One of tricks of successful copywriting is understanding what your customers want.

You might think that is obvious – it’s what they ask for. Well, it’s not always that straightforward.

There is really only one way you can determine exactly what your customers are looking for and that’s through research.

How to research

As a copywriter, when I’m approached by a new client I try to gather as much information from them as possible. I ask questions – lots of them! – I listen and I make notes. This is the only way I can work out precisely what my clients want.

So why should it be any different for you?

Many businesses, if they have the budget, use a market research agency. They go away and return with loads of data about your customers’ habits, behaviours, likes and dislikes etc. That’s all well and good if you have the budget, but why not do it yourself?

DIY research

First answer this – what do you want to get out of your research?

Once you know that, you can start to produce a list of questions you want to ask. They could be about anything (within reason, remember you actually want your customers to answer them) from what they like about your brand, to what they dislike, what they think of your customer service, any other products/services they’d like to see offered to comments about your pricing, image and business premises.

The next step is to ask your customers. You can do this in a variety of ways depending on the size of your business and time constraints. You could ask them in person, via email or over the phone.

Or, if you send out a monthly newsletter, why not use that to canvass your customers? Set up an online survey (such as the free service offered by and offer them entry into a free prize draw to say thank you. This is an excellent way to gather vital intelligence such as:

  • What they like about your product or service?
  • What they don’t like about it?
  • What are the most important features?
  • How they use your product?
  • Are there any improvements they could suggest?
  • Would they buy it again? If not, why not?
  • Would they recommend it to a friend?
  • Do they have any suggestions to improve your product?

Of course there is another source of information we haven’t talked about yet – your front line staff. These are the people dealing with your customers day in and day out. Through them you can discover information such as what it was that convinced the customers to buy? What was the most common obstacle stopping people from buying?

Why do you need to know this?

Sitting in your office, second-guessing what your customers are thinking won’t get you anywhere. There is only one way you’re going to find out what their opinions are, and that’s by asking them.

Don’t worry that your questions may be seen as an invasion of privacy, most people are thrilled to be asked for their help. It shows you’re a caring business that puts the needs of its customers first.

But remember, if you are going to ask their opinions, listen to their answers and act on them.