Secrets of Copywriting: The Power Of A Strong Value Proposition

Would You Like To Harness The Power of Your Value Proposition?

Would You Like To Harness The Power of Your Value Proposition?

Have you ever tried to write something persuasive and felt that you’re not getting it right?

Maybe your writing feels generic. Maybe it’s disorganized, or too pushy. Maybe … you just don’t know. And readers don’t take the action you’re hoping for. Does this sound familiar?

If you don’t sell the product or get the subscribers, the time you spent writing has been wasted. The waste is twofold: you don’t get the results you hoped for, and your potential customers — your readers — lose faith.

But some people get their writing to work like magic—every time. Each word, every sentence just pulls the reader along until they subscribe to the blog or buy the product.

It might look like magic, but it’s not. All it takes is a few sentences.

What you are missing is: your value proposition.

 

What is a value proposition?

 

Your value proposition describes your unique value.

Your unique value is what your competitors can’t or don’t offer, but it’s what your customers want.

For example, you might offer the greatest expertise, lowest prices, fastest delivery, best customer service, largest selection, highest quality, or simply a trendy specialty.

Your value proposition should be a combination of a few unique and valuable characteristics or qualities.

 

Why you should identify your value proposition

 

A value proposition is a collection of the most compelling reasons for people to buy or sign up for your product or service.

It is what makes people care about what you say.

If your sales or landing page doesn’t give readers a great reason to read on, they’re not going to do it. And they surely won’t subscribe to your list or buy your product if you haven’t got them thinking about the value.

It doesn’t matter if you have something great to offer. It doesn’t matter if your email list or product is the best in the world.

All that matters is whether the reader perceives the action—buying, subscribing, and so on—to be worthwhile, to be of value to them.

If you don’t understand how to manage a reader’s perception, you can’t persuade them to do what you want.

Without that knowledge, you’re writing blind—hoping to say the right things in the right order in the right way to get the result you want.

It’s like trying to play chess without seeing the other player’s moves.

And many bloggers and business people attempt to do exactly that. They don’t have a clear vision of the key ideas that will persuade their readers.

Yet they wonder why their business or blog isn’t growing.

Those key ideas, which make all the difference, form your value proposition.

 

Making people believe your value proposition

 

But being unique and valuable isn’t enough; people need to believe you, too.

Your word has little weight out here in the blogosphere. You can say you’re the best or your product is the greatest in every way imaginable. And people won’t believe any of it.

Not unless you give them a reason.

That can mean testimonials, statistics, studies, and/or common sense. But you need something to back up your claims. Otherwise people disregard your words as “marketing talk.”

In many cases, someone might write a pretty good sales or landing page but forget to include a reason to believe any of it.

The proof doesn’t have to be as obvious as “here’s a study that proves what I said”. Instead you could say, “according to study XYZ” and then make the claim.

If a part of your value proposition is to offer the lowest prices, don’t just say your prices are the lowest. Give a lowest-price guarantee.

If you call your product better than its alternatives, explain exactly how it is better.

If you say you’re an expert at something, have other experts support your claim with testimonials rather than just calling yourself an expert.

Don’t let your sales or landing page fail just because people don’t believe what you’re saying.

 

How to infuse your value proposition into your writing

 

When you have a strong value proposition and you know how to prove everything in it, you need to use it in your sales copy.

The effectiveness of your writing relies heavily on how well you infuse your value proposition into it.

It’s a collection of the most persuasive arguments you have, much like the psychological strings you need to weave into your copy.

If you forget to use them, you won’t persuade anyone to buy from you, except those in the most desperate need of your product.

But if you have a fully developed and refined value proposition, you’re likely to experience the seemingly magical ‘ads write themselves’ effect. So it’s unlikely that you’d forget to use it.

Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:

1. Use your headline to give a clear idea of at least one part of your value proposition. The concept behind the headline is much more important than the exact headline formula you use, though both impact your results.

2. Dedicate at least one sub-headline (and the following section) for each of the core concepts of your value proposition. These are the ideas that are most likely to persuade the reader, so don’t shy away from them.

