Copywriting is not writing. It is assembling.

The best copywriters collect the varied parts of their research and assemble those parts into a true story that resonates with the particular worldview of an audience.

Then that story is tested, tweaked, and deployed again. A story that enters the conversation an audience is already having, can be a story that travels.

The assembly of these parts is key.

Though you’ll never know if a headline, or a collection of bullet points, or a call to action will resonate with your audience — not until you let it out into the real world and test it — there is one commonly overlooked practice that’s turned out to be the best copywriting advice I’ve ever put to use …

Shut up and listen.

  • Listen to the creator of the product you’re selling. Let her talk (for hours if necessary) about what makes it work, why she built it, what she hopes it will do for her customers. This practice alone can give you the bulk of your copy.
  • Listen to your audience. What are they telling you — directly or indirectly — about what they really want and need? If social media has given us anything, it’s an unprecedented ability to hear the demands and desires of real people, in real time.
  • Listen to your competitors. It’s wise to have a view of the entire field. What’s working in your market? What’s not working? What can you learn from others’ success and failure (and from the language that got them there)?

If you’ve built a useful and/or captivating product or service, you don’t need to sweat and agonize over dreaming up some dumb marketing campaign.

Real people will tell you precisely how to assemble the various parts of your copy … many times they’ll even give you the actual bullet points and headlines that you’ll end up using, word for word.

This is not laziness; it’s wisdom in practice. Talk less, listen more.

Humble yourself and serve your audience, listen to their needs and desires, listen to the language they use.

If you listen carefully, your audience can eventually give you everything you need, including much of your copy. Oh, and remember …

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