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Writing Irresistible Sales Copy: Can You Meet The Challenge?

by Azriel Winnett

Few things are more crucial to the success of your enterprise than the crafting of powerful and compelling sales messages.

The world of electronic commerce is super-competitive. Marketing copy that "kills"—in other words, which pulls, entices and persuades large numbers of people to respond positively to whatever you are offering—is what makes the difference.

This applies to the text appearing on your site no less than to the various forms of e-mail messages and Internet advertising.

Time, effort and even money invested in mastering the skill of writing "killer" marketing text clearly pays ample dividends. If this is not practical, hire a professional to write it for you. Creating highly effective sales copy may well be more of an art than a science, but compliance with certain basic principles is more than half the battle. Professional marketers talk of the AIDA approach. This means that, in composing your message, you must:

* get the ATTENTION of the reader;
* hold his or her INTEREST;
* arouse a DESIRE to respond, in the way you want;
* impel him to take the appropriate ACTION.

Attention

When advertising your product (or your website) the headline (the subject line in the case of e-mail messages) is the means by which, hopefully, you will grab your prospect's attention. The experts say that up to 90% of the time you spend in composing your ad should be devoted to writing and fine-tuning your headline. This may sound surprising, but remember that the headline's effectiveness determines whether the prospect will read further or not. After all, there are probably hundreds of other sales messages vying for his attention.

Many have found, in fact, that a small change to a headline can affect the response to a given advertisement in dramatic fashion. Even entrepreneurs who have had every reason to be satisfied with the response to an ad, have discovered that improving the headline pulls in even more business.

A good way to get a feel for creating headlines that pull is to study the offerings on some classified ad sites on the Net and see what kind of headings entice you to read more. Generally, they will be the ones that convince you that reading on might help solve a problem or benefit you in an area that is important to you.

Perceived credibility is another critical factor. You are not likely to take a headline such as "Be $10,000 richer by the end of this month!" too seriously. On the other hand, you might feel that "How I increased my profits by 37%," merits further investigation.

Interest

Thankfully, your headline was captivating enough to single out your sales pitch from the mass of surrounding material competing for your prospect's attention. He is now beginning to focus on the body of your message. How do you sustain his interest, so that he will not desert you in the middle of your presentation?

If you are penning something for an online classified ad site or an e-zine advertisement, or for posting to a newsgroup or bulletin board present your message quickly and succinctly. As a rule, your objective here will not be to make an immediate sale, but rather to solicit a response.

This will be in the form of either a visit to your website, or a request for further information. You have to pique his curiosity sufficiently to make him want to respond—before his eyes wander to the next ad, or message.

On the other hand, you might be composing copy for your website, or an e-mail letter providing the additional details your prospective customer requested (you will probably use an autoresponder to send out these letters on demand). In these cases, you have more space to play with. Some experts even believe that a longer, more complete, sales letter is advantageous.

Regardless of its length, however, every word in your presentation must be carefully chosen, and every sentence, clear, effective and free of errors. Always remember that your audience is not a captive one; at any given moment, your reader can elect to "switch off" either physically or mentally.

If you truthfully believe in your product or service, it's already half the battle. Let your enthusiasm shine through in all your sales communications, and never be apologetic about it. Sincerity is difficult to fake.

This does not mean, obviously, that you have a license to exaggerate. Such claims as "we are the best" or "we are the cheapest" are difficult to justify. But if you offer clearly definable benefits, it should be easy enough to put you to the test! Always be as specific as possible. Instead of writing: "you will lose tons of weight," specify that "you will lose up to 20 pounds in seven days".

Write the way you talk. Avoid long words, long sentences and long paragraphs. Use informal language that is easy to understand. At all costs, don't preach to your prospect; talk to him, not at him. Let him feel that you value and respect him and his intelligence. You may be sending the same message to thousands of recipients, but it should appear as if your message was specially targeted for the person reading it now.

The effectiveness of your advertising campaign will depend, above all, on one thing. This is how successful you are in locating and identifying the right "hot buttons" (which is the jargon marketing professionals use for the ways in which customers believe they will benefit by using certain products).

Even if you are selling the very last word in, say, refrigerators, nobody really cares about its incredible, state-of-the-art features. What is of vital concern to people is how your model can save them time, money and labor. Again, the wonderful chemicals contained in your brand of toothpaste are not of much interest, but people do want clean, white teeth and fresh breath.

Desire

The need to concentrate on benefits, more benefits and still more benefits can hardly be overemphasized, for it leads us to the next crucial step.

To stimulate interest is essential, but it is still not enough. You must now convert that interest into an irreversible and overwhelming desire. Your potential customer must be made to feel that he just cannot resist your offer.

Perhaps the best way to do this is to put yourself into the shoes of your prospects, and try to understand what they want. Then, show them how your offer could fulfill their wants and needs, and proceed to drive the point home as forcefully as you can. If you can market your product or service as an ideal solution to a specific problem, you are in a fortunate position indeed.

Seasoned copywriters know that certain words serve as powerful triggers in generating desire and motivating people to act on advertisers' offers. "Security", "happy", "gain", "magic", "safe" and "fun" are just a few of these. The most potent of all is the word "free". It has been shown to lead to a dramatic increase in responses and, whenever appropriate, you should use this word to full advantage (but don't succumb to the temptation, as many have done, of abusing the word: "free" means "without cost to the consumer"!).

The use of the second person, especially the possessive pronoun, is another powerful aid. Tell the prospect enthusiastically about the difference "your new computer" will make to "your income" or to " your leisure hours" as if he were the owner already! Explain very clearly how "you will benefit" from possession of "your indispensable equipment". If your copy is appealing enough, his fingers will already be itching to lay his hands on his new purchase!

Action

The final element in your marketing document is the call to action. You need to request your potential customers— directly, clearly and unambiguously—to buy your product, send for further information, or do whatever you want them to. Now this may seem obvious, yet otherwise brilliant sales letters have been known to fail, simply because their writers have overlooked this point.

Shrewd marketers know the value of creating a sense of urgency and excitement in the mind of the potential buyer. It is merely a question of getting in the order as soon as possible, or making sure that the prospect does not forget.

By strongly suggesting to him that he should respond now, and should brook no delay, you are helping to get the adrenaline flowing strongly through his veins. Offer him a bonus for responding promptly, or a guarantee that he will find difficult to ignore, and his response may well be almost automatic.

A final piece of advice: after you have finished writing a marketing piece, do not send it out immediately. As with everything else of importance that you write, lay it aside for a day or two. Then, with a fresh mind, take it out again and examine it anew. Even better, have a friend or colleague look over it as well. See how you can improve and tighten up your document, and only put it to work once you are completely satisfied.

A firm believer in the personal touch, Azriel Winnett is keenly aware that credibility has long been a sensitive issue on the Internet. He invests a lot of energy in building trust, and aims to develop warm, long-term business relationships that both sides will find stimulating and fulfilling. Visit him at http://hodu.com and drop him a mail.

 

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