How To Become A Copywriter (Part 2 – Skills And Psychology)

In Part 1 of this series, I defined what I meant by a “copywriter” (in this series, it’s someone who writes sales and marketing material); and I explained why you can become a good copywriter relatively quickly, with the right skills.

One of the natural requirements for being a good copywriter is to be a good writer. If you can write well, you’re part of the way there – although there are big differences between writing, and copy writing, as you’ll see throughout this series.

(If you’re not so good at writing, then improve as fast as you can by reading, practicing and getting feedback on your writing.)

I believe most things in life come down to having a set of skills. For example, the ability to write well is made up of several skills which includes:

  • Being able to spell.
  • Being able to use grammar and punctuation.
  • Being able to communicate clearly.
  • Being able to entertain.

That list isn’t complete by any means, but hopefully you can see how lots of smaller skills make up the bigger skill of “writing well”.

The same is true of copywriting. It comes down to having a series of skills, which I call “hats”. I listed them in Part 1, but let’s look at the list again:

A Psychologist
A Shoewalker
A Researcher
An Information Gatherer
An Attention Grabber
An Interest Holder
A Feature Converter
A Desire Magician
A Salesperson

So what do each of these mean? Let’s take a closer look at the first of the copywriter’s “hats”:

The “Psychologist” Hat

Good copywriters needs to understand what motivates humans to do the things they do, especially when it comes to buying. In short, they need to understand buying psychology.

An example I love to give is that of buying cars. Why do we buy cars? First of all, because they get us from A to B, usually quicker and more flexibly than, say, public transport.

So we might buy a car because of convenience, speed and flexibility. The benefits are: they can save us time, make our life easier, and in some cases might save us money.

However, are those the only reasons we buy cars? Not necessarily.

For example, some people buy $500 cars, and some buy $50,000 cars. Why doesn’t a person buying the $50,000 car buy the $500 car instead? They would likely save themselves a fortune!

Well, it’s true there may be some clear benefits of buying the more expensive car – perhaps it comes with a warranty (for peace of mind), and is less likely to break down (making life easier).

However, some of our reasons for buying things might be more emotional, and more driven by our core desires. For example, when it comes to cars (especially more expensive ones), these deeper desires might be:

  • The desire to look good to members of the opposite sex.
  • The feeling of power, freedom, or luxury.
  • To own a money and status symbol.

Now, it’s important to realize here that these deeper desires and feelings may well be UNSPOKEN. People don’t usually walk into car showrooms and go, “I’m looking for a car that will make me look like a stud, give me the feeling of power, and that will project an image of money and status to others.”

So part of the skill of being a copywriter is to know and understand the unspoken deeper desires of our audience, and to carefully appeal to those things, without necessarily spelling them out. (By the way, that’s another skill, being able to convey something without spelling it out.)

The very best resource I could recommend to you in this regard is Robert Cialdini’s book Influence: Science And Practice. Whether you buy it or borrow it from a library, make sure you read it at some point – this book will put you on the right track to understanding the psychology of buyers.

In Part 3 of this series, we’ll examine what I mean by a Shoewalker – another vital skill of a master copywriter. So make sure you’re subscribed to this blog and don’t miss out.

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