Tag Archives: copywriting

3 Essential Copywriting Secrets for Today’s World

3 Essential Copywriting Secrets for Today’s World

Copywriting – writing to sell – is in many ways much easier than it used to be, it’s also harder, in today’s busy world. Back in day, you could write catalogue copy, or a brochure, and call it done. Today, both your catalogue copy and brochure-like websites need to be tagged with meta data, and supported with social media marketing.

Let’s look at three essential copywriting secrets for today’s busy and fragmented audiences.

1. Emotion First – THEN Make Them Think.

Arouse emotion in your audience first, THEN make them think. The old copywriting formula, AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) is based on emotion. Emotion not only grabs attention, but it also inspires action. AIDA is useless without emotion.

The easiest way to arouse an emotion is via visuals. A recent post on visual content on the Buffer blog made this point:

The brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than it does text. We are wired to take in visual content faster and more effectively than we are words. Ninety percent of the information sent to our brains is visual; we’ve been trained to consume visual content as quickly as we can.

Bigger is better with visuals – viz print magazines and social media – for two reasons: emotion, and memory.

I’m a writer, so I’m heavily focused on words, but visuals allow you to arouse emotions faster in your audience, and get them to remember more. Here’s an interesting PDF from hp on the power of visual communication.

Copywriting is persuasion, and there’s no persuasion without emotion.

2. What’s the Big Idea?

Every copywriting project depends on the power of a big idea, such as the idea (and the emotion) behind David Ogilvy’s classic Rolls Royce ad.

Your big idea is the message. You’ll leverage your message with content, so the more you consider your message, and its implications, the easier it will be to leverage.

Politicians know the persuasive power of repetition. They stay on message. You may repeat words in your copy, however, beyond words, focus on the emotion, and your big idea.

3. Leverage Your Message With Content.

Copywriting isn’t just advertising in today’s world.

From The art of adverts: How social media is changing the way companies speak to consumers:

“The guys get together in the morning and say, ‘what’s happening, what’s in the news and in the online space’,” he says. “It might be something relevant to one of our brands and we need to come up with an idea and get it out there in a short space of time.”

Today, your copy needs to be leveraged with content, in any way you can manage it.

You’re running a small business; you don’t have an advertising agency to do your social media for you. Indeed, social media can seem like a nuisance. At best, it’s an afterthought.

What if you switched that around, and made social media the focus of your advertising? Start paying more attention to social media. You may find that social media not only enhances what you spend on advertising, but helps you to spend less.

As John Wanamaker said: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

In summary, consider emotion first, then focus on your big idea, and leverage it with content. These copywriting secrets are essential today.

Enjoy Writing? Imagine Starting and Running Your Own Highly Successful Copywriting Business.

Copywriting Business: Master Class

You can earn while you learn to write copy in ten weeks. Join us in the Copywriting Master Class.

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3 Ways Copywriting Skills Can Help Your Sales

Can Copywriting Skills Improve Your Sales?

How many sales are you missing out on today? If you’re a small business person, chances are you’re not communicating as much as you could. You need copywriting skills. Not only will you communicate more clearly, you’ll communicate more. Just about every business has a mailing list; few businesses do anything with the list.

Let’s look at three ways you can use copywriting skills to help your sales.

1. You Can Grab Those Sales You’re Missing.

We mentioned your mailing list. Today, send out an email message to your list. Tell the people who want to hear from you about a new promotion you’re running. You can tell them anything you like; as long as you communicate.

Again: your customers want to hear from you, otherwise you wouldn’t have their email address. Send something.

2. You Can Create Fresh Copy to Win YOUR Customers.

If you’re using your suppliers’ copy, you’re missing out on sales. When you use the same copy all the other distributors are using, your customers are buying from the business which sells the products the cheapest.

You know your products, and you know your customers. Tell your customers stories about how other customers in their area use the products. Give them a reason to buy from you.

