Leaders Perception Magazine is currently running an interview series called – Navigating AI’s Impact On Business
Meet Steven Lewis, the owner of Taleist, a specialist copywriting agency based in Sydney. With a background in journalism and copywriting, Steven has a deep understanding of the art and science of persuasive writing. Recently, his agency helped a world-class surgeon increase his conversion rate by 433% by crafting a sales page that focused on proving the effectiveness of the surgery rather than the surgeon’s credentials. In this interview, Steven shares his insights on the impact of AI on the business landscape and how entrepreneurs can leverage this technology to drive growth and success. He also discusses the role of human insight in copywriting and the importance of asking the right questions to prompt AI.
Interviewee Name: Steven Lewis
Can you tell us about your background and how you got started in your industry?
Steven Lewis : I was a journalist in Hong Kong, so I had a profile that meant companies would come to me to write brochures and other marketing material. That led me into the world of copywriting, and the deeper I got, the more fascinated I became.
Copywriting isn’t what most people think it is. They think it’s about writing nicely — being grammatical, spelling well and writing what’s enjoyable to read. Much of what people call copywriting is really content writing. Content writing is writing that’s educational or informative or entertaining. Copywriting needs to be all of those things, but it also needs to persuade the reader to take action.
That’s a skill that blends writing ability with an understanding of sales and human psychology. It’s an endlessly fascinating blend of art and science that no one will ever master. Even the greatest copywriters in the world are always studying and taking each other’s courses.
From being a journalist and newbie copywriter in Hong Kong in the late 90s, I’ve gone to being the owner of a specialist copywriting agency in Sydney, Taleist. Taleist writes mostly websites and email campaigns for clients who value conversions. Also, we train people, including other copywriters, in writing copy that gets the phone ringing.
Can you share a recent success or accomplishment that you’re proud of, either personally or for your company?
Steven Lewis : Copywriting is a win-win because it’s not about tricking anyone; it’s about putting forward a solid case to the right people. That way, customers are persuaded to buy from businesses that can help them. The business benefits from having the right customers. The customers benefit from having their problems solved as advertised.
Recently, for example, we wrote a sales page for a world-class surgeon treating a rare and extremely debilitating condition. He’s one of only a few surgeons in the world who can do what he does. Even so, his conversion rate was atrocious. Sufferers would find his sales page and click away despite him being one of only a few alternatives.
The reason his page wasn’t converting even though he had the right readers was because it said the wrong things. The page he had was all about him and what a great surgeon he was. The problem was that sufferers believed there was no surgical cure for their problem.
If you don’t believe surgery will cure you, it doesn’t matter how great the surgeon is, does it?
The page we wrote for the surgeon concentrated on proving the surgery works. Once we’d proved that, we went on to prove that the surgeon was the right doctor for the job.
The result was a 433% increase in conversions. That’s clearly a win for the surgeon. However, it’s also a win for those sufferers. Instead of clicking away and living with a terrible condition for another decade or more, they could pick up the phone and call someone who could end their suffering.
In your opinion, what are the most significant changes that AI will bring to the business landscape over the next 5-10 years, and how can entrepreneurs prepare for these changes?
Steven Lewis : In the near future, everyone will assisted in their jobs by AI. You won’t be able to avoid it. Already, AI is baked into tools like Notion and it’s coming to Microsoft’s products soon.
When you go to type an email, you’ll be asked if you want AI to help, either to draft it or to improve your draft. On the rare occasions you don’t have AI to do the tedious tasks for you, it’ll feel like wading through mud. Like going back in time to when you had to call the cinema to find out if a film was showing and at what times instead of typing the film name into Google and getting the showtimes near you.
It won’t be a point of pride to have done something from scratch yourself. It will be an extravagant and boring waste of time.
Back in the early 90s, I taught myself how to build websites. Back then, you had to type all the code in by hand. There was no software to help you. It was tedious, but I use that foundation knowledge pretty much every day now. It gives me an advantage over people who are new to websites because I’ve picked up so much knowledge, some of it the hard way.
Entrepreneurs should be using AI now. It’s more primative than it will be and it’ll be harder to learn it than it will be in six months or a few years. However, what you learn now, you’ll be using forever and the longer you’ve been doing it, the bigger the advantage you’ll have.
How do you see AI changing the way businesses operate, particularly in terms of customer service and experience, and what strategies can entrepreneurs use to leverage this technology effectively?
Steven Lewis : From a copywriting point of view, AI is going to improve you ability to research. Already, you can use ChatGPT to create an avatar of your ideal client then ask it questions. What are your customers’ pain points? What do they understand? What do they value? How do they talk about themselves and their problems?
You can ask the AI to read your material from the point of view of your customers and ask it to make suggestions.
And you’ll be able to write campaigns faster, so you can test quickly and cheaply.
There is growing concern that AI may replace jobs that are currently performed by humans. What are your thoughts on this, and how can businesses and entrepreneurs ensure that they are creating jobs that are complementary to, rather than competitive with, AI?
Steven Lewis : Anything that doesn’t involve human insight can be done by AI. So if things are repetitive and don’t require much insight, imagine they’ll be done by AI. You should think about where you’re going to need humans at decision points.
In the world of copywriting, for instance, would you want the AI writing Facebook posts that you’ve not read first? Let alone sales pages or emails to customers.
What are some examples of businesses that are currently using AI in innovative and impactful ways, and how can entrepreneurs learn from these examples to drive growth and success in their own businesses?
Steven Lewis : In our copywriting agency, the AI is fantastic for brainstorming. We could all sit around a table for an hour, but now we can get the same quantity and quality of ideas for many things in a fraction of the time. The skill is in understanding how to prompt the AI.
Many people are going to ask the AI fat questions, like “write 250 email topics”. They would get much better answers by writing better prompts. That’s where the skill is going to come from — in asking the AI the right questions and being able to adjust course as you go.
Leaders Perception magaizne would like to thank Steven Lewis and Taleist for the time dedicated to completing this interview and sharing their valuable insights with our readers!
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