I work with design agencies, website builders and clients, and it’s easy for me to see that one of the key bottlenecks in any project can be the copy.
Why does this happen?
Agencies often don’t have their own dedicated copywriter, which means the job of writing the copy will be given to the designer or marketing specialist, or passed back to the client.
And sure, anyone can write some words to go on a page that talks about your business, but there’s an art to crafting copy that makes people want to buy what you have to sell.
So if copy is holding up your project, I’ve got some tips that can help get you back on track:
Tip 1 – Make some notes before you start writing
It’ll make it easier for you to write the copy you need if you’ve jotted down some key points about your business first.
Write down the answers to these three questions:
- Why do people buy from you?
- What makes you different?
- Why don’t people buy from you?
Once you know these things you can keep referring back to them when writing your copy – have you addressed the concerns of your customers and told them what makes you different?
Tip 2 – Plan out the key points first
It doesn’t matter if you are writing a home page, bio, product description or ‘about us’ page, it’ll be easier to write if you have spent some time planning what you are going to write before you start writing.
Write out your key points and then insert your notes from Tip 1 beneath each relevant section.
My copy follows a template or formula, so I know I’ve covered all the key points each time, and it goes something like this:
WHAT WE’RE ABOUT
WHAT MAKES US DIFFERENT
HOW WE DO WHAT WE DO
Want a copy of my template for your own writing? Send me an email and I’ll shoot it over – email@example.com
Tip 3 – Break the task into sections
Don’t try to achieve the impossible – you’re not going to be able to write all the copy at once. Writing good copy takes hours or even days, so give yourself time to get it right.
Work on one page at a time and set yourself mini goals – one day you could write your notes, the next day flesh out the structure, then the only thing left to do is join the dots and write the copy.
Tip 4 – Write from scratch
Sure, it may seem easier to just rework what’s already there, but take it from me, that’s a bad idea.
From time to time we’ll be asked to rework someone else’s copy, and invariably it takes longer and is less effective than if we’d written it from scratch.
Why? Because you’re working with restrictions.
Doing the design first can cause the same problem, so if you can get your copy done before sending it to the creative people, you’ll get a much better result.
When I work with digital marketing agencies, we almost always write the copy before they even think about starting the design, and you should do the same if you can.
Tip 5 – You only need one ‘Call to Action’
Your Call to Action, or CTA is the section of your copy where you ask the customer to take the next step – to call, enquire, get a free quote, ask for a demo, get in touch, buy now, shop online, find a store, etc.
Most businesses only need the one main CTA, so work out what it is and reuse it throughout your copy.
It’s a good idea to reword the CTA so not every button reads ‘Get in touch’, but by using the same action again and again you’ll reinforce the message and make your job a little bit easier.
Tip 6 – Less is more
It’s A LOT easier to read short sections of text than long blocks. So avoid writing a novel and keep things short and sweet.
You can use bullet points in your copy to keep things even shorter, in fact we often use bullet points because they’re super easy to read.
And try to keep paragraphs to less than 4 lines long.
Here’s a couple of examples (we only wrote one of these, see if you can guess which):
The first example uses short, sharp headlines and small blocks of text:
And our second example has a simple headline (with a possibly contentious claim?) and a large block of text:
Note: I actually love both of these builders – their copy isn’t a reflection of the quality of their homes. But it’s much easier to read one of their websites, which means they’re more likely to engage potential customers and then turn them into clients.
Tip 7 – Get someone else to help
You don’t need to do it alone. Enlist a friend, colleague, even the office junior to help with two key elements:
- Bouncing ideas around at the start, and
- Proofreading at the end.
When you’re making your notes prior to writing your copy (see Tip 1) it can help to talk with someone else who knows your business to get their ideas, plus they may think of something you’ve missed.
And at the end you’ll need to proofread, so get someone to look over what you’ve written and give you feedback. You may want to choose someone who is good at grammar for this task.
The Saving Grace
If you’ve followed all these tips but the copy is still holding you back, then there is another option. I’ve been helping companies get their message straight for years, so if you’d like to outsource your copy just get in touch and I’ll make your copy issues disappear.
Reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Extra bonus tip: if you’re really struggling, pour yourself a big glass of red before you sit down to write – it can really improve your confidence 😉 just remember to proofread the next day.
So you need to write about your business.
Your first thoughts might be to start with
And that’s ok, as long as you use them sparingly.
But the best way to write for your business is to ‘flip the focus’ – make your words about your customers, not about you.
- Use “You, you’re, and your” as much as possible (but make sure you’re using the correct version).
- Talk about their needs, situation, challenges, hopes etc rather than writing about how “we do this and we do that and we’re the best etc”. You’ll likely need to use “we” at some point, but just keep it in the “how” section of your copy i.e. “Thankfully, there is a solution. At X Company, we can solve your challenges by…”
- Write with the customer in mind – what would they be looking for? They probably don’t care about the fact your company started plumbing in 1927. They’re more likely to want to know if you’re professional, reliable, affordable and can come in the next hour.
- Avoid huge blocks of text. You’re not a novelist – so don’t write in huge paragraphs. They’re hard to read, look visually difficult and often cause readers to skim-read, missing great info that they could otherwise benefit from.
- Cut out the ‘fluff’ and get to the point. They’ve made it to your site, so don’t tell them more about their problem, tell them how you’re going to fix it.
Focusing on them should lead to more engagement and better results.
Want me to look over your copy? Send it over to email@example.com and I’ll give you a couple of tips to help you get on the right track.
Being fresh and new to sales is terrifying and thrilling, all at the same time. The prospect of making great money, having autonomy, being out of the office all day and meeting great people certainly has its appeal.
But there’s another side to sales, one that isn’t all big commissions and expensive lunches.
That’s the part of sales that means hard work and getting knocked down from time to time, and while I look back on my time in sales as one of the best periods of my working life so far, I’m the first to admit it wasn’t all sunshine and roses.
Here’s what I know now, but didn’t know when I was just a pimply-faced 20-year old with an ill-fitting, green microfiber suit and huge smile:
1. Big commissions get paid for big effort
The huge 5 or 6 figure commission payments don’t come in your first year. Or your second year (unless you’re selling something that pays unusually well).
Big commission cheques get paid to sales people that do the hard yards, calling 10 to 20 new prospects every day, having 10 – 15 meetings or more per week. If you ever want to see 4, 5 or even 6 zeros on your pay slip, you need to be putting in the effort.
2. The big deals don’t come to you (you have to find them)
This carries on from point 1. If you’re not on the phone, knocking on doors or booking appointment after appointment, you’ll never come across the relationships that then build into big deals. Getting an inbound phone call for a deal that pays $50,000 commission is a rarity. You’ve got about the same chance as being hit by lightning. So, get out there and pound the pavements; find those client relationships that you can build into something great.
3. Every problem is YOUR problem
This one was the hardest to learn:
“the installers stuffed up”
“the delivery won’t be here on time”
“the director can’t sign your deal this afternoon – she’s not in the office”
“the connection is down”
When you’re the interface between the client and the business you work for, and you’re the one who knows everyone and has influence, you’re the one who’ll get called by the client when something isn’t right. You’re also the one who’ll have to drop everything, be humble and sort things out.
I’ve had calls on Sunday afternoons while at the park with my kids or Monday nights at dinnertime and I’ve had to make phone calls to the right people to get problems sorted out. You’re the one with the big salary, the flexible schedule and the big comms payments, so you’re also the one who needs to play diplomat and get things fixed when stuff goes wrong. Be brave, honest, and fix problems quickly.
4. Your client is the most important person in your (working) life
Sure, family does come first. Absolutely. But when you’re at work and work pays the commission, your clients are the most important people you speak to. Not your boss, and not your co-workers.
I’m not saying you need to suck up to your clients and worship them like they’re Greek gods (they’d probably tell you to get lost). But I am saying that you need to be responsive. You need to do what you’ve said you’ll do. You’ll need to ask the hard questions and make big requests of your own boss or people at your company to make things happen.
If a client doesn’t feel like you’re on their team, they aren’t going to give you the big deals to quote on either. Hard work and unwavering support of your client’s genuine needs are what will build an unbreakable client relationship that will pay handsomely over time.
