Some people have asked me quite a few questions in the comments section of my last article, “How to Write Carrot-Wielding Copy.” And some of these questions were immensely valuable.
I could have answered them within the comments section. But because I believe my answers might be helpful to a lot of people, and that the comments may be overlooked by many, instead I decided to do in a separate post.
Here it is:
1) Sherrill asked:
I couldn't finish the article… it was way too long. We sell comfort food online… coffee… our message is short & straight to the point… here's your coffee choices… pick some coffee to have fresh roasted & delivered to your doorstep… pay for your coffee… get on with what you're doing…
It works for us.
I think you need to read the entire article, because I make the case about long copy versus long-winded copy. Long copy that needs to say as much as is needed to say to make the sale and not one word more — or less.
By the way, Sherill, your coffee website's front page contains 1,605 words. And that doesn't take into account the 9 other pages, which seem to contain anywhere from 200 to 1,000 more words each. And you say you use short copy?
Bottom line …
If it only takes 2 paragraphs to make the sale, use 2 paragraphs. If it takes 20 pages, use 20 pages. And the more commoditized the product is, and the more targeted and aware the market is, the less copy you will need. Let me quote myself from my article:
However, in a handful of cases shorter copy is warranted. (There is such a thing as “overselling” in copy.) But the only real way to know for sure is to test, test and test. Claude Hopkins, author of “Scientific Advertising,” wrote an important axiom:
“Almost any question can be answered cheaply, quickly and finally, by a test campaign. This is the only way to answer them, not by arguments around a table. Go to the court of last resort… The buyers of your product.”
2) Michael Hardishake:
I've been reading Joe Sugarman lately and he talks a lot about matching your market too. One of the things I find so tough is learning (getting to know) your targeted market. I mean, how many things can you be intimately involved with?!?!?
The best copywriters in the world who have written multi-million dollar salesletters and ads are usually those who have spent a great many hours interviewing clients, spending time learning about them (maybe even to be with them), putting on their “sales detective hats” (as copywriter John Carlton would say) and asking a lot of questions, and spending a lot of time learning about:
- geographics (location, country, city, etc)
- demographics (income, career, sex, age, etc)
- psychographics (hobbies, buyer history, culture, etc)
- technographics (owns a PC, surfs the web, buys online, etc)
Brian Keith Voiles, in an interview I gave him regarding the power of empathy in copy, said it best:
“The first thing I do is try to live a ‘day in the life' of my prospect. What keeps him up at night? What are his biggest concerns or his biggest joys? What's the first thing he does in the morning as he wakes up? Does he read the paper? What kind of paper? What sections? Does he hurt? Is he frustrated? About what? In all, I try to put myself in my prospect's shoes as much as possible and really try to see what he sees, thinks what he thinks, feels what he feels. The more I do, the more empathetic I am in my copy … and the more I sell.”
3) Michael Vaughn:
Michael, I sell PC's (desktop and laptops) online. My target market is people with bad or no credit and with an income of $28,000 or less. I use direct mail (postcards) as my main source of contact. Information on a postcard is limited because of size. I am going to try a test of one thousand flyers with more info and let you know how it goes. Thanks for all of your help.
Try an oversized postcard. Usually 5 x 11 or 8.5 x 11 (or something like that). Or better yet, write a salesletter and use plain, #10 envelopes.
4) James Marks:
You have a LOT of articles and the content is great. I'd venture to call it dangerously revealing.
#1 – Does all this come from your head?
#2 – How often do you find yourself repeating the subject in an article? (meaning the “point” of the content)
#3 – Do you have an article “swipe file” to write these? I mean, you write a lot of stuff day-by-day… Is it your experience that helps you write so much in a day, some kind of raw talent that not everyone has? or do you have some kind of article-generating tool that we don't know about?
In other words: What's your secret?
#1 – Yes and no. (I'll come back to this later.)
#2 – Yes, I do repeat myself, unfortunately. It's one of my flaws. I write like I speak. And sometimes, in my attempt to drive an important point home, I repeat myself a few times too many. That's where editing is needed to tighten up the copy — something I need to do more often but fail to do.
As John Carlton coined, I need to “pithisize.”
Now, aside from my flaw, there's a positive lesson, here. As the adage goes, “Repetition is the parent of learning.” Repetition aids comprehension especially of complex, critical, or important ideas. However, the key here is not to repeat the same words over and over but to use different examples to illustrate your point.
To that end, substitute certain words with synonyms and add new pieces of information each time the idea is repeated. For instance, in order to drive the message “privacy policies promote purchases” home, it can be repeated with the following:
- “Privacy statements increase sales,”
- “Confidentiality is a key to online success,”
- And “respecting visitors' privacy is profitable”
#3- To answer that question, and partly your question #1, I refer you to an article I wrote on how I write articles.