You’ve read dozens of copywriting tips. Your brains crammed with the importance of the headline, the sub-head, the call to action but hear this. Unless you know the product, none of the nuts and bolts of writing copy matter. Copywriting is sales, so copywriting is selling. You must know what you’re selling, intimately.
Because of this, you may occasionally find yourself refusing perfectly good copywriting jobs when research discovering the product will either take too long or will bore you senseless.
For example, I’m quite at home writing copy about construction equipment and concrete rebar, but I’ve refused jobs writing about the electrical conduit. Horses for courses. Only you know what you can write about with authority and confidence.
Although confidence comes with practice, you do need some enthusiasm for your product. Enthusiasm comes as you familiarize yourself with the product (or services or business) that you’re writing about.
1. Get to know the product. Daydream about how you would use the product
Good research is the foundation of good copywriting. If you don’t know anything about the product, you can’t write about it. So get to know the product. Imagine who would use it. Imagine yourself in the shoes of the users.
2. Get as much information as you can
Often your client will be terse in your brief (the description of the copywriting job.) I once write a four-page full-color brochure about dog treats after receiving a faxed brief with exactly four lines.
In the dog treats brief, I couldn’t even talk to the client since I was sub-contracting for an agency. However, I did manage to talk to pet shop owners, and some friends who own kennels, and this got me the information I needed.
If you’re working with the client directly, getting information becomes easier, although you’ll be amazed at how many of your clients can sell a product for years, and yet not be able to communicate the benefits; this is why they hire you.
3. Got questions? Get answers
So even after talking to the client, you’ll have lots of questions about the product. Sometimes you can find answers to the questions online, in forums. You may read newspaper articles about the product, and if so, journalists will often be able to help you with more information.
If you’re working for a large company with a PR agency, then turn your questions over to the flack. She’ll be able to set up interviews with people in the company who can help you.
4. The magical click
There’s no particular rule which tells you-you to have enough information to start writing the copy. I wait for what I call the click where suddenly I’m bubbling with ideas for the copy and can’t wait to write about it. Sometimes the click happens within hours, occasionally the click can take a week to arrive.
So remember to get to know your product. Once you do, writing the copy is a breeze.