Friday, September 28, 2012

Business Owners: Is Your Message Contagious?

You have a head for business. You're clearly an entrepreneur. Your passion for your product or service propelled your desire to start a business in the first place. But can you write contagious copy--Ads that will not only "catch on" but will spread your word? And if you can't, can you separate okay writing from sizzling prose?

Copywriting is an art. "It's not enough just to write well," a local copywriter told me at a recent Entrepreneurial Expo. "It's understanding the purpose and steps necessary to achieve optimum results."

Here are those steps:

1. Understand and be able to identify why your product or service is better than any other out there. This may seem like a given, but you'd be surprised how many business owners don't know much at all about their competition or worse, how to showcase their own products or services. Guess what? You competitors might have killer copy! Read it. Make yours better!

2. Show your competition's weakness by highlighting your value. Most advisors on copywriting will simply state to exploit your competition's weaknesses, but while being aware of the competition's weakness is paramount, the real "sell" is the value your product or service offers over any other product or service of its kind. When you look at Bounty paper towel ads, for instance, they show side by side how their competition doesn't measure up. The "other guys" rip apart, need more to clean up the mess, but Bounty is the "quicker picker upper". Clearly, they show their competitor's weakness, but more importantly, they show their own product's strength.

3. Know your real estate. While it's important to know the audience you're selling to, it's vastly important as well to know where you are going to place your ads to attract the right customers. Selling prunes to teens might not attract attention, but seniors may be more susceptible to hearing your message about the benefits of eating prunes. Since 20% of your customers account for 80% of your business, you don't want to "waste real estate" by putting your ads in the wrong place.

4. Remember WIFM (What's in it for me) refers to your customer, not you. You might laugh, but some business owners focus entirely on what's in their business for them, ignoring the fact that the customer is concerned only with what's in it for me--the customer. Don't get me wrong. You want to have specific goals, and you want to test and measure everything to make sure you make and exceed those goals, but what we're really talking about here is the value you offer your customers. Attract them with:

* Special offers that truly feel "special" for that customer. There's an art to selling to many, but making the customer taking advantage of the sale feel like they are unique is a must.

* Create an inviting atmosphere. By this I mean to share with your potential customers and existing customers how your product with better their lives. Are they saving time and money? Are they being smart by buying more than one? Will your product or service afford them the things they dream about doing or having? Will they breathe easier? Whatever it may be, create the environment for them and invite them to experience it.

* Excite them to the point they can't wait to share with others. This is a biggie. Success breeds referrals. And what better way to get more business than from someone referring a friend or colleague to you. Track referrals. Thank your referring customer with something special: an added discount, a cup of coffee on you…a freebie. Make it personal - and memorable.

5. Write a message that speaks to the customer in a personal, direct way. This is referring to pronoun use. In other words, you'll want to use "you" "your" rather than "I, my, and our". (Example: "You will experience peace of mind" over" Our product provides peace of mind.")

6. Know the landscape. In other words, know who's running your ad and where. The Internet is a wonderful thing, but put in the wrong place, an ad can be an eyesore at best and totally ignored at worst. Interestingly, it's an advertising ploy, to some degree, to purposely put an article or ad in an unexpected place to draw in new customers, but the key word there is "purposely". Research the guidelines for the medium you choose to advertise with and be sure you meet the criteria. Yu wouldn't jam a jigsaw puzzle piece into a space just to fill the space, and you don't want to "jam" your ad in a space when clearly it would be best suited somewhere else.

7. Don't cram your mouth full. By this I mean cramming so much into the copy that the reader takes one look and says "I don't have time for all that" and skips yours to read another ad, article, or marketing piece that's easier to digest. Give the reader a little breathing space with bullets and keep your content trimmed to specific, helpful information.

8. Invite them to take action. I can't tell you how many times I read copy from an ad or article that does not invite the reader to DO something, whether that "do" is to call, sign up for, take advantage of, or BUY right now. Customers want to cooperate! But you have to let them know what you want them to do.

9. Offer promises, but only if you can keep them. Guarantees are great in that they provide customers a chance to try your service or product risk free, but many times there are hidden, "small print" messages that totally remove the safety net for the customer. Don't make promises you can't keep, or that have conditions. Be up front with your customer. Honesty and integrity go a long, long way.

10. Nobody likes typos. Or bad grammar. Now, I'm not saying to be so perfect in your writing that your customer feels like they have to walk in holding a tea cup with their pinkies in the air. But, I am saying that typos and poor grammar do not fill a customer with confidence. Anytime you create what I call a "hiccup" in your copy…a place for your reader to stop, doubt, and question…you've lost the opportunity to build trust, connect, and sell to that person.

So, there you have them. Ten ways to create infectious copy. Of course, there's a lot more to creating contagious copy than what's outlined here, but if you take these initial steps, you're well on your way to writing effective, can't-get-enough copy. Write a couple of different ads and test the market to see which ones get the most hits and build from there. And don't ever feel like you're out there alone with any issue relating to business - even copywriting. A business coach has effective systems to put into place that can help you in all areas of your business.

Be real. Be discoverable. And as they say in music…Be natural.

For advice and proven systems to advance your business, visit and Peter Williamson, Master Licensee, helps you find instant and lasting solutions to increase your profits by 61% or more - guaranteed. Email

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