3. Tie all your product’s features to your value proposition. Don’t just casually mention something in your sales copy. Instead, explain why that particular concept or element helps deliver one or more of the core concepts of your value proposition.

 

Of course, you can’t do any of this if you don’t know what your value proposition is.

If you’re trying to persuade someone to do something—buy a product or service or just subscribe to your blog—take the time to figure it out. Even the newest or smallest blog or business has a value proposition. What’s yours?

Use the comments to tell us what makes you, your blog, your email list, or your product special. Why should people pay attention to it? And why should they believe what you’re saying?

And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask them.

 

About the author:

Right now, Peter Sandeen is probably knee-deep in snow (he lives in Finland) with his wife and dogs. But you can download his quick 5-step system for finding the core of your value proposition.

Image: Offering Value courtesy of Bigstockphoto.com

Write Inspired Copy – 5 Tips to Help Copywriters

Are You Ready To Write Inspired Copy?

Are You Ready To Write Inspired Copy?

Copywriters often find themselves writing on some pretty mundane topics.

From ‘Installing the best security doors’ to ‘The top five high-interest savings accounts’, it can sometimes be hard for a copywriter to feel motivated to write on certain topics.

And you need to be motivated to write inspired copy.

If you’re finding it difficult to write on a topic you consider boring, here are some simple tips to ensure you meet your targets.

1. Find an angle which interests you.

Okay, so you might not be particularly thrilled at the prospect of writing about the latest air-conditioning unit. But this article is going to pay your bills, so you really need to write it!

Find something that interests you about what you’re writing. Even if it’s something small, such as this air-conditioning unit can go four degrees lower than the average air-conditioning unit.

If you find something interesting or exciting, you’ll find you can build on it and the words will flow a lot more easily.

2. Take regular breaks.

The importance of regular breaks cannot be emphasized enough.

If you’re struggling with a piece, take a 10-minute time-out. Walk away. Do something else and come back with a fresh mind and fresh eyes.

If you’re still having trouble, take baby steps. I often find that if I’m not motivated, I have to go slow.

Force yourself to write for as little as five minutes and then take a long break, then write for another five minutes and so on. Eventually you’ll finish the piece and when everything’s on the page, you can leave it and come back later to edit it.

Like writers the world over say, just start writing! You can always go back and change it.

3. Research as deeply as you can.

Conducting research is standard procedure for any copywriter, especially if you’re writing on an unfamiliar topic.

If you’re finding it difficult to write even though you’ve done some research, do more research! Once you become familiar with a topic you’ll find it easier to write about.

When you know more, you can see more angles and take more directions with your writing. Having more options will help you write inspired copy.

4. Break up your work with something that interests you.

In an ideal world, we’d all be working at our dream jobs and copywriters would all be writing on their favorite topics.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. However much we grumble, sometimes we have to write about things we’re not that interested in.

Combat this by using your own time to work on something that really interests you, such as writing a blog. If you love travel but end up writing about web design, start a travel blog off the job to keep your creativity alive.

You will not only feel more fulfilled, but this extra writing will motivate you when you’re struggling to write. Simply because writing breeds more writing.

5. Write a story.

As a journalist, I’ve often found it easier to write an article if I act as though I’m telling a friend a story.

For example, if I’d interviewed someone, I would write as though I was telling my friend about the interview, including little asides, such as how nervous I felt or what coffee we both chose. This helped me to inject some personality into the piece.

As a copywriter, I still use this technique when writing articles, although I usually take myself out of the equation.

If you’re writing a product guide for a home appliance, for example, include instances of when someone might need a particular wash on a washing machine, like when the boys return from football. Including such little nuances will also help the reader relate more to what you’re writing about.

 

Copywriting can be one of the most satisfying jobs to have. Nothing beats the thrill of seeing your name in print. Knowing that people are reading something you’ve written creates a fantastic buzz.

However, it can also be one of the most challenging jobs. With deadlines looming and expectations running high, there’s nothing worse than feeling stuck and lacking the motivation to write.

