Copywriting Tips 8 – 9

Copywriting tips to build agreement for the sale.

8. Failure to identify the most important idea diminishes clarity and weakens the selling proposition.

A commercial message is most compelling when it reinforces a primary idea. It might be “Why hackers hate this software,” or “How the Bumper-Chute umbrella took Seattle by storm.” Behind the main idea stands an array of supporting ideas, or copy points. These reinforce the primary idea, like harmonies to a melody.

Before you draft your next message, try a simple exercise. Write down and complete this sentence: The single, most important idea I want to communicate is: _________. If you encounter difficulty, list all the copy points that come to mind. As you think about everything you wish to include, look for a unifier to emerge, one framework for them all.

A creative director I know refers to this as the “rule of Alfalfa,” named for the character in the Our Gang films whose coif sported a single, well-waxed spike. Marketers ignore this rule at their own peril; precious little of what they try to convey is apt to stick.

Copywriting Tips: Build your message around a single, unifying idea. Support the
idea with copy points, the way harmonies enhance a melody.

9. Omitting a specific call to action is like buying the diamond ring and failing to pop the question.

Fresh out of college, I took a job in sales. Armed with my business degree and an Irishman’s gift of gab, I was primed to set records. However, I soon discovered how little I knew about the psychology of selling. (The good news is I eventually learned, mostly by studying the successful pros around me.)

The final, critical piece of the sales process is the close. Unless you consummate the transfer of your product or service, i.e., “get the order,” the cash register doesn’t ring. The close isn’t just the icing; it’s the entire cake. That’s why the best sales people are always testing the water for the close. When the time is right—bingo. They book the business.

The call to action is the copywriter’s close. It’s the answer to the question: What do I want the prospect to do? A clear, direct call to action is essential.

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Sometimes a call to action becomes so intrinsic to a product that it defines the brand’s identity: Have it your way (Burger King). Or it becomes a campaign jingle: Pick up the phone; the call is free (Safe Auto). The U.S. Army’s classic call to recruits is one of my favorites: Be all that you can be.

Some advertisers of luxury goods believe snob appeal coupled with a phone number or web address is sufficient to spur consumers. They might be wise to take a page from the Lexus playbook. Every Lexus ad includes a graceful call to action in sync with the brand’s elegant character. Without it, we would see far fewer Lexus automobiles on the road.

Copywriting Tips: The call to action is key to productivity.
Make sure your selling message provides the clear direction
your prospect needs to become your customer.