This is a (rudimentary) method I use to come up with copywriting ideas. It is based on the great Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert W. Bly (Read that handbook, you will not regret it.) The following six steps help you get in the right mindset.

  1. Determine the goal of your copy. Is it to sell a product/service? Connect personally with a potential customer? Maybe it is to build awareness of a certain product, or to positively influence your brand? Determining this goal before you start writing helps you get in the right mindset.
  2. From the reader’s perspective, write down what they would be saying to themselves when they are faced with their ‘problem’. Brainstorm potential copy that would resonate with what the target group. This will help you develop a sense of empathy.
  3. Let’s dive deeper into the brainstorm. The more options you write, the better. Jot down all: benefits for the reader (what problems does your solution solve?), what the product/service is, the audience that has the problem you’re solving.
  4. Try combining all the results in short summaries. Like this one: Our [product] can help you with [benefit], because it [does this]. We are here to help you with [why does the user need to know?].
  5. Now you have all of this, start simplifying. Write more concise sentences and remove jargon. Only the neccessary bits and do not repeat yourself.
  6. Evaluate what you’ve written with a colleague. “Hey Steve. When you read this, can you tell me for who this is for, why you should buy it?”

Whatever you do, make it a clear, direct message instead of fluff and buzzword bingo. Your copywriting is for selling and convincing. Don’t try to be clever.

Practical example – ’our big watches’

Let’s say you sell watches with extra large dials. You are going to place an ad in the local newspaper. Let’s go through the steps:

The copywriting goal: Let’s decide we’re directly selling the product to the reader. (A goal is usually determined by business strategy.)

What are the readers are saying: It’s probable these watches are made for people with bad-eyesight. Let’s go more precise and say ‘elderly people with bad eyesight’. They might be saying:

  • “Gosh. My eyes are really getting bad.”
  • “I wish I could tell the time more easily.”
  • “I need to get my glasses upgraded.”
  • “I wish I was a young boy again.”

Write down all the benefits of the product: A list of these positives will help you generate more ideas on what you can write copy on. The potential benefits of a big watch:

  • It’s easy to tell the time from afar
  • Could have a bigger battery
  • They might be easier to manufacture / cheaper
  • They are sturdy / don’t break easily
  • It looks more masculine(?)
  • It’s trendy!
  • More space inside for … LCD screens?
  • It’s faster to tell the time at a glance
  • Easier on the eyes? Telling time is more convenient

What is the product? The watch is gold, pretty heavy and solid. The battery lasts 2 times more than everage. The hands light up in the dark, and are huge. The dial is at least 120% bigger than your average big watch. Special features: It shows the date on a mini LCD screen.

Potential Audience: Judging from the benefits, people that appreciate looking masuline and need something sturdy (maybe someone doing construction jobs?). Fashion people that like to be trendy. People that wear the same watch all the time and don’t feel like replacing the battery every 6 months. People with bad eyesight.

Combining the brainstormed: I am only going to list two summaries for demonstration purposes:

  • Our watches can help you with telling the time with bad eyesight, because it has really big dials. We are here to help you with getting back your sense of time.
  • Our watches can help you survive the harsh conditions you work in, because it is masculine, sturdy and cheap. We are here to help you focus on what you need to do without worrying about your fragile watch.

Simplify: The creative stage. Rephrase and simplify our brainstorm summaries.

  • “Eyes not like they used to be? Save time with our budget Big Dialed Watches!”
  • “Your job is rough and uncompromising. Our watches survive the hardest conditions.”

Evaluate: Instead of Steve, I ask you! Did the last two sentences tell you for who it is, and why they should buy it? Let me know how well I did here below.