Entries from August 2009 ↓

Copywriting On and Off Line – Is There a Difference?

I have previously written about why, as a copywriter, you should concentrate on the benefits of the product you are selling rather than the features.

“What’s in it for me?” Is the one thing we all think about before buying a product. If we’re not going to benefit from it in some way, why buy it?

This remains true for copywriting on and off line. Essentially the elements in each are the same. Your copywriting should always be clearly focused on your reader. If you target everyone, no one will get the message and therefore no one will buy.

Working out who your target audience is before writing will help you focus your writing to ensure you are writing directly to them.

When you are writing your copy always back up your claims with testimonials and case studies – provide evidence!

Always make it easy for your reader to respond to you. If composing website copywriting, provide clear calls to action; if you are sending out print copy (direct mail etc.) always ensure you have a stamped addressed envelope enclosed to make it easy for them to reply.

To make them order – tell them, give clear instructions about what to do, time limit the offer to create a sense of urgency.

Whenever you are writing copy, always keep in mind the basic copywriting formula – AIDA:

  • Attention – use a strong headline
  • Interest – capture their interest within the first few lines (cite the benefits)
  • Desire – make them want it by giving great testimonials etc.
  • Action – tell them to call now, buy now etc., and combine with time limited offers to create a sense or urgency.

You see, no matter what medium you are writing for, the basic principles of copywriting are the same. Always keep your reader at the forefront of your mind – what do they want to know? Answer that, and you’ve made a sale.

Fiction vs Fact

Writing is writing, right?


Writing can be anything from fiction, sales writing, promotional writing, poetic etc. Its style depends on what its desired effect is.

For example website copywriting is there is be interesting, engaging and above all it is there to sell. Fiction writing is there to entertain, enthral and satisfy the readers’ curiosity.

When you are writing fiction you want to show your flare for creativity; you will use metaphors and similes to illustrate feelings and moods – you will want to paint a picture with your words.

But when you want to attract traffic to your website you want your copy to engage them and convert them into sales. I know, that sounds rather impersonal and robotic, but at the end of the day that is what you want to happen.

You want them to clearly see your product and its benefits.

When you are about to create copy for your website forget flamboyant language and stylistic flourishes – there are only three things you need to remember:

  • Forget the arty similes and metaphors, tell the reader what it is, what it does and why it will benefit them.
  • Forget the jargon – no one is interested in it. If it is essential technical vocabulary, fine, but keep it to a minimum.
  • Keep it short and concise. I know there is a lot of debate about whether long copy is better than short and each has its place. But in both cases don’t be too wordy – why use ‘in the interim period’ when ‘between’ will do just fine.

Above all, keep your writing simple and conversational. That way you’ll effortlessly build rapport with your reader. You will become that friendly arm around the shoulder; someone they can trust.

Power to the Blogger

Hands up everyone who understands why you should have a blog?

Good – now hands up those of you who actually blog?

I thought so. Just about everyone understands the power of a blog when it comes to driving traffic to your main business website. It acts as a tool for building links and as a way to elevate yourself to expert status in your chosen field. Your clients and readers will love you because you are providing them with excellent and valuable information – you are giving them something for nothing.

So, if you understand all of that, why aren’t you blogging?

Yes it takes time, results aren’t immediate and you have to have a degree of creativity to produce a post that someone is going to want to read, but surely the benefits far out weight that?

If you are humming and harring about setting up a blog, or you have one but have let it slide, have a read of this fantastic post by Coppyblogger about the 7 Deadly Sins of Blogging and push those hurdles out of the way and get blogging.

Sorry, Too Late. They’re All Gone


The purpose of any copywriting or sales writing is to make your reader want to buy something.

But how can you make sure your reader actually buys your product or service when they land on your website?

Put yourself in your reader’s shoes. You’ve landed on a web page, it looks quite pretty, it’s got some nice images, the copywriting is quite persuasive but you’re not 100% convinced it’s for you.

So what do you do?

Go back to your search results and look at another site? Probably. But would you actually return to the original site – would you remember which site was the original one? Probably not.

Basically if your reader navigates away from your website you are highly unlikely to see them again.

Therefore it is vital that you create a sense of urgency so your reader will buy your product there and then.

How to create urgency

The simplest way to create urgency is by using a limited time offer. Your reader won’t want to think they are going to lose out on something. It can be in relation to a discount, free bonus, price increase or even stock availability.

If it’s limited by time surely that means it will sell out fast…it must be popular…it must be the thing to have therefore I MUST HAVE IT.

There are a number of different types of limited time offer such as:

  • Order now! While the price is still low. After 18th August 2009 the price will go up to…
  • Order before midnight, January 12th 2010 and you’ll get a 25% discount!
  • Order before July 9th 2010 and you’ll get a free bonus!
  • Order now while stocks last! After 12th November 2009 we can’t guarantee we’ll have any stock left.

By using this method I can’t guarantee everyone will buy straightaway, after all not all your readers are necessarily going to be interested in your product. But if they are interested, a time limited offer will usually make them want to buy.

Press Releases – The Importance of Spreading the Word


One of the most effective online marketing tools is the press release. However it is often misused or under-used.

Let me ask you something – in the past 12 months how many press releases have you made on behalf of your company?

20, 15, 10, 5…less…none?

When should I make a press release?

The simple answer is whenever your company does something it wants to shout about. If it’s news, press release it.

Want some examples? OK, here is just a selection of scenarios where you can spread the news through press releases:

  • The launch of new products or services on your web site
  • You want to publish the results of an online survey you’ve been running
  • To publicise a seminar you’re hosting
  • You are launching a new website
  • Your company has won an online award
  • Publicise online products or services you’re giving away
  • If you’ve started an online club/forum
  • If you’re lucky enough to have someone famous to endorse your product
  • Launching a joint venture with another company
  • If you’ve written a new eBook

That was just a list off the top of my head. I’m sure if you have a think you’ll find an angle you can press release about right now.

Press release golden rules

Of course, if you want your press release to stand the best possible chance of being published, you’ll have to make sure it is written correctly. By following these simple steps you should be able to create something interesting, readable and printable.

  • Make sure your release reads like news and not an advert
  • Only send your release to media related to the topic of your press release
  • Keep it one page in length
  • Your header, contact information and release date should be at the top of your release
  • Use short, simple sentences and double space your lines
  • Your header and first few sentences must grab your readers’ attention
  • You should tell a story and mention your business, product or service in the body of the press release
  • Proofread your press release looking out for grammar and spelling mistakes
  • Proofread your press release looking out for grammar and spelling mistakes
  • Proofread your press release looking out for grammar and spelling mistakes

No I haven’t gone mad. That last point is meant to appear 3 times. You can’t afford to send out a press release with errors in it.

Don’t forget if it’s new to you, it will probably be valuable news to someone else so shout about it.

These press release tips are brought to you by freelance copywriter Sally Ormond.