Sales copy for non copywriters

 

 

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If you’re reading this, chances are you’re involved in direct sales of some kind – probably online. And you know how important good sales copy is.

 

But unless you’re a copywriter, or you use one – your sales copy might need some help.

 

If that’s you – I’m talking to you. And if you’re interested, I’m going to show you an insider approach with techniques which will improve your sales and conversions.

 

So let’s go…

 

The only purpose of sales copy is to convert.

 

A conversion is a sale, a signup, an opt in or any other desired action. If the reader takes the action – the copy’s done its work and is good copy – no matter what it looks like.

 

So how do we create good copy? Is there a ‘recipe’ or template to create copy that converts?

 

Yes there is… and I’m going to go through it for you in this post.

 

It’s not as simple as a ‘fill in the blanks’ template – but it works. It’s a series of steps designed to lead your prospect down an emotional path to a point where he’s ready to buy your product.

 

It comes from proven direct sales copy from the past 100 years or so. This copy has been ripped apart, analysed and all the key ingredients identified.

 

The sequence in which these key ingredients occur in the copy has also been identified.

 

From this a series of steps have been defined which can be followed to create effective copy.

 

This will give you a huge head start because you’ll have a proven framework to work from. Where the challenge lies is in applying this correctly to effectively to raise the right emotions in your prospect.

 

Because emotions are they key to success.

 

If you follow these steps carefully you will see immediate results  in your conversions. Then as you grow your copy skills you’ll see continuous further improvements down the line.

 

The Big Question

 

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People buy most things for emotional – not rational reasons. Emotion drives almost all buying decisions. (I say almost because non discretionary purchases – food, fuel, medicine etc. are not emotion driven buying decisions)

 

So if you want somebody to buy your product – you have to connect with them on an emotional level. This may sound difficult, but in a sales context it really isn’t. You’re not creating great literature where writing emotively is a tough ask. Good sales copy only has to resonate with your prospects emotional pain points and offer solutions. Do that and you’ll make sales. Guaranteed.

 

And you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. I’m going to show you simple mindset hacks to get you inside your prospect’s mind. Use these in your copy – and you can tug the right emotional strings and guide your prospect down a predetermined path to a sale. Let’s go to the first step.

 

 

The big obstacle

 

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Buyer resistance is almost universal. There are not many people on this planet who don’t back away mentally when they perceive somebody trying to sell them something. The first thing they do is look for is good reasons not to buy. It’s part of something programmed into our DNA to protect ourselves.

 

We already know that people buy for emotional, not rational reasons… and the 2 biggest emotional drivers by far… are fear of loss and desire for gain. This is universal.

 

Fear of loss is by far the stronger of the 2 and that’s why buyer resistance is default behavior. It’s your first big hurdle when you’re writing sales copy.

 

And you need to understand it before you can overcome it.

 

 

 

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The first thing that happens when a prospect finds your offer is he/she comes up with a whole lot of good reasons why they shouldn’t buy. This takes the form of a bunch of little questions.

 

 

Can I afford it?

Do I really need it?

Will I regret buying it?

What if I don’t like it after I buy it?

What’s my wife/husband going to say?

 

That’s buyer resistance… and you need a way to get past these questions using copy – to turn your prospect into a buyer.

 

These questions are all based on ‘fear of loss’. With the right approach you can reduce fear and allow the ‘desire for gain’ emotion to take over… and edge your prospect towards a buy decision.

 

So here’s a proven sequence of copywriting steps to do exactly that.

 

(I’m assuming now that you’ve done your research. You know who you ideal prospect is. You know his problems, his fears, his hopes, his desires. You know his pain points, You know what concerns him most. If you don’t know this, stop right here and go find out. This is a crucial process you need to go through before every piece of sales copy you write)

 

Step 1

 

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Wherever the prospect finds your message… on the web, in a sales funnel, in an email, in their post box, wherever… the headline is their first point of contact. Their reaction to your headline determines whether they read your copy or not. If your headline doesn’t grab their attention – they won’t read your copy.

 

A good headline is half the work of the sales copywriter. Writing good headlines is not easy. So don’t do it unless you know what you’re doing. Rather use headline templates.

 

A Google search for ‘headline templates’ will find you many ideas and ‘fill in the blank spaces’ templates. Use them – they’re great. Don’t waste time trying to write great headlines yourself when you have access to proven formulas that work. Find a short punchy template, fill in the blanks and move on.

 

Don’t overthink this. Remember – all you have to do is tug at one – or preferably both – of the 2 prime emotional drivers – fear of loss and desire for gain. The headline must state the problem your product solves and promise a way to fix it.

 

Step 2

 

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This comes right after the headline. This is where you get under the skin of your prospect. You define the problem and then rub a little salt into the wound.

 

Here’s an example – let’s say you’re promoting a business opportunity.

