It’s 11 PM, and you’re aimlessly scrolling on Instagram when an ad hits you like a freight train. Before you is young money — a 24-year-old kid holding a phonebook-sized wad of cash ̶b̶r̶a̶g̶g̶i̶n̶g̶ explaining how he made 10,000 in less than a month.
You feel slightly annoyed and think about your piling debt. You lean in a little closer.
He shares a story of how a 14-year-old mentee is making $20,000 per month and how another student of his earned $5,000 dollars in five days.
It’s almost too good to be true. You bite your lip.
After some more humble bragging, he gets to the point. He’s talking about this thing called copywriting that’s so easy to do that you’re practically an idiot for overlooking this gift to humanity.
The best part is, he claims- it’s easy —stupid easy. He promises you’ll make ten grand a month in less time than it takes to watch a season of your favorite Netflix show.
You cannonball into the copywriting world with two feet and immediately start blindly pitching clients when, on a whim, one person gives you a chance. She’s a dietitian and she needs help writing some emails.
You start immediately. The words pour out of you. You think this must be how Beethoven must have felt when he was composing his symphonies, and a day later, you’re proudly turn the emails in.
Your client tests them and they bomb. Horribly.
And it’s because you forgot to do the most important aspect of copywriting.
The Abraham Lincon Principle
You’ve likely heard the story about Abraham Lincoln and the axe. Old, honest Abe was quoted as saying, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.” Essentially, he’s telling us to sharpen our tools — both literally and metaphorically. Copywriters may not be lumberjacks, but we’ve got axes to hone, and our tool is research.
As copywriters, we’re bridge builders, closing the gap between what the company wants to say and what our customers actually want to hear. And let’s be crystal clear — the closer we get, the more effective our word-wizardry becomes. So how do we teleport into our customer’s brain?
Research, my friend. We immerse ourselves in their world until we share the minds of our customers.
It’s a Scavenger Hunt
The best way to think about research is to think about it like you’re doing a scavenger hunt. Before writing any copy, your goal is to answer these questions.
- What problems does your target audience have?
- How do they describe the problem?
- What are the implications of having the problem?
- What do your prospects complain about the most?
- What would it mean to them is they solved the problem?
- Have they heard about you?
And you do this because, at its core, all persuasion is convincing communication, and good communication hedges on being understood.
What better way to be understanding than being in your customer’s world?
If you can describe what problems people are having in the way they describe it, it will make you more relatable and position yourself as an expert.
Get to the Source
The beauty about being alive today is we have the world in the palm of our hand… literally. In a matter of seconds, we can travel the globe and unearth all the hidden knowledge. So, what you need to do is get to the source.
I recommend searching Reddit, reading YouTube comments, reading Amazon reviews, browsing LinkedIn, checking Facebook, and even using AI to help in your research. When researching your customers, pay attention to how they describe their problem and look for overlapping themes.
For example, I used to work for a security company. And in my research, I would always look for comments on what products people liked best. These were the products that were mentioned more times than any other product in the reviews.
So when I wrote the ads, guess what products I featured? The ones the customers talked about. Coincidence? I think not.
As marketing and sales professionals, we often have the urge to go, go, go — when we should really be slow, slow, slow. Take the time to understand your target audience and research before you write one word. Become your target audience. Know them like you do your morning coffee order.
Because when you do, you’ll speak their language fluently, and bam!
Persuasion 101 — you’ll let people convince themselves.
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