As a marketer, you know only too well that you should always be looking at ways to increase your sales. You also know this is an on-going process – you can’t rest on your laurels. To help you, I’ve created a list of ten power-packed actions that will put the punch back into your marketing campaigns. If you use them consistently, you should notice a real difference in your sales levels.
1. Think about your demographics. This means you should spend money on targeted advertising instead of mass media advertising. You can’t sell all things to all people. Don't wasteyour advertising budget on people who aren't interested in your product or service. Advertising is expensive enough as it is – use your money wisely!
2. Make small improvements. Improvements to your product or service don’t have to be significant in order to expand your sales. You can increase your profits by focusing on small details, such as changing text size, colours or graphics, which can all make a positive difference. Be sure to do split testing to see which changes work best.
3. Be flexible. Any offers you make should be flexible. For example, if you have a set price for a product, especially if it’s quite expensive, it’s a good idea to offer payment plans, such as monthly instalments at no or very little extra cost. This will enable customers on a tighter budget to buy your product and they will appreciate that you have taken their circumstances into account. Customers like thoughtfulness and consideration – it is more likely to turn them into repeat customers.
4. Offer a bonus. Everyone likes to get something extra as part of a deal. You could offer your knowledge as a bonus product, for instance, a free 15- or 30-minute consultation or a teleseminar or online video. This will immediately add value to your product.
5. Make it personal. Wherever possible, include the recipients’ names in emails. This will grab their attention (we all love to see our names in print/on the screen). You should consider writing your recipient's name in the subject line – the email is more likely to be opened and read if you do this.
6. Always be consistent. You must keep your web site consistent. Never include things on your web site that are unrelated to the core theme of your site. This will just confuse would-be customers and they’ll lose trust in you. So, for instance, if you sell only weight loss products, it would not be appropriate to then include something unrelated to that niche market. It makes you appear like a random, unprofessional marketer rather than an authority in that niche.
7. Offer gifts. You can attract more subscribers to sign up to your e-zine or e-newsletter by giving them free bonuses like e-books, software, online services, mp3 recordings and other incentives. As you know, everyone likes something for nothing!
8. Put unused space in your e-zine to good use. You can also sell advertising space in your e-zine. Not only will this create an extra stream of income for your business, but it can also create valuable links with other companies and marketers in your niche.
9. Be clear. Make sure that your web site is up and ready for public viewing. That means a fully functioning "About Us" page, contact details and clear descriptions of what services you offer and what actions you want your visitors to take. Ensure the font is legible and the colours are harmonious rather than distracting. You want a clear web site that is easy to read and navigate. Don’t cram too much onto it. And don’t forget to keep it updated with a blog and other news.
10. Plan carefully. You need to carefully plan out your marketing by locating places and publications that your target audiences are likely to be interested in. You should not “spread yourself too thin” and advertise everywhere. And make sure you are consistent with your marketing. One advertisement once in a while in a local directory will not be very successful, if at all.
If you follow these power-packed tips consistently you will increase your customer base and sales, and also your credibility and reputation as a serious marketer.
As a marketer, you rarely rest on your laurels. Your next marketing campaign is always around the corner. Of course, you want to sell more – and at higher prices – but your prime goal should be to serve your customers in the best way you can, not just sell to them.
You have an obligation to your consumers. So many prospects need help with problems your products or services can solve, but many prospects are very wary about being “sold to”. They are skeptical – and it’s no surprise considering the bombardment of advertising we each face every day.
Persuasion is the key to weakening skepticism. Your marketing promotions need to motivate and engage your prospects. That’s where these 10 powerful copywriting tips can help you.
Tip 1 – Know your prospect.
This is vital. That’s because your prospect is the most important person in your business. Every marketer should know who their prospect is, their hopes and fears and dreams. What are their problems? What do they worry about the most?
You have to know them as well as a close friend. That is the only way you can tailor your products or services to their needs. You can learn about your prospect from visiting online forums dedicated to the problems your product targets. Read the messages and questions posted – it will give you invaluable insight.
You can also contact existing customers with questionnaires, asking how you can improve your service or products. But remember to offer them an incentive for helping you, whether that’s a free gift or a discount on their next purchase.
Tip 2 – Write the way you speak
Good copy is conversational – it’s like you are speaking to a friend. And like all good friendships, they take time to establish trust and respect. You need to spend time with your prospects without selling – simply offering advice, good content on your website and so on.
You must make it sound like you are speaking face-to-face with your prospect. Without trust, you can’t sell them anything. Don’t use difficult vocabulary – keep it simple and sound friendly and approachable, not standoffish and superior.
