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Writing Sales Copy

Writing effective sales copy is a skill and is vital to any business. Luckily, you can learn this skill by reading about it and by using common sense. Most of what you will learn is common sense and will go a long way in increasing your sales. Of course, all elements of writing sales copy cannot be covered in one short article but I have touched on many of the basic rules and strategies to remember and the mistakes to avoid.

  1. Not knowing and/or believing in your product. You need to know as much as possible about your product so this knowledge will come through in your sales copy. Also, if you do not believe in your product, this can also show through in your copy. Research your product, if you have to, and be prepared when writing your sales pitch.
  2. No sub-headings. Most people will scan over the sales page to see if the product would be something of interest to them. You need sub-headings to emphasize the important points of your copy so as to capture the reader’s attention. A good sub-heading would be something like: “Discover the secret to healthy fast weight loss.” Keep your sub-headings as short as possible but make sure they pack a psychological punch!
  3. Not stressing the benefits. People want and need to know what is in it for them. Use a bulleted list to stress the benefits of your product. Pretend you are the customer. What would you want to know about the product you are selling? Let the customer know how your product will solve their problems.
  4. Not using testimonials. Testimonials will show the reader that real people have used the product and it has worked for them. Be sure to use credible testimonials that detail what the product has done for the customer. Use something like: I have more energy now than when I was in my 20’s, as opposed to something like: This product works great!
  5. Not using a P.S. Adding a P.S. at the end of your sales letter can have as much effect as a beginning headline. It could add that extra punch the customer needs to make the decision. For example: P.S. Order now and receive a free 2 hour consultation on how to use our product.
  6. Not learning how to write an effective headline. Take note of headlines that grab and keep your attention. Model your headlines after those. A headline has to contain power words that will trigger a response from the reader. For example: PainBGone gets Rid of Pain or Free Yourself from Pain and Live a Happier Life
  7. Not using the right words. A simple change like using the word “discover” rather than “learn” can make a big difference in the “feel” of your sales copy. Rather than “Get the Job Done”, you should say “Achieve Your Goals”. Using the right words can get a psychological response that the customer cannot ignore. Here is a quick list of some effective power words: Discover, Secret, Proven, Invest (instead of buy), Innovative, Reveal, Success, Free, Save
  8. Not making your copy believable. You’ve seen the ads that were so full of impossible promises and guarantees nobody could believe them. If the customer doubts the validity of the copy then your chances of a sale are next to nothing. Be straight-forward, honest and use simple everyday language. There is no need for using the language of a rocket scientist. If people can identify with what you are saying, they will be more apt to trust it.
  9. No sense of urgency. Sometimes people will need a little push to get them to order. This is when you need to add phrases such as: Limited Time Offer, First 10 Customers Only, Order Today for Your Free Bonuses – Help get your customer in the “Buy Now” frame of mind.
  10. Not proofreading your copy. Who would put any trust in an ad that reads like this: by now to get you’re free gift today. Limitedtime offer for all order. Clcik the link below to order know.

Be sure to check all spelling and grammar before publishing your ad copy. You do not have to hire a professional to get good results from your ad copy but you do need to make sure you learn the basic strategies and mistakes when writing your sales page.

Copywriting

Copywriting a very odd term; and there are quite a variety of jobs that it can pertain to, but the most common probably refers to someone who writes “copy” for an advertising agency. Generally, that’s not what I do, though I have written advertising copy. The term “copy” refers to the text as a design element, so I’m not much of a fan of the term – but there doesn’t seem to be a better one available at the moment. Usually, the people I work for just refer to me as “our writer” or “one of our writers,” which is just fine.

What I do is kind of function as a Jan-of-all trades when it comes to whatever needs to be professionally written for a business. This might include image brochures, internal articles, executive speeches and letters, press releases, Website content and scripts for internal videos. I also do quite a bit of editing and consulting for punctuation, grammar and syntax urgencies and sometimes get to do some public relations strategizing. I don’t get a byline and, in fact, don’t always see the finished product because most of the time, what the people I work for really want is something that’s about 90 to 95 percent there. We might go back and forth several times as the drafts progress; but ultimately, my role is finished and the project is theirs to tweak further as they wish and disseminate.

As for how I approach the work that I do, it varies greatly from project to project – but it’s almost always very collaborative – with the people who assign the work, the stakeholders who are interviewed, and sometimes graphic designers and video producers. Usually, I’m given a verbal briefing on what the message is supposed to be and who is the target audience along with background materials to pull from. Sometimes, additional telephone interviews are necessary. But eventually, there’s no choice but to sit down in front of that blank screen and just hope that something comes. That’s because copywriting requires that you write in a voice other than your own. The posts that I do in the career counselling thread just flow naturally because that’s me talking to you. But when you’re writing an article, similar to a feature article in a magazine or newspaper, or an image brochure, you have to almost conjure an entity and listen to what it’s telling you. It’s difficult. You know the idea you want to communicate, you try to imagine the persona that’s speaking through you… and just hope something comes. So far, it has.

As for how I got interested, it was really a matter of survival and of declining opportunities to do anything else that I might have done. My background is in journalism; but I have an autonomous career anchor (see this week’s career counselling post) – and after five years’ covering health and social services for one of our city’s former newspapers, it became obvious that it was time to move on. A year spent as editor of my college newspaper was more than sufficient to reveal that I didn’t want to manage; and reporting the same events year after year was getting old. There were also some other workplace issues that defied attempts at resolution and had, in fact, escalated into a situation that felt like “learned helplessness;” so one day – I calmly walked in, wrote a resignation letter, handed it to my editor – and left.

One of the businesses that I covered, a hospital, offered a position it its public affairs department; but I thought it would be more interesting to free-lance and see what kind of business could be generated on my own. I really liked the idea of working from home. So, over the next five years, I called on local businesses and acquired free-lance projects writing various kinds of communications materials. It was financially challenging and somewhat frustrating having to write on a typewriter; but eventually, I had a portfolio that was sufficient to secure a “copywriting” position with a large and very well-respected organization in our city. After two and a half years, my position was there was eliminated. It was my good fortune that the organization offered many opportunities for me to write as a consultant, so that’s what I’ve been doing for the past 15 years or so.

Jan