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Writing effective copy for ads, web pages, sales letters and other marketing communications isn’t difficult when you know what works. After many years of trial and error I developed a checklist of seven “rules” I follow to create successful advertising copy. These rules apply to writing copy for any type of marketing communication.
1. Define the goal of your message
Define what you want your message to accomplish before you begin writing. Do you want to generate inquiries (leads)? Do you want to get orders? What action do you want readers to take? How do you want them to respond? Put your goal in writing and refer to it often as you develop your message. Everything you write should directly support this goal. Get rid of anything that doesn’t.
2. Know your audience and what they want
Maybe everybody CAN use what you sell. But one targeted group WILL be most likely to buy it. You can discover that group by defining the characteristics of your best customers. Once you know your audience and what they want you can personalize your writing to appeal to their specific interests.
TIP: Advertising copy produces the biggest response when each reader can believe the message was written specifically for them. As you write, visualize you’re writing to one person instead of to a large group of people. This will help you write in a less formal and more personal style.
3. Appeal to their self-interest, not yours
Customers don’t care about you, your product, your company, or your professional qualifications. They only care about the benefit they get from buying your product or service. The only thing a customer wants to know about your 1/2 inch drill is that it’s guaranteed to give them a 1/2 inch hole. Keep your ad copy focused on the benefits you provide.
4. Make an emotional appeal, not a logical one
Your ad copy should dramatize the feeling your customers get while enjoying the benefits provided by your product or service. Get them emotionally involved so they want to start enjoying those benefits immediately. Use word pictures and real life stories to draw readers into your message.
5. Don’t give them any choices
You may spend a lot of time writing your sales message and getting it “just right”. Unfortunately, your prospects will rush through it and make a fast decision. Don’t slow them down with any choices. They’ll be afraid of making the wrong choice and will protect themselves by making none. You’ll lose sales.
EXCEPTION: Offer many different ways to respond to your ad or sales message. Customers already know whether phone, fax, online, etc. is more convenient for them. They’re more likely to act immediately when their favorite way to respond is available.
6. Make your best offer
The offer is the “deal” you’re promoting (free information, special price, free bonus with order, etc.). It’s the only reason people respond to your advertising copy. The stronger your offer the greater the response you’ll get. Always include the best offer you can afford and a reason to act fast.
7. Simplify everything
Simple, clear copy is easy to read and understand. It propels your customer to the decision point with no hesitation. After you’ve written your copy, edit it for simplicity and clarity. Use lots of 1 and 2 syllable words. Shorten sentences and paragraphs. This is especially important for your web site where relief is just a click away.
Follow these seven rules the next time you write new advertising copy. Use them as a checklist to evaluate your existing ads, web pages and sales letters. They’re a proven formula you can use to maximize the response you get from all your marketing communications.