The Value of Researching Your Clients and Understanding their Message
There’s almost nothing worse than reading an ad, some product copy, an article or even a company’s website and realizing, very quickly, that whoever wrote it didn’t actually take the time necessary to learn everything they could about their client. Everyone, no matter how great of a writer he or she is, has fallen victim to this trap. Maybe you didn’t really understand what you were writing about, or maybe you simply thought that what you did was right. No matter what the reason, it’s going to make your client appear unprofessional – which is certainly not in your best interest, either.
One of the most difficult aspects behind writing intelligent, valuable copy is removing yourself from your own mindset. Good writers can eliminate their own thoughts, perform careful, meticulous research and write purely from their clients’ or customers’ perspectives. The problem is, if you haven’t done your research and due diligence, you’re going to shoot yourself in the foot with both barrels.
Researching your client isn’t just about reading their website, taking some notes in a meeting or glancing through a few brochures. You have to actually take the time talk to people at the company and get to know what makes them tick. What are their pain points? Who are their customers? What are their customers’ pain points? Sit down with an account manager or a sales person closely involved with the project, step back and look at their service or products subjectively, think about how these services or products would affect you, and how you would like to be addressed if you were reading this copy. Then, invest a good deal of time examining their competition. Then, after you’ve done all that, take another look to make sure you didn’t miss anything. After all, you can do 99% of everything right, but it’s that small inaccuracy or mistake that will bring everything crashing down faster than the Hindenburg.
When you really want to break down the best practices for researching your clients, think back to your days in school. Every time you were given a research project, you knew how much work you were about to take on. Long hours in the library, followed by longer hours pounding out that paper and agonizing over the details, leads to a healthy understanding of how researching in the professional world really works.
Some clients are, of course, easier to write for and may require less research when compared to others. But, this statement is also completely subjective. Some writers can easily tackle complicated manufacturing or scientific subjects, while others would balk at such a task and end up bashing their heads against their desk in frustration. Then there’s the opposite, where a more scientific writer is tasked with writing fluffy, feel-good copy that feels utterly foreign to him or her.
One of the most important things I’ve learned during my time as a copywriter at EPIC Creative® is the honest value of careful research and simply slowing down long enough to craft the right message. It’s not an easy task to think outside of your own mind and drop yourself into someone else’s shoes, but it’s absolutely necessary to do the job right. You can write eloquent, easily understood and relatable copy that you’re really proud of, but if it doesn’t fully express your client’s message or connect with their audience, then your hard work won’t mean a thing.
This experience has taught me that, before my fingers even think about typing a keystroke, I need to dig in, do the research and truly think about what this project needs to be successful. When it’s done correctly, your clients will connect with their audiences more effectively, which may lead them to sell more products, which will help you stay employed longer. Now… get back to that research.