You are about to hire a copywriter…
And like any other big business decision, the tiny stress-ball part of you is second guessing the whole thing, pulling at niggling doubts.
Is a copywriter really that important to your business?
Can’t your marketer do the job? Or the intern?
I mean… what does a copywriter really do that your team can’t handle?
The word you whisper when no customers are around to hear it
You know the one:
The word that keeps your whole business running.
That keeps the lights on.
And pays the salaries.
That’s what a good copywriter does. Our job isn’t to make you sound good (whatever that means)– it’s to help you sell.
A copywriter is the unofficial member of your sales team.
We may not pick up that phone, or send that email, but our number one job is to help you sell your products and services to your customers in a way that makes them want to buy.
And like any other sales rep, there’s one thing we’ve got to do before going anywhere near a keyboard.
The number one thing every great copywriter does before writing a word
We use words every day– to text, write emails, or post on social media.
However, the words we use to sell are different.
What makes them powerful?
They are your customers’ words. The words they use to describe themselves, their beliefs, their needs– and, of course, your product.
Great sales reps hear what the customer is saying and reflect that language and, those emotions, back at them.
That’s what copywriters do too.
We study the language your customers use to describe what’s bothering them. We dig deep and try to understand who they want to be– and how your product fits in with that vision.
And then we reflect that back at them.
Because as the founder of CopyHackers and Airstory Joanna Wiebe puts it:
“We’re not selling a product. We’re not selling a service. We’re selling our prospect or visitor a better version of themselves.”
Through research, we discover what that “better version of themselves” means to your audience and how we can help them achieve it.
Research, your real world superpower
The father of advertising David Ogilvy says in his book, Ogilvy on Advertising:
“You don’t stand a… chance of producing successful advertising unless you start by doing your homework…
Find out how they [your customers] think about your kind of product, what language they use when discussing the subject, what attributes are important to them, and what promise would be most likely to make them buy your brand.”
To sell to your audience, you need their words.
You need to understand how they think, how they feel, and what difference your product will make in their life. How your product will help them become the person they see when they close their eyes.
Because we aren’t really selling a product or service– we’re selling how it makes people feel.
Imagine your business is selling coffee beans.
You can focus on the features– the type of beans you use, your roasting process, the coffee maker they are best suited for…
But no one buys your coffee for those reasons.
Everyone roasts their coffee. Everyone uses a specific type of beans.
Even if you’re obsessed with coffee beans, there’s more to your purchase than that.
What we should be asking is:
How does that daily cup of coffee fit into your customer’s life?
Does it help them wake up at 5am so they can work on that side hustle? Does it help them hit the gym after work so they can take that dream cross-country skiing trip across Norway?
Look at your customers’ dreams. Their passions. The things that really drive them.
I’ve been buying the same coffee for the last three months. It’s made on a small local farm in Nicaragua. I keep going back to it because, on the back of the packet, it told me a story.
It told me how buying this coffee helps a small business compete with the big conglomerates.
As a small business owner myself, this hit me in the exact right place– and it made me put that coffee in my cart.
Because as Steve Jobs put it:
“Marketing is about values.”
And through research, you can uncover and understand your customers’ values.
These research techniques help your copywriter understand your customers better
While everyone’s research process is a little different– just like your sales team, we’ve all got favorite go-to techniques– here are some of the research methods great copywriters use to nail messaging.
1. Customer interviews
No one knows what they want better than your customers. But sometimes you need to work hard on getting it out of their heads, and into the world.
Through in-depth customer interviews— by asking the right open-ended questions and really listening– we can dig deep and uncover what your customers really want.
2. Customer surveys
Surveys can be incredibly useful for gathering a lot of information quickly– if you do them right.
While not as in-depth as interviews, a focused survey combines short multiple choice questions and longer open-ended questions.
A successful survey needs to focus on one problem and only include relevant questions that will help you get better results. Broader surveys are almost impossible to interpret correctly with any kind of statistical certainty– so they won’t really help you understand your customer better.
3. Customer polls
Polls are usually made up of a single question. They can be multiple choice or open ended– exit polls or thank you page polls are good examples.
Your copywriter may ask you to run a specific poll to gather information or suggest some polls you can use on a regular basis to keep up with customer research to help get better results.
4. Support and customer service emails (and calls)
Your support calls and emails are priceless.
The calls contain key problems, stories, and solutions– you can use them to understand exactly what your customers go through.
They can helps us narrow down the kind of messages that work and are a brilliant source for voice of customer data– especially if you don’t have the resources for long-form interviews right now.
5. Sales calls transcripts
Like customer service calls, sales calls transcripts are invaluable– especially those of your best sales team members.
Going through the most successful sales calls can help us narrow down on:
- The messages that resonate with customers
- The words, concepts, and emotions that sell
- The version of themselves the customer wants to become
We can use all these things to narrow down the copy’s message and uncover some raw, powerful language to use in the copy.
6. Amazon review mining
While direct research methods like interviews and surveys are priceless, Amazon review mining can be incredibly valuable– especially if you sell products through Amazon.
Reviews can really help you understand how customers interact with your product.
Going through reviews of your product, or of similar products, can uncover the real language people use.
7. Social media listening
Are your ideal customers active on social media?
Where do they hang out?
Whether they’re on Reddit, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yelp, or Medium, heading over to where your ideal customers are and reading through what they have to say about:
- Problems they’ve got that your product help solves
- The person they want to be (especially if your product can help them get there)
- Issues close to their heart– especially emotional topics
Listening will help you understand them– and get some swipe-worthy copy.
A foundation you can trust (and test)
The research phase of the copywriting process forms a foundation. If it isn’t solid, the whole thing will crumble.
Solid research helps you understand your customers better– and the more you understand your customers, the better you can serve them.
So when it’s time to hire a copywriter to help you improve your sales funnels, choose one that leverages the power of research.
Because that copywriter will help you grow your business, not just write about it.