Hopefully these little tips will help you the next time you start to feel the pressure mounting. We can’t write on our favorite topics all the time, but we can make our writing fun and interesting, both for ourselves and our readers.

Happy writing! And don’t forget to share in the comments the other tips that help you write inspired copy.


About the author:

Sarah Murray is a copywriter for leading white goods retailer, Appliances Online. If you’d like to read more of her work, stop by the Appliances Online At Home blog.
Image: Writing Inspired Copy courtesy of Bigstockphoto.com

Secrets of Copywriting: How to Pull the Reader’s Psychological Strings

Do you know how to pull psychological strings?

Do you know how to pull psychological strings?

Words move us.

Whether we hear them or read them in a novel, a song, a poem, or on a sales page, words have the ability to excite, motivate and influence us because they arouse our emotions.

And we all have emotional responses to factors that are playing out in our lives whether they’re dreams, goals, responsibilities, or our own identities. Often, we’re completely unaware of these responses so we can be persuaded, even manipulated, without us knowing.

We’re like string instruments with each string representing different needs, wishes, joys and sorrows.

When our strings are plucked or pulled—when we’re reminded of those needs—something in us resonates, and we respond, usually without thinking.

A writer’s job is to pull on the psychological strings of readers to arouse their emotions. This is true no matter what kind of writing it is, but it’s especially applicable to copywriting.

I recently wrote a sales page for  WTD Chief Editor Mary Jaksch, and I followed a process I often use to find the right psychological strings.

This four-step process will help you avoid some of the most costly mistakes people make when they write to sell.  Read more »

7 Ways Twitter Sharpens Your Writing

Twitter for writers?

Imagine a place where you could easily write 30, 40 or 50 blog posts a day.

In this place, you’d automatically receive individual feedback for each blog post on whether it touched base with your readers.

You’d be sure that every one of your blog posts would be read, and some of them would be widely shared.

Each blog post you write in this place improves your writing.

Such a place exists and, chances are, you already hang out there.

Twitter launched in 2006, at the dawn of the golden age of blogging. Nowadays, it’s known as a social network, but back then Twitter was a microblogging service. Twitter made sense to bloggers because, in simple terms, it was a blogging platform where blog posts had to be squeezed into 140 characters.

Twitter is a blogging platform and a place to sharpen your writing skills.

As a writer, you can use Twitter for all of the following.

1. Practice your writing.

Twitter is a writer’s sandbox. You can be creative, try out new things, see what works and what doesn’t. Because each update is so tiny and transient, your mistakes are quickly forgotten. But when you do something that resonates with your readers, it can reach thousands or hundreds of thousands of people in a matter of minutes.

Some writers use Twitter to share micropoems. (Check out these 100 little Twitter poems, or search Twitter for the #sixwords hashtag). Others use it to tell stories from their day or promote their work.

2. Network with other writers

Twitter is known as a social network because it’s fantastic for networking. You can use it to talk directly with all kinds of writers from established old school writers (Neil Gaiman, Paulo Coelho, Alain de Botton) to successful self published writers (Sean Platt, Joanna Penn, Ali Luke) to superstar bloggers (Jeff Goins, Danny Iny, Mary Jaksch).

Perhaps most important of all are the thousands of all-around friendly writers and editors who are still on the journey and are happy to chat, ask for feedback on their writing, and give feedback on yours. Some of my favorites are John Wiswell, Amanda Socci and Jackie Pearce.

As you network with other writers, you’ll discover writing tips, new writing challenges, and writing communities where you’ll feel right at home.

3. Keep your writing concise

“Eliminate the non-essential” is Write to Done’s advice on keeping your writing concise.

Twitter gives you only 140 characters to play with, so it squeezes the excess pith from your words, leaving only the nourishing juice. You’re forced to write concisely, to discard the ore and share only the gold.

4. Track your results

I know many writers prefer the romance of poetry and stories to the hard, concrete facts of numbers and raw data.

Yet to succeed as a professional writer, you must take a keen interest in numbers. How many dollars you’re earning. How many books you’ve sold. How many readers are subscribed to your blog.