5. If you’re afraid of people, get over yourself (or get a new job)
It’s ok to be an introvert and work in sales, as long as you’re willing to get over yourself each and every day. I often had days when I’d get to the office and hope the phone didn’t ring and that no one would bother me. I know that’s crazy but some days I really felt like the ultimate introvert, not the fun-loving, deal-making extrovert I am the rest of the time.
The difference is, on the days when I didn’t want to call people, I’d do this…
I’d firstly call a mate for a quick chat. And then call a client I know well, to see how things are going. And you know what? By the time I’d done that, I was ready to call anyone.
It was unorthodox, but I found that if I could break the ice with a phone call to a ‘friendly’ first, I could take on any challenge by phone, including cold-calling for leads.
As the famous saying goes… “feel the fear, and do it anyway.”
6. No one cares about how much you sold last quarter
There’s nothing more humbling (or deflating, depending on how you look at it), than getting in to work for the first Monday 8am sales meeting after the end of a cracking sales quarter to know that:
(a) Your sales from last quarter are from last quarter. No one cares now, this is ‘this quarter’.
(b) And that you’re back at ZERO again.
The only way to make these fresh starts easier is to have a huge pipeline of deals you’re working on (see points 1 & 2). It also ensures that you’re not facing point 7 while in the same meeting…
7. Nothing hurts more than losing
Yep. The numbers don’t lie: you either hit your target or you didn’t. That’s it.
And if you didn’t, then it’s a sucky time to be sitting amongst your peers in an 8am sales meeting at the start of a new quarter.
What’s worse? I’ll tell you – it’s the previous Friday morning when you didn’t have an “I’M GOING TO LUNCH” sign above your desk like all the other sales people who’d hit target for the quarter. And you knew that you weren’t going to be able to close any more deals before the day is out.
Yes, I missed lunch (a couple of times). It’s sucks, hard.
If this is you, then you need to do 2 things:
(a) You need to give yourself a good talking to about what went wrong and why. It’s a good idea to do this over the weekend so that you’re not making crummy excuses in Monday’s sales meeting.
(b) You need to get a plan for getting yourself back on track. It’s called ‘activity’. Own the phone. Be out of the office at meetings. Start earlier, stay later, do whatever you need to do to get your pipeline absolutely pumping again.
BONUS TIP: Do shit today.
Don’t put stuff off until tomorrow.
Every single day you don’t get a quote out to a client or don’t make 20 phone calls for the day is a day you’ll never get back and a future where you won’t get to enjoy the spoils of having worked hard.
If you really want to succeed in sales, then take it from someone who’s had huge wins and catastrophic losses, do shit today.
Sales is an absolute cracker of a career to have. You’ll never get to meet so many interesting people, nor have so many crazy/fun/scary/invigorating experiences in any other job. Just take it from me that if you’re starting out in sales, focus on the important things, do the hard work and everything else will take care of itself.
Oh, and you’ll one day be a seasoned salesperson too.
Want more sales and copywriting tips? Then don’t miss another blog post by subcribing to my blog below.
You’ve launched your new website….
It’s great, it’s shiny and you’ve even got a FREE offer on there to help get your first enquiries.
You pay for some online ad traffic to get a heap of the right people seeing your offer… and…. Nothing.
In a pit of despair, you begin asking yourself:
“What’s wrong with these people?”
“It’s FREE! Why aren’t they taking it?”
“Is there something wrong with my site?”
All of these questions and more go flooding through your mind as your $100 ad budget for the day disappears with nothing to show for it.
The right thing to do, is to stop your ads and start looking at some of the basics.
It’s likely you’ve missed something simple – that’s now turning people away without them feeling compelled to engage with you.
Let’s look at your brand, your copy and your offer.
#1. Your website doesn’t tell them it’ll solve their problems
If you think that writing one gimmicky headline and putting a whole heap of text below it on a page will get people signing up to your offer, you’re just going to waste your money and a lot of time.
In conversion copywriting (direct marketing) you learn that the #1 thing on every page of your website should be your headline. It needs to instantly capture the reader’s attention, otherwise they’ll click away.
