A simple lesson in copywriting for online businesses
You hear the term thrown around all over these days – “copywriting”. Not to be confused with “copyrighting”, of course. Half my neighbors and some of my friends (still) think I hole up in my office 10 hours a day dealing with intellectual property law or busting out scofflaws pirating copyrighted material from the internet.
Ah, to lead such a glamorous life! Not quite.
Copywriting, in a nutshell
Copywriting, as I explain to anyone who will listen, is crafting words to persuade the reader, listener, or viewer to act. In other words, writing to persuade the reader to buy your product or service.
Copywriting is selling with words, online or off. It sounds a lot easier than it is, which is why a lot of small businesses attempt to do it themselves and save money paying a professional.
Copywriting 101: 7 essential components
If you think you have a flair for writing, and do decide to go it alone, here are 7 essential components (in order):
- Always, always focus on the needs of your reader. Try to get inside your reader’s mind, and write from the perspective of what he or she would want to hear. The biggest mistake I see in non-professional copywriting is writing from the standpoint of the seller, which is natural, but doesn’t sell as well.
- Make sure your headline has a big idea – a compelling promise that not only grabs the reader’s attention, but offers something specific (more on that in a future post.) Oh, and make sure you have a headline! Yes, even on web pages. This is the 2nd mistake I see most often.
- Write clear, concise, conversational copy. Focus on the main idea and don’t be superfluous. Write the way people talk, and the way they want to be talked with. Web Content Copywriting is a division of Conversational Writing, LLC, whose tagline, is “Clear, concise, conversational copy – that sells.
- Show the reader how your product or service will specifically benefit from your product or service. Mistake #3 is rattling off a bunch of features (most often in bullet point form.) Don’t do that. In fact, go further and hit “deeper benefits” that really strike a nerve and get at what I call “core emotions”.
- As all the good folks from Missouri would say, “show me!” Give your reader proof that backs up what you’re saying.
- Tell your readers what to do. Mistake #4 I see is general confusion. Nothing is obvious – make sure a reader knows exactly what to do at each stage of the online sales process. This is where a good professional copywriter is worth his or her weight in gold! If you can do it effectively, more power to you.
A primer on copywriting for small (and large) businesses
So, there you have it. 7 essential components to effective copywriting that does its job: gets your prospects to buy. Do it right, and your copy will sing. Do it not-so-right, and your marketing may fall flat.
Don’t have time to mess with it? Professional copywriters (good ones, that is) will deliver a big return on your investment. We’re easy to find. Just don’t confuse us with those guys who went to law school for intellectual property.