Tip 3 – Focus on their thoughts
You need to step into the conversation going on in your prospect’s mind. What distracts them over and over again? What are their nagging worries? What problem needs your solution?
Once you’ve followed their train of thought, you have to attract your prospect’s attention with an eye-catching headline that uses at least 3 of the 4 U’s (urgency, usefulness, uniqueness and ultra-specificity). Help them focus on your solution and how it will improve their life.
Tip 4 – Write at least ten headlines
Your first attempt at a headline will never be your best. You need to write at least 10 to get into the flow of producing the eye-catching headline we mentioned in Tip 3.
Compelling headlines can take time to create, but they can make or break your promotion. If your prospect isn’t drawn to your headline, there’s no chance they’ll read the read of your text.
Tip 5 – Have a powerful and punchy first sentence
The purpose of the first sentence is to get your prospect to read the next sentence. And keep on reading the rest of your sentences. The first sentence sets the scene of your promotion and tells your reader what to expect from reading your message. Long-winded sentences will simply make people stop reading.
Your prospects want to find out information fast. They want quick solutions to their problems. When it comes to improving their life, they have little patience, so you need to show them in your opening sentence that you can solve their problem quickly and easily. People are innately lazy – we don’t want to have to put a lot of effort into sorting out our problems. We all want easy solutions.
Tip 6 – Be specific about the benefits
It’s not enough to say a health supplement will give your prospect more energy. You need to be more specific, more compelling. Prospects buy on an emotional level, so instead tell your prospect that she’ll be able to go dancing like she used to…spend the day playing on the beach with her kids without feeling tired…start her own business...
Your prospect will imagine herself doing all these things – but only if she buys your vitamin supplement. She’ll start to believe that you can solve her tiredness and she’ll be persuaded to buy.
Tip 7 – Give proof
All natural health and self-help marketers must provide proof that their products work. You should never neglect this vital strategy.
Customer testimonials help, but they aren’t enough. Besides, you don’t want to wait for recommendations before you start seriously promoting your product.
For example, existing scientific proof can show that the vitamins and minerals in your health supplement provide the benefits you are promoting. Experts in the natural health industry can also back up your promotion, or you can use research trial results to provide proof.
Credible proof uses figures, facts, quotes, charts, predictions, awards and so on. Promise is important, but proof is the clincher – it reassures the prospect and convinces them your product can work for them.
Tip 8 – Offer a guarantee
A money-back guarantee gains your prospect’s trust. It removes all risk and encourages them to try your product in the safe knowledge that they can get their money back within a set period of time if they aren’t satisfied.
It’s important to give a guarantee with a timeframe, such as a 60 or 90-day money back guarantee. The longer the timeframe, the more confidence the prospect will have in the success of the product.
Tip 9 – A clear call-to-action
Your prospects should never feel confused when reading your sales communications. You need to tell them what to do next – in every stage of your promotion.
Remember that people like easy options, so telling your prospect clearly how to order your product will more likely get the result you want – a sale. Make it simple for them and uncomplicated. Place a tear-off order form with your letter. Use lots of action verbs and use the word “free” as well.
Tip 10 – Offer a gift
Everyone likes a gift, a free premium. Your prospect will feel like she is getting extra value if you offer a gift with her sale. And they will especially like the fact they can keep the gift even if they ask for their money back later.
It increases your credibility and your prospect is more likely to turn into a repeat customer. And it will create good testimonials that you can add to your next sales letter.
A free gift can be a health booklet, an extra bottle of vitamins, a free teleseminar…just as long as it’s relevant to the product you’re selling.
Of course, there are lots more copy tips that will increase your sales, but if you use these 10 power-packed tips, you’ll be guaranteed to sell more products, and more often.
Every marketer knows that they have only a few seconds to attract a prospect’s attention – and hold it. But what can you possibly say in a few seconds that will grab their attention? What few words can you use? The task can seem overwhelming.
Rather than worry about the enormity of the task ahead, use the 4 U’s to help you structure your copy in such a way that it will capture your prospect’s attention and keep them reading.
Although the 4 U’s were designed to be used for headlines, you can use them anywhere in your marketing communications. So, let’s see how they can help your marketing copy.
Most people search the Internet for information or solutions to their problems. They want to find out things. This means your message has to be useful. Or, to be exact, useful to your target audience. Your message has to be relevant. Your reader wants to know fast that you can help solve their problem.
In order to do this, you need to know your prospect very well – his beliefs, fears, motivations, insecurities, deepest wishes, likes and dislikes. You need to create a conversation that is similar to the one going on in his head.
