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Get Money: 8. Magic Words
If you don’t ask, you don’t get...
Words sell. You need to master the art of writing – as in sales copy – to make money. You can’t lose if you’re adept at writing compelling copy. It’s money in the bank. Even if you’re still working a job, being good at copywriting means you’ll be able to write a competition-beating resume, which might just bring you the winning edge. But if you running a business it’s a skill par excellence.
Sure you can hire a copywriter. But be careful you don’t get taken in by some university graduate who thinks they can write, or a journalist moonlighting at writing copy. They know nothing about how to sell and have no idea how to write persuasive ad copy. Don’t even speak to people like that. They might be well-educated (by the system) but they are stupid and know nothing about what drives people to buy stuff.
But if you can find a copywriter with a track record of actually selling stuff online and offline, jump at them. In the beginning, they’ll most likely interview you, using a voice recorder, to find out about your business and get a feel for the products or services you offer. They’ll do thorough research into what you do and will deliver top-flight copy that’ll help sell more of your stuff.
That said, the first thing you need to do is have a promo plan in place. Great copy is one thing, but if nobody sees it, it won’t do you any good. A good copywriter should be able to help you with both your promo plan and marketing strategy. They’ll bring a lot to the table. Thus, so long as you can afford it, don’t balk at their fees. A great ad copywriter is worth their weight in gold.
“The man who stops advertising to save money is like the man who stops the clock to save time.”
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), lawyer, diplomat and third president of the United States
But if you feel so inclined it’s worth learning the art of copywriting yourself. Even if you don’t become a master you’ll be able to get a fair bit of the copy done yourself, and hire a pro copywriter to add the finishing touches, which will save you money.
The key to ad copywriting is to write from the perspective of the potential customer, rather than waxing lyrical about yourself or your company. For example, in the first instance, prospects don’t care how long you’ve been in business or that you “pride yourself” on the quality of your service. The only thing on their mind is: “What’s In It For Me!” (the W.I.I.F.M. rule of copywriting). That’s all they care about. And you should too. Because if you tell them what’s in it for them, and keep telling them throughout your copy, you stand to make a lot more sales. You’re emphasizing benefits over features.
Naturally you do need to get across that you have great customer service. But this is often better done using testimonials from happy customers. Get others to blow your trumpet in this respect.
It’s also critical to understand the importance of headlines. Eighty percent of the power and effectiveness of your ad copy is in the headline you choose. One headline will have the power to draw the reader into the rest of your sales copy, and another will not. What’s more, advertising tests have shown that one headline can pull up to 1500% more response than another. So clearly you must think up a few strong headlines and test one against another. Then run with the one that pulls the best results.
Here’s a couple of examples of good headlines:
“How I Made A Fortune With A ‘Fool’ Idea”
This utilizes the power of paradox. It creates curiosity – how did you make a fortune with a fool idea? Could I do it too?
“How To Win Friends And Influence People”
This is a classic from self-improvement lecturer Dale Carnegie. It cuts right to the heart of millions of people’s desire to be liked.
Almost as important as the headline are the sub-headlines you use. They break up your copy and usher readers deeper into your message. Many people scan pages on the Internet, for example, so sub-headlines are a good way of keeping people’s attention. Therefore, it’s wise to spend time working on sub-headlines to get them just right (again emphasize benefits), and not fall into the trap of thinking, “that’ll do” – it’ll only lose you sales.
The other thing to look at – especially online – is white space. There’s no doubt about it, the easier it is to read your web page, the more money you will make. This means breaking up your copy with short sentences and short paragraphs. In other words, don’t be afraid to hit the “enter” key! Bang out a good bit of white space. It’s not only kinder on the eye, but makes copy less of a chore to read. Whatever device is being used – be it desktop, tablet or phone – walls of text are off-putting. Most likely your copy won’t be read if you do that. Don’t make people’s heads hurt. Make it easy for them.
It’s also worth looking at the font-face you use. Times Roman or Serif for body copy, for example, is better for printed matter. Tests show it’s not so good on screens. People seem to respond better to Sans Serif fonts. So a good font to use for body copy online is Verdana. Headlines and sub-headlines work well in Arial, which has a crispness and so is ideal for attention-grabbing headlines. It’s also best to center headlines and to capitalize the first letter of each word. Never capitalize all the letters of a headline – all caps take longer to read and therefore you run the risk of losing your reader.
Lastly, you need to think about closing the sale. When people first start writing ad copy they are often shy about cutting to the chase and asking readers to “buy now.” The same is true for door-to-door sales people. For rookies hitting the streets it’s excruciating to say, “How would you like to pay? By check or by card?” [Note you don’t ask if they’d like to buy, you presume the sale].
But let’s face it, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. It can seem too direct and pushy. But you have to get over any squeamishness about closing sales – and as fast as possible.
So don’t be timid with your ad copy. Get to it and say something like: “Don’t delay. Order Now!” Or: “This is a time limited offer. It won’t be available for long. Get in while stocks last. Buy Now!”
You have to use commanding statements like these when writing ad copy. People respond to them. If they’re looking to buy something, they don’t want to have to figure it out. They want all the details laid down clearly, and most importantly, they want to be told when and how to purchase your product or service. In the end, they’ll either buy or they won’t. So hitting them with a direct “buy now” statement is more about congruity and clarity. Being limp will just put them off, or confuse them. So go for the jugular and be direct!
Photos and pictures are important too, especially these days where people’s attention spans have become more and more limited. But when you use pictures make sure they are striking. After all, every man and his dog is posting pics on social media, so your pics have to stand out from the crowd. You have to grab attention. Memes are good in this respect – especially if you can make your image speak with just one line of text.
“Generally, the view that I’ve had on Twitter is if you’re on Twitter, you’re in, like, the meme – you’re in meme war land.”
Elon Musk (b. 1971), technology entrepreneur, investor and engineer
You don’t have to buy into Adobe Photoshop, and go through its steep learning curve, to create and edit images. There’s lot of good online photo-editing systems you can use, such as PicMonkey and Pixlr. Most also have apps for your phone so you can do your picture editing on the go.
While all this might sound daunting if you’re not already a seasoned internet marketer, you can take heart in the fact that, while most of the world is now online, most of them don’t have the first clue about setting up a website or using Facebook for marketing. They’re civilians. And you’re not. So you can get the edge by being able to operate online. Most people are sheep. They aren’t motivated and prefer to be led. What’s more they love to spend their money, so hit ‘em with a buy button, and get a fistful of dollars!
Read as many books as you can on ad copywriting. Read junk mail too (its not “junk” if it sells stuff)! Learn to recognize effective sales copy. Figure out why it is persuasive. Go online and search out websites with copy that excites you, or juices you up even if you have no interest in buying the product or service on offer. Select your favorite pieces of sales copy. Get a pen and paper and copy it out longhand. This will get you a real feel for how first class ad copy is composed. Apply it to your own offers, be it on your website, Etsy, eBay, social media channel, print brochure, or whatever. Your sales will start to rocket.