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Copywriting 101

Wed, Jun 18, 2008


For those that don’t know, Copywriting is the art of selling through words.  Copywriting is also known as “Sales Copy”, or just “Copy”, and it’s been around longer than any of us have.  From the early ages of periodicals with advertisements, Sales Copy has been the weapon against the consumers wallet.  It’s up to you to use effective sales copy in order to pry crisp green bills, from the hands of the consumer.

The hardest part about selling online is that you are a relative unknown.  To combat that, you don’t want to have to answer questions, you want to address them before they are ever asked.  Here are a few examples of questions consumers want to know the answers to, before they purchase.

  • How much does it cost?
  • How does it benefit me?
  • What are the features?
  • Can you back that up with proof or a guarantee?
  • Who else uses it?

There are several hundred questions that consumers could be asking at this point, but these are the most common.  The key to copywriting is adressing concerns before they are mentioned.  We’ve all seen sales copy from time to time, it’s the never ending slab of text that has highlighted sections, bullet points, testimonials and a “limited time offer” that never actually ends.  Here are a few questions that I see from time to time, that I’m going to answer for you here.

  • Why is sales copy so long?
  • What is the cheesy “limited time offer” for?  Does anyone fall for that?
  • Why do all sales letters look the same?

Why is sales copy so long?

Well, look at it this way.  If you walked into an electronics store to buy a TV, and spent any time talking with the sales staff, you’re conversation would be as long, probably longer than most stuff you read on sales pages.  The reason it’s so long, is because marketers have one chance to capture your attention, and to address all of your questions before you move on to something else.  I’d rather the copy be too long, and give too much information, than not enough.

What is the cheesy “limited time offer” for?  Do people actually fall for this?

Yes!  People fall for it all the time.  Any good salesman knows that they have to create some form of urgency in the prospective buyer, or they’ll think about it, and usually talk themselves out of it.  By using a “limited time offer” such as “Get all this for $47 before the price goes back up to $67″, we are creating urgency and letting the buyer know they need to act now.  Good copywriting is all about a call to action.  You can’t just give the information, you have to give it to them, and then force them to a decision.  While it doesn’t sound glamorous, it’s effective.  It’s engrained in our mentality to screw the sytem whenever possible.  So, if you want a product, and you don’t get it at $47, you’ll be awfully pissed when you see at $67 a week later.  Usually the price doesn’t actually EVER go up, but we don’t like to chance things do we?

Why do all internet sales letters look the same?

Well, the short answer is… they dont’.  The designs are generally different but the format is the same.  Why?  Because it works.  “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.  The design will always be tinkered with, but the format has been a proven winner for quite some time, so why change it?  The yellow highlights, the bullet points, these are all proven winners.  Think of it this way, if you ever read the newspaper, they are mostly written the same way… AP (associated press) style.  They generally all have the same formatting to their writing.  Well, this is like the AP style of the web.

Why all the talk about copywriting?

You want to sell some sites don’t you?  When I say “sell” a site, I mean just that.  It’s not as simple as listing an auction and hoping for the best.  This generally ends up getting you mediocre closing prices.  That’s not what we want is it?

Mastering copywriting, or at least becoming profecient at it, will make you a ton of money in this niche.  Hell, it’ll make you a ton of money online in general.  Web selling is all about effective copywriting.

Basic Copywriting Formula

Intro (Clincher) - This should be the part that grabs the readers attention.  These are generally the parts that are all in caps, and are used as a heading of sorts.  “FIND OUT HOW I WENT FROM MAKING $2 A DAY TO $2.50 A DAY OVERNIGHT!”.  Catchy huh?  Anyone wanna know how to make that extra fifty cents?

Body - This should explain a common problem, and how much better life would be if it didn’t exist. “Don’t you wish that you could just quit your day job, and make a whopping $2.50 a day in your pajamas like I do?”

Features/Benefits - These are usually the bullet points, or the ones that are highlighted. The feature is always first, and the benefit second.  You want to name a feature, and show people how it makes their lives easier, or how it’s better than the other stuff out there.

  • Extra cool admin panel that allows you to type with one hand, and eat a sandwich with the other.

Call to action - Get them to buy.  Some people don’t need much selling, and they are ready to buy now.  For the rest, you’ll need to keep selling them.  “Are you ready to try out my super system today and start making that extra fifty cents sometime within the next 18 months?”

Bonuses - Throw in some extra stuff here (usually cheap and worthless), or talk about how your competitors product is $2 higher.  “Act now, and you get my free bonus, how to manage the extra fifty cents a day ebook”.

Testimonials - Get all of your nerd friends to create a testimonial here.  “This product made me an extra fifty cents in only 78 days!  That’s amazing”

Price/Limited time offer - Yeah, I suppose some people want to know how much it costs first.  Go ahead and indulge them here.  “You can get all of this, so that you are on your way to making an extra fifty cents a day for the low cost of $7,000.  Act now before the price goes back up to $270,000″.

One More Time - “Wait, still don’t think this will make your life easier?  Sign up for my email list so I can ask you to buy this product at least once a week for the next 30 or so years”.

I wanted to get a quick primer on Copywriting out of the way before I moved on to how to write effective copy.  This is a key to making big bucks selling websites.. so, stay tuned, more to come.

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3 Comments For This Post

  1. Nick Says:

    Lol at why is it so long. Of course it’s going to be long, the only place where less information is better is the internet, which makes no sense. I don’t understand it, people just want the intro and ending, and don’t want to know how you got from the start to the end.


    Bryan Clark reply on June 20th, 2008:

    I couldn’t agree more. In an the information age, people don’t seem to care about getting ALL the information… just enough so that they can sound like un-informed idiots!


  2. Coach Kip Says:

    Great post thanks for the explanation. It makes much more sense to have a long copy when it is broken down into parts. I have never been one to be long winded in any of my writing, and I agree with Nick that internet users want short concise information, but a good copy can always be skipped though to get to where the person wants, the final offer. At least that is what I usually do.


    Bryan Clark reply on June 20th, 2008:

    Thanks Kip. I have to admit… I usually skim through sales copy at first glance, and then if it sounds interesting, I go back and read it word for word to make sure I’m not running into any traps!


  3. G34 Media Says:

    You were funny in this post. Haha. Good stuff, Bryan.

    And i quote,

    “You can get all of this, so that you are on your way to making an extra fifty cents a day for the low cost of $7,000. Act now before the price goes back up to $270,000″.

    “Wait, still don’t think this will make your life easier? Sign up for my email list so I can ask you to buy this product at least once a week for the next 30 or so years”.


    Bryan Clark reply on June 20th, 2008:

    Thanks Missy. I hope that extra 50 cents a day is worth 7 grand..


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