There are many different ways and techniques to write quality copy. Though the minutia of the writing process can be tough to read and process, there are a number of steps crucial to create professional, well written copy for your readers and clients. This article will detail some typical steps to help you create copy which will keep readers buying and clients paying.
- Research your product and know your audience
- Create an outline which will guide you through the piece
- Develop your own voice and style to differentiate yourself from others
Gather All the Information Possible
All great copy is built on a foundation of research. Knowing the product, the customer, the business, and the exact type of copy you’re writing is the first step to determining how and why you’re writing that specific piece of copy.
For any piece of copy, knowing the customer – those paying for the copy, not those buying the product – is essential, as any great copy needs to be authentic and organic.
Gathering every piece of information possible about the product, from customer reviews to field-tested results, is the first step for any copywriter to gain a firm understanding of what they’re writing.
After being thoroughly briefed on the product, you should next turn your attention to the business and the offer itself; this information will help you differentiate your copy from those of competitors and other similar products.
Writing unique, truly compelling copy begins with knowing what separates the product you’re writing about from the rest of the pack. When you’re up to date on the product, business, and field, the time has come to know the audience.
What questions are they asking, what complaints or praise do they have about their own experiences using this product or other, similar products? Once you’ve gathered this information, you’re ready to begin writing out your structure.
Concise, Specific Outlines are Always Helpful
Writing copy for products is not unlike writing a satisfying piece of fiction. You must create a “premise,” an idea which you can return to again and again to highlight the product in a number of diverse ways. There must also be a “conflict,” a problem which your product is helping to solve.
Remember that the best fiction is high stakes; don’t be afraid to emphasize the stress or frustration of the problem and pounce on the moment of triumph for your product. The product is not just a “thing,” it is a paradigm shift, a tool which, used once, will become integrated into routine for the customer. It is a savior (of time and money) that should be cherished by those who use it, in addition to making their lives easier and less stressful.
The narrative of your product should begin with a hook, a major benefit or vital point which should be addressed to begin the piece. Once you’ve chosen your hook, consider using the QUEST formula to engage with your readers.
- Qualify – Provide context and wet the palette for the use of the product.
- Understand – Sympathize with their plight, reassure them you know how they feel. You are their friend.
- Educate – Inform them about the product but don’t push too hard. This is only introductory.
- Stimulate – Begin to sell them on the “value” of the product. Again, the product is not just a “thing,” it is a savior, a fighter of the customer’s battles. Their piece of mind alone should be worth the price tag.
- Transition – Ease them into the idea of buying the product. Even after the initial steps, it’s unlikely they’ll be ready to buy “guns a’ blazing.” A simple push in the right direction should finish the process.
After you complete this outline, look over your work and ask yourself if there are any questions a potential buyer would need to have answered. Are there any major points that need emphasis or clarification? Could confusion arise at any point? Is the focus entirely on the product and is the piece persuasive enough to begin writing at this point? Once confident in your outline, it’s time to begin writing the piece.
Pen to Paper
Your outline should set you up nicely to write a clean, relatively concise piece. Start with whatever works for you, be it the headline or bullet points you’ll use to guide the reader through the piece. Remember that every headline, sub-headline, and body paragraph is tentative, thorough editing should and will be done after the initial writing phase, so it’s best not to agonize over every detail and perfectly chosen word.
Many writers simply let their pen (or keyboard) flow, writing out their thoughts in a stream of consciousness style while following their outline. In terms of specific content, there are a few characteristics important for every piece of copy:
- Features, advantages, and benefits of the product
- Statistical backups and proof of function and quality
- Testimonials of previous users
- One or more “guarantees” of the product
- Expansion on the value and “narrative” of the product
Though there are many similarities copywriting pieces, the most important component of great copy is to differentiate yourself and your product from the myriad of other writers out there. Copywriting can be formulaic, but there are many avenues within the formula to add your own voice and unique flavor to the piece. In the realm of copywriting, sticking to formula is not a crime, but being boring is.
Once you’ve written the copy, the only steps left are to ensure the piece flows properly and its grammatical integrity is flawless. Reading other pieces of professional copy and listening intently to advertisements will bolster your knowledge and innate understanding of the field and do wonders to improve your own work.
Writing copy may seem like a laborious task, but it’s just like any other writing, know your audience, develop your style and voice, and create a workflow which works for you.