Copywriting is a pretty damn useful skill to have in life.
The ability to push those special hot buttons on your customers…
And making them SALIVATE at just the thought of owning your product (and maybe making them dream about it at night…)
That is the power of great copywriting. On the other hand…
Mediocre copywriting will always be meh. It might work for those already interested in your product, but most customers won’t even bat an eye on what you are offering.
If you have ever tried to sell to anybody before, you realize that selling to someone is incredibly hard to do.
And trying to sell on paper without even seeing your customer’s reactions? Whoo-ee that’s taking the difficulty to the next level. And not only that…
Copywriting is a cut-throat world where only results matter. The strong get to live while the weak shrivel and die away in a corner.
But don’t get discouraged now…
Most advertisers are absolutely bonkers and have no clue what they are doing. You see, they spend lots of money on things that they think will sell (rather than what the customer really wants) and wonder why they don’t have any results.
And you can separate yourself and compete with the big boys by just keeping a few fundamentals in mind when you write your copy. Writing copy is all about understanding human psychology and persuading them why the product will benefit their lives, right?
So just by learning a few fundamentals of copywriting will allow you to compete with the millions of advertisers all trying to sell their product and service.
So What is Copywriting?
Copywriting is salesmanship in print (or salesmanship in pixels nowadays.)
It is the art of selling through a carefully arranged series of words and sentences to make the desires of your audience grow so large they desperately need your product.
There are even copywriting legends who have been able to write so effectively that they turn ordinary people into starving customers gobbling up every single word of their advertisement and buying their product.
These are the same copywriting legends who were able to sell millions of products ranging from cars to diet supplements to even toothpaste.
Some of them include:
- Gary Halbert
- John Carlton
- Ben Suarez
- Joe Karbo
- Claude Hopkins
- David Ogilvy
- Eric Whitman
- Eugene Schwartz
- Victor Schwab
- John Caples
And there are a bunch of others that I haven’t mentioned (the list would keep on going on and on and on…)
So what makes them different?
The fundamentals of copywriting have already been beaten into their noggins.
They subconsciously know what type of sentences and words will make customers eager to spend their cash on the product they are advertising.
They have also gotten so much feedback from testing their copy they intuitively know what is most likely going to sell.
And this means they don’t have to constantly think about the minor details and just focus on the bigger picture.
The fundamentals of copywriting will never change. You will always need to have a headline to grab the attention of the reader and persuasive copy to make people buy the product.
And the best part is that we can learn the fundamentals of copywriting AND tap into the wisdom of these great copywriters today.
With just a click of Google, you can scan across to see the great advertisements which have sold millions of dollars.
You can also read the countless books on how to copy on Amazon. Some of these tips might sound obvious to you. Others may not be so clear why it works.
But if your copy isn’t working, it doesn’t hurt to give these ideas a shot.
So let’s get started.
The Writing Fundamentals of Copywriting
1. Write Like You Are Talking To A Sixth Grader
Imagine yourself trying to sell a product to a sixth-grader.
This means that if you want to sell your product to this sixth-grader he needs to understand what you are selling.
This means no archaic vocabulary (like that). No confusing sentences. No roundabout way of talking about your offer.
You want to make it nice and easy. Straight to the point so that a sixth-grader could understand what you are trying to say.
Because if there is at any one point he doesn’t understand what you are saying, then he is going to lose interest.
And think about this for a second. The average reading level in the US is around the 7th grade.
This means that when you are writing copy, DO NOT use complicated vocabulary like in your high school academic papers.
The moment readers stumble upon a word they don’t know is the moment you break the flow of your writing. Readers aren’t even going to take the time to look up that word (since everybody is “busy” and has better things to do than to try and understand your advertisement.)
The worst part is that once you made them lose interest they will ignore it making you lose that customer forever.
So before you can sell your customers anything… they need to know what you are offering.
And the best way is to write in a simple way that everyone can understand what you are trying to sell.
2. Write Your Advertisement Like It’s A Love Letter
“Every ad should be like a love letter” Joe Karbo.
Imagine writing your advertisement as a love letter.
