There is an old saying that the truth will set you free, but first it will make you pretty miserable…or words to that effect.
And never is this truer than in business, especially when it comes to the ‘mysterious’ art of copywriting.
So what exactly is copywriting?
Copywriting is the art of creating compelling written content that not only engages the reader but leads them to take action (i.e. most commonly to buy a product).
Or, as we used to call it back in the day; putting together ‘words that sell’.
Usually associated with advertising and marketing, nowadays copywriting can cover anything from effective sales pages to catchy slogans and successful social media campaigns…and much more.
And this is why good copywriters are so important to businesses.
It’s not just about words either, but about concepts and ideas.
So now we’ve got that out of the way, let’s explore some of the myths that surround copywriting!
Copy does not sell regardless.
Nope, nada, non.
You also need a viable product, a hungry market (or simply a market), a solid marketing strategy and a whole host of other variables in place at the right time to ensure super duper sales results.
And when you add compelling copy into this effervescent mix you will see sensational results.
Of course, sometimes success is down to plain old luck, however, to quote Thomas Edison ‘Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work’.
Let me repeat:
Good copy alone does not sell.
Ask any starving writer, there are quite a few around…or anyone who has experienced a business flop, or a launch go flat, or the sound of crickets instead of the ping of PayPal.
The big wins (and losses) are not down to copy alone.
Of course, copy does play a big part in your overall marketing strategy and sales, and when combined with all the right factors absolutely does sell.
This is one I hear a lot. It’s all about ‘value first’ and giving away the farm for FREE!
Baaah. That’s what I say.
Of course, if you are curating a list of bestie pen pals then no, you probably should not sell in your emails.
But in business, if you have a list of people interested in you and what you deliver, not to sell your solution to them is completely crazy and doing them (and you) a big disservice.
Indeed you may have a warm-up sequence, and in some emails provide tips and guidance and value first, but technically you are still selling.
You are selling YOU.
If you are a copywriter you should be selling in every email, in whatever style or fashion you think is most appropriate.
It’s our job – it’s what we are paid to do.
You may have heard the old sales adage ‘features tell, benefits sell’?
I often say it myself. It’s a good heuristic to go by.
The premise is that you sell the benefits of your product, not the features.
Don’t sell the mattress, sell a good night’s sleep, or sell the sizzle, not the steak.
You get the picture.
But is this always the case?
I just happened to be searching for a waiter’s corkscrew on Amazon a while ago when I came across two very different product descriptions.
One briefly outlined the features of the corkscrew, the other went into some depth about the benefits.
Here are the screenshots:
The thing is, when it comes to copywriting, we are often told to highlight benefits over features.
However, what we are really doing is highlighting the benefits of the features.
What’s more, sometimes it is the actual features alone without any explanation that sells the product. And quite frankly, sometimes it’s simply the price – or often a combination of a lot of other factors.
You see, it all depends on where the buyer is on their ‘buyer’ journey.
Let me explain.
If you were selling an expensive camera to someone who has already done all their research and knows what features they are looking for, when it comes to a listing on Amazon, for example, they may take into account the features, the price and the reviews.
Or they may already know exactly what they want and now just be going on price alone.
So you see, it’s not always that simple.
Take a look at the screenshots again, this time putting yourself at each stage of the buyer journey.
Now, which description do you prefer?
Ah. The old ‘solve a problem/highlight a pain’ copy chestnut.
While the copywriting formula PAS (Pain/Problem Agitate Solve) is definitely a good one, it doesn’t work on everything.
Same with the BAB (Before After Bridge), AIDA (Attention Interest Desire Action) and all the other formulas out there.
And while copywriting formulas have their place, they don’t tell the whole story.
The map is definitely not the territory.
That’s why, to see the bigger picture, an impactful copywriter needs multiple tools at their disposal and the ability to be flexible and think creatively.
Simply being someone who can craft a few words together falls way short of the grade.Contrary to popular belief, formulaic hackneyed copy will cost you money even if you have a hungry market and a great offer. Click To Tweet
Successful ‘business enabling’ copywriters know how it all fits together.
These ‘invisible’ masters of subtle but persuasive copy:
• Know how to grab the reader’s attention and create an irresistible desire to buy.
• Apply the right language, at the right time.
• Are on your wavelength – and on your side.
If you want your copy to be a masterpiece…stop painting by numbers.
Oh, but you should…
Regardless of what you are selling or promoting, some people will have objections.
But you know what?
This is the best thing ever.
No, not so that you can overcome the challenge and grow into a better more noble and enlightened person (or whatever platitudinous meme you have recently seen circulating around the internet).
