Honing Your Copy Writing Skills

Honing Your Copy Writing Skills

To start learning how to write good ads, carefully study:

  • High-octane Copy Writers, like Marc Goldman and Alex Mandossian.   
  • Issues of The National Enquirer.
  • These are some of the all-time highest paid copy writers, and with good reason- sales of products advertised.

No, I am not suggesting studying articles such as “Jennifer Williams Gets Impregnated By Alien!”. Only the ads.

Analyze each of these ads for the following:

  • How has the writer attracted your attention
  • What about the ads keeps your interest?
  • Are you stimulated to want to know more about the product being advertised?
  • What action must you take?
  • How strongly are you “turned on” by each of these ads?

Rate these ads on a scale of one to ten, with ten being the best. Now, just for practice- without clipping the ads- do the same thing with ten different ads from a Wards or Penney’s catalog.

In fact, every ad you see form now on, quickly analyze it, and rate it somewhere on your scale.

If you’ll practice this exercise on a regular basis, you’ll soon be able to quickly recognize the “Power Points” of any ad you see, and know within your own mind whether an ad is good, bad or otherwise, and what makes it so.

This will give you the “feel” of the fundamentals and style necessary in writing successful ads.

It takes dedicated and regular practice, but you can do it!

Simply recognize and understand the Master Formula [A.I.D.A.]:

  • Attention!
  • Interest!
  • Desire!
  • Action!


Practice reading and writing the good ads -and rewriting the bad ones to make them better- and keep at it…until the Formula, the Idea, and the feel of this kind of ad writing becomes second nature to you.

This is the ONLY WAY to gain expertise in writing good copy, including classified ads.

Virtually all successful copywriters rate the headline and/or the lead sentence of an ad as the most important part of the ad, and in reality, you should do the same.

After all, when you ad is surrounded by hundreds of other auction ads; what makes you think anyone is going to see your particular ad?

This brings you to…

The Naked Truth

The truth is, they’re not going to see your ad unless you can immediately reach out and grab their attention; entice them to read all of what you have to say.

Your headline has to make it more difficult for your prospect to ignore or pass over, than to stop and read your ad. If you don’t capture the attention of your reader with your headline, anything beyond is useless effort and wasted money.

Successful advertising headlines- are written as promises, either implied or direct.

The former promises to show you how to save money, make money, or attain a desired goal. The latter is a warning against something undesirable.

Example of a Promise: Are You Ready To Become A Millionaire -In Just 18 Months?

Example of a Warning: Do You Make These Mistakes In English?

In both of these examples, I’ve posed a question as the headline. Headlines that ask a question seem to attract the reader’s attention almost as surely as a moth is drawn to a flame.

Once she’s seen the question, she just can’t seem to keep himself from reading into the rest of the ad to find out the answer.

Remember, however, that your first 250 words are going to make or break whether they read on- and usually a lot less than that!

The best headline questions are those that challenge the reader; that involve her self esteem, and do not allow her to dismiss your question with a simple yes or no.

You’ll be the envy of your friends is another kind of “reader appeal” to incorporate into your headline whenever appropriate.

The appeal has to do with basic psychology: everyone wants to be well thought of, and consequently, will read into the body of your ad to find out how she can gain the respect and accolades of her friends.

Wherever and whenever possible, use colloquialisms or words that are not usually found in advertisements. The idea is to shock or shake the reader out of his reverie and cause him to take notice of your ad.

Most of the headlines you see day in and day out, have certain sameness with just the words rearranged.

The reader may see these headlines with his eyes, but his brain fails to focus on any of them because there’s nothing different or out of the ordinary to arrest his attention.

Example of Colloquialism: Do You Experience Severe Brain Farts?

Another attention-grabber kind of headline is the comparative priced magazine headline: Three For Only $3, Regularly $3 Each!

Still another of the tried and proven kind of headlines is the specific question: Do You Suffer From These Symptoms??? And of course, if you offer a strong guarantee, you should say so in your headline: Your Money Refunded, If You Don’t Make $100,00 Your First Year.

How To headlines have a very strong basic appeal, but in some instances, they’re better used as book titles than advertising headlines.

Who Else Wants In On The Finer Things -which your product or service presumably offers- is another approach with a very strong reader appeal. The psychology here is the need of everyone to belong to a group (read herd mentality)- complete with status and prestige motivations.

