Tips for Writing Effective Sales Copy
Without fail, every single time I lead a Search Engine Workshop,
I get a bevy of questions on how to write effective ad copy. Obviously, the many
elements involved have received voluminous regard in myriad books, lectures and seminars
spanning more than seven decades. So, to simplify such a wide ranging subject is
difficult, to say the least.
Regardless, there are many easily identified basic elements and strategies that can
be applied to lay the foundation for solid and effective sales copy. So, without further
adieu, here's a grab bag of recommendations that I've gleaned from my own experience
combined with the tips I've received from other well respected authorities on the subject.
Customers buy benefits not features. As the old saying goes, sell the sizzle not the
steak. Always remember that features have a purpose. Never assume the customer will
figure out for themselves what that purpose (benefit) is. It's a mistake to write about a
3Ghz computer without connecting the fact that such a system is blazing fast and then
talk about what it will do for them.
"Forget about waiting for your programs to load! ...our new 3Ghz chip makes computing
so blazing fast that you'll be challenged to keep up even if you're a wizard on the keyboard."
Always view your product, and your copy, from the customer's point of view.
When you read what you write, put your copy to the test by saying. so what! who
cares! ...because your customers will. Think about it: don't you when you read
someone else's sales pitch? ...we all do.
That is why... You must present a unique and compelling reason for a customer to
do business with you, a reason that stands out in a crowd of competition. This concept
is most frequently referred to as your unique selling proposition (USP).
Ask the questions: What is it about your product or service that is unique? What do
YOU offer that your competitors can't? These questions may not always elicit easy
answers but, nevertheless, you must find, and articulate, good answers to them.
Do you offer...
• the lowest price,
• the fastest delivery,
• the best guarantee,
• the only widget available this side of the planet Saturn?
...what compels me (the selfish, I-don't-give-a-heck-about-you, customer) to do
business with you when I can choose from a basketful of your competitors? Once you
truly grasp this fact of marketing, it becomes easy to see that finding the right USP and
articulating it in your sales copy can literally spell the difference between (excuse the
clich?) success and failure. It truly is that important.
Make sure your site loads within 30 seconds or less. No matter how effective your
content is, if your visitors have to wait for your page to load, you'll lose them.
Remember, we live in an increasingly impatient world where time is precious. People
tend to think there's something wrong with slow loading sites, and they don't want to
do business with losers.
Pay attention to layout. Place your headlines where they will be seen first, and
arrange your presentation in an orderly fashion. It has been said that effective sales
presentations are arranged somewhat like a tour. There's a beginning, middle and an
end - in that order. Avoid putting the customer in control of the order in which they
participate in the tour.
Give them a focal point - an obvious place to start reading as well as a well laid-out
path to follow all the way to a conclusion. Tell them up front what you're selling or
offering. If they have to guess, you'll ultimately be the one guessing why they left your
site without buying.
Use graphics (images) to invoke emotion or to draw the eyes to text you want
your readers to see. Do not use graphics to gratuitously fill space. Always ask yourself
what you want the graphic to accomplish. Does it demonstrate the product? ...illustrate
a benefit? ...promote a professional image? ...or draw attention to an important section
of a page? All of these are good answers and validate the use of graphics.