compelling you make each section of your sales letter, the
greater your response and average order will be. Great Sales copy
has the power to make or break a direct-marketing campaign, a
product launch - and a marketer’s career."
Secrets of Great Sales Copy
By Clayton Makepeace*
professionals, and business owners often ask me, "How do
I tell the difference between good sales copy and bad
sales copy?" It’s an important question, and getting it
right can make the difference between a mediocre
response rate and hitting an out-of-the-park homerun.
To start, it helps to understand that consumers almost
never buy things because it’s logical. The vast majority
of purchases are made because they satisfy an emotional
need. So, great sales copy must connect with your
prospect’s most powerful emotions - positive or negative
- and demonstrate how reading the copy and buying the
product will fulfill or assuage those desires or fears.
Your sales message is like a chain designed to meet the
reader at the point of his need, and then lead him, step
by step, link by link, to the order form. This chain is
only as strong as its weakest link. The minute you lose
the "tingle factor," the reader gets bored and the chain
breaks. Your sales copy is only as strong as its
The more compelling you make each section of your sales
letter, the greater your response and average order will
be. Sales copy has the power to make or break a
direct-marketing campaign, a product launch - and a
marketer’s career. That said, here are 21 tips to
make your copy stronger, your ads more effective, and
help you create winning direct-mail and Internet
1. Be somebody. Putting a friendly and/or highly
qualified human face on copy - and speaking in that
person’ s voice - will ramp up the impact of your sales
2. Talk to your readers. Avoid "we" and focus on
"you." Use the word "you" as often as is humanly
possible throughout the text.Remember, your prospect
really doesn’t care about you, they care about
3. Be personal. Pretend you’re talking to a
friend. What would you say? What would they say? And
what would you say back? Avoid copy like "We want to
help you…" in favor of "Here, let me help you…"
4. Identify with your prospect. Tell the reader
what you have in common. Let him know that you empathize
- that you’ve been there. Anything that puts you on the
reader’s level will create a connection that boosts
5. Put a face on the enemy too. Why has the
reader failed to solve this problem or fulfill this
desire? Were the "experts" who gave him advice wrong?
6. Prove every point. Never ask your reader to
accept any claim at face value. Always include proof
elements, such as study data from respected sources,
expert testimonials, user testimonials, or statements
that support your position from major publications such
as The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times.
7. Don’t fear the occasional obvious statement.
Don’t exaggerate or lie, but don’t be afraid to go "over
the top" when trying to get, and keep, your reader’s
8. Speak colloquially. Speak to your prospects as
they’re used to being spoken to. They’ll appreciate the
occasional dangling participle - even if your old
English teacher wouldn’t.
9. All jargon is not evil. Jargon can be very
effective, especially when the jargon is familiar to the
reader. When the jargon is being spoken - sparingly - by
an expert, it can demonstrate the expert’s knowledge.
10. Figures of speech are wonderful! Remember,
you’re "talking" to an individual. You’d certainly use
figures of speech if you were face to face. If a picture
is worth 1,000 words, a good figure of speech should be
worth at least 100. But be careful - don’t overdo it.
11. Use powerful words and phrases, such as
"amazing," "bargain," "bonus," "discount," "discovery,"
"just arrived," "premium," "prestigious,"
"savings," and (of course) "FREE." Similarly, avoid
wimpy words such as "may" and "ought," and phrases like
"in my opinion." Write with the courage of your
12. Squint. As you study the page, ask yourself,
"At first glance, does this feel easy-to-read and
inviting? Or is it covered with long, dense paragraphs
that will discourage the reader?" Look for opportunities
to turn a long block of copy into a string of pearls.
13. Go for precision and power. Many experts say
you should always use short words, writing as if the
prospect is an eighth grader. Don’t do it! Given a
choice to use a long word or a shorter one that means
the same thing, go with the shorter word. If a longer
word - or even a phrase - more precisely conveys your
meaning or more effectively invokes the emotion you’re
going for, use it.
14. Short sentences rule!
15. Count commas. Commas can be a big red flag
run-on sentence. Or that you’ve written an upside-down
sentence. Consider… "With only the finest of intentions,
Clayton wrote his example." Now try this… "Clayton wrote
his example with the finest of intentions." Which is
16. Use connecting words at the beginning of
paragraphs. In addition to communicating, every
paragraph of great copy should also make a sale. It
should "sell" the prospect on the idea of reading the
next paragraph with words such as "and," "plus,"
"furthermore," and "what’s more."
17. Look for shortcuts to keep the momentum going.
Use contractions - because that’s how people talk.
18. Be specific. Every generality in your text is
a landmine. Instead of saying "You’ll save money," tell
your prospects how much they’ll save.
19. Consider the question. Some copywriters
recommend that you avoid asking a question in the
headline or elsewhere in the copy. But how about a
question like "What’s wrong with getting richer
QUICKER?" More than a question, it is a compelling cry
20. When in doubt… cut it out. Often your best
lead is buried a few paragraphs down. Moving or deleting
the first few paragraphs - even the first page - can get
you off to a much faster start. Second drafts are the
perfect time to spot needless repetition and condense
several paragraphs into one short, punchy one.
21. Break the rules!
has spent the last 35 years creating direct-mail,
Internet, and print promotions that have sold well over
$1 billion worth of products. Plus, as a
direct-marketing consultant and copywriter, he’s helped
four major direct-marketing firms at least quadruple
sales and profits to well over $100 million per year
Clayton publishes the highly acclaimed e-zine,
The Total Package
to help business owners and copywriters
accelerate their sales and profits. Click here to check
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