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8 Copywriting Tips The Pros Use

Sep 9, 2008
My most popular service lately has been copywriting, both for online web pages and offline sales letters.

Whether you're a service provider or a retailer, a solidly constructed sales letter (or better yet, a three-letter series) can work for you over and over and over again, for years and years to come. (And I'm not exaggerating on that. Some of the best sales letters have been in circulation for over ten years!)

I would highly suggest you add at least one proven sales letter to your marketing arsenal. To get started today, just follow these simple, proven steps that the pros use:

1. Start studying sales letters.

Instead of throwing out that pile of junk mail, go through it and pull out the sales letters that appeal to you. What do you like about them? What attracted you to them? What was the first thing you noticed? What made you keep reading?

Start a collection of sales letters and direct mail packages that you would like to model. (Make sure the letters you save are actually converting well. There's no point modeling a letter that doesn't work!)

2. Take the time to do it right.

A highly converting sales letter can not be written in an hour or two. Don't be fooled by the fact that it only took you ten minutes to read the most compelling sales letter you've ever seen.

It took several weeks of research, many days of writing, many days of rewriting, several weeks of testing, many days of tweaking, several more weeks of testing, and probably a few more days of rewriting before landing on the sales letter that works. Don't try to create your sales letter in one sitting.

3. Do the research.

Remember, you are not your customer. Don't assume that your emotions and needs and incentives are the same as your customers'. Knowing the real reasons your customers buy is crucial to the success of your sales letter, so be sure to dig into this before putting any pen to paper.

4. Use a captivating headline.

It may seem strange to include a headline in a letter, but trust me, it works. Many successful copywriters actually consider the headline as the THE most important component of the sales letter. If you're hung up on the headline, let it go for now and write it last.

Remember, the entire goal of your headline is to get your audience to read the first paragraph of your letter. (And the entire goal of the first paragraph is get your audience to read the second paragraph, etc.)

5. Talk about benefits, not features.

We can spend a whole day talking about converting features to benefits. Briefly stated, think about what the audience ultimately gets from your product or service. Remember, no one wants to buy a drill. What they really want is a hole.

6. Use power words.

Now don't get me wrong, I am NOT suggesting that you grab one of those lists of a gazillion power words that are "guaranteed" to increase your sales. What I AM suggesting is that you use the words your audience considers power words.

Every industry, every target, every niche has its own jargon and vocabulary. Be sure to use the words that your reader would use, sound like your reader would sound, talk like your reader would talk.

Some of the best sales letters I've ever written were the ones in which I "pretended" to be someone else so that I could better relate to the reader.

7. Include social proof.

Again, it may seem odd to use testimonials in a letter, but you'll have to trust me on this one, too - it works. If you can coordinate the testimonial with the benefit that you are currently discussing, it will be even more effective.

8. Always add a PS.

While the actual statistics vary, studies show that the PS is the second-most read component of any sales letter (the headline is number one). A proven format for your PS: wrap up the offer you just presented in a succinct one or two sentence close.

Writing good sales letters is a little bit art, a little bit science, a little bit testing, and a little bit tweaking. But if you take the time to do it right, you can be reaping the rewards for years to come.

And if you don't have the time to do it right, consider hiring a professional copywriter. It's an investment in your business that is sure to pay top ROI.
About the Author
Karen Scharf is an Indianapolis marketing consultant who works with small business owners and entrepreneurs. She offers several whitepapers, free reports and checklists, including her FREE Can-Spam checklist and FREE email pre-flight checklist to ensure your emails get delivered, get opened and get read. Download your copies at http://www.ModernImage.com.
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