How to Write Sales Copy Like a Seasoned Pro – Even If You’re Still Wet Behind the Ears

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How to Write Sales Copy Like a Seasoned Pro – Even If You’re Still Wet Behind the Ears

Disclaimer: This post is long, but it’s meant to be that way.

After all, you can’t expect to learn how to write sales copy like a seasoned professional in 500 words or less. But reading this post will give you a great head start.

So brew a pot of your favorite coffee, put on some soothing music, and prepare to learn a lesson from one of the best humblest web copywriters working today.

And now, with that out of the way, let’s begin your lesson on how to write sales copy like a true professional, even if you’re just starting out…

Sales Copywriting 101

This post is all about sales copywriting, which is a type of writing that takes both experience and skill to master.

Don’t let that fact deter you. I started my career in outside sales and soon moved into marketing writing, but the concepts are the same.

Whether you’re selling to someone in person or you’re selling through words, you are aiming for a similar end result. You want to get your audience to take ACTION. You want them to buy, subscribe or follow you on social media.

The good news is that once you learn these principles, they will bleed over into all aspects of your online content writing.

But before we get to the art of sales copywriting, you need to know the first rule of selling online.

Rule #1: None of this is about you, your organization, product or service. Sales copywriting is not about what you need or want. In fact, in order to succeed at copywriting, you need to take yourself completely out of the equation.

Rather, in order to sell products and services online, you need to focus on your prospect and what he or she wants and needs.

That, my friend, is what we’re going to focus on first.

How to Find Out What Your Prospect Wants (and Needs)

To be good at any form of sales or marketing, it helps to have empathy.

Stephen Covey (Author of the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) explains this concept perfectly. He writes:

Next to physical survival, the greatest need of a human being is psychological survival – to be understood, to be affirmed, to be validated, to be appreciated.”

In other words, you need to delve into the mind of your prospect.

Put more simply, you need to find the source of the PAIN.

This is the very thing that keeps your prospect up at two in the morning searching Google for answers.

In order to find the source of that pain, you should be looking for three specific things. These include:

1.       The end result the prospect wishes to achieve.

2.       The biggest fear the prospect has in attaining that goal.

3.       Whether or not there is a timeline involved with achieving the desired result.

The answers to these questions will give you your target message, and will make writing your sales letter much easier.

How do you find the answers to these questions? I’m glad you asked. Here are three ways I use to delve into the mind of my prospect so that I can trigger that part of their brain that gets them to ACT.

Method #1: Spy On Your Competitors

I have a client who is in the pet grooming niche – a saturated market, to say the least.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It means that I can turn to any competitor in any city to see what those salons are offering their furry, four-legged clients (and their owners).

For example, if I want to find out what pet owners are looking for in a pet groomer, I might look to the leaders in the industry – PetSmart being one of them.

Take a look at this PetSmart grooming home page, for instance.

 

 

Petsmart grooming

Right there in gray and white, we have what their clients want: A pet that looks great by passionate groomers who perform their services at a great value.

Now take a look at this page by a groomer in Lynchburg, Virginia.

pampered pets

Not only can we pay attention to the salon’s message, but testimonials are a great way to mine information we can use to make our sales letters more effective.

On this page, we get the same idea worded differently: a dog that looks terrific by professional groomers who perform their services with fair pricing.

By getting an idea of what our prospect wants, we now have the ammunition we need to write a letter that truly sells.

Method #2: Survey Your Current Customers

If you have a pool of customers already, you can blast out an email with a survey attached asking for what they’re most looking for. You can even use the questions above to find out what they most desire, what they most fear, and if there is a timeline involved.

You may find that your customers want a pet groomer who makes their pet look and smell great in under 30 minutes.

Asking your customers is ideal, as you already know who you’re targeting.

Method #3: Use Amazon Reviews

This is a trick I learned some time ago that helps me get to the heart of my prospect’s hopes, fears and desires, and that’s to use Amazon book reviews.

My business in particular targets online business owners who want nothing more than to grow their businesses.

Using this trick, I’m going to log onto Amazon and use the search box to find books dealing with online business advice. Then I’ll skim the reviews to see if I can glean a few good nuggets of information I can use in my quest for more empathetic knowledge.

