More than 90 percent of copywriting work is actually done before you write a single word!
Great copywriting is not mysterious or magical. And while formulas can be useful to get a structure in place, great copywriting certainly doesn’t hinge on templates or formulas.
The truth behind great copywriting is a tad on the prosaic side: Research. Yep, it sounds dull, but it’s actually great fun and very absorbing – a bit like putting together a jigsaw (only easier).
What does effective research involve?
Start finding the answers to the following and you’ll be streets ahead:
- Understand the product or service from a beneficial viewpoint. How will it help the client?
- Make a list of features and benefits. Understand the difference (clients are interested in benefits – they only look at features after they’ve made an emotional decision about the product or service).
- Ask: Why is the product unique? If it seems like lots of other products or services then try to find a unique angle or offer within it.
- Ask: Who is your ideal or potential customer? Make a list of characteristics. What are their emotions and desires? How can you solve their problems with your product?
- Tone: how would you speak to that person if you sat down with a cup of coffee and chatted about your product? Aim to keep the tone conversational.
Rewards of research
Your efforts to collect this background information will be greatly rewarded. Even if you’re not a professional writer and running your own small business with limited services or products, just an hour of research will completely and radically change the way you present your business to a client. It sounds obvious to do this background work, however surprisingly few business owners actually sit down and research their products or services properly. They might simply pump out a few bland paragraphs that sound contrived (not a good idea). They might rely on a professional copywriter to do the writing for them – and that’s great – but it’s also vital to supply a copywriter with the best information available, to get the best results.
Benefits of research for you (the copywriter)
If you’re a copywriter there’s nothing more unproductive than plonking yourself down in front of the computer and trying to figure out what to write. This goes for any kind of writer, from technical to creative. You just need to get greedy for research material – and tons of it if possible. That saves mental energy just by knowing that you’ve got heaps of fabulous data or information to draw from. Empty wells do nothing.
Dig for the gold within that research
Aim to find the hidden gold within your research – extract the nuggets. Develop this gold to add depth and emotion to your writing. Enrich your copywriting in this way and your readers will be inspired and intrigued. During this process you’ll be using the creative side of your brain (even if you’re writing techy stuff).
Then all you need to do is tweak and play with the text
Yes, you can enjoy the process when it gets creative. I hereby give you permission! Tweaking the final draft is where you check that your subheads tell a story in themselves, where you can draw your reader closer into your copywriting world. This is where you adapt your writing for the right media: whether it’s web writing, print or something else.