Most copywriters follow a process to come up with a big idea. Much of this is common sense. But the idea of a process shows that copywriting is not an automatic thing. It requires getting some information together, some time to think and then many, many drafts of copy.
1. Preparation - doing your homework, left side of brain This is the finding out part of the process. And obviously, the more you know about your product and the more you understand about your target audience, the better message you can send them. So go and try the product. Talk to the people who make it, those who buy it and those who would never be caught dead with the product in their shopping trolley.
2. Frustration - answer not obvious Most big ideas don’t come in the first 30 seconds, so give yourself time to think about it.
3. Incubation - right side of brain shuffles information, associating new and old information in new combinations Thinking often works a bit like a washing machine. You do your preparation (put in the clothes, the washing powder) and then let it churn for a while. There is possibly even a spin cycle, when you wring every last once of inspiration out of the idea.
4. Illumination - the light bulb goes on! Two previously unrelated elements connect We have our big idea. Often it is sudden. Often it just seems so obvious that you wonder why you didn’t think of it sooner.
5. Evaluation - decide whether or not your idea is a good idea - left brain Put your idea aside and come back to it later with fresh eyes. Was it as good as you thought it was? Was it even better? Sometimes it is good to get another set of eyes to look at it. In an ad agency, the idea would probably be shown to the Creative Director for feedback. You might show it to someone in the class whose opinion you trust, someone at home who you think would understand or even your teacher.
6. Elaboration - making the idea work Now you have to turn the idea into an ad. That means selling your idea and producing your ad.
While this process is commonly used in advertising, it could be applied to almost any creative thinking task. Whether you are looking for something different to wear out on Friday night or you are trying to solve your biology assignment. As famous US advertising man, Leo Burnett once said, “Creativity is the art of establishing new and meaningful relationships between previously unrelated things ... which somehow present the product in a fresh new light”. That is, the answer is there, looking at you in the face. You just have to make the connection.