10 Keys to Writing Copy That Sells!
By: Alexandria Brown
Whether you're selling a product or service, the 10 tips below are
your keys to writing great copy that communicates and persuades ...
to get results! These guidelines can apply to most any form of
consumer marketing communications: sales letters, brochures, web
copy, or direct mail. As long as your goal is to elicit a reaction
from your reader, you've come to the right place. Give it a whirl!
1. Be reader-centered, not writer-centered.
Many ads, brochures, and Web sites we see talk endlessly on and on
about how great their products and companies are. Hello? Customer,
anyone? Think of your reader thinking, "What's in it for me?" If you
can, talk with some of your current customers and ask them 1) why
they chose you, and 2) what they get out of your product or service.
TIP: To instantly make your copy more reader-focused, insert the
word "you" often.
2. Focus on the benefits - not just the features.
The fact that your product or service offers a lot of neat features
is great, but what do they DO for your customer? Do they save her
time or money? Give her peace of mind? Raise her image to a certain
status? Here's an example: If you go buy a pair of Gucci sunglasses,
you're not just looking for good UV protection, are you? You're
buying the sleek, stylish Gucci look. So that's what Gucci sells -
the image. You don't see their ads talk about how well made their
sunglasses are. Think end results. Now, what does an insurance broker
sell? Policies? No - peace of mind. (See? You've got it!)
3. Draw them in with a killer headline.
The first thing your reader sees can mean the difference between
success and failure. Today's ads are chock full of clever headlines
that play on words. They're cute, but most of them aren't effective.
There are many ways to get attention in a headline, but it's safest
to appeal to your reader's interests and concerns. And again,
remember to make it reader centered - no one gives a hoot about your
Bad: "SuccessCorp Creates Amazing New Financial Program."
Better: "Turn Your Finances Around in 30 Days!"
4. Use engaging subheads.
Like mini-headlines, subheads help readers quickly understand your
main points by making the copy "skimmable." Because subheads catch
readers' eyes, you should use them to your benefit! Read through your
copy for your main promotional points, then summarize the ideas as
subheads. To make your subheads engaging, it's important to include
action or selling elements.
Bad: "Our Department's Successes."
Better: "Meet Five Clients Who Saved $10K With Us."
5. Be conversational.
Write to your customers like you'd talk to them. Don't be afraid of
using conversational phrases such as "So what's next?" or "Here's how
do we do this." Avoid formality and use short, easy words. Why? Even
if you think it can't possibly be misunderstood, a few people still
won't get it.
6. Nix the jargon.
Avoid industry jargon and buzzwords - stick to the facts and the
benefits. An easy way to weed out jargon is to think of dear old Mom
reading your copy. Would she get it? If not, clarify and simplify.
(This rule, of course, varies, depending on who your target audience
is. For a B2B audience, you should upscale your words to what they're
used to. In these cases buzzwords are often crucial. Just make sure
your points don't get muddled in them!)
7. Keep it brief and digestible.
No one has time to weed through lengthy prose these days. The faster
you convey your product or service's benefits to the reader, the more
likely you'll keep her reading. Fire your "biggest gun" first by
beginning with your biggest benefit - if you put it toward the end of
your copy, you risk losing the reader before she gets to it. Aim for
sentence lengths of less than 20 words. When possible, break up copy
with subheads (see no. 4), bullets, numbers, or em dashes (like the
one following this phrase) - these make your points easy to digest.
8. Use testimonials when possible.
Let your prospects know they won't be the first to try you. Give
results-oriented testimonials from customers who have benefited
immensely from your product or service. Oh, and never give people's
initials only - it reminds one of those ads in the back of magazines
with headlines such as "Lose 50 Pounds in Three Days!" Give people's
full names with their titles and companies (or towns and states of
residence) - and be sure to get their permission first.
9. Ask for the order!
Tell your reader what you want her to do - don't leave her hanging.
Do you want her to call you or e-mail you for more information? Order
now? Call to schedule a free consultation? Complete a brief survey?
Think about what you'd most like her to do, and then ask her. It's
amazing how many marketing materials I come across every day that
don't make it clear what the reader should do. If you wrote
interesting copy, your reader may forget you're trying to sell
something! Tell her what to do, and she'll be more likely to do it.
10. Have your copy proofread!
Good. Now have it proofread again. Don't risk printing any typos,
misspellings, or grammatical mistakes that will represent your
company as amateurish. Hire a professional editor/proofreader to
clean up your work and double-check your grammar. Remember, you only
get one chance to make a first impession! Oops -- *impression*.
About the Author
Alexandria Brown's FREE biweekly e-zine gives "how-to" tips on
writing compelling copy for Web sites, brochures, and e-zines. Learn
how to ATTRACT NEW CLIENTS and strengthen your customer
relationships! Subscribe today at http://www.akbwriting.com or via