3. You Can Make the Most of Social Media: Have You Discovered Pinterest?

Social media isn’t sales. A copywriter’s mindset will stand you in good stead however. Pinterest makes sales, for example:

Yet another study, this one by Shopify, found that orders driven by Pinterest are substantially larger than those produced by Facebook or Twitter. In fact, at $80 per order, Pinterest even tops Google and Amazon.

Dip your toes into social media today; copywriting skills give you the confidence you need.

Check out our Copywriting Master Class, if you haven’t done so already.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Copywriting Business: Start Your New Business Today

Copywriting Business: Start Your New Business Today

Want to start a copywriting business? All you need is the willingness to write copy (advertising and other material) for clients, a little time, and your computer.

I started my own copywriting career by accident, over 30 years ago. I found I enjoyed it, and my love of writing copy hasn’t changed in all these years.

Although copywriting has changed over time, the fundamentals remain the same. Copywriting is the art of persuasion.

Copywriting Master Class: Start Your Own Copywriting Business.

We’ve just updated our popular Copywriting Master Class for 2014. Over ten weeks, you learn copywriting, as you build your business. It’s fun. You complete assignments, which build your copywriter’s portfolio.

More info here. Join us. :-)

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Copywriting Tips: The Art of Subtle Persuasion (slide deck)

Haiku Deck is huge fun to use, so I just created this desk of essential copywriting tips.

Copywriting is the art of persuasion.  These copywriting tips  will help you to persuade, and to sell. Thanks to social media, copywriting is integral to your business. Use these tips to persuade in your emails, social media postings, and in your formal marketing too.

Want to see a transcript and the deck notes? Click this link.

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Copywriting Hooks: 5 Easy and Fast Ways to Fish for Sales

Copywriting Hooks: 5 Easy and Fast Ways to Fish for Sales

Copywriting hooks are mysterious. They come to you like lightning strikes, usually when you’re engrossed with research.

It’s many years since I read Donald Westlake’s novel The Hook, but I remember the opening scenes. They made me laugh, and I identified with the main character.

Sadly, there’s no Kindle edition of The Hook yet, so forgive me if my memory of the book is faulty. An aside to Westlake’s publisher – why no digital editions? You’d think it a no-brainer. Westlake has many devoted fans, even five years after his death.

Sorry about that, end of digression.

In the opening scenes of The Hook, the protagonist, mid-list author Wayne Prentice, is trying to come up with the hook for his next book. He’s worried, because his books aren’t selling. His only option might be to create yet another name under which to write. Finding the hook for his new book obsesses him.

Those scenes immediately resonated with me, because unless a copywriter can come up with the hook for a project, he’s got nothing. You can list features and benefits until your eyeballs bleed; it’s all useless until you get your hook.

Research is the only way to find a hook. I call it “the click” – the lightning strike from heaven.

Unfortunately, you don’t have the time to do in-depth research for most projects. That’s when you need some tricks you can use to create hooks. Let’s look at five.

1. Piggyback on something in the news.

This can be a brilliant strategy. You can piggyback on anything in the news that’s even vaguely related to your product.

Blockbuster movies are useful, as are the big launches of major products. Several years ago a diet pill was released to much fanfare. If you were selling things in the weight loss area, you could piggyback onto the hype.

A couple of things to watch with news hooks…

News-related copy loses its punch when the news gets old.

Night turns to day, and news becomes old news, faster than you’d think. So never use a news hook for a marketing campaign which will be around for a while.

Consider unintended consequences.

What happens if the movie is a dud? Or the product launch is a disaster? Things can and do go wrong, so be cautious.

2. Intrigue, or arouse curiosity.

“All the world’s gold came from collisions of dead stars, scientists say” – who knew? Almost no one, so I used this weird fact when I wrote copy for a jewelry chain over a decade ago. It worked brilliantly.

I call this the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not hook. Come up with something intriguing, which suits the product, and you’re good to go.

