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Probing in Copywriting: 12 Ultimate Tips

probing-in-copywriting-12-ultimate-tips


Nothing is more important than mastering the ‘art’ of probing in Copywriting.

 

Copywriter’s must ask their Clients:

 

Question (probe)

After question (probe again)

After question (and probe again).

 

To:

 

Assess all problems

Provide the best solutions, and ultimately

Succeed in Copywriting.

 

But to save you:

 

Learning the hard way (through ‘trial’ and ‘error’), and

Scouring the net (for hours and hours)

 

Let’s dive straight into 12 Ultimate Tips to……

 

Mastering the ‘Art’ of Probing in Copywriting!

 


1. Be a Master Planner and Win

woman at top of stairs pointing to success


When it comes to ‘planning’ – Stefanie Grass says it best in this blog post:

 

Become a Master Planner and Conquer Your Day!

 

But (and the point of this blog post obviously) conquering the ‘art’ of probing is about:

 

Great Research.

great-research-key-being-master-planning-probing-copywriting


And keyword, market and competitor research are always a great starting point.

 

But ultimately to come up with appropriate questions for your ‘Client probe’ you need to…

 

Put a lot of:

 

Time

Effort, and

Energy

 

Into the:

 

Type

Wording, and

Number of questions (discussed next).

 

Important Note: Always ensure to ‘limit’ preparation time to ensure only ‘Smart time’ is spent in preparation for the probe (ensures best results).

 

Type of Questions:

And these questions are unlikely to ever be what you first write down.

 

For example:

examples


What is your end-goal?

 

This is a common question but may not always provide you with a ‘crystal clear’ answer.

 

You could try:

 

What is your exact end-goal?

 

By adding the word ‘exact’ you have specified with your Client that you want an ‘exact’ answer.

 

Or you could try:

 

I want to know (and in your own words) your exact goal for this project and what it would mean for you to achieve this goal?

 

Because (although this is ‘art’ – essentially no right or wrong answer) in the above question simply by:

 

Adding

Revising, and

Fine Tuning it.

 

You are far more likely to receive the response you need that brings you closer to the solution.

 

And the Wording of Questions?

man inhaling letters of alphabet


That is an ‘art’ and as discussed in this blog post – Copywriting is ultimately 80% art.

 

But the bottom line is this:

 

Because (again) by:

 

Adding

Revising, and

Fine Tuning words…

 

In your probe questions – you can:

 

Succeed much quicker.

 

And finally, the number of Questions?

 

That is ultimate tip #2 for Probing in Copywriting and let’s discuss it right now!



2. Limit Your Questions to Enhance Quality


Even the greatest probers know this:

 

Quality matters.

 

And you can only get the best quality (ultimately) results out of Copywriting if you:

 

Limit the questions!

 

And of course (as you already know) we are talking about the:

 

Big-Picture questions that matter.

man using large telescope


But what is the Magic Number for Questions?

 

As discussed in this blog post I am a huge-believer in the Symmetry of 3’s but as a golden rule:

 

Try to limit your probing questions to 10.

number ten in red


But do not sweat it if you go over.

 

Because (as we discuss in ultimate tip #4) if you are ‘sincere’ and ‘personal’:

 

Most Client’s will find the time to answer your questions.

 

But (by limiting them to 10) you are drawing a line in the sand and ensuring (in your own mind) that you are only:

person drawling line in sand


Focusing on what truly matters.

 

Next up – it is ultimate tip #3…


 

3. Listen, Learn and then Act (Absolute Key)


When probing it is critical to ‘be in the moment’ and not simply:

 

Ask question after question (just because it is on your list!).

list-questions


Because never assume you are good listener – because according to Lifehack (in this resource) 90% of people are poor listeners.

 

And if you are needing further proof…

 

Check out this resource by Insider (12 signs you’re a bad listener – even if you think you aren’t).

 

Mastering listening is ‘art’ (as discussed here by Lonerwolf) but when ‘probing’ the key is:

 

Always hear the ‘complete’ answer to your probe.

always-hear-complete-answer-to-your-probe


And yes, that means (even if you think it is needed – for whatever reason) no interruptions!

no-interruptions


Doing this means you are:

 

Listening first (good listening skills or poor listening skills)

Learning (by being ‘in the moment’) and then

Acting (and ‘reacting’ based off what you have heard).

 

All keys to great probing results.

 

Next up, it’s ultimate tip #4 and it is a biggie that will really take your probing skills to the next level!

 


4. Be Personal and Sincere to Get Further


Personalisation, and

Sincerity.

 

Both matter in probing and will get you:

 

Further with questions (time becoming less relevant), and ultimately

Completeness (getting to the end of the process with what you want).

 

And the power of using your Client’s name (discussed in this great resource) is always:

using-clients-name-starting-point-personalising-probing-experience


Your starting point in ‘personalising’ the probing experience.

 

Do not be afraid to repeat (without overdoing it – it’s an art) your Client’s name throughout the ‘probing’ process to further put them at ease.

