“When I write an advertisement, I don’t want you to tell me that you find it ‘creative.’ I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product.” – David Ogilvy
Anyone who’s anyone knows the importance of having great copywriting skills. Not just to sell something. But also to get an idea across. It’s an undeniable fact that the greatest writers in history have also been some of the most effective communicators, conveying ideas that have transformed the way we live, work and entertain ourselves.
From compelling ideas that have shaped the political world, to the business world, entertainment, culture and humanity itself, infectious ideas are the transmutation of thoughts conveyed by the world’s greatest and most compelling writers. So, what makes the difference between those that are able to write compelling copy that sells, and those whose ideas fall flat?
What sets the greatest writers apart from the rest?
If you’ve landed on this page, you’re undoubtedly immersed in the field of writing in one form or another, or you have every intention of becoming one of the greats. Clearly, that passion is a fundamental prerequisite to get you there, but it won’t take you all the way.
In order to write compelling copy that sells, you not only need a passion, but you need the drive and determination to see things through, without throwing in that proverbial towel. Why? Writing is one of the most powerful forms of communication that dates back thousands of years, and is only predated by the invention of language itself, but it’s also one of the most difficult things to master.
Those that are effective communicators, and thus, compelling writers, have spent decades refining their craft. It doesn’t happen overnight. Then again, nothing worthwhile ever does. But there are some tips for writing compelling copy that sells to the audience when it’s crafted in the write way. It’s not rocket science. But it does involve the necessity of repetitious and exhaustive practice.
The Importance Of Storytelling
The art of storytelling is one of the oldest and most ancient creative art forms in existence. Our ancestors have been telling stories since the dawn of our civilization and the invention of language. And its through the art of storytelling, and the ability to deliver a refined message, that anyone has been able to sell anything, all the way from an idea to a product.
Clearly, stories are a fundamental part of life. But, what we don’t realize or understand is that everything is based on stories, all the way down to cultural norms, geographic borders and even the concept of money. All of these are inventions by man, created at one point in time or another.
Can you imagine the first person that dreamed of a border, or an imaginary line, that separated one area from another? It likely started with personal property in the way of a home. What part of that property was yours and what part wasn’t? Much of this occurred before the dawn of modern civilization.
Other stories, such as money, create the foundation for just about everything else. In fact, money is the world’s most successful story, which states that a piece of paper is equal to a certain amount, which can aid you in the purchase of services, things or other investments.
So when we talk about writing compelling copy, we’re really talking about masterful storytelling. Not only are we talking about technicalities, but we’re talking about an art form here. You have to be just as good at conveying your ideas in a clear and concise manner as you are at using the vehicle of a story to get those points across.
With that being said, let’s look at some of the most important tips for writing great copy that sells. How is that one person can craft prose that will help to move droves of products or infiltrate the lives of millions of people across the planet, while others are left floundering, unable to get their stories to connect with the masses?
#1 — Understand and know your audience implicitly
Before you can create great copy that sells something, you have to understand and implicitly know your audience. Who are you writing to? Clearly, this makes a significant difference in just how to convey that writing. Are you writing prose directed towards technical professionals? Or, are you writing copy to sell parents on a service or toy for children?
In business, you absolutely must know your target audience. You’d be wasting your time if you didn’t. The better you know specifically who you’re marketing to, the better able you’ll be to convey your ideas to those people. It’s not just about what you’re selling, but who you’re selling it to.
#2 — Determine your objective before you begin
What’s your objective? Clearly, you’re looking to sell something. But that’s not all. What’s the actual objective you’re looking to get across in the copy? Are you introducing people to a new business? Are you talking about an expansion of product offerings to a specific geographic area? Maybe you’re speaking about an upcoming sale or something else.
Whatever it is that you’re trying to get across, ensure that you’ve detailed your objectives before you start. All it takes are a couple of bullet points. Jot down what you’re looking to achieve by creating this copy or what you’re attempting to sell. It’s not always about a physical sale. You might be trying to lay the groundwork for trust in a business or something else. Understand it before you begin.
#3 — Make them salivate over the subject-line
Whether you’re crafting an email or writing an article, the subject-line matters. Most people will overlook messages that don’t draw them in. For that reason, writing compelling copy must begin with the hook. You need to hook the reader in so that you can sell them on whatever it is you’re peddling.
There are numerous types of effective subject-line styles. You could use the list-type, the question, the comparison and numerous others. What you want to do, however, no matter what you write, is to keep it concise and make it compelling. This isn’t about baiting people; this is about drawing them into equally-brilliant content through a persuasive subject-line.
