C is for COPYWRITING
At its core, copywriting is about persuading your customers to take action.
This action can vary enormously – depending on what you want a piece of marketing (or content) to achieve. For example:
1. Persuading a customer to buy a particular product
2. Enticing someone on Facebook to like your page
3. Running a promotion to boost in-store sales etc.
To achieve any of the above you need to find the right words to make your proposal irresistible. That’s why good copy can translate into big profits – because it can entice people who had no intention to buy – to whip out their wallets and fill up their baskets.
The good news is that copywriting is a skill that you can develop over time. It’s well worth familiarising yourself with the basics – even if you choose to work with a professional. That’s because an understanding of ‘words that sell’ can help you to recognise top-notch marketing. In turn, you can use other people’s advertising (look beyond your industry), to inspire your own thinking and help you to ramp up your efforts.
In terms of a crash course in copywriting, here’s some theory to get you started:
Regardless of the type of marketing that you’re creating, your headline contains the most important words. Your headline has one job – to attract attention and hook people in. If your headline sucks, then it doesn’t matter how great the rest of your text is; it won’t get read. That’s why top copywriters spend a disproportionate amount of time honing this critical sentence.
2. Write to be understood:
Be conversational. Write as you talk. Keep it simple. You’re not trying to impress; instead you want skimmers and scanners to grasp your offer immediately. Many retailers make the mistake of thinking they need to sound all ‘corporatey’ to be taken seriously. That’s not the case. Your words will be far better received if you write as if you were speaking to a close friend.
3. Use power words:
Some words and phrases pack a greater punch than others. Remember the aim of your copy is to keep readers engaged so that they feel compelled to keep reading. Words to try include free, simple, easy, now, offer, hurry, suddenly, and startling – they all make an impact. In comparison other words are overused and dumb down your message so be wary of phrases such as exciting and innovative.
4. Dual readership pathway:
It’s unlikely your copy will get the same level of undivided attention we give a great book or a favourite magazine. Instead, readers will probably scan and skim their way through your message – honing in on bits of interest. That’s where your subheads come in. Use subheads to signpost key points and help a scanner get the gist of your message without the need to read the detail.
5. Sell benefits not features:
Buying is an emotional decision which we later rationalise with logical thoughts. Remember, people don’t buy things… they buy how that thing will make them feel. So use words to stimulate emotional desire for what you’ve got to sell. And if you want an example, think Apple. They do this brilliantly.
6. Make it easy to read:
We’re in an age of information overload. Knowledge is everywhere, in abundance, and at our fingertips. So avoid big blocks of dense text. Replace wordy words with shorter ones, and use bullets, bold, italics, and underlining to pick out key points and pull readers through your message.
7. Use YOU more than WE:
When customers are reading your copy they want to know ‘what’s in it for me?’ This means that if your message is pitched from a ‘we’ perspective, you’ll turn readers off. Instead, flip your emphasis and weave in lots of YOUs and YOURs. Do this and you’ll speak directly to your audience and your response will soar.
8. Ask for the sale:
Remember, great copywriting achieves a desired outcome, so don’t fall at the last hurdle. Instead ask people to buy (or take the next step – whatever that may be). Never assume your reader will know what to do. Instead be clear and specific in your instructions.
Download your FREE copywriting checklist
Copywriting is an in-depth topic. While this post has given you a flavour of how to write great copy, there’s so much more to this art. If you want to know more, a good place to start is this blog – you’ll find a downloadable copywriting checklist too.
[Copywriting checklist – the 14 essentials of every marketing campaign.]