(…And Takes Your Biz Into the Stratosphere!)
Want to attract more people into your tribe? Eager to instruct and inspire your clients? Yearning to fill your retreats and grow your business? Then you have to know how to write copy. And you have to know how to write it well. You have to write copy that sizzles and sells!
Of course, there are many aspects to copywriting. There are lots of special things to say about how to write a beautiful blog post or email, how to create a wonderful website, how to craft an engaging article or a captivating retreat page, or how to serve up a tantalizing video script or webinar. There are even special copywriting tricks for social-media posts.
But there are only a handful of important principles that apply to ALL your written communications (and most spoken ones, too!) And it’s those things I want to focus on right now.
So following are seven foundational pillars for writing great copy. If you do them consistently and well, I guarantee they’ll help to make your writing hit the mark – and in the process, help to take you and your business into the stratosphere!
1. Write For One Person
This may seem counterintuitive, especially if you’re sending emails to thousands of people, but it’s amazing how many pieces of business writing miss the mark because they’re not targeted to the right audience – in a word, because they’re not personal enough. So before you write your first words, take some time – days or even weeks, if you need it – to really zero in on your ideal client.
If you haven’t given her much thought – or worse, if you think you’re writing for everybody – ask yourself right now, who is your ideal client?
Better yet, write it down: How old is she? Where does she work? Where does she live? What kind of car does she drive? Is she married, single or divorced? How much money does she make? How does she feel about her work, family, friends and (most importantly) herself?
Don’t stop there, either! How does your ideal client spend her days? What keeps her up at night? What’s missing in her life? What does she yearn for? What are her highest hopes and darkest dreams, biggest successes and greatest failures, brightest joys and darkest fears? Who is she, really?
The more detailed and specific you can be, the better – right on down to her favorite hobbies, books, movies and what she posts on social media.
Don’t stop until she’s a living, breathing human being. And don’t worry about losing clients because you’re being too specific. Paradoxically, you’ll get even more. And better yet, they’ll become your tribe!
2. Start With a Catchy Title
Remember that your ideal client is a busy woman (or man, of course, but about 80 percent of all retreat clients are women), so you have to do something to hook her attention. Without a catchy title on that email or article – one that speaks to her in her language – you hardly stand a chance of hooking or holding your reader. In less than two seconds, you’ll lose her to someone who does!
So you want a title that does two things: (1) It clearly states the main benefit she’s going to get; and (2) it arouses a sense of intrigue or urgency. Something that gets her thinking, “Omigosh, I’ve got to read this!” Or at the very least, “Hmm, I’d better check this out, just to be sure!”
There are lots of ways to make your title enticing. Using numbers is one way. For example, “10 Great Ways,” “7 Successful Habits” or “Three Essential Things” – even “The ONE Thing” you need to know or have or do. Another way is by adding evocative adjectives – words that pop, sizzle and explode, words that pump energy and action into your title.
A third way is by using words that create a sense of mystery – for example, “The Hidden Secret,” “The Weirdest Way,” “A Strange or Little-Known Fact.” But don’t go overboard on these! The words you use must speak honestly and directly to your ideal client, so take your time with your title.
Ideally, sit down and write in one phrase what you’re writing about. Under that, list all the benefits it has to offer. Next, add an intriguing word or two (like the ones listed above) to spice it up. And finally, brainstorm a bunch of titles – as many variations as you can think of – then choose the best one!
3. Remember, It’s All About “YOU”
As you write your copy, imagine you’re sitting down to have a chat with your ideal client. Talk to her just as you would a close friend – someone you know and respect. (And you do, right? After all the time you’ve taken to get to know her, she’s probably as close as your next breath!)
Keep it relaxed and conversational. Address your avatar directly, writing in the second-person “you” rather than the more distant, third-person “they” or “them.” (See how I’m doing it here?) Using “you” instead of “they” singles your reader out, making her feel like she’s more than just a face in the crowd, giving her a sense that you know and care about her – which, of course, you do!
Whatever you do, avoid making your copy all about “I.” Of course, there will be times when you’ll write about yourself, but only to bring your client closer to you – for example, by telling her how you overcame your own struggles and how she can, too, using the same tools and techniques that worked for you. So even when you’re writing about “I,” you see, it’s still all about “you!” J
4. Think: Wants, Needs & Benefits
Let your clients know right away that you know what their “pain points” are – that is, what they’re suffering from, yearning for or having problems with.
