Why Some Friction in Sales Copy is Good

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Using italics, bolds, highlights, etc to add emphasis in copy is a powerful tool. But use too much, and you are actually creating the opposite effect — everything looks the same and nothing is emphasized.

So you must emphasize judiciously and strategically.

However, some have suggested that emphasis should be avoided completely. One copywriter suggested that words alone should convey the message. He referred to formatting as “speed bumps,” which reduce usability and readability.

I don’t necessarily agree with this premise. After all, if that was the case (that words alone should communicate a message), we wouldn’t have punctuation.

But I digress.

First, understand that formatting helps to drive important points home. It also boosts recall, and gives additional meaning to a message the written word lacks that nuances and verbal cues otherwise provide.

Plus, emphasis communicates a meta-message. The message beyond the message. Emotional subtext, deeper meaning, greater impact, and more.

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Multiply Your Marketing Like a Virus

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People talk. They talk about products. They talk about businesses. And they certainly talk about their experiences with both.

With the proliferation of social media, the Internet provides incredible leverage to help spread that word-of-mouth, or as Dr. Ralph wilson coined over a decade ago as “word-of-mouse marketing“.

Today, “viral marketing” has become so ubiquitous that the term has been added to our dictionaries and university’s business class curricula.

But the question is, can viral marketing really help your business? I’m not talking about simply driving traffic. I’m talking creating systems to leverage, manage, and profit from the buzz a viral campaign creates.

First, understand why word-of-mouth works so well.

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My Name is Michael, I Got a Nickel…

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OK, this post has been a long time coming.

For over a decade, people keep asking me, “So, what is it: Michel? Michael? Mike? Or what?” (I prefer “Master Overlord,” but I digress.)

My name is “Michel,” formally pronounced “Mee-shal.” My wonderful wife calls me “Mish.” In turn, I call her “Rish,” which is short for “Licorice.” The story behind it is, when we first met, a friend told us we were lovebirds, always together, inseparable. Like licorice.

(We still are! In fact, we even merged our businesses and created a new umbrella company, called “The Licorice Group, LLC.” Now there’s a twist!)

Anyway, I don’t pronounce it “Mee-shal” for several reasons.

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It’s Not What You Say, It’s How You Say It

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Copywriting is often labelled as “wordsmithing.” A wordsmith is someone who uses words to sell a product, a service, or an idea.

But, is copy only about words?

Copywriting comes down to two fundamental tasks: knowing what to say and then how to say it. The first part is the most crucial. After all, the success of your copy hinges greatly on coming up with the right message — i.e., the right angle or story — that moves your readers and makes them move.

To do this, you need to choose the right words to communicate your message, express your story, and connect with your audience.

The second part is just as important. Choosing the best words to not only say what you mean but also add meaning to what you’re saying is a wordsmith’s most prized weapon in making copy significantly more potent.

Sometimes, the right message isn’t enough. It needs to jump out at the reader, grab them by the eyeballs, and shake them into action if not reading further.

So knowing how to say it is communicating the right message in the right way.

But what about formatting, aids, graphics, and cosmetics? What about the “design of the copy”? Are words alone enough, especially in today’s visually driven world?

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Lowball Puts You Behind The Eight Ball

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If you’re a new or aspiring copywriter, here’s one important tip: don’t be cheap.

Too many beginning copywriters believe that offering cheap rates will get them more business. I’m not saying that it doesn’t. Of course, offering low rates and discounts is one way to increase your portfolio. But there are other ways around this while offering competitive rates or even higher.

Of course, focusing on a specialty or a niche is one way to differentiate yourself, and it gives you some leverage to price your services higher. If you’re a copywriter who specializes in, say, flooring and carpeting companies, you will be able to command higher fees within that market — and get paid them, too.

But if you lowball your rates, you will not get as much business as you think you’ll get. Sure, you will probably get some. But it’s the kind of business you don’t want.

Instead, remember this important rule…

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If Long Copy Stinks, Think Soap

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I often talk about the need for long copy often depends on your market. Borrowed from Eugene Schwartz’ magnum opus Breakthrough AdvertisingIf Long Copy Stinks, Think Soap articles  tips specialty product long copy label drew eric whitman copywriting advertising academia , it’s based on the market’s stage of sophistication for the product.

The newer the product is, the less sophisticated the market will be. The less sophisticated the market is, the more copy is required to persuade.

