Do you remember the last time you picked up a book, read the first sentence, and before you knew what happened, an hour or two had passed? That’s killer copy- where one sentence pulls you into the next.
If you’re going to be spending money to advertise, it only makes sense that the copy in your ads is better than good, it needs to be great. Let me share a secret with you: It doesn’t cost you any more to run an ad with great copy, than it does to run an ad with adequate copy. Not to mention the fact that you can multiply your results by 2, 5 or 10 times. Great copy attracts customers like a magnet.
Clients and prospects respond to tangible evidence that indicates the quality of your product or service. When you mail a brochure, hand out presentation materials or refer someone to your web site, your copy acts as a sales person delivering a message and influencing perceptions about your business, product or service.
The benefits you offer the consumer influence what the key messages in your copy are. The way you string your words together is often most effective when you clearly define the benefits you offer (as it relates to your target audience), and use motivators to elicit a response from your readers.
The 4 essential skills of writing good copy are:
1. Determine who your target audience is and speak directly to them
2. Create a Killer Headline
3. Convey your key messages to your audience
4. Paint a picture using power words that inspire action
5. Ask for the call to action (usually the sale)
Determining Your Target Market
Your target market is simply the people who are most likely to buy your products. Before you write any copy you must figure out who they are, so you can speak directly to them in a way in which they can understand and relate to.
You’ll likely define your target audience based on:
• Marital status
• Level of education
• What they read
• Where they shop
• What keeps them awake at night and so on.
Once you determine who exactly your target is, you must speak to them in a way that they understand. For example if your target audience is single men in their twenties or thirties who are computer programmers, you would want to use industry jargon that they will understand and are familiar with, then write in a way which they can relate to. Alternatively if your market is made up of retired couples, you would want to use that knowledge to convey your key messages.
Always direct your message to the right audience: those who want what you have to offer, will listen to your pitch and ultimately take action. The key is understanding your target audience like the back of your hand.
Create a Killer Headline
A powerful ad is one of the most important aspects of your success. The secret to a successful ad is your headline. You only have a split second to grab your targets attention. Your potential customer will most likely scan the ads and only read one if it catches their attention. Write your ads with passion, excitement, and benefits.
We all know the importance of a powerful headline. However, writing a great headline isn’t as easy as it sounds. An effective headline will literally force your potential customers to learn more. It will instantly ignite a certain emotion and intrigue them to read on. In order to write an effective headline, you must learn how to use specific words to achieve a specific reaction. This is definitely something that you’ll want to try, change test and track until you get desirable or better than desirable results.
Convey Key Messages to Your Audience
In order to write killer copy, you must have a crystal clear vision of what you offer is. What it is that makes you different from your competition? What’s in it for your customer? What benefits do they receive if they do business with you.
Features are nice, but if they don’t benefit the customer then they’re not really of much use. A feature is a characteristic of your product or service. A benefit is what that feature does for a customer. Benefits will outsell features ten to one. Some examples of features and the benefits they offer are listed in the chart below.
Feature vs. Benefit
Airbags >> Feeling of safety and security
Massage >> Stress relief and relaxation
Self Cleaning Oven >> Saves time, effort and is less hassle
Your job as a copywriter is to quickly explain what the features are, and how they would benefit the customer. This is your key message.
One feature can have lots of benefits, and one benefit can have lots of features to the same customer. One person may buy a mini-van because they need room to tote their kids; another person might buy the same mini-van because they like the comfortable ride and space. Someone else may buy a car that is very safe for their family, because it has a 5 star crash test rating, 6 air bags, and crumple zones. Remember, benefits are always in the eye of the beholder, which is why it is important to know who you are speaking to.
Before you start rattling off the benefits and features of your product or service, you should uncover the prospects wants, needs and interests. This way you can custom tailor the features and benefits as they relate to the prospect. The extra space for kids in a minivan is not of much use to a prospect with no kids. Talking about how your product or service may benefit the prospect also demonstrates that you care about what the prospect wants. Only bring up features that actually benefit your customer.
Some benefits are not necessarily obvious to your prospects. Remember, your prospects have a life outside of the conversation they’re having with you. Talking with them about benefits helps them see value in the way you want them to.
Many people learn to tell the feature first, and then describe the benefit second. It is often more effective to do it the other way around. This lawnmower is easy to use because it is self-propelled and mulches the grass so you do not need to dispose of the grass clippings.
Sometimes however, the benefit is best when it is implied, especially when you’re talking about benefits the customer’s image or ego. Many car ads do this and imply the benefit of enhanced ego or image. Coming out any saying, “Drive this car and your friends will think you make a lot of money” doesn’t work very well, but implying it does.
Sometimes companies talk about that are features that are not really features at all because they don’t really provide any inherent benefit to the customer. Having been in business for “X” number of years is not really a strong selling feature, nor is having “X” number of clients, or doing “X” dollars in sales last year. In fact, such features actually seem like you are boasting.
Though we can describe benefits in many different ways, they all fit into five main categories:
1. Convenience – saves time or effort
2. To saves or increase money/wealth
3. Provides peace of mind
4. Appeals to image or ego
5. Fun or enjoyment
Paint a Picture
This involves utilizing both the knowledge of who your target audience is, and the benefits that your product or service has to offer them. Describe how your offer can fit into their life and ultimately make it more enjoyable, make them more money and so on.
Using the minivan example from above, you can relate to the frustration of fitting a family of four or five in a car for a weekend camping trip. If the minivan you’re selling has safety features explain the benefits they offer, and why it might be safer then their current vehicle. If it comes with an optional DVD player and embedded headrest screens, paint the picture of their kids sitting in the back seat peacefully for a three hour trip watching their favourite movie. Any parent with young kids can easily relate to how nice it would be to be able to take a trip and not have kids fighting, and whining.
Ask For the Sale
This is perhaps the most important, and most overlooked part of writing sales copy. If you don’t ask for the sale, or ask for the call to action how can you expect to get it? A call to action might be filling out a survey, opting in for a mailing list, requesting more information or any number of other things. Just ask for it, it a way that will get results. Also create an urgency to act now.
This is something you’ll probably want to test, along with what the specific call to action is.
Above all, remember proper research is key and keep testing your copy against the results it produces. Do this and you’ll end up with a winner every time.
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