3. Promise an experience.

Steve Jobs did it with the iPad. He called it “magical and revolutionary”:

“iPad is our most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO.

You can’t do this with every product; but if you can promise an experience, you’ve got your hook.

4. “… (something) or it’s free.”

Domino’s Pizza no longer offers its “30 minutes or it’s free” guarantee, but if you can make an offer like this with your product, it’s a fantastic hook.

Tip: if everyone’s making a free offer, it’s no longer a hook. This happened with ebooks.

Initially, offering an ebook free for a few days was a real sales driver. By mid–2012, it stopped being useful as a hook.

However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t make “free” work for your product. It just means you’ll need to give “free” a twist. Brainstorm.

5. Investigate Maslow’s pyramid of needs: sex sells.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs can inspire all the hooks you’ll ever need.

Look at the physiological needs at the base of the pyramid. They’re all primal needs. An example: FUD – fear, uncertainty and doubt; they trade on basic survival needs. That said, I suggest that you steer clear of negativity in your copy. Negativity can hurt you – remember unintended consequences in our first tip, “news”.

Sex is a primal need, so it sells. Brainstorm; you can usually find a way to create a primal-needs hook for a product.

Summing up: you’ve now got five ways to create hooks for your copywriting projects. Nothing beats in-depth research. When you don’t have the luxury to do that, these tricks will help you to create hooks which make sales.

Need help? You can contact me for help with a copywriting project any time.


, and on Twitter: @angee

Write To Sell: 5 Easy Headline Copywriting Tips Anyone Can Use

Write To Sell: 5 Easy Headline Copywriting Tips Anyone Can Use

If you’re running a small business, you need basic copywriting skills because you’re trying to get attention and persuade people all day long. In other words, you’re writing copy: email subject lines, tweets, Facebook updates, proposals, and blog titles…

Whatever you’re writing, your headline contains the most important words. The headline either grabs someone’s attention, or it doesn’t. Some copywriters spend more time on the headline than they do on the copy.

Here’s some good news. Once you discover easy ways to write headlines, all your writing becomes easier, because you’ve learned to put yourself in your audience’s shoes.

The advertising master, David Ogilvy, said of headlines:

“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

Ogilvy is amazing. Two more great Ogilvy quotes to keep in mind when you’re writing headlines:

“I do not regard advertising as entertainment or an art form, but as a medium of information.”

Headlines work well when they’re NEWS: think of your headline as the headline in a newspaper. The Mail Online does a wonderful job with headlines. If you find that Tip 5, “add emotion” is a challenge, read the Mail Online.

“If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative.”

Your headlines must be clear, so read them aloud: Tip 5.

Let’s look at our headline tips…

1. Remember WIIFM: “what’s in it for me?”

WIIFM: “what’s in it for me?” is an old copywriting acronym. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Think about your ideal customer (or your email recipient, your blog’s readers, etc.) Everyone wants to know what’s in it for them.

WIIFM must be obvious in the headline. Avoid being too “creative,” because you risk confusing your audience.

If you’re stuck on WIIFM, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs can help. You’ll see that sex is a primal need: sex truly does sell. Scan the hierarchy. You’ll figure out WIIFM very quickly.

2. Research, research, and then research some more.

When you need to write important copy, spend half your time on research. This relates to WIIFM. Not only does your headline need to make totally clear what’s in for them, ideally it also speaks to them on a level that’s relevant, right now.

3. Write LOTS of headlines.

I like to sit down (or lie on the floor) and come up with ten headlines.

When you focus deeply, your subconscious mind will get in on the act. You’ll find that an hour later, or early next morning, completely new ideas will come to mind.

The more headlines you write, the more likely it is you’ll hit on something good.

4. Add emotion.

How do you add emotion? You make your audience FEEL something.

Test your headlines on the Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer, when you think you’ve done it.

