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Three Tips to Make Your Copy Less Boring and More Persuasive

A man sits in frustration after struggling to do an email campaign by himself

Clients ask me all the time how they can improve the performance of their email marketing campaigns. Nine times out of 10, their writing needs to improve. If you fill your emails with boring, unpersuasive copy, you will have bored, un-persuaded readers.  It doesn’t matter what you offer or how good the deal. If your copy suffers, your sales will lag. So here are a three tips to strengthen your copy and improve your sales.

No. 1: Use the “Why Should I Care? Filter to Distill Core Benefits from Your Copy. I met last month with a client who wanted help promoting his company’s new online order-tracking system. His draft email described the system under the headline “Introducing Our New Online Order-Tracking System.” Customers can log in, enter the order number and see the status of the order. The copy described the system features in great detail. After reading the draft, I understood what the new system could do.

I then asked, “Why should I care?”

At first he was taken aback, but then he played along and answered, “Because now you can get the information online.”

“Great,” I said, “Why should I care?”

“You can log in 24-7 to track your order,” he said. This was a detail not mentioned in the draft copy. Now we were getting somewhere.

“That’s great for people who want to check their inventory after business hours. But I work 9-5 when you’re open. Why should I care?” I asked.

“Because even if you call during business hours, it can be a pain,” he said. “You don’t always get to the person who has your information. You get put on hold. It’s frustrating. The new system makes it easy.”

Bingo! Get the information whenever you want. Never wait on hold. Avoid the frustration. Make it easy to track your order.

By asking “why should I care?” in response to each claim in your copy (and repeating that question several times over), you will distill your message to its core benefits.

My client isn’t selling system features (log on, enter order number, see status). He’s selling benefits. Never wait on hold. Avoid the frustration. Make it easy to track your order.

Force yourself to ask, “Why should I care?” as you review your copy. Answer and then repeat the question. Keep going. The more you ask and answer, the better your copy will become.

No. 2: Be a storyteller. The day before I met with that client, I called the telephone company to correct a billing issue. I got one of those automated attendants who sent me through the maze of confusing options. Occasionally, I had to say something (and hope the automated attendant could translate my words); once in a while, I had to enter a number on the telephone keypad. After nearly five minutes of this, I was able to “press zero to speak to a representative about your bill.”

“Finally!” I thought as I pressed “zero”. Then: “Ringggg… Ringgg… Ringgg…We’re sorry. Our billing department is currently closed. Please call back during regular business hours.”

I nearly threw the phone out my window! “Has something like this ever happened to you?” I asked.

Of course, it had. “Has it happened to your customers.” I asked. Sure, he said. Everyone has had a similar experience.

If I was promoting an order-tracking system, I would tell my story about the phone company and then say something like this: “If you’re anything like me, you hate being on hold, flailing around the automated attendant maze, only to reach dead-ends. You want to get the information you need easily, when you want it, on your terms — not the automated attendant’s terms. I certainly don’t want to put you or my other clients through what I went through with the telephone company. That’s why we’ve introduced a new order tracking system that…”

By starting with a story, I connect with the readers. They can relate to me, and they can connect their own experiences with the problem I’m trying to solve. It gives me — the salesman — greater credibility and authority. And it gives the prospect greater comfort and confidence in the solution being offered.

Stories move readers forward. Stories keep readers’ interested. Stories make your copy more interesting and persuasive.

No. 3: Understand the Psychology of Persuasion. In the introduction to their outstanding book, “Yes!” authors Noah Goldstein, Steve J. Martin, and Robert Cialdini write, “…Small, easy changes to our messages and to our requests can make them vastly more persuasive…Everyone’s ability to persuade others can be improved by learning persuasion strategies that have been scientifically proven to be successful.”

If you want your prospects and customers to say, “Yes” more often, you must buy this book. You also should consider Cialdini’s earlier work, “Influence – The Psychology of Persuasion.”

When promoting my new order-tracking system, I would also include a sentence like this (after outlining the benefits for the customer): “We’re also adding this system because it helps us reduce our customer support costs while actually improving the service we provide.”

Why would I include this copy? Because! That word — because — is very powerful. When added to your copy, it can dramatically improve the persuasiveness of your pitch. Cialdini and his colleagues have proven it, and they explain it in both books I recommend.

 

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