A love letter is a great advertisement because:
- You know what the message is about
- You know your objective
- The message is clear and concise
- It’s believable
- And you have to know them enough to write a love letter (otherwise, you may be a bit on the crazy side)
And If it is missing any one of those points than your advertisement is most likely not going to sell.
You Have To Know Your Customers Inside Out To Write A Killer Advertisement
That means knowing what they love, what they hate, what keeps them up at night, what they do in their spare time…
And use THAT information to hit the right buttons for your customers to buy your product (Trust me, there is a huuuge difference between Mr. regular ‘ol copy and copy that gets into the nitty-gritty details of your customer’s desires.)
Because when you know exactly what your customer wants, then writing copy becomes a breeze. You will know exactly what parts you should include and what parts you should omit in your copy.
And when you write in their language your advertisement starts to differentiate itself from other ads and makes it seem even more trustworthy.
So the key thing to do here is to research your customers thoroughly to have the most persuasive punch in your copy.
3. Make Your Advertisement Sound Like A Conversation
The other thing to keep in mind is to write like you are having a conversation with the customer.
Start the sentence with “And” and “But.” Start using ellipses (…). Start using parentheses (like this!) and don’t forget to bold or use italics to emphasize something important.
Use the word “you” a lot in your copy. We want them to have a product or service visualized in their mind (since that’s where all the sales start!)
We want our copy to come out and GRAB the attention of the reader.
Because most of our readers are in a trance in their daily lives. We get up in the morning. We get ready to work. We go to work. After work, we come home and have dinner while watching some Netflix before heading to bed.
We crave excitement. Something to take us out of our trance.
And that’s another part of a copywriter’s job. We need to grab them instantly with our headline and make sure that whatever we write is not boring.
And make them excited about the future possibilities about what our product/service can bring.
You see when we make copy that is exciting and full of life…
It starts to create a slippery slope of sentences. The reader slides from one sentence to the next where it reaches all the way to the end of your copy where they should be ready to buy your product.
And the best way to make your sentences slippery is to…
Make your sentences easy to read!
- Short paragraphs
- Short sentences
- Bullet points
Anything that makes it easier to read from one sentence to the next without breaking the flow.
Pro tip: Have a friend read your copy out loud to see how another person reads your copy and to notice the flaws in your copy.
4. Make Your Writing Invisible
The best writing is invisible to the customer.
This means that your writing is super duper good that they are just focusing on the content of the sentence rather than the structure.
Because the moment he starts to pay attention to your sentence structure is the moment that you take him out of his trance (like right now since I just brought it up, right?).
This means that the reader doesn’t become nitpicky about your sentence structure. They don’t care if your sentence was grammatically wrong or if you started your sentence with an “And.” Or maybe you forgot a comma somewhere over there.
All they care about is the product you are offering and why it would be a mistake to let this opportunity slip by.
This step should take 2-3x longer and is probably like (or even more) important than the writing itself.
This is the part where you constantly revise your content to make your message clearer. To make your sentences smoother. To make sure it grabs the attention of the reader and keeps it.
Editing is all about making your message clear to your reader.
After you have spilled your hot messy words all over your paper…
you need to clean it up and make sure it is easy to read and understandable to the reader.
This might mean you write more copy than is necessary. Or you might’ve been too repetitive and said the same feature twice.
And then it’s better to hack and slash your copy until your message becomes crystal clear…
Because every single word counts.
And when you have the right combination of sentences and words that actually sell…
That is the moment when you have created a masterpiece (and your wallet will love you for it.)
6. When Writing A Sales Letter, Write For The Hardest Sell
You are going to get a mix of people who read your sales letter.
Some people will not be interested. Others will instantly be interested and buy your product. Others are really skeptical and have to really think about it if it’s a product they really want.
And you want to write to those people in the last group. This means coming up with every sale feature that they possibly want and every objection that might come up their way.
There is never too much good copy.
You want to have enough copy for the hardest sell because the easier sells would be so hungry for your product that they just skip all the way to the bottom to order your product.
The point of each sentence is to get them to read the next sentence. And the next and the next…
And the whole purpose of writing copy is to make them buy their product.
There might be instances where you would have greater sales or engagement with shorter copy (luxury brand or emails.)
