How to Write Good Copy
There’s nothing so exciting as being given a new copywriting assignment to work on, however it can also make you, as the writer feel challenged and a little concerned about promoting something that you know about to a market that you know nothing about.
That’s why it’s essential to prepare thoroughly before attempting to write an ad or promotional piece. Without extensive knowledge of the product and the market it is for, it would be very difficult to convince readers that they should invest in your offer.
In this article you’re going to learn a process for gathering information for your copywriting that will give you the confidence and direction necessary to produce a strongly influential piece that resonates with your audience.
First things first –
Fortunately for copywriters, the web can provide all manner of material that can be used as part of both product and market research. In addition you should be asking your client to provide you with previous pieces of marketing, relevant articles, case studies and reports.
You should also receive any written material that has been used by the media. It’s quite possible that there is a press kit already in circulation. Ask if there are existing testimonials or reviews from satisfied customers that you can review.
Learn about the product/service
Spend time getting familiar with the website of the client. Pay close attention to the pages of the product that you have been asked to promote. Get clear on what it does, its features and the benefits that it delivers.
Most products have got direct competition whose sites can aid you with learning more about the market and the product. Ask for a list of competitive companies from the client and then take a good look at their sites to learn more about the industry and to understand who the competition are marketing their wares.
If you have been given the job of promoting a brand new product to a market, then you’ll need to ask the client for as much information as they have about it. There should be copies of drawings, plans, market research and reports on a new product that will all help you to prepare for your work.
Questions that you need to be able to answer about the product or service:
- What features does it have?
- What benefits does it have?
- Which is the biggest benefit?
- What makes the product/service/business unique? (You’ll need to take a look at the competition here).
- What is the product used for? What results can be expected? Are there any statistics from research or reports that are usable in the copy?
- How long does the product last for and does it have to be maintained?
- Does it come with options such as color, size, material or extra features?
- What values does the company have that it prides itself on?
- Does a guarantee come with the product? If there isn’t a guarantee you may want to discuss this further with the client – it’s a big selling point and can be used to remove all the risk of buying a product for the consumer.
Now discover facts about the target market
When it comes to the audience that you are writing for, the more you know about them, the better. Their mindset is what counts when it comes to selling. You should be able to answer these questions with the help of the client and materials provided:
- Who are the target customers for this product?
- Create a typical persona. You can then use this as an individual to keep in mind as you write about the offer. You should have some idea on the market’s demographics such as income, gender, race, interests, age and geographical location.
- What issues are important to this audience?
- What hot buttons do they have?
- What is their biggest fear when it comes to this area?
- Is there anybody who they could be angry with? Competition who have failed to deliver due to shoddy workmanship?
- Somebody who has changed the game plan so that they have to spend more money than they were led to believe
- What major frustrations will your product relieve them of?
- Does this audience have a secret desire – to look good? To have the best _________ in the neighborhood? For people to look up to them because they own _______ and it makes them masterful and powerful?
- What influences them in their decisions to buy? Publications, websites, media? Take a look at the magazines and websites that they are likely to read or visit to find out more about the niche/product area.
What’s the goal of the copy?
If you haven’t already been advised of this, you’ll also need to know what the goal of the copy is. It might be that it’s to sell the product and you will be provided with contact information to add to the copy. Alternatively the goal could be the collection of email addresses to build an email marketing list.
Get your information in order to write good copy
If you’ve already been working on answering the questions listed above, you should now be in possession of many notes about the product/service and the target market. The most effective step for you to take is to put the notes that you have into a structure. You’ll need to do this in order to write good copy. You can do this by typing them up on your computer. This will give your brain a chance to get familiar with them, process them and you’ll begin to formulate some creative thoughts on how you can use them to write your copy.
Another benefit of typing up your material is that you will have your points listed cleanly and in a workable order. Using scraps of paper, websites and other media to work from is very confusing and you’ll find it difficult to begin with a clear mind. The best writing comes from an organized mind and workspace and writing up your notes is part of attaining that ideal.
Write to your target market
This is where your persona comes into play. Your persona is one person with a set of unique circumstances. For example, if you are promoting a service that offers a contract to baker’s ovens. You know that your persona could be:
- a buyer in a supermarket who has to find a contract for keeping the baking departments ovens maintained
- a small business owner who sells bread in their own store
- a small business owner who has several of their own stores
- a business owner who has several outlets who he sells bread through
- a business owner who makes deliveries to people’s homes
The secret of relating to a market through the copy is to write to one category of buyers. You will need to identify all the types and categories of people who might buy your product. You then need to find a way to write to them so that they know that you understand their frustrations and that you have an answer for them. Only pick one category of person to write to in your message. If you can group several sub-
Other tips on how you can write good copy
When it comes to writing the copy, then here are several tips that should make it easier to get going. Writers use their own approaches, and none of them are the ‘right’ way, just choose the one that makes most sense to you and enables you to deliver most easily. Don’t expect to come out with the ‘perfect’ piece of copy immediately either, it usually takes several drafts to come up with the best piece. There isn’t really a ‘perfect’ copy but there are different versions of degrees of ‘great’.
Keep in mind a technique that many experienced copywriters use. The will decide upon their headline and then start writing the body. Using this approach will give you a neat boundary around the marketing message that you want to deliver and will keep you and the reader focused.
Others find it easier to just get started with a draft and to create a winning headline later on. However you decide to approach the task, be aware that good copywriting usually takes several drafts until it’s suitable to send to the client. Whatever ideas you have about slogans, bylines and approaches, write all of it down. It will help you get warmed up and started on your assignment.
Once you get started and you’ve reached a sticking point, you need to walk away from your writing and do something else for a while then return. This technique can add energy back into your creative thinking that you thought you had depleted. It’s a great way to get a fresh perspective and ensure that your writing reads well and that your approach is sound.
The powerful call to action has a clear benefit in it. Humans need to see the benefit and understand what they will personally attain from it before they will take it. For example, if the goal of your copy is to get people to sign up for your newsletter, then you should write ‘join our newsletter’ on the submission button instead of just ‘submit’.
Now that you’ve been provided with a blueprint of a process to prepare to write good copy it’s time to make a start. Follow our action steps and create your persuasive copy.
Action Steps to Take to Write Good Copy
- Create a checklist of all background material that you want the client to supply you with. Make a note of this for future use with other clients.
- If necessary arrange to interview the client. You won’t be asking him about himself, you want to know all about what you are promoting for him. Gather statistics, company values and product details.
- Identify the top issues that the target market has to deal with that this product or service solves for them.
- Find supporting evidence in the material that you have selected and use it to support your claims.
- Use the biggest benefit of the product as the basis for your headline.
- If you are having difficulty getting started, take a look through at headline swipe files, other adverts for other unrelated and related products for inspiration.