How does a Copywriter-for-hire learn the market he is hired for?

Profile picture of the author The 13th Warrior by The 13th Warrior Posted: 02/12/2013
Let's say a potential client accepts all conditions and price of the copywriter.

This client has, say, toy train sets he wants to market, massively.

How does the copywriter get in the head of the potential market if he knows nothing about trains or train sets?

Does the copywriter accept the gig ?

How do copywriters get research in timely fashion to start the project?

Is the client responsible for facts of the product and other info for the copywriter to use?

What does a copywriter do to get the best handle on a market to give the client his best and most profitable campaign?

Does a copywriter need to know about sprockets to present the best campaign possible for his client, a campaign that gets worthy profit for his client?

Do copywriters take on market projects completely foreign to them?

What would Gary Halbert do?


The 13th Warrior
#copywriterforhire #hired #learn #market

  • Profile picture of the author Scott Murdaugh
    Scott Murdaugh
    Originally Posted by The 13th Warrior View Post

    Do copywriters take on market projects completely foreign to them?

    What would Gary Halbert do?
    I'll just answer the last two.

    1. Yes, a good copywriter can sell an in-demand product in any market.

    2. Gary would charge enough money to make the excruciatingly in-depth market research necessary to produce a winning campaign worth his time (IMHO).

    -Scott
  • Profile picture of the author lotsofsnow
    lotsofsnow
    Originally Posted by The 13th Warrior View Post
    Let's say a potential client accepts all conditions and price of the copywriter.

    This client has, say, toy train sets he wants to market, massively.

    How does the copywriter get in the head of the potential market if he knows nothing about trains or train sets?
    Go and buy some toy trains and play with them in addition to any book, magazine or industry publication. Also get a hold of any competitors brochures etc.

    Originally Posted by The 13th Warrior View Post
    Does the copywriter accept the gig ?
    That is a matter of judgement and personal ethics.
    Originally Posted by The 13th Warrior View Post
    How do copywriters get research in timely fashion to start the project?
    If "wants to market, massively" is true there should be enough time to prepare. Only a fool would do this without proper preparation. It should not take too long, maybe two to three weeks should do.

    Originally Posted by The 13th Warrior View Post
    Is the client responsible for facts of the product and other info for the copywriter to use?
    That is the wrong approach. The copywriter has to take responsibility for getting the job done including getting enough time and budget for preparation.

    Originally Posted by The 13th Warrior View Post
    What does a copywriter do to get the best handle on a market to give the client his best and most profitable campaign?
    The copywriter should be as familiar with the market and the product as if he has been doing that business for the last 20 years.

    It is EASY to write sales copy if you are familiar with the product and the market.

    Originally Posted by The 13th Warrior View Post
    Does a copywriter need to know about sprockets to present the best campaign possible for his client, a campaign that gets worthy profit for his client?
    If the copywriter wants to talk about "sprockets" then he should know all about there is to know.
    Originally Posted by The 13th Warrior View Post
    Do copywriters take on market projects completely foreign to them?
    Depends on how smart the copywriter is and how fast he can adjust to new environments and learn new stuff.

    Originally Posted by The 13th Warrior View Post
    What would Gary Halbert do?
    He would have already bought a bunch of toy trains.

    The floor of his hotel room is strewn with parts and pieces of all kinds of toy trains; a few are laying there completely taken apart; another bunch of them would be zapping all over his suite all the while he would be sitting there with his nose deep into on of those competitor catalogs...

    In other words: He would have gotten busy yesterday.
  • Profile picture of the author BudaBrit
    BudaBrit
    Good advice hp

    But, a more pertinent question:

    How does a beginner copywriter do so with limited starting capital for train set purchase?

    As this seems as good a place as any to ask: do you always set your rates /hour and is this what you would recommend to anyone getting into sales copy from content?

    If you're going to write a Press Release (or a couple), on-page content and some copy for a client, would you put it all together into one package? Say 50 hours of work, for example?
  • Profile picture of the author OutOfThisWord
    OutOfThisWord
    There is a wealth of info on the Internet.

    Probably many niche sites about train sets.

    Even better, go where people would order train sets online and read the feedback. That will give you some guidance on how prospects and customers feel.
  • Profile picture of the author Alex Ceskavich
    Alex Ceskavich
    The general principle is this: Amass more information than you could possibly use. And then sift this information for gold.

