Every day we are exposed to thousands of brands and marketing messages. Texts, emails, social media, television, radio, billboards, cars and buses all tell us what we need to be, do, have and buy. As a result, our customers have never been more savvy, or more immune to marketing messages as they are today.
For those of us who play in overcrowded market places or are busy creating new ones, the need to be different and memorable in our marketing has never been more important. Here are three copywriting tricks to help.
Never underestimate the power of a good metaphor. Metaphors compare two items that are seemingly unrelated, yet are similar in a way. Think Coco Pops’ ‘Just like a chocolate milkshake only crunchy’, or Butter Menthol’s ‘Like a comforting hug from Mum’.
Metaphors give you the opportunity to simplify complicated concepts or introduce new ideas and products in a simple, relatable way, allowing your potential customers and investors to understand the value in what you do.
Metaphors can also help you evoke emotion, quite quickly in fact. Get the right comparison and you can often transport your customers back to a time or situation that creates the right emotional response for them to see the need to buy your product or service.
I know rhyming has a bad rap in some circles (forgive the pun), but there is still benefit in using it. Not only does it make messages easier to remember, but research has also suggested that rhyming phrases are perceived to be more accurate and truthful.
I’m certainly not saying you need to go and make lyrical magic with every piece of marketing material you put out, but don’t be afraid to get a little creative. Give rhyming a go on one of your calls to actions and test your results.
3. Play the role
As you develop your brand personality, it is important to identify the role you want to play with your customers. Your role or relationship to them can dramatically change the tone of voice and content you use in everything from a social media update to an ad campaign.
Do you want to be the older authoritative figure they listen to and admire? The quirky aunt they love? The best friend they can’t live without? The older brother or sister who is looking out for them?
Find the role your customer needs that best matches your mission and why. Not only will it make you more relatable and your tone and purpose clearer, but it can also help you build rapid rapport and loyalty simply by reminding them of someone who is important to them.
As we are discovering “why?” is one of the most powerful questions we can ask. Not only in terms of problem solving, but also for motivating and influencing our customers and prospects.
When we can convince our prospects as to why they should buy from us, and take them on an emotional journey to get there, we are in a far greater position to make the sale.
But what emotions should you appeal to and where do you start? In my experience here are the top three selling emotions and how to use them.
To move quickly, people need to experience discontentment with their current situation. As much as we want to move towards pleasure, we are far more motivated to move away from pain. Just think about it if we were all motivated by pleasure, we’d all have what we want, or be well on the way to getting what we want.
The purpose of using discontentment is to create a need or desire in the mind of your prospect. Discomfort can come from many different emotions including frustration, envy, resentment, regret, guilt and even fear to name a few. You might find yourself appealing to current emotions or the possibility of them experiencing them in the future by taking prospects to the ‘worst case scenario’ (think life insurance for instance).
When you can demonstrate their pain and frustration or potential or pain and frustration, you start to make your prospect discontent. If you can make them uncomfortable and then show them a way to be more comfortable than they have ever been, you have increased your chances of making the sale.
A word of warning: When you are appealing to emotions, particularly strong, negative emotions tread carefully and sensitively. You need to make sure the feeling is about one specific area that you can move your prospect out of quickly to not leave those feelings associated with your brand.
Hope is a powerful emotion. It can motivate us to act completely out of our comfort zone and do some crazy things for the potential of a reward.
Once your prospect is discontent, give them hope that there is a way out. If discontent is your ‘worst case scenario’ then hope is your ‘what if…’ scenario.
A word of warning: Hope is where expectations are made. While you do need to build up your ‘what if…’ scenario, don’t build it up to a point where they could experience disappointment if they buy from you.
Now your prospect has hope it’s time to build excitement. Excitement motivates us to move forward, and it also ensures that whatever we are excited about stays at the forefront of our mind.
To get your prospect excited though, they also need to see the value, incentive (“what’s in it for me?”) and urgency. You need to demonstrate to your prospect that they need and most importantly want to act now.
A word of warning: When someone is really excited they want to act immediately – and you want them to act immediately because the feeling can be fleeting. To cater for this make it easy for them to act by being clear on the next step. The fastest way to squash excitement is to make the process too hard or long.
