Getting More Clients by Writing Clear Sales Copy
Have you ever landed on a website that attacked you with buzz words and empty sales blather? How did this puffery make you feel?
You probably did not feel like whipping out your wallet. More than likely, it had you reaching for your browsers back button.
Then there are those times when you land on a website, and it just guides you through all the right information. It makes you feel comfortable about your potential purchase because you know what you’re getting.
Chances are that this website got an important copywriting principle right: clarity. Instead of cramming a haughty sales message or screaming at you to buy, they probably just provided clear and concise information. Information you needed to feel comfortable about your purchase.
Dr. Flint McClaughlin of Marketing Experiments characterizes this by saying:
Clarity trumps persuasion.
Things that Get in the Way of Being Clear
The moment you feel like you have to trick someone into buying from you… Is the moment you’ve just realized that you’re explaining your product/service wrong. Persuasive methods, hypnotic techniques, and power words are just fluff. In fact, it’s probably insulting to your typical buyer.
Then there is the jargon. This is one of the more common enemies of clarity. It’s so easy to accidentally slip in language or words specific to your industry. Of course, the opposite of this is talking down to people. Just avoid exaggerated sentences, fluff words, and industry specific language (unless, of course, you are certain your buyer will understand their meaning). Also you don’t need to be super-formal. Use language that is conversational with your reader.
Trying to teach people everything about what you do is also not what we’re getting at here. Stick to the benefits people will get as a result of using your expertise or product. It’s important to be relevant to your buyer.
Finally, as a rule of thumb, try to avoid clever phrases and puns. It’s not that these never work, it’s just that they rarely work. So chances are slim you’ll come up with an effective turn-phrase. Additionally, puns really should only be used in certain rare circumstances (eg: when you’re trying to interrupt and gain someone’s attention – and even then, not always!). Here’s the guideline: if it doesn’t add to the depth of knowledge about your product/service, then don’t say it. Clarity is about reducing the signal-to-noise ratio.
Being Clear in Your Sales Copy
Truth is, your buyers are intelligent. And they are human. You’ll get so much further with them if you just have a conversation. Talk with them, not at them.
Think about what a person in the buying phase would need to know about your product/service. What problem are they trying to solve? Which benefits are they hoping to gain? Who are they comparing you to?
Here’s a few things that contribute to clarity:
- Understanding – Do the words make sense and follow a logical thought-sequence?
- Trust – Is the information provided credible, properly cited, and supported by other people?
- Information – Did you provide enough information to make the buyer fully informed?
- Focus – Is your message consistent, concise, and written towards a single goal?
- Relevance – Does your buyer care about what you’re saying?
- Presentation – Is the information organized and easy to skim for important details? Bullets, graphics, font-sizes, bolded text, etc… are good ways to emphasize the critical info.
Sometimes people like to withhold information from the buyer. Maybe it’s an embarrassing flaw, a strategy to evoke curiosity, or just something you think is unimportant. You don’t need to tout your short-comings, but you do need to give the person a realistic idea of your product/service before they’ll buy. It’s better to err on the side of too much information than not enough.
Let me be clear about withholding information though because it is a valid strategy for drawing people further down your sales cycle. Some products have a short sales cycle and you don’t need to use this type of strategy (buying a box of cereal for example). However, large purchases and complex services require a lot more client interaction (for example, you may not provide pricing information on an expensive service until you’ve determined what the buyer wants). In these cases, you’ll need to consider which information to provide at each stage of your sales cycle.
Bottom-line is that you should aim to provide a little too much information, than too little.
Good News! You Don’t Need to have Extensive Copywriting Experience to be Clear
Every day, you’re living with your products and services. You’ve probably explained what you do a million times to family, friends, co-workers, and acquaintances. Which actually makes you uniquely qualified to be the one who clearly articulates what you offer. Nobody knows your company better than you!
The nice thing about clarity is that you don’t need to know every professional copywriters tricks of the trade. As long as you stick to simply explaining the value of your products/services, you’ll be in good shape.
If you have the resources, then you can hire that copywriter to refine and improve your content. If you don’t, just strive for clarity. It will go a long way.
What does clarity mean to you? Your thoughts and comments are welcome.