Irrespective of the industry you belong to or the nature of your business, every business needs words (which can be converted to videos, stories, infographics, charts, case studies or used as a blog post) to convince prospects, convert them into customers and generate sales.
While many people think that writing is easy, persuading a complete stranger to buy whatever you are selling can be difficult. It takes years, if not eternity, to understand human psychology and the rationale behind certain purchasing decisions and master your copywriting skills. Chances are that if you are a business owner, you do not have that luxury of time.
So, what can you do?
Use plenty of paragraph breaks
Imagine if you picked up a book (digital or hardcopy) and all the words were packed together without spacing, what would you do? You’d drop it, right? That’s because the book is going to be a hard read and you’d likely not be able to absorb a single word. This same rule applies to digital content.
When writing, always remember this principle: “Less is more and no one wants to sift through large blocks of text. So embrace white space.” Short, sharp sentences and legible fonts make readers’ reading experience a delightful one. Here are tips to consider:
- Take one of your web pages, print out the copy and grab a red pen.
- Insert a line after every unique point or statement that you make.
- Separate each point so that they all sit on their own. It doesn’t matter if some points only take up one line – in fact, that’s often preferable.
Always put your customers first
Copywriting isn’t for flaunting your unique writing skills, how long you’ve been in the business or rattling about the features of whatever you are selling. Your sales copy should revolve around your target customers’ pain points and how what you’re offering can solve them rather than your qualifications or experience in the business.
What you’ve got to say about your business isn’t important; what your audience needs to hear is, “what’s in it for me?!”
Here’s how to do it:
- Check your copy for any jargon. Be careful not to use clichés or terms that might not be widely understood. Use simple and understandable words.
- Write down the goal of each piece of copy you write. Always measure your words against this aim.
- Find the balance between patronizing your audience and assuming that they know everything.
Use emotions to make your customers take action
Irrespective of the size of your business, emotion always sells. You know why? No matter what the product is, it’s usually bought because of how the customer feels about the item, what it will do for them and how it will make them feel.
Customers then try to justify the purchase with logic. So, since emotions instigate sales, a copy has to evoke emotions. If a customer has a problem that needs solving or a desire for a particular item, they’re going to feel a wide range of emotions before, during and after a sale. Additionally, using emotions in ads causes memorability and that increases brand awareness and brand loyalty.
Here’s how to use emotion in your communications:
- Identify your target audience’ pain points
- Write down all the problems your product solves or which desires it satisfies.
- Attach a descriptive emotion to each problem.
- Structure your copy so that you first show empathy to your audience.
- Talk about the benefits of what you sell and how it will make them feel.
Use everyday language to avoid confusion
Writing business copy is about making money, not winning literacy awards or the best writer of the year. Don’t try to be too clever or you risk your message not getting across or not being understood. You can never be wrong with simple, down-to-earth styles.
As humans, we’re hard-wired to love stories, no matter the age or status. From fairytales, as a kid, through to movies and books in our adult lives, stories play a huge part in our lives. We’re attracted to them.
In business copy, storytelling is incredibly effective in a variety of ways. Relatable stories increase conversion rates, transform staid businesses into memorable brands and customers into loyal, repeat clients.
Here are tips for finding your story that sells:
- Try to identify a hero and a villain within your subject matter. They don’t have to be actual characters. If you’re selling surface cleaner for instance, then daily grime is the enemy.
- Move the reader along a journey. Create the sense that you’ll help the reader overcome a challenge and discover something new and valuable.
Good copy has rhythm. But there’s more to creating copy that flows nicely than you might think. Clever use of punctuation plays a huge role. It makes your copy impactful. Did you know that punctuation was first used hundreds of years ago by speechwriters in ancient Greece? They used various notes and marks to help famous orators to deliver the speeches properly.
This tells you that punctuation was created so that the meaning of words wasn’t lost on readers or listeners. Here are a few rules for using punctuations:
- Make sure you don’t overuse the comma. It’s easy to tell when to put a comma into your copy. Read what you’ve written out loud and insert a comma when you naturally breathe.
- Don’t use exclamation marks. There’s no need to be overly dramatic, even if you’re selling half-price cupcakes when it isn’t Christmas. And don’t try to use them in a bid to sound funny – inserting an exclamation mark is like laughing at your own joke.
- Ensure both your sentences and paragraphs aren’t too long.
- Try to stick to making one point per paragraph.
Use sub-headings to make key points stand out
Research shows that 79% of people scan web pages before they do anything. They’re subconsciously looking for words, phrases or images that interest them or catch their attention. Use the following tips:
- Break long pieces of copy into manageable chunks.
- Insert a sub-heading to introduce each section – they need to be very benefit-driven. Don’t talk conceptually – be blunt and include the appropriate keywords.
- Make sure the sub-heading is in bold.
- For SEO reasons, assign an h2 or h3 tag to it.
Do you proofread your work? You should, because perception is reality and there’s nothing worse than a sloppy copy. Customers now have all the power and with plenty of competitors just a quick click away, that’s bad news if your spelling isn’t up to par.
If Disney can replace all the flowers in each of their parks every single month, you should also pay attention to every facet of your business, including communications. A single error can wreak havoc on sales, so be vigilant and always be on the lookout for any mistakes.
Here’s how to improve your attention to detail and avoid a mistake:
- Never rely on a spell-checker. Use one but don’t leave things there. If possible, hire an editor/proofreader.
- Don’t just proofread your work on a screen. Print it off and review a hard copy.
- Read your work aloud from the bottom up to keep your mind fresh.
Be authentic, honest and trustworthy
Running a business isn’t just about making money. You also have to earn your customers’ trust and win their loyalty. As business owners, here are 5 tips that should become your daily mantra:
- Make the most of your website’s ‘About page’. It’s your main chance to let people (especially first-timers) know who you are and form a connection with you/your business. It’s sad to see that many businesses do not invest in this part of their website.
- Never copy from a competitor. Always embrace originality.
- Be true to yourself. If you have an opinion about an aspect of your industry, take a stance and stick to it.
- Blog regularly and discuss or solve problems that are relevant to your audience. Give value first before selling.
- Ditch the sleazy marketing words. Not only does it sound desperate, but you should also remember that people aren’t stupid.
It’s not what you’re selling, it’s the way you’re doing it
If your sales copy is great, you can practically sell anything. The trick is to be interesting, relevant and engaging.