I do lots of different things. Mostly I find ways to persuade prospects and customers to buy.
One gigantic misconception is that I convince people to do things that they don’t want to do. Not the case. I find out what people want and need and tailor my pitch around them.
80% of my job is research: learning about customers, their motivation and what keeps them up at night. Once I know everything there is to know and can walk a mile in the shoes of a customer, copywriting is pretty easy. Getting to that point is the challenge.
That’s why I follow a process every time I embark on a new project. I follow this process without fail to get the best results. I’ve repeated it countless times so I know it works, and it’s supported by results.
Next time someone asks “what does a copywriter do?”, tell them…
1. Understand Your Customer
Before you can ever think about selling something, you need to know exactly who you’re selling to. That means you have to define your customer.
Create an ideal customer profile to understand your customer and stay consistent.
People spend a ton of time thinking about demographic information like age, sex, income, politics and marital status. Those things matter only to the extent that they inform the way a person thinks.
That’s all I care about.
I dig into people’s motivations and feelings. What keeps them up at night. How they define success. Their morning rituals. Their daily life at work. What they eat for lunch, and who they eat with.
No, I’m not a psychotherapist. But the real crux of copywriting is to understand how people think. Once you understand them, you’re on your way to speaking to them.
2. Find Your Customers’ Pain
Finding pain means identifying the emotional drivers that lead to buying decisions.
The pain could be that the business needs more sales or to save time. Those are common pains – and pretty much the universal drivers for B2B business. But that’s not emotional.
Here’s an example:
When a couple goes into a furniture store to buy a new couch, chances are they weren’t sitting on the floor before they came in. They probably have a couch. But maybe it looks a little old and the fabric is wearing, and they’re embarrassed when company comes over. Maybe the mother-in-law has some choice words about the decrepit state of the couch. Maybe the couple can’t sleep in the same room so they need a comfortable couch to double as a bed. Or maybe having a new couch has always been a symbol of success for one of the partners.
This is what I mean by emotional drivers. Each of these emotional drivers requires a slightly different pitch and different copy.
To find the pain, I ask people questions like:
- What was it like before you found a solution to this problem?
- How long were you researching for a solution?
- Who did you ask for help with this?
- What was your biggest frustration before you could solve the problem?
- When you saw this problem repeat for the hundredth time, what were you thinking?
3. Nail the Messaging
Once you empathize with your customer and know their pain, you’ll need to nail the messaging. That means aligning the words and messages you use with the solution you provide.
As you uncover pains, motivations and objections, align them with your product. Sometimes that means you’ll need to alter your product to better suit the market. That’s called product market fit and without it you will always struggle to sell.
Write out the different messages that you could use and then choose the ones that will 1) resonate most with your ideal customer, and 2) represent your product/service in an authentic way. Authenticity is key. Your business will vanish if you make promises that you can’t keep.
Once you write out the messages that you could use, you’ll need to decide how to prioritize them. Just put them in order of importance from most to least persuasive and use that as a guide.
Good news: you’ve nailed the messaging.
4. Write the Copy
Now for the fun part: writing the actual copy.
After you have a detailed account of your customer, their pain and the messages that you must use, the copy is practically written for you. This is where skill and experience come in.
Study copy relentlessly to do this well. There’s no other way.
Like anything, practice makes perfect. I won’t spend time in this section teaching you exactly how to write copy…whole books and careers are built on this.
The big idea is that I only spend about a fifth of my time writing copy. Then I move on to testing.
5. Test It
Once the copy is written we need to know if it works. There are lots of different ways to test your copy. Some of them are free, and some of them cost money. Testing is a learning opportunity and it saves you money in the long run because you’ll know which message has the most success. It’s the fast track to a more successful business.
The whole point of testing is to find which messages and words sell the most. That also depends on your goals.
Your goal may be to sell more to new customers so that you can grow your base and worry about giving them more to buy in the future. Alternatively, you may be focused strictly on getting sign-ups for your email list or webinars. Whatever the case, all of your copy should be targeted at a specific action that you want people to take.
A few common tactics for testing copy include:
- Buying PPC traffic and sending it to two offers
- Email sign-ups on squeeze pages
- Email opens or clicks
- Time on page with different headlines
- Phone call conversions with different value propositions
Now You Know
What does a copywriter do?
Lots of things. A great copywriter can understand and empathize with people. They can ask questions and interpret them into words that sell. And they understand how to test and optimize to get more sales.