First hand research in the [weight loss] market (Atlanta Georgia, here comes a copywriter!)

In relation to a weight loss award for a new natural hunger suppressant (clinically proven to significantly reduce body fat over extended periods of time… without extra exercise or forced dieting)…

I’ll be in-and-around Atlanta Georgia for the month of September conducting field research to build up an audience profile for the product, yet to be released to the public.

Full details forthcoming…

But in essence, this applies from a product launch / marketing perspective to any mass consumer market.

I’ll be:

  • Conducting interviews (recorded on the brilliant new Sony ICD SX 1000 voice recorder)
  • Building interviewee profiles to capture their unique ‘strategy’ for losing (gaining or keeping) weight
  • Forming personas from the similarities and differences that emerge
  • Building empathy maps useable for storyboarding ideal product launch programs

Then: Read More

Competitor Research

More to come, but…

Can you determine your competitors strategy by reviewing their apparent sales strategy?

You can see their market segmentation, product innovations, etc… just by looking.

So look.

<p>Recommended Resource: Use Mark Joyner’s <a href=”” target=”_blank”>Competitive Intelligence Cash Maps</a> for managing the process of competitor research.</p>

Customer Research

A collection of notes on Customer Research:

What do these three quotes have in common?

“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself” – Peter Drucker

“Copywriting is 80% research, only 20% writing the actual copy.”

“If you wish to persuade me, you must think my thoughts, feel my feelings, and speak my words – Cicero, Roman Statesman”


They represent the biggest untapped leverage point in business today.

In a word: Research.

As a sales copywriter I learned that the best source of insight I could gain about a clients product generally did not come from the client, or the product. It comes from conversation with the customer.

  • Live prospect interaction, through customer service surveys, one to one interviews.
  • Internal reflection – putting myself in the shoes of the prospect and reflecting on the prospects beliefs, feelings and desires as if they were the copywriters own.
  • Testing response in the market and reviewing real-world feedback.

In a little more detail this includes:

Prospect interaction

Make the most of customer chatter happening online or conduct surveys via email, or best yet… shock horror… actually speak to customers by phone or in person.

Internal reflection

Learn to think like your best custmers – by climbing inside the mind of the prospect. Create a storyline using these steps:

I’m a lot like you…

  • Shared aspiration or dream
  • Common frustrations (us vs them)
  • How your spokesman/company found/created the solution (loss and redemption)
  • And why you decided to share the solution (hometown boy makes good)

Real market testing

By ongoing tests you can gain insight into the most profitable customers for your business and become confident of the dominant emotions and desires that lead to the sale.

Your Prospects Core Complex

Your prospects Core Complex includes three components: Beliefs, Frustrations, and Desires.


What does my prospect believe (with relevance to my product/niche target)?

Knowing the prospects beliefs will help you built your aggressive marketing campaigns to lazer in on exactly the right things to say in your promotion copy.


But we don’t just want to stop at the prospects general beliefs. We want to get right under their skin and know exactly what is causing them pain, with regards to the product.


And finally of course we want to know what results or experience they would ideally like to have, as relevant to your product/niche.

Your Prospects Pain

What pain in your prospects life are we going to solve through our product?

Pain-points usually fall into one of these categories: 

  • Financial
  • Strategic
  • Personal

To properly diagnose a prospects pain, you simply need to answer 4 questions:

  • What is the source of the most prominent pain?
  • What is the intensity of that pain?
  • What is the level of urgency requiring the pain to be solved?
  • Is the prospect consciously aware of the pain and its source?

Customer Profiles

You can then build accurate customer profiles, not just models based on demographics.

  • Demographics – social classifications such as age, gender, marital status, race, income, education
  • Geodemographics – with a specific community
  • Generational influences – geopolitical events that shape cultural views
  • Category cycle – attittude towards the product category
  • Market adaption cycle – innvoators, early adoptors, late adoptors, and laggards


Aims of Prospect Insight Research

In general, customer want individualised respect, service, pride in their product choices, product options, and information to make informed decisions. As such, they tend to trust the vendors that provide them with information so that they can make better decisions.

Our aim is to establish:

  • product usage
  • purchasing behaviour / decision process
  • urgency of need
  • motivational influencers

More questions:

  • Who is your prospect?
  • What does your prospects really want?
  • What are the top fears and frustrations for your prospect?
  • What are their top wants and desires?

Motivational Influences

  • What things does your product(s) do or give your prosepcts that he or she doesn’t know about?
  • What are the primary motivators? (Status, leisure, convenience, advancement, pleasure, comfort, security, basic needs, self-reliance).
  • What are the most frequently used and influential information and refernce sources among your key customer groups?



Market Research

I like to start my market research with online search volumes using Google’s keyword tool – which gives an overall general picture of basic keyword categories and how popular they are.

A simple and fast initial market research.

  • Google Adwords Keyword Tool
  • Also use to see how various topics are trending (becoming more or less popular, and to what degree)

That initial keyword research will reveal some broad keyword categories, to search on Google’s search engine and find some top ranking websites.
<blockquote>I was asked:

As you know, we intend to write content in each vertical some of which we will outsource, I understand it is important for us to include popular keywords in that article, what is your advice: write the article and then work in the keywords or find the keywords and sculpt the content around it?

