The use of clear copy is vitally important to grab the attention of whoever you are trying to communicate with. Your brand image, sales conversions and customer services can all be improved with the use of powerful and effective copy.
The ability to clearly get your message across can directly affect how your reader thinks and what actions they take. This is not just your advertising but covers the words we use in our everyday working life such as customer emails, presentations, social media posts, job advertisements and staff training. When we get it wrong we end up with headlines like this…
The starting point for writing effective copy is to remember it’s not about you. It’s all about your reader. How does the copy affect them? What does the copy make them feel? How does the copy solve a solution for them? What do the words make them do?
We’re going to explore just a few ways that copy can be used to influence choice and decision making. Read on for some simple writing tips for effective copy
What makes copy persuasive?
First off…. you are writing for one person, make sure you keep your copy personal.
Secondly, there are three questions you should ask yourself before you start to write.
1 What do I want my reader to know?
2 What do I want my reader to feel?
3 What do I want my reader to do?
The third tip is to only have one idea and to clearly and concisely communicate this idea. Don’t muddle the reader with three or four different messages.
With all that in mind, let’s assume that I want to invite my reader to a training event and I ask myself the three questions…
What do I want them to know. I want them to know about my amazingly flexible training solutions that deliver training at their premises, at times that suits them.
How do I want them to feel? I want them to feel curious and intrigued about the training. I could do this by asking them something like ‘’What if I could map out your entire business plan on one sheet of paper? Or I could make them feel angry “Your competitors have clear business plans, why don’t you?”
Persuasive copy works by making us want something we may not actually need, most of us have said at some time ‘’I don’t actually need it but I bought it anyway’’ By combining effective copy with clever targeting of your data you can present your prospect with exactly what they need, at exactly the right time to solve their training needs.
Finally, I want to clearly signpost what I want my reader to do next which, in this example, is to sign up to attend the training event. I can do this by adding a ‘Register’ button to my website, add a link to a sign up page or print a phone number…in fact, anything that makes it easy for my reader to access my offer.
To urge us to act quickly copy can play on our Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) you’ll see this in headlines that places a deadline or limits the supply such as ‘only 50 remaining’’ or ‘’for one week only’’.
How do I make my copy deliver my objectives?
There are several formulas that you can use to help you with this. First, let’s consider AIDA. Attention, Interest, Desire and Action.
Attention – open with a bang, state a fact or ask a question
Interest – show the features and benefits, explain what you’re offering and how it can help
Desire – paint a picture of what life could be like with your offering or solution.
Action – spur your reader into action by clearly telling them what to do next
Virgin Atlantic produced this advert using the AIDA formula
Attention – There’s an attention grabbing headline. ‘’No ordinary sale. No ordinary airline’’
Interest – My interest is piqued because there are ‘’Fantastic fares to amazing destinations’’…like where?
Desire – I want to experience the ‘’best on board experience flying to more places…the airline that flies in the face of ordinary.’’ Who wants the second best flying experience on an ordinary airline? Not me.
Action – Finally, I know what I need to do to book a flight. ‘’Tap to find flights’’ there’s also a bit of FOMO thrown in with a time limit ‘’sales ends 22 January’’
What other copy tips can I use?
PAS – this stands for Problem, Agitate, Solution. Here’s how this might work
Problem – My team need training but the course is expensive.
Agitate – When you add in hotel and travel time and expenses the training becomes cost prohibitive
Solution – TrainDirect come to you. We bring everything we need to train your staff, you get personal one to one training that is lost with online training and you don’t have to take time out of your busy day to travel.
PAS is powerful copy formula because people will do what they can to avoid pain, hassle and disruption. Charities have used the PAS formula in much of their advertising. This WaterAid advert presents a problem and agitates our emotions by showing us images that evoke a strong reaction and uses words that are emotionally charged.
Is my copy credible?
One of the most famous ads to use the PAS formula was the Pfizer advert for Viagra featuring Pele. At the time , erectile dysfunction was a largely taboo subject for open discussion.
This advert highlights the issue ‘’erection problems’’ and then agitates the issue by pointing out that these problems ‘’don’t just affect your love life’ and finally offers a solution by encouraging the reader to call for a free information pack. Interestingly, at this stage of the product life cycle, the word Viagra is not mentioned at all.
The celebrity endorsement by a world respected football player strengthened the message and provided the ad with ‘ethos’ or credibility. Ethos is an effective persuasive strategy. When we believe the speaker doesn’t mean us any harm we are more willing to listen to them and more likely to trust the product they are promoting.
Features and benefits….so what?
Listing out every feature of your product is not going to win many extra sales and you’ll probably end up boring the pants off of your reader before they reach the end of your list. Listing out the top benefits of using your product will have more of a positive effect but still isn’t going to grab their attention or change their behaviour. The most effective way to engage your reader is to appeal to a deeper, emotional based benefit. To understand what this is you need to ask yourself one question….so what?
Let’s see how this might work in practice. Here is a list of features
This phone has great network coverage….so what?
This phone has voice mail…so what?
This phone has a lithium-ion battery…so what?
Lets add some benefits and ask the so what question again.
This phone has great network coverage….you can answer calls on the move…so what?
This phone has voice mail…your caller can leave a message….so what?
This phone has a lithium-ion battery…for long lasting performance….so what?
Finally, let’s add some additional deeper benefits
This phone has great network coverage….you can answer calls on the move…from all over the country so you never miss a call saving you time and money
This phone has voice mail…your caller can leave a message….and you can call them back at a time that suits you and not miss a sales opportunity
This phone has a lithium-ion battery…for long lasting performance…. that you can rely upon without having to keep stopping to recharge your phone
To summarise a ‘’so what deeper benefit’’ needs to appeal to something that is very personal to your reader for example makes their life easier or less stressful, saves them time, makes them and their family safe or makes them feel good about their choice.
Effective copy in presentations
We’ve all experienced death by PowerPoint and the tedious boredom of a presenter reading word for word from an over-busy slide covered in words. One way to avoid this is to focus on what you want your reader or listener to know, feel and do and then throw in the ”so what?” question when reviewing each slide. You’ll be amazed at the amount extraneous slides and waffle that you cut out, making your presentation relevant, punchy and effective.
- It’s not about you
- Speak to one reader
- Be clear about what you want your reader to know, feel and do
- Focus on one clear message
- Make the copy personal and relevant to your reader and test this by asking so what?
How Dawleys can help
Dawleys provide a range of services to support you and help you improve your communications and sales from our skilled customer services team, mailing and emailing serivces to call centre enquiry lines. Check out all of our solutions on www.dawleys.com. Dawleys…the communications and distribution experts.