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10 Tips for Writing Good Sales Copy

Writing an ad? The tips below -- and the important warning that follows -- will help you to get the very best response.

  1. Start by choosing a single benefit of your product or service that you wish to highlight above everything else. This is your "principle selling position". To choose this, ask yourself what specific benefit makes your product or service different, better, or special. Is it the price?, the convenience? the reliability? How are you different from your competitors?

  2. Write attention-grabbing headlines. This is very important. People are overloaded with information, so they skim read -- particularly on the Internet. If your headline doesn't get their attention everything else may go unread. Your headline will often highlight your principle selling position.

  3. Write a list of all the features of your product or service then translate each of these into a benefit for the customer. One way to do this is to look at each feature in turn then ask yourself "So what?" Imagine you're a customer; why should you care about this feature? Ask yourself, "What will it do for me?"

    For example, don't just say that you product is fast (a feature) tell the customer that it will give them more free time (a benefit). Better still, paint a picture of them using their free time to go to the beach, read a book, or relax.

  4. Write copy that emphasises the benefits in a way that makes an emotional connection. For example, let's say you're selling toothpaste. A feature might be that it contains fluoride. Sure, but that's boring. Rather, say it "Lessens Tooth Decay!" or even better: "Brush with Boffo and Avoid the Dentist's Drill!" See? You've turned a dull feature into a strong emotional benefit linked to people's fear of dental procedures. Isn't that more effective than "Contains fluoride"?

  5. Start with your strongest selling points. The first few paragraphs are particularly important. Use them to create a desire for your product or service by briefly touching on the major benefits it will bring the customer. You don't have to go into too much detail up front as you can expand on these benefits later. Do try to get your big guns in early, though.

  6. Testimonials sell. Good, believable testimonials from real people will help sales, particularly on the web where establishing credibility is a tough job. For even better credibility, ask your testimonial writers if you can include their contact details along with their testimonial.

  7. Write with a natural style. Don't try to be pretentious or over friendly. Just write it the way you'd say it.

  8. Decide who you're writing for and why. What tone are you trying to convey: light hearted or serious? What level of jargon are you going to employ? Suit your language to your intended audience.

  9. The final sales pitch can be strengthened with some or all of the following techniques:

    • A good deal; e.g. "20% off".
    • Urgency; e.g. "This week only".
    • Risk free; e.g. "Comes with a money-back guarantee!"

  10. End by telling the reader what to do; e.g. "Ring now" or "Click here to order now for immediate delivery". Needless to say, ordering details must be clearly visible and simple to follow.

Looking at these tips, it may seem that good advertising involves manipulating the emotions of your customers. Yes, it does. Selling is a blatant form of emotional manipulation that involves convincing your customer that they want to buy your product or service, and they want to do it now.

Is this unethical? Well, it can be. It depends where you draw the line. In point 9 I said that your sales message could include a sense of urgency. A common ploy on the web is to include a claim like "Offer closes this Saturday". If you go back to the site the following week, though, the offer is still available. If you were tricked by such a claim, would you order from that company again?

So, by all means, use the tips above to write as persuasively as you can, but remember that if you attract sales by deceiving your customers you risk legal action, poor word of mouth, no repeat business and refund requests.

So, be as persuasive as you can possibly be, but avoid the temptation to be "too" persuasive.


Written by Tim North. You'll find over 200 tips like this in Tim North's much applauded e-book BETTER WRITING SKILLS. It's just $19.95 and comes with a 90-day, money-back guarantee. Download a sample chapter here.



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