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Copywriting Marketing

How Do I Get More Business?

As a copywriter for almost forty years, I’ve worked with giant mega-marketers, regional behemoths, and small, entrepreneurial companies.  The latter are my favorites because the help I provide is much more personal and critical to their success. The funny thing is, no matter the size of the company, they all want to get more business.

Here are nine essentials.  There are, of course, others like Differentiation, Marketing Messages, and Website writing and structure that warrant their own articles, chapters, or even books.

That said…if your goal is to get more business, this is a great place to start. 

It seems everyone has their own definition for marketing. Long ones, short ones, flowery ones, pithy ones.  Dictionary.com defines marketing as: “The commercial processes involved in promoting and selling and distributing a product or service”. The definition I get most often from my clients is: “marketing brings in customers and sales”. These are narrow views.

I prefer a far more encompassing definition.  It comes from years of experience marketing companies I owned and advising others.  My definition is this:

“Marketing is everything you do that touches or impacts your customers or prospects.”

Everything? Yes, everything. Think about it for a second. If you send out an incorrect invoice, will that not affect your customer’s image of your company?  If your phone answering system is so poorly configured that a prospect is put through hoops for two to three minutes without getting to the right person, will that impact his desire to do business with you? Conversely, if you handle a return promptly, courteously, and without any hint of annoyance, will that customer not be willing to buy from you again because she knows, if she must return it, the experience is actually pleasant?

The answers are Yes! Yes! and Hell, Yes!

Most customers think if you’re in business, you must be an expert, or authority, on that business.  This may not be the case 100% of the time but think about it.  If you have a question about your car, to whom do you speak – your hair stylist?  No.  You ask an auto mechanic – the expert.

As an authority in your field, you are expected to answer questions.  Well, that’s just what Content is – answering common questions before they’re asked.

Lie this article answers the question, “How do I get more business?”

Write a short (500 – 1500+ word) article on some aspect of your business or industry.  Post it on your blog, or Facebook, Linked-In, etc. 

Compose a layman’s guide to your industry.  What do consumers need to know?  What questions should they ask?  How can they find the best mechanic for them?  Which things should raise red flags (scams, incompetence, etc)?

Believe it or not, this is all Content is.  Helping people make smart, informed decisions in your industry.  Remember, a copywriter (and that’s you) educates, informs, and influences.

Offer your content free in exchange for their email address.  Why?  Because you need to build an “A” Email Opt-In List.

Marketing and Community Outreach have been radically changed by the advent of the internet and social media – but it’s still basically a numbers game if you want to get moe business.

Say you’re planning a special Independence Day Sale.  You’ll want to contact as many prospects and customers as you can.  You could advertise in the newspaper or on radio or TV (at a cost) – or you could contact your top customers and prospects via email (virtually free).  Let’s say you calculate you can handle 80 requests at the sale price to consider it a roaring success.  How many names are on your list?  100? 1,000? 10,000?

For a 100-name list you’d need to attract 80% of your list to the sale.  Not hardly likely.  With a 1,000-name list, you need 8%.  But if you’ve done a diligent job of list building and have 10,000 emails, you only need to attract 0.8% of them to get that roaring success.  Pro copywriters think an email “buy rate” of 1% is average, 2% is great, and 3% is an official “Glory Be”!

So, start building, or adding, to that “A” list as often as you can – and good Content will help you do just that.

“Oh, come on! I don’t ignore anyone. I want to get more business.”  Read on – you may be surprised.

We all have two types of prospects, “Now Buyers”, and “Future Buyers”.  Now Buyers have made the mental decision to buy, and now they need to decide the ultimate question, from whom.  “Future Buyers” are folks who haven’t made their mental commitment to buy yet.  They are gathering information to help make that decision.  Most businesses know enough to make an offer to Now prospects.  Something that motivates them to buy and gives a sense of urgency to “buy now”.  Here’s what we typically see:

  • Discount Coupons
  • We pay the Sales Tax
  • Zero % Financing
  • Free Shipping
  • Save $300 this weekend only
  • Free Gift with Purchase

…and many more.  All tailored for the Now Buyer.

