Copywriting: What’s the #1 thing I ask myself ALL the time?

Whether it’s a sales letter or a website, the #1 thing I ask myself throughout the entire copywriting process is this: If I were the customer, what would I want to read? What questions would I want answered? What niggles or reservations would I have? How much time have I got to read this? And most important of all, am I actually bothered?

As a copywriter, I write as if I were the customer reading the sales letter, website, etc. And, when you think about it, we copywriters are customers. Maybe not for this particular product or service, but we buy stuff, just like anyone else.  And, as a copywriter, I am constantly looking for benefits that make me want to buy – or, the reverse, that make me want to move on. Or irritate me. Or downright annoy and alienate me.

I always tell clients and aspiring copywriters to write as if they were having a face-to-face conversation with the customer. Don’t try to ram a sales pitch down their throat. That kind of copywriting went out with the ark. These days, as with many types of selling, soft selling works better than hard selling. Customers want to feel that they can trust the company that’s writing to them; that they can trust them to understand what they want and go on to provide it, just as they promise in the sales letter, etc.

And it’s not just about when I produce sales literature for businesses. When I am evaluating a potential client’s existing sales letter or website, I read it as if I were the customer. What’s missing? What questions aren’t answered? Why wouldn’t I buy the product? Is it easy to respond? Or get help? From a real person and not a Q&A database? What is unique? What fires me with enthusiasm about this sales message in a day and age of customer disillusionment?

All too often businesses create sales copy that’s boring, that says the same old thing that everyone else is churning out, that doesn’t answer customer questions, that uses ‘clever’ wording or long paragraphs or corporate jargon or hard-sell American-style copywriting or negativity… Or, worse, that never talks to “you”, the customer.

As this article by Cynthia Perun explains: “Be the customer as you write. This is the most important aspect of a good sales letter, but it’s often overlooked. Imagine yourself as the reader of your letter, and write what the customer wants to know–not what you want to say.”

She goes on to say: “You have one page to attract a customer; you’ll lose the opportunity if your sole emphasis is on your business. Remember, your customer’s main concern is fulfilling his or her needs and desires, not increasing the balance in your bank account.”

More about why your sales letters (and website copy) might not be working at a later date.

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