Online Exclusive: Is There a Weak Link in Your Copy?

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Here are some copy truths:


* Copy that emotionally moves people moves product.


* Successful copy that brings home the sale knows exactly whom it's talking to.


* One of the greatest risks of copywriting is not of misleading folks.


* The only function copy should have in direct marketing is to maximize the impact on profits.


* Great copy is like an art masterpiece stroked on paper. On the flip side, bad copy reeks like three-day-old fish wrapped in it.


Think about it … all of us look forward to better days ... to being richer, happier, healthier, thinner. The list goes on. It's the printed word that can emotionally convince the reader that these things can happen. Folks will take that leap of faith. They will buy into your offer if the copy removes the most common reasons why they should not buy.


'I do not need that.' Copy that emotionally convinces the reader why they need that product or service will absolutely get the right response. Taking away all the objections and turning them into, 'I need that,' is what great copy does. It's the difference between words that fulfill a need and words that leave a reader turning the page.


Fill the need and you'll get the sale. Granted, it's not easy. It takes a lot of thought to really know exactly whom you are talking to and be able to get into their emotional side of the brain. I have seen first hand what happens if you get the words right, the register rings and ROI is king.


'I really can't afford it.' In this charge-it age, this reason for not saying 'yes' to a direct marketing offer has diminished substantially. Yet I still see a lot of DM offers and media ads that put up roadblocks for ordering. Some do not offer credit cards, a risk-free, 100 percent money-back guarantee, a price break, a free bonus gift, installment payments, etc. Direct response copy must let the customer know up front as many ways as is operationally feasible that, 'it's easy to own and here are the ways you can do it.' If you want the sale, take away as many of the 'I can't afford it' barriers as you can.


'Hey, I'm in no hurry to order.' Copy cannot force a person to buy. It can, however, motivate them to take action. It can create urgency and a need. The reality is that most folks are quite proficient in procrastination. Great copy turns procrastinators into buyers. It creates a 'I've gotta have it' moment. Copy that emotionally engages the reader, with a multitude of benefits, transforms a passive reader into an excited buyer who takes actions now.


'I just don't want it.' Creative, well-woven copy can create a desire. It's done by clearly convincing the reader of the benefits and the perceived rewards for buying. Will it make me look younger? Will it save time? Will it make me rich? Will it improve my health? People are hedonistic. The 'what's in it for me' question runs deep in all of us. Answer the question and you create the need, the desire and, most importantly, the sale. Here are five benefits that can be used to fan the flames of desire:


* It's a better value. It costs less. It gives you more. It's on sale.


* It saves me time. It works fast. It's automatic. It lasts longer.


* It makes my life easier. I don't have to work as hard. It works instantly.


* It makes me feel better, look younger, sexier, more confident and more loveable. It improves my life.


* It's better than competing products or services. It's more effective. It's more reliable and dependable.


'I won't buy it because I don't trust or believe you.' Skepticism. It's the intangible barrier that every direct mail offer must face. It's a fact that DM offers are looked at by consumers with cynicism. Why? Because there are still a lot of charlatans who sell by fraud and deception.


It is the job of the copy to prove without reservation that the offer is the real deal. The potential customer needs to know and believe that they can trust you, that your product does what the copy says and that they can get their hard-earned money back if they're not happy.


If you're like a lot of direct marketers today, you're finding that response rates have headed south. It could be because your copy needs surgery. Do you use powerful benefit headlines for every product? Does your body copy use the pronoun 'you' as much as possible? Does your copy answer the question, 'What's in it for me?' Do the benefits push the subjective side of the reader's brain? Is your copy completely clear, smooth, flowing and perceived as believable to the reader? Does your copy reflect the lifestyle of the reader you are trying to sell? The questions go on and on.


The point of all this is that in direct marketing and response-driven advertising, words sell and they're critical to bottom-line profitability. The only purpose of copy is to convince a reader to take action based on what they have read and make a purchase of your products or services now.


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