A Copywriter’s Roadmap
During a recent lunch with an up-and-coming copywriter named Katie, she asked me for my No. 1 copywriting tip. Whoa, just one? Impossible. And we didn’t have time for a two-hour brown bag seminar, so … I promised I’d devote this column to the topic.
Here are nine of my favorite tips to create a roadmap for copywriters. Whether you’re new or experienced … B-to-C or B-to-B … sell hard goods or generate leads for intangibles, this column’s for you. (I’ve used this same roadmap to sell everything from hog sperm and bloodletting chairs to burial insurance, designer sweaters, PVC piping and chocolate. Tons of chocolate.)
1. Your Objective: Know Where You’re Going
What’s the upfront goal for your copy? Is it a phone call, a click to a landing page, mailing in a response or visiting a store? This is your call to action (CTA).
Know how your CTA fits into the “Big Picture” — aka business objective. Are you collecting data for future marketing? Making a direct sale? Building a base of followers? Generating qualified leads? Before you write copy, make sure you understand the business objective.
2. Your Audience: Meet Your Driver
Your targeted audience is the driver of everything you write. Make him or her your new best friend; if not forever, at least for the duration of your assignment. Gather demographics, psychographics, propensity to respond, buying objections and anything else you need to know to connect with this person.
Match this list to someone you know — a real person — who fits the description. Then create a copy conversation with this individual. It’s much easier to write to a real person than a marketing persona or group of nameless, faceless people. I call this the “Alice Wiens Approach” to writing copy.
3. Your Product or Service: Take the Road Less-Traveled
Start with the product information from your marketing team, merchandisers, product developers and engineers. But don’t stop there. Be on the lookout for little-known facts that separate your product from the competition’s.
Interview customers, salespeople and customer service staffers. Do competitive research. Read customer reviews. Try the product yourself. Gather details from many different angles. It’s better to have more information than not enough. Then prioritize based on your audience.
4. Offer: Why Should I Go There?
Too often, marketers (and copywriters) stop thinking about the offer after shouting, “FREE SHIPPING!” They think that’s all you need to say to get people to act. But copywriters who generate response know offers are more than just free shipping.
Your offer is everything you’re willing to give in exchange for response. It answers the question, “Why should I do this?” It also addresses buying objections and positions your brand. Make a list of everything included in your offer, then pick and choose the elements most likely to motivate your audience. This includes deadlines, a guarantee, limited anything, free whitepaper, response options, shipping options, free sample, free trial, live chat, customer reviews