A good business copywriter knows how to find the exact right words that appeal to specific audiences, create compelling calls to action, and help brands conceptualize their marketing vision. And they all possess 4 essential traits:
- They’re well-versed in the industry or industries they write about.
- They know how to adopt the right tone and voice for each brand they write for.
- They listen to what their clients want and ask the right questions.
- They accommodate a brand’s specific marketing needs.
One other attribute good business copywriters share? The ability to draw inspiration from other sources.
Special Skillset of a Business Copywriter
Whether it’s product descriptions for e-commerce sites or white papers for tech companies, business copywriters specialize in producing content that is designed to promote or sell a product or service. If you write business copy, you know how important it is to craft copy that encourages readers to take a desired action. And you know how to best communicate ideas and information that appeals to a specific audience.
How do skilled copywriters get so good at what they do? They learn, or “steal” from others.
Most writers are familiar with T.S. Eliot’s “Great writers steal” quote, but fewer know that the start of the quote is “Mediocre writers borrow.”
Here’s how to make the stealing part work for you – it’s ok to be inspired by another’s work, but don’t plagiarize. What does that mean?
- It’s ok to steal ideas. Read what other people write about similar products or services you’re writing about. See what ideas pop into your head while reading it. Another writer’s words may take you down a path you never thought of. If you like the idea as is, then put it into your own words or expand on it. Or give it a bit of a spin.
- It’s ok to steal words and phrases. If you’re like most writers, you read. A lot. You probably come across unfamiliar words and lovely turns of phrases. When you do, write them down. Then use them to give your copywriting an original touch.
- It’s ok to steal and remix certain copy. Copyright laws protect writers from theft of their original work. Creative Commons is a vast and growing digital community where writers offer content that can be copied, distributed, remixed, and built upon.
How to Steal from Your Audience
One of the easiest ways to write what people want to read is to find out what they’re interested in reading! There are a couple ways to do this. You can ask them; surveys, focus groups, market research and one-on-one interviews are all great sources. And you can hang out where they hang out; social media sites can be a gold mine of data. Information you can gather includes:
- What real people are saying they value most about your product or service.
- What they don’t like about your (or similar) offerings.
- The problems they’re trying to solve.
- The words and phrases they use to express themselves.
You can also use a tool like Qualaroo (formerly KISSinsights) that help you understand why readers or customers make the decisions they do. It’s a great way to source killer content that speaks right to your audience.
Another great place to head for copywriting gold? The customer review section. Mega sites like Amazon, eBay and Newegg are overflowing with copy you can use. Even if you’re writing about a service, these sites can be invaluable. Most services are tied to a product, so search for related reviews to find out what people are raving or complaining about. Or search the book reviews to learn what people wish was being said that isn’t. App reviews are another good resource.
The Bottom Line
Once you get the hang of it, turning out great business copywriting inspired by others isn’t that difficult. What matters is the execution. Come up with analogies that are unique to you, use personal experience to transform another’s ideas, and tailor the copy to your targeted audience. Stealing an idea isn’t about copying someone else’s words. It’s about using them to inspire your own business copywriting, taking it to a new, polished level.