“Suppose a grocer should advertise fine, fresh codfish and his rival across the street advertised the largest, sweetest, absolutely the best codfish ever caught, with scales as large as quarters and meat whiter than snow—the finest yielded by the Atlantic Ocean.
Which grocer do you think will sell the most codfish?”
-Richard Hamilton- (Press agent of the late 1800s.- P.T Barnum often used him to write copy)
The right Words Can Bring You Riches.
Earlier on I taught you that you are in the marketing business and not in the business of providing products or services. Using words to achieve your aims is the single most important activity any business ever performs.
When you write classified’s, postcards and tweets your space is limited you will obviously not write a lot. But practicing your long copy will give you the foundation of writing, and you will be able to trim the fat effectively for your quick marketing media.
Before you start writing your copy you must adapt these boring but necessary policies:
General rules of copy writing and important tips.
Only ONE person will read your advertisement or letter at a time, this is the rule:
Keep it personal, speak or write to the individual. Use words the reader can understand no matter what the education level and use them in the same way you would speak to somebody. For heavens sake don’t bore the individual. Make it fun and interesting.
Long sentences are acceptable and maybe even desirable. However, in most marketing scripts, you need to remember two rules:
Shorter is better.
Variety is good.
So you’ll find that in copy writing that sentences tend to be short, but that there are enough long sentences to provide some variety.
Note, I am talking sentences here, not the length of the body copy. This can be as long as needed.
If a sentence is trying to say more than one thing, then break it up into two or more sentences.
Think of your material as a short story:
Who are you writing the story for?
What is their problem or need for self-fulfillment?
How can your product or service help or provide?
What should you say about your product or service?
How should you say it so that it will lead to a sale?
How can you create an intense desire for the target to own the product?
How can you do it in such a way that the target badly wants to buy it, and you are not trying to sell it?
Know the prospect. (If you find this difficult, try to think in terms of the guy with the bad breath, the girl who feels insecure about her dry hair and likes to be pampered with a body massage – so don’t talk nonsense, of course you know the prospect – it is you, your wife, your grand parents, the salesman who sold you the car – address the problem or desire they want addressed)
I can write about this until the cows come home. If you don’t know the client, then you won’t be able to complete any of the other steps. Period, end of story, no need to deliberate any further. Cheers.
The more you know about (the needs and desires of) and your client, the better off you’ll be.
Know your product or service
Dismantle the product and study it with tweezers and a microscope. Understand it inside out. Why was the product or service first introduced? How many happy customers are using it? How much does it cost? Where is it produced? How is it made? How does it compare to the competition? What do people think of this product or service? What was it originally designed for? How do they perceive the price?
When composing your ad, begin by listing all your product features in one column, then opposite, list the corresponding product benefits.
People buy for emotional reasons and justify their purchases with logic.
Speak to their problem or circumstance
You have to address the problem or situation experienced by the prospect.
Go through your benefits and see which ones fit with the consumer needs discussed above and concentrate your message around solving those problems with your product benefits!
Then add a little logical reinforcement.
Most people buy for emotional rewards and then look for logical reasons to justify their purchase.
After dramatizing the emotional rewards of your product or service, include a little bit of logical reinforcement.
It helps your prospects act on their impulse to buy. For example:
Offer a special reduced price-if they buy NOW.
-(Logic:”Clever decision. I saved money.”)
Include a brief testimonial from other customers.
-(Logic:”Safe decision. Others liked it.”)
Mention a few facts supporting the value of your product.
-(Logic:”Smart decision. It’s the best money can buy.”)
Tell them how you will solve their problem or improve their circumstance, using proof.
Anyone who is still reading is fairly qualified as a good possible prospect.
Now, before you waste any more of their time, tell them how you can help them with their problem or desire.
Provide proof by:
Providing customer testimonials.
Giving them real-life examples of your product or service in action.
Draw parallels, metaphors, analogies, or otherwise tell a story about your product/service.
Proof is the substance of your argument. If you can think of your headline as the big promise of your product or service, providing proof is in effect saying how you will fulfill the promise.
Without proof, your offer will lack credibility. However, proof isn’t enough to make the sale.
Why you are different (Your U.S.P).
