Your sales copy has one purpose.
And it’s not to impress the reader with how good the copy is. Or entertain the reader. Or educate the reader.
Your copy may do all of the above. But that’s incidental. Your sales copy has only one reason for its existence.
To persuade people to do what you want them to do.
Whole library sections could be filled with books that have been written on how to write persuasive sales copy. There are a million tricks, and every copywriter add to those his or her own individual talent and imagination.
You may not be a writer, but you can learn to recognize good persuasive copy. And you have to if you’re going to be able to approve the copy that your business needs to grow. This isn’t just an academic activity. This is critical to your financial success.
What follows is a list of qualities to look for if you want copy that sells. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it covers some of the basics. Familiarize yourself with this list; read ads that you receive in the mail to see how these rules are (or are not) followed; and apply them to copy that you’re considering sending out for your company.
The more you know about good copy, the better job you’ll do of recognizing the copy that can build your business.
Benefits, not features:
This is one of the classic rules of good advertising. Don’t just describe the product; tell people how the product will improve their lives. And use imagery that captures the imagination.
For example, don’t say: “Our advanced dry-cleaning process will leave your suits wrinkle-free.” Say: “You’ll walk into that meeting with greater confidence when you know how clean, crisp, and professional you look.”
Don’t say: “Our diet supplement is scientifically formulated to give you a full day’s worth of nutrition.” Say: “You’ll glow with vibrant health thanks to the complete nutrition built into every daily serving.”
Those certain words:
There are specific words that are more likely to capture people’s attention and hold their interest. One of these words that has proven its value again and again is “new.” Tell people that your product or formula or offer is new, and they will want to find out more about it.
Some more of these powerful words are “you” and “your.” Talk to people directly. When they see “you” they are irresistibly drawn in. Don’t say, “Buyers will find this product solves many of their weight issues.” It’s much more effective to say, “You will find this product solves many of your weight issues.”
And while you’re at it, remember that your sales piece is being read by a single person and your copy should talk directly to that individual, not to some vague group. Not, “We know that many of our readers want a worry-free future.” Instead say, “We know that you want a worry-free future.” Always address the individual, and your copy will be more compelling.
Talk about what you can do for them:
People are interested in what you can do for them. So don’t just talk about yourself. So what that you have 20 years of experience? What it means for them is that you know exactly what they need and how to give it to them. So what that you use cheese imported from Italy? It’s so they will enjoy a pizza with tasty cheese that melts perfectly and fills their mouth with gooey goodness.
Focus attention on what the product will do for the reader. When they’re finished reading your piece you don’t want them to say “great copy” (Believe me, they won’t). Instead, you want them to say, “I have to have that. How do I get it?”
Show readers that you know their needs:
We all want to feel that we’re understood. And before we turn our money over to someone, we want to make sure that person understands us and what we specifically need.
If you run a gym and you want to appeal to middle-aged women, explain that you provide a comfortable atmosphere where women dress to work out, not to impress others, and that your expert dietitians will help them develop an effective diet that fits their lifestyle. If your gym caters to young men, you would stress your trainers that work them to the max so they can quickly develop an impressive physique. Address the particular needs of the group you want to appeal to.
Don’t make vague, exaggerated claims. No one will buy it. Instead, use actual numbers or facts. To say you’re the quickest tailor in town doesn’t mean anything. But to say you get repairs done in 24 hours says a lot. It’s not enough to say, “We do quality auto tune ups.” It’s much better to say, “Our 24 point inspection process ensures you will drive away with confidence.”
Maybe you know that you charge more than other businesses like yours, but there are reasons for it. You use better quality parts. You give more individual service. Don’t sweep the objections under the rug. Turn them to your advantage. “Yes, we’re a little more expensive than our competition, and here’s why . . .” Then explain why you have to charge more, and that in the long run they’re actually getting a bargain.
Throw in a few technical details:
Don’t bore people with statistics, but throwing in a few details here and there that show what makes you stand out can really give you gravitas. “Our hand-tooled leather goes through a 56-step process that makes it really stand up to the elements.” “Our diet supplement boosts weight loss by 83%.” “65% of physicians who tried it recommend our natural sleep aid to their patients.” “Our motor oil keeps your engine 79% cleaner than the next leading brand.”
Put attention on each part of your sales piece:
Each part of your sales piece has a job to do. Make sure it does what it’s supposed to.
The first thing readers see is the headline, so make sure it’s a great one. It should be intriguing, carry a promise, present a problem that you will resolve – and most of all, capture readers’ attention. Work hard to create a headline you think will work, and then test it, show it to others, get feedback. Look at headlines on direct mail pieces you receive in the mail and get ideas from them.
Then there’s the body copy. Use short, punchy sentences that convey a quick message. Even sentence fragments. But vary with longer sentences to keep the copy interesting. Use wordplay and repetition to a degree. “Free Fries Friday.” “Don’t miss out or we’ll miss you.” But don’t overdo it. Remember, you want attention on the message, not the copy.
Tell stories. Nobody cares that you use quality materials, but they might care that “we personally visited 12 factories across the country to find the one that provided the best value for your money.”
Use testimonials. Nothing builds confidence like statements from others who have used the product or service and liked it.
And finally, the most important part is a clear call to action. Don’t be mealy-mouthed about what you want people to do. Don’t apologize or back into it. Don’t say, “If you think you might like to try our product, consider clicking this link.” Instead say, “Click this link to order NOW.”
And create a sense of urgency to act now. “This special offer will only be available for 30 days.” “Quantities are limited. Act now!”
It’s An Art!
Copywriters will tell you that writing copy that gets people to act is a real art. And the rules aren’t completely clear. Some of the best ad campaigns ever worked because they were innovative and did things nobody thought of before.
Some methods work with some products, but not with others. Some methods that work great when they’re first tried, quickly grow old and stop working.
So the key to having sales pieces that continue to work is to keep testing them. Vary headlines. Vary offers. In the end, the true measure of a sales piece’s value is how many people respond to it by doing what you asked them to do.