Let me guess…
You’re an honest person.
And when you talk to potential customers on the phone, you sound genuine, helpful, and frank. No fluff. No marketing drivel. No sleazy sales talk. You give honest advice.
But what happens when you write copy for your brochure or your website? Do you sound as sincere as you do on the phone?
Marketing drivel seems hard to avoid. Most websites are full of it.
A dash of sleaziness sneaks into your copy without you noticing it. Creepiness crawls into your brochure just because you couldn’t find the right words.
How can you eradicate the marketing prattle and write honest copy that sells?
Let’s look at 11 copywriting tips that give sleazy sales-ness the middle finger. Follow these tips, and your copy instantly becomes more sincere, more enchanting, and more persuasive.
Tip 1: Cut crappy phrases
How do you know your copy contains crappy phrases?
Put on your devil’s advocate hat, and ask yourself for each sentence: what does this mean? If you can’t come up with a specific answer immediately, then cut or rephrase until your text is concrete and meaningful.
Our world class widgets help you increase email sign-ups
549,333 websites use our widgets to increase email sign-ups
Further reading: 5 Common Words that Should be Banned from Sales Copy
Tip 2: Slaughter marketing claptrap
Words like hundreds or millions may seem specific, but they sound like a marketer exaggerating the truth. Use specific numbers to draw attention and increase credibility.
Hundreds of small businesses use our accounting service to save time
254 small businesses use our accounting service to save time
Further reading: 5 Tips to Boost the Credibility of Your Sales Messages and Sell More
Tip 3: Stop pussyfooting around
Subtleties and politeness are great (of course!).
But a subtle call-to-action gives people an excuse not to do as you ask. Starting a call-to-action with if, is the best way to give people an excuse. Be bossy and tell people exactly what you expect them to do.
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Tip 4: Give people a reason to do as you tell them
Do you want people to listen to you and follow your suggestions? Just give them a reason why. How are you going to make them happier, healthier, or richer? Which problems, complications, and difficulties will you help to avoid?
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Tip 5: Give people a better reason
What do your readers really want?
Try to avoid fake benefits and focus on a benefit your readers are looking for. Most real benefits are related to saving money, making more money, becoming happier, being free from fear and worry, a feeling of belonging etc.
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Further reading: Now Featuring Benefits! (by Brian Clark)
Tip 6: Cut sugary testimonials
You know the type of testimonials that sound like they’re written by a marketer? The sugar-coated words that tell you how wonderful, amazing, and super-perfect a service or product is?
Do you think anyone believes these fantastic testimonials? Well?
Write story-based testimonials that help you overcome objections.
Henneke is an amazing copywriter. I’d highly recommend her to anyone.
I wasn’t sure about hiring Henneke. She seems a little crazy and she’s not even a native English speaker. But the copy she’s written for my business helped me to win more customers. And she was fun to work with.
Note: just like all other examples in this article, the above example is made up.
Further reading: The Secret Life of Testimonials, Six Questions to Ask for Powerful Testimonials, How to Use Objections to Get Awesome Before-After Testimonials (all by Sean d’Souza)
Tip 7: Don’t walk away from the difficult stuff
Do you believe in miracles?
In business they don’t exist. I’ve never seen objections magically disappear. You need to address them.
If customers think you’re too expensive, then explain how you help customers save money, how you help them make more money, or explain how much more enjoyment they’ll get from your product or service. Prove your value.
What objections do your customers have to buying from you? How can you address them? Copywriting is about sales. And selling is about taking away customer objections to buying from you.
Further reading: The old-fashioned Aga sales manual, written by the legendary David Ogilvy in 1935, provides examples of how to overcome objections.
Tip 8: Kill self-indulgent nonsense
Marketing messages become drivel if they go on and on about a company and its products. The quickest way to turn drivel into sales copy is to address a benefit or a problem your customers have first.
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Tip 9: Don’t use exclamation marks
Exclamation marks are the signs of a lazy writer or a sleazy salesman. Simply remove all exclamation marks from your copy. Period.
Tip 10: Don’t commit superlative sins
Superlatives like best or easiest are a surefire way to sound insincere. Only use superlatives if you can prove why you’re the best.
We provide the quickest printing service in town.
Get your brochures printed in 48 hours or receive a 25% discount.
Further reading: Do You Make These Two Subtle Copywriting Errors?
Tip 11: Eradicate adjective mumbo jumbo
If marketers have nothing to say, they add adjective upon adjective to their sentences. It makes your readers think yeah, yeah, what nonsense or it sends them straight to sleep.
This relaxed, romantic collection of beautiful cookware has a look all its own, right up to date yet completely classic with a result that’s perfect for your kitchen.
The classic look of this cookware collection suits most kitchen styles.
Show pictures of your cookware. Or explain who inspired the design. That’s much more interesting than marketers’ hogwash.
How to stamp out all marketing drivel
You’ve edited your copy to remove the marketing fluff.
Now, imagine talking to your favorite customer on the phone and read your copy aloud.
If your customer slams down the phone, then your copy is still too sleazy. Get back to work.
If she gets a little impatient and interrupts you, then you’re nearly there. Just a little more fluff to remove.
And if you can’t persuade her to buy, then you’ve not addressed her problems or you’ve picked the wrong benefits. Ask her how you can help.
When you write sales copy, you need to think about your customer (of course!). But you also have to remember who you are. Be yourself. Be honest. Be enchanting.
This blog post is part of a series about writing sales copy.