10 Keys to Copy That Sells!

Whether you're selling a product or service, the 10 tips below are your keys to writing great copy that communicates and persuades ... to get results! These guidelines can apply to most any form of consumer marketing communications: sales letters, brochures, web copy, or direct mail. As long as your goal is to elicit a reaction from your reader, you've come to the right place.

  • Be reader-centered, not writer-centered.

    Many ads, brochures, and Web sites we see talk endlessly on and on about how great their products and companies are. Hello? Customer, anyone? Think of your reader thinking, "What's in it for me?" If you can, talk with some of your current customers and ask them 1) why they chose you, and 2) what they get out of your product or service. TIP: To instantly make your copy more reader-focused, insert the word "you" often.

  • Focus on the benefits - not just the features.

    The fact that your product or service offers a lot of neat features is great, but what do they DO for your customer? Do they save her time or money? Give her peace of mind? Raise her image to a certain status? Here's an example: If you go buy a pair of Gucci sunglasses, you're not just looking for good UV protection. You're buying the sleek, stylish Gucci look. So that's what Gucci sells. You don't see their ads talk about how well made their sunglasses are. Think end results. Now, what does an insurance broker sell? Policies? No - peace of mind. (See? You've got it.)

  • Draw them in with a killer headline.

    The first thing your reader sees can mean the difference between success and failure. Today's ads are chock full of clever headlines that play on words. They're cute, but most of them aren't effective. There are many ways to get attention in a headline, but it's safest to appeal to your reader's interests and concerns. And again, remember to make it reader centered - no one gives a hoot about your company.
    Bad: "SuccessCorp Creates Amazing New Financial Program"
    Better: "Turn Your Finances Around in 30 Days!"

  • Use engaging subheads.

    Like mini-headlines, subheads help readers quickly understand your main points by making the copy "skimmable." Because subheads catch readers" eyes, you should use them to your benefit! Read through your copy for your main promotional points, then summarize the ideas as subheads. To make your subheads engaging, it's important to include action or selling elements. Bad: "Our Department's Successes." Better: "Meet Five Clients Who Saved $10K With Us."

  • Be conversational.

    Write to your customers like you'd talk to them. Don't be afraid of using conversational phrases such as "So what's next?" or "Here's how do we do this." Avoid formality and use short, easy words. Why? Even if you think it can't possibly be misunderstood, a few people still won't get it.

  • Nix the jargon.

    Avoid industry jargon and buzzwords - stick to the facts and the benefits. An easy way to weed out jargon is to think of dear old Mom reading your copy. Would she get it? If not, clarify and simplify. (This rule, of course, varies, depending on who your target audience is. For a business audience, you should upscale your words to what they're used to. In these cases buzzwords are often crucial. Just make sure your points don't get muddled in them!)

  • Keep it brief and digestible.

    No one has time to weed through lengthy prose these days. The faster you convey your product or service's benefits to the reader, the more likely you'll keep her reading. Fire your "biggest gun" first by beginning with your biggest benefit - if you put it toward the end of your copy, you risk losing the reader before she gets to it. Aim for sentence lengths of less than 20 words. When possible, break up copy with subheads (see no. 4), bullets, numbers, or em dashes (like the one following this phrase) - these make your points easy to digest.

  • Use testimonials when possible.

    Let your prospects know they won't be the first to try you. Give results-oriented testimonials from customers who have benefited immensely from your product or service. Oh, and never give people's initials only - it reminds me of those ads in the back of magazines with headlines like "Lose 50 Pounds in Three Days!" Give people's full names with their titles and companies (or towns and states of residence) - and be sure to get their permission first.

  • Ask for the order!

    Tell your reader what you want her to do - don't leave her hanging. Do you want her to call you or e-mail you for more information? Order now? Call to schedule a free consultation? Complete a brief survey? Think about what you'd most like her to do, and then ask her. It's amazing how many marketing materials I come across every day that don't make it clear what the reader should do. If you wrote interesting copy, your reader may forget you're trying to sell something. Tell her what to do, and she'll be more likely to do it.

  • Have your copy proofread!

    Good. Now have it proofread again. Don't risk printing any typos, misspellings, or grammatical mistakes that will represent your company as amateurish. Hire a professional editor/proofreader to clean up your work and double-check your grammar. Remember, you only get one chance to make a first impession! Oops - *impression*.
  • (c) 2002 Alexandria K. Brown


    Alexandria K. Brown, "The E-zine Queen," is author of the award-winning manual, "Boost Business With Your Own E-zine." To learn more about her book and sign up for more FREE tips like these, visit her site at http://EzineQueenTutorial.com/

    Top 3 Rules for Writing Effective Copy

    One thing all successful Internet marketers have in common is that they're good copywriters. If... Read More

    Getting Over Copy Shock

    A few weeks ago I wrote some copy for a business owner "Marvin." My copy... Read More

    Working on the Internet: Role of Proofreading and Copy editing OnLine

    When one is in a creative state, rarely can one also be in a detail... Read More

    Magic Words That Sell and What Words to Avoid

    We all know words are powerful. Whether written or spoken, according to advertising legend David... Read More

    Writing Great Website Sales Copy

    Many small businesses fail because their owners don't pay enough attention to marketing and... Read More

    Should You Use Testimonials When You Create A Web Site?

