It amazes me how many people think if they just put information about whatever they offer on a brochure, website, social media or any kind of marketing piece that people will read it. Whenever I receive a message from a LinkedIn connection that says, “Here’s my latest article. It’s about (fill in the blank). I hope you will read it and like it.” I cringe! Do you really think begging someone to read your content, with the first impression being it’s boring, will get you traffic to your website? Hear me clearly, content is NOT copy! And your design should be led by copywriting.
Stop and think. When was the last time you saw a fabulous website with great imagery and aesthetics, and you purchased something WITHOUT reading the copy? The answer, “NEVER!” You see, it’s the content that meets you where you are, persuades you (not sells you), pulls your heart string (in the words of Robert Kiyosaki) and takes you where they want you to go – a subscription or purchase.
Moreover, you will find the copy that works best is the one that was thought through well, written emotionally, painted a verbal picture that made you desire whatever they were promoting and finally asked you to do something. The pictures served only to amplify happiness, diversity and longing by using imagery that supported what you were already thinking: being on the cruise, looking good in that outfit, losing 20 lbs., or saving money.
Every buying decision is an emotional decision, not a logical one. Sure, everyone justifies their decision and adds logic to support buying, but it was the fear of not having the best, the eagerness of being seen as sexy or beautiful in an outfit, the sleek design of a certain piece of technology and the thrill of using it, etc.
Then comes the logic, “Why buy something inferior; it will save me money in the long run.” “This outfit will help me to attract the right person or close the deal at the business meeting – it’s worth the price!” OR… “This phone has the best camera, fastest CPU and plenty of storage which I will need for my business.” When the reality is that the heart started pumping, the mind started wandering and imagining, and hearing the compliments and seeing the envy made you salivate.
So, before you design anything, you need to think your message through, have it written completely, creating a verbal map leading the reader down the path where you want them to go and have your call to action spelled out (read, “If a Picture’s Worth 1,000 Words, What Picture Would Your Blog Paint?). You see, the verbiage will paint a picture in your or your creative’s head that leads to good design.
Think about when you read a novel. I remember reading the Harry Potter series and my mind created what Hogwarts, the characters and creatures looked like based on the literary painting of J. K. Rowling. When I saw the movies, I was SO amazed they got it like I saw it in my mind! Your copy does the same thing in the creative process.
While the right verbiage is crucial, you need something to guide you. You don’t just start writing whatever comes to mind. You need answers to certain questions that will provide the foundation for each step of the process.
Maria Veloso, in her book, “Web Copy THAT SELLS: Third Edition,” provides a blueprint of that formula. I will paraphrase it here.
Before listing these and elaborating, I must say that people are impatient. They want results yesterday with little to no effort. This mentality is a formula for disaster. The temptation is to answer whatever comes to mind, write down 5 answers with no thought or research and the result will tell the truth. Don’t be lazy. Take your time to think it through. Bounce the questions off others in your industry. The right answers are what make the copy effective.
In the book, “Strategic Marketing Management” by Mark E. Parry, he tells how Crest toothpaste toppled Pepsodent from the #1 spot in the 1940s, leading to 50 years as the #1 selling toothpaste in America. It goes something like this.
Pepsodent sold their toothpaste as a cosmetic, “…for pearly white teeth when you’re on the dance floor…” Fluoride was discovered and Crest finally got it to be stable. They started their research, and long-story short, what they learned was that Mom’s did not buy fluoride toothpaste mainly to protect little Johnny’s teeth. They bought it because they wanted to be seen as a good mom by anyone who would use their bathroom.
This led to the “Good Mom’s Use Crest!” campaign and the rest is history. However, the research took months.
Now, I’m not saying it will take you months to get your answers; however, spending a few days to make sure you got it right is prudent and wise.
In other words, what did competing products or services lack that made it frustrating to use?
What technology, process or innovation was missing that prevented the problem from being solved.
If those frustrating issues were fixed, how much more could you accomplish; how happier might you be; how much time or money would you save; how much would your peers envy you?
This is where you showcase your company and product or service. Make sure that your research of why people use your kind of product or service adds substance to this portion.
This is your call-to-action spot. This is where you tell them what to do: subscribe to your newsletter, take the free trial or buy something.
With the answers to these questions, you are now armed to write effective copy, which will then lead to effective design. Here is the reality. In one article it sounds simple – and it is. If you have a game plan, simple means you can do it. However, it’s not easy. You will need to put in hard work if you want something that will win.
Keep in mind you need to write well and conversationally (read, “Are You Trying to Communicate or Impress?). Knowing the common objections to your product or service and how to overcome them so you can address it in the copy, to remove it from the readers mind is important. Remember, everyone believes they are smart enough. Until he or she has concluded you have value to offer, then and only then will he or she reach out.
Don’t let the intimidation of some sweat equity dissuade you from doing it correctly. If you need help, hire someone to do the parts you don’t do well and do the parts you can. For example, do your research. Get the answers to the questions. Organize your thoughts and the goal of the marketing piece. Then find a copywriter if you don’t write well or lack creativity. Hire a designer to make it look good.
If you do these things, you will see a huge difference from the results you’ve been getting. While the user experience leads, it only does so because if you can’t garner interest they won’t read your copy – your message. Without that part, you won’t make any sales and sales is the name of the game.