For inspiration, take a look at these classic headlines.

5. Read it aloud. (To someone else, if possible.)

Yes, read your headline aloud, firstly just so you can hear it. You’ll be surprised that this makes a difference. Some headlines seem OK, until you read them aloud.

Then read your headline aloud to someone else. Just ask whether the the headline makes sense to them. Would the ad catch their attention?

So, there you have it. Keep these headline copywriting tips in mind, not only for your next ad, but for everything you write which needs to grab attention.


, and on Twitter: @angee

Creativity Rules: Copywriting and Content Tips to Build Your Audience TODAY

Creativity Rules: Copywriting and Content Tips to Build Your Audience TODAY

We’re living in a new world; a world in which information is marketing. Creativity rules. Copywriting and content work together to build your business.

If you’re new to marketing via content, you may be wondering how it works. Or indeed, if it works at all.

Content marketing works for many businesses, in the form of “native advertising” (also known as “sponsored content”.) Companies are relying on content:

It is usually labeled advertising (sometimes clearly, sometimes not), but if the content is appealing, marketers can gain attention and engagement beyond what they might get for say, oh, a banner ad.

It’s rumored that for some content, click through rates are as high as 20 per cent, compared with the click through rate for banner advertising: 0.1 per cent.

Marketing by using information can build your business

Will content marketing work for you? It worked for “Sales Lion” Marcus Sheridan, who famously used content marketing to build his swimming pools business. From the New York Times article on Marcus Sheridan’s content strategy:

Q. Once you wrote a blog post, how much time did you spend promoting it on Twitter and Facebook?

I didn’t. Dude, that one article on price has never been tweeted. It’s never been Facebooked. I’m not saying social media doesn’t help, but it’s nowhere near what people think. The only metric that really matters is total pages viewed. Here’s a statistic for you: If somebody reads 30 pages of my River Pools Web site, and we go on a sales appointment, they buy 80 percent of the time. The industry average for sales appointments is 10 percent. So, our whole marketing campaign revolves around getting people to stick around and read our stuff, because the longer they stay on our site, the greater the chance they’re going to fall in love with our company.

Tips you can use to build your audience (and business) today

I’ve compiled some articles into a free report, Creativity Rules: Copywriting and Content Tips to Build Your Audience TODAY. Add your email address to the form in the sidebar. You’ll receive the report in your email Inbox.

Alternatively, you can view it here.


, and on Twitter: @angee

8 Easy Writing Tips to Improve Your Blogging and Make Sales

8 Easy Writing Tips to Improve Your Blogging and Make Sales

Are you making sales from your blog? You’ll have many reasons for blogging, but those reasons break down to the nitty-gritty: sales.

The following writing tips will help you to improve your blogging and SELL.

1. Think: “What’s in it for them?” (Consider the takeaway first.)

The takeaway is your readers’ reward for reading, so promise the reward in your headline.

Think about your audience. What do they need? What attracts them to your blog post? They must know WIIFM (what’s in it for me). If this isn’t obvious, they won’t read beyond the headline.

Tip: avoid cheating readers with misleading headlines. We discuss this in #5.

Your headline attracts them; your takeaway keeps them reading, and eventually, you’ll make a sale, but rarely directly. Your blog’s a publication, just like a magazine. Magazines have editorial content, and advertising. Sponsored content aims to break down the divide. As the New York Times article points out:

“In native advertising you can get double-digit click-through rates,” compared with the 0.01 percent click-through rate sometimes seen with display ads, Mr. Knapp said.

(“Native advertising” is just another label for sponsored content.)

Action Tip: write your post’s goal, and its takeaway on a sticky note before you start writing. It helps you to focus.

2. Remember your call-to-action.

Your call-to-action can be anything you like. You may ask:

  • For a comment;
  • Your readers to tweet, or pay with a tweet;
  • Your readers to contact you;
  • Your readers to check out an offering…

3. Write to be understood. (Confused readers don’t buy.)

As you know, readers skim your content. They skim the sub-heads to see what’s in it for them. Before you start writing, know what you want to say. Then write to be understood.

