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Copywriting for Beginners: Part 3 of 3 - How to Persuade

Learn how to write copy that persuades people to buy. Copywriting secrets revealed.

Copywriting for Beginners: Part 3 of 3 - How to Persuade

Learn how to write copy that persuades people to buy. Copywriting secrets revealed.
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When potential buyers read your promotional copy, they expect you to take them on a journey from Point A to Point B using the most efficient route. And they expect you to value their time by telling them only what they need to know. To succeed with today's busy, distracted buyers, you need to give your sales pitch a logical order.
Customers buy benefits, not features. And yet one of the most common mistakes that manufacturers make in their copy is concentrating on features and forgetting about benefits. Good copy uses features and benefits. Good copy not only lists a product’s features, it also describes the benefits of those features.
One advantage of copywriting is that you can anticipate objections and answer them in your copy. You can even start your copy with a common objection, and answer it square on. Here are three common objections, and ways that you can overcome them in your copy.
Lily Tomlin, the American comic, once said: “When I was growing up, I wanted to be a somebody. Now I realize I should have been more specific.” In copywriting, as in life, specifics sell. Generalities don’t. Learn why. And how.
You need to decide what makes you different from your competitors, and you need to promote that uniqueness in your copy. Just make sure your differentiator is compelling and actually differentiates you.
A picture is never worth a thousand words. A picture that demonstrates a product in use rarely communicate everything the manufacturer wants to communicate. Words are needed, either in the form of a photo caption or body copy, to describe or explain what the viewer is seeing.
Your copy must overcome three doubts.These doubts are really questions that consumers and business buyers ask themselves as they are reading your copy, while they are deliberating about whether they will buy from you or not. The three questions are these: 1. Can I trust you? 2. Do you understand my need? 3. Will your product or service meet my need? In every piece of copy you write, you need to overcome these doubts or you will not close the sale. And you won’t secure the long-term loyalty of your customer.
Testimonials are valuable because they say what you cannot. If you say it, you’re boasting. If a satisfied client says it, they are applauding. Here are some tips on using testimonials to make your copy more plausible--and profitable.
Giving your prospect a deadline for ordering, particularly when that deadline is a date and not simply a period of days, will out pull copy with no deadline almost every time. But you need to be cautious about deadlines.
The best guarantee to offer your potential buyers is one that hurts. Hurts you, that is. Like you, your potential buyer lives in a rip-off society where merchants sell shoddy products and vendors do not honour their promises. In this kind of selling and buying climate, the best way to increase your response rates and encourage repeat business is to offer a guarantee that hurts you but helps your customer. The more you have to lose, and the less your customer has to lose, the better off you both will be. Here's what I mean.
Sometimes the easiest way to improve your copy is to return to the basics. Here they are.
In copywriting, the offer is the incentive or reward that you dangle in front of your prospects to motivate them to respond to your marketing message. Offers are vital to the success of just about any marketing copy. You need to motivate action. Without a clear, compelling offer, your response rates will be low and your promotion unprofitable. Here’s why you need an offer.
In marketing, you are unlikely to reach prospects at the very moment they are ready to buy. And even if you do, you are not likely to close the sale with just one piece of copy. That’s because most buying decisions rarely involve just one step (such as dropping a cheque in the mail or placing an order using your toll-free number). Instead, the buying cycle typically involves looking for information, learning about solutions, comparing brands, deciding on the best option, then making the purchase. Because you do not usually know where cold prospects are in their buying cycle, your copy should try to hook them wherever they are. The best way to generate a response is to present more than one offer.
In marketing, the offer is the incentive or reward that you dangle in front of your prospects to motivate them to respond to your marketing message, either with an order or with a request for more information. Offers follow a, “you do this and we’ll do that” format. For example: “Place your order before June 3 and we’ll reduce your price by 40%” or “Phone now and we’ll send you a free demo CD.” Here are some examples of offers that businesses use to sell their products and services using the power of "free."
In B2B lead generation, you are after a lead, not a sale. But you are unlikely to reach prospects at the very moment they are ready to buy. Because you do not usually know where cold prospects are in their buying cycle, your copy should try to hook them wherever they are. One of the best ways to generate an inquiry is to offer prospects information that helps them make an informed decision. Here are some ideas for informational offers.
Every piece of copy you put in front of customers or potential customers should contain an incentive that motivates your reader to place an order or request more information. In direct response parlance, this incentive is called your “offer.” Discounts are effective offers. Depending on what you are selling, and depending on who you are selling it to, offering a discount is likely to increase your response rate and the number of orders you receive. Here are four discounts that you can offer.
With few exceptions, every piece of copy you write should contain an offer. The offer is the incentive or reward that motivates prospects to respond to your marketing message, either with an order or with a request for more information. “Subscribe to Hook, Line and Sinker today and save 45% off the newsstand price” is an example of an offer. To be effective, your offers must pass seven tests.
Anglers in Maine catch trout using dry flies with barb-less hooks. Unless they keep tension on the line all the way to the net, they lose the trout. Your sales letters must do the same. But how?
The easiest way to increase the effectiveness of your sales letters is to make your copy more personal. Given the choice between reading a flyer and reading a hand-written note from a friend, most people will read the personal note first. Here are some ways to make your copy more personal.
A subscriber to my newsletter asks: "Got any good pointers on writing great sub-heads?" Yes, I do. Here they are.
One of your challenges as a copywriter is keeping your readers hooked so that they read all your copy, from start to finish. One of the most important places to keep your potential buyers hooked is your photos. Here are some rules for writing captions that keep your prospects reading.
Your success as a copywriter depends on your ability to persuade.

