Here’s your first copywriting lesson: write down your objective.
Exactly what do you want to happen if your copywriting is successful? What do you want people to do? Yea, that’s right. Start each project by writing a “written stated objective” at the top of a blank page. That’s how every copywriting assignment of mine starts. Once you know what your copywriting goals are, all your writing should point towards achieving them. A written stated objective shows exactly what you want people to do if your copywriting is successful. Compare each line of your copywriting to see if it advances people toward your goal or pushes them away.
Goals are about action steps.
What action steps do you want people to do? As a professional copywriter, most of my writing is for clients, so my top actions for readers are usually “To pick up your phone and call!” Or — “Go to a client’s store!” or “Order this product right now!” It’s important to write down this list of your copywriting objectives to clarify your writing. Only then can you figure out exactly how to write copy to achieve your goals. Additionally, when you state your goals in clear terms you’ll know how to measure success – when your objective is reached: your phone rings, or people visit your store.
Next, create a features and benefits page.
Now that you know the goal of your writing, you’ll need to persuade people to perform that action. So take a sheet of paper and draw a line down the center. On the left hand side create a bulleted list of the features of your product (or service). Features are the properties of a product. A teacup has a handle – that’s a product feature. On the right hand page side of the page list the product’s benefits of each feature. A benefit is what the person derives from the feature. The benefit of a teacup having a handle is you can pick up a cup of hot tea without burning your hands.
For every product feature there should be a human benefit. Now rank them in order. By prioritizing them you’ll know which one’s to place higher in your writing order. Start out with your best stuff, your biggest benefits first. In direct mail, you’ll use the product features in your brochure, and the product benefits in your letter. That’s because people look at the brochure, but they read your letter. The letter is more personal, more human – me to you.
Dig for ALL the features of your product, then write the benefits of each feature. Feel free to take a couple of days to do this, and make it an extensive list. Look up competitor’s websites and see what features and benefits they show. As a copywriter if I was working on your projects – that’s one of the resources I use: your competitors’ websites. Sometimes competitors’ websites show features and benefits my clients may have overlooked or never told me about. Or a feature or benefit they didn’t think was important. If I think they’re important enough to drive response — even if just one additional person in 100 calls – I include those products and features in my writing.
While competitor’s insights are important, you can’t just copy their writing. Well, you can but it’s called plagiarism. And like dating your cousin, it’s OK until you get caught. Then it’s a horrible mess. Unless you live in the Mississippi. Then it’s OK. Wow. I hope I haven’t pissed off all the people in Mississippi… 7 million people. Interesting, though: just 15 last names… Got that sheet of paper with that long list of features and benefits? Now rank them in order of their value. Only now are you ready to begin writing. Take your primary objective, and the first of your features and benefits – you know, the biggest features and benefits of all, and… continue reading…
Senior copywriter for the Danielle Adams Publishing Company. Out of all the jaun jaun Dobkin does, writing is his favorite pastime – besides motorcycling, music, racquetball, food, sleeping, MMA, boxing, surfing, family, and TV… not necessarily in that order… because TV comes first. I mean family first.
So go ahead, get Dobkin out of his obvious rut. Give him a copywriting assignment. Or – search this site and find all the explicit copywriting instruction you need for any marketing communications, direct marketing, advertising or PR assignment. Or, read his books and in just a few evenings learn how to write highly responsive letters, direct mail, electrifying brochures, and sizzling press releases — just like he does. Fine tune your copywriting so it’s more effective and yields a greater response. If you need help, he’ll be there. Waiting by his phone. Sigh… Yep. 610-642-1000. That number rings on his desk. Call now. He’s probably just sitting there right now. Not doing anything. Just waiting for your call… Sigh…
Buy his books: Learn tips and tricks that turn good copywriters into great copywriters: Learn how to write great titles and headlines, how to write great letters and press releases. Learn inside secrets of how to create highly responsive copywriting: Buy Dobkin’s books – Click Here! Besides, he needs the money.