But because it means your prospect has given your offer some considered thought.
The thing is, objection is all part and parcel of the selling process.
Your job, of course, is to have an answer to the objection.
Your answer is not going to be right for everyone.
What’s more, because your answer is in writing, it’s not as easy as talking with someone face to face, so your copy has to do all the work for you.
That’s why you need to anticipate objections in advance.
Learn to be critical of your offer and think like a consumer (a really picky one if you like).The most effective way you can deal with objections in copy is by tackling them head-on. Click To Tweet
Don’t ignore them.
If you look at any good sales page it will cover objections in some form, either by FAQs, a section explaining who the offer is for (and who it is not) and in some cases, they will explicitly state objections.
It is controlled opposition and it will be there…subtly or otherwise in the copy…guiding you along.
The people who your offer is not right for will probably fall away at this point, but the ones who will truly benefit from having your product will stay and hopefully buy it.
Common objections can include price (in which case you could focus on the value of the product, make comparisons, or offer a payment plan), efficacy i.e. will this work for me, will it produce the desired results? (this is where benefits and features come into play) and proof (that’s what testimonials are for).
Write what your customer needs to hear and never let them do the customer research for you (i.e. leave your sales page and Google an answer that you don’t want them to find).
Make a list of all the potential objections to your offer.
Here’s one I did earlier for my email copywriting course, perfect for anyone who wants to learn how to write effective and compelling emails to their email list.
Q1). I could get all this information elsewhere.
A1). Maybe, if you scoured the internet long enough, knew where to look, and already know all the things you don’t know that you don’t know.
Q2). I could spend years learning this and applying it myself.
A2). Yes, you could, but your answer is in the question.
Q3). I already have a healthy open rate and don’t want to improve it.
A3). You might want to think about this astute saying; ‘good’ is the enemy of great.
Q4). The price is too affordable and makes me suspicious.
A4). I understand that for some businesses hiring a copywriter may not be part of their strategy or within their budget. However, copywriting is extremely important for any business. This course teaches you how to write email copy taking into account the wise adage ‘if you teach a person to fish they can feed themselves for a lifetime’.
Take the time to go through all the potential objections to someone buying your product.
You might be surprised at what you come up with and how you could actually use them to your own advantage!
It’s true that some ads are so ingenious they make you stop and think ‘wow…that’s witty wordplay’.
But let me ask you this.
Did you buy?
You see, there seems to be a misconception that ‘copy that sells’ is all about being clever with your words, being ‘puntastic’ or showing off your skills as a creative writer.
Of course, there are some exceptions, but they are not the norm.
The truth of the matter is this; getting too clever with your audience can actually help unsell a product.
Because here’s the thing:
Copywriting is about having a conversation with your audience. You need to get into the world of the buyer and tell them what they need to know. You need to have a selling story.
It’s not about flaunting your fancy writing skills. Leave that to the great poets, essayists and novelists.Your copy should never distract the reader from what you are selling. Click To Tweet
It doesn’t mean you can’t be distinctive. In fact, that’s a huge benefit.
But next time you see some diverting copy, ask yourself…entertaining yeah, but does it sell?
Maybe in a work of art or high fashion the more creative the better, but even then what you create generally has to have a function.
But for using copy to sell things (which is what copywriting is by the way) then being overly creative can actually be a hindrance. If people cannot work out exactly what it is you are selling, then what’s the point? Some overly creative endeavours work for brand awareness…but they can still have drawbacks.
Even Ogilvy recognised this when he said ‘If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative’. He didn’t say ‘If it isn’t creative, it doesn’t sell’.
Which brings me on nicely to…the overuse of cute copy.
“Of course it works Eleanor, just look at Innocent smoothies!”
And my response is…
“…and let’s look at all the pretenders to Innocent, where cute copy wildly misses the mark”.
Anything that obfuscates what you are actually selling has a way of backfiring…fast.
So if you do ‘cute’ copy, make sure it’s on brand, original and done really well.
No. Good copywriters don’t just write.
They happen to offer a service that includes using words to get positive results.
For example, I like to say I am a business enabler first and a copywriter second. Or a business owner who writes copy.
You see, I am so much more than just a writer. I am also a course creator, a prolific content writer, a community builder, a connector, networker, collaborator, podcast co-host and someone who can give you a bunch of ideas and strategies to make your business (and mine) even more successful.
All the most successful copywriters I know are in fact business people. They run courses, have their own communities, podcasts, write books…you name it – they do it.
And that’s the real benefit of hiring a good copywriter – we don’t just write, right?
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