Local marketing is all the rage lately. Strangely enough, I’ve never written copy for someone in my city. The closest was across the river in Portland, OR a handful of times.
So when I got the chance to interview Joseph Ratliff I seized it. I know he has experience working both local and global. And this would give me a chance to share valuable information with you… and pick up a few nuggets myself!
Joseph did not disappoint. Here are my first 5 questions to Joseph and his answers.
What are you passionate about besides copywriting?
I’m a passionate family man, Father of two teenage boys, and husband to my wife of 18 years. I firmly believe that your business should support your lifestyle, and never the other way around. I’m also a passionate baseball card collector and outdoor enthusiast.
Did you find copywriting or did copywriting find you?
Actually, copywriting found me through a job I used to have, my boss thought I had a very pronounced ability to persuade people through written communications (like company emails at the time). So I decided to “make a go of it” as a freelance copywriter for offline businesses back in 2001…and have since added consulting to the mix with a nice little “specialty” in using digital media.
Do you prefer working with local businesses vs. businesses from around the globe, or vice versa, and why?
I don’t really have a preference, in fact, I love working with both types of clients. I like working with local clients because I can visit them face to face and “talk shop.” There’s nothing like lunch with a business owner to expand your own mind about growing businesses (like it has mine). I learn from all of my clients just as much as they learn from me.
In terms of global business clients, I love the different cultures and nuances in language when it comes to copywriting. Other than that, I like working with global clients for much the same reasons, except it’s “Skype to Skype” or via email etc… 🙂
What are local businesses starving for that a budding copywriter could provide?
An immediate focus on their marketing process. If a budding copywriter could even provide a glimmer of increased focus on marketing for the local client, that budding copywriter could help produce a serious impact on that client’s business. Small business owners typically are great at doing “the job” they created the business around, but aren’t “marketers” by trade…which understandably means they lack in the marketing skills needed to grow businesses.
A budding copywriter should understand more than just copywriting, they need to understand and dedicate themselves to learning the entire sales and marketing process including but not limited to lead generation, conversion, testing, pre and post-sale customer service and sales, cross-selling/upselling and back end sales. A copywriter gets paid more based on the value they bring to the table.
Do you have a clever or little known trick for finding local clients you wouldn’t mind sharing with the world?
The clients are everywhere, so “finding” them doesn’t really have a trick IMO. But one way to help a budding copywriter convert potential clients into paying clients has to do with their mindset and positioning:
The short version? Think of yourself as a business owner and talk to other business owners NOT as a sales person or copywriter, but as a business owner. Talk to business owners about THEIR business, and listen to what they have to say as a business owner yourself.
These folks are pitched all the time by sales people, but have very few people they can truly relate to when it comes to talking about their business and marketing. You can be that person they relate to, or you can be the next “Get Number 1 Google Rankings” salesperson the business owner hears from hundreds of times a month (literally).
What is the biggest mistake you’ve ever made in your copywriting business?
To find out Joe’s answer to this question, check out Part II here.
And if you want to check out another great interview, here’s the one I did with Ryan Healy a couple years back: Ryan Healy – The Interview