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"But a far more startling fact to most of us is that WE ARE CREATORS, and that we can form today the world we personally shall be living tomorrow."
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Bulletins Ezine

March 27, 2008 Issue

The Biggest Mistake
Copywriters Make

- by Michel Fortin

Most of the copy people ask me to rewrite seem to offer great products and services. In fact, some of their offers are so good, prospects would be crazy to turn them down. But they do. And these sales pieces end up falling in my lap because they're desperately unproductive.

One of the biggest problems I see in these pieces is the fact that the copy is stale, limp and anemic. Downright dull and boring.

You've heard the adage, "copywriting is salesmanship in print." This is nothing new. It comes from the ageless teachings of the masters, like Hopkins, Barton, Collier and others, which still ring true today. Including the Internet.

But people tend to forget this axiom. Here's why...

Writing copy is like face-to-face selling. And when writing copy, the lack of human interaction takes away the emotional element in the selling process. Therefore, a sales message must somehow communicate that emotion that so empowers people to buy.

As the saying goes, "It's not what you say but how you say it that counts." That's why the challenge is often not with the offer itself but with the language, the tone and the "voice" of the copy.

You may have a great product, but your copy must be effective enough to make its case and present its offer in an irresistibly compelling way.

Problem is, some sales messages get so engrossed in describing the companies, the products and the features of their products that they fail to appeal to the reader specifically.

It's understandable. Businesspeople are often so tied to their businesses or products that they get tunnel vision and fail to look at their copy from their readers' perspective.

Understandable, yes.

Excusable, no.

My advice? Be more experiential -- as if the reader is experiencing what you're telling them. And be more benefit-rich, of course. But more important, be ego-driven when describing those benefits.

Often, people mistake "emotion" for "hype." People buy on emotion. Even when selling to other businesses, people are still the ones okaying the deal, filling out the purchase orders, whipping out their credit cards or signing the checks.

And people always buy for personal, selfish reasons.

Copy using convoluted, complex, highfalutin language doesn't sell product. It might in some cases, true. But this type of third-person, impersonal, "holier-than-thou," ego-stroking corporate-speak is self-serving. It may sells product. But when it does, it does so out of luck or market demand than out of good marketing.

(And when I say "ego-stroking," I'm referring to the seller's ego, not the buyer's. Big difference.)

The fact remains that companies and websites and committees and C-level titles are NOT the ones who fork out the money, issue the purchase orders or sign the checks.

People do.

Don't be shy or afraid in being personal, conversational and emotional with your copy. Of course, I'm not talking about being so lackadaisical with your grammar and your spelling to the point that English majors want to burn you at the stake for heresy.

(Although, your copy might infuriate some purist grammarians. Unless you target grammarians specifically, or offer a product that aims to help one's grammar, these people are not, and never will be, your clients. Clients are the ones that matter. After all, they're people, too.)

And I'm also not talking about being crude, uttering profanities with every sentence or using a crass style that's so brash or laid back, you appear as if you are on anti-depressants in an attempt to assuage your nightmares from your earlier high-school English class detentions.

I mean copy that goes "for the jugular," is down to earth and is straight to the point. That presses hot buttons, energizes their hormones and invigorates their buying behaviors.

Copy that relates to your audience at a personal and intimate level -- not an educational or socio-economic level, but a level people can easily understand, appreciate and identify themselves with...

... A level that shows you are concerned, genuinely interested and empathetic with each and every prospect on an individual basis.

So, here are some tips.

Follow the rule of the "3 C's." Express your offer as clearly, as convincingly and as compellingly as possible.

1. Use words, phrases and imagery that help paint vivid mental pictures. When people can visualize the process of doing what you want them to do, including the enjoyment of the benefits of your offer, you drive their actions almost instinctively.

2. Be enthusiastic. Be energetic. Be excited about your offering, because your job is to transfer that excitement into the minds and hearts of your readers.

3. Denominate, as specifically as possible, the value you bring to the table. And how what you bring to the table will meet and serve the needs of your prospect specifically.

In other words, you need to make them feel important. Write as if you were speaking WITH your prospect, right in front of them, in a comfortable, conversational manner.

When you do, your copy will imply that you understand them, you feel for them and for their "suffering" (for which you have a solution), and you're ready to nurture and take care of them.

Forget things like "best," "fastest," "cheapest" and other universal, broad claims. Because the worst thing you can do, second to making broad claims, is to express any claims broadly.

Make claims, sure. But be specific. Be intimate. Be ego-driven.

Above all, be emotional.

People buy on emotion first. They then justify their decisions with logic. Which is why you should include logic and reasoning and rationale in your copy -- most often, to give them reasons they can use and call their OWN for justifying their purchase from you (and that, after they made that purchase).

Look at it this way...

If you want to tell people how better or different or superior or unique your offering is, make sure you express those claims in your sales message in a way that directly benefits your buyer and appeals to her ego.

Being different is important. But don't focus on how better or unique you are. Focus on how that uniqueness directly benefits your prospect, even to the point they can almost taste it.

Again, people are people. They buy on emotion. They always have and always will. They only justify their decision with logic, and rationalize their feelings about your offering with logic.

Once you accept and internalize that fact, you'll clearly have the first rule of copywriting (or selling, for that matter) down pat. Plus, according to my experience, you'll also gain an edge over 98% of all other businesses and copywriters out there.

Even when selling to multinational, Fortune 500 corporations, the buyers are people, not companies. Purchasing agents are people. Decision-making committees are made up of people. Even C-level executives with 7-figure incomes are people.

They are human beings.

And people always buy for personal desires, selfish reasons and self-interested motives. It's been that way for millions of years.

And nothing's changed.

My friend and top copywriter Paul Myers said it best: "We are but only two short steps away from the cave."

So don't try to sell to some inanimate object called a "business," or even a "prospect." A business is just brick and mortar -- or a bunch of computer chips, in the case of online businesses. And a prospect is not some name and address on a mailing list, a credit card number or a "hit" on your website.

Remember that it's not businesses or prospects that fork out the money or sign the checks. It's people.

Your job is to express your offer in terms that trigger their emotions, press their hot buttons, jerk their tears, tug at their heartstrings and nudge them into taking action.

If not, then you're only telling instead of selling.

About the Author

Michel Fortin is a direct response copywriter, author, speaker and consultant. Watch him rewrite copy on video each month, and get tips and tested conversion strategies proven to boost response in his membership site at http://TheCopyDoctor.com/ today.

Be the best!

Darrell Dean

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