truly is, and your fees will reflect your higher value as a writer.
If you want to learn more about how marketing works and how you can use it as a writer, check out our Master Certification for Direct Response Copywriters. This eight-week program goes into detail about metrics and how all the marketing pieces fit together. It also takes you through planning and writing an entire digital marketing campaign.
In this article, we’ve covered all the core marketing basics for writers that you’ll need to know as you advance your career.
But there will always be more to learn when it comes to marketing, so we encourage you to keep exploring marketing fundamentals and how they’re applied to copywriting.
Seeing the “big picture” of how marketing works and how all the different parts relate to the buyer’s journey will increase your value to existing and future clients.
Knowing all the different pieces of content that are needed will also increase your opportunities as a writer. Instead of writing only one kind of project for a company, a broader knowledge of marketing will help you write a range of different projects that will all work together to achieve the company’s goals.
Not only will this make you a better writer, but it also means you won’t need as many clients. You can have a full work schedule with just a handful of clients because you can do more for each one.
In this way, you can also increase your per-project income by increasing the scope of individual projects.
A basic understanding of marketing fundamentals is all it takes to help accelerate your writing career.