Turning Research into Sales Copy

In my last post, I showed you 7 different ways to research a copywriting project.

And while you can immediately use that information to research your next project, it’s helpful to know what to do with all the information you dig up. That’s why I’m going to show you how to turn your research into sales copy that actually works.

I’ve taken my research methods and broken them down into three primary methods so they are easier for you to remember. Taken together, they spell the acronym “D.I.G.”

Method #1: Dig for Diamonds

The first thing I do is “dig for diamonds.” Put another way, I review articles, statistics, interview notes, and testimonials to see if there are any phrases, concepts, or ideas that I can easily use verbatim in the copy.

  • A testimonial might be turned into a headline or bullet.
  • A snatch of conversation during my client interview may become an entire paragraph or two of sales copy.
  • A quote from a periodical may become a sidebar… or even a subhead or headline.

I like to print out my research. As I review what I have, I’ll have my pen in hand to underline any diamonds I find. I may even make a note of how I was thinking of using that particular bit of information in the copy.

Let me give you an example to take this from theory to practice.

Did you know David Ogilvy didn’t actually write the headline he is most famous for? That’s right. He didn’t write it. He just had the vision and foresight to use it as a headline.

Ogilvy’s famous headline was this:

“At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock.”

The body copy of the ad then opens with this paragraph:

1. “At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock,” reports the Technical Editor of The Motor. The silence of the engine is uncanny. Three mufflers tune out sound frequencies — acoustically.

Notice that Ogilvy’s headline is a direct quotation from the Technical Editor of a magazine called The Motor. No doubt, this headline came not from Ogilvy’s creativity, but rather from his thorough research.

Method #2: Identify Language Patterns

Your market speaks in a unique way.

They’ve got certain ways of speaking, special phrases, and slang words that are all a part of their particular sub-culture.

And you may or may not speak in the same way!

So one of the things I do is identify specific phrases and language patterns that the target market uses. If you read enough testimonials and customer feedback, you will very quickly discover what those phrases and patterns are.

Recently, I helped launch a new product for a client. I was in charge of writing all the launch emails, plus the reverse opt-in pages and sales letter.

As part of the project, I solicited feedback on my client’s blog. I asked the subscribers why they wanted to be what we were offering to teach them to be.

But rather than let those comments languish, I analyzed each comment and boiled it down to a single phrase. In my notebook, I wrote at the top of the page: “Why Be a ____?”

Then I have 23 entries, all of which start “To ________.”

After reviewing my “boiled down” list of reasons, I discovered that EVERYBODY wanted to be a  ____ for three specific reasons. I then put those three reasons in my headline and made sure to revisit them in the sales copy.

Result: That letter converted at more than 10% when we launched.

Method #3: Get Creative

Last but not least, you need to get creative.

You need to review your research and connect the dots.

What big ideas pop out? What ideas bubble up? What specific phrases keep repeating that you can use as the theme or “hook” for your sales letter?

In almost every sales letter I write, I like to use a simile or metaphor to help explain the product or service. This may be used in a headline, or it may be buried somewhere in the body copy, depending on how simple or complex the product is.

So I might write a sentence that says:

“It’s like ______.”

Or, “It’s not just a _____; it’s a ______.”

This is abstract thinking. And, yes, it takes practice to get good at it. But it’s worth it.

Recently, I had to sell a tool that helps option traders write covered calls with protective puts. There is a small fraction of the population that even knows what that means. So I had to come up with a metaphor to explain the product.

I ultimately used this metaphor in the headline of the sales letter. Here is the “metaphor headline” I wrote:

“In Gambling, The House Always Wins. What If You Could Be ‘The House’ in Option Trading?”

The beauty of this headline is that it quickly conveys the idea of what we’re selling without getting bogged down in all the details. It shortcuts the time it takes for the prospect to understand the product — even though the product is complex.

Even better, the letter converted at more than 7% during two separate launches.

“D.I.G.” Your Way to Stronger Sales Copy

The three methods I’ve shared with you — Dig for Diamonds, Identify Language Patterns, and Get Creative — spell the acronym D.I.G.

So the next time you’re doing research for a copywriting project, just remember that you can D.I.G. your way to stronger sales copy by using the three methods I’ve outlined above.

-Ryan M. Healy

Ryan M. Healy

Ryan Healy is a financial copywriter and the author of Speed Writing for Nonfiction Writers. Since 2002, he has worked with scores of clients, including Agora Financial, Lombardi Publishing, and Contrarian Profits. He writes a popular blog about copywriting, advertising, and business growth, has been featured in publications like Feed Front magazine, and has been published on sites like WordStream.com, SmallBizClub.com, and MarketingForSuccess.com.

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