 

You can even compare ‘probing’ to shopping in terms of personalisation.

young woman happy carrying shopping bags


Because 70% of customers expect a personalised experience when they walk in the door.

 

Tip: If you are really looking to take your ‘personalisation’ skills to the next level – be sure to check out this great resource by Neil Patel.

 

Now to:

 

Sincere.

 

Because the beauty of being sincere (as well as personal) is that you can ultimately:


Never ask too many probing questions!

can-never-ask-too-many-sincere-questions-probing (2)


It is true though.

 

Because your Client (within reason) will be prepared to give you more time.

 

And being sincere (if already not obvious to you) can be mastered with these 8 great tips from Amerikanki discussed here.

 

Next up, it is ultimate tip #5 and it is…


 
5. Be Direct and Get Direct (What you Need)

person walking in direction of white arrow


When you are direct:

 

You are more likely to get ‘direct’ in return and ultimately the:

 

Outcome you desire.

when-direct-probing-more-likely-outcome-desired


But being ‘direct’ is an art (as Copywriting is an art – discussed in this blog post).

 

Important: Never confuse ‘bluntness’ with ‘directness’ because:

 

Being ‘blunt’ is being honest (but often in a rude manner), and

Being direct’ is being honest and genuine (while remaining diplomatic and respectful).

 

And if you are still confused check out this resource by Inc: 3 ways to be Direct (without being rude).

 

The reality when it comes to ‘being direct’ (with probing) is this:

 

We live in a multicultural society (and Australia is a very successful one).

different cultures blended together


Therefore (and you must be aware of this):

 

You cannot always be ‘direct’ and succeed in probing.

 

Because (sometimes) and for (certain cultures) being ‘direct’ may have you perceived as:

 

Confrontational (or even rude).

 

Dealing with different ‘cultures’ in Copywriting is a whole new ball game – and if interested – be sure to check out this blog post (coming soon).

 

Next up, it is ultimate tip #6 and it is…

 

 

6. Use Open-Ended Questions (to Dig Deeper)


Open-ended questions…

 

Require more than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response.

 

Here are some examples in the table (below).

 

Open-Ended Question Example

Close-Ended Question Example

What were the main reasons you choose our product /
service?

 

Would you recommend our product / service?

How do you feel about our customer service?

 

Did you experience good customer service?

 

How would you describe your experience with us?

 

Are you happy with your experience with us?

 

 

Asking open-ended’ questions in probing is more likely to:

 

Encourage more ‘in depth’ responses

Lead to greater discussion, and ultimately

Achieve a better solution.

man easily pushing sphere ahead of four men with boxes


Just Sell lists top 30 open-ended questions (as a great starting point for any prober) but:

 

Open-ended questions is ultimately an ‘art’ as discussed by Bill Cates here.

 

And it is an art’ that is fundamental to probing success.

open-ended-questions-is-art-fundamental-probing-process


Next up, it is ultimate tip #7 and it is…


 

7. Never Fear Being Dumb (as may turn out Smart)


As Anthony Moore (of Medium) points out in this great read:

 

Fear of looking stupid is the #1 killer of dreams.

fear-looking-stupid-#1-killer-dreams


And when it comes to ‘probing’ you must quickly…

 

Master any fear of being dumb (again discussed here) in order to gather all the information necessary to:

 

Identify all (the key) problems, and

Provide the Very Best Solution (that ultimately adds value).

 

Because remember, even the smartest people can make the dumbest mistakes.

mistakes-happen


And ultimately no one ‘knows everything.’

 

Because your Client (whether they perceive the question as ‘valuable’ or not) will always judge you off:

 

Your end-game (and that is the results you achieve). 

client-will-judge-you-from-results


Therefore, never fear being ‘dumb’ or a ‘dumb question.’

 

Because more often (than not) it will turn out smart!

 

Next up, it is ultimate tip #8 and it is…

 

 

8. Let them Speak (in their own Words)


Great probing can help reach inevitable conclusions with your Client.

 

BUT unless…

 

Your Client is speaking to you in another language (besides your native one) you should always:

 

Let them say at exactly how they want to say it – yes (in their own words!)

words-have-power


Because to be discussed in ultimate tip # 12 – when you ‘summarise’ your probe at the very end (to fully capture everything) it is your job to:

 

Digest

Interpret, and

Relay (back to your Client)…

 

In words they ‘can understand.’

one of five light bulbs working and flashing yellow

 

And because they are speaking to you (as you do) with ‘their own words’ you can far more easily find the:

 

Right words (with the right style)…

 

That will ensure you are both on the same page ‘communication wise.’

 

And all this propels you to the end-goal (results) quicker.

 

Next up, it is ultimate tip #9 and it is…

 

 

9. Inspire Creativity (it’s all You!)

pink bursting cloud on blue background


You can research what inspires the most creative people we know but ultimately:

 

Creativity is in ‘your hands’ – yes, it is all you!

