“Copywriting For Business—An Introduction”
There have been many good books written about copywriting outlining the do’s and don’t’s, formulas and other great information about the craft. But in this brief article I’m going to delve into the psychology of copywriting, what it is, some basic fundamentals and why it’s the most important skill you can cultivate for your business—-no matter what business you’re in.
What is Copywriting?
This is a fundamental question I get asked. A lot of people don’t understand exactly what it is. There are actually various forms of copywriting, but, for my purposes here, I’m going to discuss sales copywriting. This is the wording used for landing pages and websites where marketers and business owners are trying to sell something, as well as email sequences. Emails have the same purpose but are written to “nurture” prospects and customers. Email nurturing is used to inform and educate prospective customers one email at a time. This develops trust and credibility in the readers minds for both you and your product or service by sending relevant information directly to their inbox.
Video sales letters (VSL’s) are a relatively new form of copywriting as video is being used as a sales vehicle more and more in the marketplace today. The scripts written for these are very similar to what’s written for landing pages and are basically the same as any other copywriting which is simply “sales in print”.
Why It’s Important
Copywriting is the most important skill you can learn and practice if you sell any type of product or service—particularly online. Copywriting is simply “sales in print” and it is used in virtually every type of marketing there is. Learning how to do it well can actually make the difference in whether a product sells minimally or is a major success. Yes, your copy can make a good product a great product. Learning to write good copy is critical in selling your products and services and you can also save thousands of dollars by doing it yourself.
The Mechanics of Copywriting
I’m now going to break down the main components of copywriting and also give you the “why” for each one.
1. Write like you talk. Copywriting breaks a lot of rules in written communication. First of all, good copywriting isn’t grammatically correct. It’s like having a person in the room with you and carrying on a conversation with them—just you and them. Sentence structure doesn’t matter. Even one word sentences work here. The point is to develop rapport with your reader through your writing and having a conversation without worrying about the formality of grammar and sentence structure.
2. Write on a 4th grade level. This may sound a little weird at first but it’s true. Yep, you’ve got to “dumb it down”. You’ve got to write simply and without a lot of big words. If people have to look up the definition of a word, you’ve lost them and they’ll stop reading. You need to write to the lowest common denominator of your reader. This may frustrate you a bit but it’s essential in “hooking” your reader so they read your entire marketing piece.
3. Your headline is the most important thing—bar none. Headlines are “the ad for the ad”. A riveting headline entices the reader to keep reading. Headlines can actually make or break a marketing piece because if it doesn’t draw the reader in, they won’t read the rest of what you write. I can’t overstate the importance of a good headline.
4. Use lots of sub-headlines. When writing longer copy for landing pages, use lots of sub-headlines to break up the copy and each sales point. Write for two types of people (two readership paths): those who simply “skim” a letter and those who read every word. The sub-heads should tell people what’s in the next block of copy.
5. Use short paragraphs. Longer paragraphs are intimidating to readers. Large paragraphs dense with copy can lose a reader’s attention quickly. Use one, two, and no more than three sentences per paragraph. Using one sentence as a paragraph to make a sales point is much more effective than using three sentences in a paragraph.
Paint Word Pictures
By selling in print you’re actually tapping into the reader’s imagination by “painting word pictures” in their mind. Using scenarios of “what would it be like” and “imagine this….” work well in writing compelling copy. Why? The human brain actually processes things in pictures and not words. People will process the words and turn them into images in their brain. So by using words to describe what you’re talking about and attempting to sell, you’re tapping into their imagination in a very powerful way.
Although there is a lot more to copywriting than what I’ve stated above, it all boils down to this: stating a problem your prospect has and then solving that problem with your product or service. There are many formulas to get this across in copywriting but the above points will give you a good start in thinking about how to approach your copy.
And I want to make one last point. I used to shy away from copywriting and have had others do it for me until I discovered it wasn’t that “mystical” and that I was pretty good at it. In fact, I discovered I was quite good at it and now do it professionally.* My point here is that I’m convinced that anyone who has the desire to sell something and can put words together in the form of short sentences, can write copy. It’s like any other muscle or skill. The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it.
Just learn the basics and then start writing. I think you’ll surprise yourself. I did.
* I’m also a professional copywriter and have written website content, email sequences, landing page copy, blog posts and other forms of copy for dozens of clients around the world. I’m also a “top-rated” copywriter on one of the two biggest freelance websites on the web. To discuss your project, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at (352) 638-4284.