Are you appealing to the right emotions in your marketing?
There is no questioning the benefit of content marketing. But while attracting and converting customers with valuable, relevant and consistent content can yield a significant return on investment, not everyone gets it right.
To ensure you do, here are four of the biggest content marketing mistakes businesses frequently make so you can make sure you avoid them.
Mistake #1 – Thinking like a marketer not a publisher
When it comes to content marketing you need to think like a publisher not a marketer. A marketer’s focus is on selling, where a publisher’s focus is on producing interesting content that engages readers and keeps them coming back.
Your content should build your credibility and expertise and showcase your value in such a way that readers see the benefit in working with you without you having to push for the sale. Sales naturally come when you add value.
Mistake #2 – Being inauthentic
When customers and potential customers sense inauthenticity they lose faith and you lose followers. To build credibility in your content marketing you need to be authentic.
To ensure you are being true to yourself and your brand you need to know what you stand for, why you do what you do, who you are targeting, what they want and why you are using social media. When you know this you can then establish your tone of voice, personality and the content that aligns with both you and your target market.
Mistake #3 – Unoriginal content
There is nothing worse than reading blog posts, books and resources that are a regurgitation or blatant copy of someone else’s content.
While it is only natural that some content will be similar when you have a similar viewpoint or process to someone else, you can always find a way to make it your own. It could be through using a personal anecdote, a case study of a client, your professional experience or approaching the topic from a different angle.
Mistake #4 – Publishing for the sake of publishing
We’re all told about the importance of regular content. In fact it’s drummed into us so much that often regularity gets prioritised over quality.
The result? We publish content we know isn’t our best, prescribing to the theory that something is better than nothing. But it’s not.
You can lose credibility and followers if your content isn’t valuable to your readers. Missing a blog because you can’t think of anything to write is far better than publishing something that is irrelevant or of a lower standard.
When it comes to crafting winning marketing messages you can often find inspiration in the most unexpected places.
To help you strike marketing gold, here are four places to start looking to uncover marketing messages and product or service developments.
Frequently asked questions give you an insight into what is important to your customers, the potential limitations of your products and services, the features or elements customers don’t understand and what may be missing from your marketing messages.
If you keep getting the same question numerous times and there is a positive answer, try to identify if there is a key selling point you can draw out of it. If not is there an innovation you could make that will fill the need and give you a competitive edge?
Nothing causes us to stand up and listen like a “no”. Though in order to learn from each “no” the important question to ask is “why?”
Was it because they couldn’t see the value? Was it the price? Did it lack a key benefit, feature or inclusion? Was it the sales message or process? Was it just this particular customer (one “no”) or are changes needed to suit the needs of your larger customer base (more than one “no”)?
Examine the scenario yourself and solicit feedback, it could be as simple as needing to change your message to demonstrate your value from a customer’s perspective.
Objections are often seen as the first step towards rejection but it’s not the case. A customer who is objecting is still engaged. They are still interacting, listening and evaluating. Objections aren’t a “no” they’re a “not yet” or “I need more information”.
Just like frequently asked questions, objections uncover the priorities of your target market and, when you listen closely, can give you the information you need to customise your sales pitch so they see the value for them personally.
They can also show you what case studies and testimonials you need and what information you should include in your marketing material and sales process to overcome objections before they’re even verbalised. By doing so you’ll show your customers you ‘get’ them.
While this is a more obvious place to find marketing gold, if you’re like most businesses it’s unlikely you are using them to your full advantage.
While they can help you ‘prove’ your value through your marketing material and overcome common objections of customers (provided you get the right testimonials), they can also tell you what to prioritise in your marketing message.
Your customers may love a particular product, service, feature or result more than those you are currently pushing and chances are what your future customers love about you, will be the same thing your future customers will want from you.
You can also uncover the true frustrations of your customers through your testimonials. Often you will solve a problem your customer didn’t know they had. Testimonials are a great way to capture the relief and give you the gift of hindsight for your next customers.
Have you found marketing gold in any unusual places?
With limited time and shortened attention spans, it is becoming increasingly important to get to your point across quickly and concisely to make an impact with your audience.
From the home page on your website and the first email you send to a lead, to the tweet you post, the infomercial you recite or the quote you give a journalist, you need to be able to get your message across quickly, powerfully and succinctly.
