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FAQ

My clients and prospective clients typically ask me these questions:

  1. How much do you charge?
  2. What is marketing?
  3. Why do I need a copywriter or editor?
  4. Why do I need a marketing consultant/coach?
  5. What do "copywriting", "editing" and "proofreading" actually mean?
  6. How can I market myself and my product, service, company or organisation on a very limited budget?
  7. How do I get free publicity in the newspaper?
  8. Can you send me some examples of your work?
  9. How long does it take you to write a brochure/website/press release...?
  10. What kind of results can I expect?
  11. What kind of clients do you work best with?

 

1. How much do you charge?

I'd be happy to answer that question, but before I can give you a realistic quote, I'll need to ask you some questions about the scope, nature and timeframe of your proposed assignment; your desired results, and the value to you of those results. This will save us both a lot of time and help us decide whether we want to work together.

To see my standard list of questions that I ask all my prospective clients, please go to my Articles page and read my article titled "So You Want to Commission a Freelance Writer/Editor?".

For writing/editing assignments, I don't charge by the word or page, because I believe that's a totally unrealistic measure of the time and skill it takes me to research, write or edit a document (and it's also an unrealistic measure of the value to you of an effective document).

So on what basis DO I charge? Depending on the nature of the assignment, I'll base my quote on one (or a combination) of the following methods:

  • an hourly rate
  • a fee for the whole assignment or package of services
  • a monthly retainer
  • a bonus based on results
  • a percentage of your revenue
  • a percentage of the estimated value to you of the project

Please contact me today to discuss your needs.

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2. What is marketing?

Marketing is a lot more than printing a brochure, creating a website and putting an ad in the paper AFTER you've designed your product or service.

Here's my definition:
Marketing = managing perceptions, motivations, expectations and experiences

Marketing is about managing EVERYTHING you do that influences people's perceptions, motivations, expectations and experiences. And whether you like it or not, every element of the way your business operates, including the way you design and manage the experiences that people have, DOES create perceptions, motivations and expectations in people's minds. That's what drives their buying behaviour.

In marketing jargon, we use the term "touch point" - that's any time/place/situation where someone comes into contact with your organisation. Maybe they read an ad or an article, hear about you from a friend, receive an invoice from you, call to make a booking, see your delivery van, visit your website, walk past your shop, complain about your service...

It's not just about the features of your products or services, it's about the whole experience and how your clients FEEL about using them. So what do you want your customers to think, feel, have, do, be and aspire to when they use or hear about or read about your products and services?

Let's say you own a restaurant. Of course the quality of the food is important, but your clients' perceptions and satisfaction are also affected by:

  • everything they've seen or heard about your restaurant
  • how easy or difficult it is for them to make a booking
  • how easy or difficult it is for them to find a babysitter
  • how easy or difficult it is for them to travel to and find your restaurant, and park their car
  • the friendliness and efficiency of your staff
  • the ambience, décor, music, aromas...
  • the cleanliness of the toilets
  • the price of the meal (is it what they expected, and does it match the perceived value of the meal?)
  • your billing procedures (for example, will you provide separate bills for each individual in a group?)
  • the way your staff handle any problems or complaints

So as a marketer, you have to:

  • research and develop the RIGHT products/services that meet the wants and needs of your target audience;
  • devise the RIGHT marketing messages that appeal to your target audience's emotions;
  • manage every touch point (or experience) in order to communicate a positive message, consistently, and
  • offer the RIGHT product or service to the RIGHT people, at the RIGHT time, in the RIGHT place (or through the right medium), at the RIGHT price, profitably.

For more tips, sign up for my free "Sell the Sizzle" article - see the opt-in box on the top right-hand corner of this page. When you sign up, I'll also add you to my database to receive my regular free newsletter. 

And for more answers to your question "What is marketing?" check out my Articles (including "So what is marketing anyway?" and "Marketing Questions").

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3. Why do I need a copywriter or editor?

Why? Two reasons:

  1. Because a poorly written/edited document, whether it's a one-paragraph business e-mail or a 100-page project proposal, presents a negative image of you and your organisation, whereas a well written/edited document is more likely to achieve the results you want.
  2. Because an objective outsider, especially one with an understanding of marketing, will make your document more effective from a marketing point of view.

Even if English is your first language, you might need help to make your written words more effective. Maybe you didn't learn about grammar and spelling at school, and maybe you've never studied marketing. Also, at school, most of us learned to write in a formal, academic way, but that's not the most effective way to write your marketing messages.

A copywriter/editor's job involves a lot more than just fixing the grammar and spelling of a document - a good copywriter makes sure that the text works well from a marketing point of view, so that the reader feels inspired to buy the product or service without feeling manipulated. See Q5 below for my answer to the question "What do 'copywriting', 'editing' and 'proofreading' actually mean?".

