How to write your own sales copy: a 5-step formula

by simon on May 26, 2010

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If you’re selling your own products on the web, or promoting affiliate products, then you need to produce compelling sales copy.

Ideally, you would hire a professional copywriter to do this for you. But what if you can’t afford one, and simply have to produce your own sales page?

How hard is it? Not too hard, providing you can write a decent sentence or two.

In this post, I’m going to give you a five step formula for producing sales copy for use on the web. It’s not the final word in copywriting, but if you simply want to produce an effective sales page, this will get you started.

You’ve set out the problem, shown why other attempts to solve it went wrong, painted a picture for what life could be like if only it would go away, and demonstrated that your product is the true solution. Now tell them to buy it.

To start with, why would you write your own sales copy instead of going to a professional? Because copywriters are expensive. I should know, I’ve been working as a freelance copywriter for more around 13 to 14 years. Most of my work is for large companies, businesses with marketing teams and budgets and such like.

If you’re promoting a new business, or simply setting yourself up to sell some stuff online, bringing in a professional copywriter is likely to be one expense you’d rather avoid.

Don’t worry, I understand. I won’t take it personally.

So, you’re going to write your own sales page. Where do you start? With your audience.

1. Hey, what’s your problem?

Your product or service has been designed to solve a particular problem, a pain or a predicament that your audience faces. They may not know they have this problem, in which case you’ll need to let them know that they do. Or they may need reminding what a pain in the **** the problem can be in their lives.

As the writer, you should jot down what these problems are. Your headline and opening paragraphs are going to address this problem.

2. Why hasn’t someone solved this already?

So, your audience has a problem. Hopefully, (for your sales and marketing efforts), there are lots of people who share this pain, this predicament. So why hasn’t someone done anything about it yet? Why have previous efforts to solve this fallen by the wayside?

What’s wrong with those previous efforts? Why does the problem persist? Why won’t it go away?

3. If only

The next step is to ask what life could be like for your audience if this problem could be solved. Could their teeth be whiter and their smile brighter? Could they become smarter, richer, happier? Generalisations are OK, but it’s better if you can be more specific.

As the writer, you should make notes about all the ways your audience could benefit from your product or service. Think broadly. Think visually. Picture how the person’s life or circumstances could change for the better. Are there ways you can paint that picture with your words, so they can see it too?

4. What’s new?

So, the audience has a problem, it won’t go away, but if only it would, then life could be so much better. What’s new? Your product or service, that’s what. Now is the time to explain what is new and different about what you have to offer, how it can help them to finally overcome the problem and reap the benefits you set out in step three.

Make a note of what is truly different about your product, and why it changes the game as far as this particular problem is concerned.

5. Do this

You’ve sold them by now. You’ve set out the problem, shown why other attempts to solve it went wrong, painted a picture for what life could be like if only it would go away, and demonstrated that your product is the true solution.

Now tell them to buy it. Really. Don’t be shy about this. Tell people exactly what you want them to do. Do you want them to sign up, give your their email address, press the buy button, ring you? Whatever it is, make it clear.

How to write sales copy – a few more pointers

So there you have it, a five point plan for creating your own sales copy. But before you go, I’d like to point you in the direction of a few other posts I think you should read before you start to write.

First of all, be sure to read my post on how to write scannable web copy.

Check out some advance techniques for writing to persuade

Brush up your sales psychology with how to motivate anyone

And once you’re done, make sure you review the techniques for checking that your sales copy is on target

Incidentally, if you’re writing sales copy for someone else and need to interview them to get at the information you need, then this five point plan can also be a good way to structure an interview.

You can also use this as a way of testing the marketing viability of a product or service. For example, if your product doesn’t really solve a problem for someone, or doesn’t have anything new or different about it, then that’s a major obstacle. Maybe you have the wrong idea. Or you might need to change your product, adapt it to make sure it meets real needs and solves a problem that no one else is tackling.

Photo by Hilarywho via Flickr.

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