Wondering how a professional public relations or marketing writer can propel your business or marketing blog into the next level?
Clicking through my email this morning, I came across what must be on the top ten FAQs of the week. The request for information in a Yahoo! group went something like this:
"How much per hour should I expect to pay a writer to write press releases, web copy, print brochures and direct mail to promote my _______ business?"
The answer is . . . you don't pay by the hour, you invest in experience.
The words you get are the words that promote your business, connect with you customers, intrigue the press, close the deal and tell your story. And, those words will show up everywhere.
Yes, you can pay by the hour and you can pay by the project. That's the best route if you have a limited budget or you want to test an idea before you invest heavily in promoting it. And, I have to tell you that I'm shocked every time I hear that you can pay as little as $2/article when I know Internet marketers that happily invest $40,000 for an online sales letter to bring in $500,000 or more. Is it worth it?
Well, what is your business worth?
And, what do you want the writing to do: generate traffic, up conversion rates, promote your product, close deals?
How much should you invest in a professional writer?
If your marketing budget is 10% of sales, allocate at least 50% to retaining a writer that meets your needs and knows how to speak to your audience.
Many times businesses allocate the lion's share of their budget to advertising or graphic design. It's not uncommon for us to meet with prospects who spend $20,000 per year on a Yellow Pages ad or an advertising campaign, yet they're hesitant to invest the same amount in a relationship that tells their story and warms relationships from the prospect to the client to the referral - not to mention the search engine spiders.
When you search for a professional writer for your small business or marketing blog, look for these qualities:
Ask to see their portfolio and check out their client list. Early on in my career, I interviewed for a freelance writing job with an ad agency. The owner told me, "I like your stuff, but you don't have any big names on your list. Go out and get one and then come back." Walking out feeling small, but challenged, I went on to write and consult for a Fortune 50 company as an independent contractor. Google the pro blogger/writer to see what comes up. If you're a leader, your professional writer should be, too.
No online portfolio, business blog or client list online? Keep searching until your find a professional writer with hundreds of Google results. Today you need someone who knows about RSS, SEO, PPC and SMNR. Every piece they write will need to be optimized for the web, even if it's a print piece. Ask about classes they attend/teach, mastermind groups they work with and professional association meetings or conferences they frequent.
Write down your top three marketing or public relations challenges and ask how they've crafted similar solutions for other clients. Call the clients for testimonials. Then, Google the clients to see how they show up.
Can they plug you into an existing network of SEO experts, PPC managers, web designers and printers to save you time? Turning over creative project management to a single source saves hours of coordination - and shopping.
Your Best Bet
When you meet with a financial advisor, they'll ask you about your risk tolerance, your investing timeline and your dollar amount before they recommend a mix of options. Marketing and PR works the same way. Right now, we're finding that online PR offers the quickest, lowest cost with the highest level of payback in terms of search engine results, tracking and visibility. Blogs are the best long-term, low-cost option for visibility, page rank and community-building. And, the good news is you can do both yourself. Engaging a professional writer/blogger can dramatically improve your visibility, and probably your bottom line, faster over the long haul than any brochure or ad.
What do you think? How does writing work in your business?