how to write effective copy

The process for writing effective copy

Writing effective copy is an art that takes time to master.

You’ll need many hours of study and practice.

Being a copywriter is both, rewarding and difficult.

It’s rewarding because writing copy is a creative process, after which you’ll see tangible results.

But it’s also difficult because, like all creative processes, it involves many hours of hard work and a lot of self doubt.

If that’s what you want, go for it. Study and work as much as you can.

If in your case what you want is to be able to write the copy for your business and you think you can do it without hiring a copywriter, that’s also possible.

But don’t think it’s a matter of just a few hours.

You’ll have to invest a lot of time (and money in books and courses) to master a technique that takes a lot of hard work.

In this post I’m going to introduce to you the basic process for writing effective copy.

But I’m going to be brutally honest with you.

Just by reading this post you won’t be able to write top quality copy, but it will place you at the start of the path that gets there.

How do we know if our copy works?

When it meets the expectations we’ve set.

Copywriting for internationals

First of all. Set a goal.

Do you want more people to contact you through your website?

Do you want to become a reference in social media and be followed by hundreds of people?

Do you want to sell your info product?

In order for your copy to stand a better chance of being effective, the first thing you need to do is set yourself a single objective.

This way you can concentrate on 1 thing only to make your message more convincing.

Ok, almost always the ultimate goal will be to get more people to buy your product or service (or your client’s, if you’re a copywriter).

And that ultimate goal can be reached through several ways.

Before you sit down to write, think about which path you’re taking.

Does your copy aim to attract more subscribers to your list, or to make them buy directly, or to win more followers on social media?

Decide your goal beforehand.

Research your buyer persona

It’s tough to convince someone to do something, if you don’t know them.

You need to know who you are talking to first to decide on what kind of message you want to convey.

Many people tell me how difficult it is for them to imagine their ideal customer (buyer persona).

They suspect who this person might be but they can’t get a clear picture.

If this is your case, don’t get gloomy, it all comes with hard work.

Go out there, observe and ask questions.

Read comments and reviews of other similar products/services and find out what is that customers want.

Talk to your own customers and ask them questions.

It’s amazing how willing most people are to give their opinion when asked.

After doing this thorough research you should have a better idea of what your ideal customer is concerned about, what he wants, what kind of language he uses, what objections he might have before buying, etc.

Recommended reading How to create your buyer persona profile with examples

Study your competition

It’s not a matter of spying and copying, it’s a matter of finding what sets you apart.

In a world full of brands fighting for your audience’s attention, you need to define what makes you different.

If you think about it, the most successful products and services are those with a well defined personality.

And personality, when talking about business, it’s branding.

The idea of branding is a diffuse concept.

What’s a brand?

The traditional definition says: ” A brand is an identifying symbol, mark, logo, name, word, and/or sentence that companies use to distinguish their product from others.”

However, the concept of brand in advertising goes much deeper than that.

Branding is having a personality and a personality is formed by several attributes.

It’s a voice, a savoir faire, it’s its values, its design, its difference…

A brand can even have a great impact in culture. Look at Apple, for instance.

Before creating the iPod, Apple was simply a brand of expensive computers.

But with the iPod and the iPhone (and a brilliant brand strategy) they have managed to reach the podium.

With their Think Different, they conquered an audience who felt special.

So study your competition and find out what makes you different and better in the eyes of your audience.

Recommended Reading Find your Unique Selling Proposition

Scrutinise your product

To know what makes your product or service different you should study it from all angles.

Sometimes two products may seem identical but when you analyse them thoroughly you can always find a difference and turn it into an advantage.

It’s up to you to find that difference and to amplify it.

Your goal is to identify which factor/s might be definitive in your target customer’s purchase journey.

It can be the way you produce it, or where you produce it, or in case of a service, the way you do it and why you are the right one.

How many Yoga studios are there?

Thousands.

But Winter Garden Yoga claims being different.

This way:

“Winter Garden Yoga is different.

If you are like most people, you have heard that practising yoga is very beneficial. But fear prevents you from trying. You have never done yoga and you think it isn’t your thing because you are not flexible.

We have good news!  Our studio is different.

At Winter Garden Yoga, we have a philosophy: “It’s how well you move, not how far you stretch.

