The secret to writing great copy is research
Research is everything!
Once you have your research down, a large part of your work is done – you understand your product, you understand your prospect… and you can figure out how to present them an offer that’s difficult to refuse.
In fact, doing the research can be up to 80% of the work.
There are three areas of research we need to master:
- The Product
- The Prospect
- The Market
Let’s look at each more closely…
Use it, subscribe to it, wear it, listen to it, eat it… go through the experience as if you own it. You want to know it inside out.
Step One: List The Features
Take a pad and pen and list every single feature you can think of.
These will transform into vital parts of your copy.
Let’s do an example:
|Worn by Roger Federer|
|Zoom air in the heel|
|Adaptive Fit Technology|
|Mesh upper casing|
|Flex groves on the sole|
|Extra rubber in key areas|
This is a short list. If we were doing this for real, we might find another 50+ features (the more the better). Don’t stop until you have racked your brain for every last feature.
Now, a list of features isn’t very persuasive. In fact, it’s pretty much meaningless.
To make these features grab your prospect’s attention, you have to communicate how they will benefit them.
So you need to…
Turn the features into benefits.
There are three types of benefits, and you want to express the features in terms of each:
- Functional benefits: what the feature does
- Dimensionalised benefits: what the feature looks like in their life
- Emotional benefits: how the feature will make them feel
Start with the functional benefits.
Describe what the feature does for the user…
|Worn by Roger Federer||You know it's high quality|
|Zoom air in the heel||Supports aggressive on court movements|
|Adaptive Fit Technology||Fits your foot like a glove|
|Ultra light||Keeps you agile|
|Mesh upper casing||Breath-ability|
|Flex groves on the sole||Traction support|
|Lunarlon cushioning||Responsive cushioning|
|Extra rubber in key areas||Defence against wear and tear|
But you can take it to the next level, by showing your prospect how it will impact their life.
Describe what the features will look like in their life…
|Feature||Functional Benefit||Dimensionalised Benefit|
|Worn by Roger Federer||You know it's high quality||Show your opponents you mean business|
|Zoom air in the heel||Supports aggressive on court movements||Make that shot with extra stability during quick turns|
|Adaptive Fit Technology||Fits your foot like a glove||Will feel like it was custom designed for your foot|
|Ultra light||Keeps you agile||So light you won't know you're wearing them|
|Mesh upper casing||Breath-ability||Won't break a sweat as your feet stay fresh|
|Flex groves on the sole||Traction support||Faster traction during pivots and slides will keep you in the game|
|Lunarlon cushioning||Responsive cushioning||Springy response to get you off the mark quicker|
|Extra rubber in key areas||Defence against wear and tear||Will last you longer than ever before|
Now we’re talking a language your prospects understand. Hopefully your copy is bringing the product to life:
Dimensionalised benefits paint vivid mental pictures that you reader will identify with. It shows them how the product will impact their lives.
But there’s one more level that can really pump up the purchase intention. Emotions.
Emotions are the most valuable tool a copywriter has to persuade. All decisions are made emotionally.
Decisions are made with emotions (benefits)… then are rationalized with reason (features).
Now let’s describe how the features will make them feel…
|Feature||Functional Benefit||Dimensionalised Benefit||Emotional Benefit|
|Worn by Roger Federer||You know it's high quality||Show your opponents you mean business||Dominance|
|Zoom air in the heel||Supports aggressive on court movements||Make that shot with extra stability during quick turns||Confidence|
|Adaptive Fit Technology||Fits your foot like a glove||Will feel like it was custom designed for your foot||Security|
|Ultra light||Keeps you agile||So light you won't know you're wearing them||Dynamic agility|
|Mesh upper casing||Breath-ability||Won't break a sweat as your feet stay fresh||Comfort|
|Flex groves on the sole||Traction support||Faster traction during pivots and slides will keep you in the game||Competitiveness|
|Lunarlon cushioning||Responsive cushioning||Springy response to get you off the mark quicker||Advantage|
|Extra rubber in key areas||Defence against wear and tear||Will last you longer than ever before||Trust|
Now we’re putting into words how the features will make them feel:
So have you done this for every product feature? You have? Good.