So to help you make more impact in less words and time, here are three steps to follow when creating your message.
Step 1 – Think it through
Whether you are preparing for a media interview, planning your website copy or writing a social media post, think about the most impactful message you have to share.
Do you have compelling statistics, interesting information, key industry insight, knowledge of upcoming trends, impressive results, powerful testimonials, or a great emotional pull?
When you have identified your message, write it down without worrying about how long it is or how many characters you are using. It is more important to get the message right before making it concise.
Step 2 – Revise and Refine
Once you have brainstormed your message, take a break. Come back with a fresh perspective and evaluate as objectively as possible.
Is this really the best message to us? Does it address a problem or frustration? Does it give value? Does it solve or start to solve a problem? Does it make your audience smile, laugh or become engaged? Does it appeal to emotions making your audience scared, uncomfortable or motivated? Does it intrigue your audience? Does it leave them wanting more?
While your message objectives will depend on the channel you are using, it should have some purpose and lead towards the goal you want to achieve by undertaking this specific marketing activity.
Step 3 – Sharpen and shorten
Only once you have refined your message should you be concerned with sharpening and shortening it. This time when you read over your message look to eliminate words that over emphasise your point or don’t need to be there like ‘very’ or ‘actually’. Even words like ‘that’ can be used when not needed.
Also look for different words that can simplify or shorten your message. Let’s use “it is becoming increasingly important”, part of my opening statement as an example. Before I chose the word ‘increasingly’ I had the words ‘even more’, while it says the same thing increasingly was more concise and one less word.
If my focus was on the amount of characters though, and I had the choice of these words I would use ‘even more’, which has one less character despite being two words.
However, if I was really concerned with word count, amount of characters or time I could shorten it further to “it’s crucial” turning five words into two.
Give it a go next time you need to create an infomercial, post or marketing message. You will find by following these three steps you will cut the waffle and create more strategic, sharper and shorter messages that will carry more impact with your audience.
Sometimes in business we are presented with opportunities that require us to produce a lot of content quickly. It could be for an editorial, a guest contribution to a blog or e-book, an awards submission, a presentation or pitch or even our own book or e-course.
While you can know your topic inside out, putting it down on paper can trigger all sorts of procrastinating behaviour and overwhelm, slowing down or stopping the writing process altogether resulting in lost opportunity or revenue.
To help you overcome distractions and package up your knowledge easily here are seven tips for writing a lot of content quickly.
1. Decide on your topic and audience
The first step in producing content quickly is to work out the audience you are writing for and the topic you will be writing about. In order for your writing to be successful, from a sales and public relations perspective, you want to have the two well aligned and write about a relevant issue that is of interest to your target audience and the media.
2. Map out chapters, pages or sub-headlines
Depending on what you are writing, do up a quick mind map of your chapters, pages or sub-headlines and then break it down further again to include the main points under each. Structuring your writing like this will give you more clarity around your topic, ensure you stay on target to achieve the outcome you want and help you avoid overwhelm.
3. Start anywhere
Once you have your content mapped out you can make a start in the area you feel most inspired. You don’t need to start at the beginning and work through in order. In fact as a copywriter I can tell you that 99% of the time I start in the middle. I prefer to do the introduction last so I can make sure the beginning sums up and leads into the rest of the writing project.
4. Use anecdotes
Stories, examples and case studies not only create an emotional connection with your readers, they also make your points more memorable, easy to understand and your content more inspired and fun to write.
5. Use a voice recorder
While sitting down and writing can work for some of us, for others it can stifle creativity. If you recognise that you are more creative standing up, walking around, speaking or being in front of the white board jot down brief notes and speak into a voice recorder. Leverage your creativity by finding the process that works best for you.
6. Record all ideas
Once you start the writing process you can find yourself being inspired at all different times throughout the day and night when you least expect or want it. For this reason make sure you have a way to record your ideas keeping a notepad and pen or your phone near you at all times.
7. Edit upon completion
The biggest productivity killer in writing isn’t procrastination it’s perfectionism. Give yourself the freedom to write the entire first draft before you start editing and critiquing. Editing as you go can slow the process down (or bring it to a halt) and waste periods of inspiration.
