Content can potentially be the most frustrating part of a website project. The single best solution is to bring on a content expert like Aaron to write and edit content for all website projects.
I am happy to share my interview with Aaron Wrixon of The Copy Trap - a Business Catalyst Partner that has converted to a copy expert to hire. Listen on...player
Or download the mp3 directly (right-click, save-as)...
Brent: Hi, this is Brent Weaver from bcgurus.com. I'm here today with Aaron Wrixon. Welcome to the program.
Aaron: Thank you Brent.
Brent: So, Aaron, is a copywriter, has been working with my agency, HotPress Web, for some time now and I thought it was finally time to grill him and put him in the hot seat for a little while on bcgurus and maybe he can tell us a little insight into some of the magic he produces for HotPress. We're really glad to have you here today.
Aaron: Thanks, man. It's pretty fun to be here. It's my coming out party I guess.
Brent: So, Aaron, tell me a little about your background.
Aaron: I'm a writer. I've been a write for a decade and a half, 15 years and counting. I got started a long time ago writing for a company that makes really great stereo speakers. I cut my teeth with them and moved to a larger company and have been working ever since to sort of learn the ins and outs of writing for an audience, motivate behavior and getting people to do what you want them to do with just the power of the written word.
Then, I guess it was probably early 2009 that I discovered Business Catalyst. Essentially, the content marketing solution in a box that BC is. The combination of blogging and email autoresponders and loyalty campaigns and often downloads that essentially make it really easy out of the gate to get customers with content. So that's where I am today, a BC partner and a copywriter.
Brent: Now the reason that you came on our radar was because I finally realized that web designers writing their own content and far and wide my customers writing their own content typically turned into absolute disasters from a project standpoint. I think a lot of BC partners can connect with that, not always waiting around for your content and it's never very good and all that kind of stuff. We finally decided as HotPress why we were going to kind of take it up a notch. We looked at content as a really, really important piece of the puzzle. How did you find you were able to do that kind of stuff with Business Catalyst? Did you kind of find that it was a good fit for you as a copywriting to also be building BC websites?
Aaron: Well, here's the shameful secret. I identify with what you're saying because that was my life. It's ironic for a writer, but I could not get clients interested in good web copy. Here I was sitting on top of the most powerful content marketing engine I had seen and I couldn't get people to look sideways at it because, essentially I was right where you're talking about. Right at what I call the copy trap, where you're so busy running your BC business that you don't have the time that you should have to dedicated to web copy. So you just leave it for the client to do.
The client either gets frustrated because they know they're not a writer and they don't think they should be doing the copy, or the client gets delusions of Pulitzer Prizes and thinks they're the greatest writer since Ernest Hemingway and just works on it, works on it, works on it. Both situations leading to the same outcome; content that is weeks late and bad, ineffective, the worst for the search engines and the worst for the clients own clients. Nobody wins in the end.
There I was, stuck right in the middle of that situation. So, essentially I sort of raised the white flag and said enough. I need to figure out how to get better at doing what you do and outsourcing that web content to the professional writer. Essentially I needed to figure out how to, as me, outsource to someone like me. That's what I did. I went back to square one and learned the sort of secrets, on the ground tips and tricks on how to do that.
Brent: I've had this adage for awhile that if you want to keep doing something you have to actually make money doing it. So if you want to have good web content on your site, you need to sell web content as part of your website package. Why do you think it's so hard for the average BC partner, web designer, marketer to sell website content, considering if you look at any website, the content itself, if you take away all the different parts, content is a pretty big piece of the pie, why do you think so many web designers and BC partners have a hard time selling web content?
Aaron: It's partly the BC partner's problem and partly the client's problem. If the partner is anything like me, they came up out of the garage on a desk made out of a door and a couple of saw horses and bootstrapped a web company based on their knowledge of the technical skills that are required to build a website. Now the good ones transitioned into learning how-to-sell websites, but probably never made the leap into learning how to sell content because, to someone who doesn't appreciate them, words are words. Any words will do in the middle of a web page. Words are meant to be styled as H2s or put in a bulleted list. They're not necessarily, unless you're thinking properly, something to sell in and of themselves.
Then on the other side, on the business owner's side, you've got Joe the roofer who has been doing roofs for 15 years and has built maybe 150 roofs, 200 roofs, and is a great success at building roofs, but has never written more than an email to his wife to say can you do me a favor and pick up some bread? But then looks around at all the other roofers out there in his city and sees all of the same garbage that they're doing, all of the welcome to my website, we're the premier roofing company in Back Corner, Alabama and we've been in business for 15 years. You should trust us because we've been in business for 15 years.
He sees all this and thinks well they're doing it so maybe I need to do it too without ever thinking to ask the questions. What does somebody want me to say to them? What are they looking for? What kind of pain are they going through because their roof is bad? So you've got this sort of perfect storm of BC partner that maybe doesn't know what to do with content and business owner who's taking the worst cues and learning the worst lessons about content. It leads to this situation where web copies is uniformly bad.
Brent: What I was going to say there is maybe BC partners worldwide need to sign a treaty that says we will not launch any website that says welcome to my website on the homepage.
Aaron: I would be more than happy to write that treaty for the BC partners of the world to sign.
Brent: I signed my career that when I stopped looking at web design as web design, I looked at it as building online businesses and there's all these different facets to the projects. It's not just about designing a couple of templates and then telling the customer, "Hey, go load your content." I think that's where a lot of BC partners find themselves in projects that are $2,000 or $3,000 for the whole project because their vision for it is very shortsighted.
When I started added in content and helping the customer who would tell a story about their business through their website, it kind of changes the rules of the game for what we charge. What is the solution to the copy trap that most BC partners are going to find themselves in with their projects?
