The 3 Golden Keys to Success in Copywriting
1. The Brief
2. Research, and
That is what “success” in Copywriting all boils down to because:
– No matter how many years’ experience you have (even > 30)
– No matter how many content pieces you have crafted (even > 10k)
– No matter how much money you have made (even > $1,000,000)
– No matter who you have written for (insert high authority names here)
– No matter what publications you have been featured in (e.g. Forbes)
– No matter how many steps to success you have on your list (5, 10 or 20)
At the very highest level…
Simplifying and thinking totally big picture now…
1. Mastering the “Brief” through Winning Communication
2. Mastering the “Art” of Research
And ultimately without:
3. Following your “Instinct”
Success in Copywriting can never be achieved!
Agree or disagree with these (I can hear your murmurs) let’s dive straight into it and break down the “3 Golden Keys” to Success in Copywriting…
1. Master the Brief through Winning
Let’s start with the obvious…
A copywriting brief is meant to be:
– On-Topic, and ultimately
Note: Read more about best practices for briefs here according to simplifie if interested.
Told you it was obvious – but had to address it – and you would be surprised by how us humans can easily overcomplicate it!
Now let’s get straight to the point…
Brief, or No Brief…
‘Winning moments’ are never achieved in Copywriting without some sort of:
– Clear / Concise
– Well structured, and
Let’s now break down both scenarios:
a) Where you have a brief (hip hip hooray an organised Client!)
b) Where you don’t have a brief (time to create one for your Client!)
a) You Have a Brief
Just because your Client has provided you with a brief does not mean you should:
Quickly wrap up your conversation (phone, email or whatever) and say…
I will check the brief and get right back to you!
While there is nothing wrong with doing that (certainly gives you more thinking time / music) – it is far better to catch your Client when first talking to them.
Because when you ‘first’ talk to a Client (as you doubt already know) that is when they are:
‘In the moment’ and most receptive to any questions you have about the brief.
Therefore (as a Copywriter):
– Speed (catching the Client quickly)
– On-the-Fly Analysis (quickly eyeballing / dissecting the brief), and a
– Final Analysis (determining a clear path going forward)…
Is all part of the “Winning Communication” (ultimate guide here) you need to ensure that…
You have a brief that allows you to move forward:
– Confidently (knowing all you need to know about the project)
– Precisely (with all details accurate), and
– Swiftly (starting ASAP to meet your important deadline!).
b) You Don’t Have a Brief
Most often yes.
Because any experienced Copywriter will tell you:
The onus is on the Copywriter to come up with the brief because…
This is key to being a successful copywriter!
No Brief = No Direction = No Goal Met (for your important Client).
So Where Do You Start?
Have one word for you and that is:
Probing is an art (as we discussed in another top blog post – that Copywriting is 80% Art).
Probing is the subject of another blog post – too lengthy to discuss in-depth here.
But the key to nailing your brief is to ‘probe’ (and do it with winning communication) by following these tips:
– Ask more questions (sincere questions will always be answered)
– Try to keep to 10 questions (also allow them to ask questions)
– Use open-ended questions (getting you more answers)
– Be direct (as much as possible – will get best results)
– Never be afraid to ask a dumb question (could end up being a smart one)
– Plan ahead (as much as possible)
– Let your Client say it (how they want to say it), and
– Encourage creativity (as a Copywriter you are an artist after all!).
Your ‘probing skills’ (no brief or a bad one that needs work) is what:
Will allow you to master your Client’s brief every time!
That is golden key #1 covered (of 3) on what it takes to be successful in Copywriting…
Now let’s dive into step 2 – where we talk about “mastering” the art of research!
2. Master the Art of Research and
Any Copywriter knows……
Research = Results = Happy Client (celebration time!).
But exactly how much research:
You certainly can do too little (jumping virtually straight into it), and
You can certainly too much (checking every resource on the net).
And we all know the latter = missed deadlines (and an unhappy Client).
The solution (as a Copywriter) and drum roll (yes, it is clear as day) is to:
Research Smarter (not harder) with Results-Driven Research.
And we will be keeping this brief (excuse the pun!) as “Copywriting research” is the subject of another blog post – which you can read here (coming soon).
Smart Copywriting research is about 3 things essentially:
a) Knowing your brief “comprehensively”
b) Knowing how to “summarise” your brief’s end-goal, and ultimately
c) Knowing how to “choose” the best resources for your research.
Let’s start with knowing your brief comprehensively…
Sounds obvious right?
Well just because you believe you nailed the brief does not mean you have:
Fully ‘absorbed’ the brief (into all key parts of your brain required to take action!)
Read over the brief (however many times it takes for you to absorb it), and
Even write it out by hand (for best results – and to absorb it quicker).
According to the BBC (read more here) taking notes by hand supports the brain’s capacity for retrieval of information.
That does not mean you have to write out the entire brief word for word but…
‘Summarise’ (according to importance) – which leads on to the next point for smart copywriting research.
Summarise your brief’s end-goal.
Too many copywriters (and people for that matter) fail to get straight to the:
Big Picture (quick enough)…
And that is……
What is the Client’s End Goal?!