For example, here is a review for the book Your First $1000 – How to Start an Online Business that Actually Makes Money by Steve Scott.

Take a look at the parts I highlighted below.

amazon review

If we were to translate the above into information online business owners might want, I’d have a list that looks like so:

·         To learn the secrets of making money online that give the best chances for success

·         A web presence that converts visitors into buyers

·         Navigating Google’s rules to rank highly without getting penalized (or sandboxed entirely)

You now have three ways to discover what your prospect most desires. Now it’s time to get to the rules of sales copywriting.

Don’t start writing yet. Instead, read the information below and start taking notes. Don’t worry, I’ll walk you through the entire process. For right now, just read, learn and absorb. You’ll be writing like a pro before you know it.

The Sales Copywriting Formula for Online Business Success

Sales Copywriter Julie Boswell, writing for Digital Marketer, has a handy formula you should commit to memory if you want to craft high-quality sales letters on the fly.

Of course, it will take some time before any flying is done, but – as with anything – the more you practice, the better you’ll get.

That formula is as follows:

Step 1: Call Out Your Target Audience (And Be Specific)

You should already have some idea of who you’re trying to target. In the case of pet grooming, you’re targeting pet owners. In the case of my business, I’m targeting online business owners.

But don’t stop there. For your sales letter to be effective, you’ll want to drill your target audience to a select group of people.

How do you call out your target audience? With an eye-catching headline, of course.

The Art of Sales Headlines

Readers visiting your sales page will focus on your headline first, before they even lay eyes on your images.

Therefore, your headline needs to snag their attention quickly, such as in a single second (or less).

How do you do this?

For your headline to be effective, it needs to list your most important benefit, otherwise known as your principle selling position.

To find that proposition, ask yourself which specific benefit of your product or service offers that makes it different, better or otherwise special when compared to all the other available products and services of its kind.

This is the one thing your prospects need, and the one thing your business seeks to deliver.

For example, as you may know, I’m a freelance web copywriter and my services target online business owners who are just starting out or who have been in business for a short while and who want nothing more than to experience business growth without wasting time and money.

Therefore, my sales headline might look a little something like this:

New or Stagnant Online Business Owners Who Are TIRED of Watching Time Fly and Money Slip Through Your Fingers…It’s Time You Found the Secret to Helping Your Business Grow…and the Answers to Navigating Google’s Rules Without Getting Penalized!

Or, let’s take the pet grooming business. From what we’ve learned using the three methods outlined in the previous section, our headline might read like so:

Pet Owners Who Want a Happy, Health Pet Who Looks and Smells Great…Our Passionate Pet Groomers Will Care for Your Furry Friend From Head to Tail in Under 30 Minutes…And All At A Fair Price You Can Easily Afford!

To help you craft your headlines, here is a handy copywriting tip from Kissmetrics:

When you’re writing a headline for your web copy, what is the main message you want to communicate? Focus on just one thing. Explain what you do. Or tell how your readers will benefit from your product or your service.”

Don’t worry about writing your headline just yet. Instead, write down the most important benefit your product or service offers and set it aside. Then continue on to the next step.

Step 2: Pinpoint Your Prospect’s Problem, Then Solve It

Immediately after your headline, as in the first couple of paragraphs, you’ll really want to nail the source of your prospect’s pain, and how it makes him or her feel.

To make the process of writing your sales letter easier, write the information you come up with as a series of bullet points.

For example, in the case of pet grooming, we might have:

·         A shaggy pet that leaves hair all over the house

·         Stinky pet that makes the bed, furniture and entire house smell bad

·         The embarrassment that comes with having a disheveled pet at the dog park

·         Painful nail overgrowth or tangled fur that is impossible to brush

If I’m writing a sales letter for online business owners, I might have:

·         Wasting time on techniques that don’t work

·         Spending money on useless programs and platforms

·         Putting massive effort into business growth with very little to show for it

·         Not experiencing the freedom that typically comes with running your own business

·         Bills piling up and wolves knocking at the door

·         The embarrassment of having to tell people you’re a failed online business owner

·         Frustration that comes with doing everything right, only to experience a Google penalty or ban

With your list completed and directly in front of you, the process of writing the first couple of paragraphs of your letter will become that much easier.

