Every writer will, at some point, enter that awful moment of panic where we suddenly doubt that anything we have ever written was worth the paper it was written on. For some of us, that moment of panic occurs regularly, like my friend Jack who panics like clockwork at 3pm every day. For others, the feeling eludes us for years, only to cripple us momentarily at a distinctly inopportune moment.
Writing is a craft that’s so close to the essence of a writer’s being that it’s difficult to separate ourselves from our work sometimes. If we don’t find a way to make that line between our work and ourselves firm, though, all sorts of problems can result – like low self-esteem, which spirals into shoddier work and less connecting with potential clients – a never-ending cycle of negativity. Recognizing the difference between your work and your worth is a critical conversation for any writer to have with someone they trust.
If you can separate yourself from your work, though, you have a better chance at being able to objectively decide if your work is good. You can take a step back and analyze the form, the tone, and the results that your copy is giving your clients and decide if your work is doing its job in the marketing process.
Aspects of writing like tone and form are subjective – every person who proofreads or edits your writing could possibly “read” your work differently. What isn’t subjective are the results that your writing is showing. Objective goals are the best (and only) way to determine if your writing is, in fact, worth much more than the paper it’s written on.
So how do you set these objective goals? Check out the list I use with every project to make sure I’m in line with the game plan.
How To Be Sure Your Copy Hits Goals
1. Does your copy catch your reader’s attention?
They’re never going to read the entire thing if they can’t get past the headline. That’s just a fact.
Does your copy arrest your reader’s attention from the first word? Get them to say “Yes! That’s me!” from the very start. Make them interested or intrigued.
Consumers encounter millions of messages every day, and if you want them to interact with yours, you have to make the headline and opener engaging, interesting, and a little bit “extra,” – just enough that your customer must stop what they are doing to read more.
2. Does your copy detail your product’s benefits?
This is the part where we have to remember the difference between benefits and features. Features are the really cool parts of your product that really only you care about, like the fact that you worked until 2am for 27 days to put together your coaching program. Totally shows dedication, and your customer totally doesn’t care.
Benefits help your customer to connect with the product. They’re what shows the customer that your product is important to them and relevant to them. Catching a pattern? Benefits are what the customers care about, like the fact that your coaching program can make them a million dollars in two days. (Sign me up!)
3. Does your copy answer any concerns the customer could have – before they even ask?
Almost everything that is sold has some sort of negative quality or at the very least, something that the customer could be wary about. Instead of trying to cover that piece up with all of the really great information that makes your product amazing, embrace the negatives upfront. Let your customer know that you’re aware of potential downfalls and then redirect them in such a way that the customer understands that your product is absolutely worth the cost anyway.
If you don’t answer this upfront, customers will still be calling and emailing you asking about it, so it’s not like you’re going to get away with avoiding it forever. By bringing it up first, though, you have the opportunity to take control of the conversation and help transform what could be a negative into another reason your customer should invest ASAP.
4. Does your copy clearly explain what’s in it for the customer?
“What’s in it for me” is almost the same as benefits, but not quite. Even the coolest benefit, like “saves you five million hours a day AND makes you 10x richer every minute” wouldn’t be worth much if the customer didn’t personally want it. You have to help the customer connect with the message, which means you have to know the customer well enough to know what benefits will speak to them.
5. Does your copy get your customer to trust you?
The first, and easiest, way to start building trust is to write about the customer’s problem so well that they will have thought they wrote it themselves. Think about it: if someone knew exactly what problems you were facing, wouldn’t you feel connected? Showing the client how well you know their pain spots tells them that you get it.
From there, show them how it can get better. Reveal the process to solving their problem, use testimonials to show how others have benefited from your products or services, and give them a guarantee that lets them know you’re serious about your offer. Building trust is a process that never ends, but there are a few key ingredients to making sure you get started.
6. Does your copy tell your customer what to do?
Famous writing advice is to “show, don’t tell.” Well, that doesn’t work in copywriting. Sure, we want to show them that we know their problem and show them our solution, but at the end of the day, the customer should be told what to do: given simple, step by step instructions on what they should do next. You can’t expect them to know they have to give you their email address and then you’ll send them an invoice. Tell them clearly what to do and what to expect.
Great copywriting is judged not by the prose, but by the results, so you have to use objective measurements to know if you’re doing well. With this list of questions, you’ll be able to objectively define your writing as good copywriting so that you can throw off those sleepless nights of worry and get on with helping more clients!
Do you have any words of wisdom to share, or do you profoundly disagree with something I said and want to let me know? I’m all ears! Comment below and let's talk about it.