How to come up with ideas for good copy

How to come up with ideas for good copy

It’s easy to write good copy once you have a great idea to work with. (Well, most of the time anyway.) But how do you come up with new ideas? Do you wait for inspiration to strike? Is there a process?

YES! Having spent over 30 years as a professional creative I can say with great certainty, while inspiration does strike randomly from time to time, there are ways to get the creative juices flowing. Here are a few of my favorites.

Start with the problem

What problem does the product solve? Who uses it? Why is it better than other solutions? Answering these questions will give you the basic materials to build a copy block or headline. 

Give yourself time 

Great ideas rarely come from out of the blue. Great ideas come from working through the questions above. This isn’t something you can do in 4 minutes. A good brainstorming session should be at least 30 minutes and can go over an hour if you are on a roll. Remember to come up with lots of ideas, let them percolate, then winnow them down to one or two, before you start to flesh them out. 

Take a walk

Moving is a great way to get creative juices flowing. Steve Jobs was famous for walking when he was struggling with a new project or problem. While you walk, think about the problem. Let your mind wander and then come back to the problem. Don’t hold it too tightly, but keep coming back to it.

Be curious

I usually start with a big sheet of paper and make a mind map of what I know about the product. Who invented it? Why? Who was the first person to use it? What is it made of? I once did a project for International paper to help them sell more office paper. We asked what the difference was between inkjet, laser, and multipurpose office papers. No one had much information. But why would there be so many choices if there was no real difference? So we asked to speak to the paper engineers. They talked for over an hour and gave us all we needed to know about why there were different papers, what the advantages and disadvantages were for each, and why it would matter to the customer. If we hadn’t been curious enough to speak to the engineers, we would never have gotten the right information.

Follow the customer

This is a great exercise even if you aren’t writing copy. Go to where your customers are using your product and watch them. If you sell travel gear, spend time in some airports, train stations, and bus depots. Think about who is buying what you are selling and go watch them in their native habitat.

Google it

It can lead you down the garden path but the Google machine does come up with some great stuff. Ask questions like “Why is (your product) better?” “Who uses (your product).” Be curious and see where it take you. 

Go to a bookstore or library

Sometimes getting away from your desk is the best use of your time. I think of libraries and bookstores as high-target environments for ideas. Look at books about your product space. Flip through magazines. Just let your curiosity guide you. 

If you would like to learn more about how to write great product copy for Shopify, download the Smart Shopify Copy Builder

This guide will help you understand the different facets of good copy, understand how they affect your customer’s perception of your products and your brand, and why that matters. We have also included a handy planner to make the process easier. 

Introducing the Smart Shopify Copy Builder!

Introducing the Smart Shopify Copy Builder

Writing great product copy is a big job, and it probably isn’t the only thing on your to-do list. This guide will help you understand the different facets of good copy, understand how they affect customer’s perception of your products and your brand, and why that matters. It shows you where the opportunities for crafting great SEO are and even includes a handy planner to make the process easier. Once you understand what to do, and why it matters, it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes per product to create a plan of attack.

Whether you are writing copy yourself, or with a team, this resource will keep you focused on the important things. It also makes getting your information organized and in one place.