by Andrew Harkin: August 1, 2012
Posted in Spotlight
I’ll answer that in reverse order if I may!
I was originally in General Insurance, before moving onto Life & protection business, selling on a commission only basis.
I started writing sales letters and marketing stuff when I worked for a Broker and then wrote my own lead generation ads for the life and protection biz, which worked, thank God!
Like a lot of copywriters, I loved writing from school age really, I could always write interesting essays that made my teacher laugh or at least give me a decent mark!
I also have a real thirst for knowledge, I read a lot! I mean, a lot.
Because I have a lot of experience in selling insurance and a keen knowledge and appreciation of financial services, I decided to specialise in that area, so my clients are mostly financial advisers, wealth managers or mortgage brokers.
Knowing that my client is happy, because he or she knows I have helped him or her to get their message to their client and their client has taken exactly what action they wanted them to take.
I’m 100% freelance – not entirely deliberate, that’s just the way I happen to roll.
I have a pretty huge desk, fashioned from a large door that came from a big Victorian house. On the desk is my 17” laptop, several back issues of Financial Adviser and The Economist, a few books and various other bits and pieces…
Can I take liberties here?
Non-copywriting book would be Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. There isn’t a single word in that book that doesn’t lend to the story. A masterpiece in storytelling, it really is.
My copywriting book would probably have to be Gary Halbert’s How To Make Maximum Money In Minimum Time, which is essentially a collection of his awesome Letters from his website. Gary Halbert turned me onto direct response copywriting – bless him.
Well time has moved on, and the internet is central to all our lives now isn’t it?
So writing for the web, with consideration for SEO and online style is a skill any copywriter needs today, and if you get it right the results are pretty much immediate.
But I would urge people to remember that copywriting evolved from direct sales into direct mail/direct response copywriting, hence it is ‘salesmanship in print’.
Basic human psychology hasn’t changed, so whatever the medium, online or off, AIDA still rules. I don’t think that is always remembered or even known by some people!
A keener appreciation by clients that for me to achieve what they want. I need to ask questions, sometimes a lot of questions, and there is a reason why I’m asking them!
I can’t say anything weird has happened really, you don’t really get ‘weird’ in financial services do you?
Read, someone mentioned Kurt Vonnegut, couldn’t agree more, Hemingway, Hunter Thompson and John Steinbeck but I could easily be here all day. Read magazines, trade journals, read what your clients are reading.
And write! Write write write!