Remember, you’re stepping into the shoes of your prospect. You’re bringing back all their hurt, pain, and frustration.

You’re basically pouring salt on fresh wounds.

And if you do your job correctly, you’ll have your prospect nodding along. They’ll be thinking, “This person gets me.”

But don’t just leave your prospect to suffer. Immediately after you’ve discussed the pain, it’s time to offer your solutions to the problems you’ve just listed.

The Answers to Your Prospect’s Problems

Now it’s time to provide the relief your prospect craves. You can do this with one or more solutions to their problems.

Keep in mind that the problems you’ve just listed come from NOT buying whatever it is you’re offering.

This will leave them begging for an answer to their prayers.

You should already have a list of benefits that your product or service offers. These are what you will use to demonstrate the value of your offering to your customers.

That stinky dog jumping on your pants and leaving your furniture muddied and full of fur? Our groomers will leave your dog smelling fresh and clean, which will leave your home and your furniture as spotless as you like to keep it.

Your online business isn’t doing so well? My freelance copywriting services will take the guesswork out of navigating Google’s rules. You’ll gain more attention from your target market, which will deliver more leads, and more sales. The bottom line? You’ll begin earning money almost immediately, and your business will finally begin to flourish, much like a tree receiving plenty of sunlight and water.

If your benefits can directly overcome the uncertainty and fear your prospect is feeling, the offer you describe will be irresistible, and that’s exactly what you want as a sales copywriter.

Step 3: Discuss why what they’re currently doing just isn’t working

This is the part of the process where you overcome objections. Maybe your product or service is too expensive and they don’t have the money. Maybe they’re afraid of commitment or change. Maybe they think the solutions you’re describing will take too long to implement.

You don’t have the money? Think of how much money you’re going to spend cleaning your carpet when your stinky dog tracks, mud, grime and fur balls throughout the house. Just saving money on cleaning bills alone will make the measly dog grooming fees well worth it.

Don’t have the time? Our passionate dog groomers will have your dog show-ready in under thirty-minutes. Who doesn’t have thirty minutes to spare?

In the case of web copywriting, money is a big PAIN point for me. Many people don’t think they should pay very much for copywriting. My answer to that objection is that you get what you pay for. Spend a little money now and you’ll be reaping the benefits with a happy, healthy bank account in no time.

Whatever your prospect’s objections happen to be, spell them out (letting your prospect know that you understand where they’re coming from) and make them seem insignificant in comparison to what you’re offering.

Step 4: Tell your prospect how you discovered what does work

This is your secret formula to success, whatever that may be.

In my dog grooming client’s case, she attended the best schools in the world, going as far as Japan to learn the art of canine cosmetology. That allows her to groom even the most aggressive dogs in under thirty-minutes, leaving them tame, happy, healthy, and smelling and looking their very best by the end of their appointment.

In my case, I started my career in sales. You name it, I’ve sold it. I soon became the guy you went to see when you were having trouble closing your customers. It wasn’t long before I quit my day job to stay home and write full-time. I am now able to transfer my sales and marketing capabilities to the page (and computer screen), making your business seem irresistible to your target audience.

Whatever your secret to success is, explain it to your prospect and let them know why they should choose you over all others who may be selling the same thing you are.

Step 5: Tell your prospect how he or she can get what you’re offering

Now comes the bottom line, how to get what you’re offering. To increase your chances for success, make your offering really easy to obtain.

After all, most people aren’t going to jump through a bunch of hoops, even if you’re offering a miracle cure for whatever ails them. The purchase process should be as simple as a click, buy, or download if you hope for your message to be successful.

In the case of my dog grooming customer, they only need to pick up the phone and call and an appointment will be set. Or they can use the handy website scheduling form. Easy, peasy.

In the case of my business, they only need to send me a message and I’ll take care of everything.

Of course, your conversion rates will be much higher if you make use of an effective call-to-action.

Use Clear Calls to Action

You know those velvet ropes they use outside of nightclubs? If they didn’t use those, people would mill about all over the place and there would be chaos. People like to be told where to go, and when to fall in line.

