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Don’t Sell Yourself Short — Copywriting for Marketing Materials
T he ability to write effective copy is an important skill to acquire if you are part of your company’s marketing team. In this issue of PrintTips we will discuss the characteristics of effective copywriting and offer some techniques to improve your skills.
The Building Blocks of Effective Copy
Effective marketing copy has an accepted form and predictable content. The form is in three parts: a headline or attention-grabbing first sentence; the development of the sales pitch; and a call to action.Whether you are writing a sales letter, ad copy, a brochure or a direct mail marketing
piece, the same three parts will always be present.
Similarly, the content consists of three parts: who, what and why. Who means the audience the message is aimed at; what means the specifics of the product or service being sold; and why means the reasons for buying this particular product or service instead of others. Before you can begin writing, you must have thought through the who, what and why so you know how to write the copy.
Define the Audience
You may think that anyone (or everyone) is the potential audience for your product or service. However, marketing to an audience that broad is not feasible. In fact, most businesses derive about 80% of their sales from about 20% of their customers. Find that group in your own business, and see what characteristics they have in common. Or study your competitors to see who they are targeting.
If you can’t decide who your customers are, decide who they are not. It may be easier to decide who you do not want to serve than who you do. Remember that a target audience is more than a statement of demographics.Visualize a real person to represent the target audience, and be as specific as you can.To describe a target audience as “working mothers,
aged 18 to 45” is a more effective planning tool than the general “women aged 18-45.” If you can precisely define your target audience, you will be able to write advertising copy with definite appeal to that audience.
Define the Product in Terms of the Audience
Begin by spotlighting the features and benefits of the product or service you are selling.
For each feature, develop an accompanying benefit – this will be used later to develop the appeal to your audience. For example, if your product is made of durable material (feature), the benefit is that the product will last longer, need replacement less often and retain its attractive appearance.
Benefit statements reflect how the product or service affects the customer’s life. Usually the benefits will make the customer’s life or task easier, faster or more desirable. Remember that cost and quality are major considerations when describing product benefits. Price + quality = value is a very persuasive benefit that most buyers are seeking.
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