Marketers have a huge choice of digital tools to help them get the right products in front of the right customers at the right time. We have profiles and targeting, automations and website tracking, all our software can be integrated, and we’re in the best position to offer clients personalised experiences that we’ve ever been in.
But we can’t forget our roots.
Back in the Mad Men days of advertising and marketing, everything was about the ads themselves. How we delivered the ads was secondary. We didn’t have all the fancy technology, so marketers relied on clever, persuasive copy, and bold, memorable designs to get their products in the hands of the public. And it worked.
And it still works.
If you really want to turn your sales up to 11, you need to employ all the tricks of the trade. Modern technology is great at delivering your messages for you – but the message itself is down to you.
4 quick tips to get the most out of your copy
Features vs benefits
When it comes to copy, there are two main approaches. Lay down the features, or lay down the benefits.
‘Features’ are the bells and whistles. What are the specs on your product? The thread count of your bedsheets; the carat of your diamonds; the weight of your carbon fiber bike frame.
‘Benefits’, on the other hand, are the ways in which your product will improve your customer’s life. Your customers get a better night’s sleep; they receive envious stares; they no longer huff and puff when they carry their bikes up the stairs to their apartments.
Customers don’t buy things for the sheer joy of handing their money over. They look for, and buy, products that solve their problems. An umbrella might have a teflon-coated handle, wind resistant spokes, and a one meter diameter – but your customers will still be buying it because it keeps them dry in the rain.
Discuss the benefits of your products first, and the features second. Always start with an aspirational message. Let your reader’s imagine your product in their life, before you hit them with the facts and figures.
Keep your writing simple
George Orwell once wrote, ‘Good writing is like a window pane’. You should always strive to paint a picture, and let your readers clearly see what you want them to see.
The best way to do this, is to write simply. Don’t use heavy, difficult concepts or words so long you’re out of breath by the time you finish them.
The best way to keep your writing simple, is to organise your copy in your head before you attempt to put it on paper. Clear communication comes from clear thinking.
Another great tip? Stick to one, main point; your USP (Unique Selling Point). This helps to keep your writing clear. Your readers will walk away with a single, simple point hammered home.
Readers love certainty
Give your reader what they want: certainty.
We’re hardwired to view unpredictability as a threat. Can’t see into that dark hole? It might be housing a snake. Our brains know not we shouldn’t put our hand in it.
Our brains take all kinds of different, irrational steps to arrive at a definite answer to an ambiguous problem. And they do it in the safest, most conservative way they can. We don’t know for sure if there’s a snake in there – for all we know it could be filled with gold. But it’s better to be safe than sorry.
We use the same reasoning when it comes to spending money. If a product ‘may assist with…’ we read that as ‘probably won’t assist with…’ Safe. Not sorry.
Words like ‘may’, ‘could’ and ‘can’ are a good way of protecting yourself, but they also make you sound wishy-washy and unable to deliver. These are what we call ‘weasel words’.
When you write, write in definites. You need to make sure the reader is certain your product is what they need. This strengthens your copy and makes you sound confident, which builds trust.
Speak their language
David Ogilvy once said, “If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think. We try to write in the vernacular.”
Imagine your ideal customer. Now imagine how her or she might talk. Would she be young and energetic? Might he be old and considered? Write like them.
Writing in the voice of your customers helps you get your message across quickly and easily. Plus, it’s more likely to hook your customers onto your product. If they can see themselves in your brand, they’re more likely to stay loyal.