Depending on the complexity of your product, you could have 20 to 200+ features listed out.
Give yourself a pat on the back, because you’ve completed a very important step…
Now you have the building blocks of your copy.
Take this list and put it on the wall – you should see inspiration for all parts of your copy – from your headlines… to your bullets… to your calls to action and more.
You will now need to weave each benefit into your copy, starting first with the most important one.
But which benefit is the most important?
To know that… you will need to know…
Your job now is to develop an intimate understanding of the person you are selling to.
Step Two: Figure out which benefit is most desirable to your prospect, so you know which points to be stressing.
Here are the important categories to focus on:
- Desires: what does your prospect want?
- Beliefs: what does your prospect believe that could influence his decision to buy?
- Emotions: how does your prospect feel now? How does he want to feel? How does he want to avoid feeling?
There’s 4 steps to help you understand your prospect:
2. Becoming an Insider
3. Meeting Prospects
4. Special Ninja Research
Let’s have a look at each…
In this approach we rely on two skills that everyone has – imagination and intuition.
Step into your prospect’s shoes.
Imagine you were in their situation:
- What would you experience… how would you feel… what would you do?
- What would you be thinking… where else would you look… what would be most important to you?
- How would you make your decision?
Spend 20 minutes in your imaginary world. Jot down everything you can think of.
This exercise works surprisingly well.
2. Becoming an Insider
Get inside the mind of your prospect.
Dan Kennedy shares 6 powerful steps used by successful direct marketer Jerry Jones, on how to stay in the frame of mind of the prospect:
- Regularly read every industry publication
- Spend time on forums and other websites that your prospect goes to discuss issues
- Subscribe to email groups where your prospects discuss relevant issues
- Attend industry functions, seminars, conventions and trade shows
- Play prospect by going through other product and service provider’s sales funnels
- Collaborate in mastermind groups with your prospects and other vendors and service providers
3. Meeting Prospects
Engage with prospects on many levels to get a deeper understanding of them:
- Conduct customer surveys: low cost online tools like Survey Monkey can make it easy to get large volumes of feedback
- Speak with key sales people: sales people are masters at overcoming objections, and you need to know them all!
- Interview customers: Spend time with prospects at the point of purchase, or call old customers
4. Special Ninja Research – Existing Advertising
Some of the best info can come from ads running in your industry.
Your prospect will be reading these ads so why aren’t you?
There’s a trick though…
Only pay attention to ads that have been running for a while – because these are making money!
Why waste time and money testing when you can take a short cut and model something successful?
Pay special attention to these element of the ad:
- What benefits are they stressing?
- How are they presenting their offer?
- Is the price point competitive or premium?
- Do they offer a guarantee?
Now with these four steps you should have gotten to know your prospect.
Finally, to help you pull it all together you will need to look at…
Buying decisions don’t happen in a vacuum… and things that affect your overall market, will also affect your prospect.
So pay attention to what’s going on in your market.
Here are a few questions to get you started:
- Are there any major news or events that you could play off?
- Are there legislative changes you need to be aware of?
- Do any of these impact your prospects lives in a way that strengthens your offer to them?
- How are your prospects buying – how are they most comfortable buying (ie in store vs online)?
- What are your competitors doing?
- What are your competitors doing who are selling across different mediums (ie if they sell in store, while you sell online)
These will give you a good grounding to what’s going on in the industry.
Again, this is all about stepping into the mind of the prospect. If you were your prospect – consider everything they are considering, look at the offers they are looking at.
Try to figure out, as your prospect would… which product/service/company/offer you would go with that would bring you the greatest satisfaction/value/benefit.
If you do this step regularly you’ll keep your finger on the pulse of your industry.
You’ll be 10 steps ahead in identifying trends in the market… so you can be well positioned to deal with them, or take advantage of them.