#4 — Connect with your readers using the power of storytelling
Stories are the most powerful way to connect with your readers. In fact, it’s those same stories that are at the heart of any successful business. What’s your story? If a narrative doesn’t exist, you need to create one. It’s through that narrative that you can build a relationship with people through compelling copy and generate tremendous amounts of sales.
Find stories that help to propel your ideas to your target audience. How can you use those stories to help convey the values and the beliefs of your business? How can you use those stories to help fuel a nascent desire to purchase whatever it is that you’re selling? Become an effective storyteller and you’ll take your writing to astronomical heights.
#5 — Use a down-to-earth approach
Your approach in your writing counts. Often, it’s best to use a down-to-earth approach so that you can relate with your customers. Don’t try to seem better or smarter than them. Display ways that you can add value to their lives with your products, services or information and do it in a way that’s down-to-earth.
The more relatable and humble you are, the more you’ll be able to connect with them. Storytelling will get you only so far. You have to convey those stories in a way that will offer insight to customers about who you are and why you’re really there to help them in some way, shape or form.
#6 — It’s all about crafting lists
Lists are important when it comes to writing compelling copy to sell just about anything. The better you get at writing lists that are unique and insightful, the more likely you’ll be able to deliver conveying prose. Lists, when used effectively, can help to drive any point or message home.
With lists, you can do a number of things. You can identify potential benefits for using your products or services, you can use it to teach in tutorial format, you can utilize it in content marketing or even utilize it to create best-of lists to help deliver high quality content that identifies the most efficient or effective ways of achieving something.
#7 — Adjectives are your friend, but use them wisely
For those that aren’t seasoned when it comes to writing, they might not understand the importance of using adjective-rich sentences that help to provide a descriptive nature to whatever it is that they’re selling. However, there’s most certainly an art to this and you don’t want to go overboard or become superfluous.
For example, instead of saying “this hotel is located on the best beach in Punta Cana,” you could say, “situated on a pristine sugary-white sanded beach replete with towering coconut groves, this hotel provides one of the best locations on the idyllic shores of Punta Cana.” Get the picture? You need to help your reader envision whatever it is that you’re peddling.
#8 — Avoid using the passive voice
Passive versus active-voice copy is an important distinction to understand. Avoid using the passive voice when possible, as it creates a lack of depth and distinction in your writing. Instead, use the active voice. The active voice provides a far more engaging and enthralling reading experience than its passive counterpart.
For example, instead of saying “last the week, a great review was written by our customer,” you should instead say, ” our customer wrote us a great review last week.” Or, instead of saying, “the entire store was painted by Jon, ” you should say, “Jon painted the entire store.”
#9 — Create an impending deadline
If you’re serious about creating great copy that sells, you need an impending deadline. You need to create some type of event that your pitch will hinge upon. What’s that event? What are you building up to? Creating that connection through the power of storytelling is one thing, and grabbing their attention with a great subject-line and details is another thing, but you also need a deadline that you can build your copy around.
When there’s a deadline, people know that some type of action needs to be taken. If it’s a sale, there’s a deadline for when it expires, such as a 24-hour flash sale or a Memorial Day sale or any other type of sale. Maybe the deadline relates to the release of a particular product and the expiration of a pre-order timetable, or anything else. Simply put, create an impending deadline.
#10 — Focus on a call to action
Want to generate sales? Then you need a call to action. Not just once, but multiple times. Try two or three times within your content. This is especially true when engaged in things like email marketing, but also important in creating the description for any type of product or service.
Multiple calls to action, even when they are subtle such as saying “Upon downloading this incredible product, you’ll receive the life-altering, revolutionary information that has changed the lives of thousands of people.” Also, section titles such as “Purchase XYZ Product Today,” help to provide subliminal messages that increase conversions.
#11 — Keep it clean and concise
Keep your writing clean and concise. Don’t go off on too many tangents as you’ll lose the interest of potential clients or customers. Stay laser-focused on the topic and avoid being superfluous. If you’re serious about the sale, then your copy needs to conform to this guideline otherwise you’ll lose the reader’s focus.
Keeping things clean also means to avoid run-on sentences and paragraphs that are too large, combined with paragraphs that are very short. You also want to section things off to keep it nice and tidy and allow for the eye to freely flow across your words like an eagle effortlessly soaring through the skies.
#12 — Deliver error-free prose
Keep your sales copy free from errors. Avoid spelling errors and grammatical errors at all costs. While one random error here or there won’t necessarily hurt you, if your content is littered with errors, there’s absolutely no way it’s going to attract or convert any potential reader. In fact, they’re much more likely to get put off by it than anything else.
Not only will errors in your spelling and grammar put off customers or readers, but it will also limit your chances of optimizing that content for things like SEO, with a reduced visibility on search engines like Google. Take the time to double and triple-check your writing if necessary.