After 6 years in the marketing trenches, I still endure bouts of teeth gnashing when I write copy, whether it’s for a website or a sales page or just an email broadcast.
Doesn’t matter. “Copywriting” freaks people out, copywriters included.
All the drama around writing copy is actually unnecessary. So is the grandstanding about the “science” of copywriting. When it gets right down to it, copy is just conversation. Good copy is a sales conversation. And conversational copy helps you close more business.
So, when I find myself staring at the blank page with nary a clever headline or profound musing to pound the keyboard with, I play a little mind trick on myself.
I tell myself that I’m not really writing copy. I’m just documenting a very important conversation, a conversation I’ve already had out loud, in a notebook, or just in my head about how the offer in question will solve the problem of someone I care about.
Here are 10 ways to get out from under the schtick of “writing great copy” and into a coffee shop kind of groove:
1. Write to one person. You’re not standing on a pulpit. You’re having coffee with a special someone. Talk candidly–and intimately–to him or her.
2. Say it out loud. If it sounds hokey, you’re not being authentic. If it sounds like something you’d say to a friend, it’s probably worth writing down.
3. Pick one hook and stick to it. What’s your unique solution to a problem? That’s your hook. If it doesn’t support that promise, it’s for another conversation.
4. Introduce yourself. You can’t shake their hand but you can say who you are and why you care. No autobiographies. A few sentences and a headline mention will do.
5. Lighten up. No one wants to talk up the brooding guy in the corner of a conference room. Everyone wants to talk to the gal who’s laughing and having a good time.
6. Take your readers seriously. Respect the pain. Address doubts. Talk straight. Know that many of your readers are smarter than you. Some are not. Don’t be assy.
7. Under promise. Over deliver. Contrary to popular belief, humility is a tenet of effective sales copy. And standing in your humility makes it much easier to write.
8. Don’t protest too much. We do this in conversation when we’re not convinced that (1) our argument holds or (2) anyone is listening. Both are off putting.
9. Get excited. Whatever emotion is stirred by the problem–and the solution–express it. Conviction is a rarity in this noisy world and hard to turn away from.
10. Ask for the sale. A Buy Now button at the bottom of the page doesn’t cut it. Ask them to click and ask nicely. Tell them what happens after they click too.
It’s human nature to make simple things complicated. Copywriting is no exception. Does a conversational approach to marketing mean you don’t need a copywriter? Maybe. Maybe not. But before you hire a copywriter, think about the sales conversation you want to have with your people. Nail down the heart and edge of your offer. Get clear on your style, what you’ll wear and how you want to show up.
Then, and only then, we’ll write some great copy.