Research...What exactly are you researching?

10 replies
I am but a humble grasshopper copywriting student beginning my journey. However, I often see it mentioned that a significant amount of time as a freelance copywriter is spent doing "research."

What exactly do you as a freelance copywriter research? Also, may I humbly ask for resources the more experienced guys use when doing their research?

Isn't the copy based on the product the client is selling? Wouldn't everything you need to know be right there in the product?

Thank you in advance for filling in this piece of the puzzle for me.
#researching #researchwhat
  • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
    Yes, you need to thoroughly research the product or service you'll be writing the copy for. Features and benefits.

    Just as importantly (some say more importantly), you need to research the market. Who is the target group? What negative emotions or desires are they experiencing that will motivate them to buy? And a whole lot more.

    If you don't get the market research right before writing the copy, your ship is sunk before it even tries to push off from the dock.

    Alex
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  • Profile picture of the author DavidG
    Alex is on the dot...

    I personally believe that research ALWAYS makes your copy.

    I spend about 50% on researching, and the other half fixing everything up and connecting the pieces of "note puzzles"...

    Now, what exactly do we research?

    (Besides what Alex said)...

    I personally keep an eye out for sentences or phrases that are perfect together.

    I don't know if you've ever read a sentence that made so much sense, but that's exactly what I look for. I copy and paste them in a document where I'll have HUNDREDS.

    Some talk about a specific problem the product can solve, while others say something perfect for a beginning paragraph or transition.

    Heck, some become perfect headline/subheadline candidates and bullets.
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  • Profile picture of the author deezn
    Originally Posted by Jason_V View Post

    I am but a humble grasshopper copywriting student beginning my journey. However, I often see it mentioned that a significant amount of time as a freelance copywriter is spent doing "research."

    What exactly do you as a freelance copywriter research? Also, may I humbly ask for resources the more experienced guys use when doing their research?

    Isn't the copy based on the product the client is selling? Wouldn't everything you need to know be right there in the product?

    Thank you in advance for filling in this piece of the puzzle for me.
    In Bob Bly's Copywriters Handbook, he has a chapter on how he conducts research.

    I'm a business owner trying to learn copy. So it's easy for me because I have one group to research, and oh yeah I interact with them already. But other places I look are studies done on your target market (for example, a lot of surveys and studies on how consumers find lawyers), forums, Q&A like on Yahoo Questions, etc.

    Find the questions they are asking. Find out the actual words they used.
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    • Profile picture of the author Daedalus15
      The approach I have taken is as follows:

      1. Research the market before reviewing my clients product. Search forums, books, articles, magazines, and anything that I can find that will give me a basic idea of the common pains and problems of our targeted customer.

      2. Thoroughly review the product. If they have a current sales page, study it carefully and break it down. Figure out what they feel the best features of their product are. Then test their product. Read the e-books. Listen to the audio. Watch the videos. Do whatever you would expect a paying customer to do. The whole time I am doing this I am looking for a USP. What pains or problems does this product best solve? How is it most beneficial?

      3. Study the competitions' sales pages. What features or benefits do they highlight the most? How does this compare to our product? How can we differentiate? Do we have a better product? Better price? etc...

      4. Then I write the sales copy. What I have found to be surprising is how quickly I am able to write the the rough copy of my sales page. I feel like the whole time I am arming myself with information, I am subconsciously organizing it in my head and planning the copy.

      5. Finally I edit the copy. My rough copy is usually very rough. I do not pay any attention to grammar, or typos, or how well it flows together. The most important part for me is to just get all of my ideas out of my head and written down. I then spend a considerable amount of time polishing it up and trying to make it sound good.

      I hope this is helpful.

      --Frank
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      • Profile picture of the author Jomuli3
        When writing copy, it's important to do research work.

        Research product - How can you write persuasively if you don't know enough
        about the product. What makes it different from similar
        products?

        Research competition - It is important to know the strength and weakness of
        your competition. You can demolish the strength of the
        competition by turning their advantages into
        disadvantages, at times. Remember there are always
        sides to a coin.

        Market research - Know who you're selling to. Find out their desires, fears,
        frustrations, hope, objections.
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  • Profile picture of the author copyassassin
    Hello Grasshopper,

    A while back I created an killer USP quick start guide.

    I've updated it since, but haven't made it public (btw, this is the older version; it's still awesome).

    What to know why I use this guide every single time I'm writing?

    Because it's that good.

    Here are the links.

    Enjoy:

    USP Quick Start Guide
    One Page Cheat Sheet Summary.
    Case Study In Breast Augmentation Niche








    Originally Posted by Jason_V View Post

    I am but a humble grasshopper copywriting student beginning my journey. However, I often see it mentioned that a significant amount of time as a freelance copywriter is spent doing "research."

    What exactly do you as a freelance copywriter research? Also, may I humbly ask for resources the more experienced guys use when doing their research?

    Isn't the copy based on the product the client is selling? Wouldn't everything you need to know be right there in the product?

    Thank you in advance for filling in this piece of the puzzle for me.
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    • Profile picture of the author Dan Ferrari
      Most of what's been said here. I like to check magazine covers in the market, read all the top competition's copy, find related websites, etc...gathering valuable language, swipes, and concepts along the way.

      Something that hasn't been mentioned here, or at least in the way I do it, is to just get the client to go off talking about their business. I always try to get the client to just speak about their history with the product/service, what's important to them, why they got into it, etc...I engage them on a more personal/emotional level, make jokes, try to relate to what they are saying etc...

      In this way I am talking to them more like an interested friend or something. By doing this, you can get them "off guard" and sometimes you can uncover some good angles or "sales pitches" just in their everyday speech about what they do. Stuff that they wouldn't necessary talk about when doing more "formal" business discussions but that may very well make for some good copy.
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  • Profile picture of the author Handdy
    Hi there,

    Research time is the time taken by a copy/content writer to study the particular product/service. More often than not, additional reading is required to come up with effective copy. This apart from what is given by the client. Say if you had to write copy for a brochure, you would be referring samples of good brochures made by other companies. This time will be treated as research time.
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  • Profile picture of the author dancaron
    Research the problems (get specific) prospects are experiencing.
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  • Profile picture of the author sethczerepak
    Originally Posted by Jason_V View Post

    Isn't the copy based on the product the client is selling? Wouldn't everything you need to know be right there in the product?
    .
    That's 25% correct. It's the other (more important) 75% you need to be concerned about.

    That's the #1 issue with most marketers. They're stuck in their "this is my product" bubble. But outside of that is the world the prospect is swimming in when they land on your offer.

    1) Find out everything you can about the customer. WHO is buying is more important than what's being sold.
    2) Find out everything you can about the alternatives and prepare a case for eliminating those as a possibility.

    Your job isn't just to sell your product or service as a solution to their problem. You need to position it as the ONLY solution to their problem.

    But before that, you need to know what internal conversation (both on the intellectual level and an emotional level (more in the video below), and that means researching the customer is the most important step to preparing a good letter.


    I could go on, but that ought to get you started.
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