Before we go into the do’s and don’ts in writing a sales copy, it is imperative to learn the basic structure of it. The body copy of an advertisement or sales letter generally consists of three sections:
1st Paragraph: Explain or reiterate headline
2nd Paragraph: Extend on the 1st paragraph, expand on the theme, and build on other sales points
3rd Paragraph: Wind up the sales messages and give a course of action
Following this structure will give you a good organization and logical flow of content to ensure your message is easily understood. The structure is like the bones. Without the bones, your sales copy will not hold any meat.
Now we can look at the general guidelines I learned from my teacher – Allein Moore, a well-known copywriter who has won over 40 creative awards, on how to write a sales copy.
- Keep sentences short and succinct. The shorter the copy, the better it is. People tend to lose focus on long copy.
- Use familiar language. The objective of your copy is to communicate your sales message, not to impress.
- Break up the copy with paragraphs with indents. It makes the copy easier to read. If you have a long copy, put in subheads to highlight fresh thoughts or directions. People who simply skim the copy will get the general idea.
- Keep the line length readable. It should neither be too short, nor too long. 8-15 words are ideal. Short lines means you have to keep breaking the works, while too long makes the poor reader move his head from side to side. Undoubtedly, it can be longer at times to deliver the impact. Address and information lines can stretch across a page too.
- Keep the spacing tight so the words flow together. If your art director needs another word or a cut to help keep the spacing nice and tight, oblige him.
- Choose the right typeface that is comfortable to read and set the size to be legible to people over 40. Each typeface has its own personality. Generally, hard hitting communications or masculine products seem to demand sans serif typefaces, whereas gentle words or feminine products are usually expressed in serif typefaces.
- Plan what you want to say. Assemble your thoughts before you start writing.
- Be conversational. Use the word “you” or “your”. This helps the reader feel that he or she is the one to whom you are talking. Make yourself friendly by using “we” or “our”. Use contractions like “don’t” instead of “do not”, “won’t” instead of “will not” to make it less formal.
- Lay the copy out as an ad. Whether you write the copy on the computer or by hand, lay it out like an advertisement. Put in the headline in a large bold type. Handwrite or type the paragraph indents if any. You can even create columns. This trick will stop you from writing too much copy and give you a better feel for the words and the ad overall.
- Ensure the spelling is right.
- Use the right tone of voice. You need to talk to the potential client in the tone of voice that is comfortable and in sync with the product or service.
- Start with the reader, not yourself. Always remember you are writing to sell the reader, not to please yourself or to win awards. It is the reader, the potential buyer whom you must address.
- Use bridging words, such as furthermore, lastly, etc., to ensure a smooth and seamless transition from one thought to another.
- Remember the call to action, address line and logo.
- Proofread. All writers make errors, be it spelling error, grammatical error, typographic error, or a numerical error. No matter how many times you read the copy you wrote, the mind tends to follow your intended message and does not record the errors. You need an outsider to carefully read your copy. That is the role of a proofreader.
- Show off with long, flowery words. Again, you are in a communication business.
- Overuse famous quotations, cliché and puns.
- Use capital letters in the text and use capital letters for brand name. It upsets the reading flow. The art director will hate it because it spoils the look of the ad.
- Be tied to your school books. In advertising copy, it is okay to break the rules of grammar, as long as your reader gets your message.
- Mislead the public or make untrue claims. Be honest and make it believable.
Now that you have learned about sales copy writing and is capable of producing a powerful one. In the next article, we are going to discuss how to write a powerful tagline that will make your business skyrocket.
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