CLARKE  ECHOLS
Independent Freelance
B2B Direct Response Copywriter

Because:
"Techniques and methods may change...
But principles and human nature
Never do."
“The B2B Copywriter You Need for the Results You Want”
Making the Complex Understandable: Effective B2B Copy
Rooted in 50 Years of Engineering, Software, Technology,
And Business — plus 35+ Years of Writing Experience.
(970) 667-6736
1579 S. Taft Ave.
Loveland, CO 80537
 
Want to see my work?
Get your copy of my white paper that Gordon Graham — “That White Paper Guy” — liked so much when he read it.  Absolutely free — no opt-in required.
One change in how you market can slash advertising costs, increase sales and boost your reputation is built around two revealing case studies that will change your perspective on the world of marketing and advertising.
 
Charter Member
In Good Standing

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A few firms I've done projects and provided services for:
Hewlett-Packard Logo
Hewlett-Packard Company
Electronic instruments &
Micro-electronic devices:
Manufacturing & test engineering (10 years).
Computers: Online help systems design & implementation, Hardware & software plus Unix operating-system reference manuals & learning-products engineering (20 years).

RICHARD GAGE & ASSOCIATES
Richard Gage & Assoc.
Attorneys at Law
www.RichardGage.net, www.RichardGageLaw.com
Complete turn-key web projects: Website planning and design, custom XHTML and CSS programming, market positioning, and copywriting.
These websites load faster than 99% of all sites tested by 'pingdom.com'.

Street Hypnosis Logo
Street Hypnosis
Igor Ledochowski & Clifford Mee
Large project: Dozens of emails for world-wide, online marketing of their popular hypnosis-based, self- improvement products and programs.

Ensign Power Systems Inc. Logo
Ensign Power Systems, Inc.
Installation, Operating, And Maintenance manuals for custom high-reliability, military power supplies sold to US and foreign governments.

Settlement Professionals Inc. Logo
Settlement Professionals Inc.
Special report used by a financial planning firm to market their services related to structuring and managing personal-injury settlement funding.

Endorsed and Recommended
By:
Elite Lawyer
                 Project Logo
Elite Lawyer Project
Your Personal Injury Resource Center


Pardon our dust.
The site is still under construction but we wanted you to have access to the good, new information now instead of making you wait.

If you're a Smart Marketer looking for a copywriter...

The copywriter you think you want
May not be the one you really need.
Here's why...
And why it's important:

You want some copy written and you're looking for a writer to handle the job. Who do you hire?:

  • A college graduate with a degree in English, Journalism, Marketing or advertising who has an interest in your kind of business?
  • Someone who's written materials for your "niche" or your market?
  • A writer who trained for direct-response, but doesn't have the experience and in-depth knowledge necessary to understand the needs and perspectives of your target audience, and can't create the necessary depth of comprehension needed to attract a positive response?
  • Someone from Elance, Odesk, Fiverr, or some other site where you can get it done inexpensively?
  • Or none of these?

Let me save you some time. I'm none of these. But odds are I can do a better job than most, if not all of them. And there's a very good reason why.

A good real-world example

I know of a company that produces a product for use in cooling large IT data centers. The product is unique, and solves an important problem related to air flow.

Their website has a few pages addressing the problem and their solution. The graphics look neat and clean, and the copy is grammatically correct.

But it has several problems that are probably depressing conversion results:

  • The technical terms used in the copy are used correctly, but the copy confuses readers who don't know the precise meaning or the significance of each term as associated with the problem being solved.
  • The concepts behind the explanations are not clear enough for many non-expert readers in the audience (such as high-level executives who aren't engineers, but will be involved in approving changes).
  • The copy assumes a level of understanding that may be above even some engineers' expertise level (such as computer and electronic engineers who aren't familiar enough with fluid dynamics and air flow in heating and cooling systems).

The cause behind the difficulty

So what's the real cause behind all of this difficulty? Here are some issues that are overlooked much too often when planning projects:

  • Teaching sells, and if the writer is not a competent teacher, the copy fails to build a proper foundation for clear comprehension by the learner. For decades I've been saying, "You can't teach what you don't thoroughly know and understand." This became obvious to me years ago when I was writing computer manuals and tutorials at HP.
  • The writer isn't looking at issues from the target reader's point of view, so the explanations aren't matched to the reader's level of technical skill and understanding. The skilled writer you want will know how to take a complex concept and explain it so a high-school student can understand it with little difficulty.
  • Difficult, advanced-vocabulary words discourage readers and drive them away.
  • The writer doesn't understand the underlying science, and thus cannot explain important details in an interesting, engaging way. If it isn't interesting and engaging, people won't read it.

