Writing to Sell
As a published writer and having written many Newsletters and articles for Magazines during my career as a Negotiator, I thought I would be able to jump in and start writing as a Freelance Copywriter. I had no idea what a Copywriter was, but I could write. How difficult could it be? I set up my LinkedIn account and signed up for all the Freelance Writing sites I have mentioned in my Blog. I was ready, willing and able to be a Freelance Copywriter. Hello World, here I come!
Big mistake!! Being a writer and even being able to write to communicate with people does provide you with writing skills and even skills to influence people with what you have to say. It however does not prepare you for the world of Copywriting.
As indicated in my Blogpost, So you want to be a Copywriter, ‘A copywriter is a salesperson behind a typewriter’ – Judith Charles. OK, these days, it’s a laptop or a computer. A copywriter should therefore be able to sell the products or services of his/ her clients to their potential clients and be able to do the selling with words.
Prose or the nice flowing sentences we are used to as writers will unfortunately not do the job to sell to potential clients. So, what do you do?
There is no need to panic. Remember that you already have all the necessary skills to make a success of being a Copywriter. You know how to plan, you know how to do research and you know how to write. A large number of us also know how to write towards a deadline. You have all of these skills, now you just need to learn how to market and how to sell to an audience.
Identify your Ideal Audience
The first thing you have to do when you get your first project, (to write for example some ads to sell a product), is to find out from your client who their ideal audience is. Your writing will be aimed at that audience, so you have to know who they are, right?
In my Blogpost, Identifying and Reaching your Ideal Audience, I set out how you go about determining your ideal audience. These are the people who are going to buy from you, or who are going to engage your services. By profiling your ‘ideal audience’ or Buyer Persona, you can provide structure to your marketing plan and decide how you are going to advertise your product or service online. You will find a downloadable template of a Buyer Persona under our Resources tab.
OK, now you know and understand who your customers are and what they want. You have also determined what their hopes for the future are and what their pain points are. With this information at hand you will be able to determine what will motivate them to buy your products or engage your services.
Now that you know your audience, you will have to get to know the product or service which you are intending to sell inside and out. If it’s your own business, like a Blog, or even an eBook for example, it’s easy because you should know your own product or service pretty well. (I will deal with book marketing in detail in one of my next posts).
Writing Copy to Sell
According to Bly, 2005: 64 , “The first step in writing copy that sells is to write about benefits and not about features.” For example when you design your Blog in WordPress, a feature of the software is that it allows you to write and design your Blog in a manner which is appealing to you. The benefits of this feature is however that it’s easy to use and great for Blogs, the design of your Blog is customizable, and your Blog can grow as your business grows.
Remember that when you write Copy, you need to write about the benefits of a product and not it’s features. Let’s say you are into affiliate marketing and you wish to sell WordPress to Bloggers. How are you going to do it?
There are various ways you can choose from which include, a motivating sequence (which is appropriate for a sales letter), using ‘false logic’ to make the facts support your sales argument, or using the unique selling proposition. I prefer the latter as this way allows you to concentrate on what will actually sell your product. Let’s see what the Unique Selling Proposition is.
The Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
The term, Unique Selling Proposition (USP) was coined by Rosser Reeves, who was an advertising man who got into advertising by mistake ? – he was interested in Law and History. Mr Reeves regarded the USP as crucial to any advertising campaign and indicated that once Copywriters knew what the USP of a product or service was, they would be able to launch a good advertising campaign with well written ads.
The USP, according to Mr Reeves, must follow three rules:
- The advertiser must present a definite proposition: If you buy X, you will get a specific benefit;
- The benefit must be unique to the particular product, unavailable in the products offered by competitors; and
- The proposition must be a “selling” one—that is, the benefit must be one that many people will want.
Now let’s look at our example of selling WordPress to Bloggers again. How are you going to sell your product? How about: “Serious Bloggers get WordPress which is an easy to use Blogging Platform and Customizable for each Blogger to be able to Grow their Business”. Think of your own examples and let me know what you think.
By now you should be aware of the big difference between creative writing and copywriting. If you are however a creative writer, you already have the basics under your belt so to speak. You can write, and you can motivate. Now you can use those same skills to become a paid Freelance Copywriter. Just remember the ground rules, craft your ads, brochures and sales letters to inspire action from your ideal audience and you will be successful in gaining new clients for your business.
 Bly, R.W. (2005), The Copywriter’s Handbook. 3rd edition. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, p 64.
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