7 copywriting sins that strangle sales

“This VERY useful article is courtesy of my direct marketing and copywriting hero – Drayton Bird.

I’m constantly learning, constantly trying to achieve higher and higher response for my clients.

And there are many great direct marketing and copywriting teachers out there.

But my BIGGEST breakthrough in copywriting and my very first control as a health copywriter, in the fearfully competitive U.S. market, where my letter won by 42.42%, is a direct result from Drayton’s teachings and guidance.

I’m very happy Drayton gave me permission to publish his article here.”

Alex Popov

If you don’t know much about copywriting, here are seven powerful reasons to start finding out before it’s too late

A friend who trains people is so good that Jay Conrad Levinson – the world-famous Guerrilla marketing guru – says you should read every word he writes and listen to every word he says.

Pretty good recommendation, right?

And it gets better. One big firm got a contract worth £500 million after his training – not the only example, but a spectacular one.

Sadly, though, these achievements are not enough for him to get the business he deserves and works hard for.

That’s because the copy on his website is so bad that most people never discover such tremendously good reasons to pick up the phone and call him.

Those reasons are lost on that website. They are buried way down the page after paragraphs of boastful waffle and jargon. People will never read them. They will have given up. The result? He is not enjoying the success he should. It is tragic.

Why should you care, dear reader?

Because quite simply, the cheapest, easiest, fastest way to improve your business is just to persuade more people to buy.

That means better copy. Copy that persuades not bores or mystifies – in your emails, in your advertising, on your website, on your sales-letters. Everywhere.

I have seen two words in an email increase response by 50%. Three months ago some emails my colleagues wrote got a return on investment of 11875.5 to 1. Years ago one writer found that simply changing the headline in an ad got 19.5 times more sales.

Just to get you started here are seven deadly sins that are strangling many businesses – I would say most, actually.

1. Talking about yourself instead of your customer.

All your prospects want to know is “what are you going to do for me?”

They don’t give a hoot in hell about your mission statement, your clever new slogan, how many offices you have, how many people you employ and all that malarkey.

This sin is not confined to small firms that know nothing of marketing or communication. It is alarmingly common among people who should know better – particularly advertising agencies.

There is a simple measure. The more times you use words like you, your and yours rather than words like us, we and ours, the better it is likely to be.

2. Failing to make your point fast. If you don’t grab people very quickly news of a benefit for them, you’re in trouble.

Our attention span is dwindling every year. How long does it take you to lose interest on a website? Probably 2 or 3 seconds. The same applies to your prospects.

Often you can remove or savagely cut the first two or three paragraphs of your copy, lose nothing and gain in attack.

3. Using fancy language. Short words, short, lively sentences, no pompous business jargon – that’s what you should aim for. It should read like someone is talking. In fact it’s a good idea to read it out loud, as many people read things in their heads.

4. Failure to quantify the benefit. Don’t be vague. Be specific. People are drowning in promises. They are sceptical. Don’t tell me I’ll get rich or lose weight. Tell me how rich or slim. And how fast.

5. Relying on logic rather than emotion.
People – including business people – make decisions for emotional reasons, then find logical excuses for what they want to do. Determine what the emotional triggers are – e.g. I want to be loved or admired – before you worry about the logic.

6. Trying to be clever. Beware of things you think are ingenious, funny or clever. This is a huge temptation, as it is hard to have ideas, and when we have a clever one we tend to be very pleased with ourselves. You are likely to have a flop on your hands. If people want to be entertained, they watch TV. Your business is selling. Don’t be funny about serious things – and vice versa.

7. Not giving every sensible reason to buy – and overcoming every objection. People find this hard to believe, but most copy is too short. Every reason to buy you omit, every possible objection to buying ignored is a sale lost.

There are many other ways to ruin your copy – and many ways to improve it.

But the vital thing to remember is this.

It costs no more to run good copy than bad. You don’t need to be a brilliant copywriter to do so. But you really must know how to tell the difference. Otherwise, you are probably strangling your sales – and killing your business.

Of course, I’m biased, but if what I’ve said makes sense, I suspect you’ll find my membership club more than good value at $1.

Or perhaps you just want to absorb a bit more of the greatest marketing book ever written.