Whether it’s text for your website, a poster or anything else, writing good sales copy is an essential part of any business. In this post we’ll take a look at the methods used by top copywriters to write copy that sells.
Let’s say we’re marketing a car, the brand new ‘Hybrid X’. The Hybrid X has a list of features or USPs, basically the things that make the Hybrid X the Hybrid X and the reasons you might choose to buy one. Those features are:
- Cutting edge safety features
- Powerful engine
- Smooth steering
- Range of colours
- Hybrid so it’s economical
- Hybrid so it’s good for the environment
Let’s say we make an advert by listing these features and showing a photo of our product.
This is typical small business marketing (yes I know there aren’t many small businesses making hybrid cars) – it’s matter of fact, does-what-it-says-on-the-tin type copy. It’s bland, informational and unpersuasive.
To make our copy better, we need to start turning these features into benefits.
If features are the ‘what’, then benefits are the ‘why’. For example, the fact a cake has only 100 calories is a feature. The benefit is that you can eat it without getting fat. Let’s run through our features and turn them into benefits:
- Cutting edge safety features – so that you and your family stay safe
- Powerful engine – so that it goes faster and is more fun to drive
- Smooth steering – so that it’s easier to control and more fun to drive
- Range of colours – so that you can have the colour you want
- Hybrid so it’s economical – so you spend less on petrol
- Hybrid so it’s good for the environment – so you can drive knowing that you’re not causing polution
This is good, I’m already more interested in keeping my family safe than I am in ‘cutting edge safety features’, but to really turbocharge our benefits we need to make them appeal emotionally. We need to identify the positive emotion that comes with each of our benefits and tell it to the reader.
Cutting Edge Safety Features
Emotion: Peace of Mind
“Don’t take chances with your family’s safety. Enjoy the peace of mind of knowing your loved ones are protected.”
Emotion: Excitement, Prestige
“Feel the exhilaration of driving with the Hybrid X’s powerful engine, knowing you’ll never be the one left behind.”
“Put the fun back into driving with the Hybrid X’s smooth steering, making driving a pleasure.”
Range of Colours
Emotion: Identity, feeling of choice
“Express yourself with the Hybrid X’s wide choice of colours, allowing you to find the car that fits perfectly with who you are.”
Emotion: Smug factor, money saving
“Drive in the knowledge that you’ve made a choice the planet will thank you for, and so will your wallet as you save a fortune over traditional cars, giving you more money to spend on the things you love.”
Now we’re really getting somewhere. We’re writing copy that appeals to the emotions of our target audience, and is much more likely to be persuasive than a simple list of product features. Now we need to motivate our buyer with a Call to Action.
Call to Action
Writing emotive copy is a great start, but we now need to get over the inertia factor in between “that’s really interesting, I like the sound of that car” to “I’m going to take some action in the direction of purchasing that car”.
Specifically, we want to tell our customer exactly what to do next, and give them some incentive to do it by offering something for free. We offer a free web review. A car company might offer a test drive and a free tyre check.
The point of this is not simply to ‘trick’ the customer into getting in touch with us so we can work our sales spiel. Instead, we’re giving the customer a reason to get in touch and something to say when we answer the phone. Whether they ask for a tyre check or free web review, it allows the customer to see what the company is all about before they actually say they’re interested in buying something, taking away the “awkward risk” of getting in touch in the first place.
Putting it all Together
Putting all of this together with a little imagination, we get a completely different, and vastly better, advert.
You’ll notice with the new ad that we’ve actually left a few features out. We haven’t mentioned the benefits of buying a hybrid car or the choice of colour. We’ve also targeted the “family” driver, possibly at the risk of putting off someone who doesn’t want to buy a family car.
All adverts are a zero sum equation and if we try to include too much information, it all becomes meaningless. We have to focus on the few most important points as persuasively as possible. People already know that hybrid cars are cheaper and good for the environment, and would expect a choice of colours, so let’s focus on the most powerful selling points.
As for the “family” driver, we would hope that we’ve done some market research, whether it’s simply based on instincts and past customers, or extensive research of the car market. If we’d found that most people who buy our car want a family car, we would produce an advert like this. If we thought our target customers were younger men who didn’t want to settle down yet, we might have a picture of a guy driving with a beautiful girl in the passenger seat, looking admiringly at him as he navigates the roads with the amazing engine and steering.
Once we know who our market is we’re able to then tailor our benefits to the psychology of that person. I hope this post has helped you to write powerful sales copy for your business.