One great way to start out your copy is by asking questions. (Notice the ones at the beginning of this blog? See how they’re aimed right at you and some of the things you most care about?) That way, you let them know that you know what they want – and more important, that you’re going to help them get it!
Regardless of how you start out, make sure that a prominent part of your copy is focused on your avatar’s wants, needs and problems – the things she’s missing or dreams about having, the things she yearns for or craves.
Then, in the heart of your email, blog, report or retreat web page, give her the information, tips, tools and/or experiences that will help her resolve her pain points and get what she really wants.
5. Keep It Simple, Direct & Down to Earth
As you’re talking about wants, needs and benefits, write simply and directly. Speak your ideal client’s language, using words she understands, and keep it down to earth. Avoid getting teachy, preachy or airy-fairy. Avoid buzzwords and “spiritual-speak.” Avoid going off on tangents. Once you start on a train of thought, take it all the way into the station.
By all means, use descriptive words and phrases when they’re called for – especially ones that touch the senses. There’s nothing more engaging than being pulled into a South Sea Islands retreat experience by the smell of the salt air, the sounds of gulls calling overhead and the feel of the wet sand under your feet – but don’t get so flowery that you forget the purpose behind the words.
That purpose is to pull your client into the experience, touch her mind and heart, and inspire her to take action that will improve her life in some way.
6. Think Service, Not Sales
It’s easy to argue that the purpose of writing business copy is to make sales, but that’s a little short sighted. If you focus on sales, it’s easy to get . . . well, salesy. It’s also easy to resort to gimmicks, which never work in the long run. Or to treating your clients as a means to an end, which they’ll soon see for what it is and go somewhere else. By contrast, if you focus on service, you’ll get both the sales and a whole lot more!
If you honor and respect your clients, that attitude will come through in your copy. If you genuinely like your “peeps” (as we affectionately call them) and want the best for them, they’ll pick that up between the lines. Not only will you inspire them to take advantage of what you have to offer, but you’ll also make a personal connection with them that lasts for years or even a lifetime. You’ll be building your tribe.
So give it away. Give your readers more information than you “should.” Give them more tips and tools, more hope and inspiration, more of everything. Be generous with your words and wisdom. As you do, your clients will become part of your tribe, and your business will blossom like never before.
7. Edit & Spiff Up Before You Post
Finally, when you’re done, put your copy away for a few days or a week (or at least a night if you’re rushed, OK?), then come back and read it again. Out loud.
While you’re reading your copy out loud, imagine that you are your ideal client. Is it boring? Write it again. Are there sections that drag? Cut them out. Are there words or phrases that don’t make sense? Exchange them for some that do. Is it teachy, preachy or airy-fairy? Bring it down to earth.
Then, when it all sounds OK, run it through a spell-check and have someone double-check it for grammar and punctuation.
Let me say that again: Check for grammar and punctuation! Everything adds up. In the long run, even the little mistakes detract from your message and your brand. Conversely, everything you fix helps to show respect and endear you to your readers.
Finally, if you want to go the extra mile (and I’m sure you do), you can spiff up your copy by making it easy on the eye. Keep your paragraphs fairly short, and include line spaces between them. Add subheads to highlight separate sections.
You can also make the page more interesting (and less “gray”) by adding a sprinkling of bold. This makes the key words and phrases stand out, which is especially helpful for the growing number of folks who like to scan the page instead of reading every word.
The Bottom Line
Bottom line? Everything you do makes a difference, so just do your best (without trying to be perfect, of course).
If you do your best to follow the seven foundational tips I’ve given you here, bit by bit your copy is bound to improve. With practice, you’ll even see it begin to sizzle and sell. At that point, it will have taken on a life of its own, attracting and touching new clients who are looking for you just as eagerly as you are for them.
Once you’ve found each other, in my book that’s a win-win. And once you’re both committed to the journey, who knows where you’ll go together?
During his 30-year career as a professional writer and editor, Brandt has written nine successful books plus hundreds of lively and informative articles for a wide range of publications. In addition, as a spiritual teacher and Toltec Mentor trained by don Miguel Ruiz, he has designed, marketed and facilitated dozens of his own international retreats. You can find him at firstname.lastname@example.org.