Copywriting 101: Thinking Strategically
One pitfall that many copywriters fall into is the desire to give away too much too soon. The solution is simple: plan ahead. Instead of just sitting down and writing organically, start with a strategy. From there plan out everything from headlines to the topics to be covered. A quick analysis of this could yield a useful strategy, especially if paired with astute and accurate keyword research.
Phase I : The Plan Starts With an Outline
Any good copy starts with an idea. What is the purpose of a given piece, and how should it be laid out? What points will be covered, and how will those points be conveyed? There are plenty of great tools to help copywriters in this process, but even a pen and paper will suffice. Start with a general outline of what needs to be covered and the salient points to be made. This list can be rearranged very easily and serve as a great outline for later.
Phase II : Expand, Expand, Expand
This list is not written in stone, and it should be expanded upon. What would different kinds of readers think about these points? Are arguments reasonably well rounded or are they lacking counterpoints that lend a sense of authenticity to one’s case? Look for any and every chance to consider new avenues of thought; after all, nobody knows what will click with any given reader. A good rule of thumb is to be as wild and outlandish as possible when brainstorming, and not worry about practical concerns at this stage. Worrying about practical concerns tends to reduce the efficacy of brainstorming, and negativity can absolutely ruin the potential value of group brainstorming sessions.
Once all the ideas have been squeezed out of an individual or group, now it is time to write a master plan. Does this content warrant a single piece or multiple pieces? Is there the possibility of ongoing coverage? Remember that content is king, and the first two phases of thinking about copywriting from a strategic are great ways to get a greater amount of valuable content from a single idea.
Phase III : Write It
Now it is time to do the easy part: writing. Remember that great content still needs to follow the other rules of the copywriting road. Be sure to check and double-check content against all of one’s copywriting rules and policies before publishing or otherwise letting content into the wild.
Phase IV : Accept Feedback and Move On
An old adages suggests that no strategy ever survives contact with the enemy. While it is probably not productive to consider readers as adversaries, there is a lesson to be learned here as well. Smart copywriters will look at how pieces perform and listen to feedback. That does not mean that feedback will be followed 100% of the time, especially since two different pieces of feedback might be mutually exclusive. Instead, feedback means that there are always opportunities to fine-tune one’s copywriting skills, and a series of articles can prove to be a literal gold mine for discovering more about one’s audience.
Ultimately, a time will come when the next project needs to be tackled. Some copywriters are similar to more traditional artists in that they have a hard time letting go of a project, and are constantly tweaking or adjusting this or that. Learning to let the piece go and move on to the next piece is simply part of the job.
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