 

Be

The

Leader (7 inspiring ways to become a great one discussed here by Insperity)…

 

And “Inspire Creativity” by:

 

Probing about ‘alternatives’ that may seem unrealistic at first. 

windy road in nature at sunset


BUT…

 

By ‘reaching for the sky’ with your limits and being (what may be perceived as ‘unrealistic’):

 

Both you (and your Client) ultimately:

 

Encourage creativity

Inspire creativity, and

Get creativity in your solutions.

 

Because whether it is…

 

Using just the right ‘words’

Your ‘positive’ nature, or

Convincing them to like your ‘creative ideas (how to discussed here)…

 

‘Creativity’ often results in better solutions that both you and your Client find feasible!

 

Next up, it is ultimate tip #10 and it is…

 


10. Triangulate for Completeness

triangle shape on blue background


The end-goal of your probing is always simple:

 

Completeness (with accurate answers).


Triangulate (in probing) is the process of asking:

 

Related (but different questions) to achieve that completeness.

triangulate-process-asking-related-but-different-questions-achieve-completeness


But when to triangulate and when not to triangulate when probing?

 

It is an ‘art’ (as Copywriting is 80% Art – discussed in this top blog post).

 

BUT…

 

The key is if a prober still has ‘doubt’ in their mind about ‘completeness.’

 

It can be any doubt at all.

man pausing in front of computer with questions


Back your ‘instinct’ (as we discussed in the “3 Golden Keys to Success in Copywriting”) because if you have even…

 

The smallest doubt then…

 

Triangulate (with related questions) for Completeness!

 

Next up, it is ultimate tip #11 and it is…

 

 

11. Give Feedback Before Offering Solutions


Although you may be tempted (and very)…

 

Do not (when probing) come out with the solution right away.

 

That is your ‘end-game.’ 

check mate chess


You get your chance to be the problem-solver your Client needs at the end of the probing process.

 

But (during it) respond to your Client with:

 

Ideas

Concerns

Assessments

Data, and ultimately

More questions…

 

To get the ‘best results’ out of the probing process which will give you the:

 

Best solution (that both you and your Client will agree on).

feedback-during-probing-process-gives-best-solution


And if you are looking for great tips on providing feedback – be sure to check out this great resource from Entrepreneur here.

 

But to summarise that resource (when it comes to giving feedback):

 

Create safety (by making people feel ‘comfortable’)

Be positive (makes recipient feel ‘open’ to a new direction)

Be specific (as leads to better ‘outcome’)

Be immediate (human ‘brain’ learns more like this)

Be tough, not mean (a starting point is to get their point of ‘view’).


Next up, it is final ultimate tip (#12) and it is…

 

 

12. Summarise to Fully Capture Everything


At the end of the ‘probing process’ (and only at the very end)…

 

You must summarise to:

 

‘Capture everything’ in your Client’s mind first (most important) and

‘Capture everything’ in your mind second (equally important).

businessman cupping hands to hold illuminated brain

Because it is only then that both (you and your Client’s) communication is in ‘sync’ which greatly increase the chances of:

 

The Best Solution being achieved.

only-when-you-and-client's-communication-sync-best-solution-achieved


And while summarising is and ‘art’ (as discussed by Karen Tui Boyes here) you can master summarising by simply:

 

Summing up key ideas in your own words.

master-summarising-probing-using-own-words

Lumen ‘sum-up’ how to do this (in this great resource) by asking yourself the following important questions:

 

1. What is the primary message I want to communicate?

2. What are the most important points that convey this message?

3. What do I want my audience to take away from this?

 

That is ultimate tip #12 and the final one in this blog post “Probing in Copywriting: 12 Ultimate Tips.”

 

Now let’s wrap this blog post up and quickly!

 

 

Probing in Copywriting: 12 Ultimate Tips Wrap Up

video wrap
Let's Quickly Wrap this Blog Post Up!


Probing in Copywriting.

 

Essential

Compulsory, and the

Ultimate…

 

‘Skill’ any Copywriter must master for:

 

Winning Communication

Better Problem Solving, and

Best Results.

 

And by following “Probing in Copywriting: 12 Ultimate Tips” (again below):

 

1. Be a Master Planner and Win

2. Limit Your Questions to Enhance Quality

3. Listen, Learn and then Act (Absolute Key)

4. Be Personal and Sincere to Get Further

5. Be Direct and Get Direct (What you Need)

6. Use Open-Ended Questions to Dig Deeper

7. Never Fear Being Dumb (as may turn out Smart)

8. Let them Speak (in their own Words)

9. Inspire Creativity (it’s all You!)

10. Triangulate for Completeness

11. Give Feedback Before Offering Solutions

12. Summarise to Fully Capture Everything…

 

You can:

 

Master the ‘science’ (without scouring the net for hours on end)

Master the ‘art’ (which can take hundreds of hours of practice), and ultimately

Master the ‘fundamentals’ of probing…

 

Which sets you up as a Copywriter to WIN BIG!


Over to You…

Do you agree with the 12 Ultimate Tips to Probing in Copywriting? Or would you like to add or remove some?? Would love to hear from you in the comments – any feedback is greatly appreciated.

 

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