Sell anything with this universal copywriting formula

September 25, 2009 by Dean Rieck
Filed under: Copywriting Tips 

If you asked the average person to describe copywriting as a mathematical formula, it might look something like this:

Writing Skill + Creativity = Copywriting

Unfortunately, this is wrong. It may sound like a contradiction, but copywriting isn’t about writing or creativity.

This is one of the most difficult concepts for novice copywriters to understand. There’s no mystery why this is. English teachers talk about writing as wordsmithing. Movie makers show writers as tortured artists. Even when writing is linked to business, it’s usually in the context of creating clever, flashy ad campaigns.

When it comes time to consider copywriting as a career or adding copywriting as a skill set for a corporate job, most people begin with the idea that copywriting is just another kind of creative writing, a fall-back job when dreams of the great American novel start to fade.

Some copywriting is about clever writing, if you work in certain ad agencies. But most copywriting is about selling. Good copywriters are sales people with a word processor.

Imagine you own a business and decide to advertise. Are you willing to spend thousands or millions of dollars so that a writer can indulge his or her creative whims? When you put your own money at stake, you’ll realize that you don’t care at all about words. You want to sell your products. You want to make money. Right?

So on every copywriting project, you don’t think to yourself, “I have to write about this product.” You think, “I have to sell this product.”

Herschell Gordon Lewis said it best: “Psychology + Communication = Salesmanship.” That’s the formula for successful copywriting.

Want something more specific? Here’s a simple but effective structure for nearly any sales pitch:

  1. Establish your objective
  2. Clarify the benefits to your prospect
  3. Show how the benefits will be delivered
  4. Prove your statements
  5. Add sweeteners and facilitators
  6. Tell your prospect how to respond

This isn’t magic. It won’t address all your copywriting challenges. But if you understand and follow this basic structure, you should be able to sell anything.

Related posts:

  1. Hard sell vs soft sell: What’s the difference?
  2. How to sell by not selling: the secret of the cedar plank
  3. 4 practical ways to sell without writing a sales pitch

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