So you have to tell them how you’re different from everyone else providing the same product or service. Maybe you use only the freshest, purest mountain water. Or maybe you offer a loan while repairing. Pick just one thing that makes the offer stand out, and really be bold about telling the customer about it. Don’t provide too many things that makes the offer different, because no one will believe you. One thing is easy to remember, and you want them to remember you when they need to buy what you sell.
Get them to act now.
Don’t forget to tell them what to do. Do they pick up the phone and call? Come down to the store? Visit a web page? Return a coupon? Write in for a special report? Fax you an order sheet?
What is the incentive for their immediate action? Are prices going up in a week? Do you only have a few items in stock? Are you clearing out the store to make space for summer stock?
Write with energy, be enthusiastic, people will pick up on the energy in the ads, they will respond based on what they feel from the ad.
Contrast: This is a handy tactic for showing more than one side of a story. You can use words like these to signal your readers:
On the other hand
In contrast to Jane who was on the plump side, Mary was built like a Greek goddess .
Drill down into more detail: Most people are geared to go from general to specific when it comes to learning new things, so take advantage of this situation. Structure your writing such that you lead them deeper and deeper into your piece:
How long should your copy be?
“Your copy needs to be as long as is needed to make the sale, and not one paragraph more.”
“There’s no such thing as copy that’s ‘too long’ but copy that’s ‘too boring’.”
“The truth about long copy is that, first of all, there’s abundant, legitimate, statistical, split-testing research to indicate that virtually without exception, long copy outperforms short copy. Some significant research has been done that indicates that readership falls off dramatically at
300 words but does not again drop off until 3,000 words.”
In other words, if the copy seems too long, it’s probably not because of the length, but rather, because at some point it started to bore you.
“The person who says ‘I would never read all that copy’ makes the mistake of thinking they are the customer. And they’re not. We are never our own customers. When your message is matched to a target market that has a high level of interest in it, not only does responsiveness go up but readership goes up, too. The whole issue of interest goes up.
The conclusion you can draw from that is this: Those who are not interested in your product will not even read 20 words. Those who are, will want to know as much as possible.
It can be long. In fact it can be very long. You will not read something if you are not interested in the subject. But if you are, you will want to know as much as possible about the subject or product you want to buy.
Don’t be long-winded, and don’t add copy just for the sake of making it long. Keep your eyes on the end result. Sales. Tell your story and provide as much information as is needed to make the sale.
And not one word more.
Lessons from history.
Bruce Barton was a celebrity in the 1920s. He was a bestselling author, confidant to presidents, master copywriter, philanthropist, congressman, and co-founder of the largest advertising agency in the world, BBDO.
Barton’s expertise for writing ads:
1. “first, that a man is interested in himself; second, that he is interested in other people. Our formula for “Every Week” (a magazine) was Youth, Love, Success, Money, and Health, all things in which people are vitally interested.”
2.When he edited magazines, he used provocative titles to stir up controversy and interest. Examples included, “Why I never hire any woman under 30,” “How my wife has hindered me in business,” and the other side of the question, “How my wife has helped me in business.” These interesting headlines guaranteed readership.
3. The visualization.
Barton did not expand on this. But I think he was referring to the layout of any advertisement. He said, “A picture is worth two pages of type, and a headline is worth almost all the rest of the ad put together.” For Barton, the illustration, headline, and body copy made up the layout, or visualization, of any sales piece. Remember you are a small businessmen – you normally don’t have the money to waste on the space a picture will take up. (Unless of course you sell a product “As seen on TV”)
4. Writing the copy.
“The introduction can be eliminated almost always. The mind starts cold when you begin to write, and you don’t get into high gear until the second or third paragraph. Cut out the introduction, and then you have a good hot start.
“After you finish a piece of copy, go back and cut out all the adjectives. Henry Ward Beecher’s father was once chairman of a committee to draw up resolutions on slavery. One sentence in his resolution read: ‘It is an outrage.’ Some one suggested that it should read: ‘It is a terrible outrage.’ Beecher said that was the way he had it in his first draft, but he had cut out the word ‘terrible’ for the sake of emphasis.
“Adjectives are like the leaves on a switch. They make the switch look pretty, but if you want to hit a blow that will cut, you take off the leaves. Literature that cuts has very few adjectives. The greatest things in life are expressed in one-syllable words; love, hate, fear, home, wife, child.”
