How Not to Write Sales Copy

You know, I’ve been writing a lot about suggestions I think people should do to help improve their Internet marketing efforts. Right now I’m thinking maybe people will also stand to learn quite a bit from me suggesting what NOT to do. You know, seeing things from the other side of the fence and all that.

Mind you, these aren’t things that I just came up with in my head to convince not to do them. These are actually things you find on the Internet, cuz. Some of those who did these probably realize by now what they did wrong, while others may continue to think that there was nothing wrong with what they did, and yet continually wonder why they haven’t reached the goal they set months ago. I’m thinking the latter would also stand to realize some important things by going through the points I made here.

So get comfy, grab your favorite beverage, and absorb the points I made below about how NOT to write a sales copy.

Ramble on without touching the problem

A lot of times, we think we have a good handle on what we plan on writing for the sales copy. The problem, however, comes out when we craft the sales copy, then we realize there’s just so much to say, there’s just a lot of information that the readers need to know. So we keep on writing, and writing, and writing, and before we know, we’ve got a good 20 pages or so, and there’s still so much to say. Even worse, upon checking out what was written, we find out that despite all of that, the main problem which your product is aimed at solving has not even been addressed.

The best way to catch the attention of the reader should you be making a sales copy is to immediately state a problem relevant to your viewers, and then propose that you have the solution to that problem, which happens to be the product that you are marketing. If you are able to present this immediately in a very apt manner in your sales copy, you will find that you barely need to write anything else.

Not state the solution you propose

So sometimes you do remember to state the problem and tackle it early on in your sales copy. Well and good for you, cheers all around. The problem now is that while your product is the ideal solution to the problem you proposed, you fail to effectively present your product as such. Most people can usually tell if you’re confident with your product from the way you write about it. Write it in such a way that you convey you yourself believe that the product is indeed the solution to the problem you proposed. Don’t just cite technical issues and real intelligent-sounding arguments, these are just so textbook and can easily be lifted off the product promotion brochure, and people can tell.

Write as if you yourself have experience just how well the product solves the problem you proposed. By this I mean your writing, without sounding too informal, should read as if you were a customer yourself, so that people could relate better with what you’re talking about.

Not build trust with your copy

Before your sales copy can do anything you intended it to do, you must first build trust with it. A lot times people just throw out sales copies out there and assume that consumers will fall for whatever they wrote there hook, line, and sinker. Thing is, consumers are way smarter now than they were a couple of years ago. They know enough to be wary about the things marketers and retailers say about their products, since they know the more they are pushed into buying it, the more likely there’s something wrong with the product, or it’s not what the marketers or retailers claim it to be.

Your sales copy should, apart from everything else, inspire the readers to invest a measure of trust in you or your product. Note that I said “a measure” of trust. This is because if your copy also seems to be desperately trying to convince readers to trust in the product, then that’s a dead giveaway as well. Build up the trust level slowly, that way, their trust comes more naturally, and you are albe to establish a real rapport with your consumers. Earning trust is, after all, a process.

Exclude people in your copy

I’ve come across a lot of well-written sales copy in my time, and should your only standard of a good sales copy be limited to grammar, then these copies would be a joy to read. However, a lot of these well-written copies also possessed one fatal flaw: they do nothing to inspire engagement. There are sale copies all over the Internet that speak well of their product, not too pushy but still effectively offering enough of the needed information, but they also fail to inspire a connection with the reader, effectively exclusing them in the process. What am I talking about? These are the copies written with flair, and maybe a bit too much flair, that they either intimidate or completely repel the people who are reading them.

Remember that you are writing for consumers, who also happen to be real people, regardless of what they do for a living. Writing for your target audience is ok, since doctors, engineers, law enforcement, and other specialized fields may have their own specialized terms and way of saying things, but don’t write as if that is all they ever are. Remember that they are people first, and their occupations only secondary. Appeal to their human interests and needs before positioning your writing to what they do for a living or anything else.

Write pointlessly

This maybe something that is less likely to be seen with SEO copywriters, but it is still seen nonetheless. Sometimes, writers can get so much into what they are writing about that they forget some of the more basic stuff needed in their sales copy, like keywords. This is mostly common when the writer focuses more on the brand name, which could also probably be a keyword, but may not be the primary keyword the sales copy is intending to target. This is why a keyword study should be done well ahead of the process of plotting out whatever other collaterals are needed in the marketing campaign. That way, the keywords may serve as the compass for everything else that needs to be done.

Focusing on the brand name is really ok, up until you realize that (1) you are not the only distributor or marketer of that brand (2) consumers have an aversion to the brand or have difficulty in remembering it, and (3) the brand itself has something of a bad reputation in the market, maybe due to bad publicity, a smear campaign by the competition, or for whateve reason. Using primary keywords along with a liberal dose of long tail keywords adds in a more natural and creative way of refering to your brand without sounding hard sell at all.

Forgetting the call to action

This is probably one of the biggest foibles a writer can ever make when doing the sale copy. So they write this really excellent piece, and it’s all great and stuff and ready to go, so give it the green light. Then when it comes out, nothing happens. Why? Because after reading the sales copy, most, if not all, of those who read it will go: “so what?” This is especially true if the writer happened to take a more creative path and decide not to be direct in the sale copy and instead go for the “implied” approach. The problem with this is that the “implied” approach, along with all other styles of writing the sale copy, needs a call to action.

You could bombard with te consumers with a mountain of information, statistics, and whatever else you want to, without a call to action, what you wrote is almost next to useless. Useless, at least in a marketing point of view. Think of the call to action as the trigger, and the entire sales copy as the gun. Without a call to action, a trigger, the rest is pretty much good to look at, and nothing else. Whatver other considerations you are having about writing the sales copy, never, ever forget the call to action, as it effectively “shoots” the message of your sales copy to your readers.

Now that you know what NOT to do when crafting your sales copy, I think you may be quite ready to do your own version of greatness. So, give it a few test runs, then have at it!


Andy “undaunted-by-dont’s” Jenkins

  • Frugal One

    touching the problem, getting to the point, proving trustworthiness and asking for the sale are all important in sales copy. you got it!

  • Vali_Zamfir

    Great post Andy….Very important these statement about increasing the problem. That remind me about a principle in marketing saying something like this “Don’t build better mouse trap, build larger mouse”(of course in a ethical way and without scaring to much the prospects). You need to focus on the problem first, then present the product as the ideal solution….and all other elements that count in a sales copy…

  • Tom Tester

    How does Disqus work?