The Secret to Becoming Your “Role” As a Writer

You’ve come a long way since Monday – you’ve gotten the ins-and-outs of your favorite actor performances of all time, you’ve discovered a lot about the industry you write for, and you’ve thoroughly gotten to know your target market on a personal level.

Now it’s time for one of the most challenging aspects of the journey – getting to know your character.

It makes sense that, if you want to convincingly portray a role, you need to know it inside and out. After all, how can Benedict Cumberbatch successfully play Sherlock Holmes if he doesn’t know anything about him?

Of course, the best place to start is with Sherlock’s background. Where was he born and raised? What was his childhood like? What were his experiences leading up to today?

All of these questions inform the way he views the world. And answering them can develop a 3D image of the character to give a great performance.

However, it’s also important to understand why he does what he does. Everyone knows Sherlock is a genius sleuth. However, Benedict took it an extra step – he discovered that Sherlock relishes being a genius because he wants to prove himself more clever than everyone else.

Imagine how knowing that small detail could change his performance. You want to know as much about the product you’re selling as Benedict does about Sherlock. Imagine what kind of copy that level of understanding could produce.

As a copywriter, you know you have to research your product. After all, you can’t write good copy if you don’t know anything about it!

However, great copy goes beyond that. And Joe Sugarman, the famous marketer of BluBlocker Sunglasses, illustrates this concept better than anyone with his digital watch story.

Sensor Watch Company wanted him to sell their newest digital watch. So, the first thing he did was get to know the features and benefits right away, as well as the entire process with which the watch was made.

It was the first watch ever with a constant glowing display, a great feature. This meant you could tell the time any time of day without fumbling for a button. An amazing benefit and potentially a fantastic USP (Unique Selling Proposition).

However, even though this was unique, he didn’t feel it was enough to justify the high price and wanted to dig deeper.

He asked one of the engineers at the laboratory why nobody had thought of this before. And the engineer replied, “We haven’t had the technology to seal the [glowing] material … until somebody developed a technique with a laser. The laser is what seals the capsule.”

Now that was a real nugget he could wrap his head around. He titled the ad “Laser Beam Digital Watch,” talked about the big benefits for the consumer, and ultimately generated millions of dollars in sales.

The point is, the money is in the details. Every product has a story, history, and a process with which it’s created in addition to its inherent features and benefits. And just like with acting, incorporating them will generate a hugely compelling piece.

So, for today’s action step, do a little investigative journalism about your product. Ideally, if you’re working with a client, try to get in touch with them and conduct an interview.

Ask them about their story. How did they come up with the product? What goes into it? Why are they selling it now?

Share your fascinating discoveries in the comments below. I’d be thrilled to hear from you and see what you come up with.

Tomorrow, you’ll finally get to enjoy the fruits of your labor. And you’ll discover the final powerful technique actors implement to create show-stopping performances. See you then!

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: December 18, 2014

4 Responses to “The Secret to Becoming Your “Role” As a Writer”

  1. Can you give a few hints on 'how to research a product'? Like how did they come up with this product, what goes into it, why are they selling it now?

    Guest (branko)

  2. I am new to AWAI. For two weeks I heard and read so much about products, how to know your product , research....
    I do not have a product, how can I sell them .?

    Guest (jane uong)

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