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The biggest mistake copywriters make

Most of the sales pieces people ask me to rewrite seem to offer great products and services. In fact, some of their offers are so good, prospects would be crazy to turn them down. But they do. And these sales pieces end up falling in my lap because they're desperately unproductive.

One of the biggest problems I see in these pieces is the fact that the copy is stale, limp and anemic.

Copywriting is "Salesmanship in Print"

This is nothing new. It comes from the ageless teachings of the masters, like Hopkins, Barton, Collier, et al, which still ring true today.

Writing copy is like face-to-face selling. And when writing copy, the lack of human interaction takes away the emotional element in the selling process. A sales message must therefore communicate that emotion that so empowers people to buy.

Often, the challenge is not with the offer itself but with the language, the tone and the "voice" of the copy.

You may have a great product, but your copy must be effective enough to make its case and present its offer in an irresistibly compelling way.

Problem is, some sales messages get so engrossed in describing the companies, the products and the features of their products that they fail to appeal to the reader specifically.

It's understandable. Businesspeople are often so tied to their businesses or products that they get tunnel vision and fail to look at their copy from their readers' perspective.

Understandable, yes. But not excusable.

My advice? Be benefit-rich, of course. But more important, be ego-driven when describing those benefits.

Appeal to Their Ego

People buy on emotion. Even when selling to other businesses, people are still the ones okaying the deal, whipping out their credit cards or signing the checks. And people always buy for personal, selfish reasons.

Copy using convoluted, complex, highfalutin language doesn't sell product. I'm talking about third person, impersonal, high horse, "holier than thou," ego-stroking corporate-speak. (In here, I'm referring to the seller's ego, not the buyer's.)

The fact remains that companies and websites and committees and C-Level titles are NOT the ones that fork out the money, issue the purchase orders or sign the checks.

People do.

Don't be shy or afraid in being personal, conversational and emotional with your copy. Of course, I'm not talking about being so lackadaisical with your grammar and your spelling to the point that English majors want to burn you at the stake for heresy.

(Although, your copy might infuriate some purist grammarians. Unless you target scribes and grammarians specifically, these people are not, and never will be, your clients. Clients are the ones that matter.)

And I'm not talking about being crude, uttering profanities or using a style that's so laid back, you appear as if you are on anti-depressants.

I mean copy that goes "for the jugular," is down to earth and is straight to the point. Copy that relates to your audience at an intimate level -- not an educational or socio-economic level, but a level people can easily understand, appreciate and identify themselves with.

A level that appears as if you were a concerned, genuinely interested and empathetic salesperson making a face-to-face pitch with your prospect.

So, here are some tips.

Follow the "3 C's" Rule

Express your offer as Clearly, as Convincingly and as Compellingly as possible.

Be enthusiastic. Be energetic. Be excited about your offering, because your job is to transfer that excitement into the minds of your readers.

Use words, phrases and imagery that help paint vivid mental pictures. When people can visualize the process of doing what you want them to do, including the enjoyment of the benefits of your offer, you drive their actions almost instinctively.

You need to denominate, as specifically as possible, the value you bring to the table. And how what you bring to the table will meet and serve the needs of your prospect specifically.

In other words, you need to make them feel important. Write as if you were speaking WITH your prospect, right in front of them, in a comfortable, conversational manner.

When you do, your copy will imply that you understand them, you feel for them and their "suffering" (for which you have a solution), and you're ready to nurture and take care of them.

Forget things like "best," "fastest," "cheapest" and other, broad claims. Because the worst thing you can do, second to making broad claims, is to express those claims broadly.

Be specific. But also...

Be Emotional!

If you want to tell people how better or different or superior or unique your offering is, make sure you express those claims in your sales message in a way that directly benefits your buyer and appeals to her ego.

Being different is important. But don't focus on how better or unique you are. Focus on how that uniqueness directly benefits others, even to the point they can almost taste it.

Again, people buy on emotion. They always have and always will. They only justify their decision with logic, and rationalize their feelings about your offering with logic.

Once you accept and internalize that fact, you'll clearly have the first rule of copywriting (or selling, for that matter) down pat. (Plus, you'll also gain an edge over 98% of all other businesses and copywriters out there.)

Even when selling to multinational, Fortune 500 corporations, the buyers are people, not companies. Purchasing agents are people. Decision-making committees are made up of people. Even C-level executives with 6- or 7-figure incomes are people.

They are Human Beings

And people always buy for personal desires, selfish reasons and self-interested motives. Why? Because people are people. Period. It's been that way for millions of years.

And nothing's changed.

So don't try to sell to some inanimate object called a "business" or even a "prospect." A business is just brick and mortar -- or a bunch of computer chips, in the case of online businesses. And a prospect is not some name and address on a mailing list, or a "hit" on your website.

Remember that it's not businesses or prospects that fork out the money or sign the checks. It's people.

Your job is to express your offer in terms that trigger their emotions, press their hot buttons, jerk their tears, tug at their heartstrings and nudge them into taking action.

If not, you're only telling. Not selling.

About the author
Michel Fortin is a direct response copywriter and consultant dedicated to turning sales messages into powerful magnets. Get a free copy of his book, "The 10 Commandments of Power Positioning," when you subscribe to his free monthly ezine, "The Profit Pill." See http://SuccessDoctor.com/ now!

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