 

Start with a question and be blunt. Any or all of these would work fine.

“Are you struggling to provide for your family?”

“Does nobody respect you?”

“Do you feel like a loser?”

 

Then tell your prospect that you were in the same situation – you had the same problem they have now. Describe your journey, your pain.

 

“I’ve been where you are now”

“I know what it’s like”

“I was locked into a boring low paying job”

“We couldn’t live on what I earned”

“My son couldn’t go to college”

“I thought there was no hope until…”

 

You want him to say to himself, “Wow this guy really knows what it’s like”.

 

You want him to start bonding with you emotionally. You want him to know that you understand his problems and his pain. And when you achieve that – he’ll connect with you. He’ll read on because he’s now interested in what you have to say.

 

Then you raise the possibility that there’s a way out of where he is now. Ask him some more questions – something like…

 

Are you satisfied with the job you’re doing now?

Are you going to carry on getting ripped off for the rest of your life?

 

Work it a little more and then hint there may be a way out of his dilemma. Raise his hopes that there’s an option to the pain he’s going through.

 

Now this is powerful stuff and one of the most crucial parts of your copy. Spend time on this. You want to work on the big pain points in your prospects life and start building an emotional connection with him.

 

And if you have a genuine solution to his problems… don’t feel bad about what you’re putting him through. You’re going to help him.

 

Now this copy will only resonate with people who are in this dilemma. But if you’re selling a product which addresses these problems, they’re the people you want to touch.

 

Hopefully you’ve found a way to target this demographic in some way so your message is reaching more of the right people.

 

If you make the breakthrough here, your prospect’s going to move forward through your copy with a much more positive mindset. He’s on board. His doubts are falling away – expectation is rising.

 

Be careful to vary your tone depending on where you’re advertising. Use your discretion. The examples above would not work for a promotional blog post on your website for example.

 

If you’ve done all this right your prospects now curious and interested to find out what your product is.

 

Step 3

 

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Do this immediately after you’ve identified the problem. You’ve made a commitment in your headline and opening text – start delivering on that immediately. You don’t want to make them plough through reams of text to find out what you’ve got.

 

And don’t go into too much technical detail here. You want them to know your product is new, it’s unique and it works.

 

Tell them what it is… an app, a course, an Ebook… whatever.

 

Tell them what it can do for them… help them lose weight, help them make money…

 

Relieve the reader’s mind by telling them that they there’s no need to struggle through all their problems because your product or service will solve it for them.

 

This is all about making him start to believe you have a real solution for him.

 

Step 4

 

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At this point your prospect is interested – but he wants to know more about you.

 

Think about it like this. You see an advert for a car you’ve always wanted. You contact the seller and arrange to go round and view the car. You arrive and see the car in his driveway. It looks pretty good.

 

Then the front door opens and the seller appears. He’s wearing old clothes, has long dirty hair and a cigarette hanging out of his mouth.

 

What effect does this have on your inclination to buy?

Enough said.

 

So tell them who you are, what you do and what you believe in. Be brief, be honest, don’t be cheesy.

 

List your credentials with bullet points. Qualifications, experience, successes, publications…

 

If it’s your product – tell them with pride. If you have great credentials in your niche – tell them. If you’re selling affiliate products – tell them why you picked this one. If you test everything you sell – tell them that too.

 

Address their fears. Get inside their heads. You probably know what it’s like to buy things sight unseen off the web or mail order… it’s scary.

 

So build a reassuring picture in their mind about who they’re dealing with.

 

And invite them in your copy to read on and find out more before making any decisions. You don’t want them to buy if the product’s was not what they were looking for… because you’re a good guy. You just want to help them with your great product.

 

And if they decide not to buy… no problem, no hard feelings. You’re relieved they did not make a bad decision.

 

You’ll be amazed how powerful this is in establishing your credentials and authenticity. See this blog post for more information on this approach.

 

Keep it fairly brief and don’t blow your own trumpet too hard.

 

Step 5

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So here’s where we go into the Feature vs. Benefits lesson. If you know this already, skim through this section anyway. You might find something you’ve missed.

 

The big lesson here is go light on features – and concentrate on the benefits of your offer.

 

You can mention features – mainly for the techies out there. But get stuck into the benefits as soon as you can. At the end of the day people are really only interested in what your product can do for them.

 

Before you write this section, draw a line down the center of a page and list the features of your product on one side and corresponding benefits on the other. Don’t go too far in dreaming up benefits. If you point out benefits that don’t resonate with your prospect, you’re losing ground.

 

 

Then expand and paint a picture for them…

Let’s say you’re selling a new kind of golf club

“imagine that golf ball soaring away, straight and true into  a blue sky… every time”

 

Appeal to their baser instincts…

“annoy your golfing buddies as you hit green after green in regulation”

Emphasize how easy golf becomes…

“and you’ll step up to every shot knowing it’s going to be a great shot”

 

 

Again be sure of your ground here by putting in the work to find out where your prospects real pain points are before you write about the benefits of your product.

