13 Things Expert Copywriters Taught Me About Writing Persuasive Copy

13 Things Expert Copywriters Taught Me About Writing Persuasive CopyI’ll be the first to admit it. Copywriting is not easy.

It’s hard work!

If you are writing for a market you don’t know, you better do a whole lot of research before you even start writing.

A lawyer doesn’t defend his client if he doesn’t know all the details of the case.

He prepares.

In the same way, copywriters prepare before writing copy for a client.

Not only do they prepare by getting to know everything about their target market, but also by studying the art of copy and knowing the rules of the game.

You won’t always have to follow the rules. Occasionally you’ll find breaking one is a smart move. But you can’t effectively break them before you know what the rules are. So they study the best copywriters in their field.

One of the best ways to become better at anything fast is modeling those people who are successful in the skill you want to master.

That’s why I think you’ll find massive value in this list of copywriting advice from some of the best copywriters around the globe.

Are you ready?

Here we go!

The Headline Makes Or Breaks Your Copy

Never underestimate the power of the headline. It can make your readers decide to either leave or stick around to read the rest of your copy.

“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”  -David Ogilvy

You should spend a substantial amount of time on crafting an amazing headline. It’s the invitation to a reader that says: this is for you and I think you’ll find this interesting.

“Don’t underestimate the value of beginning a headline by naming the people you want to reach.” – John Caples”

Be Engaging

Just an amazing headline won’t cut it. If your copy isn’t going anywhere, you risk losing your reader forever. That’s why it’s essential to create a strong opening. Every sentence should compel them to read the next sentence.

“A great headline mixed with a lame opening is like inviting someone to your house, only to slam the door in their face as they approach” – Brian Clark”

Don’t disappoint your readers. Your readers went as far as reading your headline and they’re showing signs of interest. They decided to read more. Use your words wisely. Tell them what they want to hear!

“Your readers should be so compelled to read your copy that they cannot stop reading until they read all of it as if sliding down a slippery slope” – Joseph Sugarman

Write Vividly

“The way we get people to act, to buy, to ask for more information, is to take what’s otherwise a dull, fuzzy image in their brains, and turn it into a sharp, super-focused, loud, colorful, tasty, fragrant, highly sensory experience.” – Drew Eric Whitman

We need to write picture clear to influence our readers. There’s no getting around it. You don’t want to leave your readers in doubt. If you’re selling a product that helps your target audience to lose weight, you want to paint a bright picture of a future without excessive weight.

Perhaps you want to tell them a story of someone that had a lot of excessive weight. Someone that went from feeling flabby and needing help to feeling energized, healthy, vibrant and being able to do things that they haven’t been able to do for a long time.

The clearer the picture, the more they’ll realize your solution is going to be able to help them.

Don’t Hype

Hype is the enemy of the sale. This may come as a surprise to you, especially if you are on some lists that promote IM products. Hype seems to be the norm. Everything is a “breakthrough” software or system.

The problem with this is that readers become very skeptical. If you make big claims, but don’t provide the proof to match, you sound like a big talker that tells exaggerated stories. Sure, these stories sound amazing…but did it all really happen? Most likely you’re skeptical. And for good reason!

The same goes for your copy. If you make bold claims, show ample proof to back it up.

Don’t trick your readers into buying from you. It’s a horrible “strategy” and those who DO buy will be massively disappointed because your product didn’t deliver. You didn’t just tell them strong stories, you used it on them to make them a decision they shouldn’t have.

Know Your Target Audience

arrowarrowIt’s imperative to know who you are selling to. If you don’t, you’re talking to everyone. But copy aimed at nobody isn’t persuasive. To influence many people, you need to be able to persuade just one person. 

Even if thousands of people are going to read it, you should write it as if you’re writing a letter to an audience of one.

You should have a clear picture of your target audience. Do you know what magazines they read? What TV shows they watch? Do they read books? What are their fears? Their aspirations? Do you know their general beliefs about the world? Get to know them so well that you can picture someone sitting in front of you. Write the letter to this person and this person only.