    A major mistake rookie writers make is to try to sell everything. Or make sales with nothing. For example: You'll see a rookie writer write a promotion for a product with nothing more than the previous VSL and a copy of the product.

    So they're stuck writing a full VSL (16 - 32 pages) with only 6 pages of notes for the VSL and 160 pages of book. (Which will boil down to around 16 pages of notes.)

    They're 10 pages short!

    Instead, you want to comb forums, magazines and other places your prospects gather. Imagine you're trying to join their group and you want to fit in. Learn their language. Find out WHY toy trains are so important to them. And look for the underlying psychological reasons behind their motivations.

    For example: People who are overweight are often not in control of their own eating. This negatively effects their own self image. So this feeling of being out of control manifests itself in other areas of their lives, too.

    For any market, we are whole human beings. Which means our desires, fears and frustrations are manifestations of the whole of our lives. Our fascination with toy trains does not exist in a vacuum.

    Once you have your notes (100+ pages is a good place to start,) you cull it for various categories:

    1. How people talk

    2. What people want

    3. My problems

    4. Claims / benefits

    5. Proof elements

    ... And then you sift.

    Once you have these categories filled up, you go back to research. Except this time, you research your product. You want everything tangentially related to your product.

    For example: does your toy train run on magnetic tracks? What kind of magnets? What research can you get on those? (You may read a line of research which says, "Soandso magnets use a type of force which keeps them 1/4" apart at all times." From this fact, you may come up with the claim, "The first toy train that flies" or "This toy train never touches the tracks.")

    From this pile of research, you cull once more. In both culling processes, you're looking for the gold. The 10% that wows you. The rest you can throw away.

    From there, you write benefits for both files. Paying especially close attention to the places your "What people want" folder overlaps your "My product has" folder.

    By this time, you probably have 40 - 75 pages of golden notes.

    Your job now is much easier: You simply comb your notes for a theme. You let it tell you the proper way to present this gold in order to persuade your prospect. And it will, if you give it the proper time.

    Just don't pressure it too hard.

    I hope this helps.
  • Profile picture of the author Tim Bazley
    Tim Bazley
    I suppose that's the advantage of becoming a specialist rather than a generalist. You only have to learn about a target market and the related industry once, rather than a hundred times!
  • Profile picture of the author Dan Ferrari
    Dan Ferrari
    Using the internet to find relevant interest sites and blogs is useful and very easy.

    But you can also go to the bookstore and try to find any magazines or books on the subject. Instead of working from your home office or Starbucks or whatever, just head to Barnes & Noble, gather up whatever they have, post up with a coffee and get started learning the market.

    I did that earlier this week for high-end anti-aging products for women - fortunately my client provided a lot of the material.

    Magazine covers are great sources of headline material and getting into the head of your target market...and what is working in appealing to them.

    The problem is that if you are, like me, not charging huge fees yet, several hours of research can really cut into your real rate. But you have to be able to stand behind your copy in order to begin charging those higher rates, so I think its a good investment of time.

    Specializing is also a great way to turn your interests into "research." I'm a health and fitness nut so my research on projects in that niche is essentially either done or "play time" for me as I enjoy reading about it.
  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    Raydal
    No magic answers here, just grunt work and research.
    The very same way you learn about a subject you don't
    know anything about. You read books, articles, Wikipedia,
    visit forums, other websites selling similar products ..the
    list goes on.

    If you are not comfortable with the field then you can
    always refuse the job. I've learned a lot doing this type
    of research--so there is a payoff apart from the fee
    gained.

    -Ray Edwards
  • Profile picture of the author The 13th Warrior
    The 13th Warrior
    I notice a similarity between copywriters and book writers, especially fiction....., that a person can buy all the courses and the how-to and what, but the basics of imagination and creativity seem to be a a necessary and key element.

    If the course can't help you flourish that, nurture it or bring it to life, grow it, all the other mechanics may be of no help, unless you are symbiotic with the market you are reaching.