 

Last thing, use bullet points to point out the benefits in your copy. It works.

 

Step 6

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At this point your prospect’s gone through the benefits. If you’ve done it well he badly wants those benefits… but he’s not sure that you or your product can deliver on them.

 

So he’s skeptical, but wants what you’ve told him to be true. And that’s great – that’s exactly where you want him to be. You’ve got 2 big weapons to deal with his doubts. Your guarantee and social proof.

 

Social proof comes first.

 

You have to build your credibility and authenticity. Hopefully you have some testimonials from satisfied customers.

 

Copy the best short segments of text from these testimonials and paste them into your copy between inverted commas. Then attribute those segments to the source using their initial and surname, followed by their state, city or country.

 

Include a profile picture of the relevant customer with each testimonial if you can.

 

If you don’t have testimonials, contact some existing customers and offer them something in exchange for a testimonial. An addon, an upgrade – whatever you can think of.

 

If you don’t have any sales for your product at this point – and so no testimonials – you should be offering your customers a really low price in exchange for testimonials. Use the copy you’re writing now to do this. Also ask them for a phone number where your future customers can call them to ask about your product. Reassure them that this hardly ever happens – it doesn’t.

 

This will also help in convincing them to buy. It sounds like you’re really sure your product’s good. If you weren’t – you wouldn’t be asking for testimonials.

 

Get social proof, it’s important. It shows you are real.

 

Step 7

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This is where it happens. This is the most important part of your sales copy. Remember –  a great offer can overcome mediocre copy but great copy cannot overcome a mediocre offer.

 

So make your offer so good he can’t turn it down.

 

You prospect’s already in a state of heightened desire for your product. He knows he wants it, he feels close to you, he’s satisfied you’re legit… and now he wants to see the bottom line. He wants to know the deal.

 

But you’re not home and dry yet – and you could lose him now with a poor offer. Your offer has to be a no brainer. Your prospect has to think “I’d be crazy not to take this deal.”

 

Start with a time incentive – something like this…

“Demand is crazy for this product and we can’t keep up. Stock left at this Launch Special Price is limited and once it’s gone the price will have to go up. And the Launch Special Bonuses you get – if you buy right now – will be gone when the price changes. So don’t delay” (obviously don’t do this for a digital product)

 

You get the idea. And you have to come with a package of great bonuses. It must look like (and be like) they are getting an unbelievable bargain.

 

Describe your bonus offers vividly. Pile them up one of top of another and raise the perception of huge value.

 

And don’t cut your price to the bone when you do this. It’s far better policy to offer a package with a lot of bonuses than drop your price. You’re raising the perceived value of your offer.

 

Step 8

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OK – so you’ve come up with a convincing high value offer. Your prospect’s impressed. But he still has a niggling doubts about you and your offer – that he might pull the trigger and find he’d been ripped off.

 

That’s natural. People are skeptical by nature. It’s a self defense mechanism.

 

So get rid of that last doubt. Give him a cast iron guarantee.

 

Pile on a guarantee so comprehensive he’ll be shaking his head in wonder as he reads it. If you feel uncomfortable doing this – you probably don’t have confidence in your product and you shouldn’t be selling it.

 

In actual fact, people don’t call on guarantees very often. They don’t like doing it. And tests have shown that the longer the guarantee period offered – the less often it’s called upon. A date that’s far in the distance gets forgotten.

 

If customers get value out of your product… AND good follow up and service from you after the purchase, they’ll accept minor flaws and hiccups with your product.

 

If it’s a digital product, they can even get engaged in ironing out small flaws or adding features with you… and they love being involved in this process. It makes them feel like insiders. They become evangelists for you.

 

So go ahead and offer a guarantee which will make your prospect’s eyes water. This does 2 things –

 

  • convinces him the product must be pretty good for you to be able to offer it
  • puts his final doubts to rest for the last time.

 

Step 9

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You might think at this point that your prospect’s heading over to your buy button and pulling out his card. He might be doing that… but he probably isn’t. If he’s still on your page he has made a decision. But there’s still a tiny little seed of doubt buried deep in his gut.

 

And his instinct now is to back away for a short while and mull over his options. It’s always easier not to act, than act.

 

So you’ve got to give him that last little push. You’ve got to call in the first primary emotion – fear of loss.

 

Remind him that when the ‘Special Launch Offer’ is sold out he won’t be able to get that offer again. Emphasize that this could happen at any time, without being specific.

 

Because if you get specific and set a day or time when the offer expires – you’ve got to live up to that. If you don’t… and he comes back to your page after the deadline you set… and finds your offer is still there, you destroy your own credibility.

