Entries from February 2010 ↓

You’re Never Too Old For Social Media


Social media is for the younger generation.


No one is too old for social media so there is absolutely no excuse for you not using it to further your business (or to make new contacts).

There is no unwritten law that states you are not allowed to participate in social medial if you are over the age of, say, 35.

If there were, my business shouldn’t exist. Why? Because as a copywriter I have utilised social media to build my business.

There is no mystery

To many people even the name social media marketing send a shudder down their spine. It sounds technical and scary – well, it’s not. If I can do it, anyone can.

Blogging, article writing, Twitter, Squidoo, Facebook they are all simple to use and fun.

“I’m too old for it…I prefer talking to real people…I wasn’t brought with computers so I don’t understand it.”

Can you think of any more excuses?

You’re never too old to learn

I came across a great post the other day by Beth Dunn on Hubspot that addressed this issue. It’s called “Are you too old for social media?

In it she shows how many ‘older’ people are utilising this highly effective way of marketing. As she points out, all you need is practice – as with everything in life.

None of us are born able to run, talk or write – we only learn those skills through practice and social media marketing is exactly the same.

So banish your hang ups about age or ability – dip your toes in the water and see what happens. I think you’ll be surprised at the results.

Sally Ormond – freelance copywriter

Top 3 Reasons Why People Don’t Buy


As a copywriter, when I talk about sales copy I tell people to concentrate on the benefits.

After all, it is the benefits of your product or service that prospects want to know about as they will have a direct influence on their lives.

But if you’ve ever done any face to face selling you’ll also be aware of the other factors that you need to overcome – their reasons for not buying.

Sales literature is there to sell (no, really?), what’s more everyone knows that. Many people don’t like being sold to and so their guard is instantly raised when they read your letter, web page, brochure or other sales material.

Therefore you have to work out how to get round their objections.

Objection 1: “Too expensive”

Quite often this isn’t a genuine reason – it’s more of an excuse. A quick response that is supposed to get you running for the hills.

The best way round this objection is to show your product or service as an investment. The use of that word suggests there is a future pay back somewhere along the line.

You can do this by highlighting its benefits – how much money they’ll save or how much they’ll make.

Objection 2: “I don’t really need it”

Oh boy, now you’ve got some work to do.

If this objection is thrown at you it means one thing – you haven’t sold the benefits of your product well enough.

Go back over your website copy – have you told them what’s in it for them? Have you shown all the benefits. Make sure you haven’t confused your features with your benefits.

Is the copy talking to them? Does it evoke an emotional response? Have used a story to illustrate how it will benefit them in real life?

If your copy is benefits lead it should blow this objection clean out of the water because it will show them exactly why they need it.

Objection 3: “Hmmm, not sure. I need to talk to someone about it.”

Ah, the delaying tactic.

The best way to get round this one is by having a limited offer – it could be time limited (i.e. the special price is only available for the next 14 days), limited in number (i.e. only 5 left) etc.

No one likes to think they are missing out.

Of course the other way round this is by providing testimonials or case studies. By having real life examples of how your product has helped people will strengthen your sales message. They won’t need to talk to someone else when they have testimonials in front of them.

Being prepared is always having an answer

These three objections are the main ones you’ll come across. Head them off by ensuring your copy answers each of them.

The more objections you can satisfy the better. Utilise your experience – make a note of objections you come across and work solutions to these into your copy.

Sometimes, even though you’ve countered every argument someone can come up with, they still won’t buy. Sadly there is no known cure for stubbornness (yet).

“You talking to me?”


Those immortal words were famously uttered by Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) in the 1976 classic, “Taxi Driver”.

This post isn’t about that particular iconic film though. Rather, I want to  talk about your website copywriting and how it should be written to gain the greatest effect.

Who do you want to read your website?

This is a topic that I have touched on in the past but it is so important, I’m going to talk about it again.

You might think it an odd question – “who do you want to read your website?” – but it isn’t really.

Look at it another way – what do you want your website to do?

Hopefully you answered “sell” or perhaps “generate enquiries”. But you will only do that if your website copy talks to your reader. Think back to the last networking event you went to. No doubt someone came up and introduced themselves to you and launched into their elevator pitch. What would you find most interesting? Someone who says:

I’m John, I sell websites. My websites have state of the art features and they look great. They are really eye catching and I work with clients all over the country. I can create ecommerce sites, flash sites and just about anything else you can think of. My company is called Websitearama, this is my card, look me up.”

Lost the will to live yet? I’m guessing that you have now made your excuses and left John to find another victim to bore.

But what if John had said this?

Hi, I’m John and I can help your website attract targeted traffic that will generate a constant stream of sales. With our software you’ll never lose a sale because it will automatically follow up every lead. You will no longer be walking away from business because you don’t have time to keep in touch with all your prospects – your website software will do it for you.”

In the first scenario John bangs on about his company. At no point does he even attempt to say how he can help his clients. His websites have state of the art features – so what? The are really eye-catching – so what?

But the second attempt starts to address his audience. His website attracts targeted traffic – so what? – so it generates a constant stream of leads. It follows up every lead automatically – so what? – so you’ll never lose another sale.

This time John has qualified the benefits of his product by illustrating what that will mean to his clients.

So what’s all that got to do with websites?

When someone lands on your website they are there for a reason – they want to buy what you are selling.

To make yourself stand out from all the other websites, you have to make sure you give them what they want. If they land on your site only to read all about your company (an Ego website) they’ll get bored and move on.

