The purpose of marketing and sales copywriting is to get customers to buy the product. Simple, isn’t it? Or is it? Whether it’s a financial transaction, a free download, or support for a cause, the copy you write needs to persuade the reader to do something. So how can you write compelling copy that gets your customers to act? By presenting the features of your product (boring!) as benefits the reader can’t live without (irresistible).
Tip # 1: Look for the promise.
Features tell your readers what the product does; benefits tell them what it does for them. To identify the promises offered by the benefits, make a list of all the features you can think of – even the more obscure ones. Often, those are where you might find the unique selling point or value proposition. Let’s face it, every light bulb glows and gives light; there’s nothing exciting about that. The devil is in the detail – the light bulb that is made from shatter-proof glass, the one that uses less energy, or the one that gives a soft, romantic glow.
Once you identify the features that make your product different, and which set it apart from the rest, define what those features actually do for the customer. Sticking with the light bulb analogy, the shatter-proof option keeps you safe from falling glass if the bulb bursts. Ergo, it protects you – and perhaps your children. We all want to protect our children, so how about “Keep your family safe with XXX shatter-proof light bulbs.” It’s an extreme example, but you get the gist. Or what about the promise of “celebrating your love” by proposing in the romantic glow of light from the XXX bulb?
Tip # 2: Be specific.
Life is full of vague promises. “Take this product and you’ll lose weight.” “Use X toothpaste for a brighter smile.” When? Some time in the future? One day? “Turn your garage into a stylish extension of your home.” In two years? Yeah, right. A good benefit statement is specific about when, why, how and what it can do for your reader. Find the specific value of your benefit by answering these questions and choosing the most appropriate angle to spice up your copy.
For example: Open 24/7 is great, but what’s the point of that? Open 24/7 so when you need a snack at 3 am after a long night, we’re here for you. That’s a specific promise. Or let’s try skin care cream. Most advertisers make a big deal out of their product being “clinically-proven.” So X cream can give you smoother, younger skin. When? In five years time? No, in 30 days. Now that’s specific.
Tip # 3: High on emotion.
”The subconscious is motivated by emotion, not reason.” This quote from the 2010 film Inception with Leonardo di Caprio is based on the findings of countless psychologists over the years. Appealing to the emotions of the audience is the very substance of copywriting, and can turn the most unexciting features into a tug on the heartstrings.
NYC interior paint supply company Valspar managed to survive the recent economic recession with only a 3 percent drop in sales by doing exactly that. Their 2010 television commercial opens with a couple walking on white sand toward a white wall, which turns into scenic backdrops in multiple colors in front of them. The point, according to the company’s chief creative officer, was to deliver the message that a wall is “so much more than simply a divider,” and that with the right paint, it could offer so much more promise. The advertising was based on consumer feedback, in which customers said that “painting … is an emotional journey with lots of highs and lows,” and that applying paint itself was certainly not the high point.
Call to Action
Then, of course, you need a call to action. Turning your boring features into irresistible benefits only works if your readers know what to do with the information. It doesn’t help to tell your audience your product can help them to protect their family, if you don’t tell them how to get it. So make sure your copywriting includes telling the reader exactly what he needs to do to get the benefit you’ve promised him, and you’ll have created compelling content will turn readers into customers.