Most business owners, at one point or another, need a piece of copy written. It
may be for the homepage of their website, for an advertisement or for a
brochure. When they need it they either write it themselves, or hire a writer
who (hopefully) has a reputation for good writing.
Writers get paid for
knowing how to write. Copywriters get paid for not knowing how to write, but
rather, for knowing how to convince readers to act.
Personally, I am well
aware that I am not the world’s best writer (not even close…) and yet, I’ve
written copy for some of America’s best writers. Why? Well, because when you
want to push someone’s buttons in a way that will make them buy something or do
something, it’s not going to depend on the high level of words they use, but
rather on the style and underlying psychology, which is what makes good copy
And for that you need someone for whom words can be used to draw
someone closer, even if he got less than an A+ in school (Ahem!).
fact, when you write copy, you should always make sure that an eight year old
can understand every word.
Hard words are bumps in the road to a smooth
sale. You want it to be smooth, all the way from the first impression of
whatever it is, all the way to being happy with the action they ultimately
Think about what your readers want, and who they are. Think about
their pain points, and what keeps them up at night.
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Then, develop your
product as the solution to that pain.
One of my favorite diagrams is the
“good, fast cheap” triangle. It’s simple to explain, and useful in business all
the time. Some of my clients have it on their wall in their office.
draw a triangle and write one word on each corner. One corner “good,” the second
“fast” and the third “cheap.”
Then, you pick the two you offer
You never get all three when you buy something. Think about your
own experiences and you’ll see how one is always sacrificed to achieve the
others. If you get something fast and done right, it’s not cheap. If it’s both
cheap and fast, it’s fair to say that the craftsmanship is bad or work is
sloppy. And if it’s good and fast, properly done, it won’t be
Those are your selling points that are the solution to you
client’s needs that your copy is built around. Inversely, you can open a new
business or reposition an existing one by looking at what the competition is
doing well and using the alternate point as the Achilles heel to have a strong
proposition of your own that will appeal to a segment of the target market that
they cannot match.
The goal of copy, be it a long sales letter or 10
words in a clothing catalogue or describing a real estate listing, is the same:
How can I work the maximum amount of imagery as to why “I need this!” to cross
the readers mind? My friend and master copywriter Colin Theriot introduced me
years ago to “the secondary promise” and it’s that powerful.
Google the words “secondary promise” for a good explanation about it from Bob
Bly.) A strong secondary promise is an additional item, not in the headline or
the main feature, that still puts the message in their head that “even if they
don’t deliver the value they promise in the headline, this nugget alone will
make it more than worth my investment.”
(Always use the word investment
if you legally can, based on where you are – but try to skip the words “cost” or
“pay,” which people dislike. But investing in their business by buying “x,” or
investing in weight loss by buying an exercise bike – that’s something they can
hear!) Then, when you deliver both the full promise and the secondary, they are
smitten by the knowledge and insight you’ve shared, and they become loyal,
Marketing and all business really, are mind games. We
don’t need all the stuff we got; fairly recent generations (even some of us!)
survived without smartphones, tablets, computers, and even (gasp!) refrigerators
and air conditioning.
Suddenly, its “I can’t live without
How’d they do it? They took a human challenge
and introduced the solution.
They changed the way we live by making it
something horrible to be without.
Diamonds are the same way – it’s
considered horrible when someone getting married doesn’t buy a diamond
engagement ring… which, form a financial standpoint, is a bad
Ahh, but the mind games we fall for shape the way we live,
and the ways we firstname.lastname@example.org Issamar Ginzberg is a business
adviser, marketer, professional speaker and rabbi who has been published in more
than 50 business publications.
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