Don’t Be Shy – Why So Few Marketers Can Write Sales Copy (And The 6 Steps For Fixing That)

Some people have a natural gift with their copy writing. Just an effortless ability to capture attention and hold onto it. Perhaps they do so through humour, maybe through compelling insight, and always with a healthy dose of story telling.

These people are gold-dust for brands. Whether it’s writing short tweets or lengthy blog posts, they’re able to grab the reader by the pupils and drag them down the funnel.

The trouble is that when they approach the bottom of the funnel, they find they need something else, and it’s something that remarkably few writers ever acquire – that’s the skill to write copy that actually sells.

This has long been viewed with a certain disdain by brand experts, but for over 100 years the guys and girls who have most impacted the bottom line are those who understand the fundamentals of writing sales copy.

So what are those fundamentals?

First of all, we need to adopt a certain mindset – we need to realise that (as long as we believe in our product) we are actually doing the customer a favour. If a friend asked you for help and you had some great guidance to offer, you wouldn’t feel shy about it, would you? You wouldn’t hold back or dilute your advice with vague ramblings. You would tell them exactly what to do and feel great about it.

That’s what writing sales copy should feel like.

Oh, and just one other thing before we get into it – contrary to popular belief, less is not always more when it comes to copy. There’s a reason why David Ogilvy became famous for writing long form ads. There’s a reason why infomercials sell so well. And there’s a reason 1 minute TV ads sell more than 30 second ads.

So your goal is not to condense this framework down to a couple of sentences (which would be utterly impossible anyway). Your goal is to ensure the reader feels compelled to go from step 1 to step 2 to step 3, etc… If that suddenly feels much more achievable, it’s because it is.

So now that we’ve hopefully overcome those imagined barriers, here’s a rough framework for your sales copy:

  • First we must make it clear that this is for people just like them. The more specific the better – “This is for CEOs of construction companies under pressure from their board to stabilise costs whilst achieving growth” is about 475 times more powerful than “This is for CEO’s”.
  • Secondly, we must highlight their pain. I mean REALLY highlight it. What will happen if costs aren’t stabilised? What’s the worst case scenario? What’s that thing that makes them feel a little sick each night before they go to bed – we need them to feel it now. Right now. In the pit of their stomach. Remember, you are helping them. You are doing them a favour (unless you aren’t, in which case start selling a better product!!).
  • A better way – now is the time to reveal the alternative life they could be experiencing. Ideally this would be in the form of a real life customer you’ve already helped. If this was an infomercial selling the latest ab blaster, this is the moment where the ripped 40 year old who gave birth 3 weeks earlier would walk into shot and show off her 8 pack. For the CEO under pressure from their board to stabilise costs whilst achieving growth, this is where we bring in another CEO who’s done exactly that.
  • The next step is the how – we often talk about the need for simplicity in writing copy and in many contexts that’s true, but not here. Right now, at the moment where the person is desperately hoping that you really do have the solution they’re after, they need reassurance, and reassurance means detail. Some of it they may not fully understand – that’s okay – but it just can’t be boring. Either bring the detail to life in a way that they can understand, or make it sound so incredibly fancy, futuristic and technically mind-blowing that they can’t help but be impressed. I repeat – just don’t be boring.
  • Call to action – this is it. This is everything you’ve been building up to. Don’t ***** out now. They are ready to push the button, so they just need you to tell them where the button is and what will happen when they push it. What will they receive and how quickly? Bullet points are really useful at this stage as they’re a really visual way of breaking down the product. Then tell them again what to do – Click this button. Follow this link. Call this number. Now.
  • Just in case there’s any lingering doubt, we need that final piece of reassurance. Even though your earlier case study should have adequately established your credentials, it doesn’t hurt to place a final reminder of why you can be trusted under your Call To Action. This could be in the form of a customer quote, an award, an influencer endorsement or any other source of credibility. Alternatively it may take the form of some sort of guarantee or another means of risk-mitigation. It acts as a footer to the sales copy, but should not distract from the call to action, which is the absolute top dog in the visual hierarchy.

And just in case you’ve forgotten I’ll say it one more time – do not be shy. You are doing this person a favour.


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