“People who won’t derive enough value to talk about your product after using it are not your target audience.” – Joanne Wiebe”

Focus On The Reader

If you know Dale Carnegie, you are aware that he isn’t a copywriter. However, you probably also understand that he was once of the most powerful influencers to ever walk on this earth.

He understood fundamental things about humans, which he described in his book How To Win Friends and Influence People.

One of the most important lessons I took away from the book is that you should never focus on yourself if you’re trying to persuade someone. You need to look at it from their perspective. What do they desire?

“The only way on earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it” – Dale Carnegie”

Informing = Persuading

Idea.

You know what’s persuasive?

If you know more about the product or service you are selling then your prospects…

If you can tell them interesting facts about the products or service, you are automatically persuasive.

When copywriter Joseph Sugarman did research for a watch he was going to sell, he found out that it was made with a very sophisticated laser technology. Lasers we’re very uncommon at the time he sold the watch, and this was the first watch who was created in this unique way. He used it as the angle to sell the watch and it was so successful that it resulted in millions of dollars in sales.

There are plenty of interesting things to say about products or services you want to sell. Sometimes that means you’ll have to dig into the material or do something that most consumers don’t even do: studying the manual!

“If you’re selling a product, the best way to sell is to EDUCATE your customer.” – Neville Medhora

If You Can’t Write Effectively, You Don’t Know Enough Yet.

“You must become an expert on a product, service or anything you write about to really be effective” – Joseph Sugarman

If you are struggling to get the right words on the page, be honest with yourself. More often than not, it’s not a sign that you suck as a copywriter, but a symptom that you don’t know what you need to know.

“I learned that good copywriters get to know so much about the product and the prospect and his or her wants, fears, assumptions, and lingo that the copy soon wants to burst forth as if a dam is breaking. I learned that research is the infallible cure for writer’s block.” – Gary Bencivenga

You heard it from the master himself. Arguably the best copywriter alive advises you to get so close to your target audience and stack up on so much information, that you feel the urge to write.

Make a List Of All The Benefits

Features are important. They’re the foundation your benefits rest upon. But when it comes down to it, customers don’t buy the features. They want to know what your product will offer them. Naturally, making a big list of the benefits you can offer a customer is very persuasive.

Apple knows this. When they released the iPod, they didn’t tell you how much memory it had. Instead, they told you it allows you to carry “1000 songs in your pocket”.

“Here’s the only thing you’re selling, no matter what business you’re in and what you ship: you’re selling your prospects a better version of themselves.” – Joanne Wiebe

Prevent Procrastination. Give Plenty of reasons to Act Now.

Are you making a strong enough case for your product to make buying now the one and only right option?

What are they missing out on if they don’t make the decision now? What would their life look like 5 or 10 years from now if they don’t take action?

Are you countering every single major objection your target audience might have in your copy?

Things like these are vital if you want to prevent your prospects from doing what people love doing when they aren’t sure enough if it’s the right option: procrastinate.

Have Empathy, Relate To Your Reader’s Needs

Empathy is perhaps the most important thing you need to have as a copywriter. As a copywriter, you’re not in the business of judging people. You’re in the business of relating to people. 

Perhaps you’re not overweight, but let’s say you are selling a product in the weight loss niche. You need to relate to their daily struggle with eating healthy. You need to have empathy for their underlying problems for overeating.

Maybe you think spending $250.000,- on a car is a worthless splurge. But if you’re selling one, you need to be able to relate to someone that does want to own such a car. Is it the exclusivity? The feeling of being able to afford something most people can’t? Whatever it is, it’s not your job to judge. Keep an open mind.

Whatever it is, it’s not your job to judge. You can’t bully people into buying from you. You should emphasize with your reader. Only then you can be truly persuasive.

“Study your reader first – your product second. If you understand his reactions and present those phases of your product that relate to his needs, then you cannot help but write a good letter”. – Robert Collier

Long Copy = Not Bad. Boring Copy = Bad.

You’ve probably read that people’s attention span is lower than a goldfish nowadays. Shocking, ain’t it?

However, it is not true that people don’t read long form sales pages. They do!

Why?

Because if something interests someone, they want to know all about it.