Whenever, and as often as you can naturally work it in, you should use the word “you” (and its derivatives) in your headline, and throughout your copy.

After all, your ad should be directed to “one” person, and the person reading your ad wants to feel that you’re talking to her personally, not everyone who lives on her street.

Personalize and Be Specific

Whenever you sit down to write advertising copy intended to pull the orders -sell the product -you should picture yourself in a one-on-one situation and “talk” to your reader just as if you were sitting across from him at your dining room table.

Be specific and ask him if these are the things that bother him -are these the things he wants -and he’s the one you want to buy the product…the layout you devise for your ad, or the frame you build around it, should also command attention.

Either make it so spectacular that it stands out like lobster at a chili dinner, or so uncommonly simple that it catches the reader’s eye because of its very simplicity [known as a “plain vanilla” Web site].

It’s also important that you don’t get cute with a lot of unrelated graphics and other “eye candy”. Your ad should convey the feeling of excitement and movement, but should not tire the eyes or disrupt the flow of the message you are trying to present.

Any graphics or artwork you use should be relevant to your product, its use and/or the copy you have written about it. Graphics [other than your product photo] should be used modestly– as artistic touches; to create an atmosphere.

Any photos within your ad should compliment the selling of your product, and prove or substantiate specific points in your copy. Once you have your reader’s attention, the only way you are going to keep it, is by quickly and emphatically telling him what your product will do for him.

Your potential buyer doesn’t care in the least how long it’s taken you to produce the product, how long you have been in business, nor how many years you’ve spend learning your craft- save that for your About Me page for those who are interested!

All she really wants to know, is specifically how she is going to benefit form the purchase of your product. Period. Generally, her wants (and perceived needs) will fall into one of the following categories:

  • Better health;
  • More comfort;
  • More money;
  • More leisure time;
  • More popularity;
  • Greater charisma/beauty;
  • Greater success and/or
  • Greater security!

Even though you have your reader’s attention, you must follow through with an enthusiastic enumeration of the benefits you can gain. In essence, you must reiterate the advantages, comfort and happiness she’ll enjoy -as you have implied in your headline.

Mentally picture your prospect -determine his wants and emotional needs -put yourself in his shoes, and ask yourself: If I were reading this ad, what are the things that would appeal to me?

Write your copy to appeal to your reader’s wants, emotional needs and ego cravings!

Remember, it’s not the “safety features” that have sold fine cars for the past 50 years -nor has it been the need of transportation. It has been, and almost certainly always will be the advertising writer’s recognition of people’s wants and emotional/ego needs/cravings.

Visualize your prospect, recognize his wants and satisfy them. Then Stand and Deliver on your promise, with a sweet, unadvertised bonus bundle!

Writing good advertising copy is nothing more or less than knowing “who” your buyers are; recognizing what he wants; and then telling him how your product will fulfill each of those wants.

I can define copy writing in two words: applied psychology.

Alex Mandossian

The “desire” portions of your ad is where you present the facts of your product; create and justify your prospect’s conviction, and cause her to demand “a piece of the action” for herself.

It’s vitally necessary that you present “proven facts” about your product because survey results show that at least 80% of the people reading your ad -especially those reading it for the first time -will tend to question its authenticity.

So, the more facts you can present in the ad, the more credible your offer. People want “logical facts” to justify emotional surges of instant gratification- as reasons/excuses for buying a product.

It’s like the girl who wants to marry the guy her father calls a “no good bum.”

Her heart -her emotions- tell her yes, but she needs to nullify the seed of doubt lingering in her mind- to rationalize her decision to go on with the wedding.

In other words, the “desire” portion of your ad has to build belief and credibility in the mind of your prospect.

It has to assure him of his good judgment in the final decision to buy- furnish evidence of the benefits you have promised- and afford him a “safety net” in case anyone should question his decision to buy.

People tend to believe the things that appeal to their ego, individual desires, fears and other emotions. Once you have established a belief in this manner, logic and reasoning are used to support it. Your reader “wants” to believe your ad if she has read it through this far-

It is up to you to support her initial desire.

Study your product and everything about it- visualize the wants of your prospective buyers- dig up the facts, and you’ll almost always find plenty of facts to support the buyer’s reasons for buying.

Here is where you use results of tests conducted, growing sales figures to prove increasing popularity, and “user” testimonials or endorsements.

