Do you want the secret for making more sales? Of course you do, and I will tell you what it is. It’s simple really, it really boils down to how you write your company’s copy. Though an often neglected facet in a companies service range (and subsequently often outsourced) being able to write good copy is vital for an effective sales pitch, to stir intrigue on a website and it holds content together like glue.
Writing good copy transcends both the creative and hard-hitting selling aspects of a company. While it is important to craft flowing, eloquence and communicative copy you also need to know that it is fulfilling its purpose: to sell. This really boils down to how you employ copywriting in your work. There are different types of copy in different mediums that fulfill all manners of purposes; it’s knowing which one will fit well and communicate that is important. To help you get to grips with how business copy can be effective I am going to take you through a few types of copy and how they can be used effectively.
The plain and simple approach
This is probably the most basic approach to writing. It’s simple, plain and often very effective. It is merely a way to introduce a product or service and it’s benefits. Quite often this style of writing is used to present facts regarding a product. Writing of this type stands well on its own, therefore there is no real engagement, no conversation and no frills. While it isn’t exactly the best way to build a company persona, entice or engage, it will inform a reader; which is its purpose. Take a look at the Dropbox website for a good example.
Tell a story
If you have an interesting story behind your company or would like to project a more interesting outlook on a product then telling an interesting story is a great way to promote it. Everyone loves hearing a good story; inspiring, strange, fortuitous or serendipitous, people love hearing about experience that can astound or relate to them. Many companies use this technique in ‘about us’ or product pages as it is an effective method of grabbing and relating to a customer. The story method of writing usually contains four unconditional traits; The introduction: this opens the story; how someone was normal before they were effected by something (think along the lines of, ‘My company was running so well until I decided to switch it to a web only format to expand. A cowboy web builder made me a website that destroyed my companies credibility’)
- The problem: This is the crux of the story, basically how will the person effected by catastrophic events end up worse if they don’t resolve the issue; how will they resolve the issue? (‘My business was declining fast and I only had two options, call it a day or get a new website’)
- The problem solver: This is where the solution to the issue gets drawn into the story directly. (‘I looked on the internet and came across a fantastic web design agency who said they could help me’)
- The resolution: this is the point where your product has cured the problem that ails the main character, and of course the positive outcome. (‘They gave me an attractive redesign and now my business is booming again; people even tell me how great my new site looks’).
A good thing to note at this point is that the story doesn’t have to be dressed up and overly dramatic, it still needs to hit hard with your target audience; so no novellas.
Creative copy defies the rules and conventions of strictly business writing. Usually reserved for the world of advertising copywriting, creative copy can delve into the poetical, the ridiculous and sometimes the complete absurd to pack a punch that sticks in a customer’s mind even after they have finished reading. Again this is another risky one in the world of copywriting. Personally I’m an advocate of creative copywriting, I believe that it provides room for a company to really explore their persona and to really stand apart from the crowd. On the other hand business writing should always direct towards a sale, so your creative outbursts run a big risk of being misunderstood and not fulfilling their purpose. One company that seemed to have nailed this method is Old Spice. Their downright wacky adverts and website copy is just so absurd that you can’t forget it.
The engaging piece
Often referred to as the conversational piece, this type of writing demonstrates a conversation between two people; usually through the personas of the company figure and the potential customer. This type of writing should resemble you delivering a sales pitch at a meeting or a presentation, the purpose is to identify with whom you are trying to sell your product to. For this approach to work you need to ooze passion for your product, be convincing and most importantly astutely empathetic…but don’t come across as desperate.
‘Yeah, I know how you feel. I felt that companies don’t use writing to their advantage. That’s why I’m writing this post, you should keep reading to find out how effective writing can help your business.’
The idealist pitch
Type of writing rings on like a John Lennon song and can be as equally persuasive. The way in which type of writing works is that you present a utopian idea to your audience, for example; ‘Imagine a great mortgage for those with no credit history’ or ‘picture a way to lose weight that involved no exercise’. You bate up the potential customer with an idealistic image of how an aspect of their life could be perfect, usually an aspect that causes them some sort of distress. Yo then dress up your product as the key to that lifestyle. Personally, I’m not a big fan of this method, it can come across a bit too flouncy and in all honesty I think that as a society we are far too cynical to really believe that there are miracle treatments to solve consumer issues; but each to their own…
The purpose of long copy is to convey as much information about a product to a reader as possible. This type of writing goes upon the presumption that you will never get a chance to vocally advertise your product, so you must include all the information that is required to answer all of your readers questions about a product. Due to the fact that this is often the only chance to convert a reader into a customer, a piece of long copy will be loaded with facts, figures and sometimes even testimonials, all put together to ensure that no questions are left unanswered and that your customer is hooked by your product.
This is a highly successful method of writing but it doesn’t always translate well to website design. Often there isn’t enough space or enough time for a reader to be loaded will the full spiel without losing interest or funding the wealth of information too overwhelming to digest all at once.
Direct from the source
‘The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife.’- David Ogilvy
As the Ogilvy quote above suggests, this is a method that has evolved from direct mail and been digitally converted into emails. You know those emails that you get that are somehow directly addressed to you by name, recommending you a product or service, well that’s what this sort of writing is. When done well, constructing a newsletter or mailing out to your customers like this can be brilliant; it presents the idea that you care about who the text is addressed to, that there is a more personal of interest between the two of you. On the other hand many of these emails manage to find their way into spam bins, so think carefully how you will craft this one to be effective.
Obviously, relying strictly on these forms to create effective copy won’t cut it alone. There is an element of flair and technique that you need to add to really hit home with your companies copy, but knowing the different mediums you have at your disposal is invaluable when it comes to deciding where to begin in creating effective copy that leads to sales.
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