Twitter allows you to track the success of your writing in hard numbers. You can see whether your follower count is growing, whether your tweets are being shared, and (using simple web apps such as Buffer) whether people are clicking the links you share.

If your follower count is flat-lining and your links aren’t being clicked, that’s useful feedback, and you can start to do things differently.

5. Find out what your readers want

One way of attracting more readers is knowing what your readers want. The simplest way to do this is to ask them, and Twitter provides the perfect platform to fire out questions to your readers.

Also, take note which tweets are most popular with your followers – either through retweets, replies, or clicking the link you shared. When readers share or reply to your tweets, they’re saying “More like this, please”.

6. Learn what entices

In the web age, writing is copywriting. And copywriting means attracting attention.

Twitter, with its built-in systems for tracking results, is ideal for learning what gets attention and what gets ignored. In particular, you can use Twitter to practice writing headlines that get the most clicks. The better you are at writing neck snapping headlines, the more readers you’ll attract to your blog posts, ebooks, and articles.

7. Discover creative inspiration and ideas

Twitter is a playground of ideas. Everywhere you look, you’ll find ideas for stories to tell, research to pursue, and people you could interview for your next article.

Whenever you feel stuck for writing ideas, turn to Twitter. In just a few minutes you’ll find an idea or story angle that excites you and you want to pursue.

So what are you waiting for? If you’ve yet to sign up to Twitter, or you’ve allowed your Twitter account to fade away into zombie status, get started today!

 

About the author:

David Masters teaches you how to buzz up your social media soul at Social Caffeine. Come on over and join the party.

Image by thehutch

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The Art (and Science) Behind Neck-Snapping Headlines

how to write great headlines&#@!

I’ve already broken a major rule of copywriting…

… and I should know better. Because as a professional copywriter – with seven figures of sales for clients – I know the secrets to crafting irresistible headlines.

But this one breaks a rule. And it’s a biggie.

I’ll explain that rule in a minute, but we need to make a deal first. I’ll explain the broken rule – and why I broke it – if you promise to read this entire post without skipping ahead.

Do we have a deal? Good.

Neck Snapping Headlines Require Three Ingredients…

John Caples – along with Joe Sugarman and Eugene Schwartz – is considered one of the best copywriters ever.

Not only was John Caples a gifted writer, he was also an avid tester. He routinely tested assumptions (notably headlines) to see why some worked… and others fell flat.

He then wrote a book about it: Tested Advertising Methods. And guess what? He dedicates four whole chapters to headlines.

As Caples once famously said:

“If the headline of an advertisement is poor, the best copywriters in the world can’t write copy that will sell the goods.”

Caples explained great headlines have three ingredients:

#1. Self-interest.

These headlines explicitly tell your reader what’s in it for them.

For example:

  • “How to Write Better .”
  • “How You Can Get Your First 1,000 Subscribers”
  • “The Secret to Great Copy”

#2. News.

These headlines announce something “new”, which draws your reader in.

For example:

  • “New Writing Technique Doubles Your Productivity!”
  • “Announcing Apple’s New Fan-Boy Favorite For Writers!”
  • “New Study Finds Writers Block Is A Complete Myth (and How to Break It)”

(Note:  These headlines sound newsworthy, but they also include self-interest. The combination makes them stronger).

#3. Curiosity.

Curiosity is extremely powerful online. Your readers may have seven tabs, chat windows and god-knows-how-many social platforms open.

Curiosity grabs their attention and pulls them into your copy. The first few paragraphs should build suspense and arouse curiosity (notice how I did that with the opening paragraphs here?)

For example:

  • “What American Idol Can Teach You About Writing Well”
  • “Why Getting Arrested Made Me A Better Writer”
  • “How Two Teenagers Turned A Bicycle And A Hundred Bucks Into A $53 Billion Dollar Company” (yes, this one’s true – which was it? Let me know in the comments below!)

The more of these “ingredients” you include in your headlines, the better.

How To Write Irresistible Headlines Right Now

Luckily for you, there are plenty of proven headline templates available. Some have worked for decades… and will work for decades more.

