6 Steps to Write Persuasive Copy
By Juan Israel Ortiz
One of the most dreaded tasks for entrepreneurs is to come up with words to promote their offers. Especially when they know little-to-nothing about marketing and advertising.
Copywriting can be intimidating and confusing in the beginning. But it doesn't have to be. In fact, learning about copywriting is perhaps one of the best things you can do for your business.
But you have to understand right off the bat - being a successful copywriter requires a lot of discipline when writing, and a set of principles that you need to apply.
Step 1: Research
The first thing you need to do is dig up as much information about your offer as you can. Look through old marketing pieces to find data that can be useful for writing new campaigns.
If yours is a new offer with no marketing attached, don't worry - that's not an issue. Because new products and services are usually preceded by a lot of paperwork: employee memos, blueprints, and the likes. Just make sure to collect as much information as you can about the offer.
Also, if possible, make an effort to find out as much as you can about the competition - what their strategy is, how they design their marketing, and what approach they take when presenting content and copy to the market.
Step 2: Analyze
Once you have collected all the information possible about the offer, you're going to dissect that information to get what you need for your copywriting assignment.
Essentially, you are going to focus on three things: 1) the offer itself, 2) the market, and 3) the marketing campaign.
Getting Info for the Offer
For the offer, you are looking for what makes you different than your competitors. Make a list of all of your offer's features, and come up with at least a benefit and a promise you can make for each. Then find which of the benefits or promises stand out over your competition - and that's going to be the focus of your copywriting pieces.
If there's nothing about the offer that is different from your competitors', then find what benefits has not been stressed out by the competition, and make them the focus of your advertising efforts. It can be anything from product reliability, an economical offer, customer support, or the guarantee.
Getting Info on the Market
When you look at your market, try to create the ideal customer in your head.
Are they male or female? How old are they? Do they know about your offer? Have they bought any of your other offers before? What do they love about your offer? How will they pay? What's their concern and what can you do to eliminate it?
All of those questions will help you create your ideal client - the person you will address in your marketing and advertising campaigns. This will make your copy more conversational, and more appealing than a generic letter trying to appeal everyone.
Getting Info for the Campaign
And finally, when analyzing your data for your campaign, you will be looking for what has worked, what hasn't, and what has not been give the light of day. This information will help you decide what you will include on your campaign, how to present it to the market, and which channels will best for you to do so.
Once you have collected and dissected all the data, then it is time to sit down and start writing.
Step 3: Grab Attention
The first thing you need to do with your marketing and advertising campaigns is to immediately grab the attention of your target market. This will be the job of your headline.
The headline is that very first sentence your audience reads or hears when you they meet your advertisement. And with attention spans narrowing more and more as time goes on, your headlines need to be most effective and drawing the audience into your offer.
Here's where you can separate the good copywriters from the bad ones. Because bad copywriters tend to open their advertisements with comedy - something cute or funny. Maybe because they don't believe in the product. Or perhaps they don't know what they doing.
Efficient copywriters, on the other hand, know of the importance of the headline, and work hard to present the audience something they can sink their teeth into. They either make an appealing promise, draw a picture, state a fact, or asks the audience a question.
The effective copywriter's approach to headlines not only grabs the attention of the people. It grabs the attention of the people you want - those willing to buy your offer.
Step 4: Hook Them Up
Once you get the audience's attention, you got to keep the ball rolling. To do so, you need to have the first few paragraphs (also known as lead paragraphs), to build a relationship between the audience and your offer. And you do so by delivering immediately on what you stated in the headline, while introducing them to your big idea (aka your offer).
You can approach your audience with your lead directly or indirectly. Your approach would depend on the type of offer, your market, and the perceived value of the offer.
Copywriters use a direct approach for offers which value is commonly known by the market.
In the direct approach, the copywriter pulls no punches - they straight to the point with the offer. And they do it by presenting a promise and the offer right away, inviting the audience to accept the offer, or presenting a problem with the offer as its solution.
Copywriters use direct leads for free offers, gifts, subscriptions, and trial offers.
The indirect approach works well when you need to create a value for your offer. And you do so by leading your audience into the offer in a roundabout way.
Copywriters can make industry predictions, tell stories, or reveal secrets and systems to hook the audience with the offer. You can find this approach used in advertising for newsletters, information products, and advising services.
If you use the correct approach to your first paragraphs you will have captured the interest of your audience. And that means the stage is set for you to pitch your offer to the market.
Step 5: Persuade
Ready to step your selling skills up a notch?
Because you have reached the body of your advertisement. The body copy is the steak, so to speak. And this is where you will either gain a sale, or have the audience turn the page and look for something else.
To prevent the market to walk away from your offer, you need to make them feel like your offer is worth their investment. You have already engaged them on an emotional level, so let's not throw that away. Instead, let's give some rationale to that emotional connection by giving the audience reasons to get your offer.
Here are five ways to do so:
Make and prove claims. If your offer allows you to take a scientific approach to your advertising, go for it. Consumers want to know if there is previous evidence that they can get what you are offering. If you can give them proof, the better chances are that can close this sale.
Restate the promise. If you feel like your headline did not present the promise clearly or convincingly enough, you might want to take the body copy to elaborate on the importance of what you are offering.
Show benefits. Another way to make the best use of your body copy is to outline all - or at least the most important - benefits that the buyer will get from the offer. As a side strategy, you might want to take your two most important benefits and bookend your body copy with them. Just to keep the audience interested from beginning to end.
Present your USP. USP stands from Unique Selling Proposition. And if you have a compelling USP, then break it down on your body copy. That way, you will truly set yourself apart from the competition.
State or restate your offer. If you haven't presented your offer yet, or you haven't elaborated enough on it, then take it to the body copy and let the audience know exactly what you have in store for them.
Step 6: Close the Sale
Finally, after all the presenting and explaining - it's time to go after the sale.
This doesn't have to be as hard as many make it to be. Simply instruct the audience on what they need to do to buy the offer. And that's that.
Let them know which phone number they have to call. Or what website they must visit. Or to fill out the form you sent with the letter.
Whatever steps they need to take to buy your offer, let them know
And that's how you can create persuasive copy for your advertising pieces.
Is there a step that I missed or something you want to add to this article? Please let me know by sending an email to email@example.com
Juan Israel Ortiz is a direct response copywriter and digital marketing specialist. He is the founder of Brand and Deal Communications and an alumnus of the University of Illinois' Cousera program. Follow him on Twitter (@juanisraelortiz) for more information.