Archive for the ‘value’ Category

To some extent, if the economy slows, so does every aspect of it. So freelance writers shouldn’t be surprised that it gets harder to find work.

That being said, even if the economy were to genuinely recede, businesses and non-profits would still need written communication. I was reminded of this fact recently while at the website of the financial guru Dave Ramsey. He had this to say about radio, which I think applies to all sorts of freelance writing as well.

The recent RAB convention in Atlanta had some great answers. Selling Radio in a Challenging Economy, a seminar presented by Mike Mahone and Dave Casper, suggests thinking LONG TERM (Now there’s an idea!). In the last century, advertisers who held out and even bumped up their advertising budgets ended up “on top” during and after an economic crisis. Although money might get tight and the country as a whole might seem worried, people aren’t going to stop buying. The advertisers that stay focused and continue to brand themselves can expect huge results.

Let’s look at a few examples:

  • Back in the 1930s, Kellogg maintained its advertising during the Great Depression while Post did not. As a result, Kellogg gained domination of the dry cereal market and held onto that domination for half a century. (Casper, 32)
  • Heavier advertising was also credited for the improved performance of Revlon and Philip Morris during the recessionary years of 1974-75, while sales of Avon Products and Hershey Foods slumped after advertising cuts. (32)
  • During the 1975 recession, Chevrolet increased their advertising while Ford cut theirs by 14%. In the end, Chevy’s market share rose by 2%, and five years later, Ford had not regained its share points. (33)

Obviously, cutting advertising budgets during a recession or economic slump can have major, long-term, negative results. We tell our listeners all the time that choosing the easiest way out is rarely the answer when you find yourself between a rock and a hard place. You have to work hard and look at things with a long-term perspective in mind. And that’s exactly what your advertisers need to do starting today. The minute you bail, you start losing brand recognition in the marketplace.

For the full Selling Radio in a Challenging Economy PowerPoint presentation from the RAB conference, go to This information is fantastic and will revolutionize the way you view advertising and the economy. The RAB is an excellent resource for your staff and has a wealth of tools to begin implementing today.

Not only does this point obviously apply to writing and those in a position to make decisions about writing, it also applies to freelance writers themselves. No doubt there are plenty of people who made a living by writing during past hard times, and that will be true in this bump in the economy.

If you read the literature in books or on the net, you know that people claim there are all sorts of tricks to sales writing.

But a recent visit to Branson, MO on the part of some friends of mine reminded me that it depends on how you define “trick.”

When you are a writer, you have great limitations. You can’t keep people in your presence for three hours, when you promised they would only have to listen to a two-hour presentation. You can’t watch a couple and find the weaker “link” in the chain of resistance and work on that person. You can’t develop strategies of deception so that, when a couple seems resistant to your initial offers, your partner suddenly comes into the room claiming that some new properties have unexpectedly opened up and, even though it is their normal practice to only offer these to members, they’ve decided to give the prospects an opportunity to buy in.

Writers don’t have tricks–not like those possessed by salesmen with a captive audience in a resort sales presentation. They share techniques in order to be as persuasive as possible. But they have nothing compared to salesmen with real tricks.

Writers never have a captive audience. Even the guy writing copy for the placard over the urinal knows that anyone using it can simply space out and not read the words in front of him. He can’t force the urinating man to stand there until he reads it. There is no way to obstruct his exit from the restroom in order to make a second offer “that just became available.”

Writers don’t have tricks. They either persuade you first to read and then to make a decision, or else they don’t do one or the other.

Writers leave their prospect free to choose. No tricks. Just persuasion.

I mentioned here that simply offering educated literacy means you can save people time–people whose time is worth a great deal and will pay you for saving it. I wrote this to especially encourage beginners to be willing to start out without lacking confidence. Even beginners have something valuable to offer.

But that’s not the only thing.

Let me introduce this idea by repeating something I read from mystery-writer Lawrence Block many years ago. He wrote (somewhere!) that writing a novel is easier than writing a short story. A longer work gives you room to make everything in the story fit together. Short stories require a great deal more thought and work to make all the elements fit together.

Nonfiction isn’t quite the same deal. Sometimes it is easier to write a short piece because the topic can be covered in a short amount of space.

But it does hold true that sometimes people who are passionate about a large topic are sometimes not, for that reason, the most qualified to produce a short piece. Their passion may help them write a book but, if they need to put out shorter writings, their passion may just get in the way. Many an editor learns this when forced to tell an expert author that the article he or she just submitted is twice as long as it should be.

Whether you are writing a voters guide for a political group or a sales brochure for widgets, the person hiring you may need you the most precisely because you are not as involved in the topic. Your distance allows you to think about what matters: how to get the reader to act in the desired way. The client may be too focused on on all the information he possesses. He is too close to the subject to make the quick decisions necessary to get the writing project completed by deadline.

Here at Scroll & Quill Consulting LLC, we believe that writing and editing are valuable services that people can greatly profit from. That was confirmed to me just recently (albeit in a rather scandalous way) by an article I found on the Express Healthcare website entitled, “Should Doctors be Banned from Accepting Gifts from Pharma Companies?” I have no idea what the answer to that question should be. But I got a real thrill reading about my own service as something used to attract the attention and good will of doctors.

In January-February 2006, Pharma Marketing News, a monthly electronic newsletter published from Newton conducted an online survey on ‘Pharma gifts to physicians’. The areas of conflict in the context of free gifts to doctors were identified and responses were invited. Gifts were classified in many areas such as attending conferences, expenses on travel, ghostwriting services, free meals, sponsorship of speakers, research grants, drug samples, and continuing medical education.

How cool is that? I’m as attractive as a research grant, drug sample, or a free meal!