Copywriters: For Your Next Project, Should You Hire A Researcher?

Oct 23 19:05 2010 Scotty Franks Print This Article

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A new decision for copywriters: Should you hire a researcher or should you do your own research?

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Imagine this. You have just landed a large new copywriting project. Maybe it's a bunch of web pages that you need to write copy for. Or, it could be a lead generation system, white paper, follow-up sequence, and supporting sales copy. Or, it is a 18-page promo with half a dozen pieces of additional supporting copy.


Where should you start?


Well, you need information. If you're writing any length of copy at all, you can't rely on conjecture and hyperbole to carry you through. You need proof and credibility elements. Things to talk about. Additional sources that will help you make your point. Quotes from recognized experts. And any other references you can find that will flesh out your claims and promises – and on which you can build a compelling case that your prospect should do exactly what your copy asks them to do.


And the truth is …


The Proof Is What Makes Your Copy Believable


Take what the Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting says about proof:

"Because the average prospect is skeptical, proof is an important part of any letter. People won't believe our claims just because we say so. Unless we're established experts, our claims are just opinions."

And the Master's Program shows you how the proof you provide makes it easier for the prospect to buy:

"As a copywriter … you want to give your reader some fodder to defend his choice to buy your product. And, even further, to justify his purchase … to himself, to his wife, to his friends … BEFORE he decides to buy."


And in some markets, like health and finance, it's even more critical. Take this insight from Secrets of Writing for the Financial Market:


"Because so many financial newsletters and trading services make [selective] claims, it's easy to understand how skeptical the target audience can be. That's why it is very important to back up and support every claim made with as much proof and credibility as possible."


What kind of proof strengthens your copy? Well, here's a short list:

  • Media mentions of the client or product
  • Prestigious publications talking about the product, idea, or industry
  • Scientific studies to back claims
  • Scientists' opinions related to claims
  • Charts, graphs, and graphics
  • Real or implied expert endorsements
  • Real or implied celebrity endorsements
  • Quotes from credentialed sources
  • Process information, or how the product (or ingredient) works
  • Other highly-specific supporting information


And that's just getting started. But, here's the thing …


To Find The Proof, It Takes Time


There is tons of information out there. According to Google, the Web has already exceeded 1 trillion unique web pages (it’s estimated they index about 15 billion of those pages for search purposes). There are millions more pages created daily.

And if you want to focus your efforts on where you provide the most value (which is a proven way to earn more money as a copywriter), you don't have time to sift and sort through billions of web pages to find just the right proof and credibility elements to include in your copy.


Introducing … The Internet Research Specialist


The problem I described above is not new. Copywriters have faced it for years. Though a good solution to the problem is relatively new – and having an easy way to connect with people to help you solve that problem is even newer still.

The solution? Hire an Internet Research Specialist.


An Internet Research Specialist is a researcher who is trained in two important areas.


The first is using the Internet to dig up information. This, by itself, is not that unique of a skill. After all, we all use Google on a regular basis to find things we're looking for.


The second though, is what's important. An Internet Research Specialist understands the unique research needs of copywriters and direct-response marketers. They understand what types of proof and credibility elements can help your copy sell more – and know how to dig up that information and share it with you so you can use it in your copy.


How Can You Benefit From Using A Researcher?


A good Internet Research Specialist will take over the long, slow, boring process of sifting through hundreds upon hundreds of web search results to find the information you need – and deliver only the most relevant, response-boosting resources you can use to beef up your copy.


What may have consumed 25%-50% of your copywriting time is now done for you – so you just have to pull from a focused document that will give you all the proof you need (complete with source information for citations).


This means you can spend your time focusing on where you provide the most value – writing copy. And, you can take the extra time you've just been given as more time off, or to significantly increase your output and earning potential.


What Does The Researcher Actually Give You?


So, you may be wondering what you'd get as a deliverable from an Internet Research Specialist.

Well, to some degree, that's up to you. If all you need is a credible quote to support the use of glucosamine and chondroitin in managing joint pain, they may just give you a list of five to pick from. If you want the story of someone who's owned Berkshire-Hathaway stock for at least ten years, you can ask them to find that person.


Or, if you need a resource reference guide for writing an entire promotion on investing in the hottest wind-energy stocks, you can rely on a researcher to deliver you pages and pages of information on wind-energy industry history and trends, and the companies that are major players to watch.


If you're going to ask a researcher to go all out, you can expect some variation on what is called the Research Deliverable Document. This is a Word document that contains the best, most-focused stories, quotes, and other resources on your topic, complete with source information (in most cases, this is a website link). In order to find this information, the researcher has searched far and wide, and sorted and sifted through all the results out there to provide you with the most-relevant information to meet your research request.


This document becomes your proof and credibility gold mine as you write your copy. When you need a bit of information, you can either browse the document or do a "find" to look for all potentially relevant facts, quotes, and other information. Then you just reference, cite, or quote (using the information the researcher has shared in the document) and keep rolling on your copy.


Because they've taken all the hard, labor-intensive work out of finding this information for you, you can write better copy faster with the Research Deliverable Document they provide.


How Do You Work With A Researcher?


The process for working with an Internet Research Specialist can actually be pretty simple. Once you've decided you're a fit and settled on a fee ($50 per hour is pretty standard), the researcher will give you something called a Research Request Document. When you fill out this document, you'll be giving the researcher the direction they need to get you the information that will help you write effective copy.


The researcher will then take what you've given them in the Research Request Document, and start their search. As they find relevant information, they'll start to build a Research Deliverable Document with what they find. If there are any snags or hiccups, they may ask you a question – though you can count on them to be pretty hands-off.


Once the researcher decides they've exhausted their resources and are not finding anything new – or once they reach your preset time limit for the project – they'll share the Research Deliverable Document with you. This will contain the most relevant references, articles, and other information they've culled down from the vast expanse of information and web pages out there – all with source information for your further reference.

You'll also get an invoice for their research time – you can either pay this, or pre-arrange with your client to have them pay it in addition to your project fee.


How Do You Move Forward?

Listen, if you're a copywriter and you've read this far, you're at least understanding the value an Internet Research Specialist can provide. You save time. You are able to produce better supported (and often better selling) copy. And you can do more projects, which means earning more.


Most copywriters will find it a worthwhile investment to start a relationship with one or more Internet Research Specialists they can turn to for support on big projects. At the very least, it's worth having a few good ones in your Rolodex for when the need strikes. All copywriters will appreciate the extra time you buy for yourself by outsourcing this critical task to someone who's ready, willing, and able to help.

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Scotty Franks
Scotty Franks

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Helping copywriters develop web copywriting skills to acquire financial security, independence and freedom – that’s been American Writers & Artists Inc.’s (AWAI) mission since we opened our doors in 1997.

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