Start with a goal and work backwards

A couple of weeks ago at networking, a fellow mingler asked me what my copywriting process was. That was the first time anyone had ever asked me that. Clients don’t want to know how I write, as long as they like what they receive. Nobody else had ever asked me either. I guess it’s that old saying that no one wants to see how their sausage is made. As a result, I was uncharacteristically tongue-tied. I do have a process. A system. It’s second nature to me, but not so easy to explain. It’s a process I developed myself, although I know other people do it too. It can be applied to any other area of business or life. To put it simply, I start with a goal and work backwards.

How do I set the goal?

When I take I brief from a client I really only have one question. What is your goal? I just want one. They may have other targets they want to achieve, but those are secondary to me. Give me a primary goal, and stick to it. I then work backwards from that goal. What structure of writing will best serve the goal? What research must I do to convey the right message to reach the goal? Everything else, the tone of voice, the call to action, must all lead in one direction. The goal. When I actually write the copy, every word of every sentence, every subheading, every comma, is all for the goal.

Why do I start with a goal?

I know some writers like to start with a blank page, brainstorm and see where it goes. That may work for them, but it doesn’t align in my mind. For me, if I don’t know what I want to achieve, I won’t know if I’ve succeeded.

Why just one goal? In my opinion, too many objectives cloud your judgement. It makes your writing woolly. I believe my system is better for the reader too. They’re led on a clear path from a start to an end. They receive a more memorable message.

From a business perspective, one clear goal makes it easy for the client to ascertain whether their campaign has been a success, and makes it easy for me to win repeat bookings.


This system doesn’t only apply to copywriting. You can use it in any area of life. If you want to be at a certain level in your company by this time next year, write it down, then work out the steps you’ll need to take to get there. As a new business owner, I have a goal of making enough money to survive. I can then work out how much I need to make every day, and how many jobs I need to win to make that possible.

That’s my copywriting process. You may think it’s over-simplistic, but you’d be surprised how many clients don’t know specifically what they want to achieve when they brief me. This isn’t an advice piece though. You must do what works for you.

Are you wondering what my goal was when I wrote this piece? Well, if you enjoyed reading it, Like and Share it, and if you need help with copywriting in order to achieve your business goal, let’s talk.

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