By Marcia Yudkin
Whether consumers or business buyers, people today are skeptical and tight with their discretionary money. If customers have been slow to sign up for your paid offerings, try these practical copywriting exercises to increase the persuasive power of your marketing pitches.
1. For your company, think up reasons why people might think youre not good enough to deserve their business. Explain why those are, on the contrary, excellent reasons to buy from you.
2. Estimate your companys positivity score by giving yourself one point for every upbeat, sunny-side-up web page, article, blog post, etc. and one minus point for each instance of complaining, criticism, gloom or loathsomeness. After adding everything up, you should normally arrive at a solidly positive number. If not, make plans to shift your tone.
3. Find factual statements that youve written as if their significance to the customer is obvious. Give each such statement the So what? treatment. Ask And whats good about that? or Why is that a good thing? If your answers clarify the appeal of your statement, flesh out what you had written with clearer, more explicit implications.
4. Before finalizing a sales page, letter or postcard, pause to consider both the psychological and practical stakes involved if the recipient fails to take action. For example, they may become liable for fines and penalties, they may remain stuck with an unsolved problem or they might always be wondering what would have happened if theyd taken a certain risk. If you can work such issues into the piece without becoming cheesy, do so.
5. Have three people who dont know you or your business visit your web site and guess your average transaction size. If the guesses surprise you, make adjustments to the wording, design or order forms on the site and ask again.
6. Imagine that guarantees were declared illegal. Think of five things you could do that youre not currently doing to strengthen customers confidence in your company. Then go ahead and do at least three of those things anyway.
7. Use the Supreme Court Nominee Test on your marketing copy. Is there anything that the opposition party could challenge as exaggerated, unsupported or downright false? If so, change it or take it out.
8. Reread your sales copy from the point of view first of someone super-cautious, second, someone super-skeptical and third, someone who likes to go wild wondering What if? Make any changes needed to keep those people interested in buying from you.
9. Reread your web site and other marketing materials, and describe everything you can think of that your reader would naturally expect because of what you wrote. Then ruthlessly evaluate whether or not you fulfill those promises. If you fall short, adjust either your marketing copy or your services.
10. If you have a business plan, proposal or do-or-die sales page, ask colleagues to read it with a highlighter pen in hand, marking the three most compelling sentences in it. Chances are, these provide clues about how to capture attention for your message and explain it quickly.
11. Ask your five most recent new clients what feelings triggered them to seek your services. Appeal to those feelings in your marketing copy to establish rapport.
12. When looking for a concise little zinger, make a list of conventional ideas, clichs, misimpressions and boring sayings about what youre promoting. Then look at them slowly one by one to see what kind of twist you can put on it.
About the Author: Marcia Yudkin, a mentor for copywriters and marketing consultants, is the author of 6 Steps to Free Publicity and Meatier Marketing Copy, from which this article is adapted. Learn about her Marketing Insight Guides series on copywriting, persuasion, marketing: