Today on the Engaging Marketeer I am speaking to Australian Angela Pickett. Angela’s very unusual career path has seen go from being a foreign diplomat in Shanghai and Vietnam to being a copywriter to businesses across Australia.
I’m going to find out what exactly Angela did, how she did it and what was it like being a foreign diplomat. We’ve compiled some highlights from the episode, which you can watch in full on YouTube, below:
Darren: We’ve had a lot of copywriters on this podcast and they always have really interesting ways on how they get the information out of the client. What process do you go through with clients to get that kind of information out of them that you need?
Angela: When I first started, I thought if I just sent them a massive long document with lots and lots of questions, that would get all the information I needed. Now I find it’s a much more iterative process. It’s having a conversation and finding out about their business, not only from themselves, but also from previous customers as well, if we can.
Darren: When you ask a lot of people who their target audience is, they say “well I can work with anybody”. But as much as you may be able to work with anybody, you can’t just target anybody. Your copy and your marketing needs to be catered to a specific niche, so people in that niche see you and say “they get me”.
Angela: I think that’s it, especially for a lot of solo business operators, particularly when they’re just starting out or are going through a slightly rough patch. But you’re probably more likely to get a result by actually being more specific in who you want to target.
Darren: How do you think content and copywriting actually plays off against search engine optimsation (SEO)? Because there’s a lot of things in SEO that actually can be seen to go against copywriting.
Angela: First and foremost, when I’m writing copy I’m focused on the client. It’s not just about writing so that it gets found. To me, I think that good copy and SEO work together.
Darren: I’m glad you went down that route. There’s a lot of people in SEO who only think about Google – they don’t think about the user at all.
Darren: Those people that want to get things on the cheap, or that will pay the bloke at the pub 50 quid to do their website for them, they don’t see it as a real important investment in their business and their not the type of people you or we want to work with.
Angela: Definitely. Those people, I guess, just don’t really understand the value of the website and they don’t understand that your website is 24/7 – it is your business, it’s your shop front that is open all of the time.
Darren: You’ve mentioned working with government, because you’ve got experience in that. And I would be remiss if I didn’t touch on this – you were a diplomat? How does somebody get into that and what does it entail?
Angela: I went through university, I did a marketing degree and a law degree. Back then in Australia, you could sit the Public Service test and, depending on the marks you got, you’d be invited to apply for various government departments. An opportunity arose in Beijing which I threw my hat into early on. I was successful and spent a year learning Chinese in Australia, and then another year in Beijing and then three years working. I returned to Australia, started my family and then was posted out in Vietnam for a bit; that was kind of the end of my career.
Darren: So what does an Australian diplomat in Beijing do?
Angela: So back in the early 2000s, that was then the relationship was really growing, so it was a lot of trade agreements, a lot of organising visiting delegations, and escorting ministers to meetings and hosting various groups of business people.
Darren: So you’ve been in business for four years as a copywriter, did you say?
Angela: About four years full-time. It was about four years ago when I had the chance to work on a pretty big government website with another copywriting friend. It was for the Australian travel board and we finished the work toward the end of 2019, so it turned out that nobody really needed travel advice after that, but it was a great piece of work to have under my belt.
It was very fascinating hearing Angela’s insight into copywriting, as well as hearing some of her stories from her time as a diplomat.
We hope to see you on the next episode of the Engaging Marketeer podcast.