This is part three of the Copywriting 101 series and it covers the body copy of your salesletter. Now that you have learned how to write an attention grabbing headline that stops prospects like a deer in the headlights and draws them to your salesletter to read more, it is time to put your skills of salesmanship into action with what follows the headline: the body of your copy. Now I use the term “salesletter”, but this can be landing page, sales page anything like that.
You can check out parts one and two of the Copywriting 101 series here:
The Flow Of Good Copywriting
In copywriting there is an expression that is sort of like a “dominos effect” saying that the only reason for one part of the copy is to get the prospect to read the next part. The job of the headline is to get them to read the opening statements. The opening statements should get them to read the next paragraph. All the way down until the order section.
Your Virtual Salesperson
Think of your salesletter as your “virtual salesman”. Once it’s done you can send it out into the world to work for you. What is great is that you can leverage this virtual salesman and they can work for you 24 hours a day seven days a week. If you send the traffic they won’t mind dealing with a 1000 prospects a day. In fact, they will never ask for a raise!
How Long Should My Salesletter Be?
This is a great question. Good direct response salesletters are long not for the sake of it but because they have to do the job that a real life salesman would do. They have to engage the reader, build trust, rapport and empathize with the prospect. All the things a real person who knows the art of selling would be doing.
If you know your target market and you resonate and empathize with them, engage them, speak their language and offer them something of value then they will read what you have to say. If you can do all that, you do not have to worry how many words it takes to say something. It is also said that there is no such thing as copy that is too long, only copy that is boring.
One of the other reasons salesletters are so long is because just like a real life salesperson they must answer all the objections a prospect will have. These are all the boxes in a prospect’s mind that need to be ticked before they can take out their wallet and place an order. You know all those questions or oppositions to buying something that you may naturally have. Can I trust the company? How does it work? Is it guaranteed? How much is it? Why should I buy now? Etc. After all objections have been ticked off in the prospect’s mind and you have pushed their buttons, selling should be easy.
Getting back to my domino effect analogy of good copy, famous copywriter Victor Schwab has what he calls “eight milestones to a sale”:
- This advertisement got my attention.
- Its headline won my interest
- This interest carried me into the first paragraph
- The first paragraph got me to go on reading the copy
- This copy held my interest, convinced me; so…
- That product must be good; and…
- I will get it sometime, or…
- I am going to get it NOW.
The above eight points show the sequence of copywriting. Everything is connected, they all compliment each other and flow together for the common goal of getting the prospect to do the desired action.
Good Copy Should Be Like A Good Story
You will find many of the best, but not all salesletters, contain an interesting story or journey. Lately much has been written about the usefulness of story telling in the sales process, you can see Peter Guber’s Tell to Win for more information. Guber is heavily involved in the entertainment industry.
Story telling and listening to stories is built as an inherent trait. As humans we love a good story. And to be honest most stories are just variations on a theme and even that appears to be OK with us. Look at most Hollywood action block busters, they follow the same story – everything going along fine, then disaster strikes followed by a miraculous thing happening to save the day. Romance movies involve the tried and true boy meets girl, they fall in love, everything is super, then something comes up to split them apart, but love conquers all and they overcome it to be together.
Even though we know the end result of most movies that follow this story telling pattern we continue to go watch them and most of the time we enjoy them. Gurber recounts a story of when he was CEO of movies at Sony and Michael Jackson was wanting to get into the movie industry as a producer and actor. Even though Jackson was hot off the heels of his successful Dangerous album, the people at Sony were not convinced Jackson could take on movies and television. I will let the story teller himself, Gurber, tell the tale:
“In both Films and music,” Michael said, “you have to know where the drama is and how to present it.” He gave me a long, intense stare and abruptly stood up.
“Let me show you.”
He led me upstairs to the hallway outside his bedroom, where we stopped in front of a huge glass terrarium. “This,” he said, “is Muscles.”
Inside, a massive snake was coiled around a tree branch. His head was tracking something in the opposite corner of the terrarium.
Michael pointed with his finger at the object of Muscles’ obsession. A little white mouse was trying to hide behind a pile of wood shavings.
I said hopefully, “Are they friends?”
“Do they look it?”
“No. The mouse is trembling.”
Michael said, “We have to feed Muscles live mice, otherwise he won’t eat. Dead ones don’t get his attention.”
“So why doesn’t he just go ahead and eat it?”
He said, “Because he enjoys the game. First he uses fear to get the mouse’s attention, then he waits, building tension. Finally, when the mouse is so terrified it can’t move, Muscles will close in.”
That snake had the attention of that mouse, and that mouse had the attention of that snake – and Michael Jackson had my attention.
“That’s drama,” he said.
“It sure is!” I said. “This story has everything – stakes, suspense, power, death, good and evil, innocence and danger. I can’t stand it.
And I can’t stop watching.”
“Exactly,” he said. “What’s going to happen next? Even if you know what it is, you don’t know how or when.”
“Maybe the mouse will escape.”
Michael let out one of his high, strange laughs. “Maybe.”
Common Story Themes
I don’t recommend making up stories to put in your copy. Quite often if you have created the product you already have a great story, you just need to dramatize it. Sometimes this can be likened to searching for the hook or unique selling proposition. Often with clients I see the story tucked away in the back or put in as an afterthought because they think it is not of interest.
Your story can be used for interest, but also to build empathy with your prospect, to give them hope and inspire them. To let them know that you have been where they currently are and you have come through and look where you are now. You let them know you feel their pain and can relate to all the trials and tribulations of the problem they are facing. It can also build trust and credibility as you let them know all the things you had tried in the past to overcome the problem and all the research, time and money you have invested in finding a solution.
Next week we will continue on the body of your copy and cover how to jazz up your bullet points, rest your prospect’s minds with reassuring guarantees and make the sale with powerful calls to action.
Have any good stories used in marketing that have caught your eye lately?