The First-Timers Guide to Great Copy

Concentrated businesswoman tying on laptop in office
Concentrated businesswoman tying on laptop in office

Want to nail your sales pitches from the get-go, without having to resort to icky, pushy marketing?

Of course you do.

Don't we all?

The reality is that effortless selling with words (copy) is a learned skill.

A skill you can learn, practice and polish to (perfection). But since perfection is a myth, you should strive for excellence instead.

What the heck is copy?

Copywriting is the art of salesmanship, but really, it's the art of using words to engage readers, gain their trust and generate sales.

Copywriting is the art of using words to persuade, not manipulate.

Copywriting is the art of connection, with people who want what you're selling. In short, copy is not something you COPY -- copy is your message--your words.

Copywriting isn't the same as copyright (protecting someone's intellectual property).

Good copy... moves people -- emotionally.

The most powerful description I've ever seen about copy is in this video. Watch and learn...

So with that cleared up, let's look at how you can use copywriting in your business, to engage readers and sell products and services.

How to write copy that sells.

Anyone can study copywriting and turn it into a practiced skill. I'm Swiss born. My native language is Swiss German. Yet I've built a successful business on the foundations of my copywriting skills -- in English.

I studied with some of the best copywriters in the industry and invested years to polish my copywriting skills, striving for excellence.

I'll never stop striving for excellence. It's my zone of genius, therefore I'm (emotionally) invested in the craft. Your zone of genius may be designing and building houses, birthing babies, speaking, tweaking numbers or assisting your boss.

You don't have to be a copywriter to write copy that sells -- to make your words remarkable, memorable and impactful.

Get started with these 9 exercises:

  1. Keep your sentences short, succinct and clear. Brevity is everything. Clear beats clever any day of the week.

  • Avoid jargon. Every industry has buzz words. If your ideal customer doesn't know these words you'll lose them to confusion and wait -- boredom. Yawn!
  • Maximise white space. You want to keep your paragraphs short. My recommendation is to write 3-4 sentences and then add a paragraph break. Why? White space avoids eye strain and keeps the reader engaged.
  • Empower the reader. Use bullets or lists to help the reader navigate. Want to make your bullets high velocity? Start with a verb.
  • Evoke emotions. Use words that are vivid, descriptive, powerful and memorable. Let your copy make an impact. Touch people.
  • Check the readability score on Word. http://www.kerryr.net/webwriting/tools_readability.htm
  • Plan your content with your head. Write from the heart.
  • Write conversationally. Use you, you're and your often. Don't write in third person unless you have a good reason.
  • Plan for success!

    Before you sit down to write, get clear about the outcome. Start with the end in mind.

    What is the purpose of the copy you're about to write? Is it to:

    • Make a sale?

  • Receive an inquiry?
  • Build your email list?
  • Get social shares?
  • Get clear about the outcome first and your words will flow naturally.

    Get clear about your audience. Understand the emotions of your ideal customer.

    • What keeps these people awake at night?

  • What words do they use to describe their problem?
  • Why is your solution right for them?
  • Why should they care about your solution?
  • Get crystal clear about your customer's pain, then write to address that pain and offer a solution.

    Disrupt expectations.

    We're so used to advertising and being sold to that we've become ignorant to many of the marketing messages we see. If you want to stand out and get seen use disruption to get the attention of your audience.

    Why? Because we pay attention to copy that violates our expectations.

    How?

    • Tell stories. Stories lower our aversion to being sold to. They're powerful connectors and trust builders because they help us relate.

  • Do the opposite of everyone in your industry; if everyone else cha-chas do the tango.
  • Think outside the box. Find new ways to position yourself as the go-to expert. Be different.
  • Be unpredictable. Your personality is your biggest ally in marketing your business. Use it to your advantage.
  • Frame your copy. In the 1970s, a study found that if you expose subjects to the same statement repeatedly, they will start to believe it is true. Use repetition to help you create those frames.
  • Use mystery. Utilise serialised content marketing strategies. Ever fallen in love with a TV series? The script writers of these shows are the pros of serialised content. Follow their lead and see your email opening rates skyrocket and your engagement explode.
  • In closing:

    The biggest tip I can give you is to have fun with your copy. If you're not writing heart and soul -- 100% -- your time is best utilised with other skills and tasks that make you money.

    Copywriting is a skill you can learn. But to do it well requires careful study, practice and passion for the written word. If this idea doesn't light you up, you can write as much as you want but chances are that your copy will only ever be lame at best.

    So tell me, do you enjoy writing your own copy or does it feel like pulling teeth?