But you also have to think about the purpose of writing the copy. Every single sentence that you write you should be asking yourself “Does this sentence add onto the desire of wanting my product?”
And if it’s a no… then you either need to change it or get rid of it.
7. Create a swipe file
You want to create an ongoing swipe file of advertisements you think are valuable.
This is because even though the market constantly changes, the core desires of people never change.
Everybody has the same core desires of:
- Wanting to be more attractive
- Wanting to be healthy
- Wanting to live longer
- Wanting a healthy family
- Having more freedom
- Having more wealth
If you don’t know where to start, then you should consider adding the great old advertisements from the 20th century.
This is because the old advertisements tap into those core desires that made people buy for that specific market.
And the best part is you can revisit many of those amazing advertisements that sold millions with just a click on Google.
You can get started on swiped.co and then browse the internet or copywriting books for advertisements. (Or even better is to find advertisements doing well in your specific niche currently and use it as a reference.)
Now, this doesn’t mean that you can copy whatever advertisement you want and just slap it onto your product. (That’s a recipe for disaster since that specific market died decades ago…)
But what you can do is use those advertisements as a reference to help shape your copy by tapping those same ‘ol desires that everyone has.
All the great copywriters have a swipe file (and you should consider starting one too.)
The Psychology Of Great Copywriting
8. You Are The Uninvited Guest (From Claude Hopkins)
Imagine your advertisements as an uninvited guest to a house that no one really cares about.
They don’t know who you are. They don’t care about you. They don’t know what you are going to offer (and most likely they want you to leave.)
And you have less than 1 second to not only capture their attention but to explain how you could add value to their lives.
And that’s exactly the world of advertisements.
No one really wants to look at your advertisements. But rather they are forced to if people want to continue using many services for free (Like Facebook, Youtube, Games, etc.)
Think about all of the advertisements that you see everywhere:
- Newsfeed Ads
- Youtube Ads
- TV ads
- Magazine Ads
- Radio Ads
- Public Bathrooms
- Actual Products
And I want you to think about how many of those advertisements actually made you buy the product.
and how many of those were either background noise or you just thought it was “interesting.”
Chances are not that many ads made you need to have the product. Most likely you saw the advertisements as either annoying or just “interesting”.
And that’s the world of advertisements. Brutal. Savage. A world where no one cares about you.
People go on Facebook to see the newsfeed of their friends and any interesting articles. They never had the intention to check that your kitten necklace is currently 50% off.
And not only do you have to steal their attention from their newsfeed but you also have to make sure that they would be interested in your actual offer.
And it’s all up to you to figure out how to stand out from the noise as the guest who barged into their newsfeed and show how you can add value to the lives of the customer in just a split second.
That’s why many great copywriters spend 80% of their time researching and trying to craft the perfect headline.
Because if the headline doesn’t resonate with your customer, then your product description doesn’t matter.
And the hardest part is you never get a second chance to make a first impression…Once you lose that customer, just assume you have lost that customer forever.
9. Humans Are Selfish Creatures
Humans are greedy, cunning creatures who want to make their lives better.
We don’t care about your business. How you have 3 Master degrees and have a Nobel prize for innovation. How your business has helped millions of other people around the world.
We only care about one thing… “What’s in it for me?”
The moment you start trailing off and stop providing details about how this product will enhance my life then we stop caring about that.
People want solutions to their problems.
And when you provide them solutions and fewer problems then people are more likely to listen to your offer.
There are only three reasons why people don’t buy from you:
- They aren’t interested in your offer
- They don’t have enough money
- They don’t believe in your offer
The first two makes sense and you can’t control it anyway.
But it’s the last point where you do have control over. And it’s pretty important because you need trust in order for people to buy anything from you.
You don’t buy from spam software or pop-ups because you just don’t believe you are the lucky iPad winner.
Only after you have proved that your product can make their lives better and actually believe in that will they consider buying your product.
That’s why people like to use:
- Testimonials (social proof)
- Money-back guarantees
- Explain how it works
- Talk like you do
- Business name, telephone, email way to contact you
- Tracking and confirmation
All of these elements play together so that the person buying from you knows that you are not scamming them.
