Copywriting Basics

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OK, lets focus on what the buyer wants when writing your sales letter.

Think of the headache-aspirin formula.  You engage their emotions by reminding them about the particular problem that your product is going to solve for them.  This is the headache part.

So, if yours is a money-making product, you talk about how dreary and soul-destroying going to work in a dead-end job is every day, how they can’t see a way out, how most people retire poor.  By doing this you are whipping up their emotions – making them feel their frustration and hopelessness.

When you’ve really hooked them in, you provide the solution to their problems.  This is the aspirin part.  You tell them how your product is going to help them give up work, and retire young and rich!

The key to convincing people that you have the ‘aspirin for their headache’ is through hitting them with all the benefits of your product.  Successful copy is benefit-laden.  Customers want to know “What’s In It For Me?”  Let’s face it they don’t really care about you.  What is it to them that you’re now a multimillionaire with three mansions, 4 cars, a yacht and a private jet?  Does this mean that they’ll be able to get these things from buying your product?  They will assume not, unless you tell them.

Similarly, they’re not interested in how long you’ve been in business for, or how great you think you are.  If your copy comes across as Me, Me, Me, you’ll put your customers off.  They won’t buy from you.  Why should they hand over their hard earned money?  All you’ve done is boast about your lifestyle.  You’ve not told them what it’s in it for them.

So, before you start writing your sales letter, think of all the benefits of your product and then write them into your copy.  This way, your offer will seem so advantageous to the customer as to be irresistible to them.

The body copy is important to your success, but whether your sales copy makes you mega bucks or fails miserably is nearly always down to the headline.  Why? If your headline fails to grab the attention of your prospects and make them read the sales letter, then no matter how good your body copy is; if they don’t read it, you won’t get the sale.

Headlines work by shouting out the hottest, strongest benefit from owning your product.  It’s answering the question uppermost in readers’ minds: “What’s in it for me?”  This makes them want to read on, so that they can find out more.  Therefore, if a fantastic headline has the potential to make your sales letter 17 times more effective, what can you do to make sure that yours is a great one?

There are simple guidelines to writing great headlines, follow these and your sales figures will soar.  Because the purpose of your headline is to grab attention and make people want to read on, your headline has to be easy to read.  Make sure everything about the font, type size and number of words you use is geared towards this.

17 is the maximum number of words you can use in a headline, any more and it loses impact.  It’s best to avoid reverse type and keep your font style and size the same.  Using all capitals will make your headline difficult to read, so use upper and lower case.

Make your headline more memorable by making it seem like a quote.  Put quotation marks around it.

Next is credibility.  The benefit conveyed in your headline must sound believable else you will lose credibility with your readers.  They won’t read on.  You’ll have lost them straight away.

Use strong, exciting, action words as these engage people’s emotions and tell a story; making your headline more compelling.  Words like, slash (your taxes); (watch your sales figures) soar; fire (your boss); escape (from a dead-end job); etc.

Here are my top ten powerful words to use in your headline:

How to… [this can never be overdone]

At last






Secrets of…

And the top two:



You can see my list of other top words in one of the other documents on this site.

Look at headlines from the marketing gurus to give yourself a feel for how great headlines are composed.  The best way to find that perfect headline is to write out at least one hundred until you come across what looks to be the best one.

Then you test to see if it is, by using it in your marketing campaign and seeing what your response rate is like.  The market is your best gauge for telling you whether your headline is working or not.

Any other great headlines that you come up with can be used as sub-headings throughout your body copy.  When emailing customers and prospects; use software that allows you to personalise the headline with the customer’s name.  This makes it sound like your message was written just for them.

Being personal in your sales letters is hugely important – people want to feel visible, they want to feel special, and so your letter should speak directly to them.  One way of achieving this is by using the person’s name.

The best way of creating fantastic copy is to have personal tuition in copywriting.  Unfortunately, most people cannot afford the hefty fee the copywriting gurus would charge for this.  So, go for the next best thing.

Get on the mailing lists of as many of the direct marketing professionals as you can.  When they send you mailshots, either through the post or via email, don’t throw them away.  Keep them in a file and when it comes to writing your own copy, take a good look at theirs and ask yourself the following questions.

Why does the headline make you want to read on? How many pages is the sales letter?  What is the special offer?  Do they give a time-limited bonus?  How many postscripts do they use and how are these worded?  How long is their guarantee and how is this worded?

Try and match their style of writing when you do yours.  Without copying their work, which is illegal plagiarism, you can create your own killer sales letters by emulating what the super-successful have done.

Here are some other points to help you avoid writing a doomed sales letter.  Assume that everybody entering your site has the reading age of 12, although I know that not everybody does.  You don’t want to sound high-brow and neither do you want to talk down to your audience.  Keep it in an upbeat, conversational style.  Write it as though you are penning a personal letter to your best friend.  This gives it a one-to-one feel, rather than the soullessness of a mass mailing to all and sundry.

How can you tell if your sales letter sounds good or not?  Read it out loud.  This is a deceptively simple technique and yet it really does work!

Keep your paragraphs short and punchy.  Step out of the confines of your English language training – if a sentence sounds good when you read it out loud – keep it, it doesn’t matter if it’s not a complete sentence.

Have a line between each paragraph and indent each one at the start.  Creating lots of white space in this way makes your sales letter easy to read.