Take your copywriting to the next level with these copywriting tips.
Definition of copywriting. “Copywriting” means the act of writing words to educate and engage prospects to sell products – originally words that were ‘copied’ onto a poster and displayed in town squares. These posters were made will quill pens dipped into black ink. Years later, printing presses would create these posters and ultimately newspapers were created.
Copywriting does not mean to copy the words for use – that would be plagiarism.
History of Copywriting
The first advertising copywriting is said to have occurred in the late 15th century. It was a 3×5 inch handbill that promoted the sale of a prayer book.
Citizens in Greece hung “Lost” posters in hopes of being reunited with lost family members, slaves and property.‘The man who stops advertising to save money is like the man who stops the clock to save time,’ Thomas Jefferson. Learn more about copywriting patterns here.Click To Tweet
The ‘father of creative advertising,’ John Emory Powers is said to have been the first ‘copywriter.’ In the late 1800s, he created newspaper and magazine ads for Lord & Taylor and Wannamaker’s department stores. He was known for a plain-talking style that moved merchandise quickly. Truth-telling was his gimmick.
Get Readers to Take Action
From the beginning, copywriting has been used to get prospects to take action. It really matured during the Mad Men era of the 6o’s when the careers of David Ogilvie, John Caples and others began to flourish as much as their bank accounts due to their success at moving merchandise.
It helps to study the great copywriters; Eugene Schwartz, Clayton Makepeace, Gary Halbert, Dan Kennedy, Sonia Simone, Brian Clark and Bob Bly. Oh, and there is also James Chartrand, who is really a woman. We mention her in Website Success Essentials too. She decided to go with a male pen name when she was a struggling single mom.
I think I’ve read most of Dan Kennedy and Bob Bly’s books. You should find a copywriter or 2 to study.
The tools, tactics and strategies that have worked for years still do!
Copywriters create multiple types of content; including direct mail and magazine & newspaper ads, radio spots and video scripts, billboard copy, sales pages on websites, pre-frame content, often in a blog post itself; eCommerce product descriptions and sales pages.
Especially sales pages!
Copywriting has changed considerably since the boozy days of Madison Avenue in the 60s. Much of it, of course, is now online. Copywriting often incorporates SEO as part of the goals or written copy.
I like to say that every page of a website has a ‘job.’ The job often being to achieve the overall goals of the website, not to mention the company behind it. Copywriting has a job too. It might be different depending on where your reader is in the sales funnel or the buying process. It may be words on a page or website, a magazine ad or banner, a script for a YouTube video, the contents of an eBook, or anywhere words are used to get somebody to do something.
Jones the Writer says…
“Despite the medium and shelf life of copywriting changing, there are still some rock solid facets of copywriting that haven’t changed over its lifetime. They are:
- the need for impeccable storytelling
- using emotional persuasion
- audience focused”
You don’t have to be professional copywriter to manage your website, but knowing some the
tactics, techniques and writing patterns will help you create content that converts better than it is now.
What is NLP?
You may have also heard of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) — using psychology and social behavior tactics in advertising text.
It’s rooted in research that two psychologists, Richard Bandler and John Grinder completed in the 1970s. They had discovered that different patients saw results within hours of meeting with therapists, while others took months to achieve similar results.
They listened to their therapists and noticed that when language patterns and mental models were presented in more positive patterns, the results were almost instant. They created therapies based on thought patterns and language, calling in Neuro-Linguistic Programming. (NLP for short)
NLP is based on the way the brain processes information in various states. We touch on it in the Copywriting module in my Website Success Essentials course.
Click here for WebsiteSuccessEssentials.com
Frank Kern is a big proponent of using NLP in copywriting. So are John Carlton and Gary Bencivenga. (Three more copywriters to add to your list of copywriters to study.)
They, and others, have taken the principles of NLP and applied them to sales conversions.
You can do it too by asking yourself these 3 questions when writing copy
- Are we in rapport? Or are we on the same page? This begins when the relationship first forms, often in the headline or first few paragraphs. It depends on beliefs of the prospect and the words he/she uses. This is where doing your market research and building your Target Personas can be useful. Without rapport, nothing else matters.
- How clear is the image? Imagery is effective when building rapport. Before and After is a valuable use of image. But so is making a big promise to your prospect, then delivering on it. NLP patients are asked quite often to visualize. Tony Robbins uses this often when he asks viewers to ‘imagine’ this or ‘visualize’ that.
- Are you using all senses? Visual, Auditory or Kinesthetic. Sights, sounds and touch.
5 Examples of NLP Copywriting Elements
- Use a positive bias in your headlines. This will help in ‘framing’ your offers. One example I found was a test where subjects were asked to taste-test ground beef. One group was told they would be tasting ground beef that was made with “75% lean ground beef.” The other group was told they would be tasting “25% fat ground beef.” Both beef samples were the same, essentially. The 75% lean beef scored higher than the 25% fat.
- Use storytelling to make an emotional connection. People often relate stories to their own experiences, which is called ‘neural coupling.’ The Hero’s Journey is an outline that is often used in copywriting. You know the story; the Hero is called to save the town by slaying the dragon, but there are obstacles, but her overcomes them, then there might be MORE obstacles or a turn of events, but he achieves victory, marries the princess and lives happily ever after.
- Use the best words. Word selection can be a big influence on whether copy is successful or not. Sometimes just changing a word in an ad, subject line or headline makes all the difference in what happens next. There are a couple of books I recommend for your swipe file: Words That Sell by Richard Bayan and Words Can Change Your Brain by Andrew Newberg and Mark Waldman. I would pay particular attention to words that relate to your prospects emotions; joy, pride, pain, urgency and fear.
- Prime the pump. Priming is the practice of planting ideas in your prospects heads that they may take later. Bonus points for content that makes them think buying your product or service was their idea, when in fact you were guiding them through your sales funnel. A fun example of this is when a magician asks someone in the audience to pick a card from a deck. The trick works because the magician is able to get participants to choose a specially marked card.
- Flow and Order. (Not ‘Law and Order’) There is a proper order of making an offer and they’re often different depending on a variety of things. For example, you’d never start with price, you have a flow; maybe an introduction or discovery phase that leads to introduction to a solution, followed by the benefits of your offer. You might follow that by addressing expected objections and finally asking for the sale. You might get it and you might not. You may not get the order until the 5th or 6th time they are exposed to it.
Next: We’ll be talking about Copywriting Formulas.