As a salesperson behind a keyboard, your job is to persuade people to buy products and services. Your job as a copywriter is not to be clever, or witty, or to win awards. Your job is to persuade.

Welcome to copywriting for beginners, part three of three: persuasion.

I'm your instructor, Alan Sharpe.

I got started as a copywriter in 1989.

In the years since then, I've worked as a freelancer and as an in-house copywriter at an ad agency.

I have written in all of the channels-offline, online, outdoor, mobile, and broadcast.

I have written print ads, radio commercials, email newsletters, sales letters, banner ads, product packaging, brochures, factsheets, case studies, slogans, and plenty more for Apple, IBM, Bell, Re/Max, Hilton Hotels and hundreds of other clients worldwide.

In case you're wondering, I've been teaching copywriting since 1995.

What will you learn in this course?
  • Write persuasive copy
  • Write using features and benefits
  • Overcome objections
  • Overcome doubts with testimonials
  • Craft compelling offers
  • Use deadlines and guarantees to boost response

Why take this course

This course teaches you how to write copy that persuades people to buy.

I teach you the tips and tricks I've learned in over 30 years of writing effective copy.

At the end of this course, you’ll know how to write copy that generates results. You’ll know how to craft copy that persuades.

Course structure

This course is divided into three sections.

Section one is all about persuasion.

  • You'll learn how to give your sales pitch a proven structure.
  • I'll show you how to write using features and benefits.
  • You'll learn how to write copy that overcomes objections.
  • We'll cover testimonials, guarantees, deadlines, and other tactics that persuade people to buy.

Section two is all about offers.

  • You'll discover why your copy needs an offer.
  • We'll look at the two main categories of offers.
  • And I'll share with you the many ways you can use offers to boost the power of your copy to persuade.

Section three is all about keeping your readers hooked.

  • You’ll learn how to write subheads and photo captions that keep your potential buyers engaged in your copy.
  • I’ll show you how to make your copy more effective by making it conversational and personal.

This course is filled with practical, step-by-step advice, tools, tips, and tricks that I've learned over the years as a professional copywriter.

I use dozens of examples from the real world of copywriting-both offline and online-to teach you to the art of writing persuasive copy.

Is this course for you?

I designed this course for copywriters who want to write persuasive copy, who want to write copy that doesn’t just entertain or inform-but generates results.

If you need to write persuasive copy for a living, then this course is for you.

Who should take this course?

Aspiring copywriters

Requirements

  • You must know how to write in English.
  • You must have a basic understanding of sales and marketing concepts.
  • Ideally, you should have taken Copywriting for beginners parts 1 and 2.
 
