I am constantly reminded that a sales copywriter is not only supposed to make the text levitate off the page, but also use this text to mind control the reader. There are flashes of movies that pop into my mind as I consider how the writer is to accomplish these tasks. One such image is Drew Berrymore in Firestarter with her hair rising from the energy she is projecting from her mind. It is probably a good thing I don’t have this kind of power. Sometimes, however, it feels as though this is the expectation clients have of writers: that we should be able to concentrate incoming gamma radiation and convert it into pixilated letters that create the perfect hypnotizing, zombification spell, rendering readers into shoppers who will willingly max out their credit cards. Then I read the keyword phrases and I realize the client is a comedian. I am working for Jerry Seinfeld, and I must be playing the part of Kramer, George or, god help me, Elaine.
Writers, however, are about as close to wizardry as one can get. I have known some who were great at potions, such as the Lemon Drop, Cosmopolitan, or the standard tonic of a martini. But how does one perfect the art of levitation? According to Hermione Granger, “It’s not Leviosa, it’s Levy Oh sa.” Well, for you muggles, we will have to do this the hard way.
1. Ask yourself, for whom are you writing. The answer is not your client, but your client’s readers. In some cases, your clients client’s readers.
2. Write directly to the reader. This may mean crafting content that is gender, age, race, or even demographically appropriate to the audience. Examples might be women over 30 or grandparents shopping for their grandchildren’s birthday.
3. Ask yourself, why is the reader reading this content? What is it they are trying to discover? If you can answer these questions, then the content you create should fulfill the answer to those questions.
4. Ask yourself, how knowledgeable is the reader about the subject? Knowing this will help you find the correct voice to relate to your audience.
5. The content should add value. The reader is investing their time to read the content and they should feel like they are taking something away that is equal or greater than the value of their time.
6. Tell a story, give examples, and make it personable. The art of persuasion does not lie in demanding that the reader do something — it is showing them why they need to do it or why they want to do it. Write in such a way as to make the reader think it was their own idea.
7. Remember to show the reader, not just tell them. When you show someone and allow them to come to their on conclusions based on your persuasion, you end up with a reader who is more likely to do what you need them to do.
These seven tips can help any sales copywriter improve the quality of the content they produce. The resources below were articles I found useful in becoming a successful writer. Be sure to bookmark them.
Resources and Further Reading:
Audience – The Writing Center – University of North Carolina
Audience Awareness – Texas A&M
Guide to Persuasive Writing – Baltimore Public Schools
Persuasive or argumentative essays – Study Guides and Strategies
Show Don’t Tell Jerz’s Literacy Weblog
David S is a full-time freelance content writer. He focuses on content that he enjoys writing, such as travel, outdoor recreation, nature, green living, science, and organic gardening. He is currently celebrating his fifth year as a full-time writer.