I was recently asked these rather pointy questions about copy on an online forum, and while answering them I thought why not share to a larger audience. So here we go:
1 — How can you recognize great copy?
Simple: it sells. 🙂 No, really, that’s the metric that matters. Everything else is just details, styles and whatnot.
2 — How do you critic your own work?
I don’t critique my own. I do three things: talk it out loud, and then listen to it role playing the customer. Next, I have another copywriter take it apart and put it back together. Most critically, I’ll have someone who’s actually in the target market read it, and note their reactions and actions.
3 — What copy activities or exercises have most helped you improve?
Getting 1-on-1 coaching has probably shortened the learning curve the most. The ‘a-ha!’ moment just comes quicker that way. Other than that, just writing a lot of full scale sales letters on wildly different products and across different markets.
4 — What is your process you use when you start a new copy project with a new client?
I do tons of interviews, deep research and even product testing if applicable. You need the ammo before you can start writing on it. After that.. a ton of bullets and headlines to get the juices flowing and narrowing down the focus and finding the hook.
5 — What are your golden rules of copywriting?
Clarity over bells & whistles. Know your prospect as well as if you’d been their room mate once. Don’t skimp on the emotional triggers. That’s 3 out of 218 or so. 😉