Amy Harrison is a sales and marketing copywriter from the U.K. and an expert in storytelling. After hearing her speak at a marketing conference and finding the information invaluable, we invited her onto The Property Management Show to talk about the evolution of marketing content and copywriting and how AI can help with persuasive copy, as long as you’re finessing the message with the information that only you have.

Amy Harrison’s Background

Amy thought she wanted to be a screenwriter for film and television, but quickly burned out at a young age and decided to pursue other things for a while. Then, she found her way back to writing and began working for a private investment firm that bought and sold online businesses. She describes it as flipping businesses, and that’s what brought her back into content writing and copywriting.

When she discovered the psychology around sales copywriting, she knew she wanted to help businesses tell stories and build credibility.

Amy says that her training as a screenwriter helped with her sales copywriting because it’s always important to write for the reader. If someone does not want to keep reading, you’ve lost them. You need to make sure they’ll read beyond the headline.

Tracking the Evolution of Sales and Marketing Copywriting

Amy remembers the early days of copywriting, when everything was very SEO-driven and it seemed like her job was to cram every page full of keywords. The idea was to reach people and to provide as much information as possible. It was more of a transactional exchange.

People found there were better ways to have a sales conversation, and the content improved.

Businesses have realized that not all content needs to sound like sales and marketing content.

There’s a lot more awareness of what marketing and copywriting can do. The struggle, though, has not evolved much. Amy says that large companies with million dollar marketing budgets have the same desire as the freelance photographer with no marketing budget: to sell themselves and to stand out.

The process has evolved, but the problem sales copywriters are trying to solve is the same.

Umbrella Terms versus Storytelling with Copy and Content

How is it done well?

While trying to talk about what makes them different, a lot of companies will end up sounding like every other business. They’ll use generic words, and they’ll try to talk about everything they do all at once.

Amy calls those umbrella terms, and she advises companies to be bold and to expand their comfort zones outside of those same words and phrases that are always used. The fear factor will sometime set in. You want to stand apart from your competition, but do you really want to be different?

Storytelling can be powerful, but it’s harder to write a story than it is to create a list of benefits.

You have to earn the right to get someone’s attention.

How do you do that? Amy asks us to think about it from the first piece of content – whether it’s a headline or the first few seconds of your video or the introduction in your email.

Speak directly to the person you’re trying to reach.

Think of yourself in a crowded room at a party. You’ll hear lots of conversations, and you’re not tuned into any of them. But if you hear your name, that will immediately get your attention. You cannot call your customers by their name in your content, but you can work harder to make the content more relevant. You want them to feel like you’re talking directly to them.

Think about how to write the conversation that your customer is having in their mind right now. What are they thinking about in that moment as they approach your blog or your email?

Here are a couple of examples:

  • If you’re trying to attract a client who is moving, your headline might be “Should You Sell Or Rent Your Home?” It’s not a dramatic title, but it is a title that will speak directly to someone who is trying to answer that very question for themselves. You’re sparking an awareness that they need you.
  • If you’re trying to attract people who are displeased with their current management company, your headline might be “Does Your Heart Sink When Your Property Manager Calls You?” Someone out there does experience that feeling when their manager calls. They’re going to read your blog.

Think about audience when you begin to tell your story. Are they new to renting out homes? Are they very frustrated? What’s already on their mind?

Get their attention and pull them along. This is like calling their name out in a crowd.

A story is only boring when it’s irrelevant, so think about what’s pressing and relevant to the people you’re trying to reach.

You can also use symptoms of the problem. What are some warning lights that your audience can see? You can suggest that there’s a problem they might not be aware of yet, and your copywriting can indicate that the problem is bigger than they think. That will get their attention, too.

Your prospective clients might not know what the problem is, but they’ll recognize the symptoms. A good headline might be: “Is Poor Maintenance Making You Liable?”

Artificial Intelligence and Copywriting

When asked about AI, Amy says it’s a fantastic tool that’s interesting.

It can save time and spit out generic content. It cannot reach your audience like a person who understands the audience can.

AI can help people go from zero content to some content. But, when you read something generated by AI, there’s always that feeling that it’s not quite right. What it lacks is personal nuance.

AI will not help you write exceptional copy. And, it’s not thinking about your customer.

Think about how quickly you can recognize tone in a customer’s email. Your response has to have the context that matches that tone. As humans, we can do that in a second. All that nuance and understanding of psychology and how to apply it does not exist with AI.

You know your customer, your brand, your style, and your tone. Your content should sound like that.

AI is a good tool for getting started, but it’s similar to those umbrella terms. You’re not going to get anything original, and you’re not going to stand out if you use it on its own.

There’s a rhythm to human language that’s different from that of AI-generated language. Amy says it sounds to her like a 15-year-old is trying to write something formal and impressive.

Usually try to get AI to simplify things. If I had spent 10 minutes to simplify myself, better email.

Use AI to save time by gathering notes into a summary. But, when you’re building your messaging, don’t sacrifice that personal nuance that only you know. You need to hear the language that is used.

The summary that AI provides is often a good starting point. It’s better than looking at a blank page. If you can go ahead and rewrite what’s been provided, you can publish something that’s original and well-crafted. You need your own brain in order to complete good copy. You can ask AI to give you 10 benefits of property management. Some of it won’t be quite right. Some of it won’t be applicable. But, you can build off of that into something that’s a meaningful message for a potential client.

Writing Persuasive Copy without Over-Selling

Amy reminds us that you can have quality content even if your purpose is not to persuade. Sometimes, content is just entertaining. It’s simply informational. The goal of persuasive content is to help someone feel, think, and ultimately do something. There’s an output you want.

Every piece of content we put out has to be quality, and it can also help to persuade. Answering a question is not necessarily persuasive copywriting, but it can give a customer confidence in you, which ultimately leads to them hiring you.

You don’t have to convince someone to do something in every piece of content. But, you do want all of your messaging to reinforce that you can be trusted. This will help them feel more at ease with you.

Always be driven by your customer’s needs. And don’t be too sales-driven. Think of yourself at a party. When someone talks about themselves for a full hour, do you want to talk to them again? Probably not. When someone asks you a few questions about yourself and then drops a recommendation or two, do you want to talk to them again? Probably yes.

You can have the same effect in marketing and content.

Whether you’re writing an email or FAQs, you need to ask what your customer needs to know in this moment in time. What do they need? If they’re about to sign a management contract, they need transparency and confidence.

AI can’t provide that. This comes from the research. From talking to customers. Companies that are brave enough to actively seek feedback will have better growth. Their marketing will sound different and speak to those customers.

This comes from listening.

Amy reads the freeform text from customer surveys and reviews and she lifts actual words from those reviews when she’s writing copy for customers. Those are huge insights. Amy calls it looking under rocks, and she said AI will always miss those golden moments and major message points.

This makes the difference in your marketing.

Reaching Multiple Audiences with Content

Property managers are using their messaging to reach multiple audiences, and Amy says that the best way to reach those unique groups of customers is to keep things simple.

When they arrive on the home page of your website, make sure they know which adventure to choose.

Then, create different content for each different need.

The pain points will be different. The goals will be different. Someone renting out their first home will need different stories than someone growing a portfolio.

Think about it like this: If this person was standing in front of you, how would you speak?

You’d be more reassuring with the first-time landlord. You’d be prepared with facts and figures for an investor with a growing portfolio.

Show that your company has range. Then, offer the specifics. Provide stories that are relevant to each customer.

This takes extra work. But, the harder you work to give your customers what they need, the better your results. If you have any questions for Amy or you’d like some additional advice on how to improve your content marketing and sales copywriting, contact us at Fourandhalf.

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