Have you had to produce a lot of content quickly? How did you go about it?
Your ability to compel your customers, readers and followers to read on, act or buy, directly determines your leads, conversions and business profits.
So how do you become more compelling in your sales and marketing? Here are three ways to get you started.
1. Keep a little mystery
In the same way you wouldn’t tell your entire life story in the first few dates with someone, don’t feel you need to inform your potential customer, reader or follower of every facet of your business, industry or topic in the first few touch points. Leave a little mystery by informing them slowly.
Mystery leaves your potential customers wanting more, providing of course that you give away the right details to begin with. To use mystery effectively you need to know who you are targeting and what key selling points will most appeal to them.
Infomercials and your answer to the common question “so what do you do?” are great places to practice a little business mystery.
2. Offer information teasers
Key information like statistics, industry insights, inside secrets, usability tips, and handy hints on areas your target audience are interested in can spark interest and get them to take a level of action like giving over their contact details to you.
Knowledge is power, and in this day and age it is our most valuable commodity – not to mention our biggest point of difference. Sharing relevant and interesting information builds your credibility and positions you as an expert in your field, giving potential customers the confidence in doing business with you.
The trick here though, is in knowing how much of your knowledge to give away, as it will depend on the action you need a potential customer to take. Being a ‘teaser’ your information should be limited, but at the same time it needs to be enough to build trust and leave potential customers, followers or readers feeling like you’ve given them real value.
Always keep some information under lock and key for your paying customers, or to get potential customers taking bigger steps of trust with you.
Social media, newsletters, website opt-ins, blog posts and advertisements are great places to tease with compelling information.
3. Limit options and choices
While potential customers want to feel like they have a choice in what they do or buy, too much choice can overwhelm your buyer and cause you to lose control in the sales process.
Before you do any sales or marketing you should map out the steps you want to take each customer through. While not all will follow and some will jump ahead, having this planned out allows you to guide potential customers to the decision you want them to take.
In a service-based business it could be having a few core packages, memberships or services with the ability to customise or value-add further should you need too. For online product-based businesses it could be having a clear category headings and links to the most popular products from your home page as opposed to listing all products immediately.
By having limited choices buyers can quickly determine the products or services most relevant to them, or what their next step needs to be without being overwhelmed by information. It also means you can use sneaky call to action tips to help boost your conversions.
Keep in mind that too much information or too many choices can stall the buying process and even drive them to a competitor who keeps choices simple. This is particularly important for websites and sales meetings.
What are some ways you can be more compelling in your sales, marketing and copywriting?
One of the easiest and most frustrating things for a consumer to do is put off buying your product or service until later. It could be that they’ll buy when they have more money, when they are more established, when they feel they are ready for it, after they compare what else is out there, or any number of justifications – often based around procrastination, fear or refusing to leave their comfort zone, that stops them from taking action with you now.
It can be frustrating, and not just because you haven’t closed the sale, but also because you know that your product or service could really help them, if only they would let it. So how do you create a sense of urgency to move them past their justifications? Here are three ways to drive your potential customers to act.
Scarcity marketing appeals to your potential customer’s fear of missing out, and refers to any limitation placed on a product or service in order to increase sales by applying pressure to act immediately. It could be due to limited availability or a time based deadline that is linked to a discount or bonus for acting within a short window of time.
The whole reason scarcity works well is because it forces action, especially when there is significant value offered. If you really want it you need to act immediately, how can you afford to wait if the reduced price, bonus, product, service or package will no longer be offered?
Within all of us is a healthy sense of competition. We want to be the first, to win, to be the leader, to be part of the ‘exclusive group’, to achieve our goals faster and receive the recognition and status that brings. Often appealing to the desire to be the best, the first and get in when others miss out can be quite effective in the sales process.
Of course this sense of competition comes from a place of ego, so the effectiveness can depend on how much your potential customer needs recognition, how driven they are by status and how competitive they are to what you are comparing them to. Competition can also be accentuated by scarcity. By offering limited places, you are giving them the chance to win over someone else.
3. Taking the sale away
As the old saying goes, “people want what they can’t have”. With this in mind if you take the sale away by mirroring their justifications, taking out desired features to make it cheaper or making it appear that your customer base is an exclusive group where customers are chosen like an interview process (where you make the decision not them), can actually make them want your product or service more.
