10 Keys to Copy
by Alexandria K. Brown, "The E-zine Queen"
Whether you're selling
a product or service, the 10 tips below are your keys to writing great
copy that communicates and persuades ... to get results! These guidelines
can apply to Web copy, e-mail, sales letters, brochures, direct mail,
and more. As long as your goal is to elicit a reaction from your reader,
you've come to the right place.
1. Be reader-centered,
Many ads, brochures,
and Web sites talk endlessly on and on about how great their products
and companies are. Hello? Customer, anyone? Think of your reader thinking,
"What's in it for me?" If you can, talk with some of your
current customers and ask them 1) why they chose you, and 2) what
they get out of your product or service. TIP: To instantly make your
copy more reader-focused, insert the word "you" often.
2. Focus on the benefits
-- not just the features.
The fact that your
product or service offers a lot of neat features is great, but what
do they DO for your customer? Do they save her time or money? Give
her peace of mind? Raise her image to a certain status? Here's an
example: If you go buy a pair of Gucci sunglasses, you're not just
looking for good UV protection. You're buying the sleek, stylish Gucci
look. So that's what Gucci sells. You don't see their ads talk about
how well made their sunglasses are. Think about what your customers
are REALLY looking for.
Now, what does an
insurance broker sell? Policies?
Nope -- peace of
mind. (See? You've got it.)
3. Draw them in with
a killer headline.
The first thing your
reader sees can mean the difference between success and failure. Today's
ads are chock full of clever headlines that play on words. They're
cute, but most of them aren't effective. There are many ways to get
attention in a headline, but it's safest to appeal to your reader's
interests and concerns. And again, remember to make it reader centered
-- no one gives a hoot about your company.
Creates Amazing New Financial Program"
Better: "Turn Your Finances Around in 30 Days!"
4. Use engaging subheads.
subheads help readers quickly understand your main points by making
the copy "skimmable." Because subheads catch readers"
eyes, you should use them to your benefit! Read through your copy
for your main promotional points, then summarize the ideas as subheads.
To make your subheads engaging, it's important to include action or
Bad: "Our Department's
Better: "Meet Five Clients Who Saved $10K With Us."
5. Be conversational.
Write to your customers
like you'd talk to them. Don't be afraid of using conversational phrases
such as "So what's next?" or "Here's how do we do this."
Avoid formality and use short, easy words. Why? Even if you think
it can't possibly be misunderstood, a few people will still be confused.
Plus, being conversational helps prospects feel like they can trust
6. Nix the jargon.
Avoid industry jargon
and buzzwords -- stick to the facts and the benefits. An easy way
to weed out jargon is to think of dear old Mom reading your copy.
Would she get it? If not, clarify and simplify. (This rule, of course,
varies, depending on who your target audience is. For a business audience,
you should upscale your words to what they're used to. In some industries,
buzzwords are crucial. Just make sure your points don't get muddled
7. Keep it brief
No one has time to
weed through lengthy prose these days. The faster you convey your
product or service's benefits to the reader, the more likely you'll
keep her reading. Fire your "biggest gun" first by beginning
with your biggest benefit -- if you put it toward the end of your
copy, you risk losing the reader before she gets to it. Aim for sentence
lengths of less than 20 words. When possible, break up copy with subheads
(see no. 4), bullets, numbers, or em dashes (like the one following
this phrase) -- these make your points easy to digest.
8. Use testimonials
Let your prospects
know they won't be the first to try you. Give results-oriented testimonials
from customers who have benefited immensely from your product or service.
Oh, and never give people's initials only -- it reminds me of those
ads in the back of magazines with headlines like "L0se 50 P0unds
in 3 Days!" Give people's full names with their titles and companies
(or towns and states of residence) -- and be sure to get their permission
9. Ask for the order!
Tell your reader
what you want her to do -- don't leave her hanging. Do you want her
to call you or e-mail you for more information? 0rder n0w? Call to
schedule a free consultation? Complete a brief survey? Think about
what you'd most like her to do, and then ask her. It's amazing how
many marketing materials I come across every day that don't make it
clear what the reader should do. If you wrote interesting copy, your
reader may forget you're trying to sell something. Tell her what to
do, and she'll be more likely to do it.
10. Have your copy
Good. Now have it
proofread again. Don't risk printing any typos, misspellings, or grammatical
mistakes that will represent your company as amateurs. Hire a professional
editor or proofreader to clean up your work. Remember, you only get
one chance to make a first impession! Oops -- impression.
Alexandria K. Brown
WANT TO USE THIS
ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include
this blurb with it: Online entrepreneur Alexandria K. Brown, "The
E-zine Queen," is creator of the award-winning 'Boost Business
With Your Own E-zine' system. To learn more about this step-by-step
program, and to sign up for her FREE how-to articles and FREE audio
class, visit www.EzineQueen.com