But if your website copy addresses them directly and tells them what you will do for them, you’ll get their attention.


That is a word that should be littered throughout your web copy. By using “you” and “your” you are directly addressing your reader. You are involving them in your website and showing them precisely why they’ll benefit from your product/service.

Stating what your benefits are and what they’ll do for your reader will prevent them from saying those dreaded words:

“What’s in it for me?”

If they have to say that you’ve failed to get your message across clearly.

So next time you are writing your web copy make sure you banish “we” and replace it with “you”. By writing directly to your reader you’ll begin to write benefits driven copy that will sell. It may take a bit of practice but stick with it as it will pay off.

By the way, this is also true for your other sales materials.

Sally Ormond – freelance copywriter

Direct Mail Rant


direct mail

Direct mail has been around for many years. Long before the internet was thought of letters would come crashing through your letter box promising all sorts of wonderful things.

It is one of those things you either love or hate. Personally I’m not a great fan but that is probably because I have seen so much bad direct mail.

Buy! Buy! Buy!

That is what immediately springs to mind whenever someone mentions direct mail.

There is so much today – on and off line – that shouts at you. Know what I mean? All those letters and landing pages that are a mix of fonts, font sizes, colours, bold text, underlining.

Why do it? Surely if your product is great and stands up on its own merits it doesn’t need all that fluff and decoration.

Surely concentrating on the benefits is the key. Tell me what it will do for me, how it will make my life better. Convince me of that and I’ll probably buy – if the price is right.

That’s another thing – the price.

Is the price right?

Only you know if the price you are asking is fair or not. When I say ‘is the price right’ I’m thinking more of where you’ve put it in your sales letter/landing page.

Often you’ll see it in the headline.

Only £5.99!

Great, but because you haven’t put forward your offer yet, what’s the point in thrusting the price at me? It is meaningless on its own.

It’s the same when the price precedes the benefits. You have to convince me that the benefits of your product are so strong I’ll want to buy it whatever the price.

Convince first, tell them the price later.

Forget the hype

Great swathes of writing going on and on and on about features, exaggerated claims and long winded testimonials can be a real turn off.

Yes, testimonials are strong but do you really need twenty of them?One or two persuasively written case studies would be far more powerful.

People today are very time limited. They don’t have hours or even minutes to waste wading through your longwinded letter or landing page.

If your offer demands longer copy, fine – so long as it is all relevant to your product. Long copy can be very effective when written well.

It’s very easy to write long copy badly – it’s not so easy to write good long copy.

Know who you are writing to

Another pet hate of mine is receiving direct mail that is of no interest to me whatsoever.

If you are sending off line direct mail make sure you do your market research well. There are three elements that make up a successful campaign:

  1. A great offer
  2. A great sales letter
  3. The right audience

Get any of those wrong and you’ll be doomed.

Even if you’ve slaved hours over your letter and written the strongest offer known to man, if you send it to a bad list you won’t get the return you are looking for.

There is money to be made

You’ve probably guessed by now that I’m not a great fan of this particular sales format. However as a copywriter it is something I am called on to do frequently for my clients.

Learning how to write it has been a long journey (it isn’t something you can pick up over night) and a tortuous one considering my feelings towards it.

But I quickly learnt that direct mail could be written without excessive hype, bold colours, odd fonts and flashing boxes (or those annoying pop-ups on landing pages that chase you round the screen asking if you are sure you want to leave the page).

So don’t be put off by my rant. Direct mail can and does work. There are many big corporations out there using is well. Its just a shame there are so many bad examples out there too. 

What are your thoughts on it? Do you love it or hate it? It would be great to hear from you.

The Benefits of Copywriting


Before you run away screaming – this isn’t going to be a post that bangs on about how your business is in dire need of a freelance copywriter – oh, and I just happen to know one – me!

This is all about keeping your copywriting benefits driven.

Identify your benefits

You’re probably sat there now saying…

What’s she on about, of course I know what the benefits of my product are.”

Are you sure about that?

benefits driven copywriting

Let’s take George here as an example. He runs a small business that sells recycled paper goods – things like gift bags, wrapping paper, envelopes etc.

All over his website he mentions that all his products are made from recycled paper and, of course, are also recyclable themselves.

Whoop-di-do, so what?

The fact that his products are made from recycled paper (and are recyclable) isn’t a benefit. It is a feature.

This is a mistake that is made on numerous websites.

If George came up to me and launched into his pitch this is probably how the conversation would go:

George: “You should buy my product because it’s made from recyclable materials”

Me: “So what?”

But, if he changed his approach and concentrated on the benefit, it would go something like…

George: “By buying my recycled product you will also have peace of mind that you are helping the environment and therefore helping us all to work towards a better world”

Me: “Wow, you’re right. I hadn’t thought of it like that.”

(a bit cheesy but you get my drift)

By immediately stating a benefit – i.e. what his product will do for me – he has shown that he understands my needs and has fulfilled them.

Your benefit could be like Georges’, or it could save your customer money, give them kudos, include them in a select community etc. What it comes down to is what your product will do for them – how it will change their lives for the better.

Get your benefits in fast

Once you’ve identified your benefits you have to get them in your web copy.

The most important information must go first so get your benefits in early. Within the first paragraph if you can.

It is the benefit that your reader is going to be looking for but they don’t want to have to work it out for themselves.

Spell it out to them so they trip over it. If you can identify more than one, put them in a bulleted list to draw attention to them.

Don’t be a wall flower – your benefits are what will sell your product so shout about them for all you’re worth.