Often when a potential customer senses that you won’t sell them what they want or need they will become more proactive in their pursuit and not only sell themselves on why they want it, but also sell you on why you should have them as a customer.
A word of warning though…
While all of these motivators work, they also tend to be what we despise most in salespeople – right? That is why they need to be handled with care and done with the right approach. You need to be focused on what is best for your customer, what they want and need, as opposed to just closing the sale, and sometimes that can mean walking away. This is the key difference between the annoying, arrogant pushy salesperson and the friend that is gently guiding because they want what is best for you.
“But isn’t this manipulative?” you might ask. It can be yes, especially when it is used in a pushy, sales driven way. Perhaps it is just the marketer in me, but I strongly believe that if you have a product or service that could genuinely help someone, whether it makes their lives easier, saves or makes them money, gives them more time, helps them grow their business, or gets them to achieve their goals faster, you have a responsibility to share that in a way your potential customers understand, see the value and are compelled to act – don’t you?
Every day your customers are bombarded with hundreds of marketing messages and advertisements. They are there when they turn on the television, listen to the radio, drive past a billboard, wait at a bus stop, go to a public bathroom, search online, open an email, read a magazine or newspaper and even check their letterbox.
As a result the customers you are targeting are smarter, more informed and value driven, they research their purchases and tend to see through the marketing hype and the manipulative, pushy sales tactics. They are time-poor, have shorter attention spans, scan more than read and want to know what you can do for them before they give you any more of their time or money.
To reach them, your marketing approach needs to be different, strategic, targeted, customer-focused, value packed and concise. Not always the easiest feat, but here’s a little helping hand, a four-step formula you can follow to help you create more powerful marketing campaigns, advertisements and copy.
Step One – Know who you are marketing to and why
High conversions and great results come from strategic and targeted marketing campaigns where you truly “get” your customers and what they need or want.
To do this effectively you need to be revisiting and redefining your target market regularly. Your customers needs, problems and priorities can change, and who you want to target can change based on your experience, price increases, product changes, the campaigns you are running and your customers’ willingness and ability to spend.
Drill down as specifically as possible so you can find the commonalities in the group of people you are targeting. This will help you uncover which pain point, solution and incentive will be the most effective. I can’t stress enough how important this is to establishing a personal message, the kind that makes your customer feel that you are talking directly to them, even though you may be targeting thousands.
Step Two – Identify what you are really selling
In order to market your business effectively you need to know what you are selling. This doesn’t just mean being an expert in your products and services, it means becoming very clear on what benefits you are offering your customers.
To give you an example, let’s use an accountant. Service wise an accountant may offer customers tax returns, bookkeeping, BAS lodgment and structuring, but what they are really selling is peace of mind and security. Their customers can feel at ease knowing that their financial obligations are taken care of and their assets are protected if worse ever came to worse.
In the same way, a mattress store is selling comfort and a good night sleep. A fencing company is selling safety and security for your family. When you find what you are really selling, you can find the emotional pull, motivator or persuader that will most appeal to your target market.
Step Three – Work out how you do it differently
When you know what you are selling and the benefit it supplies, you need to work out how you do it differently to everyone else. This will allow you to shape a more powerful outcome or result that people will receive simply by choosing to work with you.
Look at what your customers want and need, and then look at what your competitors are doing and not doing compared to you. What is different? What makes your product, service, business or you as a provider different and of more value to your potential customer?
Do you have more experience or expertise? Do you have better processes or follow up? Do you have a guarantee? Do you have consistent or unrivaled results? Do you use higher quality products? Do you have a wider range of colours shapes or styles? Do you have a more personalised service or a quicker turn around?
Step Four – Stop marketing your product, start marketing your value
Good marketing is not about you, what you do or even what you want to market; it is about your customer, what they need and what is going to most appeal to them in order for them to hand over their money to you. You need to get out of your ego, and into theirs.
Be the solution. Look for ways your products or services and what you are really selling can help your customers solve what they need to solve or achieve what they want to achieve. When it comes to sales and marketing “nice guys” who have a genuine interest in their customers and a desire to help them, finish first.