Do your marketing materials grab prospects by the eyeballs and convince them to take action right now? If you’ve ever written an ad, brochure, sales letter or website—and gotten little or no response—the answer is no. And chances are the problem lies in your written content, or copy.
You see, most people write marketing materials the same way they wrote papers in school. I don’t know about you, but I’m not itching to read my last term paper or scientific report (unless I’m suffering a bad case of insomnia).
However, writing purely to explain or educate is completely different from writing marketing materials that sell. Instead of simply telling prospects about you or your business, products, services, methodology, etc., effective copywriting connects with your ideal customer, explains why they need what you have, and inspires them to take the next step.
Thankfully, this isn’t hard to do. Just follow these five simple steps to amp up the sales-making power of everything you write…
Step 1: Grab Their Eyeballs
Always include a strong, targeted headline in every piece of marketing or advertising. People are busy and typically skim before they read. The headline is your way of getting prospects’ attention and convincing them to keep reading.
Writing killer headlines from scratch takes tons of time and practice. A simple shortcut is to get a book of proven ads, find a headline you like, then follow its formula but rewrite it to suit your product and market.
Step 2: Make It All About "YOU"
Humans are, by nature, egocentric. We spend every day trapped inside our own heads thinking about whatever matters to us. So it’s only natural to focus on what’s important to you in your marketing materials—instead of what’s important to your prospect.
Try this test…Count the number of times you use WE, I, OUR, or YOUR COMPANY NAME in a marketing piece. If they’re at the start of sentences or paragraphs, or in a headline or subhead count them twice. Now, do the same for YOU and YOUR.
If you used WE and I way more than YOU and YOUR, you’re marketing is too egocentric. Try flipping offending sentences or paragraphs so they start with YOU instead.
Step 3: Offer Irresistible Benefits
It’s easy to assume people understand what’s so great about 40 amps, or 10 volts, or 60 mb, or bamboo fibers, or two meetings a month, or whatever features your product or service has. But we all know what happens when you assume anything. Besides, the last thing you want to do is force busy people to take extra time to think things through.
So for every feature you list, include a juicy benefit. The easiest way to find the benefits is to list every feature, then for each one ask yourself “So what?” and “Why would someone care?”. The answer is the benefit.
Step 4: Tell 'Em What to Do
“If you don’t tell someone what to do next, there’s no telling what they might do.”
Life is busy and full of interruptions. Even if someone is ready to buy, click or call, they might not know exactly what to do unless you include a super-obvious “call-to-action.”
Don’t be shy…write “To get X do Y” in bold. Then include contact info right there so they don’t go searching for it and get sidetracked. And make “buy now” buttons or Web links big and obvious.
Step 5: Write Like You Speak
Ask most entrepreneurs what they do and they’ll explain it in a way that’s passionate and riveting. Yet ask ‘em to write about it and you’re likely to get a dry, formal document that’s as exciting to read as a legal brief.
As advertising great David Ogilvy once said, “You can never bore someone into doing business with you.” So think of your copy as a conversation between you and one other person—the reader. And make it warm, friendly and interesting.
To discover if you’ve hit the mark, read your writing out loud. Or better yet have someone else read it to you. If it doesn’t sound conversational, it’s time for a rewrite.
Want even more advice to turbocharge your sales? Read Stacy's recent article "Pull Don't Push: Sales and Marketing in the New Economy"!