Subject – Promotional Copy Writing
Written – 28 Jul 2014
Updated – September 2018
Copyright – Al Best
NB If you have not yet read part 1 – READ IT NOW
In preparation for writing we need to answer a few questions:
- Who you are writing for?
- How will you connect with your reader?
- What benefits can the reader get from your product?
- What message do you want to convey?
- What action do you want the reader to take?
Some of these question can be answered by thinking like your customer. You must write your content in a way that will deal with the customer’s desires. You have to step into their shoes because the customer is not interested in what you are selling they are interested in what they are buying. Many people think this is one and the same thing but it is not.
At first glance you might think the preceding couple of sentences are nonsense but this example shows what I mean.
The String Quartet
In this instance the product is a string quartet. From the quartet’s perspective, a customer is paying to hire a good, professional string quartet made up from highly experienced and qualified musicians. From the customer’s perspective it’s something entirely different that is foremost in their mind.
The string quartet is SELLING:
- A good professional string quartet
- Smartly dressed
- Highly experienced and qualified musicians
- High standard of light classical, pop & show music
Whereas the customer is BUYING:
- A romantic dinner setting
- An ambience that will help them to sell more
- An experience to please their guests
- An incentive for customer to return
The fact a string quartet is being used is of secondary importance to the client. A harpist, classical guitarist or smoky jazz quartet may all fit the bill. Even subdued lighting and candles might fulfil the customer’s needs. It’s up to the quartet to convince the customer that they are the best at creating the type of atmosphere and benefits the customer wants rather than wasting time trying to convince them that they are the best string quartet around.
However their qualifications will come into play later in their copy writing to give credibility to their claim that they can produce the required romantic ambience.
It is vital when writing copy that you get inside your customer’s head and write about the beneficial outcomes they get when they hire you. By beneficial outcomes I mean the good effects you will cause to happen as a result of your service.
As an example let’s say you are the singer with a dance band. When someone hires your band they are not initially interested in the features of your band such as: you play Fender guitars, have three costume changes and have a tri-amped PA. They want to hear about beneficial outcomes they get from hiring you such as a full dance floor with everyone enjoying the party atmosphere that you create. In short you need to focus on the benefits to the customer rather that the features of the band.
Why is that important? So what?
Use the questions “Why is that important?” and “So what?” to dig down to the detail you want.
Why? Is a question that many young children ask all the time, sometimes to the point of distraction. You might simply ask a child to ‘wash their hands’ and get back: Why? >so that they are clean. Why? >So you can eat your dinner. Why? >so you don’t catch any nasty bugs – and so on. In this case, the beneficial outcomes the parent is looking for are to keep their child healthy, clean and aware of good etiquette. This can be further broken down with an examination of the benefits of cleanliness and good etiquette.
Pursue this line of questioning to peel away surface ideas of what you are selling. Repeatedly ask, Why is that important? or So what? about each and every feature you are selling. This will allow you to drill down from the features being sold to the benefits that each feature bestows on the customer.
An example from the world of entertainment might be: a magician booked to work at a trade show.
A close-up magician can move around entertaining small groups of people in small spaces
Makes the perfect entertainment for visitors to a trade stand with limited space
acts as an ice-breaker, keeps visitors amused, stops them leaving the stand
Why is that important?
it creates a buzz around the stand that encourages people to talk about it
Why is that important?
The buzz will bring in more people
more people means more opportunities to sell
The benefits identified are:
- creating a buzz
- getting the brand talked about
- increased sales opportunities
The trade show exhibitor is not paying for a magician; he’s paying for a beneficial outcome.
When a customer buys a product or hires a service they undoubtedly have multiple beneficial outcomes in mind. You need to identify what all of these might be.
This is an extremely important part of the jigsaw and one you should take some time over. Making a list of all the benefits your potential customer might be looking for is key to the process. Once you have a list of the various beneficial outcomes a customer might want, try to identify the features of your product or service that will satisfy each of these needs. Alternatively, you can do it the other way around by listing all the features of your product and then alongside of this create a list of benefits that each feature realises.
