Copywriters bridge the sharp divide between businesses and customers. We adopt the language of your audience and target your ideal customer. We are one part of a large mechanism that can transform any business through clear, effective marketing.
Now, that all sounds great. But how does a copywriter do all of those things? How do they know where to look? And, more importantly, how do they know what to say?
Below I’ve outlined 5 key steps you can take today to start improving your copy. These aren’t difficult tasks. You don’t need a degree in English or Marketing to complete them. But you do need time — time to perform each step with focus and commitment.
1) Brainstorm: List the Wants & Fears of Your Ideal Customer
This important step is fundamental to crafting compelling copy. If you don’t know what your ideal customer wants or fears, then how can you sell them your product or service? How could you possibly write anything that will appeal to them?
Whenever I brainstorm an ad campaign for my business, I start each process with the above step. I make a list of everything my ideal customer wants. In my case, my team and I offer specific services to launch or improve a business’ online presence. So I make a list of everything an aspiring entrepreneur or small business wants & fears.
Here’s an example of the former:
- I want to quit my corporate job
- I want to take control of my career
- I want more creative freedom
- I want to create something that is my own
- I want to be my own boss
- I’m afraid I’ll fail
- I don’t know where to begin
- It’ll be too overwhelming
And the list goes on. If you own a business, I’m sure you’ve experienced similar thoughts.
Now, here’s and example of the wants and fears for a small business owner
- I want to improve my sales
- I want to capture more leads
- I want to have an impressive online presence
- I want to generate more calls / purchases
- I don’t have time
- I’m not comfortable with technology
- This has worked alright, what if the other way fails?
Again, this is just a small glimpse, but you get the picture. Whenever I craft ads for my business, I design two types of copy. First, I create an ad that directly appeals to those who wish to launch a business, but haven’t yet taken that first step. Then I create another ad designed for small business owners looking to improve their online presence and conversion rates.
But I don’t try to speak to both audiences in the same ad.
And I want you to keep that important note in mind. You can’t appeal to everyone in one single ad. In fact, the more you can narrow down your audience the better. Your ad copy would apply to that handful of people who want a specific thing . . . the exact thing that you’re offering them.
Say you’re an e-commerce store that sells natural, handmade bath products. What comes to mind when you consider your ideal customer? Perhaps the following:
- I want to do my part to improve the environment (perfect if your product is eco-friendly)
- I want a product free of chemicals
- I want a quality product that makes me feel good
- I want a luxurious scent that is soothing
- I want something unique
- I want something with an elegant design
This list is relatively small, but I think you get the point. If you sell natural, handmade bath products, you don’t want to write copy that targets people who prefer inexpensive, manufactured goods. You want to write copy that speaks to those select people who want a unique, luxurious product that will make them feel great.
For the first example, I displayed that my ideal customer wants to improve their career and get free of the corporate rat race. So, if I were talking to an aspiring entrepreneur who desperately wants to create their own company, I’d write this tagline: Launch Your Dream Business (you may have noticed that precise phrasing on our homepage). Then, in the ad description, I would state their wants, then tell them how we can help them accomplish this desire.
Here’s an example from a recent ad campaign I launched:
Make 2020 the year you – finally! – launch your dream business. If you’re tired of the 9-5 grind or if you’re sick of having someone else determine your upward movement, start taking control of your career today.
We offer all the services you need to create that business you’ve always dreamed of, including:
> Web Design & Development
> Copywriting & Content Creation
> Graphic Design
We work with you every step of the way, so you have the support of a committed team determined to help you achieve success.
Plus, for a limited time only, we’re offering 10% OFF all of our services. But act fast, because this offer expires soon!
This ad appeals to most of the wants on my list. It voices the struggles and fears many aspiring entrepreneurs face, such as wanting to quit their jobs or desiring more control in their careers. Then if offers them the exact services they need to start their business, while maintaining the language and tone that appeals to them (see section below for more info). From there, the ad speaks to the fears they may face, such as failure and loneliness. We tell the ideal customer that we’ll be there every step of the way and that we’ll help them achieve success. We want our clients to feel as if they have a team working with them throughout their experience. Then the ad offers them a limited time discount, effectively prompting them to take immediate action.
This example is short, to the point, and appeals to direct emotions. But, without first making a list of wants & fears, then I wouldn’t be able to capture the exact language they’re seeking.
2) Make a List of Your Ideal Customers’ Interests
By making your list of wants & fears, you’ve taken the first step to speaking to your audience. But how do you find them? I mean, it’s great you know what to say, but you want to make sure you’re saying it to the right people.
This is where the lists of interests comes into play. From this list, you can target those precise people during your ad campaigns, content marketing, and email marketing.
Let’s look at an example from my first highlight. If someone wants to start a business, their interests would likely include,
- Entrepreneurship (both as an interest and as a career)
- Female / Male Entrepreneurship (this is really useful if you’re targeting a specific gender)
- Startup (from here, you can even target specific conferences and movements)
- Tony Robbins (you can even target certain industry leaders your audience is likely following)
Once again, this list is relatively short, but it serves as a real-world example. Once you know your ideal customers’ interests, you can place your ad directly before them. And, if you get the language right, then they’ll likely take action on your offer.
Make sure you place yourself in the mind of your customer. The more focused you can get with your interests, the more targeted your audience will be. Also, keep in mind that you can target your competitors. This tip is a great way to place your copy before individuals who have already expressed an interest in what you’re providing.
But, remember, this step may fall flat if you don’t first implement the first task. Finding your audience is only one small part of a bigger marketing picture.
3) Research Reviews & Comments
Brainstorming is a great way to get on the right track. However, the most effective copy stems from research.
I know I probably just caused a fair share of exasperated sighs. But stay with my, because this step will transform your copy.
Now that you have a brainstormed list of wants, fears, and interests, it’s time to buckle down and pull out your Google search bar. Begin by looking at the reviews and comments that you’ve – of your client – received from current customers. What did they like about your product or service? What didn’t they like about your business? Most importantly, look for patterns. If you noticed that many people commented on the large selection of your products and how they enjoyed the versatility that you offer, then you know it’s a potential selling point.
Next, you can read the reviews of your competitors. What are people saying about their business? What are they liking or disliking? From here, you can gather a list of struggles that your ideal customer is facing and build your copy around your solution to their problem. Also, you can revise your list of wants, fears, and interests.
Amazon is a great tool for researching reviews and comments. In their database, they have just about every product you can imagine. And they host tons of public reviews. It’s literally the jackpot for any copywriter.
But remember one crucial thing — don’t lie about the product or service you offer (see section 5). If you notice that people dislike a certain attribute in a competitor’s product, but yours may inflict the same experience, don’t lie and say otherwise. Instead, either improve your product or find another selling point to focus on. Although product-based businesses don’t require the same trust factor as service-based businesses, trust is still a huge factor for any company. Plus, you never want to mislead your audience. It will do more harm than good.
4) Analyze Their Language
From this list, you know what to say and who to say it to. But now you need to know how to deliver the message.
For this step, you’ll fall back to research ( I know, I know). However, this type of research will be a bit more fun — because I’m giving you the excuse to scroll through social media.
Let’s be honest, you’re doing it anyway, so why not be productive with your scroll time?
The next time you’re on Facebook, or Instagram, or Pinterest, pay attention to how your audience is commenting. For instance, in my industry, aspiring entrepreneurs typically prefer conversational but informative tones. They don’t want inappropriate jargon or over-sophisticated diction. And they certainly don’t want fluff. They want simple, yet refined. Polished, but friendly.
Depending on your industry, your tone may differ. For instance, if you’re selling a new pharmaceutical drugs targeted to doctors and the medical industry, you’re going to need precise language. You’ll need to tell them what the medicine does and use specific medical diction. You’ll need to tell them why exactly they need it in a manner they’ll understand. If I take my typical tone and apply it to medical media, there’s no way the audience will take action. I would need to conduct a vast amount of research, so I can understand their wants and their terminology enough to write for them. In fact, there’s an entire career path for writers that focus solely on the medical industry.
That is why language and tone is so, so important — and also one of the most overlooked aspects of copywriting.
So the next time you’re on social media take the time and start understanding your audience’s language. Read comments, read posts, pay attention to which articles or video series their engaging with, and adopt that tone in your copy.
I can instantly tell when ad copy is too pushy or sales. Typically, they make outrageous statements or unrealistic promises. For an example of this, check out my post on Creating Successful Facebook Ads. In there, I highlight an example of over-the-top copy that will instantly turn your audience away.
To be perfectly honest, authentic copy stems from the 4 steps listed in this post. If you understand your audience and you have a product or services designed to improve their lives, offer assistance, entertain them, or provide any other positive experience, then your copy will automatically be authentic — because you know your audience and have a realistic and practical solution for them.
However, when you fail to take the necessary steps and, instead, tell them what you think they want to hear, then you run into problems. If you come across as inauthentic, you risk losing trust with your audience. And the vast majority of people will not purchase anything from a business they do not trust, especially in a world filled with scams and thefts.
Remember, you’re there to offer a solution to their problem, not to give them an impossible promise or unrealistic result.
Good copy stems from understanding your audience. It lives and breathes in research and finds success through implementing effective strategies. Now, you may not perfect this process overnight. But, like anything, copywriting takes practice and focus.
The next time you write ad copy, take some time to dive deep into the world of your audience. Once you discover the intricacies of your ideal customer, you’ll find much more success with your copy.
Now, do you have any strategies that you use in your ads? If so, comment below!