Rather than being systematic (even though your brain is wired to be ‘systematic’) get in the habit of straight away noting the end-goal:
– At the top of your brief, or even
– Write it down on your nearest notepad (to better absorb it).
Not the correct end-goal?
The beauty of doing this is it’s all ‘art’ and a ‘skill’ that you will get better with over time.
Because by doing this (even if the end-goal is not correct) you can easily:
Shape it quickly to be correct (by reading just bit more of brief and reflecting on your conversation with the Client).
And a big but obvious tip to save time…
Always Get in the habit of asking your Client early in your conversation with them!
Going straight to the end-goal (even though may take time to master at first) is sure to:
Save you ‘tons’ of time and leads straight on to the third and final point in smart Copywriting Research and that is…
Know how to “choose” the best resources for your research.
This is the last part (from the highest level) to smarter Copywriting research and:
Is the hardest and takes the most time to learn – but we told you this was ‘art’ and ‘art’ takes time!
Choosing the best resources is logical:
You need the right keywords and of course page 1 of Google is your starting point.
But the real ‘art’ (and what takes the most time) is being able to extremely quickly…
Summarise (in a matter of seconds) what resource is:
– Relevant (for your project)
– Valuable (and must be enormous), and is
– The best resource (and authority) to help you craft winning copy!
No need to lie…
Experience helps a lot with this but ultimately it is:
Your ability to always have your Client’s end-goal (firmly engrained in your brain) that will drastically help you in mastering the ‘art’ of summarising and:
Quickly choosing the best resources!
That is golden key #2 covered (of 3) on what it takes to be successful in Copywriting…
Now let’s dive into the third and final step – where we talk about following your “Instinct” and making the play!
3. Follow your Instinct and Make
I should have gone with my gut feeling??
I should have gone with my natural instinct??
I should have just gone for it!!
How many times have you heard this throughout your life?
Too many – I bet.
We already discussed that Copywriting is 80% Art and 20% Science (in this blog post) and to concisely summarise:
Without “Instinct” in Copywriting…
You Cannot Even Achieve 1% (out of the 80) that it takes to be truly successful in Copywriting.
Think about it logically:
Take baseball for example…
Bases loaded and it’s bottom of the ninth (bottom of the ninth is the final inning – for those who don’t know baseball!).
It is the last game in the World Series…
The pinnacle in baseball…
And this is the play that stands between……
The trophy every baseballer dreams of holding high in the air!
This is it…
It is nearly midnight (on the dot).
This game has been going on forever, but it is now or never…
Because this is the ultimate play!
Win (and forever gone down in the history books), and
Lose (and be quickly forgotten!).
– Pouring down rain (the heaviest ever)
– 2 strikes down (this is the last chance now), and
– Bases fully loaded (runners ready and creeping to the next base).
The hitter has over 52 home runs in his career but is tonight (of all nights) really the night for that??
Must score 4 to win the game and win the World Series!
Does the batter:
Have multiple scenarios going through his head (potentially overcomplicating the moment), or
Does the batter:
Step up to the plate only thinking “instinct” (and will only play off that instinct for the next ball fizzing his way!)
STOP RIGHT THERE.
You know. I know…
How this story ends!
Instinct WINS and Overcomplication LOSES.
But the ultimate takeaway is that as a Copywriter you absolutely must (and of course this is after comprehensive preparation):
Follow Your Instinct and Make the Play!
And of course, that is Making the Play to Results and a Very Happy Client.
The BBC reports (read more here if interested) that your gut instincts are not as random as they seem.
Because you might not realise it, but your brain is:
Constantly comparing your current situation with memories of previous situations.
And this means:
Even though a decision may feel ‘intuitive’, it might in fact be based on years of experience.
Does this mean as Copywriter you should always go with your Instinct??
Yes and No.
Unfortunately, you cannot always follow your ‘instinct’ (absolutely every time) because after all:
You are working within your Client’s requirements and working towards their end-goal!
Therefore (even with comprehensive preparation and knowing the end-goal) your instinct could pull you in the opposite direction!
But the good news is instinct can be followed most of the time (and this is particularly with more Copywriting experience) because again:
Your instinct (more often than not) = is driven by past experience.
And you can only gain more experience in Copywriting by doing one thing and one thing only:
That is the final and golden key #3 covered on what it takes to be successful in Copywriting…
And now let’s quickly wrap this blog post up!
The 3 Golden
Keys to Success in Copywriting Wrap-Up
Years’ experience (in the industry).
How many content pieces you have written (in your career).
How much money you have made (in total).
Who you have written for (Dalai Lama, Prime Minister or President).
What publications you have featured in (Forbes, Fortune or Entrepreneur).
Much less thank you think (much less and maybe 1 million times less than you are thinking now)…
1. Mastering the “Brief” through Winning Communication
2. Mastering the “Art” of Research
3. Following your “Instinct” and Making the Play…
Are (from the very biggest picture and as discussed in this blog):
The 3 Golden Keys to Success in Copywriting.
Obey them and win big in Copywriting!
Over to You…
Do you agree or disagree with the 3 Golden Keys to Success in Copywriting? Would love to hear from you in the
comments – any feedback is greatly appreciated.
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