They will go ahead and read 28 pages of copy as long as it gives them exactly what they want.

There’s just one thing you can’t be: boring! 

Study The Old Direct Marketing Legends

I love studying legendary direct marketers and copywriters. You can learn a lot by studying these highly skilled marketers. Study their advertisements. Read their copy and their books.

These will certainly not disappoint:

Gary Halbert’s Boron Letters are a must-read for any copywriter. You can access it by simply clicking on that link. It’s free (and it’s worth thousands of dollars to the person with the right mindset).

“Ads which ran 30-50 years ago, even a hundred years ago, are often better than those you see today. You’ll get great ideas to use in your marketing.” – Ted Nicholas

Your Turn

Did you like this post? Have a favorite copywriting quote or lesson you’d like to share?

I’d love to know your thoughts. I look forward to chatting with you in the comment section!

P.S.

I’m for hire 😉

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Jasper Oldersom

Hey, I am Jasper and I am an authentic freelance (copy)writer and marketer. If you need time to focus on other parts of your business, while I write a quality article for your website - I'm your guy.

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Emmanuel - May 5, 2016 Reply

Hello Jasper,

One thing I know for certain is the fact, the first call of attention to any reader is your headline. And I just love it when you brought it up.
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Aswini Vadapalli - May 5, 2016 Reply

Hi, Jasper

This is a well-written article with some helpful tips.

Every writer will keep their full efforts in writing articles, but in this digital world, the headline is crucial and not only that, the writer must also reach up to their audience expectations. if not they’ll lose their readers.

Isn’t that right?

What’s your opinion, Jasper.
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Jashon - May 7, 2016 Reply

nice post, this help me to be copy writer like you, i new in this action but i gave hope for this.
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Dana - May 7, 2016 Reply

Hey Jasper,

First time here 🙂

I agree wholeheartedly with you about relating to readers.
I can’t write any other way. How can I discuss what I have no understanding of? And for me to understand, I’d have to relate.

I’d have to have “been there.”

I appreciate the other tips you’ve shared here. I think we can all use new ideas and concepts to make us better – more efficient with what we’re doing.

Thanks for putting this together. Shared.
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    Jasper Oldersom - May 7, 2016 Reply

    Hey Dana!

    Welcome to my blog 😉

    Relating to your readers is essential. If not you are going to create distance between you and your readers. They’ll feel like you don’t get them.

    Copywriters have to jump into the skin of someone else sometimes. So we read what they read, watch the shows they watch and imagine how they feel and what keeps them up at night. We try to look at things from their perspective, emphasizing with them. That understanding is crucial. Only then can we start writing effective copy.

    I’m glad you liked the other tips as well. I appreciate you for stopping by and leaving a comment!

    Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

    – Jasper
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Rachel - May 12, 2016 Reply

Hey Jasper,

Sound advice. I took notes to write my service page. I have gotten better with knowing what my audience wants so I really enjoyed your questions and will put in extra effort when identifying their needs.

Your so right about pressure selling. Before I got into this blogging caper, I had to make a deal with myself that I was not to purchase a thing on the net for a year. I am a sucker for a service or a sale, especially when under pressure. Do you know how much that deal I made with myself has saved me? A fortune.

I have read many convincing sales pitches that drag me in. I read on and get excited. They keep my attention by not telling me it all and then they do their pitch and I have been let down. That’s been a big eye opener for me. The build up was better than the product.

And the one I am always afraid of, that you mention is boring. Don’t like my work because of the style or content. But boring would be a big sting. Before I hit the publish button I have to know that my work entertains my brain.

Thanks for a great post, it certainly was what I was looking for right at this time.

Rachel.

    Jasper Oldersom - May 12, 2016 Reply

    Hey Rachel,

    Thank you so much for stopping by. Great to see you here on my blog!

    Awesome that you took notes. You are a fantastic writer and you seem to know your audience from my first impression on your blog.

    It’s good to know your own weaknesses. In your case, this saved you a lot of money. 😉 There is one particular agency (who shall remain nameless, lol) that I think uses way too much pressure in their sales process. However, I think pressure is a powerful force that can be used for good. You should do everything you can to give them everything they need to make that decision today.