Just exactly what is it for me?!?”

Draw a mental picture for your potential buyer. Let her imagine owning the product. Induce her to visualize all of the benefits you have promised. Give her the keys to seeing herself richer, enjoying luxury, having time to do whatever she would like to do, and with all of her dreams fulfilled.

This can be handled in one or two sentences, or spelled out in a paragraph or more, but it is the absolute ingredient you must include prior to closing the sale. Study all the enticing sales presentations you have ever heard; look at every winning ad; these are the elements that actually make the sales for you.

Remember them, use them, and don’t try to sell anything without them. Lots of ads are beautiful, almost perfectly written, and quite convincing- yet they fail to command action form the reader. If you want the reader to have your product, then tell her so and command that she send her money now.

Unless you enjoy spending money on eBay listings, mildly entertaining your prospects with your beautiful writing skills; always command that she complete the sale now, by taking action now- by ordering, visiting your eBay store or Web site, etc.

Once you have got her on the hook- land her! Don’t let her get away!

Probably, one of the most common and best methods of moving the reader to act now, is written in some form of the following:

All of this can be yours!

You can start enjoying this new way of life immediately, simply by sending a check for $XX!

Don’t put it off, then later wish you had gotten in on the ground floor!

Make out that check now, and “be IN on the ground floor!”

Act now, and as an “early-bird” buyer, we’ll include a big bonus package -absolutely free, simply for acting immediately!

You win all the way!

We take all the risk!

If you are not satisfied, simply return the product and we will quickly refund your money!

Do it now!

Get that check on its way to us today, and receive the big bonus package!

After next week, we won’t be able to include the bonus as a part of this fantastic deal, so act now!

The sooner you act, you more you win! In Review

Mastering the fundamentals of Social Networking and the Web2.0 philosophy is merely the permission-based art of selling- knowing how to present whatever it is that you’re selling to your visitor in such a manner that she feels you will personally solve her problems or fulfill her dreams.

Anybody can sell anything to anybody and selling on the Web- absolutely no different than selling by mail, in person, or face to face with your prospect…just a more efficient and economical way of making contact:

  • You’ve got to captivate her attention;

  • You’ve got to appeal to her interests;

  • You’ve got to reveal to her how her purchase of your product will benefit her;

  • You’ve got to close the sale by causing her to reach into her purse for her credit card or to write out a check for whatever it is you’re selling.

The first few seconds of the opening encounter with your prospect ultimately affects the success of the presentation and inevitably-whether or not a sale is made. Therefore, it’s absolutely critical that your sales presentation radiates enthusiasm and success!

Once she’s on your Site and is looking at your presentation, you’ve got to make her feel comfortable; be friendly and believable. Stimulate her interest in whatever you’re selling by appealing to one of her primordial wants, needs or problems with a solution.

Don’t waste her time with a long and/or complicated dissertation…

  • Make your sales presentation flow;

  • Anticipate her objections;

  • Logically answer them within your presentation.

  • Explain all of the irresistible benefits gained from ownership of your product or service;

  • Whenever possible, let her see or read of proof or testimonials from people who have already bought from you.

The most important thing you want to do is to create- within your presentation- the fulfillment she’ll have as a result of buying from you….

  • Stimulate her imagination;

  • Explain to her how she can use whatever you’re selling to solve her problems or achieve her dreams;

  • Invite her to attend the theater of her own mind;

  • Cast a word movie that allows her to see herself ultimately gratified and satisfied with your product.

  • Give her a payment button to click on or a simple benefits-packed squeeze page.

  • Make it as simple and as easy as possible for your prospect to buy from you, extend a generous guarantee and – most importantly- STAND BEHIND IT.

The payment button, order agreement or simple coupon should close the sale for you – that is, if your presentation is well-written and highly compelling; she sees what you’re selling as an immediate solution to one of her immediate wants, needs or problems!

Too many sites begin with some sort of blah-blah story about the seller…

Hello there, I’m writing to you from the beautiful beaches of Waikiki” Or…

After a hundred years of research I’ve found the fountain of youth”.

Even some such tripe as “dear friend, you may not know me but I’m now a millionaire…” blah biddy blah.

Just ask them if they’d like to _____ …if so, let me explain; if not, then I don’t want to waste your time. Treat your prospects as though their time is more precious than your own!

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