I like to think that a good editor is like a tailor who does impeccable "invisible mending" on a garment - when a document is written or structured badly, the reader might sense this and feel irritated and uncomfortable, but may not be conscious of why he/she doesn't feel convinced by the message. Yet when a document is edited well, the reader shouldn't notice the editor's work, because everything will flow seamlessly.

Contact me today to discuss your copywriting/editing needs.

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4. Why do I need a marketing consultant/coach?

Why? Because what you're doing now is probably not getting the best possible results!

Whatever your business or profession, and whatever the nature of your organisation, I'm sure you're very good at what you do. But that's not enough - your success depends on how easy it is for people to do business with you, and how well you communicate your message to clients, prospective clients, staff, volunteers, allies, investors, sponsors, journalists... 

Business-owners are often too close to their businesses. They assume that customers understand their products/services and their industry jargon; they believe that customers are as interested in their company as they are, and they tend to be stuck in their industry's conventional way of doing things.

As an objective outsider, I'll:

  1. challenge you to look at every element of your business from your clients' point of view
  2. spot marketing opportunities, target markets and revenue streams that you don't see
  3. identify resources that you don't even realise you have
  4. pinpoint the essence of your message about what your organisation is and does
  5. encourage you to disrupt the marketing conventions of your industry - just because you've "always done it that way" doesn't necessarily mean that's getting the best possible results for you
  6. stand up for the wants and needs of your clients
  7. educate you and your team about marketing

Contact me today to discuss your marketing needs.

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5. What do "copywriting", "editing" and "proofreading" actually mean?

Copywriting = writing text for marketing purposes. (“Copy” = text that has a marketing purpose, i.e., the words of your ads, brochures, websites, newsletters, annual reports, project proposals…) It has nothing to do with legal copyright.

Editing = a lot more than just fixing the grammar and spelling of an existing document. Among other things, an editor:

  • does research to identify the target audience, the benefits of the product or service, the purpose of the document, the client’s brand…
  • researches competitors' brochures and websites
  • interviews people
  • decides which text to include in or cut from a document
  • ensures that the text is consistent with the client's or publisher's house style guide (and creates such a style guide if necessary)
  • ensures that the text conveys the right tone and style, and effectively communicates the client's brand
  • ensures that the text is logical and unambiguous
  • ensures that the content is not racist or sexist
  • turns incomprehensible industry jargon into plain English
  • gathers content from various contributors and ensures that it fits a consistent style and layout
  • fixes the style, grammar, spelling and punctuation of text written by non-native speakers of English
  • diagnoses what's wrong with a word (or sentence or paragraph or document), and fixes it
  • acts as an advocate for the end reader of the text, by making it user-friendly
  • makes the text more effective from a marketing point of view (for instance by adding a "call to action" and appealing to the users' wants/needs/emotions)
  • writes compelling headlines, sub-headings, photo captions...;
  • liaises with the client's graphic designer, website designer, printer...;
  • proofreads the final artwork before it goes to print

There are many different levels of editing - as a client, you need to be very specific about what you want your editor to do.  For example:

  • Do you want just cosmetic fixing of the grammar and spelling of your document?
  • Do you want your manuscript to be formatted according to your publisher's specifications?
  • Do you want major surgery on your text to make it effective from a marketing point of view?
  • Do you want your text to be marked up for the graphic designer?

Proofreading = checking text for typographical/layout errors and marking any necessary corrections. In my experience, it's always better to proofread a hard copy of the text rather than reading it onscreen - for some reason, I always spot more errors that way. Also, I like to read the text out loud - that helps me to identify why/how a sentence doesn't work well, and to FEEL my emotional response.

Contact me today to discuss your copywriting, editing and proofreading needs.

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6. How can I market myself and my product, service, company or organisation on a very limited budget?

Marketing isn't necessarily about spending lots of money on TV ads, glossy brochures and fancy websites.

It IS possible to market yourself effectively on a limited budget. As I wrote above in my answer to the question "What is marketing?", the key is to:

  1. research and develop the RIGHT products/services that meet the wants and needs of your target audience;
  2. devise the RIGHT marketing messages that appeal to your target audience's emotions;
  3. manage every touch point in order to communicate a positive message, consistently, and
  4. offer the RIGHT product or service to the RIGHT people, at the RIGHT time, in the RIGHT place (or through the right medium), at the RIGHT price.

