Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith was once asked if turning out a daily column was a chore, to which he replied "You simply sit down at the typewriter, open your veins, and bleed."
Thomas Campbell once stated that poetry came from him drop by drop.
Thomas Wolfe referred to it as bleeding as well, as did Hemingway at some point.
Of course, they were writing poetry, novels, and fictional stories set in imaginary lands, chock full of the heightened creativity most business owners only dream of.
But they were still right. There's a reason why there are so many searches on how to improve your copywriting. So many guides on the subject, ready to "teach" you how to weave words together in a convincing pitch.
Writing is a difficult thing to do, whether you're doing it in a creative setting or not.
And in order to have exceptional copy on your business website, regardless of your industry or offerings, you need to have a little dash of creativity anyway.
So, let's take a look at some tips that can possibly improve your copy, help you get in tune with your own style of creativity, and make your pitch that much more effective.
But let it be known now: this is a very detailed guide that will push you to improve your copy for several business reasons. To get the most out of it, spend some time really implementing the techniques. Patience is king.
Copywriting for business isn't like novel writing or poetry writing. It's not the same style, tone, nor does it have the same objective. However, it does involve creativity in the sense that you have to find a way to get your potential customers to convert...
And you need to find a way to get your existing customers to keep coming back.
In other words, copywriting is both an art and a science. The copy is thought out on everything from website, to ads, newsletters, tweets, etc. with one goal in mind: to sell your product or service.
If it's too "salesman," it turns people off. But if it's too passive, it's going to be the written equivalent of the person who was too shy to take a chance in life.
So, balance is key. Balance, and a solid understanding of your business, your sellable items, and services, as well as a solid understanding of your customers, but more on that later.
But how is this done exactly?
Well, think of a sales team. Usually that involves several sales reps, all going out and individually selling goods and services to people. Maybe making some phone calls, or frequenting stores like Walmart and setting up shop by the front door.
That is what a sales team looks like, that's what they do. It's effective to a degree.
But a copywriter? That's a one-person powerhouse because they can reach everyone at once. Whether it's through Facebook ad copy, blog posts, sales letters, etc. it's all done simultaneously, in a fraction of the time that it takes a sales team.
It's no wonder copywriters are in such high demand these days, and make a minimum of $56k a year, assuming they're established and well-connected.
Think of copywriting like a romantic relationship. Unless you start off with a solid foundation, you're bound to run into some major problems.
And although you can retrace some steps, make changes, and fix things, you're still having to take valuable time out of your day to make changes that you probably wouldn't have had to make had you just put in the effort from the start.
The first step in a solid foundation is to understand what it is you're selling, but in detail. It's not enough to know that you're selling an anti-aging cream. It's not enough to know what it looks like or promises to accomplish.
You need your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) to be as detailed as possible. And that means you should be looking to answer...
Note: Your USP should be on every landing page and marketing campaign possible.
Think of the things that will appeal to your customers. Maybe you're selling a fan. Most fans are terrible-looking, clunky, and therefore stand out in a room.
It's a nightmare for anyone trying to perfect their home decor.
So, maybe your fan looks appealing for a change. Maybe your fan won't stand out as an eyesore, but as a work of art. Maybe you sell a version of it in three different sizes, maybe some color options.
Suddenly, your fan sets you apart from the competition, because yours is actually pleasing to look at. And maybe you solve people's needs this way.
You provide the full functionality of a fan, but without the terrible look, so they can feel completely at ease in their well-decorated space.
The benefit? Peace of mind. The satisfaction of having put something together that looks and feels good. The comments of approval from friends and family who visit.
If you're struggling to answer the questions above, try following these steps:
What's interesting here is that although you may create a customer research document, you may not have a completely honest understanding of them.
It's a common issue entrepreneurs come across: thinking your target audience is one group of people when in reality it's another group entirely.
That's why we're diving into customers next.
In order to really understand your customers, you need to know what they need and what they want.
In other words, what matters to them?
Although you've already written (hopefully) a customer profile in the steps above, you only have a small snapshot of your customer base.
And it may not even be entirely accurate.
So, think of that as your starting line, your best guess, your origin. By the time you're done with these next steps, you'll see some level of progression either in detail, accuracy, or both.
Surveys are amazingly helpful tools that you should absolutely be using. They reach out to people directly and get honest responses about the things that you need to know more about.
This eliminates the guesswork, and puts you in the seat of the listener, without having to be there personally.
Ideally, you want to get plenty of people to take your surveys, since the more answers you get, the more insight you'll be able to get. That helps when making deductions, rather than theories based on assumptions.