Aaron: The solution I found, really when I went to work for you guys, when I watched how you guys sell content, how you make it valuable for customers, working for you and watching you guys behind the scenes I realized where I was falling down. It was almost like you threw a rope down into the copy trap and said, "Here, climb on out." The solution is to; a) outsource it to a professional expert, and b) make that outsourcing a given. Make it part of the process. Make it something that the client is signing up for as part of their website. They are paying you $8,000 to design a website and they're paying $3,000 for the content in that website.
It's just part of the game. It's just part of the deal. You wouldn't think of going without professionally written web copy anymore than you would think of going without the client's logo in the top left corner. Or with a contact us page so people could get in touch with the client. It just has to be part of the package and sold as part of the package.
Brent: One of the things that I, the questions that I ask, I've got a pretty big list of little sales tactics that I've used over the years, is I'll get to that point where we start talking about content in the sales process. This is a lot of times part of my discovery which is I'd ask them if they're a writer. They typically will say, "No, I'm not a writer, I'm a roofer." I'll acknowledge the fact that I'm not a writer. For a lot of purposes we don't keep a writer on full-time staff because we just want to be able to have a couple people in expert areas that cover specific types of content available to our company. It's always kind of funny. I'll say it in a joking way. "Are you a writer?" The client's like, "No, I'm not." Well good, because I'm not a writer either so let's bring somebody in to do that. All the sudden it seems like this really easy thing that we just both agreed on versus, we just assumed that the client was going to do the copy. I had this sentence in my proposals that actually said you must provide us all the website content.
Aaron: It's in everybody's proposals.
Brent: In a sense you're up for this massive failure because you can't launch a website that has 15 pages that are missing from it. So a lot of times you can't collect your fees. But at the same time, you don't want to do it for them because it's going to take a whole bunch of time and then you end up in this place where you end up waiting for two or three months to sign a project off because you're waiting around for content.
There was actually a point and time where this problem was so bad for our business that I actually proposed, I put a proposal on the table in our company to say why don't we just pay for our client's content? Then the projects will launch faster and we'll get the recurring revenue for our marketing campaigns faster. We were actually going to use this as a loss leader. Then it was like, what the heck are we doing? We're solving the problem on the 5 yard line, not on kick off.
Aaron: It's so funny that you bring that up. People will spend $20,000 on a kitchen and they wouldn't dream of doing it by themselves. They'd call the kitchen expert. When it's time to launch their website for their business, they think they're the writing expert. It's exactly like you said. The content plays out and plays out and plays out and plays out. It takes three months and maybe you've signed the 50/50 where you've only gotten 50% deposit and you're waiting for three months for that cash to flow in.
What it boils down to, even just from a money point of view, outsourcing, getting over that fear of outsourcing and saying listen, let's put some controls in place. Let's bring in a writer. We'll do some checks and balances to make sure everybody feels good about it. Outsourcing to that writer means that you finish your project faster and you get paid faster. If for no other reason, people at BC partners should be doing this.
Brent: When should the copy and content development process begin? You've been involved in several projects on our team. When do you believe that the copy process should begin?
Aaron: Well, the short answer and I'll give you the short answer because I know we're almost out of time, the short answer is as early as possible. If that's before you pitch the client, if you're consulting with your writers, saying what kind of content would this person need, how much would that web copy cost, all the better?
The worst possible time is to do is, like you said, at the 5 yard line. You want to get in there at kick off. You don't want to get in right when the other team is about to score a touchdown. It just costs more. It's more stressful. If you leave it until the last minute, it's going to read like it was left to the last minute. If you bring it on at the beginning of the game then you can do all that discovery process. You can figure out who your clients ideal customer is and you can figure out how they want to be talked to. You can put the copy in the language that resonates with that ideal customer. You can essentially, with the power of content, create a sales force that will over and over and over again, make money for your client. It's as simple as that.
Brent: I really appreciate that perspective. I think content is on the websites, it's the invisible 800 pound gorilla that for some reason web designers, because their trade is design and code, or maybe they understand SEO and those types of technical, tactical marketing methods, they don't a lot of times think about who's consuming these websites at the end of the day. It's human beings are hitting the web page and they might soak in in less than a second.
What they do from that point on is they read and they view content. I mean there's other types of content photos and video, etc., but I feel like the actual text on the page is such a crucial part to grab somebody's attention and take them through this story. I can sit around and talk about this all day. I think you and I in the past have probably attempted that.
Aaron: I could keep going. I'll talk for four hours with any BC partners that wants to.
Brent: Very cool. I think we've got some PRO content that's coming up that you're spearheading. You're going to be diving a little bit more in depth into the copy development process, but I think anybody that is not thinking about copy in their BC projects is, first of all you're missing a huge place to really wow your customer. You guys understand how to run a professional website project from start to finish. Websites are more than just a few page brochure. It's an online business. Part of that is telling the businesses story as best you possibly can. You're leaving money on the table.
I wish I could tell everybody that I just took your prices and passed them through to my clients, but every single project that you worked on for us, we made a good deal of money on the actual content itself. So it's another place for partners to really build in some profit in their projects and I think at the end of the day deliver a much better product.
Aaron: It's true. Take it from somebody who's been there. Life in a copy trap is brutal. Brutal. This is your rope. Grab hold of your rope and climb on out.
Brent: Speaking of the copy trap, I know if you guys want more information about Aaron Wrixon and what he's doing, he's done great things for our firm, take a look at his website, thecopytrap.com. I will have a link in this post about the content or about his website. Also, there's going to be some additional posts in pro that are done by Aaron. He's going to really show you guys some, I think, very, very useful tactical level stuff and also on the strategy side, what you can do to deliver better website projects through great copy on those BC projects.
Thanks for joining us today, Aaron. Stay tuned for more great content from bcgurus.com.
Aaron: Thanks, Brent.