So you need to look at every element of the way you do business and communicate your message. That could mean something as simple and inexpensive as:

  1. changing your billing procedures
  2. offering different packages of your products and services so that people happily buy more stuff more frequently, and spend more money, on average, every time they buy from you
  3. improving the signage in your shop
  4. training your receptionist to answer the phone differently
  5. making your website more user-friendly
  6. fine-tuning all your marketing communications material to make it more effective
  7. asking for referrals from your clients
  8. developing relationships with the media and sending good media releases
  9. establishing your reputation as an expert in your field
  10. volunteering on an industry/professional body
  11. perfecting your “elevator speech”
  12. attending business networking functions
  13. offering an unconventional (but appropriate) guarantee
  14. developing alliances with companies that serve the same clients as you

Check out my corporate and public seminars about marketing, copywriting and media relations, or contact me to discuss private consulting and coaching. 

For more tips, sign up for my free "Sell the Sizzle" article - see the opt-in box on the top right-hand corner of this page. When you sign up, I'll also add you to my database to receive my regular free newsletter. 

And for more information, check out my Articles (including "So what is marketing anyway?").

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7. How do I get free publicity in the newspaper?

The best way is to send an interesting, newsworthy media release (also called a press release) and some good photos to the right person or people.

For tips about how to write an effective media release and how to deal with media people, check out my Articles page. You'll find two of my articles there: "How to write a press release in one easy lesson" and "Media relations -some do's and don'ts".

And for more clues about how to write a media release and deal with media people, listen to my series of FREE podcasts.

By the way, there's a distinct difference between "advertising" (which you pay for) and "editorial coverage" (which is free). With advertising, YOU control your message, and how and when it is presented. With editorial coverage, you have no control - the journalist or editor decides whether, how and when to tell the story. But the benefit of editorial coverage is that it's perceived to be much more credible and objective than advertising.

Check out my corporate and public seminars about marketing, copywriting and media relations, or contact me to discuss private consulting and coaching. 

For more tips, sign up for my free "Sell the Sizzle" article - see the opt-in box on the top right-hand corner of this page. When you sign up, I'll also add you to my database to receive my regular free newsletter. 

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8. Can you send me some examples of your work?

Well, what you're reading right now is evidence of my writing, editing and marketing skills (I hope!).

Please go to my Portfolio page for details of some of my clients and the kinds of assignments I've done, plus a before-an-after example of an event flyer that I edited.

I invite you to contact me today to arrange an initial, no-obligation discussion. Then, I'll be happy to show you or send you some examples of my work.

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9. How long does it take you to write a brochure/website/press release...?

That depends on the scope and nature of the assignment - and every assignment is different.

Before I can answer your question, I'll need to ask YOU lots of questions about the assignment (see my answer to the question "How much do you charge?" above). But I CAN tell you that, once I have all the necessary background information, I do work very fast.

Contact me today to discuss your needs.

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10. What kind of results can I expect?

That depends on the resources that you're willing to commit to your marketing campaign. A one-off ad all by itself probably won't make much of an impact - you need to develop a strategic campaign so that every "touch point" communicates a consistent, positive message.

So even if I write an excellent ad or brochure or website for you, YOU need to make sure that your staff follow up effectively to win the sale and maintain a happy long-term relationship with your clients.

However, I'm confident that I have the skills and experience - and the understanding of marketing - to help you devise and implement an effective marketing campaign and produce compelling marketing communications material.

Contact me today to discuss the results you want from your marketing campaign.

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11. What kind of clients do you work best with?

I like to work with decision-makers - business-owners or managers who have the authority to say yes. And I like to work with people who feel as passionately about marketing as I do, and who share (or at least respect) my values: love, joy, trust, integrity, faith...

My background is in arts and tourism marketing, and I have a strong interest in the performing arts, personal development and alternative health/healing, so I tend to work best with clients in the service industry - including small business owners, coaches, consultants, healers, authors, performers, artists...

My clients have included companies, consultants and professional service providers in such industries as: the arts, tourism, academia, financial planning, health and healing, manufacturing, graphic design, management consulting and training, accounting, web development and e-solutions, publishing and book retailing, fashion, jewellery, etc.

I'm not interested in last-minute, one-off assignments - I'd prefer to be involved in the early stages of developing your marketing campaign, because I need to see where any document fits into the campaign, and I like to offer creative suggestions about your marketing strategies.

I have to admit that I prefer not to write or edit text about subjects that I simply don't understand, such as high-tech computer stuff - that just doesn't interest me. And I'm not willing to work for clients in the tobacco or arms industries.

If you'd like to work with me, please contact me today.

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Sharing tips at the "Making the Most of the Media" seminar
September 18, 2006




I come up with
bright marketing ideas
July 2010
Photo by Kenneth Lim