Why?

Because these templates use the elements of self-interest, news and curiosity that John Caples swore by.

So to get you started, here are…

10 Proven Headline Templates

#1. “Reasons Why _________”

Example: “7 Shocking Reasons Why Your Headlines Fail (And What To Do About It)”

#2. “How To…Without…”

Example: “How To Land A Book Deal Without An Agent”

#3. “The Secret to….”

Example: The Secret to Writing Well

#4. “Why Haven’t You…”

Example: Why Haven’t You Used These Writing Hacks Yet?

#5. “The ______ Guide To….”

Example: The Stephen King Guide to Writing Fiendishly Good Books

#6. “Are You Making These ______ Mistakes?”

Example: “Are You Making These Common Grammar Mistakes?”

#7. “Why ______ Is Wrong”

Example: “Why Ernest Hemingway Is Wrong For the Internet” (you could write a post like this one explaining why “literary” writing is not a good fit for the web.

#8. “Don’t Read This If…”

Example: “Don’t Read This If Your Writing Already Wins Awards.”

#9. “Common Mistakes…”

Example: 37 Common Mistakes New Writers Make (And How To Avoid Them)

#10. “Cheat Sheets” or “Blueprints”

Example: “A Cheat Sheet for Powerful Writing”

And if you want some to get started, I’ve created a list of 101 headline templates which you can use right away.

WARNING: Don’t Use These Templates
Until You Read This…

A great headline is a promise.

A great piece of writing delivers on that promise.

So before you run off with these templates, make sure your content delivers what they promise. For example, a 1,000 word post on grammar is unlikely to be “The Ultimate Guide to Grammar”.

It’s just not big enough.

And if your headline promises to reveal “The Hidden Secret to Writing Faster,” it better not be painfully obvious (e.g. “Just write continuously.)

Of course, these templates can be used elsewhere, too…

5 Uncommon (But Extremely Powerful) Places To Put Your Headlines

#1. Your email subject lines.

Powerful subject lines mean higher open rates and engagement with your audience.

Most autoresponders let you split test your subject lines to see what works. For example, let’s say you have 10,000 subscribers. You could send two different subject lines to 2,000 subscribers, see which works better, then email the winner to your remaining 8,000 subscribers.  Cool, huh?

#2. Twitter.

Use proven templates to craft your Tweets. Like email, it leads to higher clicks and engagement. This also works well for social bookmarking sites like Digg or StumbleUpon.

#3. Your sub-headers.

Notice the sub-headers in this post? They kinda look like headlines, don’t they? Sub-headers break up your content into easy-to-digest nuggets… and compelling headlines keep your readers hungry for more.

#4. Bullets.

People love reading bullets –  so make sure to include proven headlines there, too!

#5. Product names/Presentations.

“How To Double Your Traffic With An Editorial Calendar” sounds so much better than “Getting Started with Editorial Calendars,” don’t you think?

Revealed: The “Broken Rule” And Why I Broke It…

As I mentioned before, your content must support your headline.

No matter how amazing your headline is, it will FAIL if your content doesn’t deliver.

For example, if your headline promises “7 Ways To Lose Belly Fat Without Dieting” and you only list five (and mention dieting in one of them)…

You’re screwed.

Which is why I took a risk here. This post’s headline, “The Art (and Science) of Neck-snapping Headlines” does not mention art.

Know why?

Because there is no art in copywriting. Only science (specifically psychology and statistics) are needed to write eye-catching headlines.

I included “art” in the headline for two reasons:

  • First, it’s a commonly known phrase (e.g. “The Art of War”)
  • Secondly, some people believe headlines are an art form, and I’d love to hear their opinion on this.

What do you think? Is there room for art in headlines? Or does science rule?

Let me know in the comments below (and feel free to post some of your headlines, too!)

A guest post by Adam Costa. He is is the co-founder of Travel Blogger Academy and Trekity.com. Grab his 101 headline templates and start writing irresistible headlines today! Oh yeah, if you dig travel, follow him on Twitter.