The secret of great copywriting has nothing to do with writing!

Edmund Burke, a British statesman, once said, “Facts are to the mind what food is to the body.”

Exactly right. Facts are the beginning for clear thinking and for powerful copywriting. To create effective direct mail or ads, you have to have something substantial and relevant to say. Puffery and empty technique just don’t cut it.

That’s why I always go through a set of basic questions when I’m starting a copywriting project. In fact, I have a standard advertising and marketing questionnaire to help collect the information I’ll need. This questionnaire covers the product, the prospect, and the promotion.

Here are a few examples:

Read the full questionnaire at my main site. This is really just a starting point. I can easily ask over a hundred questions. The more information, the better.

For many copywriters, the temptation is to start writing immediately. That’s a huge mistake. The best work is always based on facts. And facts take time to find and understand.

When people ask where I get ideas for headlines or sales letters, I say, “I don’t know.” I really don’t. What I do know is that they generally pop into my head as I’m slogging through tons of information.

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