Though content creation is often viewed as more art than science, compelling copy demands a solid basis in fact. You’d never create a white paper without ensuring the accuracy of your data, right?
Even when content takes a more casual form (like a social post or video talking points), skilled writers make sure that their information is accurate, complete and on target. That’s why, before starting a project, we try to conduct every bit of research that time and budget allows.
Start by researching internal questions
When tackling a new assignment, here are some of the questions Fahoury Ink’s content creators ask as part of our internal research process:
- What am I writing about and why?
- What do I already know about my subject? What pieces of the puzzle are missing?
- Where can I find the reputable facts, statistics, opinions and/or nuances that I need?
- How does the subject I’m writing about help my audience? For example, if it’s a product or service, does it solve a problem, save money, save time, make a task or life easier? Are there downsides? What are they? How can they be overcome?
- Who am I writing to? How familiar are they with the topic at hand?
- How can I best motivate the reader to act? What is the call to action — is my goal to have the reader pick up the phone, download a document, place an order or something else?
A seasoned copywriter can often dig up the answers to many of these questions, but he or she may have to interview subject matter experts in your organization for additional information or your unique perspective.
Looking outside the box
Once internal questions are answered, external research is often the next step. When your copywriter needs a better understanding of the outside environment or is writing about technical information, outside research can be essential to success.
The two basic types of outside research are primary and secondary. Primary, or original research, includes academic studies and survey research (including market research). These can include customer or industry surveys, one-on-one interviews or focus groups. Primary research can be costly, but if you want to really understand your audience’s environment and the potential impact of outside issues, primary research can play a big role.
Even after primary research is complete, copywriters may have to spend time understanding how the research was done, how it connects to other related data and what it means to your target audience. As a result, many copywriters look at secondary research. Data collected by others can be a quick and inexpensive way to garner useful context and facilitate the writing process.
Every project is different, so the amount of research needed will vary depending on your goals and your audience. Whether research is internal or external, primary or secondary, the information you gain will likely provide the building blocks needed to produce a highly persuasive piece of content.