If your website, brochure, or advertisements don’t include an offer for “Future Buyers” to help them gather the information needed make their decisions, you are definitely ignoring up to 94% of your total prospects. (see the Decision Spectrum, below)

Do you ever listen to station WII-FM, the “Radio Of Your Mind”?

Well, I certainly hear “What’s IIFor Me”.  All the time.  It simply means when a customer or prospect is looking at your website, landing page, email, or post, they’re looking for benefits.  Things that will make their life better, longer, more fun, pain free, happier, more fulfilling, etc.  You have the chance to give them all that.  Unfortunately, most small businesses are caught flat-footed, with mouth agape, and no clue at all.  Let me put this succinctly…

If you want to get moe business…STOP talking about yourself. Start talking about what the customer wants and needs.  It’s not about you.

How would you react if, when buying a shirt from a store, you ask, “What if the shirt isn’t as “no-iron” as you say?” and you get the answer, “Well, I guess you’ll just have to iron it now, won’t you?”

If you’re anything like me, you would not buy that shirt, or probably anything else from that store.  Admittedly, this is an exaggeration, but not uncommon.  Businesses – or even non-profits – that don’t ease the customer’s Fear of Buying/Fear of Commitment, get fewer customers.  Here are a few ways to quell the agita and get more business by easing the prospect into buying with no fear or remorse.

  • Have a strong guarantee/warranty
  • If you need to return something, we’ll pay the shipping
  • Free shipping both ways
  • No restocking fee
  • If you find it cheaper, we’ll pay you double the difference

Wax those skis and make buying a smooth, easy, downhill decision.

“People buy from people they like and trust – both in person and online.”

Do you come across as likeable and even trustworthy?  Check out your picture and your copy.  Smile.  Let them see your face.  Look right into the camera.  Don’t use pictures of you standing in the middle of a cornfield in Iowa where no one can see your face and think you’re the Scarecrow from The WIZ.  Get up close and personal with your customers.

And reflect this attitude in your writing: be open, friendly, and caring; it goes a long way to getting moe business.

If you are the “face” of your company, non-profit, or small business, grab onto this with both hands ::::> and “Personalize” your business.

Case Study – Larry’s Restaurant and Pizzeria

“Larry”, a fifty-ish, pudgy, slightly less than average-looking man, owned and operated a large Italian restaurant in a New York City suburb on a busy thoroughfare on the way to the beaches.

Larry didn’t do much advertising, yet people came…see, he was the only place in the area.  Then a McDonald’s (the first one in N.Y) opened across the street and his business plummeted.  He tried but failed to get back to where he was previously.  Then he hired the ad agency I worked for.   Here’s what we did:

  • Made a series of late-night TV ads (much less costly) featuring Larry, in his restaurant’s kitchen and bar area. He had a slightly sad, “hound-dog” expression on his face and spoke not a word.
  • The voice-over copy was: “Everybody Loves Larry’s Pizza – but Nobody Loves Larry. Next time you stop in, go over to Larry or his wife Connie, and say “We love ya Larry” and he’ll smile and treat you to a wonderful appetizer or dessert with your meal.
  • The reaction was incredible. Larry became a “celebrity” of sorts in his restaurant.  His business more than doubled and rose to 20% higher than it was before McDonald’s.

Look, if Larry can do it – and I can do it, certainly you can do it.

This French word comes to us from Louisiana.  It means an extra, or unexpected, gift or benefit.

Recently, I ordered a “Thank You” gift basket for a client of mine.  It was delivered with my greeting card, and all was good.  Two days later, I received a small package in the mail with two of the company’s nut bars.  An enclosed note thanked me for my purchase and hoped I’d enjoy their specialty treat.  This floored me, as no mention of it was ever made. 

The outcome?  I’ve ordered from them again and will do so in the future. They got – and continue to get – more business from me.

Well, that’s all nine. 

I’m fond of saying “marketing is a people skill, adapted to business”.  Each item on this list bears that out. 