6. A purpose.
“We should never write an ad without the idea that something is going to happen. What do we want the reader to do? Write with the conviction that he is going to do something when he gets through reading—go to the store and buy; clip the coupon and mail it. And remember the power of the direct command. Don’t say, ‘If you would like this beautiful booklet, we will be glad to send it.’ Say, ‘Sit down right now and fill in this coupon.’ People want things made easy; they want you to make up their minds for them.”
There is the language of pictures or how things appear, how we see or view them in our mind as well as out there in the real world.
Second, there is the language of sounds or what we say to ourselves and what we hear on the inside.
And third there is the language of feelings, like when something wonderful grabs hold of us and makes us feel warm and special inside.
But not just the little benefits – the big picture benefits.
Chances are, there’s a dramatic story in your product, and how it benefits people. But you may be too close to it to see it clearly. Or perhaps you take it for granted. But if you could take a step back – you might be able to see it with a different perspective.
Look at your product from a distance?
Look at the big picture.
What are you really selling? Is it software, or a better, faster way to do your job? Is it life insurance, or is it perfect peace of mind? Always keep in mind the old marketing example that when people buy a drill, they don’t need a drill. They need a hole. They would like to make the hole in style though. Explain to them how easy and precise they are going to make the hole.
Keep asking “And that means?.”
You need to get to the ultimate benefit, which is almost always the most important. For example, if you’re selling toothpaste, the obvious benefit is clean, fresh breath. But is that the ultimate benefit? Do people want clean, fresh breath simply for it’s own sake?
Maybe, but here the ultimate benefit is healthy teeth and gums for many years. It also promotes self confidence not having to walk around with stained rotten teeth.
Eliminate the benefit.
A great way to get to the ultimate benefit might be to pretend your product doesn’t exist. What would people have to do instead?
Use emotional appeal.
People buy for emotional reasons and justify with logic.
Demolish the five basic objections prospect might have within your copy:
I don’t have enough time.
I don’t have enough money.
It won’t work for me.
I don’t believe you.
I don’t need it.
Activate your writing.
Whenever you write the words “is,” “was,” “are,” or “to be,” train yourself to stop and change them to something more active. “The meeting is tonight” sounds dead; “The meeting starts at 7 PM sharp tonight” feels clear, direct and alive. “Pieter Goosen is the finest promoter in the
country” doesn’t convey the excitement that “Pieter Goosen creates corporate events that you will remember for many years” does.
Tell them something they don’t know.
Fascinate your readers. The more you tell, the more you sell. Long copy usually works better than short copy, as long as the copy holds interest. After all, people read whole books. They will read your copy IF it interests them.
Tell them why.
Max Sackheim, famous for the long-running ad “Do You Make These Mistakes In English” and originator of the book-of-the-month concept, says this: “Whenever you make a claim or special offer in your advertising, come up with an honest reason why, and then state it sincerely. You’ll sell many more products this way.” Dr Cialdini found in research that the word “because” is extremely powerful when used to persuade. Strange thing is that one can actually use the word “because” just like a child – without further expanding after the “because”. People like to know “why” – so tell them.
Seduce the prospect to continue reading.
Keep your reader reading any way you can. Questions, unfinished sentences, involving statements, sub-heads, bullet points, quizzes, all work. These techniques also handle the skimmers who just glance at your copy, as well as the word-for-word readers.
Call a spade a spade.
Be specific. Whenever you write something vague, such as “they say,” or “later on,” or “many,” stop and rewrite those phrases into something concrete, such as: “Neil Goosen said…”, or “Saturday at noon” or “Seven people agreed.” Don’t say cat when you can say Siamese.
Get as many testimonials as you can. The more specific, the more convincing. In short, deliver proof that your claim is for real.
Remove the risk!
Give a guarantee. Less than 2% of your customers will ever ask for their money back, so offering a guarantee is a safe risk.
Ask for the order
Sales copy should SELL. At the end of the message remind them to order now “if you snooze you loose” – make it easy for them to order.
Use words that stir a bit of magic.
Announcing, astonishing, exciting, exclusive, fantastic, fascinating, first, free, guaranteed, incredible, initial, improved, love, limited offer, powerful, phenomenal, revealing, revolutionary, special, successful, super, time-sensitive, unique, urgent, wonderful, you, breakthrough,
introducing, new, and how-to.
The psychological impact of the words and phrases you use.
