10 Keys to Write Copy That Gets Results

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Whether you're writing a brochure, copy for a newspaper ad, a script for a radio announcement or your web site, there are some tried and true techniques that can help you make sure that your copy gets the results you're looking for.

Think about writing copy as making a sales pitch to a customer. Your goal is to persuade that customer to do something – most likely to purchase your product or service. Here are "10 Keys to Writing Copy That Gets Results":

# 1: Put yourself in the consumer's shoes.

People do not take action unless there is a reason to do so. "What's in it for me" may seem like a selfish motivation but it is, nonetheless, human nature. In order to effectively persuade a consumer, you need to put yourself in their place and consider why what you have to offer meets their needs. This should not be a quick exercise or one that is taken lightly. Spend some time to really think about the appearances that you could make that would really resonate with your target audience.

For example, suppose you're selling housecleaning services to busy professional men and women. Obviously there are benefits to purchasing this service – the customer will save time. But what else? What really motivates these people? Here are some possibilities:

– We'll take care of the cleaning so you can spend more quality time with your family.

– Your time is valuable. Spend it where it really counts. Let us take care of the rest.

– You work hard at your real job. We work hard at our.

What if you do not really know your customers? What if you're a 25-year-old woman and you've created a product that appeals to 50 year old men? Then you need to get out and interact with your target customers, either one on one, or through market research. You must know your customer to be able to write effective copy.

# 2: Make it as long as you need to.

Ignore anything you hear about recommended length of copy. There are no hard and fast rules. Your copy simply needs to be as long as necessary to convey your key selling points. That does not mean, though, that you should ramble on and on. No. You should identify 3-5 key points that directly refer to customer needs and then clearly and concisely provide enough detail about your product or service to convince the customer to take action.

Sometimes you can do this effectively with a single line of copy and an effective photo. Consider a full color photo of a tasty slice of pizza, with a single line of copy that simple says: "Hungry?"

Sometimes you can not do this effectively without several paragraphs of copy, along with photos or schematics describing your product, how it works and how it will meet customer needs. Consider a brochure describing a piece of manufacturing equipment that costs several thousand dollars.

Always remember that your objective is to convince the consumer to buy. If you can do that in one sentence, do it in one sentence. If not, make your copy as long as you need to.

# 3: Keep it simple.

Whatever your target audience is teenagers or doctors, you need to convey a simple message. Your audience is busy and your message is competing with literally hundreds of other messages and distractions. Know the points you want to make and make them simply and clearly. Edit your copy mercilessly so that it contains only those "need to know" elements that will guide the consumer in making a purchase decision.

# 4: Convert features to benefits.

Too often copy focuses on the features of a product rather than its benefits. What's the difference? Features are the attributes of a product or service – a statement of fact. For example: "XYZ orange juice has calcium." Benefits, on the other hand, answer the all-important question of "What's in it for me?" In this case: "XYZ orange juice has calcium to help you build strong bones." Make sure that your copy goes beyond a description of features to clearly focus on the benefits for consumers. What's in it for them?

# 5: Do not be an "also ran."

Make sure that you distinguish yourself from your competition when you're writing copy. Spend some time reviewing the advertising of your competitors. Note their key copy points. Note the benefits that focus on. Then be different. You're trying to convince consumers to pick your product or service over the other options available to them. That means differentiating yourself.

Keep in mind that you have indirect as well as direct competition. Indirect competition are the other choices consumers could make. For instance, in the housecleaning example given earlier, indirect competition would be the consumer doing the cleaning on their own – or assigning the task to children. Your copy needs to address all of the alternatives to your product or service – and offer compelling reasons why the consumer should overlook those alternatives to choose you!

# 6: Be consistent.

Advertising or communication needs to be consistent to be effective. It's the cumulative impact of your communication that will ever make an impact with consumers. That's why it's so important that you use consistent themes and messages in all of your advertising. That consistency will help to reinforce your product benefits; continued emphasis on the same points will absolutely lead to sales. Make sure your copy is consistent in all media – radio, print, etc. – and that you're reinforcing the same points, not sending "mixed messages."

# 7: Do not forget the details.

Remember, your copy is your sales pitch. But unlike a real sales pitch you do not have the luxury of responding to any questions that the potential customer might have as he or she reads or listens to your pitch. That's why your copy needs to include all of the key points and information necessary to help the consumer make a decision. Spend some time thinking of the potential customers that consumers might have about your product or service – then make sure you've provided answers to these questions in your copy.

# 8: Consider the "look."

When you're writing copy for print – newspaper or magazine ads or brochures, your copy will be working in concert with graphic elements. These elements can help to drive your point (as in the pizza example earlier) or they can serve as distractions, or worse, detractors from the copy. Some examples are photos, line art, bulleted lists, bold headings, etc. Make sure you're considering the "look" of your copy and how it relates to graphic elements, noting how the reader's eye is likely to "track" through the copy.

# 9: Read it out loud!

A good salesperson is often said to have "a silver tongue." The same should be true of your copy. Remember your copy is your pitch. Whatever you're writing a radio script which will be verbalized, or newspaper copy, you need to consider how it "sounds." The best way to do this is to read your copy out loud. You'll be surprised at the little "glitches" you'll notice when you do this. It's a simple technique to tighten and improve your sales copy.

# 10: Know when it's time to hire an expert.

Copywriting is an art. Good copywriters can drive sales of your product or service upward. Poor copy – copy that does not motivate consumers to buy – is simply a waste of your money. A newspaper ad that does not persuade is a bad investment. If your ads are not getting the results you'd like, it may be time to find outside help. It can be worth every penny!

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Source by Linda Pophal