4 Simple Cures for Boring Marketing Copy

I actually nodded off once while reading a company’s marketing copy. Granted, I was tired at the time, having already reviewed about a gazillion copywriting examples that day. Still, if the writer had attempted to make the copy just a tad more interesting — rather than same ol’ same ol’ — I would have stayed engaged. Boring copy loses sales. Everyone is too busy these days to pay attention to dull, yawn-inducing emails, websites, landing pages and other content. The good news is, it doesn’t take much of an extra effort to make your marketing copy more interesting. Even absorbing. Here are four simple ways to do that. 1. Use stories, examples, scenarios. Stories captivate us. It’s human nature. You’re more likely to be interested in, and remember, a story than even the most compelling presentation of the facts. That’s why I began this article with a story. In marketing copy, a story (or an example or a scenario) is handy when you want to switch on the prospect’s mental movie projector so she can visualize how a product will benefit her. Think about it. Don’t you imagine what it’s going to be like driving a new car before you buy it? So when you’re writing marketing copy and it’s beginning to sound dull, start the next sentence with “For example…” or “Imagine this…” or “Here’s how this would look in your business…” Your copy will immediately liven. 2. Dream up fresh ways to describe things. One of the traps people fall into when writing copy is describing things — like product features — in much the same way...

When writing copy, which features should you focus on?

Like any copywriting trainer worth his salt, I teach the importance of stressing benefits in marketing copy. After all, it’s the benefits of a product or service that the customer is truly buying. However, during a recent workshop a participant asked, “Do we need to connect a benefit to each and every feature? Our services have dozens of features. If we explain the benefit to each one, the copy is going to be a mile long!” Good point. Of course, you don’t have to “benefitize” every arcane feature of your product or service. That would be like dramatizing the benefit of a gas pedal. “As you press your foot down on this lever, the car will begin to move forward, magically transporting you to…” The trick is to focus only on those features that are important to the prospect – those which are most likely to motivate him or her to take action. How do you figure that out? The simplest way is to organize features into three categories. 1. Common features. These are features that your product or service has in common with the competition. For example, if you (or your client) offers an in-house sales training service, then the fact that the training is done live at the client’s location is a common feature. Most, if not all, of your competitors can claim the same thing. Touting the benefits of that would be a waste of copy space. That doesn’t mean you don’t need to list “me too” features. Often, you do. You just don’t have to emphasize them nor connect them to benefits. 2. Superior features....

How to Write an E-Book That Generates Leads

I was speaking to a client the other day who joked, “E-books are the new white papers.” He was kidding, of course. He knows all too well there are significant differences between e-books and white papers, and even e-books and free reports. That being said, there’s no ignoring e-books. They are all the rage these days, especially in lead-generation where they are working particularly well. So how do you write one of these things? The first step is to come up with a topic. People read e-books offered by companies because they want a quick education on something specific. They want to learn how to solve a problem, complete a task, make the right decision, deal with a difficult situation, improve sales performance, reduce costs, and so forth. And your topic needs to reflect that expectation. When I’m working with a client on an e-book, the first question I ask is, “What’s the most pressing problem your prospects have that your product or service can solve – or at least make better?” That typically leads to some focused brainstorming and then, finally, a topic. Your best topic – if you’re fortunate enough to come up with several – is one that involves a problem, need, goal or want that is a high priority for your prospects. You want the e-book to be content a prospect will eagerly fill out a landing page form to get his hands on. For example, a complaint I hear from clients who write their own marketing copy is that the process is slow and painful. As one client put it, “It’s like a visit...
Quick Ways to Read Your Prospect’s Mind

Quick Ways to Read Your Prospect’s Mind

Just about every marketing guru touts the importance of “knowing your prospect”. But how much do you really know about the person you’re trying to persuade with your landing page, email or other marketing piece? A few years ago, for example, I was hired to write a direct mail letter for a training firm. The target market were sales managers and my client assumed, reasonably, that sales managers would be eager to reach this year’s quota. After all, it was the end of November. Only a few weeks to go. After doing a little investigating, however, I discovered that sales managers at the end of November had already said their goodbyes to the current year. It was done as far as they were concerned. They were, instead, focusing on the new year – especially the first quarter. From a sales standpoint, they wanted to start the new year with a bang. So I wrote the letter with that in mind. And it got a huge response. The lesson? Never assume you know enough about your prospect! Knowing what makes your prospect tick is a particular challenge for freelancers as they have to deal with multiple prospects across multiple clients. But it can also be an issue for in-house marketers and writers, as well as entrepreneurs, who deal with the same prospects day in and day out and can fall into the trap of thinking they know everything about them. You can always learn more. And when you do, your response rates and conversions are bound to go up. Here are my 5 favorite ways of getting to know prospects...
Double the effectiveness of testimonials

Double the effectiveness of testimonials

There’s a good reason why some websites (mine included) feature so many client testimonials. They build belief and credibility like no other copy element can. In fact, these days, prospects get suspicious if your website doesn’t feature clients or customers saying great things about your products and services. But there’s a problem with testimonials. According to eye path analysis—a method of studying where eye balls linger on a web page—people tend to look at testimonials rather than read them. So a client may have given you a glowing endorsement, but beyond the fact that the testimonial is there and gets noticed, the message itself may not be getting through. I found this recently when I was shopping for a web designer. I visited one site and was knocked out by all the testimonials that designer had—some from professionals I recognize and respect. The thing is, I didn’t actually read any. I simply looked at all the testimonials and said wow. Obviously, you want your testimonials to get read as well as noticed, because if you do your marketing copy will be that much more persuasive. So how do you do that? Here are some ideas: Give them headlines. It may seem strange to add a headline to a testimonial, but try it. It can work well. The way I do it is by pulling a key statement from the testimonial and then creating a headline around it. A headline for a testimonial raving about a training program might be: Hard to Impress Sales Team Gives it 5 Stars. Even if prospects don’t read the actual testimonial, they’ll likely notice...