Do Multiple Authors Create Better Marketing Content?

I just read an interesting newsletter article titled “Copywriters: should you guarantee your clients results?” written by noted copywriter Bob Bly. I enjoy reading Bob’s writing because he usually offers opinions that are both practical and frank. This article was no exception because it brought up a delicate and important subject.

Bly’s main point was that he does not guarantee results, and he stated many reasons for not doing so. But what I found most interesting was the fact that his clients usually make changes to the copy. Even minor edits can have an impact on response rates. That got me to thinking about whether multiple authors and editors contribute to or detract from results.

As a firm that creates lots of marketing content for our clients (and ourselves), we deal with this issue quite often. Of course we appreciate the domain expertise of our clients and want to make sure we have the relevant facts correct in our copy. But there is a point where too many editors can deaden the message to the point where it is bland and ineffective – the proverbial “written by committee” syndrome.

In a prior life, I worked for a CEO who fancied himself a great writer, and he liked to demonstrate this by essentially re-writing my email copy. Since I have a good track record at getting responses, this was not a pleasant experience.  Without telling the CEO, I did what Bob Bly suggested in his article and created an A/B split test. Half the list got the rewritten text and half got my original text. My version outgained the rewritten version by over 40 percent. (I probably wouldn’t be telling the story if this was not the case!)

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The moral to the story is not that the CEO was a bad writer and I am a good one. He is actually a very good communicator. Rather, the point is that good marketing communication appears as if it is written from one human being to another, not from a company to a bunch of faceless prospects. To paraphrase the oft-used expression, too many writing cooks can spoil the results broth.

Another danger of the multiple-author process is that your content can end up in what I call “content purgatory,” where it can go from reviewer to reviewer (and back again) until it ends up in someone’s inbox waiting for one last look. Sometimes good marketing content is lost forever in content purgatory, never to be seen by the people who matter – your prospects and customers.

Of course you should fact check and proof all marketing content. But my advice is to let the writers have a great deal of leeway. More often than not, they will feel more responsible for the results and you will be rewarded with more leads and revenue.

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