Marketing Copywriting, Maslen on Marketing

Ten copywriting secrets

Secret #1 It’s NOT just business, it’s personal

Remember at all times that your customers are people. Get to know them as individuals. Discover their innermost fears and desires.

This goes double if you are in b2b. Where we are often told (by fools) that, “we are selling to companies”.

Secret #2 You’re here to sell

Forget about that degree in English. Or even Psychology. And especially marketing. If you can’t sell stuff you will go out of business.

The best-ever definition of advertising was, “salesmanship in print”.

Secret #3 We are NOT paid liars

Politicians lie. Estate agents lie. Used car salesmen lie. But copywriters don’t. Or they shouldn’t.

Tell the truth about your products. Tell it like you mean it (which you do, right?). Dramatise it with stories, facts, testimonials.

Secret #4 People aren’t stupid, but they are busy

When I suggest at workshops that people simplify their language, I sometimes get told, “that won’t work for our audience: they are educated.”

Yes, they are educated. And they are also paying scant attention to your copy. So forcing them to work overtime to figure out what you’re saying is not going to help you win orders or even attention.

Secret #5 Don’t confuse your reader

When it comes to the order form, keep it simple. Give your reader one option and, if possible, one way to pay. Research shows choice depresses response.

Once you have them as a customer, THEN hit them with upsell offers and early-bird renewals.

Secret #6 Read more

There are new ways of doing things. But they’re usually glosses on older methods.

Attend seminars on digital marketing by all means, but read the books the presenters almost certainly haven’t. Start with Scientific Advertising by Claude C Hopkins.

And read sales letters. Especially the ones that repeatedly appear on your desktop, in-tray or doormat. THESE are the ones making money for their senders.

Secret #7 Stop thine ears against the honeyed words of those who don’t sell for a living

Or to put it another way, refuse to allow designers to do anything you believe will reduce response to your copy.

If you aren’t sure what these are, see 6 above. But off the top of my head, how about tiny type, reversed out type, squiffy little coupons and brainless imagery.

Secret #8 Nobody cares about the length of your copy

Perhaps because they don’t have anything better to do, some copywriters will cheerfully argue for hours about the merits of short copy against long copy.

For a start, they should know the answer by now (test it). But they’re missing the point.

All that matters to your reader is whether your copy is interesting or BORING. If it’s interesting, they will keep reading regardless of the word count.

Secret #9 Most people don’t read body copy

Four times as many people read your headline as read your body copy. So guess where you should spend your time. Eighty per cent of it, in fact.

Of course, your body copy needs to be hot to work its magic on the readers who DO persevere. But without a throat-grabber at the head of your email, ad, letter or web page, you’re wasting your one chance to sell to 80 in every 100 potential buyers.

Secret #10 Your customers don’t care about you, your company or your product

Well, OK, if you are super-great at looking after them they might. But what they are really interested in is what you can do for them.

So let’s finish with what surely isn’t a secret, but just looks like one judging by a lot of the copy we see flying around (still).

Write about benefits, not features. Test benefits copy by asking of it, “So what?”. And remember, writing “Ten benefits of product X” as a heading doesn’t automatically mean the copy that follows is benefits.

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