 

Remember… your greatest asset in business is your reputation. And you don’t want to compromise that… ever.

 

So lay on the pressure, but don’t commit to anything you don’t intend to honor. It’s just not worth it.

 

Step 10

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So your prospect now has a seed of panic in his mind. He thinks your offer could disappear at any moment. He’s been jolted from comfortable anticipation of what your products going to do for him to “Oh ****”,  I might lose this if I don’t act now”.

 

So tell him what to do. Give him your Call to action. And make it very clear what he has to do.

 

If it’s a link to click – make it big and clearly visible. Tell them on the link/button what they’re doing when they click your link.

 

I’m not a big fan of “Buy Now”. To me it shouts “Spend Your Money”. But a lot of people use it and it works. I prefer something like “Start Your Journey to a 6 Figure Income”. To me that shows some commitment on my part to deliver what I’ve promised.

 

But whatever you want them to do – whether it’s ‘pick up the phone and call us’ – or ‘fill in this form and mail it to us’ – or whatever… tell them what to do clearly and explain what will happen after they take the action.

 

You have to hold their hand at this point and reassure them – so make it feel like this is the start of an important journey they are going to take with you when you write your link text.

 

Many prospects will take action at this point if you’ve done a good job. Others however will still be unsure. Cursor tracking reveals significant numbers of prospects actually hovering the cursor over the CTA link repeatedly – without actually clicking.

 

They’re very close but not quite there yet.

 

So carry on working to build that emotional desire.

 

Here are some steps you can take after your call to action link to try and retrieve these potential buyers before they leave your page. The emotion you have to play on here is ‘fear of loss’. They’re feeling this emotion strongly at this point because they’ve come so close to clicking that link.

 

So reinforce the negative consequences of not taking action. Give them a list of these these consequences.

 

Ask them if they want to…

 

  • Carry on struggling to make ends meet
  • Never ‘turn the corner’ in their businesses and continue to lose money
  • Be overtaken and swamped by competitors
  • Fail to provide what they’d like to for their families
  • ….

 

List all the possible negative consequences associated with not using your particular product. Paint a graphic picture in their minds of what life will be like if they don’t take action – and tell them it doesn’t have to be that way.

 

Then spin it around and tell them how you know that they have the courage and conviction to take positive action… and become one of the winners.

 

You will get some of them heading back up the page to click that link.

 

Step 11

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The postscript or PS is the final step. Don’t ignore it, it’s important.

 

In the hierarchy of sections in sales copy, the PS is the 3rd most read section. I have the best results using 3 or 4 of them.

 

Use these as reminders about your most important points. I generally go with the top features of my product. For example…

 

PS – Remember, Easy Mail is The Only Autoresponder that Sends Updates to Your Phone

PPS –  Easy Mail Self Installs on All Website Types

PPS –  Easy Mail is Proven to Double Your Open Rate and Conversions

PPS  Our Special Launch Offer Will End very soon

 

And that’s about it.

 

Build your sales copy using this template and spend time building the right emotional responses in your prospect. You will be rewarded. You will make more sales. Sure… an experienced copywriter is probably going to do it better than you. And if you can afford one, don’t hesitate to do that.

 

But if you do it yourself – you will get better quickly. Particularly if you take time to examine sales copy that comes from really good copywriters. You can find these by searching for copywriting ‘swipe files’ on the web and reading sales promo copy that comes into your inbox.

 

Here are some basic pointers to kick you off.

 

  • Use short snappy sentences – break long sentences into smaller ones.
  • Use short paragraphs. 1 sentence paragraphs are fine.
  • Break the rules of grammar – start sentences with ‘And’ or ‘But’ if you need to.
  • Use different forms of punctuation to break up sentences. Examples (- and  …)
  • Be conversational. Write like you’re talking to a friend.
  • Avoid adjectives. Replace them with power verbs. Not “He ran past me fast” use “He bolted past me”.
  • Never be pretentious. Approach your prospect at his level. Don’t lecture.
  • Use plenty of white space. Your copy should never be dense.
  • Read your copy back several times over a period of 3 days.
  • Prune and trim ruthlessly. Cut out all superfluous words, phrases, sentences and paragraphs.
  • Add emotion – calm fear.

 

One Last Thing – here’s a list of the prime motivations that drive just about everybody.

Construct product benefits in your copy around one or more of these:

 

  • To be wealthy
  • To be good looking
  • To be healthy
  • To be popular
  • To have security
  • To achieve inner peace
  • To have free time
  • To have fun

 

Good luck and be sure to subscribe to the blog and share this post.

 

Here’s a good free headline package I use – they’ll offer you other stuff and it’s good. Up to you.

 

I’d  love to hear your comments below and please visit our online newspaper for daily updates on copy and marketing.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

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