You’ve probably read sales copy and thought …
Mwah. It sounds good, but … no thanks.
Perhaps you didn’t need that product right then.
But more likely, the copy failed to communicate the true benefits of the product or service.
Quite often sales copy is too superficial.
And when copy is too superficial, readers (potential buyers!) don’t feel the content speaks to them. They feel the product or service might be useful, but not valuable enough.
Good copy, of course, translates features into benefits. But that translation into benefits is often stuck in superficiality; the true benefits remain unmentioned. Hidden to your readers.
And that’s when sales copy fails to connect with your cutomer’s deepest desires. And that’s when it fails to sell.
Shall I explain?
A feature is an aspect of a product or service. Features of a fisherman’s hook, for instance, are the length of the wire and the material used for the pole.
A benefit is what the feature does for your customer; it explains why your customer should care. In the case of the fisherman’s hook, it could help you catch more fish, bigger fish, or tastier fish.
To translate a feature into a benefit, ask yourself the So What? question.
This hook has this super-duper feature.
Your bait doesn’t drop off.
Pro copywriters dig deeper to find true benefits
Have you heard of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs?
Maslow suggests humans have 5 different types of needs:
- Physiological needs: What we need to survive such as food, water, shelter, and clothing
- Safety and security, including protection against danger and ill health
- Love and a sense of belonging
- Self-esteem, confidence, recognition, status and respect from others
- Self-actualization, such as a sense of autonomy, freedom, and creative fulfillment
Maslow suggests we need to fulfill our most basic needs (food and shelter) before we can fulfill the needs higher up the pyramid (self-esteem and self-actualization). The idea of this hierarchy is disputed, but for our purpose, that doesn’t matter.
What matters is that Maslow shows us different types of needs and desires. It helps us understand what we can do for our clients.
Let’s see how our fisherman’s hook could fulfill different types of benefits:
- You can catch fish sooner, so you’ll never need to go hungry
- No risk of harming yourself, so you can feel safe
- You can impress fellow anglers with the latest in hook technology
- You can gain the respect of your neighbors because you’ll catch the biggest fish
- You can stop doubting yourself and feel confident about your fishing abilities
- As you catch fish faster, you have more time for writing your blog posts, so you feel creatively fulfilled
Not every product and service has benefits across the five levels, but you’ll be surprised how important the “higher level” benefits like a sense of belonging, self esteem, and creative fulfillment can be.
For instance, when I started selling my writing courses, I thought people wanted to write better copy so they could sell more. But participants told me they gained other benefits such as becoming confident writers and finding their voice.
Examples of true benefits in sales copy
Apple copywriters are masters in connecting with our deeper desires. Here’s how they start the sales copy on the iPhone 6s camera:
People love to take pictures with iPhone. In fact, it’s the most popular camera in the world. But what people love even more are the memories that are preserved within those images. Those memories are now incredibly vivid with Live Photos, an entirely new way to bring your still photos to life.
The copy isn’t about taking better pictures, but about belonging and love: about getting the most popular camera in the world and preserving your memories.
Good copy mixes the different levels of benefits without readers even noticing it.
Fiftythree, for instance, explains the basic benefits of their stylus:
Pencil’s unique tip is shaped to create lines of all sizes without any settings.
But they also address the fear that using a stylus on a tablet might hinder our creativity:
Our adaptive palm rejection instantly knows whether it’s your hand or Pencil touching the page. Rest your hand on the screen, write from any angle. No calibration or setup. You’ll forget you’re creating on a tablet.
And they connect with any creator’s deepest desires—to express their ideas:
FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION.
Great tools inspire great ideas. Pencil by FiftyThree is the most natural and expressive way to create on iPad and iPhone. Advanced technology meets beautiful design to keep you in the flow, without needing to switch tools.
Examples of true benefits for services and courses
Here’s how app developers Minimum Inc outline the business benefits of their service:
We work collaboratively with you to outline your vision, define your objectives, study your audience and analyze your toughest competitors to find opportunities you can capitalise on.
But Minimum Inc understands their clients may feel uncertain, so they help set direction and boost confidence:
Get the direction and clarity you need, with clear recommendations for where to start, what to prioritize and how to move forward.
Most courses have different types of benefits, too. Here’s a basic benefit of the course Your First Profitable Idea:
Our top 5 strategies for getting your first client — as quickly as possible. No Twittering, no social media feel-good techniques — just real tactics that get you in front of clients, fast.
Not wasting time is an important benefit, too:
A simple test to take your existing ideas and eliminate ideas that will waste your time
And here’s the benefit of feeling confident again:
How to be 99% confident your idea will succeed before you even start selling — and how you’ll know your idea is ready to invest time in
Good sales copy doesn’t need to be salesy
You don’t need dirty sales tricks to sell more.
And you don’t need to use sleazy tactics you feel uneasy about.
Good copy requires you to sneak into your reader’s minds. To understand their needs and desires.
In your sales copy, explain how you help fulfill those desires.
Because that’s when they want to hire you.
Recommended reading on persuasive copywriting
5 critical copywriting rules [SlideShare]
How to teach yourself copywriting (on a shoestring budget)
The So What? trick for turning features into benefits
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