11 Proven Principles for Writing Powerful Sales Copy

A sales page has to compel your readers to spend money on your product. While there each product and each target audience are different, there are a few proven guidelines you can follow in order to get the best results out of your sales page.

How to write powerful sales copy

  1. Start with a benefit-focused headline. Sales copywriters will tell you that the most important part of any copy is the headline because it’s the headline that determines whether the reader will read the rest of your copy. There are many headline types you can use but if you’re looking for a simple, proven formula, try: How to [achieve a desirable result] in [a certain number of days] even if you [name an obstacle that is stopping them taking action], e.g. How to [put on 10lbs of lean muscle] in [90 days] even if [you’re a so-called ‘hardgainer’]. Or, How to [land your first Fortune 500 client as a freelancer] in [30 days] even if [you’re just starting out].
  2. Be emotional and make it personal. Making sales copy relatable, emotional and personal can really draw the reader in and build trust. This trust, in turn, translates into sales. (This is why selling with stories is so effective). Make sure you connect with your readers immediately. For example, you could ask them “Are you sick of X?”; “Do you want to [achieve a result]?”; “Have you ever [experienced a problem/pain]?” You will notice a lot of sales copy starts with asking these types of questions. It’s a device to make the prospect feel their problems are understood and therefore the solution has been properly designed to work.
  3. Emphasise current pain and tempt with future pleasure. The role of your sales copy is to move the reader from a painful present to a pleasurable future. You do this by first increasing the current pain they’re experiencing by focusing on it; talking about it in detail and highlighting the negative thoughts and emotions associated with the pain. The more vivid and real your descriptions are, the clearer the picture of the problem is in the reader’s head, and the more likely they are to buy your solution.
         You then present an escape from the pain – a powerful solution in the form of your product or service. This sequence would be even more effective if you can use your personal story to show how you can relate to the pain they’re experiencing now and how what you’re offering has brought you the pleasure they’re seeking.
  4. Write for a single customer. Always imagine you’re writing your sales copy to your customer avatar, i.e. an individual representation of your ideal customer. The resulting copy will be more personal, relatable and persuasive. When you’re reader feels, “this person understands my problems” they are more likely put their trust in your solution.
  5. Guarantee a desirable result/outcome. What customers want is a solution to their problem(s). That’s their primary motivation. They want you to remove the problem that’s keeping them up at night, that’s preventing them from succeeding. They want someone to make the problem go away, quickly and easily. Your job is to identify and/or anticipate the main pain points facing your target market; show them you understand; and deliver a fail-proof solution to remove them. For your product or service, clearly state the result/outcome you will deliver and be sure you can fulfil your promise.  
  6. Show that you’re credible and prove that your product works. Credibility is key. Include plenty of customer testimonials and case studies. Your goal is to build trust every step of the way. It’s a two-pronged approach: (i) show them that you understand their problem, and (ii) show them you have successfully delivered the solution many times before. As well as customer testimonials, you can include various forms of social proof, e.g. the logos of past clients you have helped; media channels you have featured in, i.e. “as seen on”; awards etc. However, don’t let it turn into a resumé. Keep it brief and relevant to the sales process.
  7. Sell benefits not features. Customers buy benefits (emotion-based) not features (logic-based). For example, a car’s features include wheels, a steering wheel and an engine to get you from A to B; its benefits include greater freedom; greater convenience; the admiration and respect of others (depending on the model); a symbol of success and so on. People always buy benefits, not features.
  8. But don’t completely ignore features either. Whilst you should always sell benefits, not features, do include a short round-up of what your solution comprises. Your prospects want to feel they are getting a comprehensive solution to their problem. They want the peace-of-mind that if they buy your solution, the problem will be resolved, permanently. So, after you tell the reader what your solution is and have sold the benefits, add a short, bullet-pointed list of what is included in the solution, e.g. “Included in the package is our unique software; 12 hours of video training; 7 bonus modules; 30 minutes one-on-one coaching call…” and so on.
  9. Include a no-risk guarantee. This is another part of building trust. It can be a no-quibble money-back guarantee, a flexible exchange and return policy, or a free cancellation. The goal of the guarantee is to remove the fear in your prospect’s mind, “What if buying this is a mistake?”
  10. Include strong calls-to-action. Don’t assume your prospect will know what to do after reading your sales copy. Be sure to tell them to take action, e.g. buy, order now, subscribe, register, click here and so on. To make the action more compelling, you can add something like “Share on Facebook to get a 20% off promo code”. Don’t just put call-to-action buttons at the very end of your page though – include them at logical points throughout the sales copy.
  11. Inspire them to take action. Tell your prospect that they stand at a crossroads. They can make two decisions: to continue as they have done and get the same results or to take a new course of action towards a better, more rewarding future. Always be positive and encouraging. Thank the prospect for their time, let them know they are valued and appreciated and you can’t wait to work with them. And do keep in mind that they’d expect that positivity and support to continue once they order.

Takeaway points

  1. The essence of sales copy: a powerful headline to draw the reader in; show the prospect you understand their problem; present your solution; promote the benefits of your solution; promise a positive outcome; prove your product works; offer a guarantee; make a call to action.
  2. Selling with stories is a powerful sales method.
  3. The above outline is flexible enough to be adapted to any sales copy you write. The principles remain unchanged.

Action steps

  1. Think of some headlines that capture the essence of your product and what it can do.
  2. Make a list of all the benefits of your product.
  3. What outcome are you promising?
  4. Collect customer testimonials. If you have none, ask friends, family and colleagues to review your product.

Photo credit: Federica Agostini via Flickr.com / CC BY-NC 2.0

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