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3 Copywriting Techniques: How to Make Good Sales Copy Great

An attractive woman with subtle makeupYou’re smart.

You know how to write sales copy. You keep it short and simple.

You avoid gobbledygook like world-class. You use hypnotic words like you and because. You focus on benefits rather than features.

But somehow your copy doesn’t feel quite right. A spark is missing.

Is your copy a little dull?

Today’s copywriting tips are subtle techniques. These tactics don’t make bad copy good, but they can make good copy great.

These three writing techniques are the mascara, eyeliner, and eye shadow of copywriting. They make your copy more beautiful and more appealing. They make your statements stand out – just like subtle makeup prettifies and draws attention to someone’s eyes.

Subtly apply these three tantalizing techniques to create mesmerizing sales copy.

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1. Delight your readers with rhyme

Poets have understood the beauty of rhyme for many centuries.

Rhyme is pleasant to hear. The smoothness of rhyming sounds aids memory. Haven’t you remembered nursery rhymes for many years?

Rhyme is also associated with being accurate or truthful. In his book To Sell is Human, Daniel Pink describes a study where participants are asked to rate (a) statements that rhyme and (b) modified statements that have the same meaning but don’t rhyme (e.g. Woes unite foes vs Woes unite enemies). The rhyming statements were rated as more accurate.

Apple uses unaccented rhyme in the description of the iPhone 5:

The thinnest, lightest, fastest iPhone ever. (iPhone 5)

Unaccented rhyme isn’t as powerful as perfect rhyme.

Unaccented rhyme happens when non-stressed syllables rhyme (as in the example above). Perfect rhyme happens when stressed syllables rhyme – as in the following example from Innocent (a UK-based smoothie maker):

This kids’ smoothie has zing, ping and probably some ker-din.

Alliteration is a form of rhyme, too. Sometimes called head rhyme, alliteration repeats initial consonants. For example:

A display that’s not just smaller. It’s smarter. (iPad Mini)

Copywriting tip:
You don’t need to write poems to use the power of rhyme. Use rhyme to make important points in your sales copy smoother and more memorable.

2. Grab attention with deliberate repetition

Deliberate repetition of words draws attention to statements. It’s really simple:

And because it’s so easy to use, it’s easy to love. (iPad mini)

Repetition often changes the rhythm of sales copy:

Our 100% pure fruit smoothies. No added sugar. No concentrates. No funny business. (Innocent)

Copywriting tip:
Interrupt long sentences with super-short sentences. Use repetition to stress important points in your copy.

3. Entice your readers with vivid imagery

Creating an image with words is one of the most powerful tools of a copywriter.

Vivid text is easier to remember because it takes up more brain processing power. That’s why Drew Eric Whitman suggests copywriters need to direct a mental movie.

Apple creates an image of the type of movies you could film with your iPhone 5:

Imagine sidesplitting, adventure-filled, must-see flicks produced by you and shot on iPhone 5.

Innocent doesn’t just compare a drink with sunshine – they describe the sunshine in detail:

(…) this drink tastes of sunshine. Not that watery stuff that you get in the UK for five or six days of the year, but the great, clear, life-affirming rays that you’ll only find where these fruits are grown. (Innocent smoothie)

You can almost feel the warmth of the sunshine, can’t you?

Copywriting tip:
Use vivid images to mesmerize your reader. Allow your reader to imagine working with you or using your product.

How to avoid cake-faced copy

Too much makeup hides natural beauty like a mask.

Over-using copywriting techniques makes your copy pretentious, bombastic, or even ridiculous.

Take for instance this special offer for fuchsias from UK-based garden center Thompson and Morgan:

Turbo-charged trailing fuchsias, that are guaranteed to give a stunning display. (…) The enormous blooms will leave your baskets, window boxes, and containers literally dripping in a carnival of colour.

Eh… can you turbo-charge fuchsias?

The alliteration carnival of color may be fine (although a little over-used), but you can’t drip in a carnival of colors. And you definitely can’t literally drip in a carnival of colors, because literally means actually or exactly as I say.

Can you imagine our lawn coloring purple, pink, and red from color-dripping containers?

Copywriting tip:
Apply copywriting techniques with care. If in doubt, simplify. Be subtle.

The art of writing sales copy

Of course, there’s a lot of science to copywriting.