  • Understand what it is you’re doing, how to write copy, and stand out from the crowd. 
  • Help people make good decisions.
  • Communicate regularly with your friends.
  • Don’t ignore your prospects and future friends.
  • Focus on your friends’ needs.
  • Strip away the fear.
  • Be likeable and honest.
  • Be proud of what you do.
  • And give someone a little surprise now and then.

I think it’s a good recipe to get more business, don’t you?

A Little Lagniappe For You

As you study and implement these 9 Crucial Small Business Practices, please accept my “companion infographic”, 15 Mistakes Small Business Makes.  Download it here, Free.

Excerpted from my book, How To Write Copy: Your Million Dollar Advantage.

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Categories
Conversion Rates Copywriting

How Can I Boost My Conversion Rates Now?

Of all the questions marketers and copywriters ask, how to increase Conversion Rates, is well up the “importance” chart.

In fact, for many currently engaged in offering products or services though websites, landing pages(s), email campaigns, or advertisements, it might just be the existential question, the answer to which, can propel them to a higher tier of performance.  And do it without increasing their marketing budget one thin dime.

If you’re reading this article, and you or your clients want to boost the conversion rates, make sure to read it carefully.

As a Master Copywriter for 35+ years, I always try to give the solution to a common problem, like conversion rates, as quickly as I can.

The short answer is, “You do it with superior copywriting”.

Oh, come on….that can’t be all.” 

Actually, it can.  But here are two caveats: 

IF you are currently driving sufficient traffic to your Sales “Producer”, such as your Website or Landing Page.

And, IF your company, product, or service is sufficiently unique and different from your competition.

Legendary Copywriter on being different

So, if we can’t fault any of our preliminary funnel components, we must, then, conclude the weakness lies with our Sales Producers.  Thus, I can confidently posit the solution to the question, “How can I boost my conversion rates?”, lies with your copywriting.

Another good question.

Copywriting should inform, educate, and motivate (or influence).  And do all that within these parameters:

  • Using the appropriate psychological approach for the product or service.
    • Intellectual
    • Emotional
  • Understanding the central problem, need, or desire of your ideal customer (aka your avatar client).
  • Being confident your offering solves the problem, fills the need, or satisfies the desire.

By “Using the Right Words and the Right Images, in the Right Order”™  you can boost (or Optimize) conversion rates without adding money to your marketing budget.

This subject, boosting your conversions by superior copywriting, could easily take a small book.

So in this article, I will concentrate on the process of using copywriting strategies to achieve increased conversion rates, but I won’t go heavily into the copywriting techniques you’ll need to employ.

Rather, I will give you several links to previously written articles, so you get the information without the duplication. (<< Example of using a Rhyme to make a point easier to remember.)

That said…let’s get this show back on the road.

Let’s start by getting a grip on our terminology. 

Copywriting for conversion means providing your reader, or website visitor, with a consistent and Logical Thought Sequence that can be easily followed and contains nothing that can cause confusion or a separation of focus.  A leads to B, B leads to C, and so forth.

One page.  One goal.  One Call-To-Action.

Writing your copy with the objective of having your reader take the action (aka conversion) you wish them to take.

That action can be:

  • Buy Now
  • Subscribe Today
  • Take The Survey
  • Clip The Coupon
  • Get Your Free Report
  • Make An Appointment
  • Call For Your Free, No Obligation Quote

… etc.

When your prospect takes the intended action, you have a conversion.  And the number of conversions divided by the number of visitors to that page is your Conversion Rate.

The Process

[Note: The “page” can be a website, landing page, email, or direct advertisement.]

First of all, they need to get – within a very few seconds – the answer to the question, “Am I in the right place?” 

If the answer is yes, they then spend 7 or 8 seconds looking at/reading/scanning the words and images above the fold.  If they see a quick, informative, intriguing, powerful Marketing Message, or a great Tagline saying, in essence, “There’s something here that can benefit me”, they’ll start to read more or scroll down the page.  So, this is what you do to encourage them.

