Four Essential Elements in (Almost) Any Sales Copy
Much has been written on the structure of a sales letter, and copywriters everywhere all have their own opinions about what must be included in a sales letter or promotion.
In this article, I will explain what I believe are the four essential elements of sales copy. Others may argue that other elements are essential too; however I believe these to be the most important.
1. The headline.
The headline is the most important element of any sales letter. Here’s why.
The headline qualifies the sales letter, and often serves as a screening device. The headline sets the tone for the entire letter. It must summarize what will follow without “giving away” too much. It must grab the attention of the reader and convince them to keep reading. If the headline does not do its job, the letter will not get read.
You can see why many copywriters spend more time on the headline than on any other part of the sales letter.
2. The offer.
What is being offered? If it’s not compelling to the reader… or not communicated in such as way as to seem compelling to the reader, the sales will be flat. The offer must be stated in terms important to the reader.
Although there are exceptions, generally testimonials are going to be a very important piece of the building we call sales letters. There’s an ancient saying that goes like this: “let another praise you and not your own lips”. People today, just like people of times gone by, tend to be distrustful when others praise themselves. Testimonials break though much of the natural aversion and allow our satisfied customers to speak on our behalf.
4. Handling objections.
This element goes by different names, and here is how it works. If we were to sell our product or service in person, most of our prospects would have various reasons for not making a buying decision. If we are to persuade them to buy, we must answer those objections.
Selling in print is no different, and reality carries more importance for meeting objections than face-to-face sales. The reason is simple: as copywriters, we will not have the opportunity to answer our prospects’ objections individually. We must therefore proactively predict their objections and meet them head-on.
I am fully aware that these four elements alone do not a sales letter make. However, the copywriter would do well to spend the majority of time on these particular elements. They will “make or break” the sales letter. The business owner can make the process much easier by collecting good testimonials and by creating excellent products that his or her target market is actively seeking.
Business owners often wonder: what exactly does a copywriter do? There’s no secret to it. The copywriter’s job is to persuade your readers to take a desired action.
The copywriter we speak of here might be you (the business owner), a staff copywriter, or a freelancer that you have hired.
The desired action may be to buy your product or invest in your service offering; however it may also be to download a free report or software application and provide their name and email address in exchange. Whatever the offer, the copywriter gives the the prospect or prior customer two or more options and asks them to choose.
What is really going on here? We might sum it up as: persuasion. Be aware that this “persuasion” is simply not what people often think. It is easy to assume that copywriters employ “tricks” to coax people out of their money. Consider looking at it this way instead: comptent and ethical copywriters utilize copywriting techniques for the purpose of convincing the reader to act in their own best interest… to do what they would anyway if they “had all the facts”.
What kinds of actions do we wish to persuade our readers to take?
The most basic action, on that requires the least amount of skill, is to simply to persuade another to take some action indicating their interest in a subject. That action might be as innocuous as reading an article. Or it may be downloading a free report or software program.
Next in difficulty would be convincing that same person to provide their email address in order to get the freebie. Web surfers today are hesistant to give strangers their email address online. The good news, if you can get people to do this, it usually tells you three different things. First, it shows you did a good job in targeting the right audience for your freebiew. Second, it tells you that you are speaking in their language. Third, it finally indicates that you are offering an item that they deem valuable.
You might rightly imagine that to persuade that same prospect to spend money is on another level of difficulty. And you would be correct. Ultimately, though, we are in business to make sale. In crafting a sales letter, the copywriter is merely presenting one type of a sales presentation.
The basic process is this: describe what is being offered, the benefits derived from the service or product, provide answers to the most common objections prospects have, and tell them how to buy. Throughout the entire process, the writer must use terminology familiar to the prospect and also remove any “speed bumps” (unnecessary or poor-worded phrases which will cause the reader to disbelieve what you are saying or even stop reading).
Smart marketers know that persuasion does not end when the buying decision is made. Not at all. The prospect must now be persuaded to type in their credit card information and then to confirm the order. After the order is made, customers commonly experience what is known as “buyer’s remorse” and so experienced marketers employ ethical tactics to show that the customer made the right decision.
The copywriter’s job is an essential one today. As a business owner, you may decide to write the copy yourself, or you may choose to hire a writer who specializes in writing copy for clients.
“Darrel was recommended to us by a trusted friend in the internet marketing industry. We used a team approach on this project and found Darrel to be easy to work with and flexible.
The final copy converted very well for us and the book we were promoting “Click Here To Order: Stories of the World’s Most Successful Internet Marketing Entrepreneurs” reached #16 overall on Amazon! Thanks Darrel!”
If you don’t have time to watch this short video, here is the text of Ray’s comments:
“Hi! This is copywriter Ray Edwards. You may know me because I have written copy for some of the top online marketers, and I have on occasion hired copywriters to write copy for me for some of my projects.
That list of copywriters is very short. And the list of copywriters that I have hired once and will hire a second time is unfortunately even shorter. And on that very short list of copywriters that I would recommend to my friends is Darrel Hawes.
Now here’s what I can tell you about Darrel. He knows how to write copy that gets results. Part of the reason is he has taken my copywriting training, he’s a student of mine so he’s learned my system for writing copy.
Secondly, he’s very conscientious about deadlines, he’s never missed a deadline for me and I am confident he’ll have the copy turned in on time for you as well.
And the third quality about Darrel that makes him unique, is that he will continue to keep working with you after the first draft is turned in to make sure that the copy is everything you wanted the copy to be in the beginning.
So I can’t think of a stronger recommendation to give you for Darrel Hawes except this one:
I’ve paid him money to write copy for me in the past, and I will pay him money to write copy for me in the future.”