How to Step Up Your Research Game as a Copywriter
Here’s how I do it anyway.
Research is the most important part of copywriting — but I’m sure you already knew that if you’re reading this boringly titled article.
So — what can you do to make your research more effective?
Here’s a few quick tips:
- Ask yourself what the goal of your research is.
- Set sub-goals and use them to guide what you research.
- Set aside time for “Rabbit hole” research.
- Science rules and can prove just about anything.
- Don’t get too stuck on one idea.
More obvious stuff like — knowing the market and their level of sophistication is great and all, but other people have talked about it before.
So I’d rather contribute by offering a deeper dive into HOW to do research.
Because knowing how is what makes you more effective at it.
What’s the goal of your research?
What are you trying to “find” or “prove?”
You need a treasure map before you can find treasure — so what’s your treasure map?
Are you trying to prove something about what your product does?
Are you trying to find something to back up a prediction?
Do you just need to learn more about your market?
Go in knowing what you want to get out of your research and that will greatly help you stay on task.
These are like checkpoints in a video game, or like landmarks on a map.
Set sub-goals for yourself so you can stay on track.
These can be things like:
I need to prove that this ingredient in my supplement can do X.
So because I need to prove that one ingredient does X…
Can I prove that a molecule or component of it does what I want?
Are there parts that you can prove to prop up your major goal?
It’s like if you want to prove that keto helps you lose body fat.
You could set sub goals.
- Prove that keto works for people (find testimonials)
- Prove that the mechanisms behind keto work (ketosis)
- Prove that your supplement works (ex: exogenous ketones — can you find credible proof?)
- Prove the market wants this or believes it can work.
- Figure out how ketosis WORKS.
Those are all sub goals of research. They’re things you might need to research and get answers to in order to prove your desired “big claim.”
You’ll want to find “credible proof” for everything as well. The more “focal” the point you want to make is, the bigger the proof has to be.
Nobel peace prizes, Harvard, John Hopkins, etc. are all credible sources of proof.
For some markets the news is a credible source.
For others, it might be a guru.
The source doesn’t ACTUALLY need to be AIRTIGHT credible because even scientific studies and meta analyses have flaws.
Your reader just needs to believe the source is credible.
(NOTE: If you’re doing supplements or financial, etc. and dealing with lawyers, this goes right out the window. Proof becomes your god and you’d better have “scientifically sound” verifiable and generally accepted proof.)
That was my little CYA statement.
Go down the rabbit hole
You’ll discover your best stuff just going on forums and going to where your interest takes you. That’s likely how your audience got into whatever it is you’re researching, so you going through that same process will help you have a better understanding of what they went through.
Plus — you’ll be able to see things that the average person might miss. Things like consistent frustrations and common personality traits.
For example: some audiences by their language patterns will indirectly tell you they’re more frugal. Others are thrifty. Some are more creative. Others more confrontational.
Every little bit of info helps.
Set a timer for Rabbit Hole research though. Otherwise it really is a rabbit hole. Try to stick to 1–2 hours tops at a time.
Science rules and can prove almost anything
If you want to claim it, there’s probably been a study on it.
Not to mention companies fund studies and fudge numbers and interpretations all the time. The Keto thing with Ancel Keys is a good example.
Science might not be objectively true.
In many cases it has tons of flaws.
But the thing is… people believe in science and it’s the best we have sometimes. So you might as well use it.
Look on sources like Google Scholar and PubMed. Sometimes research papers can be expensive or hard to get your hands on.
If you can’t find ANYTHING— then you can ask your client if they’ll fund one. If they’re a smaller company they probably won’t do this. But something you CAN do is piece together research using sub goals.
So even if you don’t find a study that says YOUR thing works… you can usually find studies to prove that at least one part works.
Like if you’re selling a fancy new supplement for weight loss — you just need to prove that one weird ingredient in your supplement works. So that could be a research goal or sub goal.
Don’t get too stuck on one idea
Your research road map is just that.
A road map.
Don’t get too stuck on the destination because sometimes you miss your best stuff when you have tunnel vision.
You might have thought that your mechanism was one thing, but in fact — you find a better one during your research.
Don’t let the better mechanism go to waste!
Just throw your “old” ideas into a Google doc so you don’t lose them or feel bad for not using them…
But never be afraid to change directions if you can tell the market wants something you didn’t think about or know about before you started researching.
There’s a lot to think about when it comes to research…
But honestly — this is a large majority of how I do it.