As far as I can tell, the first person to talk about “mercenaries and missionaries” in the context of business was legendary Silicon Valley investor, John Doerr.
He draws the distinction between these two approaches to business and marketing in several ways.
But the passage that resonates most powerfully with me is this one…
“Mercenaries are motivated by the lust for making money; missionaries, while recognizing the importance of money, are fundamentally driven by the desire to make meaning.”
I love that distinction, simply because it rings so true.
I bet you can think of entrepreneurs and marketers who are clearly mercenary in their outlook. It’s all about the money.
And others who are driven more by a mission that is about doing good and having meaning.
Let’s see how this might apply to online copywriters and marketers…
As copywriters and marketers, we have to decide whether we’re going to take an approach that is mercenary or missionary.
This can be tricky.
It would be easy to stand on a soap box and say that being “mercenary” is always bad.
But it’s rarely that simple.
As John Doerr pointed out, missionary companies also recognize the importance of money. They have to. If they’re not profitable, their companies will fail.
So, whether you’re building a business or writing for a client, you have to look under the hood.
Take a peek and see if the engine running the company is just about maximizing conversation rates, profits and revenue. Or whether the company has a deeper vision and purpose.
And then hold that up against your own beliefs and values.
Are you a mercenary or a missionary?
It’s time to decide.
Conversational Copywriting is for missionaries.
If you come down on the side of being missionary, you should build your marketing around the conversational approach to copywriting.
It’s the perfect match.
Conversational copywriting is all about being open, honest and respectful.
It’s not about maximizing short-term returns. It’s about building lasting and profitable relationships.
It’s not about using copywriting tips and tricks to manipulate people into taking out their credit cards. It’s about communicating value.
It’s not about using aggressive sales language. It’s about tapping into the persuasive power of everyday, conversational language.
It’s not about a “lust for making money”. It’s about a desire to “make meaning”.
If you want to be mercenary, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to learning how to do it well.
There are dozens of courses and programs out there that teach you the more aggressive, broadcast approach to copywriting and marketing.
If you want to be more missionary in your approach… there’s far less choice.
In fact, as far as I know, there is only one course that teaches conversational copywriting.
And yes, it’s the perfect fit for any copywriter or marketer who is driven by more than a just lust for making money.