Dale Carnegie allegedly said: Tell the audience what you’re going to say, say it; then tell them what you’ve said.

You don’t need to go that far, but YOU need to know what point you want to make. Many blog posts start out well, then leave you with a “huh?” feeling at the end. The writer wandered off-track, and never made his point.

Short words, short sentences, and short paragraphs all help. Fast Company’s article, AN ARTICLE HAS A LIFESPAN OF 37 DAYS, AND OTHER FINDINGS FROM POCKET, makes fascinating reading.

4. Proofread… Keep a dictionary handy.

Proofread your posts, and look up words in a dictionary. Sometimes words mean the opposite of what you think they mean. This speaks to clarity, above.

5. Creative or clever? Be usefully creative.

If you use a discovery app like Prismatic, you soon get the sense that some bloggers are trying too hard: Genghis Khan’s ten rules for blogging etc. (If this is someone’s real blog post, I’m sorry. I didn’t look up the phrase on Google, so I have no idea whether someone’s written this. I apologize in advance, because someone will write this.  It’s inevitable…)

Advertising master David Ogilvy famously said, “If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative,” and “I do not regard advertising as entertainment or an art form, but as a medium of information.” Aim to be informative: useful.

Remember that your aim in blogging is to sell; creativity for its own sake is pointless, see tip #3.

6. Create a checklist for blogging.

Create a checklist for blogging. Your checklist could include:

  • Brainstorm blog post titles;
  • Create an outline;
  • Research;
  • Write the first draft;
  • Find or create graphics…

Your checklists and editorial calendar make blogging easier, and more effective, especially if you add items like: “create a goal” and “remember the takeaway.”

7. Arouse your enthusiasm. (Boredom comes across in your words.)

Are you bored? Snap out of it! Never blog when you’re feeling bored, it comes across in your words. Arouse your enthusiasm. When I feel bored, and know I need to write anyway, I read PG Wodehouse, or play a computer game. I love Wodehouse’s word play; he always inspires me.

8. Become a consistent blogger: create an Idea Bank.

Create ten ideas a day. You’ll soon have all the ideas you’ll ever need. Use Trello, it makes organizing your blogging easy.

When you deliberately force yourself to come up with ideas, and organize those ideas, you’ll become a consistent blogger. Store your ideas in Evernote, so that you can access them wherever you are.

So there you have it: eight easy writing tips to improve your blogging, and make sales.

Want more ideas? Check out Blogging Maestro.


, and on Twitter: @angee

Persuasion: The Power of “But It’s Your Decision”


How good are you at persuasion? We all need to persuade people to our point of view, whether at home or at work. If you’re a marketer or copywriter, your livelihood depends on your ability to persuade.

Persuasion can be easier than you think. Here’s a simple strategy you can use, in four words.

From Four Words That Double Persuasion:

… it turns out that reminding people they have the freedom to choose makes them much more likely to be persuaded. This technique is known as But You Are Free (BYAF). After making the request, one simply adds, “but you are free to choose.”

My favorite persuasive words are, “but it’s your decision.”

You’re stating the obvious, but it works:

  • (At home, you and your partner are deciding on a vacation destination) “I want to spend a couple of weekends hiking this summer, but it’s your decision.”;
  • (At work) “I’d like to hire someone with social marketing expertise, but it’s your decision.”

More often than not, you’ll get agreement.

According to the above article, the similarly worded, “but you are free” doubled the success rate over 42 studies.

“But you are free to choose” works well in advertising copy. You’re reminding your audience that they are free, and that they do have power.

Try it yourself. It’s a simple yet powerful strategy.

Need to develop your copywriting skills? Do it quickly, with the Copywriting Master Class.

, and on Twitter: @angee