Writing great marketing copy

Writing marketing copy is a very specific skill, with only a few “geniuses” at it (I’ll list some options for you at the end of this post. If you can afford it, great copy writers can make a huge difference in your profits.)

Don’t think because you are a good writer in general that you can write marketing copy. Some of the worst copywriters I’ve ever seen were good writers and editors of magazines(!) Copy that sells is entirely different from writing articles.

If you’re a so-so writer — are you doomed? Not at all! There are ways to turn a “D” or “F” level marketing copywriter into a “B” level copywriter. Not up to an “A” — that takes natural talent. But a “B” is one heck of a lot better than a “D” or “F” — so it’s well worth your time and effort. Good marketing copy can triple or quadruple your results!

AIDA your copy!

The easiest tool to use is AIDA. It stands for the 4 things your marketing copy must do — and the correct order for doing them.

#1 – ATTENTION. If your ad doesn’t capture someone’s attention, nothing else matters. The copy, the offer, the price are all irrelevant because they won’t be read. Depending on your offering and your target customer group, you do this through the headline, the lead photo, or both. Normally the headline is key. But, for example, if you’re selling a vacation getaway — the picture may be even more important.

How does your headline get attention? Shocking can work. Startling can work. But it will have to eventually be related to what they can get from your product/service. For example, I could get you to open any envelop I send you, if I just said on the envelop, “$10 bill enclosed.” But when you open it and the $10 isn’t there (and it won’t be!), I’ll be facing a lot of bad will (not to mention mail fraud charges!).

#2 – INTEREST. This is a subhead or first paragraph. Here’s where you take the startling/intriguing headline and spell out 1) what’s in it for your prospect, and 2) why s/he should care.

#3 – DESIRE. After you capture your prospects’ attention, then turn it into interest that this might be something good for them, now you must make them DESIRE the product. This is a good time to remind yourself that nobody except you cares in the slightest about your product/service. People only care what a product/service can do for THEM.

Is there a problem in your customers’ lives that your product/service can solve? Draw a picture of their life once this problem goes away. Or how much easier their life or work will be. Will they be richer? Better looking? Happier? Have more friends? Have more excitement in their lives?

#4 – ACTION. If you don’t tell people specifically the action they should take, you’ll lose about half the customers you could get otherwise! If they need to go to a website, tell them. If they should come to your store, tell them.

Also, people differ dramatically in how they prefer to take action. For example, I prefer to buy via a website checkout. Chat? Not interested. And I would rather have a tooth drilled without novocain than have to call someone to buy something. But a friend of mine very seldom buys anything without calling the company and talking to someone first. The more options you can give your potential customers, so they can act in their preferred manner, the better.

Take your skills even higher!

If you want to go beyond AIDA and shoot for even better marketing copywriting, I strongly recommend one particular book — Building a Story Brand, by Donald Miller. This book starts with your target customers and takes you through creating a tag line and a story about your brand. He frames it as if you were writing a movie, with a hero (your prospect), a villain, a problem, and your brand as Yoda (guide).

I was so impressed with this book, I took an entire class for my marketing students and had them each build a story brand for a company of their choice. The students had so much fun with it, they didn’t realize how much they were learning until afterwards!

I got a lot out of the book myself, even with my years of experience in copywriting.

Plus… if you find it works for you, Miller has a ton of free resources, including a daily free video, to help. His income comes from consulting and from paid courses he has developed around this brand.

Can’t I just pay someone??!!

Yes, of course you can.

Here is a list of “best copywriters” I’ve found on the Internet. You can google this yourself and find other choices as well.

  • Gary Bencivenga
  • Drayton Bird
  • Clayton Makepeace
  • Bob Bly
  • John Carlton
  • Carline Anglade-Cole
  • David Deutsch
  • Bill Bonner
  • Richard Armstrong
  • Frank Joseph
  • Ted Nicholas
  • Michael Masterson
  • Mike Palmer

Of this group, I’ve worked with Frank Joseph and Bob Bly and can definitely recommend both. I couldn’t find a current website for Frank’s copywriting. Bob can be reached at Bly.com.

Most important — both work in the direct response arena — both print and online — so they get results to let them know exactly what works and what doesn’t. You don’t want a copywriter who hasn’t had this experience.

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