Copywriting is not writing, copywriting is assembling.
Great copywriters collect the varied parts of their research and assemble those parts into a true story that resonates with the particular worldview of an audience. Then that story is tested, tweaked, and deployed again. A story that enters the conversation an audience is already having, can be a story that wins.
The assembly of these parts is key.
Though you’ll never know if a headline, or a collection of bullets, or a call to action will resonate with your audience — not until you let it out into the real world and test it — there is one commonly overlooked practice that’s turned out to be some of the best copywriting advice I’ve ever put to use …
Shut up and listen.
- Listen to the creator of the product. Let her talk (for hours if necessary) about what makes it work, why she built it, what she hopes it will do for her customers. This practice alone might give you the bulk of the copy you’ll end up using.
- Listen to your audience. What are they telling you — directly or indirectly — about what they really want and need? If social media has given us anything, it’s an unprecedented ability to hear the demands and desires of real people, in real time.
- Listen to your competitors. It’s wise to have a view of the entire battlefield. What’s working in your market, what’s not? What can you learn from other’s success and failure (and the language that got them there)?
If you’ve built a useful and amazing product, service, or idea, you don’t need to sweat or agonize or dream up stupid campaigns. Real people will tell you precisely how to assemble the various parts of your copy, many times they’ll even give you bullets and headlines … word-for-word.
This is not laziness, it’s wisdom in practice. Talk less, listen more.
Humble yourself and truly serve your audience, listen to their needs and desires, listen to the language they use. If you listen carefully, your audience can eventually give you everything you need, including much of your copy. Get out of their way …
Shut up and listen.