The Art of Zen Copywriting – Part 2

September 30, 2011 by Dean Rieck
Filed under: Copywriting Tips 

zen copywritingIn part 1 of this post, we considered what many copywriters might think is a radical idea: hard sell copy isn’t always the best option.

Why? Because it’s overused, it can destroy your credibility, and many copywriters just don’t feel comfortable being so aggressive.

We also looked at 4 basic principles behind the idea of a different, less in-your-face approach. Namely that people want to buy from you, you cannot force anyone to do anything they don’t want to do, selling does not require brilliant copy, and you must remove the barriers to buying.

If you’re clear on these preliminaries, let’s now get into the meat of Zen Copywriting and how you can make it work for you.

First, what can this “radical” sort of writing do for you?

The Benefits of Zen Copywriting

Going beyond the Behaviorist approach of hard sell and adopting a barrier-removal mindset presents a host of benefits for the smart copywriter:

• You see your audience as real, individual people, not just faceless targets.
• You start making a genuine effort to help people, rather than just sell stuff to them.
• You decrease your reliance on random copywriting techniques.
• You increase your chances of finding meaningful appeals that hit the real hot buttons.
• You reduce the “perceived risk” your potential customers feel about buying from you.
• You ensure more long term business by avoiding tricks and deceptive ploys.
• You develop a more realistic, practical approach to writing and selling.
• You have a better sense of when to follow copywriting rules, when to break them, and when to make up your own.

Overcoming The Barriers to Buying

The barriers to buying include everything that may stand in the way of your prospective customers responding positively — physical, emotional, intellectual, and financial. Your goal is to ask yourself questions about your copy to identify and remove every conceivable barrier so that absolutely nothing stops the sale.

The Identification Barrier
All of us have a certain image of ourselves which helps determine how we think and act. Does your copy make your prospect think, “Yes. A person like me would buy this” or maybe “I want to be like people who would buy this so I’ll buy it, too”?

Does your copy clearly target the prospect you’re aiming for? Do headlines get the attention of your particular prospect? Is your message interesting to your prospect? Does your copy have a distinct personality to which your prospect can relate?

The Clarity Barrier
Don’t expect to sell something to someone who doesn’t understand what you’re selling or the benefits of accepting your offer. Does your copy prevent clarity by calling attention to itself instead of focusing on the offer? Is your offer absolutely clear? Does your copy say what you really intend to say? Are all the details about your product or service fully understandable to your prospect? Is your copy easy to scan and easy to understand at a glance? Is it simple, straightforward, and to-the-point?

The Product Identity Barrier
Your product or service should have a distinct identity. Remove your product from your message and replace it with a competitor’s product. If your copy still makes sense, you have not established identity. Do you provide a “big idea” for your product or service? Can your prospect instantly grasp your “unique selling proposition”? Have you proven your superiority? Have you turned all your features into benefits that are meaningful to your prospect?

The Involvement Barrier
Have you given your prospect a choice to make? Do you encourage involvement with a quiz or checklist? Do you ask your prospect to complete something (like an order form) to accept your offer? Have you offered your prospect something of true personal value? Do you use audio, video, photos, illustrations, or animations to help activate the senses?

The Credibility Barrier
You may be truthful, but does your prospect actually believe you? You can’t argue a prospect into trusting you. You must remove all doubt with tangible displays of credibility. On what authority do you make your offer? Do you show how other people have used your product or service? Do you communicate your reputation without chest beating?

Can you show how there’s a trend for using your product? Do you provide testimonials from satisfied customers or experts? Have you featured your guarantee? Do you show who personally backs up the guarantee? Do you make clear any qualifications to your offer? Do you have teeny legal type that might arouse suspicion?

The Immediacy Barrier
Have you expressed why it’s so important to respond now rather than later? If your offer is really urgent, does your copy make it sound urgent? Do you tell people what you want them to do in clear, specific terms? Have you painted a “word picture” of how your prospect will immediately benefit by responding? Do you have a deadline? Have you talked about the scarcity of your product (only 100 remaining)? Instead of punishing those who order late, can you reward those who order early?

The Acceptability Barrier
Have you put yourself into the shoes of your prospects to consider whether your offer is really acceptable to them? Have you made an appeal to your prospect’s emotional needs? Do you also make an appeal to logic? Is your product, offer, and overall presentation “likable?” Does the idea of responding make your prospect feel good?

Have you made an effort to show how desirable your offer is? Does your offer allow prospects to feel that responding is consistent with their self-image, goals, and past actions? Do you give prospects the logical justification they need to make a purchase?

The Accessibility Barrier
Is there any physical barrier your prospect must overcome to respond? Is your order button easy to see? Does your web page load quickly? Is your site able to handle the traffic you expect to generate? Are you using popups, scripts, or animations that may cause problems with certain browsers? Are links obvious or do you confuse people with underlines that don’t link to anything? What can someone do if there’s a question about your offer or if something goes wrong?

With hard sell copywriting, you try to beat your prospective customers into submission with line after line of copy. With Zen Copywriting, you offer something of high-quality that people want and focus on making it so easy to buy, people can’t refuse.

Wearing a tie-dyed shirt while you’re writing your copy is optional.

Related posts:

  1. The Art of Zen Copywriting – Part 1
  2. The freelancer’s quick job hunting guide – Part 2
  3. The freelancer’s quick job hunting guide – Part 1

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Smart Comments

2 Comments on The Art of Zen Copywriting – Part 2

  1. Judith on Oct 3rd, 2011 6:22 am
  2. Providing value, building trust and making everything easy for customers to buy from you is sound advice. It surely beats bothering them every few days if they haven’t opened your email. :)

  3. Donnie Bryant on Oct 5th, 2011 10:47 am
  4. Outstanding post, Dean!