Every business is on a budget. Even when we’re not sitting at the tail end (hopefully) of one of the worst recessions in recent history, there is a budget. Usually businesses, more than consumers, understand that you get what you pay for when it comes to everything from pens to enterprise software and look at the value they are getting from the money they spend rather than the immediate “benefit” of saving a few bucks. But not always.
When saving money costs you clients
Case in point. Guy contacts me a few weeks ago saying he wants to talk to me about some web copywriting. I check out his website, and sure enough, it is the worst kind of example of someone writing their own web copy. Grammatical errors, spelling errors, rambling sentence construction, the whole nine yards. But I give the guy props that he wants to hire a professional to clean the thing up.
When we get on the call however, I find out that he wants me to write only one page of web copy for a new product they are launching and then write the copy for the product brochure. I mention that they may want me to edit their existing web copy. Ummm. Maybe next time. Give us a quote for the new product collateral first.
I quote the guy and then don’t hear anything for awhile. When I finally get the guy to respond he tells me I am way out of their budget. That he can get a friend of his to do it for a quarter of the price. I try to let him know, gently, that projecting a professional image is too critical to growing his business to leave it to someone who clearly can’t write his way out of a paper bag. “We’re on a budget,” is his only response. And they will continue to be on a budget as their web storefront scares off one client after another. It’s like opening an upscale dress shop in bad neighborhood with hand-painted sign: no one is even going to come in.
$2 or $200?
Now this is only one example, but I am sure the other copywriters out there all have dozens of stories like this one. And there are plenty of “copywriters” out there (mostly in India and Pakistan) willing to work for $2 a page. But what are you getting? I think a forum I stumbled across summed it up best. The group was discussing what you should pay for copywriting and why some people charge $2 a page and others charge $200 a page. One of the members chimed in: “You pay peanuts, you get monkeys.”
So what do you get when you pay the going rate for a professional copywriter? Just a few of the highlights:
- A full-time, professional copywriter who does this for a living. He or she will be available during regular business hours, will walk you through the project so you know what to expect, and likely keeps up with the latest in marketing and copywriting science.
- Someone with the experience to add real value to the project. Many of my colleagues have ten or even twenty years of experience crafting marketing copy for big name companies. You can be sure they learned a few things along the way.
- Copy that does what it is supposed to do. Even an inexperienced writer can string together a few sentences that sound good to the average reader. But does the copy engage the reader immediately, educate without insulting, and give them a compelling reason to take the next step?
These are just a few of the many benefits that you get from hiring someone who has the audacity to charge fair market rates for their work. So when you look at the budget, ask yourself if you want someone willing to work for peanuts representing your company to the world. My guess is probably not.
Copywriters and marketers: what are your best reasons for clients to pay market rates for your work?
About the author: Kate Headen Waddell is a strategic copywriter specializing in web copy, white papers, case studies, solution briefs and other B2B marketing tools. You can visit her website at www.smartb2bmarcom.com.