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Top Tips for Potent Copy

See also: How to Write a Press Release

The purpose of copywriting is to get your reader to take a specific action, whether it’s to sell, educate, or entertain. Copywriting is often used when writing sales letters.

 

This page will give you an overview of the most important things you need to produce potent copy.

 

A Primer to Copywriting: The 4 Most Important Tips You Need to Write Potent Copy

First off, know this: the structure of your text matters – a lot – when you are writing for other people. There are four main things you should know before you sit down and write copy.

  1. Your headline needs to be all benefit and no cost, unless targeting a specific person.
  2. Your first sentences need to draw attention and get the reader to keep reading.
  3. Your sub-headings should form a consistent message, able to stand on their own two legs. This is important for the skim-readers.
  4. Your text between the sub-headings should also be able to stand on its own. This is important because you never know at what point skim-readers may become interested.

1) Your headline needs to be all benefit and no cost, unless targeting a specific person

There's a big difference between leisurely writing, which most people do to a certain extent, and copywriting. A product will not sell itself automatically. It needs to be marketed appropriately. In the case of copywriting this means having an appropriate headline or title.

Since the market is comprised of people, you need to make your writing conducive to people’s self-interest.

This is something that these hobby writers and authors don't understand. And let me tell you, the reason I say this is because I used to be the same. It's a cognitive bias. You think everyone will love what you've created just because you do.

In business, there’s a term called buy-in. It means that you’ve spent time and effort becoming familiar with something. When you’re writing copy you should assume that people don’t have buy-in for whatever it is you’re selling. You should assume that they don’t know you, and therefore currently lack interest.

It’s your job to make them become interested enough to examine your product more closely. The first step to doing that is by writing a headline that appeals to the reader's self-interest. You do that by highlighting a benefit -- something they can gain from reading your book or using your product.

Having a question in the headline also works well, because questions are hard to skim by. The reader has a tendency of wanting to automatically answer questions. Questions make the reader curious, and he will often resolve that curiosity by reading on – which is exactly what you want.

2) Your first sentences need to build interest and get the reader to keep reading

Even if you don't use a question in your headline, it can be a good idea to initiate the text with a question. Questions raise curiosity, and curiosity is very important.

Keep your first few sentences short. This is to make it easy for the reader to skim. The reason this is important is because the reader’s interest has to be built up. Rarely will the reader immediately be interested in what you have to say.

If you use an image in the top of your article or sales letter, this will usually help shorten your paragraphs and make them more easily read. This increases readability and makes it easier for the reader. Remember, the headline is to gain attention and get them to examine the text and the first paragraphs are to get the reader to read on.

If you think this is hard, there's an old communication model named AIDA that you can use as a template to write your copy. You can structure your text by using it.

3) Your sub-headings should form a consistent message, able to stand on their own two legs.

This is important for skim-readers.

When you write a lengthy text, for example a very long article or a sales letter, it is important that it's easily skimmable – because few people will read all of it.
  
You will assume that most people are “skimmers” and you will make sure that all of your subheads tell a story on its own. The reader should be able to understand the big idea of what you're saying by just reading your subheads, and the subheads should be directly linked to each other, as if they were an individual text.

Here's an example:

Headline:

Would You Like Me To Share a Simple, Proven, Trick
That Will Allow You To Consistently Produce At Least $1000 Of Automated Income... Per Week… For FREE?

Notice the question and the massive benefit without any cost. The answer to the question is obviously “YES”. This will appeal to the reader’s self-interest.

Subheads:

How I Began Using This Trick To Make $3800 Per Week Within My First Month

Text. Text. Text. Text.
Text. Text. Text. Text.

But I Was Suspicious At First...Until The Money Started Pouring In

Text. Text. Text. Text.
Text. Text. Text. Text.

My Friends and Family Told Me I Was Crazy But When They Saw The Money I Made They Shut Up

Text. Text. Text. Text.
Text. Text. Text. Text.

You Don't Have To Be a Rocket Scientist To Work This System

Text. Text. Text. Text.
Text. Text. Text. Text.

All It Takes is Courage to Try Something New And a Few Weeks of Hard Work

Text. Text. Text. Text.
Text. Text. Text. Text.

Do you notice how the sub-headings are all tied into each other and that it’s possible to read them seamlessly, as if they were a text on their own?

4) Your text between the sub-headings should also be able to stand on its own.

The reason why this is important is because you never know at what point of skimming the text that the readers first become interested enough to actually begin reading the text.

Take a look at the sample text above:

Text. Text. Text. Text.
Text. Text. Text. Text.

This text needs to be equally enticing in all the segments of your text. The reason this is important is because no two people are the same. One reader might get hooked immediately, whereas the next reader might start reading at the bottom. You need to take this into account when you're writing.

Between each two subheads, your text should be possible to read without having read all the text before this subheading. That means it shouldn't require the reader to have read everything prior to this sentence. This stands in direct opposition to most academic writing.

Try out these four steps and you'll find that your copy becomes a lot more interesting and easy to follow. Your structure will improve, and thus the readability will improve.

About the author


Ludvig Sunström runs Start Gaining Momentum where he gives practical advice on personal development. He has also written the book Breaking out of Homeostasis.

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