I was talking to a graphic designer the other day about one of his clients. The client was having his logo and website professionally designed, so the graphic designer recommended hiring a writer to handle the website content.
The client’s response?
I know my product better than anyone, so I’ll write the content.
Sure, that’s all it takes. After all, content writing doesn’t require any technical ability, like graphic design or website development. All you have to do is type.
My graphic designer friend immediately recognized my pain as I closed my eyes and shook my head. He would try to convince his client to hire a content writer, but we weren’t optimistic.
Here’s the silver lining, for me anyway. There’s a good chance I’ll get this job – in six months, when the project still hasn’t gotten off the ground and the client recognizes the folly of his ways. The bad news for the client is that he’ll waste a lot time and money learning a hard lesson.
Here are a few reasons why product knowledge and an “A” in typing class aren’t enough when it comes to writing marketing content, and can even be detrimental.
Knowing and Marketing Aren’t the Same Thing
Don’t get me wrong. Product knowledge is important. But knowing the ins and outs of your product doesn’t make you qualified to write content intended to market that product.
You need sound marketing strategy behind the words.
You need to write about not only the product, but the desired outcome. You need to tap into your audience’s emotions. You need to educate them and so they can logically justify their instincts and emotional decisions. You need to guide them through the buying journey. You need to earn their trust.
Writing about your product might be easy for you. Writing content from a strategic marketing perspective is a whole new ballgame.
You Know Your Product Too Well
As a professional, it’s your job to be an expert in your field. It’s your job to know everything there is to know about your product.
The content writer’s job is very different.
The content writer’s job is to tap into your expertise and extract the information that’s most relevant to your audience. Communicate that information in a way that simplifies concepts, builds trust, differentiates you from the competition, overcomes obstacles to the sale, and motivates them to make a purchase.
You know, that marketing stuff we were just talking about.
Loads of product knowledge can lead you deep in the weeds about stuff that might seem interesting and relevant to you but sounds like Charlie Brown’s teacher to your audience.
Your audience cares about the outcome. They want to be able to preview the experience of using your product and enjoying the end result.
Problem solved. Need filled. Life made better or more enjoyable.
When I go to buy a car, a good salesperson doesn’t go blathering on about features and technical specs. A good salesperson does everything possible to get me in the car for a test drive so the experience becomes irresistible.
You’re Too Attached to Your Product
It’s only natural for you to feel a close attachment to your brand, your company and your product. But that attachment can hold you back from a marketing perspective.
I’ve never met a business owner who can completely detach from their business and marketing and analyze them objectively. This is especially true for well-established brands.
This is how we’ve done it for years. This is how we’ve been saying it for years. This is what people have always said about our product.
Statements like these are obstacles to good marketing content. They’re also obstacles to innovation and change that allow you to create or maintain a competitive advantage.
When a client makes these statements, my response is always the same.
“How’s that working for you now?”
I’ll never recommend change for the sake of change. But if something’s not working, you have to be willing to break it down, figure out why it’s not working, and build a better strategy. This might require abandoning an approach that’s been used for years. Not easy for someone who’s too attached to their product.
One of the biggest benefits of hiring a content writer is getting a completely unbiased perspective on things from someone who has zero attachment to your business. Someone who respects your legacy but won’t be swayed by emotion when analyzing the existing strategy and recommending a new one.
The Money-Saving Myth
For some (but certainly not all) business owners, “I know my product so I’ll write the content” is code for “I don’t want to pay a content writer.”
I get it. We’re all under pressure to control costs. But more often than not, the DIY approach will do the opposite.
There are certain truths I’ve learned over the years about people who want to write their own content.
- Content writing will be the first thing to get pushed to the backburner when you get busy.
- Once content writing goes to the backburner, it almost never returns to the frontburner.
- If you wear 12 hats and content writing is number 13, you’ll never be able to give your content the attention it deserves. So your content will suck. Which means it won’t help you make as much money as content that doesn’t suck.
- The time you devote to writing your own content, and the money you could potentially lose by delaying the project, will far exceed the cost of hiring a content writer.
By the way, writing your own content and hiring a writer to “clean it up for you” is not the best use of a content writer’s talent and knowledge. It could end up costing just as much, and the four bullet points above still apply.
My recommendation is to focus on running your business. Put your product knowledge to good use by doing what you do best. And hire a content writer to do the content writing.
If you have project you’d like to discuss, give me a shout.
I’m a content writer, marketing consultant, lifelong New Jersey resident, husband to a beautiful wife and father to two beautiful girls. I love playing with my daughters, a day at the boardwalk, sarcasm, craft beer and grilling. I despise beating around the bush, synchronized swimming, Toddlers & Tiaras and onions. Most people don’t know I used to be a radio DJ and once wrote, produced and voiced a commercial for the TV show 24. Two places I want to visit before I die are Ireland and Norway, the homes of my ancestors. One place I never want to revisit is my first apartment because my creepy landlord, Monty, freaked me out. That just about covers it.