How I Write Direct Mail, Landing Pages, and Other Copywriting Projects

Below is my methodology for writing copy, made up of the following steps:

1)I gather as much information as I can about the product and the market.

2)I spend a lot of time studying the information which I summarize on a ‘word’ document.

3)For long-copy assignments, I cut up the typed notes and paste each bit of information on an index card. I write a descriptive topic title at the top of the card. I then arrange the cards so the information is roughly in the order in which it will appear in the copy.

4)I write a brief, informal memo describing the promotion I intend to write, including the assumptions made about the audience and the theme or angle of the package.

5)Often the memo will contain several different copy approaches and headlines. I recommend wherever possible, split-testing of the best two or three, rather than betting the entire promotion on a single approach. However, whether to do so is completely up to the client.

6)Once the memo is approved, I write the copy. I go through many drafts before showing it to the client. Before the copy is e-mailed to a client, it is proofread several times.

7)The client provides comments in any manner and format he or she prefers, however, I think the best method of reviewing copy is to read it as an electronic file and make your comments directly on the file, using Microsoft Word’s “Track Changes” feature. Doing so makes it much easier for you to comment at length than writing in the limited space available on a hard copy with a pen. I highly recommend to clients that they use this online method of copy review.

8)I revise the copy until the client is satisfied and accepts it. If I am concerned about a specific edit or change request, I express my viewpoint politely and without being argumentative. If the client, after hearing my objections, still wants to proceed with the requested edit, I pleasantly acquiesce.

9)Although I do not require it, most clients email me a pdf or fax me the promotion in layout form. This allows me to check that all components are in the right place, and that the design is as effective as it can be. I also do a final proofing on my end. However, the client is responsible for final checking of all copy, design and production elements.

10)I give my corrections and comments to the client. The promotion is then posted or mailed.

11)I appreciate it when the client keeps me posted on the results. If I am getting a royalty on the roll-out, I will often suggest test ideas or improvements to the client at no cost, so as to maximize response (and of course maintain our copy as the control).

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