You can test which copy converts better. You can analyze which words to use. You can examine font color and font size.

But you can’t stuff your copy full of copywriting techniques and expect it to perform.

Copywriting is an art.

Entice your customers with the subtle beauty of your copy. Choose mesmerizing words. Seduce with rhythm and sounds.

Be creative. Be delightful. Be enchanting.

This blog post is part of a series about writing sales copy.

Image credit (adapted): Shutterstock

Comments

  1. Henneke, your articles are just fantastic. They always make me giggle. Everything you say is just so true and really really useful. I am now reading your articles with my website open on the next tab. Love your stuff, I really do. Have a great day and thanks for the constant inspiration. 🙂
    PS: one day when I can afford to I will hire you – for sure.

  2. Hi Henneke,
    As usual, you have over delivered in your copywriting techniques. It is ironic, as I still remember studying all of the English techniques that you have been writing about in your copywriting series. I just never thought to use them on my own! You have planted them in my mind through your excellent , descriptive samples. Thanks so much for writing posts that everyday people can understand and put to good use. I am not sure if I can leave a link to my fist post here, but you could remove if it is a faux pas. I really would love your critique. http://premierbusinessadvisor.com/yellow-brick-road . We have not “officially” opened yet, so I plan on adding more posts as I read yours!

    • Henneke says:

      Hi Diane – I’m happy to have a look at your first post. Give me some time and I email you later this week 🙂

  3. Hey Henneke,

    These are some great tips to turn to when you’re stuck. Although, I must admit, I’m guilty of writing cake-faced copy now and again. It’s definitely good to remember that overdone copy serves no purpose, no matter how cute, quirky, or beautiful it may sound.

    • Henneke says:

      Oh, we’ve all been there and written cake-faced copy. Usually, I’m able to spot “excess makeup” when I’m editing my text after leaving it to rest for a couple of days.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment, John. I appreciate it 🙂

  4. Robert says:

    To paraphrase from a movie I saw recently:
    “…oh, you’re good….you’re good…”

    Thanks : )

  5. Ooo I love the explanation of rhyme – so clear, correct and concise! And … I’m a big fan of the power of threes 🙂

  6. This is the best, to heck with the rest, now I can stay abreast …. and liven up my dusty prose!

    Thanks

  7. Frank Harvey says:

    Dahahaaamn you’re good.

    When I hit a spot, and my fingers stop. And that darn cursor starts a’blinkin
    I think of you, “What would Henneke do?” that saves my ship from sinkin.

    Keep bringing it Henneke…

    • Henneke says:

      Love that, Frank. You’re making me blush.

      Can I contact you when I need poetic inspiration? You’re much better at rhyming than me.

      Thank you for your beautiful comment! 🙂

  8. Frank Harvey says:

    You are more than welcome Henneke.

    But really, I can only echo what’s been said before. You do have an amazing ability to lift the words right off the page and get them to perform. I have recently started a new job as a copywriter/content creator. My job ranges from creating different versions of web copy for ABC testing, to ghost writing blog posts. With press releases, white papers, and case studies somewhere in the middle.

    I love it. A lot. But sometimes, damn it make me crazy!

    So I go hang out at Henneke’s for a bit n’ watch you’re words gettin jiggy with it!
    then I’m back in the game again.

    Seriously, Great blog. Awesomeness Personified.

  9. Frank Harvey says:

    …watch you’re words…DOH!

    hahaha…I guess we all get caught out at times..!

  10. You know Henneke your advice is very much like the advice I give for writing a speech.

    Rhetorical techniques that are used in speech writing work well in blog writing as does the use of imagery, emotion and humour.
    Keith Davis recently posted…Epik 1.0 – Genesis child theme for WordPress by Wes Straham of AppfiniteMy Profile

  11. Hello Henneke,

    You’ve probably heard this a lot but I’ll say it again – great post and a great blog! I came to your blog after reading a post you’d done on Unbounce and I loved reading both blog posts! Even though I am procrastinating from this task that’s sitting in my head since yesterday, I thought the last 20 mins reading your stuff was time spent very well.

    I’m definitely subscribing.

    I’ve been trying to improve my skills as a writer and most blogs stink of saturated, repeated, rewritten ideas. Yours, I must say as a self-certified content consuming junkie, are like a breath of fresh air!

    Great job!

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