  • First, you plan their route, by breaking your copy into sections. Each section conveys one complete thought, idea, or concept.
  • You lay the page out vertically, so the reader’s eyes slide easily down as they are exposed to your selling copy.
  • Each section should transition seamlessly (and logically) to the next. Again, Section A leads into section B, B leads into C, and so forth.
  • As the prospect continues to read (or listen, or watch) and moves from one section to the next, they’re giving you a little thumbs-up – “I like what I’m seeing, and I want to know more. This affirmation is called a “mini-yes”. 
  • Your goal is to keep supplying useful and motivating information, collecting mini-yesses at each section until they come to the Big Ask…your Call-To-Action.

By taking the above steps you ensure n smooth progression down the page in what I call Logical Thought Sequencing (LTS).

A World's Best Copywriter makes a startling claim to aid conversion rates

What Gene Schwartz is alluding to by using a statement bound to get your attention, if not amazement, is that the copy is written after the Logical Thought Sequence framework has been developed.

In that way, the copywriter is “constrained” by the topic of each section to deliver the information in a short, easy to digest way, that is friendly to the eye of the reader. – The Thought Bite.  Each section is a Thought Bite and is made up of four components.

  • The Cross-Head  the headline of the section used to inform readers what’s coming. The cross-heads help separate the sections in the mind of the reader.
  • The Intro – an intriguing short sentence or two.
  • The Meat – the information you want to convey presented in four of five sentences or bullet points.
  • The Outro – a sentence transitioning to the next section. The Outro either sums up what was presented in the Thought Bite, or talks about what is coming up in the next section.

In this way you convey a complete thought in a smoothly read way.  No long sentences, no long paragraphs.

A Wise thought for writers by Thomas Jefferson

Yes.

Because we now come to the real test of our logically sequenced thought bites and find out if they did their job.

The big ask, or main objective of your page, is the Call-To-Action (CTA). Hopefully, we’ve amassed sufficient mini-yesses to make it easy for the reader to take that last step and click on your CTA and Get an Appointment, Request A Free Report, Buy Now, Subscribe Today, etc., etc., etc.

The trick is to position your CTA at a place on the page where the reader has enough information to decide, but not so much that their interest wanes, or they feel overloaded.  Timing is everything

[Get my template for a perfect Landing Page]

I often remind, cajole, and admonish my students not to repeat themselves when writing copy – especially for a landing page or email.

The exception to my rule comes with the Call-To Action.  I expect these to be repeated…not only repeated but separated by Motivators like:

  • The Pot Sweetener (aka “But wait, there’s more.”) – Now that the prospects have read all the way down to the CTA, we want to reward them with a “special”, “bonus”, or “gift” offer…for instance a Free Gift With Purchase or Buy Two And Get The Second At 60% off.

And Risk Reducers like:

  • Guarantees, easy returns, no restocking fee, we pay shipping both ways. Risk reducers lessen the fear of buying that occurs naturally when people are on the verge of spending money – especially if they haven’t done business with you before.

And Social Credentials like:

  • Minority, Veteran, or Woman owned business.
  • Awards or recognition from third parties.
  • Support of Civic and Charitable organizations.

CTAs surrounded by their friends produce more conversions.  Don’t leave your CTAs out there naked.

It comes in here.

All the preceding sections focused on HOW you can prepare your pages, email, or advertisements to give yourself the best chance of optimizing your conversion rates via copywriting.

Remember this?  Great copywriters gain a Million Dollar Advantage by their learned ability to “use the Right Word and the Right Image, in the Right Order”.

The Right Order is what the whole article, up to this point was all about.

Throughout this article, I provide links to extensive free Copywriting Content.  These links are to information about the copywriting techniques used within the Thought Bites.  The Right Words if you please.

Follow the links in this article and you’ll get a darn good start on proving my claim that Better Writing Brings Better Results.

David Ogilvy, one of the legendary figures in advertising and copywriting said this, “[Businesses and Advertising Agencies] are infested with men and women who cannot write.  They cannot write advertisements and they cannot write plans.  They are as helpless as deaf mutes on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera”. 

OK Dave, tell us how you really feel.

Does anyone want  folks lie these in charge of your marketing message, tagline, and copy?  I didn’t think so.

Instinctively you know that.  But how do you do that?