When potential buyers read your promotional copy, they expect you to take them on a journey from Point A to Point B using the most efficient route. And they expect you to value their time by telling them only what they need to know. To succeed with today's busy, distracted buyers, you need to give your sales pitch a logical order.
Customers buy benefits, not features. And yet one of the most common mistakes that manufacturers make in their copy is concentrating on features and forgetting about benefits. Good copy uses features and benefits. Good copy not only lists a product’s features, it also describes the benefits of those features.
One advantage of copywriting is that you can anticipate objections and answer them in your copy. You can even start your copy with a common objection, and answer it square on. Here are three common objections, and ways that you can overcome them in your copy.
Lily Tomlin, the American comic, once said: “When I was growing up, I wanted to be a somebody. Now I realize I should have been more specific.” In copywriting, as in life, specifics sell. Generalities don’t. Learn why. And how.
You need to decide what makes you different from your competitors, and you need to promote that uniqueness in your copy. Just make sure your differentiator is compelling and actually differentiates you.
A picture is never worth a thousand words. A picture that demonstrates a product in use rarely communicate everything the manufacturer wants to communicate. Words are needed, either in the form of a photo caption or body copy, to describe or explain what the viewer is seeing.
Your copy must overcome three doubts.These doubts are really questions that consumers and business buyers ask themselves as they are reading your copy, while they are deliberating about whether they will buy from you or not. The three questions are these: 1. Can I trust you? 2. Do you understand my need? 3. Will your product or service meet my need? In every piece of copy you write, you need to overcome these doubts or you will not close the sale. And you won’t secure the long-term loyalty of your customer.
Testimonials are valuable because they say what you cannot. If you say it, you’re boasting. If a satisfied client says it, they are applauding. Here are some tips on using testimonials to make your copy more plausible--and profitable.
Giving your prospect a deadline for ordering, particularly when that deadline is a date and not simply a period of days, will out pull copy with no deadline almost every time. But you need to be cautious about deadlines.
The best guarantee to offer your potential buyers is one that hurts. Hurts you, that is. Like you, your potential buyer lives in a rip-off society where merchants sell shoddy products and vendors do not honour their promises. In this kind of selling and buying climate, the best way to increase your response rates and encourage repeat business is to offer a guarantee that hurts you but helps your customer. The more you have to lose, and the less your customer has to lose, the better off you both will be. Here's what I mean.
Sometimes the easiest way to improve your copy is to return to the basics. Here they are.
In copywriting, the offer is the incentive or reward that you dangle in front of your prospects to motivate them to respond to your marketing message. Offers are vital to the success of just about any marketing copy. You need to motivate action. Without a clear, compelling offer, your response rates will be low and your promotion unprofitable. Here’s why you need an offer.
In marketing, you are unlikely to reach prospects at the very moment they are ready to buy. And even if you do, you are not likely to close the sale with just one piece of copy. That’s because most buying decisions rarely involve just one step (such as dropping a cheque in the mail or placing an order using your toll-free number). Instead, the buying cycle typically involves looking for information, learning about solutions, comparing brands, deciding on the best option, then making the purchase. Because you do not usually know where cold prospects are in their buying cycle, your copy should try to hook them wherever they are. The best way to generate a response is to present more than one offer.
In marketing, the offer is the incentive or reward that you dangle in front of your prospects to motivate them to respond to your marketing message, either with an order or with a request for more information. Offers follow a, “you do this and we’ll do that” format. For example: “Place your order before June 3 and we’ll reduce your price by 40%” or “Phone now and we’ll send you a free demo CD.” Here are some examples of offers that businesses use to sell their products and services using the power of "free."
In B2B lead generation, you are after a lead, not a sale. But you are unlikely to reach prospects at the very moment they are ready to buy. Because you do not usually know where cold prospects are in their buying cycle, your copy should try to hook them wherever they are. One of the best ways to generate an inquiry is to offer prospects information that helps them make an informed decision. Here are some ideas for informational offers.
Every piece of copy you put in front of customers or potential customers should contain an incentive that motivates your reader to place an order or request more information. In direct response parlance, this incentive is called your “offer.” Discounts are effective offers. Depending on what you are selling, and depending on who you are selling it to, offering a discount is likely to increase your response rate and the number of orders you receive. Here are four discounts that you can offer.
With few exceptions, every piece of copy you write should contain an offer. The offer is the incentive or reward that motivates prospects to respond to your marketing message, either with an order or with a request for more information. “Subscribe to Hook, Line and Sinker today and save 45% off the newsstand price” is an example of an offer. To be effective, your offers must pass seven tests.
Anglers in Maine catch trout using dry flies with barb-less hooks. Unless they keep tension on the line all the way to the net, they lose the trout. Your sales letters must do the same. But how?
The easiest way to increase the effectiveness of your sales letters is to make your copy more personal. Given the choice between reading a flyer and reading a hand-written note from a friend, most people will read the personal note first. Here are some ways to make your copy more personal.
A subscriber to my newsletter asks: "Got any good pointers on writing great sub-heads?" Yes, I do. Here they are.
One of your challenges as a copywriter is keeping your readers hooked so that they read all your copy, from start to finish. One of the most important places to keep your potential buyers hooked is your photos. Here are some rules for writing captions that keep your prospects reading.

About the instructors

Alan Sharpe

Veteran direct response copywriter
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Are you reading my bio because you want to improve your copywriting? Bonus. That makes two of us. 

Are you looking for a copywriting coach who has written for Fortune 500 accounts (Apple, IBM, Hilton Hotels, Bell)? Check.

Do you want your copywriting instructor to have experience writing in multiple channels (print, online, direct mail, radio, television, outdoor, packaging, branding)? Groovy.

If you had your way, would your copy coach also be a guy who has allergic reactions to exclamation marks, who thinks honesty in advertising is not an oxymoron, and who believes the most important person in this paragraph is you? 

Take my courses.

I'm Alan Sharpe. Pleased to make your acquaintance. I'm a 27-year veteran copywriter who has been teaching people how to write persuasively since 1989.

Through my conference workshops, copywriting classes, telephone seminars, webinars, trade journal articles, newsletters, blog posts and in my many books, I have helped thousands of copywriters on four continents master the craft of persuading on paper and in pixels.

I taught myself the craft of advertising copywriting, and worked as a freelance copywriter as well as a senior copywriter for two advertising agencies. I sold everything from pump parts to utility trailers to digital video transmission systems and insurance services, working in every media. I even helped a client use direct mail to sell a coffee table book about Elvis Presley. Don't ask.

After working for a decade as a copywriter, I narrowed my focus to two specialties: writing direct mail letters for businesses, and fundraising letters for non-profits.

Now I'd like to help you write copy that gets noticed, gets read, and gets results. Let's get started.

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