    You've probably seen web sites with testimonials - they can add legitimacy. But sometimes they... Read More

    7 Powerful Sales Copy Writing Techniques!

    Your sales letter is the most important component in your web site or marketing... Read More

    Sell Anything To Anyone On The Internet With Hypnotic Writing

    I imagine you are the type of person who really wants to make your idea... Read More

    Headline Writing Can Lead To Fortunes: Here Are The Basics Of Writing Headlines

    Headlines attract attention. Headlines generate interest. The time spent writing headlines can pay you back... Read More

    Are You Losing Customers Because of Typos?

    Overlooking simple steps such as proofreading and grammar can affect the credibility of your website.... Read More

    Promote Your Business and Get Paid for Doing It!

    How can you gain credibility and exposure for you and your business, reach a motivated... Read More

    Making Your Purpose Your Business Step #4 - Organizing & Developing Online Content

    If you have done your homework then you are ready to organize and develop what... Read More

    How To Write Direct Mail That Really, Really Works!

    So, you have something you want to sell. It may be a product, a service,... Read More

    How To Find A Copywriting School

    Have you heard the good things about the field of copywriting? If you have, then... Read More

    Real Estate Professionals Need You to Write for Them!

    Ask yourself these questions:Are you an experienced writer?Do you want to stay at home to... Read More

    3 Keys to Better Online Copywriting

    Doing the copywriting for your own website without the proper knowledge and tools is pretty... Read More

    How Writing Radio Can Help You Become a Better Writer

    Knowing how to write, and write well, is a skill that will come in handy... Read More

    Copywriting Secrets Of Indias Mystics

    Hi everyone,Been ruminating on this one for a little while now but it's probably one... Read More

    How to Develop a Killer News Hook

    When you are going to write a press release probably the most important thing you... Read More

    How To Really Connect With Your Customer In Your Copywriting

    One of the least talked-about areas in copywriting education is voice. This is probably because... Read More

    Welcome Informed Criticism of Your Work

    When you come to 'know' something, there is a temptation to stop thinking about it.... Read More

    Online Promotion Beats Traditional Ten-One

    While traditional marketing can work for the book author or publisher, the return is... Read More

    How To Get Started With A Career In Copywriting

    Careers in copywriting are booming. Could it be that the new and ever growing market... Read More

    5 Rules for Effective Written Sales Communications

    Most salespeople have great ideas, but when it comes to putting those ideas on paper... Read More

    Copywriting FAQs

    One of the biggest challenges a copywriter faces is to make future clients feel confident... Read More

    Fill Your Readers with Confidence

    Site visitors generally stay with you for as long as they feel confident that they... Read More

    How To Write Powerful Headlines

    I want to tell you how I go about writing headlines. I like to keep... Read More

    5 Critical Mistakes Most Freelance Copywriters Make

    Think you have what it takes to be a freelance copywriter? I wasn't so sure... Read More

    11 Things You MUST Know Before Hiring a Copywriter!

    If you're considering hiring copywriting help for your next brochure, Web site, or marketing... Read More

    7 Formulas for Articles That GET READ!

    Many of us have been asked to write an article at one time or another.... Read More

    How to Hold Peoples Interest throughout those Long Copy Sales Letters

    People tend to read your ads and sales letters in 2 different ways:1. Word For... Read More

    How To Personalize Your Headlines For Increased Profits!

    Personalizing your headlines to your target audience can significantly improve your sales response. You can... Read More

    Can 97% of Netpreneurs be Wrong?

    Why Some People's Ads Almost Always Make MoneyDiscover the Master Copywriter's Little-Known Secret of Locking... Read More

    Writing For Sex Markets

    Many professional freelancers will go their entire career without ever once writing a story about... Read More

    Five Steps To Online Copywriting Success

    One of the most important priorities of evey online business should be their copywriting. Online... Read More

    10 Tips for Writing Effective Web Copy

    On the Internet programmers and designers rule, not the writer. Yet words drive targeted traffic... Read More

    Cleaning Up Your Copy

    When you are beginning to write, you gather as much data as you can. You... Read More

    How To Find Editing Services Online

    Quality is what you need. What you don't have is time. You need to find... Read More

    Website Advertising: 10 Tactics To Make Your Ad Copy More Impactful

    If your ad is not generating a lot of sales, the reason may be because... Read More

    Writing Copy for Voiceovers

    As with any of the performing arts, an effective voiceover begins with a well-crafted script.... Read More

    16 Golden Rules of Master Copywriting

    You could spend thousands of dollars on advertisement and have extremely low or no results... Read More

    Why Is FREE The Most Powerful Marketing Word You Can Use?

    As the famous cowboy Will Rogers once said, "Even if you're on the right track,... Read More

    Getting Paid for Your Articles

    If you've been writing web articles to help promote your business, you may also wonder... Read More

    Quotations as Expressions in Life

    Quotations are expressions, usually in the spoken form or in literature, which... Read More

    How Cliffhanger Paragraphs Capture Readers

    About 50 years ago, movie serials kept theater crowds coming back week after week. Each... Read More

    8 Tips for Writing Headlines that Grab Attention (and Keep Prospects Reading!)

    Effective headlines make all the difference in whether your prospect reads your marketing materials... Read More

    Is Your Content Provider Selling You Ripped Content?

    Ripped content: well the term itself is self explanatory. Content that has been copied from... Read More

    Copywriting Makeover: Search Engine-Friendly Can Also Mean Visitor-Friendly

    When it comes to search engine optimization, copywriting plays a big role. You want to... Read More

    How to Write Carrot-Wielding Copy!

    A significant reason behind websites that fail is the lack of an effective direct response... Read More

    11 Ways to Get an Editors Attention

    I worked as a business magazine editor for about 20 years. During that time, thousands... Read More