However, 1,000 survey takers are probably too much, so get however many survey responses you know you will realistically be able to read yourself. If you absolutely need a range, aim for 30-50 people.
Just remember, that means you have to incentivize 30-50 people somehow. Many entrepreneurs opt for creating contests out of it, where every survey taker gets a chance to win something in high demand, like a free subscription, an electronic device, etc.
Here are some things to keep in mind when you create the survey:
When the time to read through the responses comes around, you'll need to pay attention to two things:
Logically, this means that some questions are going to have some more insightful answers than others. Some questions will set the stage just right for valuable insight you wouldn't otherwise get.
Pay close attention to the answers to the following:
Once you have all of your answers, you'll be able to know exactly what they think about your product, in their own words.
And you'll be able to fully understand the things they would like changed and the things they love the most about it.
You'll even have clear insight on what the most popular opinions are.
From there on, you can choose what to do with this information. You could make improvements, and release a version 2.0, that you write excellent copy for.
Or you could simply improve existing website and ad copy by drawing attention to the things that your established customers are declaring from the rooftops already.
Because ultimately, that's what matters. If you're selling that anti-aging cream, and your copy focuses on the organic ingredients, but all the survey takers could talk about was the actual results, then... you need your copy to reflect that.
That is how you effectively give people what they want. You listen to the things that drew them to your product over someone else's. They know your true selling points.
Of course, if you're going to draw attention to these selling points in your copy, you're going to need to know how.
And it all starts with a punchy headline. Without that, they won't even read the first line of your copy. And without that first line, they won't care about the rest. It's like a domino effect.
If you're thinking that's too dramatic, that surely it can't really be like that, then pay attention: one single word can cost you, or make you a 46% profit increase.
So when I stress that your headline and first line of copy are important, I mean they can make an ad, a homepage, a website, a newsletter, an infographic, you name it. These lines will either resonate with your audience and draw them in, or they won't convert well.
Your headline's objective is to get the first line of copy read. And your first line of copy's objective is to get everything else read. But through and through, all of your copy should be exceptional, from start to finish.
Here are the ultimate four rules to keep in mind:
If you can't accomplish all four in a headline, don't stress out too much. It's more of an ideal, not something regularly attained. But you should be striving to meet as many of those rules as possible each time you write a headline.
Let's dive into each rule to get a better idea of what they mean.
You want your headline to be unique because you want to emphasize how different you are from competitors. Otherwise, if you sound like everyone else, then you must have nothing new to offer. At least, that's what your potential customers think.
And they have a right to be that picky for several reasons. For one thing, they are constantly bombarded by advertisements.
If they browse Instagram, if they check their Snapchat, if they still have cable, if they have the basic plan on Hulu, they see ads. Even browsing the internet results in ads.
And they are always seeing the same message with each and every ad: we have what you need. It's always a variation of "Buy now with three low payments of $19.99." Or of "What are you waiting for? Order today and stop ____."
So, they're jaded, they're skeptical.
Another thing is, not everyone has a grand amount of disposable income these days. People need to be picky about how they spend their money, and unless your product seems worth it, they will opt for a cheaper alternative. This is especially true if you seem like everyone else.
This means that the headline should let customers know whether what you're offering is actually interesting enough for them.
Otherwise, people have to kind of guess, and that requires time and effort, which most aren't going to expend when there are another 20 things on their to-do list.
Although boring, consider the following headline:
"Free financial software for small businesses... Track your expenses, send invoices, get paid, and balance your books with Wave."
Immediately from the start, without wondering, people know who Wave's target audience is: small business owners. They also know what to expect: everything from tracking expenses to balancing books.
The thing about conveying a sense of urgency is that by doing so, you capture people's attention quicker. It's innately built within us all to react when something seems urgent.
The best way to implement this strategy is to start off with something compelling, something that gives people the feeling of missing out if they don't take the time to read it.
And what do people find more compelling than the possibility of doing something really wrong? For instance, the statement "Are you leaving profits on the table by not using abandoned cart software?" is compelling.
Why? Because most business owners, to this day, do not understand that you can re-engage customers who leave items in their cart.
And without re-engaging those people, you're not capitalizing on their clear interest (they took the time to shop around, they're interested, but need a push).
Another tactic is to state a shocking fact, something they may not be aware of. In doing so, it instills a sense of urgency, because they will likely realize they have something to tend to if they wish to improve their business.
For instance, "Did you know that doing something about your abandoned carts can lead to 15% more sales?"
