Before You Begin Tips

Read these 17 Before You Begin Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Copywriting tips and hundreds of other topics.

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Keyword Research is Essential

When writing web copy, understanding the words your target audience is searching for is essential to the copywriting process. Depending on the market you’re writing for, your target audience will use different terminology during the search process. Therefore, it is essential to have an understanding of what words or phrases your audience is searching for before beginning the writing process. This can seem like a daunting task. Fortunately, there are a number of keyword tools that will help you determine which phrases to target while writing.

Here are some of my favorite free keyword tools:

  • Google_Adwords: A great free tool. Enter one or several keywords or phrases into the search box and the AdWords Keyword Tool will bring back a plethora of possible alternatives along with much appreciated information, including monthly and average search volume and how competitive the phrase is.

  • Word Tracker Free Keyword Tool: Another great free tool Word Tracker’s Free Keyword Tool will offer the top 100 free alternate keyword suggestions as well as the daily search volume.

  • SEOMoz Term Extractor: Find out what keywords other companies are targeting. Enter your targeted URL into the box and this tool will extract the terms that are targeted for the search engines.

  • Keyword Discovery: One of my favorite tools, Keyword Discovery is far superior to other because of the ease of use and the amount of keywords returned. For example, typing in patio furniture brought me over 2000 key phrases. While this may seem like a lot, it can be very helpful when writing copy as you often need to target more long tail terms.

What is Marketing?

Marketing is a Choice

Marketing is not just opening up a business on or offline, advertising it and selling to people. Ask a business owner/manager if they have a marketing plan to follow and many will tell you they have a Yellow Pages ad or run a few ads in local newspapers or publications relevant to their business.

McDonald's and Coca Cola did not become giants just by luck and a few clever ads. They chose to implement strategic marketing principles. Companies of this size invest millions of dollars into marketing strategies and advice from marketing consultants, and implement the plans.

How can I identify new target markets?

Targets that Change

Most businesses have more than one target market though they may never have identified them. For example, a restaurant may target business people during lunch hours Monday to Friday, and families on the weekends. They may even target young people on Friday evenings. Whatever business you are in, learn how to identify multiple Target Markets.

Read the whole article: "Targets that Change"

How can I identify and write a detailed competitive davantage?

Examples of UCA's

1. Bug's restaurant has the largest range of seafood dishes available on the north side of Bugsville. (Bug's restaurant must be able to demonstrate this to their customers).

2. Cyril's restaurant serves business lunches within 10 minutes of ordering, between the hours of 12 Midday to 2pm, Monday to Friday or it's free.

3. Texas Blue American restaurant has the liveliest dining atmosphere in southern Dallas. A fun-filled dining experience is guaranteed.

Read the whole article: "Examples of UCA's"

How do I identify target markets when starting a business?

Aim Before You Fire!

Before ever starting or expanding your business, target markets need to be identified. If your business is in full swing, you can re-adjust your direction and become even more successful by discovering new target markets in your area of business influence. Read the whole article: "Aim Before You Fire"

How do customers respond to competitive advantages?

A customer's viewpoint

Customers make choices about what they purchase, or whose services they will use, based on whatever competitive advantages that business offers. Now a customer does this pretty much sub-conciously. There's something that just seems appealing to them about your offer that makes them want to do business with you. It's called a Unique Competitive Advantage.

Read the whole article: "A Customers Viewpoint"

How do I plan a marketing strategy?

Marketing Strategy

A Marketing Strategy is the compiling and implementation of marketing principles and researched plans to use as the blueprint for business success.

Read the whole article: "Marketing Strategy"

How do I develop competitive advantages for my business?

Competitive Advantages

Having a clearly defined UCA is one of the basic requirements of an effective marketing strategy. A UCA is often referred to as a Unique Selling Proposition (USP).

A UCA is a characteristic that sets your business apart from all others. (Particularly those in the same suburb or location).

Read the whole article: "Unique Competitive Advantages"

How do I start marketing my products or services?

Marketing in a Nutshell

Marketing as a word does not have one strict definition, but here's one that's listed in a dictionary:

"Marketing is the action or business of promoting and selling products, including market research and advertising." - Encarta Dictionary.

Read the whole article: "What is Marketing?"

How can I afford to apply strategic marketing?

Good News

While the general business community is aware of the fact that they need to implement good marketing strategies to ensure longevity and profits in business, too many still don't operate from the blueprint of a strategic plan. As a result, many businesses close down or go bankrupt due to lack of profits. But the good news for business owners is that you can achieve great success by applying cost effective marketing strategies.

How do I start to find a target market?

Are you a Sniper or Sprayer?

A sniper has a very clear target to aim at, a sprayer fires at random and hopes to connect. Make sure that you are a "sniper" when it comes to business. If you aim at nothing, that's exactly what you'll hit.

Many businesses would consider the "general population" to be their target market. But most businesses (should) have particular characteristics that clearly appeal to specific groups of people in the community. These specific groups that your business appeals to become your target markets. Target markets and "Unique Competitive Advantages" work together.

Your target markets can also be divided up into "Target market segments."

How do I develop multiple competitive advantages?

Multiple UCA's

Your business, no doubt has qualities that appeal to different market segments.

For example: A fashion shop in a particular suburb may boast the largest variety of evening gowns for larger women. Not everyone is a size 10 model! It can develop a competitive advantage over other fashion stores in the neighbourhood by using this claim in their ads and promotions.

But the same store may also have the lowest prices and largest range of women's jeans . This competitive advantage over their competition can also be used in promotions and ads.

Read the whole article: "Competitive Advantages"


Know Your Audience

One of the keys to successful marketing (let's not forget that copywriting is marketing) is understanding what your audience wants and what it will take to convince them they can get it from you.

A great way to learn more about your audience is to create "buyer personas". Karen Goldfarb offers great tips on creating buyer personas on her blog.

When you understand your audience you will be better equipped to provide them the content they desire and in turn, lead them through the buying cycle.

Here is the link to the Karen Goldfarb blog post:


Find Your Happy Place

Copywriting, whether it is for the web or any other media, is just like any other form of writing. Before you begin writing you need to find that one place that you feel most comfortable and you can let the creativity flow.

Normally this is a place with few interruptions, like a home office. If you are like me, however (and I bet many are), quiet does not necessarily mean comfortable. Whether you choose a coffee house (my personal favorite), library or bar the main objective is to make sure the place you choose allows for your best work to show.


Take Writing Classes

Want to become a better copywriter? Take some writing classes covering any style of writing you choose. Many people seem to forget that writing quality copy takes a lot of creativity. If you have a desire to hone your skills and catpult your career to the next level you need to stay on top of your game.

Your local community college more than likely offers continuing education courses in creative writing, technical writing and other styles.And since we are taking classes, shy stop there? Enroll in classes on HTML, search engine optimization and anything else that could make you better at writing web copy.

Your career will thank you.


Believe In Yourself & Writing

Truth is, if you don't believe in yourself as a writer and the copy you produce no one else is going to believe it either. For the most part, copywriting is marketing writing. And just like any other marketing, if the person behind the curtains knows what they are producing is a load of crap people will see right through it. This is why it is important to take projects when you believe in the message...otherwise your writing, and readers, will suffer.


Ask the Right Questions

Before beginning a copywriting assignment you need to pull as much information as possible from your clients. Depending on the business they are in chances are no one knows it any better then they do, they only hired you because they either don't have the time or the writing skills to get it done. Ask questions during the interview, while researching and even during the writing process. Any client that truly wants the highest quality work available will be more than happy to answer any relevan tquestion you throw at them.

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Guru Spotlight
Jeffery Loquist