Do you see a pattern here?

Problems have potentially serious consequences
When they're "painted over" without treating the real cause

The example above occurs commonly in any case where the writer doing the work falls into one of the categories of writers mentioned at the beginning of this column.

When copy doesn't meet the reader's interest or needs, it doesn't get read. When they don't read it, it doesn't convert. When it doesn't convert, you lose the sale.

And when you lose the sale, you lose the profit from that sale — possibly lots of it, depending on what you sell, at what price and profit margin.

Solve the problem ... the right way
By starting with the right copywriter

Making money isn't complicated. It isn't easy, but it's not complicated. When you look at written advertising, whether websites, online advertising, direct mail, or any other medium, the formula is simple:

Readership × Conversion = Number of Sales
Number of Sales × Average Sale × Profit Margin = Profit

The formula is somewhat over-simplified. If you have a complex sales funnel that applies to complex sales, there will be multiple layers of conversion percentages, but the basic formula still holds.

But the key to profit is two things: readership and conversion.

And the copywriter you select is key to your conversion rates. Your choice may affect your readership, depending on his or her role in lead generation and other elements of creating traffic or readership.

The principle still applies when you use written collateral in your sales and marketing processes to educate, persuade, and accomplish other objectives as you move people through your funnel.

Most important in this sequence is conversion, and key to that conversion is having the right copywriter on the job.

You've found the right copywriter

Whether you're looking for someone to create white papers and special reports, case studies, sell sheets, or other B2B collateral — even content for web pages — I can handle it.

You can obtain access to my uniquely broad base of life-long experience and interest in a multitude of fields, trades, professions, and commercial enterprises.

Here are a few highlights:

  • Corporate industrial-electronics technician, test engineer, technical-staff engineer, senior writer and learning-products engineer at Hewlett-Packard Co. — 30 years.
  • Designed and built computer-based test systems for testing chips and thin-film hybrid micro-electronic devices and subassemblies, destructive life-testing thermal print heads, and manufacturing tooling, including creating all of the operating software for these systems.
    At one time, 95% of all products built and shipped by HP's Desktop Computer Division depended on assembly and test tooling I designed and built.
  • Conceived, designed, and built a large online-help system for HP's flagship Unix product. Rated by usability test engineers in Germany as "excellent to exceptional" in usability, usefulness, and content quality.
  • Author of a popular computer software book, and also responsible for the large reference manual for HP's flagship Unix operating system (HP-UX) — 4 years plus 7 months.
  • Author of a long list of user manuals for the HP-UX/Unix operating system, sold and distributed world-wide.
  • Owner of a retail TV and electronics sales/service store and two cable TV systems while in college — 2 years.
    That was possible because I took an adult correspondence course for TV and Radio Servicing and Repair when I was a Junior in high school at age 15. I finished the course a few days after my 16th birthday, and it was an excellent program.
  • Owner of other small businesses since 1975 — 38+ years
  • Had my own manufacturing business with customers across all of US and Canada, selling to B2B and B2C customers.
  • Retail direct sales to consumers — 25 years
  • I learned almost all of what I know outside of college classrooms. I have no degree in Marketing, Advertising, English or Journalism. For 20 years I competed against English and Journalism graduates for position on the corporate pay curve, and remained securely anchored at or near the top of that curve because of superior performance, understanding, and perspective.
  • Active participant in a multitude of trades: Welding, sheet-metal work, metalworking (milling machines, lathes, etc.), metal fabrication and product design, cabinet making, woodworking, carpentry, construction, concrete work and finishing, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, drywall (and finishing), concrete and brick masonry, stone masonry, porcelain, ceramic, and stone tile work, auto and diesel mechanics, DOT certified for air brakes, heavy vehicle design, power-train, suspension, and air-brake system design, plus a "bunch of other stuff".
  • Wrote and produced installation, operating, and maintenance manuals for high-reliability, custom power supplies used in US and European military applications.
  • Produced marketing copy and materials for financial and legal markets, alternative health, insurance, and real-estate.
  • State-licensed as a Registered Professional Engineer (license not currently active).
  • Built my own home — all 8300 square feet of it.
  • With my wife of 48 years, raised nine successful children with 16 grandchildren, and 3 great-grandchildren, so far.
  • FCC-licensed Radio and TV broadcast engineer.
  • Underwent several IRS income-tax audits, and never had to change anything. All returns were accepted — as filed. (That's why I think every business owner should take a good first-year course in accounting or equivalent. Also a good course in commercial finance. It helps you make better decisions for tax advantages and other reasons. It's important.)
  • There's more ... but that's enough for now.