And consider the connotations of the words you use: “workshop” sounds like work while “seminar” sounds like fun. “Read” sounds hard while “look over” sounds easy. “Write” sounds difficult while “jot down” sounds easy.
Words are not messages in themselves. They have different meanings to each of us. While many words can be used to communicate a single message, the words you choose can dramatically alter its emotional impact. In copy writing, the meaning behind the word is more important than the message:
“Cost” versus “investment;”
“Beautiful teeth” versus “beautiful smiles;”
“Skinny” versus “slim” or “slender;”
“Products” or “services” versus “solutions;”
“Cost-effective” versus “return on investment;”
And “house” versus “home.”
Avoid using negative words. Say what it is, not what it isn’t. Dr. Maxwell Maltz, author of the bestseller “Psycho-Cybernetics,” states that the brain is a goal-seeking organ – it needs a goal in order to function. For example, if I told you *not* to think of a yellow balloon, you will have hard time since your brain needs a goal – it will naturally picture what it is supposed to avoid because the mind can not function when blank.
Instead of saying “inexpensive,” say “economical;”
Instead of saying “this procedure is painless” or “pain-free,” say “there’s no discomfort with this procedure” or “it’s quite comfortable;”
And instead of saying “this software is error-free,” “bug-free” or “foolproof,” say “this software is very stable.”
Get pumped up!
Show your excitement for your product. If you aren’t pumped up about it, why not? Enthusiasm sells.
Rewrite and test ruthlessly.
Test. Test. Test. A change of one word can increase response 250%. Sackheim tested his famous ad at least six times before he found the headline and format that worked. Most copy isn’t written in one day. You have to write, rewrite, edit, rewrite, test, and test again. Keep asking yourself, Would I buy this product? and Have I said everything to make the sale?
Make it possible for the buyer to be able to order immediately – supply a Telephone number or a link on your web space from where they can order.
Don’t offer fluff, mislead, or lie to your prospects. Tell them the truth. While rarely done, it actually helps sales to admit a weakness or a fault. Remember the ad, These neckties aren’t very pretty, but they’re a steal at a nickel each! Tell the truth in a fascinating way.
Get them to take action.
Use Words that Speed a Sale. When composing ads for publications, or writing a sales letter, make sure that you ask for an immediate order – and tell your customers or clients precisely how to order. And, for a prompt response, choose words that suggest urgency.
Here are some words and phrases that will give you an urgent tone:
Only a limited quantity available
First come, first served
This special only until 30 December.
And to summarise again.
Write the headline (the most important part);
Add qualifiers (e.g., sur headlines and sub headlines);
Create the opening or introductory paragraph;
List the features, advantages and benefits
Expand on key items for the main body;
Integrate headers at every two or three paragraphs;
Incorporate story blocks (i.e., highlighted stories, remarks or sidenote’s, which all aim to give the reader a break and at the same time reinforce key benefits, reasons, urgencies, etc);
Create the offer and boost its value (such as by adding bonuses, premiums, discounts, options, packaging, comparisons, etc);
Build credibility and believability (such as by adding background information, testimonials, proofs, factoid’s, guarantees, etc);
Close with a call-to-action statement;
And plug some “PS’s” at the end to restate the benefits of the offer, emphasize the sense of urgency or add a bonus not yet offered.
Cheapness is never a strong appeal or motivater to buy. People like to be able to afford the best. If you let them feel that they are cheap they will resent you.
A headline of an advertisement is far more important than any picture. Space is very expensive so rather spend a LOT of time getting the ideal headline than wasting money on a picture.
People don’t like to be sold, they like to buy.
People want it to be their idea when they buy.
Differentiate your product and service. Even if you spend a month or more to find your unique difference you must have this to stand apart from your competition. If your competition markets as well, then you are at war (less the blood and guts – in the illegal drug trade the war is for real though) and you need to make yourself different. Al Ries and Jack Trout says it bluntly in their latest book – “Differentiate or die”
Test your copy:
Does it have a good feel?
Do you want to buy?
Are you seduced or repelled?
Read it out loud. Does it flow and convince?
Read the copy out loud. Why? if you verbally trip, then you need to edit or rewrite that section of the story.
Layout of your copy.
Graphics, fonts, and layouts don’t sell, but they can help bring attention to your sales message. If you create a display add, you do not need to fill every bit of space with words. Leave some white space – the add must also look pleasing to the eye.