Finally, you want your headlines to be useful. In a world where your average entrepreneur has to juggle fifty things at any one time, it's nice to finally read a headline that just helps out.
That means that if you currently have a witty headline that doesn't shed a light on the benefit of purchasing that product, you have some rewriting to do. It's better to go with the boring, helpful headline, than the witty one that doesn't offer any benefits upfront.
Ideally though, you want both, but it's not always possible. You can only be so witty or charming about certain products.
That means "Create professional email templates in minutes," would be a better line than anything funny, smart, attention-grabbing, etc. As boring and plain as it is, it clearly states the benefit: create something you need, in high-quality, without spending too much time on it.
Before you throw up your hands in defeat — because if not about your business, then what in the world could your copy be about? — your copy shouldn't be about you, to a degree.
Sure, it should be about their issues, their options, and their ability to choose a solution to solve those problems.
But you're the only one offering those solutions.
Therefore, your copy should be about how they can solve their own problems by using your products. Don't say things like "I can solve your problems," or "This product is guaranteed to..."
Instead, write from an angle that gives them control. For instance, "Start feeling like the organized entrepreneur you really are and balance your books with Wave."
Suddenly, you're letting them envision a clean, organized business, you're flattering them, and you're offering a solution that they can use if they wish.
They remain in control, the copy is about them, but it also sells your product.
Here's a good example of great copy by Bones Coffee Company, an up-and-coming coffee brand that's been making waves with their ad campaigns on Instagram:
Notice, although this is the copy under their About Us page, they write about the experience of a good brew, and highlight how much they want their customers to enjoy it.
Although they talk about their coffee, and describe it as small batch and fresh, they make it clear that their benefit is quality coffee delivered to your door.
In other words, if you're a coffee lover who doesn't want to leave home, you can still get your high-end, fresh, smooth coffee.
Now let's consider some copy that although well-written, is still too much about the brand, and less so about the customer:
This copy is by the ever-popular Lime Crime makeup website. They are an award-winning, ethical makeup brand, known for high pigmentation, a grunge style, and making most blogger lists of favorite beauty products.
And although their copy truly reflects some amazing points, and features good phrasing, it's still just a little too much about them.
Take the second paragraph, for instance. There is no mention of customers. There is no sentence that states any customer issues being solved.
In fact, in their entire copy, their only reference to customers is the last sentence of the first and third paragraphs.
So, moving forward, follow these simple steps to avoid making this mistake:
If you're struggling with number three, consider the example below:
Original Lime Crime sentence:
We design, manufacture, and assemble our quality products right here in Los Angeles, using globally-sourced ingredients for high-performance wear and high color pay-off.
Rewritten Lime Crime sentence:
For those who are all about high-performance wear and high color pay-off, Lime Crime has the quality and globally-sourced materials needed to make that one-of-a-kind, unforgettable look come true.
Now that we've covered what your copy should ideally do, and why, it's time to dive into what constitutes good writing.
First of all, don't stress about your grammar, or what your grades were in English class. You don't need to be the best grammar police the world's ever seen...
Because that's what editors are for, as well as free online software.
But you do need to be a good writer. You simply can't fake talent. When you read something broken, ill-flowing, and grueling, it's tough to read. It doesn't have that smooth, easy effect that good writing has, where you don't have to struggle to comprehend it all.
And to get to that point, you need years of practice. Ernest Hemingway himself wrote a minimum of 320 words per day. Whenever he wrote upwards of 2k, he felt on top of the world.
And we all know how talented the man came to be.
So, let's dive into some tactics that can help you improve your writing both in the short and long term:
This is an extension of the previous section, which sought to help your writing. Only this section solely focuses on telling a story in more than one way.
Because after all, good writing leads to exceptional copy, but... if that's all you have to offer, it will only be a giant wall of text on a page.
A good storyteller, a good writer, understands that by combining things like graphics, images, video, and even gifs, they are elevating their customers' experience. And drawing attention, as an added bonus.
But there are a few rules:
Turns out, your business copy isn't just a collection of words. It's about how you present yourself and your products/services to the world.
Everything from the tone, to the verbiage counts for something to your target audience because it's usually your first form of making contact with them.
But before you get overwhelmed, know that with a few tweaks, such as those covered just now, you can improve your copy, and begin to make your mark on the world. So get out there and put your best face forward.
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Using my words, I’ll tap into your prospects’ deepest desires, deploy my menagerie of psychological sales triggers, and prime them for the sale. The result? More wins for your business and more revenue and profits in your pocket. Sound interesting to you? Click HERE to learn more about my copywriting work and see if we’re a good match.
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