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Hey guys.

It’s for the first installment of the three part series, “proper planning and preparation.” As you may have guessed, in this article, I’m going to talk to you about the first step in the pre-copywriting process: preliminary research.

Ah, yes, preliminary research. Exiting, isn’t it? Calls to mind all the hours you used to spend slaving away in the library for college papers, or perhaps the hours you spent burning the midnight oil at your first “grown up” job after graduation.

Well, preliminary research might not be glamorous, but unlike paper shuffling at an office job, it can pay off… in a big way. Read on to find out exactly why that is, and how you can use this reality to your advantage.

Preliminary Research in Copywriting: Market Research

In copywriting, preliminary research is more or less synonymous with “market research.” While there are a variety of product-related  facts you should know when writing copy, you know them already if you’re writing copy for your own products, and you can work them out in a phone call with your client if you’re writing as a freelancer.

So, why is market research so important in copywriting?

The answer is that you need to know your market in order to understand what that market responds to, and what your market responds to is not always what logic and intuition would tell you it is.

A study conducted by global advertisers showed conclusively that most people respond to marketing materials emotionally, rather than logically. The study also showed that a consumer’s emotional reaction to a product’s marketing piece, was often not the same as what non-consumers of the product predicted it would be. Therefore, simply writing ads based on your intuition about what a reader will respond to, is not likely to pay off. Instead, you need to gather concrete research about your customer to find out what they need and (more importantly) want.

How To Do Market Research

Obviously, market research is a huge field, one that employs thousands of people and involves a huge amount of survey work and statistical analysis. For the average entrepreneur or copywriter, it’s not realistic to launch a full scale market research campaign with a team of telemarketers, statisticians, and so on.

It is possible, however, to do some “guerilla” market research for your own project, relying on existing market research, as well as your own ability to “tease out” the emotional hot buttons that connect a given market segment to a product. The following are some specific strategies you can use:

1. Search the internet for market research reports on your niche, done by professional market research firms. Use search terms like “research summary” and “market research,” along with keywords specific to your niche. Look for reports by very well regarded companies, like Nielson or Ipsos.

2. Look for TV advertisements in your niche, and pay attention to the emotional hot buttons being emphasized. Look for these advertisements on Youtube and other video sharing sites; or, if you watch TV regularly, pay attention if an ad comes on that seems to be related to your niche.

3. Read blogs and web forums related to the niche you’re going to be writing for, and pay attention to the descriptive language that participants use in reference to products.

4. If you have any friends who regularly buy products in the niche, ask them what kind of factors guide their purchases. Don’t just take their answers at face value, though; try to read between the lines and see what benefit a person is getting when they emphasize the value of a specific feature.

5. Try using the products yourself, and make note of what features you get a benefit from, as well as the deeper feelings or desires that emotion is tied to. Write these observations down and reference them against the more concrete information you gathered in steps 1-4.

As you get a bigger audience, you might want to try doing some more sophisticated market research; for example, creating your own simple surveys and sending them out to your mailing list. You can find more about these “professional” market research techniques here: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/55680

That’s it for today though. Stay tuned for the next installment of the blog, where I reveal the next step in the market research process. And by the way, if you liked this article, stay tuned for my e-guide, The Seven Secrets Of Successful Sales Copy, which will be released mid-July through this blog.

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