Your headline needs to do 3 things:
1. It needs to say what you ACTUALLY DO – if you stop toilets from leaking, you need to actually say that, in the headline.
2. It needs to add a benefit (if you can) – like “We stop toilets leaking, fast” or “We’ll stop your toilet leaking, anytime day or night”.
3. It needs to give the reader a reason to keep reading…
Writing this all in 8 words or less is difficult, that’s why we spend so much of our time writing and rewriting the headline until we ‘nail it’.
Try writing 20, 30, even 50 headline variants until you find one that’s absolutely perfect and does all three things.
#2. Your copy isn’t short, sharp and straight to the point
In this day and age of distracted minds and a flood of offers each day, it can be hard to capture people’s attention for any length of time.
Which is why your copy needs to get to the point…. FAST.
You need to say what problem is you solve, how you solve it, why you’re special and then make an offer for them to get it solved by you.
This has to happen in as FEW WORDS AS POSSIBLE.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Write your full page, including all of the good things about your product / service and how it solves the customer’s problem.
2. Walk away from it for half a day, longer if possible.
3. Read through your copy and remove as many ‘extra’ words as you can. If you can say something in 9 words instead of 12, make it 9 words. If you can do better and still get the point across, then do better.
4. Make sure the page still ‘flows’ and makes sense. You’re taking your prospect on a conversational journey, so make it a journey without bumps or hold-ups.
Whatever you do, just get to the point quickly.
#3. Your FREE offer isn’t really worth it
This is a BIG ONE. Often people put up offers on their site for a ‘Free ebook’ and expect hundreds of conversions (sign-ups or actions taken). Only to be gravely disappointed after hundreds of visitors and not a single sign-up.
If you’re offering something that’s not of tremendous or helpful value, people aren’t going to care. Especially when they’re handing over their contact details to an ‘unknown’ like yourself.
So make your offer special. And valuable. And fully worth their signup.
If it’s a free ebook, then make the ebook so damn good that people would happily pay $20 for it. If you’re offering something free to get more bookings at your mechanic’s workshop, then offer a free car wash and vacuum. It’s something that’s actually valuable that people would want.
#4. Your business name is…. [‘cough’] terrible
This is a hidden trap.
It’s not hidden to the people who see your site however – it’s hidden to you.
Unfortunately, it’s all too common that people get emotionally attached to a name and then fulfil ‘all of their business dreams’ by using it.
Let me make up some names for you here to show you what I mean:
Kwik Kuts (a hairdresser)
Tregado Flow (a plumber)
Jane’s Twinky Toes (a nail salon)
Use a name that incorporates what you do. And for goodness’ sake, spell it correctly using normal English.
If you’re starting a consulting firm that charges $500 per hour, you’re going to lose customers before they even speak with you if your business name is hard to pronounce or hard to spell.
Make it easy for people (boring and simple is ACTUALLY a good thing).
#5. You don’t tell them what happens after they subscribe / enquire
This is a critical one. When you put your details into a website contact box, you want to know what happens next right? So do your prospects.
When are they going to call me?
Are they going to call or email me?
What will they do next?
Are they going to email me the report or do I need to download it?
Don’t leave people guessing – it’ll halve your conversion rate. Here’s an example of what to do:
“To get a FREE [insert offer] today, simply leave your details below and one of our friendly staff will call you ASAP”
“To download your FREE guide, enter your details below and we’ll send it to you via email straight away”
See? Both tell them what to do (enter details) and what happens next. No guessing, and a better conversion rate.
Get your conversion rate UP and learn how to write for better sales results
Just implementing these 5 things today will help you increase your enquiry rate and potentially keep your business trading (rather than losing money wondering what’s wrong).
For more information on writing concisely to get more sales, check out my article on Marketing Magazine Australia. It’s been shared more than 100 times…
This FRIDAY, I’m a guest speaker at the Young Entrepreneurs Project here in Cairns.
It’s their ‘Deep Dive into Marketing’ and I’m going to be talking about…. you guessed it, #Copywriting
I’m keen to help young entrepreneurs here in Cairns and FNQ to tell their story more effectively and get results.
Come along to CQUni Cairns Campus this Friday to join in and learn how to sell like a pro.