6 techniques for writing effective copy

The point of copywriting is to persuade, convince and ultimately sell a product or service. It's not always easy to get people to do what you want, but that is the goal of copywriting and many great copywriters agree it's both a science and an art.

Here I will go over some of the strategies I use when writing copy for clients. These techniques can be universally applied to any business or niche.

1. Features vs benefits

If you are trying to write about your product or business, it's easy to talk about what it does and how great it is - but people in the awareness stage aren't super likely to listen. Humans care about themselves and their problems. If you can tell your customers how a product will benefit them, you have a higher chance of success at convincing them to buy from you.

If you're trying to sell a vacuum cleaner for example, you could say "stop spending hours vacuuming, our vacuum sucks ALL dust within 0.3 seconds" rather than "this bagless vacuum has no bag! It sucks up dust through this nifty hose too!" People generally don't like to spend time cleaning, so the benefit here is time saved.

There is however, a time and place for features. When a customer is closer to a sale, they'll want to know more specific details about the product or service so it's important to add those in at the appropriate time.

2. Show a need

Your customer most likely has a problem and if you position your product as a solution, it's going to get heads turning. It's not always obvious what the need is, so it's worth thinking about if you're not sure.

Say you have a marketing tool that helps publishers grow their audience: address your reader as though you understand their problem. "Struggling to bring visitors to your site? We'll take care of it" acknowledges right away what the need is, (traffic) and a potential solution.

3. Time-restrictions

Common phrases like "for a limited time only" or "3 days left at this price!" are so ubiquitous because they work to make people act. Giving people a time limit means they are less likely to delay in making a purchase. Use this technique sparingly though because consumers can get fed up if you're overdoing it.

4. The check list of motivators

The Copywriter's Handbook by Robert Bly features a helpful checklist of motivators that influence people's decision making. Here are a few of them:

  • People want to be liked

  • People want to be appreciated

  • People want to make money

  • People want to make their lives easier

  • People want to have fun

  • People want to be healthy

  • People want more convenience

Think about what your audience potentially want out of life, and how you can communicate to them in a way that resonates with their desires.

5. Make it personal

Tell a story wherever possible, people always prefer stories to statistics (though stats can be used too). An emotional connection is important to establish from the very beginning.

If you think about what all the biggest brands do, it's almost always some form of story-telling. Coca Cola don't sell fizzy drinks, they sell "Happiness" and the experience of being around friends.

6. Be clear

One of the most important things you want to get from your customers is comprehension. Because if they don't understand what you've just written, there's no way you will reach them - no matter how many great copy words you've used.

The essence of copywriting is rewriting, if you have to rewrite it ten times before it's clear and concise enough then do it! And don't feel the need to be "creative" all the time. Sometimes, the tried and tested techniques are best.

Hopefully these strategies can make it easier for you to DYO (do your own) copywriting!

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