  • Get trained right.
  • Accumulate an extensive library of copywriting videos, audios, pdfs giving you not only the WHAT to do, but also step-by-step, HOW to do it, and WHY it’s done that way.
  • Get an armload of Checklists and Cheat Sheets you can refer to when you’re writing.
  • Choose a person for your personal copywriting coach. A specialist who concentrates on one thing – How To Be A Better Copywriter.  Get other coaches for other disciplines.

It’s even harder being a copywriter or marketer assigned the task of increasing conversion rates by 30%, if you haven’t been trained in HOW to write like a successful, experienced, and talented copywriter.

If you’re not sure you’re at that level…worry not, we can get you there. 

  • First download my super-secret, self-scoring, 20-question, Free Copywriter Aptitude Test. No one will know your answers but you. Not even me.
  • Also, take a look at this short, but informative piece How To Write Copy.
  • Lastly, take a gander at my website that has oodles of info and free content.

Great copywriters NEVER stop learning.

And some great copywriters NEVER stop teaching.

To your Amazing Success.

Categories
Copywriting Learn Copywriting

How Can I Start Writing Copy? 7 Rules…

So, you want to know how to start writing copy.  Admirable.

We’ll approach this noble goal by laying out some obvious, and some not so obvious, caveats.

  • One – Don’t start in the middle.
  • Two – Don’t rely solely on Free Content.
  • Three – Don’t follow all the tips you see on X/Twitter, Linked In, Facebook, Instagram and the like.
  • Four – “Never trust anyone you don’t understand.”
  • Five – Don’t shell out $500 to $10,000 for the promise of a quick and easy $10k a month internet business.
  • Six – Don’t depend on free seminars to teach you.
  • Seven – Don’t try to go it alone.

So, with all of these cautions, do I still think you are admirable for wanting to start writing copy?  Damn right I do.

Now, almost everyone who gravitates to copywriting because they like to write.

That’s how I started.  Writing skits, songs, parodies for the enjoyment of my classmates, friends, and – most of all – myself.  I got a kick out of being recognized and praised just for things I wrote, rather than being able to memorize and regurgitate scientific formulas, mathematical equations, notable dates in history, etc., etc., etc.

If you’re anything like me, and your head is filled with ideas more than it is with facts, I’m happy to be your guide to true happiness and satisfaction with your next career or side gig.  And there’s no time like today for you to start your copywriting education and training.

“Don’t start in the middle” is number one on my list.  Not because it’s first in the process, but because it’s supremely important to get off on the right foot.

Writers to be – control yourself. 

  1. You can’t turn a slick double play without first learning to correctly field a ground ball.
  2. It’s tough to be a rock musician if you can’t play the heck out of your instrument. (If this wasn’t true, the Beatles would be John, Paul, George, and Peter.)
  3. Do prima ballerinas become such at 18? No…they’ve been learning and practicing since they were five.

Almost no one can pick up and be an effective copywriter on desire alone.  You must prepare.  And, in copywriting, that means you learn the building blocks – the techniques, and the strategies, that will make you into a fine writer with a great future.

If you begin anywhere other than the beginning it’s a sure harbinger of coming frustration, and an elongated learning curve.

The most significant word in the above headline is “solely”.  Free Content is wonderful.  But it can’t be the basis of your knowledge, your career, or your business.

I say this as a Content Provider and Marketer.  I freely and happily give away over 430 video and audio tips, articles, Twizdoms™, quotes, checklists, reports, newsletters, and self-tests.  All free – all helpful.  But as valuable as they are…they are no substitute for a strong knowledge of copywriting fundamentals.

Free Copywriting Content – and there is loads of it on the internet – is not categorized as “beginner”, “intermediate”, or “advanced”.  So, unfortunately, you can have a hard time figuring out just which piece of content, is intended for your experience level.

Random copywriting “tips” commonly appear as short individual posts or tweets.  These are even less organized than the free content, which usually takes the form of more substantive articles, checklists, case studies, and videos.

Additionally, simply because it’s posted on social media doesn’t mean it’s correct advice (nor does it mean it’s not).  You have to look carefully at the source of the tip.  There are many successful, knowledgeable, and reputable copywriters on social sites.  Given my 35+ year career including formative years at a top Madison Avenue Ad Agency, I like to consider myself among this group.

