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How To Research Your Next Copywriting Project: Doing This Kills Copywriter's Block

Greetings from several thousand feet in the air.

I'm currently on a flight from California to Austin—the perfect time to read a book!

The book I'm reading during this flight is called The Craft of Research (buy it on Amazon). 

As the title suggests, this book is about how to research your writing.

I've always said copywriting is more about researching your marketing than it is actually writing words. So when Sean Vosler (awesome dude — check out his stuff) recommended The Craft of Research, I knew this book about writing research would be my next read.

As of now, I'm only giving myself 90 minutes to go through this book.

These are my takeaways.

Copywriting Research Isn't Linear

One does not research once; researching, especially when researching copy, is an ongoing, back-and-forth process. The reason why is because, as you develop your copy, you learn new things. You will gain more insights about your product as you research and write.

Here's the big-picture, 3-step process I use to write copy:

  1. Research
  2. Write
  3. Review

In sum, that's what I do.

Here's the reality — the microscoptic version of my 3-step process.

  1. Research
    1. Gather information about the product, like features and benefits
    2. Speak to those involved with the creation of the product
    3. Determine how to best position the product alongside direct and indirect competitors
  2. Write
    1. Dump all of the information on the page, in a semi-organized manner
    2. Research more information when I see gaps of missing knowledge
    3. Adjust the copy over time until it flows
  3. Review
    1. Take a break from the work
    2. Re-read the copy with fresh eyes
    3. Get feedback from people I'm working with
    4. Research anything necessary to continue to approve the copy

As you can see, research is something that comes up more than once.

Research isn't linear.

Profiting From Information: Why Research Benefits You

Research is what separates you from your competitors.

When people hire me to write copy, they're not really hiring a writer. They're hiring a researcher.

Researching is essential for making sure you're making a strong argument to buy your product. 

Research takes your sales pitch from

  • Buy this product

to...

  • Buy this product, because...

In my 4U Copywriting Course, I reiterate the fact you need to always support your claims. Don't just say something is great, talk about why it's great. Communicate using benefit-focused communication.

How To Begin Researching

To research, you need a plan.

Sure, you can go for a long walk and have ideas come to you naturally. That may work. In fact, I do this often when I'm wondering what the best approach is for a project.

But, overall, it helps to have a plan.

Here are a few ways to plan your next copywriting project.

Plan Like a Reporter

The 5 W's are great for getting information.

  • Who
  • What
  • Where
  • When
  • Why

Some questions you might ask yourself when writing copy, using the template above, is who made the product? Who is it for? What's the product do? Where can you buy it? Why do people need it?

And, so on.

I find that the more questions you ask, the better. You can never have too much information. Here's why.

You end up not using a lot of the information you gather. Don't let this deter you from getting it anyway. In my experience, I find that the info I stockpile — even if it's not useful for the current project — ends up being useful elsewhere. You never know when one little "nugget of golden knowledge" will help you.

Note: to help keep you focused while researching, focus on gathering the most-important information first! This is what reporters do. You should, too.

Plan Like Me

It's should come as no surprise to you this is where I pitch my 4U Copywriting Course. This course is my baby; it's simple, yet powerful.

Here's what I suggest you do when researching your copy, using these 4 U's.

  • Urgency
  • Uniqueness
  • Ultra-specific Proof
  • User-friendly Offer

My flight is about to land, so I'm going to keep this short.

I'm going to copy and paste a comment I left on someone's post in my Facebook Group last night. 

The post was about how to write an advertisement for a networking event at the beach. Here's what I suggested the copywriter do, using my 4 U's.

First, here's the original post:

Hey, I need your opinion on something.

I’m writing an event description for a fun summer BBQ at a beach and the target audience is a group of entrepreneurs. It’ll be a good opportunity to network with other entrepreneurs and have fun.

I’m having trouble on talking about WHY people should come to this and even starting the sales copy.

Can I ask for your opinions about it?

Here is my reply.

Use the 4U’s when thinking about what questions to ask.

For example:

Urgency - If you miss this event, you’ll miss out on your next possible business deal. Find a study that supports entrepreneurs who network get ahead. Support your claims.

Uniqueness - What makes the event different? That fact that it’s on the beach and it’s a BBQ is a start. Anything else?

Ultra-specific Proof - Who is going? What have they done? Anything notable?

User-friendly Offer - Is it free? What else do they get by showing up? What will they leave with?

The 4 U’s keep you focused. Use them. :)

Being in the Facebook group and getting me to help you is one of the many benefits of purchasing my 4U Copywriting Course.

Plane is landing now.

Got to go.

Make sure you get email updates from me if you'd like to keep in touch.

Adios (for now)!