Maslen on Marketing

Ten top copy planning tips

  1. Put your goal right at the top. Phrase it like this: When they finish reading my copy, my reader will… This a functional goal for the copy. And it focuses you on converting one reader at a time.
  2. Make sure your goal is an action of some kind. Actions are measurable.
  3. Find out everything you can about your reader. Talk to people who regularly speak to your customers. Talk to your customers. Hang out in chatrooms, forums and other online spaces where they congregate.
  4. Do not create your plan on a computer. Use physical materials like Post It notes, pencil and paper, flipcharts or pictures cut from magazines. This supposed to be an open-ended process: computer typefaces make everything look too perfect.
  5. Create your plan somewhere other than at your desk. Your desk is where you write copy. You want your brain to be in another mode so take it somewhere new.
  6. Jot down your main points. All of them. Don’t worry about the order yet. When the list is complete, THEN move them about till you have a coherent narrative.
  7. Write down the tone of voice and style you want to use. Then, no matter what your mood when you come to write your copy, you will have a guide to tell you what you’ve already decided will work best.
  8. Address your reader’s emotions as well as their intellect. Since people buy on emotion and rationalise their decision afterwards, it pays to figure out how you will use feelings to close the sale.
  9. Build time into your plan for editing, checking and getting sign-off. Presenting a first draft on deadline is no good.
  10. Allow 25% of your available project time for planning. The return on investment will be more than worth it.

And I’m telling you this because?

Planning is something of an ugly duckling in the copywriting world. A lot of writers believe, swan-like, in the snowy white power of creativity. They regard planning as a time-wasting diversion from the main business of typing. I don’t.

Whenever I plan thoroughly I write better copy in less time. You will too.

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