The headline on Margot Howard’s website reads, “There Are Millions of Freelance Writers Out There But Only a Few Understand the Complex Sale (and Meet Every Deadline, to Boot!).”
She then quickly proves how she truly is more qualified than the millions of other freelancers out there. She doesn’t do it by showing off her writing skills.
Instead, she proves that she is the best fit by talking about her background: “My 28 years of corporate sales experience allows me to hit the ground running on your copy projects and save you valuable time and frustration. Learn more about how I can help you on your next writing project. And see how my unique background can add value to your marketing efforts.”
In this interview, Margot Howard tells us about how she was able to connect with prospects by building a niche around her area of expertise.
What did you do before you started working as a B2B copywriter?
I spent 28 years as a B2B sales rep. I used to work out in the field for mid- to large-size corporations like Kinko’s, Honeywell, Pitney Bowes, and Staples Advantage.
How did your work experience make the transition to B2B copywriting easier?
Copywriting is selling with words. Instead of verbalizing the sales pitches, I was writing them. The advantage was that I understood how to explain features, benefits, and USPs.
What were the parts that didn’t come naturally?
I’m not a natural-born writer. Thinking about how to write is different from knowing how to present. Talking to somebody about their needs and concerns and why they should use my product versus somebody else’s. It is different. You are speaking directly to one individual as opposed to speaking to a persona.
How did you overcome that?
Studying the AWAI programs, working through all of that, and learning how to think about the message from that perspective.
What similarities did you find between your previous career and your copywriting career?
I’m still selling, except now I’m selling with written words instead of selling verbally. That is really the biggest similarity.
Having been in sales has really helped me, because I have worked with a lot of the prospects for whom I’m writing. I understand the business buyer, and that is why I was drawn to B2B — because I was already in B2B for so many years.
What do you understand about business buyers that someone who is just getting started may not know?
They are busy, and they don’t want a lot of hype. They want facts. They don’t want a lot of fluff. That is the essence of B2B.
Also understanding, as Steve Slaunwhite always says, that you need to consider that even though they make decisions for business reasons, they also make decisions for personal reasons. It is not just about what is going to be good for the company; a lot of times what comes into play might be what’s good for that person.
Is it going to help elevate them in the eyes of their boss if they make this decision correctly? Is it going to free up that person so they don’t have to work as late and can go home and have dinner with their family?
How would you describe your niche?
Well, I started out with a broad niche. It used to be okay to just pick B2B, but B2B is so broad. There are so many different products out there and so many different categories of products and services, you really need to pick something.
So I selected B2B content writing for business equipment, software, and service companies. Now, that was only where I started.
Over the last year I have found that I enjoy writing for a whole group of companies — B2B sales productivity, sales efficiency, and sales enablement, SAAS companies (software as a service companies). I also enjoy writing for sales training companies.
They are mainly companies that sell to sales management. I really understand sales management, their concerns, and the challenges they face.
When it comes to sales productivity and efficiency and enablement, that is a passion of mine because — you may not realize this — sales reps are spending 60 percent of their day doing administrative tasks.
It is very frustrating to a sales rep to not be able to get out in the field. The company is saying, “Come on! Go out. Make more sales. We need to drive the figures up.” But there are all these administrative tasks that you need to take care of, as well. It is always a constant challenge that sales reps face, more today than ever before.
The software and SAAS companies can automate a lot of the sales processes and save the reps a lot of time, improve their productivity, and allow them to get out in the field to do what they do best, which is selling to their prospects and their customers.
When I found out that there were so many products out there, I thought, “They need somebody to write for them. They charge a monthly fee to the customer for each rep they have, so I know it is not an expensive decision. It is a good prospect for me.”
It just makes my writing that much easier, because I am writing to somebody that I really know and in an area that I understand. All I have to learn about is the specific product, which saves me a lot of time when it comes to doing writing for these companies.
Can you think of a couple more benefits to honing in on a specific niche?
It makes it easier to know who your prospect is so that you are not trying to chase everybody.
You have to have a message when you are writing your website. You can’t have a generic B2B site because it won’t speak to anybody. You really need to identify your prospect. You need to have something that focuses in on a specific audience.
It makes it easier for you if you make a list of your prospects so you know whom you want to go after, whom your dream client would be.
It also helps to differentiate yourself from others. When you have a specific niche that relates to your background not only does it make your writing easier, it also makes it easier for the prospect to see that you are the ideal selection over somebody else.
A person with a different background isn’t going to have the understanding of the company and the prospects that I do, they’re going to have to spend too much time doing research about the company and their prospects instead of just the product.
It is a win-win when you are writing for a company that you are going to understand right off the bat as opposed to one that is not in your niche. It is so much less work. You can put together a much better written piece for the company that is in your niche.
So, you’re saying rather than try to prove that you are a better writer you should prove that you understand their business?
Exactly. You are saying to them, “I can save you time, free you up to focus on some of the other things you have on your plate. You can just tell me what you need, and I can run with it.”
When you had that niche in your mind, how did that make writing your website easier?
It makes it easier because you know to whom you are speaking.
Now that doesn’t mean there won’t be other companies or other prospects that would be interested in you because you wrote a message that is specific to your prospect. It is just that you really want that message to sing to them. When they read it you want them to say, “This is the writer for me.”
Like many successful copywriters, Margot Howard made it easier to connect with clients, understand prospects, write better copy, and promote herself simply by having a well-defined niche in an industry that she is familiar with. You can find more about Margot on her website.