7 well-traveled roads to copywriting success

December 11, 2009 by Dean Rieck
Filed under: Copywriting Tips 

Copywriting is a lot like taking a road trip. Along the way, you have to make choices about which direction you will go.

Turn this way, and you end up one place. Turn that way, and you end up in another.

There are an infinite number of paths you might take, but it’s nice to know a few standard, well-worn paths that improve your odds of getting to where you want to go.

Here are 7 ways to structure your ad copy that provide a “road map” for your copy. Each is proven and gives you great creative flexibility.

The Straight Offer — This is especially good for a familiar product, a strong offer, and business-to-business marketing. With this approach, you simply state your offer, benefits, and premiums up front without any creative frills. You see this approach used with many magazines: Renew your People subscription today and get 53 weekly issues for just $2.19 per issue. Save 42%!

Problem/Solution — When your product or service solves a common problem, this is a powerful approach. First, establish the problem then show exactly how you will help solve that problem. This approach is also perfect for fundraising, since every organization is trying to solve a problem of one kind or another. Every day, children overseas go to bed hungry. Now you can help feed 10 children every day for just $25 a month.

The Invitation — When you want your offer to feel elegant, important, or exclusive, try an invitation. For new products or old products introduced into new markets, this works particularly well. You don’t have to have an invitation format, just build on the idea of extending an invitation to your prospect. Millions of allergy sufferers have discovered the relief of Breath Right Nasal Strips. Now you’re invited to try Breath Right FREE!

The Story — People are naturally attracted to a good story. In a lift letter for a magazine promotion, I told a story about a teacher who was looking for craft ideas for her elementary class. After searching unsuccessfully in the usual places, she drops by a friends house, sees this magazine on the coffee table, picks it up and instantly discovers many great ideas. The entire story is only a few lines long but really adds life and makes the product more interesting and relevant.

The Quotation — This was once more popular than it is now, perhaps because it has a literary feel that most people do not identify with anymore. However, if you have the perfect quote, one that is directly connected to your big benefit, it can be an interesting way to begin. Mark Twain was right: “The difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter — it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” Try the revolutionary new Quick Thesaurus and see for yourself.

The Testimonial — This is a variation on the quotation where you use a testimonial in quotes. This gives you both a creative approach and a natural tie-in to testimonials and success stories. In a newsletter mailing, I put the word “Wow!” in large type across the envelope face. In the letter, I began with the same word, handwritten, and explained this was what one person said about the newsletter. This lead naturally into the trial offer and how the buyer would say the same thing after trying it.

The Question — Asking a question instantly involves your prospect. Do your feet hurt? Would you like to retire at 45? Want to save money on groceries without the hassle of coupons? As long as your question is clear and related to your big benefit, it’s hard to go wrong. Variations include quizzes, tests, self-evaluations, and questionnaires.

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