The great copywriting hoax everyone believes

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It is too pervasive that great messages are all come from your head.

It is the same line that people especially business owners or even marketers believe that because they created the product or service, they know best what the message should be.

It’s terrible.

People have been lying to you for ages. It is not true at all!

The best messages will never come from inside your head. They won’t.

Even the greatest copywriters in the world don’t sit around dreaming up messages (or copy).

They don’t put all the thinking hat to come up with the sizzling headlines and write it down just like that. They know that inspiration and ideas to write great copy lie outside their office.

Get your a** off the chair!

Here is a story about the late Gene Schwartz – one of the great copywriters of all time (my hero!). He was about to write copy for a client. He sat down with the client, interviewed him, discussing the product-related issues and so on.

In the first 3 minutes, he got exactly what he needed – the right message to write copy for that client.

But he kept interviewing the client for the rest of the hour so the client would feel like this isn’t easy. Then Mr. Gene finishes the interview, and he takes a couple of weeks to submit the ad that he’d written almost immediately after finishing the interview.

What Mr. Gene did there is he went out and listened to what people were saying – and in this case, it was the CEO of the company he was writing the ad for.

But, nonetheless, he didn’t look to his own thoughts. He wasn’t sitting there interviewing himself. He went out and asked people. He interviewed people to dig deep about the product.

And in this particular case, he got the best line quite quickly.

This also serves to remind people out there that copywriters are not wordsmiths – trying to overly creative, looking inward to come out with the best copy possible.

You do not want copywriters to wordsmith your copy. Flowery prose, witty lines don’t sell.

You want copy that sells. Period.

But that’s not only the case, and that is the lie that you have to stomp down before hiring a copywriter.

So, how in the blue hell copywriters write copy? How does a copywriter find the right phrase? How does interviewing inspire a light bulb moment to write sizzling hot copy?

Great questions.

It boils down to developing a better ear – a technique of listening what’s stand out when interviewing to find the key message.

Just like practising playing the guitar, the more you do it – while following the right process – the better your ear will become.

I try to practice this method when interviewing clients.

When asking a question, I focus my attention and listening to what my client has to say. Sometimes along the interview session, I can pick up interesting points my client reveals so I can put it all together as my key messages.

After all, a voice recorder also comes in handy at this point.

The truth is out there

So, if you think your marketing message is always in your head, you might be wrong.

If you realise that a copywriter who produces the oh-so-exciting copy is a wordsmith, your sales would be tanked.

Try to understand that stellar copy comes from outside of your realm. Be in your customer’s, lead’s, prospect’s, visitor’s and so on, the right answer is out there.

I may not be in Gene Schwartz’s level yet, but I go out and aware as I listen of what hits me during the research process.

I take it in, taking note of the things that sticks to me when I hear them. Then using that to help write a potentially great copy or the new copy for Web.

And that is the truth.

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