Not everyone has the luxury of hiring a copywriter to draft their prospecting emails and letters.
But with a little bit of practise, anyone can nail the five principles of sales writing that converts prospects to clients.
1 RIGHT MESSAGE, RIGHT PERSON, RIGHT TIME
These are the three elements of all successful sales and marketing copy.
The goal of marketing writing is to get the reader to take in and respond to your message.
That’s why it pays to make sure you’ve lined up the right person and the right time first.
In practice, this means identifying a specific audience for your message who are or will soon be, in a position to consider your services.
Gather as much data and intelligence as you can on this audience to give yourself the best chance of resonating with them.
2 FEATURES DON’T CLOSE DEALS—BENEFITS DO
Be sure to sketch out what the promised land looks like for your target audience. Highlight the benefits of your service, not the features of that service.
Not sure how to explain the difference?
Start by taking a feature of your service and ask the question ‘so what?’
If you offer X service, how does that benefit this person?
Craft your main message around the benefits to your audience of using your service.
3 WRITE LIKE STEPHEN KING
Most professional copywriters aim for ‘the Stephen King standard’ of writing.
Stephen King is famous for his horror fiction and revered for his clear, cliche-free and unpretentious writing.
If you can aim to write for your audience with the same simplicity, you stand a much better chance of being heard.
For a start, avoid using big words where smaller ones will do.
Given a choice between utilise and use, always choose use.
Choose shorter sentences over longer ones, and then cut non-essential words from your message.
If you’re not sure where to begin, start with adverbs (the ones that describe ‘how’, such as perfectly, quickly and very).
4 FINISH WITH A COMPELLING CALL TO ACTION
What do you want your audience to do after reading your message?
That next step becomes your call to action (CTA)—an instruction to your audience to do something specific.
Do you want them to get in touch, or take advantage of an offer?
Craft your CTA, starting with an active verb (do, call, get) and place it at the end of your message, but before your signature.
5 PAY ATTENTION TO FORMATTING AND LAYOUT
When we read, our eyes scan words as shapes of about two or three at a time, and they follow the page in a rough Z shape—top left to right, diagonal down to the bottom left, and across to the bottom right.
To make your copy as easy and inviting to read as possible, pay attention to creating an evenly balanced layout.
Use short paragraphs, clear sub-headings, even line spacing, and (where applicable) bullet points.
Finally, pay attention to the look and feel of your message.
Does it look like it was designed in 2001?
Are you using a font created for clowns like Comic Sans, or Calibri, the MS Word default choice?
Good copy alone cannot save you from the cheapening effect of old, tacky, or generic elements in your work.
Your finishing touches create your audience’s first impression, so it’s worth getting it right.