Back to the Basics —
The Foundation of Great Copy

Michael Jordan’s background story is fascinating.

As a sophomore in high school, Jordan didn’t make the varsity basketball team — but he didn’t give up.

He continued to play — practicing the fundamentals — and his hard work paid off. The National Basketball Association website says, "By acclamation, Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time."

Jordan proves understanding and practicing the basics will make you successful.

That’s why, this week we’re getting “back to the basics.”

We’re not starting at the very beginning (What is copy?). Instead, we’ll cover some of the foundations of any copy project.

First up, research. Great research is the foundation of great copy.

When you research correctly:

  • Your final draft will be strong with proof.
  • A powerful Big Idea often reveals itself.
  • You’ll eliminate writer’s block because you’ll have so much to write about.
  • You’ll understand your prospect better and discover how to capture and keep his attention.
  • Your writing will be faster, more efficient, and even fun.

I could go on, but the point is, you must research. It doesn’t matter what your project is, who your client is, or how many times you’ve worked for them.

Always start with research.

You’ll want to research everything from the product you’re selling to your client’s competitors. If you have a project, read this article where I explain how to research before writing.

If you don’t yet have a client, here are three ways to enhance your research skills now:

  1. Research people. What makes them tick? Why do they buy? Mark Everett Johnson says, “You are not in the business of writing words … you are in the business of motivating human beings to take action.” Once you understand people and their behavior, you’ll have an easier time writing to them.
  2. Ask yourself why you bought certain things. People buy for benefits, not features.

    For example, why did you buy your computer? Was it because of the features: portable, fast, and easy to use?

    Or was it because of the benefits?

    • “Portable” gives you the benefit of working from anywhere.
    • “Fast” lets you get more done in less time.
    • “Easy to use” means you won’t waste a lot of time learning a new system.
  3. Research successful copy and write it out by hand. It doesn’t matter if you’re a web writer or romance writer, writing copy by hand is great research. The more you do it, the more you’ll understand how other successful writers capture their readers’ interest and get them to take action.

How do you keep your research skills sharp? Go here to join the discussion.

Tomorrow I’ll be back to explain how a simple question can help you uncover all the benefits of your product …

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »

Click to Rate:
Average: 5.0
Published: May 21, 2013

1 Response to “Back to the Basics — The Foundation of Great Copy”

  1. Writing out or typing successful copy is my favorite. It helps me disassemble the writer's architecture of persuasion and discover why the copy worked. As a result, the quality of my writing has improved immensely. So much so that hiring editors have begun to take notice.

    Writers who execute the fundamentals are light years ahead of the naturally gifted who don't keep their skills sharp. Doing what you know leads to success. Just knowing what you know gets you nowhere...

    Great job, Christina!


Guest, Add a Comment
Please Note: Your comments will be seen by all visitors.

You are commenting as a guest. If you’re an AWAI Member, Login to myAWAI for easier commenting, email alerts, and more!

(If you don’t yet have an AWAI Member account, you can create one for free.)

This name will appear next to your comment.

Your email is required but will not be displayed.

Text only. Your comment may be trimmed if it exceeds 500 characters.

Type the Shadowed Word
Too hard to read? See a new image | Listen to the letters

Hint: The letters above appear as shadows and spell a real word. If you have trouble reading it, you can use the links to view a new image or listen to the letters being spoken.

(*all fields required)