Marketing copy: 6 questions to ask before you write a word

May 11, 2015 | Better Web Copy

It doesn’t matter how good your product or service is, if your marketing copy is bad. Here are six simple questions that will help you write the kind of copy that gets results.

Who are we writing this for?

This should be a person, not a demographic description. There are lots of great reasons to buy the New York Times, for example, but being a 47-year-old white male with a mid-level management position isn’t one of them. Demographics can help you with media buys, but they won’t help you write good copy. Remember markets don’t buy things, people buy things.

What do we know about their buying/decision process?

This establishes the context for the purchase. You probably enjoy both steak and pizza, but which one you’re going to buy depends on your situation.

And if you choose one, say pizza, context also influences other buying choices. Will you make it from scratch? If so, you’ll buy ingredients in advance. Will you heat up a frozen pizza? If you decide to have it delivered, what pizza places deliver where you live?

Spend some time thinking through the process that your reader will go through. Better yet, go talk to some people about what they actually do.

What do we want them to do when they’ve finished reading?

This should be a physical, observable act. Do we want the reader to pick up the phone and call or clip a coupon and slap it on the fridge? Or maybe save the store number to their smartphone.

Why should they?

This is where we get to the benefits. People buy goods or services to make progress of some kind. What kind of progress do they want to make?

How will we make it easy?

The easier we make it, the more likely people are to do it. Simple as that.

How will we make it safe?

People don’t want to take chances if they don’t have to, so do what you can to make the decision to purchase your product or service as safe as possible. Testimonials and references help. Guarantees are great. What Jay Abraham calls “better than risk free” or “risk reversal” is even better.

The best marketing copy starts with good questions that define the challenge. These six will get you off to a good start.