The Secret of The Successful Copywriter

The Secret of The Successful Copywriter

Reader Comments (55)

  1. Focus is all the more important when writing for search – you need to focus on your reader’s needs in the context of a particular keyword or group of keywords. Hopefully your post will rank highly for “salt shakers” πŸ™‚

  2. Never has a bar with salt shakers been so interesting πŸ™‚
    Writing for someone, rather that everyone makes the world of difference.

    • I agree! I’ve been trying to sharpen up my copy writing skills lately because it’s been a very frequent request from our landing page design customers recently and this article really helped me understand the best way to write for a niche audience. Thanks copyblogger!

  3. With all the distractions of modern life, it has become increasingly difficult to focus. I love what Steve Jobs said about success. It was the thousand things they didn’t do that made them successful. So true!

  4. In today’s hectic world it is hard to stop, take a step back and get the FULL perspective. But like you said, it is vitally important. Thanks for the reminder

  5. Just on time. Just perfect. Thanks for the wonderful write-up. Most of the time I end up in similar situation. Researching a lot and writing less, trying to do so many things and end up in doing nothing.

  6. Great story. When it comes to marketing there is no way to be everything to everyone. It’s important to segment your target audience and create content that is catered specifically to their needs. Trying to please everyone will never work.

  7. Love the example of the salt shakers , I guess it applies most form of marketing. You need to take a step back and just look that little bit closer. You will notice all of them, or acquire all of them, but once you have them in your site, you know exactly how to approach them.

  8. Its interesting that alot of articles have been coming up recently on repostioning and be focused,There are a few keys that are important to successs as being focused is,Just keep at what you want to do and you will hit the landmark,Look for a particular need of your readers to meet,Keep at it.Simple but important post.

  9. Good advice, but I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t quite get how to implement it. If you were looking at a “flat” piece of copy (like the kind from the first copywriter in your story), how would you actually use this advice to revise and improve the text? (Thinking out loud here – if anyone has any tips on how to apply this advice to bad copy, I’d love to hear them!)

    • Good question Sarah.

      One example would be building headlines.

      You start with the proven structures that work, then you brutally focus and break it down further based on:

      1. Who you’re talking to
      2. What you’re selling (idea or product)
      3. The context in which the headline appears

      I’ll write between 5 and 7 headlines for any given piece. I know some who go to 15, 20, or more before settling on the “right” one.

      In one sense, you never know how successful a headline will be until you publish and test it.

      So, in this example, really work on the headline, really think it through to the very end of what you’re trying to say, then move on to the next bit.

      Works for copywriting, works for just about anything in life.

      • Interesting idea to use a headline structure to find the right angle for your copy… Or did I misunderstand?

        I’ve used this method (read the last sentence to get the full idea…):

        Find out what’s the most important problem (for your audience) that you can solve. AND find out what’s the most important problem for your audience in their entire life (even if you can’t solve it). You do this with – the always very sexy – research πŸ˜‰

        Then you look for specifics about the product you’re selling, that are unique to you (or that no one else is advertising).

        And finally you look for ways to tie the problem you can solve, to the most important problem (of your audience’s life), with that unique thing.

        Note: You might not be able to use the first idea. Or the seventh idea. Or even the first problems/unique aspects that you come up with. But this “method” always gives you some insight into what could be the winning angle for your copy. And then it’s about – also very media sexy – testing, to see what works best πŸ˜‰

  10. What an excellent illustration Robert. While reading this I could easily visualize the interaction between the characters as well as the environment in which they were interacting. When the struggling copywriter saw the salt shakers, for me it was as if I was seeing them myself and your point hit home at that very moment. Thanks for this great article. I’m heading to your blog to check out some more of your work.

  11. The challenge is that if your focus is too narrow, people may still not find you. Getting in front of the right audience or getting to the right recommended area is a real challenge. And when you are not being read you doubt and doubt makes your writing slip in some cases.
    The story of the salt shakers brings this point home so well. Thanks for the share.

    • If people aren’t reading your words, you need to focus on one thing that will make you more visible (commenting on other folks’ blogs, using hashtags on Twitter and conversing there, etc.)

  12. Thanks for a great post; just what I needed this week!
    That being said, a great follow up would be HOW to conceive this focus…
    When the boss/client vaguely instructs you to write copy about the bar, how do you know to write about the salt shakers?

  13. Fantastic post – parables are such a great way to get a complex point across, because although they can seem disarmingly simple, they don’t actually simplify things, they just communicate the point at a deeper level – and the story helps the message to sink in and stick. I’ll carry this one with me and chew on it for a long time to come – thank you!

  14. Thank you for giving me something to think about.

    After reading this, I feel like I need to focus more of my energy towards figuring out who I am writing for and what kind of headlines they would like to see.

  15. Haha, well done.

    Story telling + being insightful = winning.

    Someone clarify this but . . . I learned in science class that multi-tasking is actually not possible or a real thing that goes on in the brain.

    This even applies to my writing. I would focus on too many little things. Instead . . . just write. Start somewhere even if it feels wrong or weak — just do it.

    Love this post, and also love it because you used a Mad Men picture. A++ for that.

  16. I really enjoyed your post. It does make sense. Kinda like thinking about buying a certain make of vehicle, all of the sudden, you see them everywhere! Many good tips and things to consider for future writing! Thanks so much!

  17. Nice story, Robert. Well said.

    I still think about and refer to John Carlton’s story about his first day at work for Gary. The one where everything started to go wrong at the beginning of the day and John was about to leave Gary to all the mess, but Gary wasn’t having it. He escorted the secretaries out the door, shut and locked it to do what they were supposed to do, write the copy. Then later after they were finished, everything was just fine.

    I’ll have to refer to this story you wrote when I see someone who is having trouble focusing on their client’s needs. Thanks!

  18. Robert I love that you’re a hammer in the tool kit – you always get it on the head in one hit.
    i’d love to hear your take on benefits. + digging deep to the emotional roots of consumer need –
    Love that your words are always helpful.

  19. How many times have we heard this but we never take the advice? We all want to jump in and be everything to everybody and expect huge results. We overlook what is sitting right in front of us, salt shakers.

    I think I see them now.


  20. This is a very valid point and it actually makes the difference between winning and losing. Most people seem to lose their focus which should actually be the customer and not the product. This is the actual difference. If a copywriter loses sight of his audience and concentrate on the products people will also lose overlook him.

  21. It’s all about seeing (or not seeing) the wood for the trees. An old metaphor but still soooo relevant and beautifully illustrated by our Robert, here.

    In fact there’s another metaphor that I recall from my early days as a copywriter which is, “there’s no point just selling the sausage – you need to sell the SIZZLE in the sausage.”

    Still true, too!

  22. I really dig your story. Usually I bookmark my favorite stuff here and come back to it for a refresher, but this one is so simple and concise that it will stick with me =)

  23. Not gonna lie: Copyblogger got me so intrigued in Mad Men that I went out and bought the first season because of this blog. I wasn’t disappointed.

  24. The “don’t call us, we’ll call you” or no response to email inquiries can be discouraging but keep trying with focus to create compelling material to offer to the audience.

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