7 defensive copywriting strategies to close the sale

October 11, 2010 by Dean Rieck
Filed under: Copywriting Tips 

defensive copywriting I’ve always said that copywriters are actually sales people. They just happen to use the written word to close sales.

In his first post for Pro Copy Tips, Donnie Bryant talks about copywriting in the same way. And he suggests how to look at copywriting in the same way we look at driving.

That will make perfect sense when you’ve finished reading.


In my hometown, everyone had to take a defensive driving class in order to get their driver’s license.

More than anything else, defensive driving is a mindset you’re supposed to get into before you hit the road. Its purpose is to keep you safe while traveling from Point A to Point B. There are plenty of crazies to watch out for, after all.

Let’s compare driving to selling for a moment.

Traditional sales training dictates an aggressor mentality, a take-charge, “never settle for no” attitude. This kind of salesperson is very similar to a driver suffering from road rage, if you think about it. Driving like a maniac is not wise, and neither is trying to sell with an aggressive frame of mind.

In Scientific Advertising, Claude Hopkins teaches us that “any … attempt to sell, if apparent, creates sales resistance.” This is as true for copywriters as it is for door-to-door salespeople. If you’ve written sales copy, you’re already familiar with the truth of this principle.

To circumvent this resistance, you have to take a different approach. Applying the defensive driving perspective makes a lot of sense.

Here are 7 defensive copywriting strategies that will help overcome obstacles to closing the deal. They may even prevent those hurdles from entering your readers’ minds.

1) Express genuine interest in and empathy for your prospects’ desires/needs. This can be challenging. You may have to edit until you get the tone and language just right, but it’s possible.

This goes a long way to removing the resistance to being sold. Your reader feels valued by you; you think of him as a person, not a customer. Major distinction.

2) Avoid hype. Your audience gets enough of that already. So be careful with the caps lock key and exclamation points. Phony deadlines and other scarcity tactics, and overt pressure in general are counter productive more often than not.

Be creative and create real urgency. By the way, big promises (you should make the biggest claims you can honestly make), require big proof.

(Here’s a different take on hype.)

3) Demonstrate. Show your reader that you provide valuable substance. Give a peek at some content within the copy itself. Or use video, audio, and photographs to demonstrate the product or service. Eugene Schwartz was big on this practice.

4) Tell a story. Good stories naturally break down barriers, arouse curiosity and form a personal connection to the product, service, and/or the storyteller. All are good for your conversion rate.

5) Make the strongest offer and guarantee possible. Make it known as early as possible. Your readers are risk-averse. Assure them that you’re not going to take their money and run. Great offers and strong guarantees boost sales.

6) Build credibility. Use testimonials, endorsements, customer satisfaction awards, and other facts about the company that give the impression that you are trustworthy and that you are the obvious choice for the prospect. You’re out to help, not just get sales.

7) If possible, make multiple contacts with your target audience. The more they hear from you, the more they’ll trust you. Get their permission to contact them. Use multi-step marketing plans to sneak under the sales radar by providing real value.

Your prospects get dozens of emails and envelopes everyday. Break through the clutter by approaching them differently than anyone else.

Everyone is driven by their own motivators. Your motivations as a copywriter must not collide with their motivations as potential customers. Use your defensive driving skills to prevent accidents.

Donnie Bryant is a direct response copywriter living in the metro Chicago area. He is author of the upcoming book, It’s Still Selling … Just Not the Way You’re Used to Seeing It. You can visit his website at http://donnie-bryant.com.

Related posts:

  1. Ask this one question to close more freelance sales

>>> Subscribe to blog by RSS or E-mail

Smart Comments

5 Comments on 7 defensive copywriting strategies to close the sale

  1. poul nielsen on Oct 11th, 2010 11:03 am
  2. Thanks for writing this great piece. I really liked your 7 points and how they all make sense. Certainly worth keeping in mind next time I have an ad or website copy written!

  3. Jane@Find All Answers on Oct 12th, 2010 5:22 am
  4. Thanks for the article. Story telling works certainly. As to making multiple contacts, care should be taken not to annoy them even before product launch.

  5. Scott on Oct 28th, 2010 6:56 pm
  6. I am a big fan of your 6th point on Building Credibility. In a recent conversation with a client, I advocated using customer testimonials to tell their story rather than bullet points of what the client felt were their strongest assets.

  7. Donnie Bryant on Oct 29th, 2010 3:46 am
  8. Thanks for the feedback, Poul, Jane and Scott!

    There’s a lot more to truly persuasive salesmanship than meets the eye. I fear that many up-and-coming copywriters are learning from and swiping the wrong sources.

    As Doug D’Anna says, copywriting is building a bridge from your customer to your product.

    If you build the bridge in the wrong direction (trying to force your product on the prospect) or if you use the wrong materials so build it, so to speak, your sales process will be lacking.

  9. Codrut Turcanu on Apr 5th, 2011 3:08 am
  10. I dislike to look at copywriters or salesman as sellers. They should consider themselves as friendly “advisors” as my mentor Jay Abraham likes to teach others.

    We don’t sell, we educate buyers make informed decisions.

    I’m always looking for buyers, not free info seekers, why waste my time and theirs, right!