They have to take a leap of faith whenever they buy your product. They have to consider things like
- Will I get tricked?
- Will this actually help me?
- Have other people tried this product before me?
And you want to hold them by the hand and walk through this process as easily as possible.
The more specific you can be in the advertisement the more sales you will make.
This is because it shows that you really understand the target audience and makes your product seem more believable.
This means making it more custom-tailored:
The more specific facts that you can write about the more believable your offer becomes. Because it shows that you truly understand their problem and that you have been there before.
10. What An Ad Says Is More Important Than How You Say It
The product by itself should be its best salesman.
Don’t make what you are selling complete garbage.
You can entice people to buy trash from you… (but they aren’t going to be happy and will be quite furious.)
This also means your value proposition should be amazing.
If you are trying to be sleazy and sell garbage…your refund rates are going to explode through the roof (and you won’t be making any cash that way.)
The whole point of an advertisement is to make sales, and the whole point of making sales is to make money!
Ideally, all you should be doing is to have a product that you know that people would already buy and writing copy to ignite those desires even more.
11. Only give samples to interested samples
This one is also from Claude Hopkins.
You want to only give out samples to those actually interested in your product.
There is a difference between giving a sample to someone who likes cookies versus someone who learned the history, the craft, and how these cookies are only 50 calories but somehow taste amazing.
The people who will be more inclined to purchase your product would be the second group.
Of course, samples, in general, aren’t a bad thing.
What it really does is bring the law of reciprocity into play where someone gives you something and you are more likely to do something for that person (in this case buying from them.)
It also gives them insight if it’s a product that they would enjoy by actually trying the product.
If you want to boost your sales consider giving out samples to those on the edge of buying your product and watch your sales blow up.
12. Cheapness is not a strong appeal (they want bargains)
Our malls (especially outlet malls) are littered with sales everywhere.
And what drives these people isn’t because it’s cheap, but they think they are getting a great deal for something they perceive with value.
Being cheap isn’t a great motivation factor for people trying to buy the product. Americans want to have great deals or something that isn’t perceived as cheap.
We like things cheap because we think it’s a better deal. Not because they are cheap.
Researching The Market
13. Copy What Works → Then Innovate
It’s always good to see what is working in the current market when you test out your advertisements.
Now don’t just blatantly copy word for word of your competitors (Not only is it plagiarism but you are going to get the wrath from your competitors.)
Rather take a look at their advertisements and ask yourself “Why does this ad working?”
Learn why their advertising is working and try to spin your own version into your advertisement.
Only after you have a baseline of what is working is the best time to start split testing different advertisements of what actually works.
You can then innovate on what you already have taken to take your advertisement level to the next level.
14. Research your Customers and Competitors
All your cutthroat competitors are trying to take advantage of just 1% to make even more money.
That means they devote all their time trying to create an advantage of how their product is superior or a better way to advertise their product.
And the landscape is constantly changing. So if you aren’t up to par then you will most likely be eliminated from the competition (and have one less competitor for them to worry about.)
You always have to be researching your market, your competitors, and your customers.
Do you notice the market shifting away to something new? Do you see one of your competitor’s advertisements working really well and is just brand new? Have you found another way to advertise that most competitors aren’t doing?
You need to constantly do research to figure out how to do this.
That was a lot of things to consider when you are writing copy.
After a certain point, rules are meant to be broken at some point.
After you have ingrained all of these techniques into your muscle memory, I want you to consider when to start breaking these rules to make your copy even better.
And the only way to figure that out is to test it out in the real world. Put it against your control and see how it does.
And the best part is learning all of these copywriting tips not only helps you sell better but it provides value in every aspect of your life.
It’s going to take time to put all of these tips into your muscle memory writing skills. But when you start seeing your first sales start to fly off the shelves… you will know that it was all worth it all along.
And this is pretty important because learning the art of selling apples to everything in your life.
Here is a list that you probably never thought of before when it comes to salesmanship:
- Explaining why you should have a dog
- Getting a Job
- Starting a business
- Working together with people
- Hiring people
It’s a pretty useful skill to learn.
Let me know which techniques you found that has actually helped you or found most insightful!