Copywriting Basics

Whether you pay someone to structure your promotions and advertisements or you write them yourself, you can benefit from knowing and exercising basic copywriting tactics. Modern-day copywriting is primarily based on direct response marketing, which allows you to get immediate feedback from your prospect regarding your sales messages.

By taking note of what causes the majority of buyers to make purchases when they see, view or hear your offer, you’re able to know what’s working in real time.  This feedback is crucial in being able to adjust quickly, and test new theories until you have a winning advertisement.

Copywriting is defined by marketing specialists as “sales-in-writing”. Your copywriting process takes over where your traffic gathering efforts leave off. Copywriting can be found on marketing pieces as simple as store signage, brochures and business cards.  It can also be found on more complex pieces such as formal sales pages, direct mail pieces and video marketing scripts.

Companies that use the basic principles will typically find themselves successful in converting visitors to buyers. Companies that are unaware of these principles and promote products based on what their competitors do will be inconsistent in their conversion efforts. The fastest path to consistent results, is to work from a standard set of principles and then to test, track and tweak each promotional campaign according to real time feedback.

Although business owners and copywriters all work from a set of circumstances that are different in every promotion, there are certain foundational principles that must always be in place. You may have heard of the acronym AIDA. It applies to copywriting but is probably more suited to the marketing and sales process.

This simplest, most effective method of copywriting involves a mindset that applies to all sales and marketing communications. Business owners that want to identify with their customers and present their product or service as a solution can consider the Problem, Agitate and Solve model.

One of the first things that you must do with your potential customer is to identify the problem that they are likely to be having. You may be resistant to this method because those that are not experiencing the problem you outline will tune your message out. However, you will always be most effective in your marketing when you can identify those prospects that have a situation that they want to either get rid of or a goal that they want to accomplish in the near future.

One of the reasons that copywriting is effective, is that it capitalizes on this sense of urgency already present within an individual desiring a certain outcome. You're not using your marketing to change someone's mind. You are writing to sell to someone that wants to accomplish something that they do not have a reasonable solution for and to do so now.

So, your first task as a writer is to describe a problem that your customers and prospects routinely have. You should describe the problem in such detail that when they read your content, they will say to themselves about you and/or your company, "they get it.”

The next stage be difficult for some business owners, because they might feel that it is manipulative. 

The Agitate stage describes to the prospective buyer what will happen if the problem goes unsolved. In addition to this, the discussion in this state talks more about the buyer’s quality of life than they do particulars of their product or service. The communication is more emotional than it is factual.

If you have an understanding of your customers, then you should be able to describe the worst-case scenario in a factual manner of their problem.  You’re doing this so that you can give your prospects good information with which to make a decision. The reason that some feel that this is manipulative, is that it adds to the sense of urgency in order to “buy”. However, another perspective is that you are acting in the best interests of your potential buyer.

Of course, in the last stage is you should solve their problem. This is very important because it is the only place where you will discuss the particular features of your product or service. Please note that your product’s (or service’s) characteristics are only important once the prospect understands that action is required before their problem gets worse.

When providing a solution to the prospect, your copywritingshould highlight the benefits of having their problem solved. You should have a good idea of what it will mean to them and you should spell this out in detail.

When you’re talking about the solution, you should insert elements of social proof. This means that you should talk about those that have used your product and have experienced relief from the problem that you describe. Although each individual might tell their story in a different way in their testimonial, each one should highlight only the problem that you started your marketing funnel with.

In addition to providing proof that others have had success with your product or service, your testimonials should be carefully constructed so as to highlight the benefits. You may want to ask each of your responding participants the following question, "how has this product changed your life for the better?"

The other thing that your testimonials should do is to help your buyer overcome their own objections. 

You should have a good understanding about what makes people hesitant to buy your product or service and address those issues with buyer testimonials.

When you're doing this, you don't want to cross the line into getting people to say what you want them to say for the sake of the sales process. You want to get true opinions and perspectives as part of your social proof. There should be absolutely no incentive to get individuals to spell out their feelings about your offerings. What you're doing is to solicit those individuals that are willing to make statements about their experience.

Once you have successfully walked through the solution stage, it will then be time for your call to action. Your writing should speak affirmatively as to what you want your prospects to do. The call to action shouldn’t indicate any hesitancy or uncertainty about what is to come next.

If you think about it, you’ve already outlined a problem to your buyer that needs to be solved quickly, in order to avoid the consequences that you’ve spelled out.  You have led the buyer through your entire sales communication with a sense of urgency to buy. If you have been successful, you have done this in a way that helps the buyer understand that it’s in their best interest to make a purchase. 

You have spelled out these terms in both factual and emotional language. While the factual language talks about the features of your product, the emotional language speaks to the nature of how their life will change when they make the purchase.  At this point, anything other than a firm directive to buy will confuse the prospect.

Near the end of your marketing communication you will have given your buyer a guarantee. Guarantees do increase sales conversions and statistics indicate that it’s rare to receive refund requests. Therefore, it's important to use the most effective (and proven) words in your copy with for your guarantee.

Those words and phrases that don't apply to your product should be left out of your guarantee. But the way to think of the process is to start with the following words: 100%, satisfaction guaranteed, no risk, 30 – 90 days. While you can certainly add to this kind of guarantee, those words should be present unless they do not apply.

Making this kind of statement, says to your buyer that you are ready to stand behind your product, if there is a problem. As was stated earlier, it is likely that there won’t be any refunds as a result of this statement.  If you choose to leave out the guarantee, buyers may not necessarily ask for it but they will know something is missing and it may cause them to hesitate before buying.

The guarantee doesn’t always make the difference between prospects making the decision as to buy or not buy. It makes the difference between buying now and buying later.  This will factor into your cash flow as well as your ability to get your customer to buy more from you.

In fact, copywriting is really directed to getting your buyer to make their purchase in the present rather than waiting until the future. Your communication reveals to them the life benefits of acting in the present.

It is not an arm twisting process. You will not be working with a buyer to act against their common sense or their best interest. You're working with them to solve their problem or accomplish their goal sooner rather than later. In this way your sales process benefits both the buyer and your business simultaneously.

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