For instance, if you market a natural product or report for treating acne, you would mention how your prospect will gain confidence and feel attractive again without resorting to dangerous medications or topical treatments with many unwanted side effects.
If you do this, the prospect will understand that you care about his welfare and what’s important to him. He’ll know that you want him to feel good about himself and he will think of you as a credible source of information and solutions.
This is sometimes the most difficult of the 4 U’s to implement. To stand out from the crowd, your product or service has to be unique in some way. This is more important than ever.
If your product is genuinely unique, that’s great. But otherwise, you need to present it in a way arouses your prospect’s curiosity. If you are selling a product aimed at boosting people’s confidence, you need to state why most other programs on this topic aren’t effective because of one crucial missing piece. Your prospect is likely to have tried other products in the past and had that experience also. They’ll be eager to read on to find out what your product can do for them where other products have failed.
This “U” is the most powerful attention grabber. That’s because everyone wants a fast solution to their problems. We are probably more impatient these days and feel we have less time. Your prospects want answers now. They want solutions that are easy and fast, and a guarantee that they haven’t wasted their cash or time.
You have to make the reader feel that it’s essential to read your message right now. You could, for example, say that your product is available at a discount for only two days. Or that there is a limited number and sales are on a first-come-first-served basis. You could offer a teleseminar to your subscribers on a subject you know interests them and say it’s only available at a certain time that evening. The same goes for a video presentation. Do whatever you can to make your prospects feel they will miss out if they don’t listen to, read or watch your message.
The last “U” helps you to connect with your prospect in a more meaningful way. It enables you to show your reader that you are on their wavelength and understand their problem, that you know how they feel and how their problem affects them. This creates trust in your reader.
If you were promoting a weight loss product, you could tell your prospect how they can easily lose weight in a few weeks and be able to walk briskly without their knees hurting or getting out of breath. You highlight the many benefits of weight loss – health, feeling attractive and confident, living longer and so on.
Specificity is crucial because is increases the value of your copy for the reader and makes your copy more compelling to them. To be ultra-specific, you need to make sure the content of your copy matches your audience. For instance, if you market your weight loss product specifically at women over 40, you need to focus on their unique needs. And you need to continue to highlight the specific benefits they’ll receive from your product.
It’s a good idea to use as many of the 4 U’s as possible in your copy, but you certainly don’t have to use every one. Pick the ones that are most relevant and fit in with the product and the message you want to get across. Then weave them into your copy so that your reader stays interested in your words, your message and ultimately buys your product.
What makes a successful headline? After all, if you don't attract your readers' attention with your headline, the rest of your sales letter is a waste of words.
There are 5 important qualities that a winning headline may possess:
So what's the golden rule? Well, only one of these qualities is absolutely vital in your headline. That is: ALWAYS appeal to your readers' self-interest.
This is always the single most important quality in sales letter headlines. That's because the only person your reader cares about is themselves. They don't care about your company. They don't care about your product or service. They only care about what it can do for them, how it can benefit their life or solve their problem.
That's the only reason they are reading your words. And that's why you must always draw on this natural self-absorption.
All the while they are reading your letter, in their minds is the burning question "What's in it for me?" And that's a question you have to answer – and fast. If you don't, your reader will be off checking out your competition.
Your headlines must offer your readers something they want or need. This golden rule is obvious, but it's surprising how many writers ignore it and rely solely on the other qualities instead.
So how do you focus on your readers' self-interest? You need to try to work out what would make YOU buy the product or service. Look at your own self-interest. If you find that hard because the product or service is not aimed at your particular demographic, then find someone who is closer to the audience you are selling to.
Ask them what would make them buy the product/service – it might be different to what you think. If you have no one to ask, check out online forums and take note of the comments. You have to put yourself in your prospect's shoes – for marketers this is an essential skill. You need to learn all you can about what makes them tick – their desires, fears and other emotional triggers, and how these relate to your product/service. That way you'll pinpoint their self-interest.
And once you do that, you're on your way to using the golden rule to writing a winning headline – and gaining more readers and more sales, which no doubt appeals to your self-interest.
Two nations, one language? Well, kind of. While Britain and the USA share English as their main language, there are also lingual differences that separate them and cause all manner of cultural confusion. And then on top of that you have regional accents…
Most people know that there are several spelling differences between British and American English, as well as totally different words, but might not be au fait with them. I have spent many years as a proofreader and editor working on "American" texts and soon got to learn the variations – which were more than I first realized. (I'm from England and know from experience "American English" is more straightforward than the British English I had to learn in school.)
So, let's look at those differences. In order to make them clearer, I'll list them into categories, starting with the two most common differences, “-ise” and “-ize” and “-our” and “-or” spellings.
