When writing persuasive copy, you need to be in a specific mindset to appeal to your audience. The difference between persuasive copywriting and ineffective copy can be subtle, though. This was a point that stirred in my mind after I attended a bid writing seminar run by the delightful people at Boost Consultancy. The speaker made some excellent points regarding the mindset necessary for successful bid writing, which I thought was also a solid basis for some persuasive copywriting considerations. These points aren’t necessarily true for all advertising copy, where there is room for a lot of creativity, but generally if you are producing long copy, especially in a formal setting (such as cover letters and direct response marketing), this advice can prove very helpful.
Mindset for failure
If you were asked to list thought-processes that might lead to failure, you’d no doubt start with negative points such as laziness, not really wanting a result, not focusing on a specific goal, not calling the reader to action and so on. But there are some thought processes that might initially seem positive that can also lead to bad copy:
1. We are better than them
Firstly, who’s going to want to do business with a company that appears combative? Any product or service that aggrandises itself by claims to superiority looks petty and, frankly, bitchy – and has to be very careful to prove itself. It’s not endearing and is unlikely to foster warm relationships. For a product to succeed it does not have to negate its competitors, or even be the best, is just needs to demonstrate to the customer that it is a positive and trustworthy purchase.
2. Promising great outcomes/results
Claims to success are nothing without proof. In fact, they look like posturing. There’s no point telling someone what you’re going to do, or how great it will be, you have to demonstrate it. In the same way you should show benefits instead of features, you have to show results instead of promises.
3. Demonstrating your company’s worth
Your customers and clients may prefer to buy from a successful company, they may care about ethical practices and past triumphs. But if they’re going to make a purchase, what are they going to care about most? The effectiveness of your product or service. Building a company image is a matter for long term branding, and of course your customer has to trust you, but if you want to drive sales or make a successful bid then you need to sell future results, not your past.
Mindset for Success
So what should you be thinking to produce persuasive copywriting? Simple: write about what the client or customer wants to know and no more.
Prove what can be delivered
Again it’s a matter of benefits not features – show what you can do with results, not points that might lead up to results. Do it however you can – with case studies, video demonstrations, whatever your product needs to make it clear that it works. Don’t just say results are possible, prove it.
What does the consumer want to know?
Never assume that your reader knows what you know – be very aware of what they need to be told, and what they want to be told. Does the reader know how your product or service is used, does it need explaining? Do they know how you operate, can you explain that too? Tell them everything they need to know to understand that your service is right for the job. And tell them only what they need to know, don’t waste their time.
These are simple points, but good to keep in mind. If you want to produce persuasive copwriting, don’t strive to demonstrate your company’s value – strive to demonstrate the value of the consumer’s purchase.