6 Starter Questions for Writing Better Sales Copy

When you’re writing a web page, ad, or email, you need to do some thinking before you begin writing. You need to figure out, roughly, what you’re going to say to persuade prospects to click or buy.

In my copywriting courses, I call this Making Good “Starter” Notes. These can be as formal as a full-blown Creative Brief or as casual as a few bullet points. The format doesn’t matter much. It’s the content that counts.

So what do you put in those starter notes? That can vary, of course, depending on what you’re writing. But you’ll definitely want to nail down answers to these six questions.

1. Who is the prospect?

If you’re fuzzy about who you’re selling to, writing the copy will be tedious and painful, and it will likely end up getting poor results. You can’t hit a target you can’t see. That’s why it’s important to clearly define who your prospects — (customers, ideal clients, buyers, whatever you choose to call them) — are.

Who are they? How would you describe them in a sentence?

Say, for example, you’re promoting an online course for real estate agents on how to conduct a virtual open house. In this case, your prospects might be, “Listing agents who are struggling to transition from traditional to virtual open houses.”

2. What do they want?

Chances are, your prospects want to either solve a problem, reach a goal, find what they need, get what they desire, or take advantage of an irresistible deal (such as a discount.)

What do your prospects want most that your product, service or offer can give them?

Using the previous example, real estate agents struggle to do virtual open houses. They may not have done them before. The technology confounds them. They worry about losing sales opportunities if they don’t figure this out.

3. How does my product, service or offer give that to them?

This question follows the thinking work you did in #2. Often, it’s a simple statement. For example: Our online course teaches real estate agents how to conduct an open house that dazzles buyers and motivates them to make an offer.

4. What are the important features and benefits?

Features are facts. Benefits are outcomes.

When making your starter notes, jot down the key features (facts about) your product, service or offer. Then, circle those that are most compelling to your prospects — those most likely to sway them.

For example:

  • In our online course, we recommend the best tech and apps for virtual open houses.
  • Another key feature…
  • Another key feature…

Next, connect benefits (outcomes) to those features you’ve circled. Think about what those features will enable your prospects to solve, do or achieve. Imagine how they’re going to feel when they experience those results.

For example:

  • In our online course, we recommend the best tech and apps for virtual open houses. That way, you can set things up right the first time, avoiding the misery of making the wrong choices.
  • Another key feature… and its benefit.
  • Another key feature… and its benefit.

5. What are the differences?

When your prospect has other options — and they usually do! — they’re going to choose your product or service based on what’s different about it, not what’s similar.

So think about differences you can highlight in your sales copy. Those can be just about anything that sets your product or service apart from competitors: a unique feature, a lower price, an advantage. It could even be something about your company, such as its near 5-star ratings on Yelp.

Here’s an example: The course is taught by John Smith, a Realtor who has done more than 30 virtual open houses in the past few months, resulting in 42 offers.

6. What do I want the prospect to do next?

Your sales copy must lead the prospect to one place and one place only: the call-to-action. So you must be clear on what that is.

Think about what you want your prospect to do next. Buy now? Learn more? Sign up? Download our free guide? Call us?

Nail down that next step.

So there you have it. Six questions that will help you create better starter notes to guide your copywriting.

You might think this is a lot to do before getting down to it and writing the copy. It isn’t. Unless you’re creating a detailed creative brief, all you’re doing here is jotting down a few points to kickstart your copywriting and keep it on track.

Trust me, it’s worth the few minutes it takes!


This article was originally published in LinkedIn Pulse here.

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