You know… there’s copywriting and then there’s Copywriting.
It sounds weird, but through experience, the real pros do pick up certain habits that lift them above the rest and keep them in high demand.
Let’s begin with these thirteen (woooo) habits.
1. They trust their hard-won instincts. No amount of second-guessing will ever sway a seasoned pro copywriter. If anything, they’ll stick to their guns even more in the face of being questioned.
2. They rely on their experience (and that of past masters of the craft) to create winners – modeling and re-modeling success, instead of guesswork or blindly following other people’s advice – whoever they may be (spouses, gurus, business partners, and so on).
3. They use at least 50% of the time on research on new projects, easy. Of course this figure may vary depending on the product, familiarity with the market, and habits picked up. But the pro’s pros know that the deepest insights come from skilled research, not only skilled writing.
4. They spend their time inside the prospect’s head. Truly: dive in, get comfortable and swim in there. Forget about focus groups and other assorted silliness. The pro goes right in to identify with the prospect’s inner makeup. From there, everything flows freely and easily, speaking to them directly.
5. They have patience – never rush the muse (even at deadline.. especially at deadline). Patience is truly a virtue in copywriting. Not skipping any of the steps necessary to make the sale takes discipline and patience, rushing it would just result in botched opportunity. Patience in finding the right hook, patience in building out the pitch… results in predictable buyer behavior. A.k.a. the sale.
6. When the time is ripe, they do not hold back. When it’s time to close and go for the jugular… the pro goes for it. Sometimes with product launches, it may have been seemingly laid back content marketing all the way to the day it opens… and then, it’s KABOOM time. All guns blazing.
7. They don’t let media, competition, customers, the latest best-selling business book or other influences or circumstances… not anything sway their knowledge of what works. At all. Fads come and go, the fundamentals just keep on working. They may take different forms at different times but human nature stays essentially the same.
8. They always test a new approach before going wide. Because even with the fundamentals at their fingertips, the copywriter knows perhaps better than anyone that the money is made in testing, ultimately. Not experimenting, but testing a pitch for an offer that’s fully developed.
9. They cut their losers short and let their winners run. Respect a winning formula, and run it again and again until it stops bringing in a positive result. Also, recognize what didn’t work and cut the promotion short. And yes, this happens even to the best of them although not advertised as much.
10. They educate their customers, yet listen to their concerns. A pro copywriter holds the initiative & leadership in a project, because they are ultimately responsible for the marketing to work – even if not the entire project. This is no small matter, but the best are able exert such influence. Which is part of the reason why many writers are not only celebrated, but design their careers to have a certain… swagger.
11. They never rely on gimmicks, always fundamentals – regardless of the media used, the details of the project or the scale of it. Gimmicks only confuse and make it harder to determine what’s making marketing work.
12. They read their newly written copy out loud, to ensure it flows naturally and doesn’t sound contrived, disjointed or otherwise forced. And then, have others read it out loud and observe their reactions – how they REALLY react, as opposed to how they SHOULD react.
13. They write something every single day… even if it’s a journal. Writing as the first thing getting out of bed gets the juices flowing and gives brain a workout, priming it for high performance writing later. So many preach this, yet very few do it. Consistency is hard, but the pros embrace it.
You may notice I’m not superstitious, either. 🙂
I hope this gives you a tiny window into the fascinating world of world-class copywriting, what it demands, what it entails… and why it holds such a celebrated position in all of results-based marketing.
Much of the copywriter’s work is invisible to the naked eye and looks easy. You may rest assured it’s not. Even though it gets easier through experience and every winner produced… salesmanship in print is still very much a highly specialized, high-performance skill in business. Tip your hat when you meet one of those. 😉