-ise and -ize
British people write “realise”, “visualise” and “stigmatise” and American write “realize”, “visualize” and “stigmatize”. It should be noted, however, that British English is increasingly using the “ize” spelling. You'll find many "-ize" suffixes in The Oxford Dictionary. I tend to refer to The Oxford Dictionary when proofreading and editing "British English" texts.
-our and -or
This is a common difference between British and American spellings. Britons write “colour”, “favour”, “honour” and “neighbour”, whereas Americans write “color”, “favor”, “honor” and “neighbour”. The words are, however, pronounced the same regardless of the spellings.
There are also some lesser-known differences:
-re and –er
In London you would visit a theatre in the centre of town only a few metres from your flat. In New York you would visit a theater in the center of town only a few meters from your apartment.
-ce and -se
In American English the “se” spelling is used for these words: defense, offense, pretense. However, in British English the spellings are: defence, offence and pretence.
-yse and -yze
In addition to that, there are also differences between words ending in “yse” and “yze”. In British English the “yse” ending prevails – analyse, paralyse, and in America, the “yze” endings are used – analyze and paralyze.
Oe and ae
There are further differences in the use or “oe” and “ae”. In British English, for example, we say “oestrogen” and “aesthetic” whereas in the United States the spellings are “estrogen” and “esthetic”. Notice that both words begin with “e”.
The dropped “e”
American English tends to drop the “e” in many of its spellings, preferring “aging” to British English’s “ageing” and “likable” instead of “likeable”.
-ogue and -og
In British English we refer to a dialogue or a catalogue, but in America it is a dialog or a catalog. Notice that the “ue” is skipped entirely in American English.
In Britain there are travellers who like travelling because it fulfils them, whereas in America there are travelers who like traveling because it fulfills them. Note how double consonants appear and disappear in each example.
Men in England have moustaches, whereas men in America have mustaches. In Britain people like to watch TV programmes, but in America they watch TV programs. A person in Britain will pay their bills by cheque, but an American will write a check. British people have autumn, whereas Americans have fall.
One language, many differences!
Studies show that as much as 85% of purchases are influenced by emotional motives. Not rational buying decisions, as we might first believe, but emotional ones. In fact, what we think of as rational choices are actually influenced by our emotions.
A little understanding of psychology is a great asset for any sales person or marketer, especially with regards to the differences between rational and emotional motives and decision-making.
Rational buying motives can include: profit (stocks and shares), safeguarding health (health insurance), security (burglar and car alarms), utility (batteries etc.) and caution (buying insurance). Very little emotion is involved in these purchases and there would very little emotional attachment when buying insurance or batteries. There would be no emotional bond to an insurance company or a car alarm - these goods serve utilitarian purposes. Very few people “like” these purchases.
So what are some examples of emotional buying? Here are a few of the main ones:
Envy – this is a very powerful motive and is based on wanting what other people have, whether that is the latest gadgets or designer clothes.
Love – people purchase houses, cars or clothes because they "love" them, but other triggers for this emotion can be St Valentine’s Day gifts, for example. In this sense, displays of love can be highly commercial.
Vanity – we are all prone to this buying motive as it’s related to self-esteem.
Pride – we can feel validated if we buy sought-after goods as it makes us feel important and worthy.
Amusement – we might not need the product we buy, but we buy it anyway because we want it and it entertains us (the latest technology is a prime example).
Fear – we might be fearful of “losing out” or seeming inferior if we don’t buy a particular product. This is closely linked to envy.
There are, of course, many other emotional triggers and a good sales person needs to recognize people’s emotional buying motives and sell to them. I mentioned earlier that rational decisions to buy are actually influenced by the emotions – let me show you this with an example.
Suppose you need to buy a new washing machine. You walk around a few stores looking at different models, all of which look very similar and do exactly the same job. You narrow your choice down to two models – both are white, roughly the same price, size and specification. One of the washing machines has a nice green trim to its handles and buttons and you decide to buy that machine there and then. Your decision was not based on rationality – after all, a washing machine is a utilitarian purchase – but on emotional factors. You liked the green trim. Therefore, your final decision was an emotional one.
This can apply to other seemingly utilitarian products like furniture or cars. When we buy furniture, we are buying an image or style that we want to reflect our taste and image of ourselves. When we buy a car, we are purchasing status. We don’t simply buy clothes to conceal our nakedness, but to express our personality and self-image.
So, whatever you sell, you need to ensure that you take in account the close links between emotions and the psychology of buying. Pinpointing which emotions your product is likely to trigger in your potential clients and then selling to them will undoubtedly increase your sales.
1. Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
Clichés can kill your copy stone dead. Your copy will read as dull as ditchwater. Instead, you want your words to be as light as a feather…
I’ll stop there as you can clearly see Orwell’s point. Clichés suck the life out of your copy. And that includes overuse of the exclamation mark, and the words “exciting” and “fantastic”. Don’t try and stir up a frenzy of fake excitement. Think of them as hot chilies – use them sparingly.
2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
Yes, in copy size does matter. Short words create better writing, they’re easier to read and they pack more of a punch. It’s all about simplicity. The simpler your language is, the easier and faster it is to read. Sales copy is not the place to amaze your readers with your extensive vocabulary or Scrabble-winning words.
So, write “free” instead of “complimentary”. Use “buy” instead of “purchase”. Use Anglo-Saxon English and ditch the more flowery Latin equivalent. Shorter words affect us more emotionally – and when it comes to buying, people tend to be more in tune with their hearts than their heads.
3. If it is possible to cut out a word, always cut it out.
Edit your copy like a surgeon and cut out any superfluous words. It might take a few ruthless revisions, but it’s worth the effort.
After all, do you need so many “very” and “really”? Do you need to use “that” so often? Give them the chop if you can. Why write “At this moment in time” when “now” is even better? Discard unnecessary words and as a result your writing is more likely to hit the mark.
4. Never use a passive where you can use an active.
Orwell believed active sentences are more lively and personal. They have more oomph and energy.
Compare the active sentence “Millions of men use SupaVit” with its passive alternative “SupaVit is used by millions of men”. The passive sentence is lethargic, tired. It’s not up and about getting noticed and read.
Active sentences also tend to be shorter (remember size matters). Long sentences are just as counterproductive in sales copy as long words. So make sure your verbs are all active and working hard, not lounging around like teenagers with a hangover.
5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
I’m stating the obvious here: Your writing must be clear to your readers. Otherwise, they won’t read it. No one likes to read something they don’t understand. It’s not good for the ego.
Jargon is as bad as a cliché. It can make your reader feel like an outsider, stupid or not your intended audience.
Your sales copy will be much better and more accessible if you use simpler language. Show your reader some respect and consideration. You’re writing sales copy, not a PhD thesis. (I’ve proofread many theses in my time and they often break all the rules Orwell listed. See rule 6.)
6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
Well, rules are meant to be broken (excuse the cliché).
Bear in mind the six rules, but also be aware that your biggest challenge is to write in a friendly, down-to-earth way. You should write as you speak, like you are talking to a friend.
Your copy should be like well-organized but natural speech, with a faultless flow. This is much easier with shorter words and sentences.
Remember, you are trying to build a relationship with your reader. You want them to like you. Impress them with how you can help them, not your elaborate language.
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Think about the start, not the end
Note down when you need to complete the project and estimate how much time you need to complete it. Be honest with yourself and perhaps err on the side of caution and give yourself an extra day here and there. Try to not think about the end result, but focus instead on what you have time to do right here and now.
It's best to review your project each day to assess your progress and also to deal with any problems or queries. If your work is for a client, don't hesitate to contact them with any questions. Unanswered queries or any areas of uncertainty will only raise your stress levels and slow down your productivity, so make sure you have all the details you need in order to do the job well.
Break it all down
It's a good idea to break your project down into bite-sized steps. This stops you feeling overwhelmed by the thought of writing a twenty-page report or ten thousand words of copy. Taking manageable steps will soon add up and you will be surprised at how much you can accomplish.
Set a daily deadline
This leads on from breaking your project down into bite-sized steps. When you do this, make sure you set yourself a "mini-deadline" whereby you ensure that you complete certain areas of the project by specific times. This gives you a set structure to your work and will help to minimize your stress.
Work out your priorities
It goes without saying that you want to produce high quality work but if this goes hand-in-hand with missed deadlines, you not only risk losing clients but you also place unnecessary stress on yourself. Are you fussing over small, rather insignificant details to the detriment of the project as a whole? Perfectionism is something that we all strive for, yet it is elusive – we all feel that our work could be better if only we had more time.
So give yourself a break and strive instead to produce the best work you can in the time given but realize that perfectionism is usually the best friend of procrastination and therefore has no place in your work life! Focus instead on the most important areas of the project and give these the greater slice of your time. Then, if there is time left before the deadline is complete (and if you follow these guidelines, there should be) you can return to the more minor matters and tweak them until you are happy that they are completed.
The Key Blog
Hello and welcome to The Key Blog! This is where you'll find information and tips on writing, proofreading, and the English language in general. Feel free to use the articles in your own e-zines, blogs or websites etc., as long as you include the resource box. Thank you!