Now, compare that list with the categories of copywriters mentioned above at the start of this page. You'll see why I stand out from the crowd. I spent a lifetime learning and doing.

A few more details

I've written books, manuals, and everything from small half-page documents to 3000-page, 3 volume Unix system reference manuals that took four 18-wheeler semi-tractor-trailer trucks to carry the finished manuals from the first press run to the warehouse for distribution.

I did the writing, formatting, editing, production (including photo- or laser-typesetting), all while interacting with R&D engineers across the US, and on two other continents.

I've written case studies, white papers, manufacturing production and test procedures, and process documents.

I've written a lot of stuff, starting with my own radio ads in 1966 when I first went into business as a sound contractor, commercial radio, and general electronics service and repair technician.

All of those experiences spanning the last 50+ years have provided a fertile field for stocking a "well-furnished mind" that renowned copywriter and friend, Drayton Bird, says is so essential to obtaining good copy.

You won't be disappointed in the quality of work I produce. It comes from a rich life of experience in a wide world of wonderful opportunities to learn and do.

Be careful about pricing

When selecting a copywriter, I've seen many marketers who seem focused on keeping costs down. Thus they shop multiple service providers, looking for what appears to be the best "deal".

But that can be an expensive mistake. Here's an example of why:

When I was a learning products engineer, I was responsible for a major project and the product associated with it. I was paid approximately the same salary as my co-workers.

But when they decided to move the project several states away, it took 10 of my peers to do the same job I did successfully by myself, and even then, they were unable to meet shipment deadlines. Why? Because they had college degrees, but lacked in-depth technical understanding of the software and were unable to do the job effectively, and on-time.

So the company was paying over 10 times as much money for the same result, though they had once thought it would work out. Why would you pay over $500,000 for the same work you had been paying closer to $40,000 to get before making the change? [Note: This was years ago when salaries were much lower than now, thanks to inflation.]

The same principle applies in your business. Here's how it works:

Let's assume you produce an enterprise software product that sells for $55,000. The cost to produce the distribution media, manuals, etc. for that product cost about $10,000, leaving a gross profit per sale of about $40,000 (before fixed-costs are added in).

You hire a copywriter to create a white paper to help sell the product, choosing between Writer A who charges $4,000 or Writer B who charges $7,000 to do the same job.

Which do you select?

Saving money...

Let's assume you want to save money, so you hire Writer A.

But then you discover, too late, that Writer A lacks the technical depth to get the best quality work, much like the website we considered earlier.

Consequently, you miss 3 sales in one year because prospects recognize the lack of quality in the white paper, and decide not to risk trusting your product instead of another, which they buy from your competitor.

Making money...

What about Writer B?

Suppose Writer B did the job instead, and because of the quality of his (or her) work, you improved sales by 3 because the readers concluded, on the basis of the workmanship in the paper, that your product was likely superior.

The outcome? Using Writer A cost you $120,000 in lost gross profits based on direct costs to produce the product.

But by choosing Writer B, you gained $120,000 in profits, because fixed costs don't go up, and the $120,000 goes directly to the bottom line as pure company profit directly tied to that sale.

Some CFOs and accountants might take issue with this oversimplification, but it is a fact that gross profit on incremental sales or lost profit on incremental lost sales both fall directly down to the bottom line, independent of fixed operating costs.

So, by choosing a copywriter on the basis of cost we find you'd be far ahead in the game if you paid Writer B $40,000 to do that $7,000 job, even if Writer A offered to do it at no charge "just for the experience".

Thus the adage, "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of a low price is forgotten (Seymour Jaron).

And that is the very expensive trap that awaits marketers who want to "save money", instead of investing in superior results, even when the budget's tight.

It's also, in a nutshell, why the popular adage from the boom of Japanese manufacturing that clobbered American companies so hard in the 1970s is so sternly true: "Quality is Free."

You can't afford to short-change yourself on know-how by shopping your B2B copywriting needs on the basis of price unless you have substantial other reasons for a choice that happen to conform to the lower offered price.