Before committing wholeheartedly to the advice of one or another self-proclaimed copywriting expert, check their bios, websites, reviews, and – if possible – samples of their work. You know, be persnickety.

I recently posted this tweet on X – not for anyone specific, but for way too many tweets that came across my feed.

“Expert” is losing its meaning.

To the 24 yr old with a BS in Business who holds herself out as a “Life” coach and the 28 yr old “Copywriting Guru” with a thin portfolio.

Please learn your trade before “helping” people with theirs.

Jack Trout, the author of the above quote, is an acknowledged marketing expert.  He understands that some “so-called experts” cloak their lack of true copywriting and marketing ability in a tsunami of words meant to impress by confusing.

Even if you cannot EASILY comprehend what is said or written, a percentage of you will, in my experience, decide the speaker/writer must be an absolute genius.  Jack disagreed.

And I agree with Jack.

Complexity is NOT to be admired

The internet is good.  The internet is great.  And, the internet is also full of traps.

My friends, I like to be transparent.  I make money by selling subscriptions to my “How To Write Copy” system.  But for goodness’ sake, please do not buy or subscribe to any course(s) – including mine – without…

  • An iron clad guarantee, free trial, or preview.
  • A reasonably small initial commitment (less than $100) on your credit card.
  • The opportunity to cancel anytime, for any reason.
  • The chance to upgrade to a more cost efficient plan after you’ve had a chance (7-30 days) to work with the program and determine if it will help you reach your goals.

Be skeptical, be careful, and that goes double for seminars.

I’m fairly sure you all know this, but for 100% coverage, I must include it in the list.  (Besides, as all good copywriters now a list with 7 items is much preferred by readers to one with six of eight items.)

Free seminars exist to grab your attention, create interest (or pain), generate desire, and move you to action.  And the action we’re talking about is to buy whatever the seminar is selling.  Along with some useful information, you get, depending on the vendor, a wonderful opportunity (for today only) or an extremely well-written and rehearsed sales pitch that the product being promoted will solve your problem and ease your pain, or make you oodles of money.

To my thinking these “up-sell seminars” are the highest priced and probably most profitable of all online marketing vehicles.  I don’t do them because I am simply not comfortable with the process.

Some First-Hand Information

Out of curiosity, I watched over 40 online seminars, and I marveled at the presenters’ reasoning skills – even when I had a strong disdain for the way they used them.

Upsell Seminars often work a three-tier method:

  1. Give them something of “value” free or cheap.
  2. Entice them to sign up for our “program” at a “reasonable”, but elevated cost.
  3. Then introduce the “Platinum Program” with all the bells, whistles and promises to disclose the “Secret Sauce”, or even “Do It For You”.

I watched a seminar take me from a $35 sale (I paid it to go further) to a $950 membership (I did not buy) and finally culminated in a $35,000 “Done For You” service.  Whew – some trip, eh?

Okay…I realize I have (maybe) scared a few of you.

I did it for two reasons:

  1. To make you aware that there are a whole lot of choices for you if you want to start writing copy. Some of those choices (I’ve expressed six in this article) are meant as cautions.
  2. Although there are some seriously good and honest copywriting course providers, who have both the knowledge and experience to do you some real good, there are some who simply do not.

I  sincerely want you to follow your dream and to start writing copy as soon as possible – but safely and without unnecessary frustration, loss of time, and loss of money.

My advice?  Get trained in the foundational concepts, strategies, and techniques, of professional copywriting.

I’m happy you chose to read my article – and I would be proud if we got to know each other better. 

If you’re truly interested in starting to write copy, let me remind you to download my Free Copywriters Aptitude Test.  It’s Private and self-scoring.  No one knows your answers except you.

And, while you’re at it, don’t forget to register from my Free Newsletter, “Classic Copywriting”

Self-Scoring Copywriting Aptitude Test

To close with a little serf serving “commercial”, I believe that my How To Write Copy system is a premier educational experience.  I hope you will take a few minutes to get acquainted with it here.

To your astounding success,