    I like the way Gary analysis every move and thought a customer of a market makes from standing over their garbage when reading the mail to how much trouble it would take them to lick that stamp/envelope and what would motivate them to go thru those steps if one correctly communicates with them. He literally gets into the skull of a customer and every nuance he can fathom that customer will make to assure the customer is under his power.


    Thanks for the tips.


    The 13th Warrior
  • Profile picture of the author Steve The Copywriter
    Steve The Copywriter
    Do all the above.

    Write down lots of questions.

    Find a "train enthusiast" club (they'll always be a club, organisation society etc. for whatever niche you're writing for).

    Buy them all a drink.

    And they'll tell you just about everything you'll ever need to know.

    Including the really fascinating stuff you probably won't find on the inter web.


    Steve
  • Profile picture of the author Jeremey
    Jeremey
    Originally Posted by The 13th Warrior View Post
    I like the way Gary analysis every move and thought a customer of a market makes from standing over their garbage when reading the mail to how much trouble it would take them to lick that stamp/envelope and what would motivate them to go thru those steps if one correctly communicates with them. He literally gets into the skull of a customer and every nuance he can fathom that customer will make to assure the customer is under his power.
    This here is key.

    You can know everything under the sun about toy trains, and it won't help you sell a single caboose unless you spend your time learning about the prospects. My time is spend about 30% researching a product or service (if I don't already have a working understanding of it) and 70% researching the prospects and market (if not more).

    I've found lurking in forums is a great source of what motivates and even irritates potential prospects, and working in that information into your copy is essential.

    For example, if I was hired to write for a discount/wholesale tanning lotion supplier, I may visit the forums of tanning salon owners. I may discover a whole lot of information from disgruntled tanning salon owners who really hate discount online tanning lotion companies. From there I'd find out what was causing their anger or frustration, and play up those elements in the sales copy to better position my client's service.
  • Profile picture of the author KingOfContentMarketing
    KingOfContentMarketing
    Originally Posted by Steve The Copywriter View Post
    Find a "train enthusiast" club (they'll always be a club, organisation society etc. for whatever niche you're writing for).

    Buy them all a drink.

    And they'll tell you just about everything you'll ever need to know.

    Including the really fascinating stuff you probably won't find on the inter web.


    Steve
    Good stuff. Vin Montello talks more about going out in the wild to experience the target market in their natural habitat in this interview:

    Selling to human nature using emotional marketing - Vin Montello
  • Profile picture of the author Moriarty
    Moriarty
    You say
    How does the copywriter get in the head of the potential market if he knows nothing about trains or train sets?
    This has nothing to do with trains. The guys who are hiring you know everything about trains. If you need details, they will tell you almost anything you need to know. Well, if they're like my ex, they'll know the cylinder diameter of the Flying Scotsman in 1923. And in 1932 or whenever it was.

    The point about a copywriter is not what you are talking about. It's all about who you are talking to. More important here is who you are listening to. The business selling this stuff - or the guys who are buying it. If it is toy trains, trot down to the local model shop. Find out what fascinates them.

    After all, why have all this amazing detail - down to the no-smoking signs under the windows, yet they have ruddy great clunking carriage couplings. On, and there's thirty seconds' worth of travel between the stations. It would be quicker for the passengers to walk that distance. So something doesn't stack up. Find out what illusion they are cherishing and cuddle it (without puncturing it!).
  • Profile picture of the author Pusateri
    Pusateri
    Originally Posted by Moriarty View Post
    Find out what illusion they are cherishing and cuddle it.
    THAT is beautiful! A less poetic way of saying it might be "tell them what they already believe, but in a new and interesting way."
  • Profile picture of the author Steve The Copywriter
    Steve The Copywriter
    Yes, without a doubt - 2 of the best ways to write copy.


    M - Find out what illusion they are cherishing and cuddle it (without puncturing it!).

    P - Tell them what they already believe, but in a new and interesting way.


    Great stuff.


    Steve
  • Profile picture of the author ERPLeadsWriter
    ERPLeadsWriter
    13th, in case the advice above still seems lacking for you, it also still helps to be just a little bit more interested in your customer's work.

    I don't know much about you but being a bit of a toy nut myself, I wouldn't find it hard understanding that client and motivating myself to learn more. (I've always been pretty amazed by those large train sets and I'd love to see one for myself.)

    And if all else fails, Google is your friend. :p

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