The Most Important Step in Copywriting is Often Left Out
B Y   T O M   T O R T O R I C I

Let’s say you need to write copy for your company’s website or other marketing piece.

You’ve opened a fresh Word document, and started typing out whatever you can think of regarding your company, products and services.

Simple, right? But the results of this one-step, off-the-cuff approach typically aren’t as compelling and effective as you might think.

So let’s try a two-step process.

The first step is the same, but now treat those initial notes just as source material. Then, drawing from those ideas, you can a bit more thoughtfully edit, rearrange and rewrite for a more cohesive final draft.

Better. But we’re still not there.

There’s an in-between step that separates professional copywriters from amateur ones. It involves copying your initial notes into what we’ll call a ‘structure draft.’ Then, you’ll work from that middle-stage doc to write the final draft.

First, categorize.

Break your structure draft into sections, and add a topic header at the top of each section.

Let’s say you’re selling ‘meal kits’ that people can have delivered, with everything they need to quickly prepare a hot dinner.

The topic categories might include:
• The negatives of preparing food the old way
• Situations where meal kits make sense
• Examples of the different meal kit menus
• Nutritional value and healthfulness of the meals
• The steps and options for getting started

Once you have those topic headers in place, simply go through your initial page of notes, and copy each one into the proper category in your structure draft, in regular 12 pt text. Cross it off the old list as you go along.

If you end up with too few items for a category, consider combining two or more related categories. If you find that a single category contains the bulk of all your notes, maybe split it into several categories. Remember, your initial list of topics is just a starting point. Let the content itself drive the final breakdown.

Second, prioritize.

Now, go through the items under each topic, and decide which one is the most important. Put it at the top, in large 24 pt. type. Maybe you’ve found that meal kits are most popular among busy working parents who want their kids to have a good balanced meal dinner. So focus on that.

Next, decide what the second most important situation is – let’s say stress-free dinner parties. Put that one next, in medium-size 18-pt type.

Everything else stays in small text. But look through those points for any that don’t really add anything useful or beneficial. In the interest of brevity and focus, eliminate those.

Third, translate.

No, not into another language. What we’re referring to here is ‘translating’ from company-speak to customer-speak. In other words, take the information that was written from the point-of-view of a company insider, and re-write it from the point-of-view of a typical customer.

For instance, instead of focusing on the detailed nutritional attributes of the meals themselves, pivot to how the nutritional requirements of growing kids are amply fulfilled.

Stop and put yourself in the customer’s shoes, looking at their personal universe of competing needs and responsibilities as they see it. You may realize that there is an emotional component to virtually every purchase decision; don’t ignore that.

Now it’s time to write.

It may come as a surprise that when it’s done right, the actual writing comes last. But you may find that after following the above steps, the copy almost writes itself.

From the structured draft, you already know which copy sections need to appear in the website.

The first priority point in each section should be conveyed in the headline; the second priority point conveyed as the sub-head, and the rest of the info becomes the text.

Now your most important points quickly jump out, even for those who are just ‘scanning’ the page. Think of this as the ‘short form’ of the story you’re trying to draw them into.

Finally, your copy naturally reflects the buyer’s perspective, rather than a company employee’s perspective, making it more personal, persuasive and compelling.

The final step is to go back and ‘polish’ or improve your copy, which often involves simplifying it and deleting any phrases that don’t add much. Even interested readers will just read so much.


You now know what it takes to process a random set of information into a cohesive, compelling, and easy-to-read form. You may soon find that that middle step, the ‘re-writing of the notes’ into a more structured format, is where the magic happens.

New ideas and connections tend to emerge, taking us way beyond our first set of random notes ‘about’ the company and its offerings. We’ve now risen to a more intentional, enlightened approach to capturing the eye, the mind, and the heart of real humans.

That doesn’t happen by accident. And it doesn’t happen when someone uses their first step as their final draft.


I hope this little tool is as helpful to you as it has been for me. But if you’d rather have someone more experienced work the plan and deliver the results for your company, well, let’s see if I can help. –Tom


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Tom TortoriciAbout the Author:  Tom Tortorici is an Atlanta copywriter and web content writer who helps companies make a genuine connection with their audience. His classes and conference presentations have focused on how writing, strategy and design can work together to grab attention and interest even among readers with short attention spans. In addition to working directly with businesses, Tom regularly partners with web designers and marketing agencies.

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Tom Tortorici Inc. | | 770-934-7861 | 3101 Rockaway Rd | Atlanta GA 30341