This yoga studio knows that one of their target customer’s objections is to believe that they could never practice yoga because they aren’t made of chewing gum.

That’s why they clear up that objection by saying that it’s not important to be flexible and that their studio is different because they know that.

In reality everyone who practices yoga knows that being flexible is not the most important thing, but this studio does very well expressing that fear and reassuring people who have never done yoga (their target customer) that it doesn’t matter.

Effective copy clears up all the objections that appear in the reader’s mind.

A single doubt can make the reader turn around and leave.

English Copywriter

Read other things that have nothing to do with your product

Once you’ve done the in-depth research on your main goal, your ideal customer, your product or service and you have a clear idea of the tone you want to use for your brand, just do something else.

Read copy of other businesses that have nothing to do with what you do.

Listen to podcasts on topics that interest you.

Read fiction or self-help books or whatever turns you on and let your brain connect ideas.

That’s what it’s all about.

We copywriters don’t invent the wheel every time we write a piece of copy.

We know our copy has to be original in order to stand out from the rest, but we are well aware that (almost) everything has been already invented and that our main task is to create new connections.

Metaphors that turn a sentence into a more vivid message.

Slogans that get engraved in minds with climber’s fingers.

Stories that grab the reader and don’t let him start preparing dinner.

When we are curious and let interesting information get into our minds, our brain cells can work wonders in creating new ideas from old ones.

Like this ad from Specsavers.

“I saw you on the 16.51 from Finsbury Park to Brixton.

You were the redhead wearing a long pink scarf, or maybe it was just more of your hair?

You were quite short, but you could’ve been tall and just sitting down.

You were definitely carrying a dog and/ or a handbag and/ or a child.

If this sounds like you, call me. I was the guy who walked into the doors.

Should’ve gone to Specsavers?

Write without boring to tears

It’s time to sit down and write your copy.

The first thing you need to focus on is getting your target audience’s attention with a sentence that will attract their curiosity.

Then you have to focus on not being boring.

It’s not just about entertaining, for that we have Netflix, it’s about making the readers feel that what they are reading is worth their time.

Because it’s going to help them solve a problem or fulfil a wish.

We are selfish beings, most of the time, and we care about how we can be richer/more attractive/happier/more interesting/freer, etc.

If your copy contains a PROMISE that refers to one of these aspects of the human condition, the reader will read on.

Entertain.

Being entertaining doesn’t always need to be associated with laughter.

You can also entertain the reader by telling a compelling story that will make him forget he needs to pick up his child from school.

That’s your goal.

To achieve this your copy has to be vivid and touch the reader’s heart.

You will only reach his heart if you have a very clear idea of who that reader is, as we just saw.

I use this trick. It might also help you:

Picture in your mind some one you know who matches the profile of your buyer persona.

And just talk to her.

Yes, talk.

Write as if you were talking to that person. Imagine her asking you questions as you tell her about your offer.

This way you will be able to respond in a natural way to those doubts and objections that will arise.

Use simple words and short sentences.

No one has time to reread sentences that are not clear the first time.

Recommended reading How to bring your copy to life

Edit

Editing is as important as writing.

It’s time to polish your words and get rid of the trash.

By editing you will notice those ideas that aren’t clear enough or those questions that haven’t been answered.

You will also be able to identify more easily if the rhythm is flowing or the copy is too dense.

If you want to edit better, do it at least 24 hours after you have written your copy.

That way your brain will see the copy with fresh eyes and it will be easier to identify errors.

Always, always, read it out loud.

It’s the only way to hear the rhythm.

A piece of copy is like a song, the lyrics and the melody count. Click To Tweet

Conclusion

Writing effective copy is key to selling more.

There are too many people offering similar products and services, so it’s essential to differentiate yourself and, even more important, to know how to express that difference.

As we’ve seen, it’s a process that takes time and a lot of dedication.

We can’t afford to write anything to fill out the Lorem Ipsum.

Because your competition is working hard on it.

And so should you.

About Elena de Francisco

I write copy that hooks into prospects minds for businesses without borders. I live in the Netherlands, but I write everywhere. My favourite pastime is to crush dull content and turn it into words that sell.

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