The Not-So-Secret Ingredient in Great Copywriting: Pt. 3 Market Research
Some people think copywriting is just . . . writing. You tell people about the product or service. But it’s so much more than that. The "secret ingredient" in great copywriting is research. Except, it's not really a secret because professionals all know it. In September, I covered why the copy brief is your first step. In October, I explained how customer interviews give invaluable insight and why they should be your second step. This month, I’ll get into the third part of the equation: finding out why other people might want to buy from you. You can do this with market research.
Why Do You Need Market Research?
To be clear, market research isn’t technically a copywriter’s job—it’s within the realm of a marketer to research your target audience and what’s important to them. This short article by Stever Robbins clearly outlines the differences between marketer, copywriter, sales person, and designer. Chances are you’re doing all of these yourself, or looking to hire someone who can. Freelance copywriters often cross over into the marketer realm because it’s so closely related and interdependent with our work.
Market research is a broad topic, with loads of associated industry terminology. I’m not going too deep because this is meant as an overview. Here are just a few reasons you need some form of market research in your life:
Discover your target audience’s problems: Specifically, you’ll find problems related to the product or service you sell. If you make plastic trick-or-treat buckets, why do people need them? The problem—there’s too much candy to hold, they need a portable container. Other problems: pillowcases don’t have handles, they want something cute to go with their child’s costume, and so on.
Speak the Language: As I mentioned last month, to catch your ideal customer, you’ve got to write the way they think. If your target audience says things like, “Could be used as a trick-or-treat pail and as a table decoration,” then your copy should say . . . well—that. I mean, they just wrote the copy for you.
Competitors’ Products & Offers: What kind of buckets are other companies selling? Are they bigger, made with soft materials, brightly colored, or featuring movie characters? Maybe they’re 50% off for the month of September or come with a bag of free candy. This information helps you with positioning (how you’re different from your competitors) and formulating your own offer.
Industry Standard Terms & Buzzwords: Similar to “speak the language,” you’ll find out what terms are being bandied about in your industry. In some instances, it can be a great move to create your own terms (think tall, grande, venti). But if you’re not thoughtful in your approach, creating your own may just confuse your audience. Research can help you make an informed decision.
How To Do Your Own Market Research
Professional marketers have resources not easily accessible (or understandable) to most people, and they know how to apply them to your marketing strategy. This is one reason you should seriously consider hiring a professional marketer. Still, there are some free, easy-to-use options out there that can help you write great copy.
YouTube: It’s not just for tutorials on fixing the bathroom sink. Try searching on terms associated with your product, then read the comments. This is completely unscripted feedback from viewers, giving you insight into common problems and questions.
Facebook Groups: Look for groups related to your product or service. Join them, watch what people post about, and what they enter in the comments. You can even join in, posting informal polls or surveys. Just be up front about who you are and why you’re there. No one likes a spy.
Amazon: Search for products and books related to your product or service. Again, read the comments and look for common themes.
Don’t Waste Your Money: www.dontwasteyourmoney.com has tons of professional reviews for a wide variety of products. Read their reviews for a similar product & note the characteristics they point out. This gives you insight into what’s important to buyers as well as what your competitors offer.
SEO Keyword Tools: There are literally hundreds of options out there, many of them free. I recommend Neil Patel’s article for 9 free SEO keyword tools. His top recommendation hits the nail on the head: Google Adwords Keyword Planner.
Your Customers’ Suggestions: In your customer interviews, ask them what sort of resources they’ve used to learn about this topic. Have they read certain books, watched certain YouTube videos, joined certain forums? Check out the suggestions they give, and mine the comments and feedback for useful data.
Life Without Market Research
I know doing research is time-consuming and a bit boring. You just want to write what needs to be written and move on with your day. The danger with this is your copy won’t address your target audience’s problems, use their language, or use industry-standard terms. In other words, your copy won’t grab your target audience’s attention because it will be written about things they don’t care about in a language they don’t understand.
After completing your copy brief and existing customer interviews, it can feel like you’ve done plenty of research. But if you stop there, you’re making a big mistake. Spending a few hours on the internet can yield fantastic results. Knowledgeable copywriters use market research, either from a marketer or from their own searches, to inform their writing. This ensures the copy is like a guided missile, heading straight towards the people who need it. And that can mean the difference between a successful marketing campaign and one that wastes time and money.
Ask your prospective writer how they use market research to help them understand your target audience better. If they’re confused by that question, you should probably keep looking. If you can’t afford a copywriter, start with the free resources I listed above. It will be worth your time.
If you've read my posts on the research needed for great copywriting, and you're thinking, "I don't have time for this," book a FREE consultation with me to get this crucial research without wasting hours of your precious time.