My response:

Keep both options open.  You need to get familiar with the main interests / keywords of each vertical.  That way, any articles you write will tend to include relevant keywords.  Also, maintain a big long list of relevant keywords for each vertical, and then just generally browse that list whenever you write articles.

Write for the reader, not the search engine.  Naturally written content that keeps visitors on the page, relevant to the market, is what google looks for.  Keyword inclusion is really the simple and easy bit.  Most important is to use keywords in article titles, plus just a few relevant keywords in the title itself, but don’t stress about it.

Lots of fresh new content on

2. Research

The scope and depth of research depends on resource constraints, time constraints, and the overall corporate/business/function’s purpose.

Maximising corporate value creation divides into 2 dimensions:

  1. Market attractiveness (the potential opportunity that exists within a certain market)
  2. Competitive strength (the organizations competencies and assets available to capture those opportunities in the face of competition)

Each of these areas of research are relative to eachother and highly overlap. We divide them in order to create a focussed view from each perspective.

  • Market Research
  • Niche Research
  • Competitor Research
  • Product Research
  • Prospect or Customer Research
  • Internal Research

Market Research

Research your target market so you know exactly where, when, and what to ‘hit’ with your marketing campaigns.

What is the real big picture of the marketplace in which you are marketing? What are the possible niche areas within the broad market?

E.g. If your project is in the area of ‘how to invest’, what broader marketplace does that fit into? Is it Personal Finance or Financial Investing or is it simply ‘Investing’ or maybe ‘Stock Market Investing’ is the more accurate Market.

How big is that market? What demographics and psychographics can you learn about it?

I generally begin market research with the big picture. And then move on to…

Niche Research

Once you know about your broad market, its time to pick and choose your target niche. Perhaps your product is about ‘how to invest in the stock market – for short-term day traders who want maximum leveraged, that have high net worth and are happy to take on a lot of risk by trading on margin’.

Now that’s a specific target niche 🙂

And one that I am quite familiar with at the time of this writing as my major client has a project in this area.

So what can you find out about your target niche? Where do people in this niche hang out?

Forums, discussion groups, etc.

  • How much money can you determine is spent in this niche annually?
  • What are the major changes happening in this niche market at present?
  • What is on the horizon?
  • What are the biggest challenges that people in this niche face… both generally, and at the present time?
  • What are the biggest news and information sources for this particular niche?

Use sites like:

Competitor Research

How big and powerful are the competitior businesses in your chosen market/niche that you will be competing against for customers? Who are the largest players in the market categories space? What are the opportunities (market gaps)? Can you cherry pick tiny but profitable niches that the major competitors do not bother with, or do you have the same level of resourcing taht you could go head to head with the competition and fight them openly for broad market share? What do the competitors do well? What are their weaknesses?

Product Research

Next comes the Product Research. Here you want to find out any of the comparable products to the product you are planning on selling? Or perhaps you have uncovered good information from your niche research that you have ideas for a new industry product.

Buy available products for the niche. Read all promotional materials used in this niche that you can get your hands on. Understand the history and current status of products being sold to the target niche. This is genuine marketing power for effective aggressive marketing.

  1. What is your market categories major inherent wants and needs?
  2. What “miracle product” would deliver their biggest desire, achieve their ultimate
    outcome, and eliminate their biggest problem or frustration?
  3. How would this miracle product work? What would it do, specifically? What would it
    look like? What would you call it?
  4. In what way does your product fulfill that ‘miracle product’ description?

Don’t just make stuff up. I’ve been guilty of that in the past. I get a ‘big idea’ and run with it, only to find that with some more diligent niche and product research, I could have made a much stronger product and promotional offer.

For information products a good way to review various offers and glean ideas is by sifting through the popular ClickBank market place. Try

Prospect or Customer Research

As a Direct Response copywriter I begin examining my prospect insight by taking what I’ve found out about the market, niche and existing products, and then writing about my prospects beliefs, frustrations, and desires, (BFDs) in relation to my findings so far.

Here’s a great question to use:

If my prospect could have the absolute magic bullet that would deliver every possible feature, benefit, and advantage to them with regards the product/market/niche area, what would that ‘magic bullet’ be like? Look like? What would it do? What would it include?

If you are marketing to businesses, then the ‘prospect’ will be a DMU (decision making unit) often including more than 1 person, each with their own agenda, needs, and thus ‘hot buttons’. You need to account for everyone that will have a hand in making the buying decision, to communicate appropriately in your marcomms (marketing communications).

Use the Prospect Insight page for a more thorough process of prospect research..

Internal Research

In SMEs or Large Enterprise, an Internal View of the organization, including culture and capabilities is a serious consideration for any business plan.

If you are running a SOHO, then that internal view will be a little more personal, as everything depends on you.

Summary of Research:

And with that information, you have done your research.

  • You know the broad market place you are dealing with, general demographics, monetary value of the market, etc.
  • You also know the possible niche markets you will create your marketing campaigns for. The specific topical areas within the market that your product offering will focus on.
  • Then you have researched the existing range of products currently and previously available to that niche market.
  • And you have done the vulcan mind meld with your target prospects to determine their beliefs, frustrations and desires.

Now you are ready for the next aspect of the Marketing Matrix… Development.

Tools for Research