If you’ve been around copywriting circles for more than a few minutes, you know that we’re all about the benefits.
Here’s an example… Does it mean more that your MP3 player can hold 64 MB OR that you can “have 1,000 songs in your pocket?”
Apple is masterful at sharing the benefits of their products.
But it’s not only the consumer buyer who wants to know how something can help them. Engineers, salespeople, marketers, and office managers want to know too.
To uncover the benefits your readers need to know, you need to dig deep into what the product or service has to offer.
Here are six proven questions you can ask to help you write stronger, more benefit-rich copy.
6 Questions to Ask Before You Write
Every writing project requires a framework. And a series of questions provides just such a framework. My preference is to schedule an interview with the client and record the conversation so I can go back and listen in case I forgot something.
Here are the questions I start with:
1. Do You Have Buyer Personas?
B2B marketers are familiar with the idea of target markets and buyer personas. The latter are especially useful because they show the company has thought through who their buyers are and created a sketch of a specific type of person.
These usually include the type of role the prospect has, like “salesperson” or “CEO,” as well as common challenges and concerns. Even better if the client has more than one persona because this shows they’ve dialed in on the different types of potential buyers.
Imagine a SaaS (Software as a Service) product like Wave accounting. Wave knows its target market is small business owners like you and me. Their primary buyer persona probably sketches out a solo business owner who needs a reliable system for sending and receiving invoices and simplifying their bookkeeping.
However, IBM has an entirely different type of clientele. They have content that speaks to CEOs, Chief Financial Officers, and office managers. Each one represents a different buyer persona with varying needs and challenges.
Discussing which buyer persona is most important for the piece of content you’re writing will help you dig deeper into the story.
2. What’s the Goal of the Piece of Content?
A series of emails may be meant to promote a webinar to a small business owner. A downloadable case study may be meant to gather leads for the business.
You can think of it as a GPS for the content. Who is it for and what do you want them to do after reading it, are key pieces of information for you.
3. What’s Your Core Offer?
While some businesses do multiple things, everyone has a core that is their bread and butter. Do they sell data mining services to e-commerce companies? Do they sell Point of Sale systems to restaurants and the secondary market in retail stores?You can always ask it in a way that offers them the opportunity to share other information with you too. Such as, “From what you’ve shared with me so far, XYZ is your core offer, would you agree?”
Occasionally, they may say a variation on, “Yes, but we’re making a pivot due to changes in the market.”
This is GREAT insight for the writer!
4. Who’s Your Competition?
This is terrific information because not only can you go and read the material from the competition, but you get insight from your client on who they THINK is their competition.
5. What Do You Do Differently?
I’ve had business owners tell me they’re not that different and while I appreciate the honesty, it’s important to find a difference.
Maybe they offer a free trial and their competition doesn’t. Or they’ve been around longer or they have better testimonials. There’s always some type of difference. Coke and Pepsi are both sugary colas, but their different formulas mean they each have their diehard fans.
6. Can You Share Any Customer Success Stories and/or Testimonials?
These are my favorite because you get to hear from a happy customer. When they say something specific like, “XYZ saved us $423,000 over 12 months.” Then I ask my contact if they can elaborate on how they did this. They may say it’s due to their proprietary software, “Great!” I ask. “Can you tell me a little more about how it works? As if I were a prospective customer?”
This approach works best if you’re talking to a salesperson or someone who understands sales/marketing in addition to the director/business owner. It’s okay to ask to talk to other people in the company. I just explain that hearing different perspectives helps me better understand the bigger picture.
Our job is to communicate the benefits to the target audience in a way that’s easy to grasp.
While these aren’t the only questions I may ask, they’re a start. What other questions would you add?