Copywriting Tips

Use these proven copywriting tips to make your sales message forceful.

1. Over-complication cripples the sales proposition. So does a lack of specificity.

Early in my career, I gained a valuable lesson in a sales training class. The product was a sophisticated piece of photo processing equipment. The instructor posed this question: “What do you say when the customer asks how it works?” I answered with a detailed, lengthy explanation of the machine’s complex operation. Another associate, a top producer, offered an entirely different response: “I tell them it works great.”

Sales propositions flounder when they drift into complexity. The copywriter’s job is to simplify and clarify, so the prospect’s job—making a buying decision—is easy. Sometimes the message can be as simple as “it works.” (A well-known analgesic built a compelling campaign around this idea in the early 1990s.) However, economy in words should not come at the expense of facts that strengthen claims and quash doubt. For example, consider this attempt to convey a depth of knowledge:

Industry-leading engineering talent resides at all manufacturing facilities, with the added benefit of a combined 100 years of experience available through a corporate engineering technology council.

I know I am supposed to be awed by a century of experience. But my inner skeptic wants to know how many brainiacs are on the council. The UN Security Council seats 15 members. I can imagine other councils with 20 or more. Had the copy specified the number of council members, their combined years might have impressed me. Without that fact, the benefit eludes me. Here’s how I would rewrite:

Looking for engineering know-how? Top talent is ready to answer your toughest questions at each of our six plants. What’s more, our membership in an engineering technology council opens your door to some of the industry’s most experienced minds.

My revision increased the word count from 27 to 39. Does the added bulk help? Yes. Which begs the question: How long should a message be?

Copywriting Tips: Keep it simple. But don’t let simplicity override the inclusion of
specifics that build agreement for your selling proposition.