    When the sales letter is better than the product, that’s a shame on them. Once your customers get in, you should actually impress them so much that they’re telling their friends about how awesome it is. That’s how you create leverage. It’s a costly mistake in the long run.

    Boredom is a sales killer. Ideally, you want to get them so lost in the words that they don’t realize they’re reading at all.

    Glad you enjoyed the post, Rachel.

    Enjoy the rest of your week.

    – Jasper
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Manidipa Bhaumik - May 14, 2016 Reply

Hey Jasper,

I too believe that the Title or Headline is one of the most important piece of any content. This is actually the first thing that anyone observes in any copy.

So writing an engaging & eye-catchy title is of utmost importance.

Also creating the advertisement information based is the key to make the future buyers believe that you are much knowledgeable about the product and sharing genuine information about it. This surely helps them to make a easy buying decision. Thanks for sharing the advices. Take care.
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    Jasper Oldersom - May 16, 2016 Reply

    Hey Manidipa,

    Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving a comment.

    Glad you recognize how essential the headline is, your observation is on point.

    I agree, Mandipia, if you have a lot of knowledge about the product of service you’re selling, you can give them everything they need to make that decision (that way, they won’t have to browse elsewhere either!).

    Have a great week!

    – Jasper

Ron Killian - May 14, 2016 Reply

Awesome post Jasper. Really enjoyed it. 🙂

Copywriting is one of those subjects I can get enough of and sadly don’t study enough. So this post is some inspiration and motivation to get back to studying the art.

I don’t remember any quotes off hand. But the a couple of my favorite copywriters are Joe Sugarman (as you mentioned) and Bob Bly (don’t think you mentioned) and of course the other greats you’ve talked about in your post.

Though I don’t study enough, I’ve always believed that copywriting is one of the most important skills we as marketers can learn. It’s in almost everything we do from salespage to ads, opt-in’s and more. Well, just my opinion.

Appreciate your post!
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    Jasper Oldersom - May 17, 2016 Reply

    Hey Ron,

    Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. Copywriting is fascinating to me. I’m glad this gave you a little push to go ahead and pick up a new book or something. Demian Farnworth just published a new post on Copyblogger with classic books which are all amazing, if you’d like to check one of those out. http://www.copyblogger.com/classic-copywriting-books/

    I’m not too familiar with Bob Bly and certainly haven’t read any of his material, but I’ve heard many great things about him. I’ll pick up one of his books.

    Copywriting (actually, selling in general) is a fantastic investment for your time. We persuade people all the time!

    Thanks for your kind words, Ron. I appreciate it.

    Have a fantastic week.

    – Jasper
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Brent Jones - May 16, 2016 Reply

Dude,

You knocked it out of the park on this one. Way to go!

I love the sales quotes littered throughout this post. As you know, I spent the bulk of my career in sales in one capacity or another…

So this post is right up my alley.

I remember first crossing paths with you about a year ago… I believe we first connected through Adrienne Smith, if I remember correctly.

It’s amazing to see how far you’ve come over this past year, Jasper. And the best is yet to come. Keep it up, bro!

Brent
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    Jasper Oldersom - May 16, 2016 Reply

    Thanks, Brent!

    Yep, I know that. Sales people are fascinating to me, I think that’s common for people who write copy.

    Copywriting is simply salesmanship in print, so it definitely makes sense. Some copywriters claim there is no better and faster way to learn how to write sales copy than to go into sales for 3 to 6 months.

    Thanks for the encouraging words, Brent. The best is certainly yet to come. I feel like I’m just getting warmed up and I plan on sticking around for awhile… 😉

    Thank you so much for stopping by dude.

    Have a great week!

    -Jasper

Kimberley Willis - May 20, 2016 Reply

Hey Jasper,

Terrific post you’ve written!

Every point is on the money, for sure

I love this phrase:

‘Hype is the enemy of the sale.’

It sure is, although in some niches (e.g., make money online) hype still works. The problem with it, though, is that you attract the wrong type of person, who does little or nothing with the info, and then bad mouths the program to all and sundry. Difficult to build a sustainable income on such a weak foundation.

