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The Four Key Ingredients to Writing Great Copy for Marketing or Advertising

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If you’re new to copywriting, here are the four key ingredients to remember as you work through your next marketing project or ad campaign.


1. Ask Questions: To fully understand what your client wants and needs, you need to ask all the right questions. It’s possible everything will be provided to you in the creative or strategic brief, but I’ve never seen it happen. If you’re paying attention, you’ll have questions. For example:

Who is the target audience and what do we know about them (from demographic and psychographic data to past interactions with the brand and the market)?

What do we want the target audience to feel?

What do we want the target audience to do?

Have we identified the tactics we think will help us to achieve these goals?

If so, what are the limitations and possibilities with those mediums? (You don’t want to waste time writing long-form copy if a digital add can only hold a 6-7 word headline.)

2. Do the Research: Do you know the brand fully yet? Look at what has been produced. Who are the competitors? Do you need to do research around the creative being produced?

3. Concept First: It’s almost always best to start from the top down. In other words, don’t sweat the details at this stage. You need ideas! Think conceptually about different creative approaches toward conveying the primary message. Try to boil each of your new concepts down into one or two sentences.

4. Word Opportunities: After you’ve selected your best concepts (3-7 usually), zero in on what I like to call “word opportunities.” Think about and look up different words that will support or strengthen your concepts. This might well be my favorite part of the process. This is your chance to have fun with language. From the list of words, phrases and ideas you develop, explore possible connections and word play. As you work, the strong headlines you need to drive your concept should start to emerge.


And that’s it. Once you’ve crafted your concepts and compelling headlines, the supporting copy should flow naturally from that.


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