I, however, prefer to base it on the the market’s level of awareness of the problem and not so much the product. I call it my O.A.T.H. formula, which stands for oblivious, apathetic, thinking, and hurting.

The more oblivious the market is about the problem, the more education is required. Consequently, you will need more copy in order to convince them that:

  1. they actually do have a problem,
  2. the problem is important and needs to be solved,
  3. the solution offered is the better one for them, and
  4. the solution is needed urgently (or else).

Sophistication about the product or awareness of the problem aside, there’s also an extra factor to look at when considering how long your copy should be.

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Paint Your Copy With Pictures

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An immensely powerful strategy in copywriting is to use words and phrases that help to paint vivid pictures in the mind. When people can visualize the process of doing what you want them to do, including the enjoyment of the benefits of your offer, you also drive their actions.

I call them UPWORDS: “Universal Picture Words and Relatable, Descriptive Sentences.”

In other words, words and phrases that describe ideas the market can universally appreciate and relate to. That is, analogies, metaphors, action words, mental imagery, examples, testimonials, case studies, comparisons, colloquialisms, stories, etc.

Why?

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Cancers, Clients, Camps, Oh My!

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Long time, no type! I’m still alive. Things have been quite busy around here lately, as I’m sure you know if you’ve been following me on Facebook or Twitter.

Cancers, Clients, Camps, Oh My! news events  workaholics4hire twitter support service facebook event copywriting business armand morin For example, the good news is the fact that, for the first time in over a year, we’re seeing regression in all my wife’s metastatic tumors. As you can imagine, we’re doing the happy dance!

That’s on top of the fact that my wife had to miss a full cycle of chemo because of nagging gallstone attacks. This means that we would have seen even more regression if she didn’t skip a whole month!

Great news, indeed. But wait, there’s more…

… We’re also proud soon-to-be grandparents!

Cancers, Clients, Camps, Oh My! news events  workaholics4hire twitter support service facebook event copywriting business armand morin Our son, Tyler, and his girlfriend are expecting. We have just learned that it’s a boy. (I can’t wait to meet you, little Parker!) The expected delivery date is late October (which happens to be close to Sylvie’s birthday). Cool, huh?

Happy dance number two!

Also, I had the wonderful opportunity to speak at WordCamp Ottawa last month, which was a blast! The room was packed. Apparently, a lot of people are interested in building businesses online. Cancers, Clients, Camps, Oh My! news events  workaholics4hire twitter support service facebook event copywriting business armand morin

When I was done, I walked down the hall at Carleton University, organizers were stopping me to tell me that Twitter was abuzz about my talk. The event as a whole was a success, especially compared to last year’s WordCamp.

Above all, one thing that has kept us crazy busy is… new business!

Since February, we have been taking on several new big-ticket projects, many with new clients. By that we mean large copywriting projects, and several customer support services with the same clients with multiple businesses.

Speaking of camps and big-ticket items, my friend Armand Morin is doing another free WebCamp streaming class in the next two weeks about that very subject: how to develop, market, and sell big-ticket products and services.

High-priced, high-profits products are not as hard as you think. It’s about quality, value, and delivery. But like most people, you might have a challenge coming up with big-ticket products and successfully selling them.

Armand has successfully sold high-ticket items for over a decade — both online and off. He’s going to show you how you can do it, too, at his Big Ticket Big Money WebCamp! As with all other WebCamp, it’s live, 100% free, and streamed directly to your computer.

Get more information and signup for this three-day streaming event.

Photo: WPOttawa

We’re Going “Wild” Around Here!

Abel James bestselling author of the Wild Diet at FatBurningMan

Dig the new digs? I wanted to change themes to a more responsive, cleaner, and modern theme, and I fell in love with this one!

Just a heads up of what’s going on, I’ve been incredibly busy — and yes, that’s a good thing. We’ve landed four new clients since the beginning of the new year, and it’s hard to find time to breathe, let alone write a blog post.

One of our newest clients is Abel James, from the Fat Burning Man and author of the wildly popular “Wild Diet.” Were Going Wild Around Here! news  training tip helpdesk food fitness coffee coaching client author

What’s the Wild Diet? If you’re into Paleo (mostly meats and veggies, but no nightshades or dairy), you’re going to like this.

But if you’re into Paleo but with a modern twist, or, better said, if you like Paleo but you also like carbs and dairy, this is the diet.

In short, “strict” Paleo is, I believe, a bit too strict. But the Wild Diet emphasizes whole foods, real foods, and unprocessed foods. I like that. A lot.

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