In other words, people don’t want to have to think about what to do next. They want it all spelled out for them, and the same goes for sales letters.

To guide your prospects into the correct action to take when the time is right, you will want to use a clear and concise call-to-action.

An effective call-to-action (CTA) will have the following characteristics:

1.       It will entice your prospect to act.

2.       It will spell out exactly what will happen once that action is taken.

3.       It will tell the prospect to take action NOW.

Take a look at these CTA examples from Small Business Marketing:

·         “To book now, call {phone number} and register your spot with {person’s name}.”

·         “Click on the button below to get your copy now.”

·         “Enter your details below for a free measure and quote.”

·         “Click here to download now.”

Amend these to fit your business, put them at the bottom of your sales letter and your conversion rates will skyrocket.

Now You’re Ready to Start Writing

You should have all the information above spelled out in bullet points or in lists. With this information in front of you, all you have to do is write the letter out.

I know what you’re asking – what style do I use? What tone of voice?

Crazy Egg recommends that you use a conversational tone of voice. In other words, simply write like you talk. As they so succinctly put it:

What’s the right tone of voice for you? Consider how you speak to customers and prospects and try to emulate how you talk in your writing.  And remember: Don’t let your high-school education get in the way of writing clear, persuasive English.”

Of course, using a conversational tone is only one way to write a sales letter. Copyblogger has nine more ways you can try. But for starters just write like you talk and your sales letter will be written in no time.

Format Your Sales Letter for Easy Reading

As you’re writing your sales manifesto, keep in mind that many people will be reading your words on teeny-tiny screens. Therefore, you’ll want to format your letter for easier absorption.

Here are a few tips from Entrepreneur on crafting sales letters that are easy on the eyes, thus making them more likely to convert. (That means people will buy from you).

·         Whenever possible, such as when listing your prospect’s objections and the ways you hope to over come them, go with bulleted lists. You can also break up your content with bolded subheadings, such as the one above.

·         Keep your paragraphs short, as in no more than four lines each. The closer you get to one line, the better. Remember, most people will skim your copy. Make it easy for skimmers to consume what you’ve written.

·         Use bolding, highlight, and italics to emphasize important words, phrases and points.

·         Don’t go crazy with your font. Keep it simple with Arial or Verdana.

·         If you do use images, keep them relevant or else they may be too distracting.

·         Finally, keep your text black on white text (or at least on an unpatterned light background)

Use Testimonials Throughout to Bolster Your Credibility

You never want your prospect to wonder halfway through your letter, “Who the heck is this guy, and why should I be listening to him (or her)?”

To prove to your prospect that you can not only walk the walk but talk the talk, sprinkle real-life testimonials throughout your sales copy.

Here’s a testimonial I use in my own business.

We’ve worked with Jason for over four years, which should tell you exactly what we think of him. He’s been an absolute workhorse – super reliable, productive, and always giving us exactly what we needed, on time.  He’s a 5 star contractor and we’ve loved working with him. I’d highly recommend Jason to any business needing professional writing services or otherwise.” – Jacob Puhl/Firegang Dental Marketing

Sales Copywriter Skip McGrath stresses that you should never make up the testimonials you use. He writes:

Encourage customers to give testimonials and place the testimonials strategically throughout your website to help validate certain points of your sales presentation. Of course, legally and ethically speaking, the testimonials must be legitimate.”

And that, budding copywriter, is all you need to know about sales copywriting. Some writers like to put PostScripts and Post-PostScripts at the ends of their letters, and these can be very effective.

The first PS will basically rehash all the information they just read. It gives an overall review, keeping the information fresh on the reader’s mind.

The PPS will typically give a money back guarantee, letting the prospect know that even if they take action now, they can always get their money back if they’re not satisfied.

I urge you to experiment with different styles and letter formats until you find one that works with your target audience. And remember, if your sales letter doesn’t convert, that’s not the end of the world.

Sales copywriting, if anything, is a learning process. Test, test, and test again until you find what does work. That’s how the pros do it, and that’s how you should do it too if you hope to consistently craft winning sales letters that convert every time.

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