You’ve mentioned some legends such as John Caples and of course the great Joe Sugarman. I met Joe in Mexico in 2013 – a fantastic character and a pioneer too.

I agree with your point about research – it is the perfect antidote to writer’s block. When we do the research, we’ll often get a creative spark. Everything flows from there.

On of my fav copywriters is Hershell Lewis. He talks about the power of a single word. For instance, copywriters should strive to substitute ‘cold’ words for ‘warm’ words because warm words are more evocative and better at building desire.

When asked for advice for aspiring copywriters, he said that the best thing to do is read lots of other peoples copy, then answer these questions (after reading each item): “Would my heart beat a little faster? Would my blood pressure be a little higher because I didn’t have the product?”

Copywriting is simply salesmanship in print. So if aspiring copywriters have a hangup about being in the sales game, they should quit.

Thanks again Jasper. I look forward to referring some of my clients to you in the future.

Kim
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    Jasper Oldersom - May 20, 2016 Reply

    Hey Kim,

    I appreciate you for stopping by! Glad to hear you enjoyed the post.

    It’s a bold phrase and you’re right, in some niches, hype works to get the sale. But you’re right, if you’re attracting the wrong audience you aren’t creating a satisfactory experience. Sometimes they also persuade their audience with a big benefit, while the product is just “okay” at best. If you want a nice lifetime customer value, you need to target the right audience and (over)deliver on your products or services.

    I know research works for me when I’m stuck. Copywriting is part creativity, but that part is overshadowed by the other elements like research and knowing what works.

    Hershell Lewis is a new name for me, so that’s exciting…I’ll have to check him out!

    I often read old and succesful sales letters to increase my writing skills. There’s nothing better than learning from the masters..

    A copywriter like Gary Halbert can make me excited about weight loss products (…and I don’t even have weight problems!)

    Thanks again for stopping by and leaving such a valuable comment here on my blog, Kim. I don’t take it for granted.

    I hope you’re all set for a fabulous weekend.

    – Jasper
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Julian wangca - May 23, 2016 Reply

I am agree with you “Be Engaging”..This is true way to promote website’s content in society. I also prefer content visibility on my blogs, Content need to be visible for every users, because we don’t know, who is reading us, they can be of any age.
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Siddaiah Thirupati - June 6, 2016 Reply

Hi Jasper,

Copywriting is very hardest part in writers life, I wrote so many articles on product reviews and so many of those keywords are ranking on the first page of Google but my conversion rate is very less, I know I made a mistake in copywriting because of this reason I am not able to convince and convert the readers as I expected.

Now I am more concentrated to improving my copywriting skills, thank you very much for sharing these 13 lessons which will help in improving my writing skills.
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    Jasper Oldersom - June 10, 2016 Reply

    Hey Siddaiah,

    The most likely reason your pages aren’t converting is because they are generating traffic but you aren’t writing to the right audience.

    Do you know who would benefit most from you products or services? Write to these visitors. The 10-25% of your visitors that are most likely to tell others about you when they have used your products or services.

    I already noticed you checked out my latest post with the 7 articles, so I hope these will also help you. Looking forward to chatting again soon.

    – Jasper
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Jenifer Travis - June 20, 2016 Reply

You are really making an amazing job at this blog, you articles looks like science stuff in my opinion 😛 And this “how to write persuasive copy” is something which i was looking for, not exactly the same but thanks to you i know which way to go now 🙂 Thanks for sharing

Best wishes to you
Jenifer
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André - September 15, 2016 Reply

What causes a person to read an article, blog post , an e-book , a sales letter from start to finish ? Surely you will respond to quality of content, but there is another determining factor for a lead not abandon reading : compliance with what you’re saying.

For example, if you write a Republican speech and asks a Democrat read , most likely he will criticize your text will stop in half, it will reject any idea you want to put on the agenda. It is natural, after all, people are governed by their experiences, values ​​and beliefs.

karan - October 3, 2016 Reply

nice writing tips here, thanks admin for sharing this.
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