Spell it out
A customer may find it hard to equate your product features with the beneficial outcomes they want so you need to spell it out for them.
I recently received publicity from a band in which they trumpeted, “we have a huge PA system”. As I wanted a band for a small venue I instantly started to see the negatives in this statement. They were obviously pleased with their ‘huge PA’ but I thought along the lines of – They will be too loud – They will take up too much space. There were no benefits just detriments. Perhaps they should have written about crystal clear sound for any size of venue with nobody struggling to hear even in the largest of venues.
In brief you need to identify the customer’s problems, wants and needs and offer solutions to the problems or some beneficial outcomes rather than a product or product feature. By doing this you are forging a link between your product and your customer’s world.
Try to think of it not as selling a product to a customer but as helping them to solve a problem. This simple shift in thinking will make a big difference. With the onus on helping people rather selling to them you start to create a bond and trust. This is an important step that I’ll cover in the next section which deals with the well-known acronym AIDA.
There is an acronym that encapsulates what good copy writing does. It’s the name of a Giuseppe Verdi opera and is AIDA.
- Attention – Attract attention
- Interest – Foster an interest
- Desire – Create desire for your product
- Action – Guide to an action
A newer version of this acronym is AIDCAS which adds a C for Confidence or Conviction and an S for Satisfaction
Grab the attention of potential customers. In the context of writing copy, this will be the Headline, and in an email, the Subject. There is no problem if Attention grabbing extends into the first paragraph and you can include a photograph as long as it is relevant and adds to the story. In the wider world of promoting your product, this phase is to inform the target audience that your product is available.
A good attention getting headline for a mobile disco might be a question such as; “Do you want a full dance floor?” because that is definitely an outcome a customer will be looking for when booking a disco. Putting the headline as a question will encourage the reader to read on.
Interest them by talking about the benefits of using your services. This is where you communicate how their needs are addressed by the benefits of using your product. This section should naturally flow on from the headline and move the customer on from a simple awareness of your product to a more active interest. It should inspire them to move on to the next step which is desire.
When you create a desire for your product you are dealing with emotions. However you can now start talking about the actual features of your product and explaining how these features produce the beneficial outcomes the customer is looking for. Talk about your unique selling points (USPs) and how they will make things better for the customer. (Your USP’s are anything that makes your product unique or different from the competition.)
Confidence is something that will be needed by the customer before they move to the Action step of this process. Your potential customer needs to have belief in your product and the Conviction that you can deliver the benefits you promise. They need to trust you – but why should they? They know you’re just trying to sell them something.
People are bombarded with sales messages all the time and they have no reason to trust what you say. Confidence and trust can be instilled by various methods. Build your case with the use of testimonials, photographs, facts and figures. If you have worked with celebrities, played at famous venues, been featured on TV or radio, etc. then mention it to help build confidence. If you have years of experience also mention that.
In psychology there is something called “space repetition” or “effective frequency” which helps with this part of the process. It’s not something that can be fully incorporated into one piece of writing but is something to be aware of so I’ll deal with it in a later article.
This is the call to Action where you prompt or lead the reader to take the desired course of action. This can be to fill in an enquiry form on a website, check availability, give you a call, send an email, book you, request more information, but a ticket, click a link, etc.
Satisfaction is something that comes later and is not part of the writing process. The aim is to satisfy the customer and get repeat engagements, sales and word of mouth recommendations. You will only get this if you live up to your claims. Failing to deliver will produce dissatisfied customers so it’s wise to let your customers know of any limitations beforehand. Don’t waste time offering your product to customers that have needs you cannot satisfy.
For guidance on writing a press release check out:
Get free publicity with great press releases
This article is copyright of Al Best @ folkrootslist.co.uk
You are more than welcome to use extracts from it it as long you include a link back and credit Al Best and Folk Roots List https://www.folkrootslist.co.uk/