If you are scratching your head trying to come up with the answer to that question, I can confirm it is not…

Once upon a time…”

(Just in case you were wondering)

Copywriting is sales and marketing writing. It is designed to persuade the reader to buy a product or service.

But when I asked ‘how does copywriting start?’ I was thinking more about the process a copywriter goes through.

So what do you reckon?

  • Copywriting begins when you start writing? Or…
  • Copywriting begins when you get an assignment?

It begins from the very first phone call, email or conversation with your client. The process of copywriting begins well before a word is written.

Start from the beginning

When you win a new client, if you pick up the assignment, read it and then start writing – you’ve missed the point. In fact, you’ve not just missed it, you’ve over shot it by a mile.

Before a single word is written, the real work begins when you take time to get to know your client, their business and their products/services. If you don’t fully understand their business how can you persuade a reader they are the right company to deal with?

You need to begin by thinking about:

  • What is the product or service?
  • What does it do? (the main benefits for the customer)
  • What makes it different from competitors?
  • Why is it desirable?
  • What is the company’s ethos?
  • What language and voice is associated with the company?

There’s more…

Once you’ve taken time to fully understand the company and its product/service, you have to turn your attention to your customers. We all have different motivations for buying things, so a firm understanding of what makes your target audience tick is essential if your copy is to persuade them to hand over their credit cards.

You will need to consider:

  • Who they are?
  • What they are looking for?
  • What is going to make them buy?

Why you need to know this

Too much copy out there calls itself sales copy when really all it does is generate self promotion. True, your reader will want to know who you are (mainly so they know they have landed on a website that is relevant to their search) but they are more concerned about what you are going to do for them.

Effective copywriting is about knowing and understanding your product and your customer. Once you have a clear understanding of these, you will have a wealth of ideas to draw on for your copy.