Five selling techniques that’ll make you a better copywriter

Earlier this year, copywriter and author, Andy Maslen, published an excellent blog post on how to be a wildly successful copywriter. Like any copywriter, I read it because, well, I want to be wildly successful.

But that’s not what inspired me to write this blog post. What Andy said that resonated with me most is the idea that simply loving writing isn’t enough to become a successful copywriter:

To love copywriting means to love advertising. It means to love business. It means to love capitalism.

For me, the best way to love copywriting, and become a better copywriter, is to love selling.

David Ogilvy, ‘the father of advertising’, started his career selling AGA cooking stoves door to door, while Andy worked as a sales representative for a DIY products importer.

Likewise, I worked in sales while I studied journalism at college and university. And do you know what? I loved it. I got a thrill out of it. And I was pretty good at it.

Firstly, I worked in a call centre selling broadband, TV and line rental to SMEs. Now, I won’t talk (talk) about the particular brand, but I learned a lot about selling in a relatively short space of time.

I also discovered that I’m particularly good at selling to beauticians and hairdressers in Northern Ireland and Liverpool, but I guess that’s a story for another day.

Afterwards, I worked for a fashion retailer; starting off as a sales assistant before working my way up the company to become a senior sales assistant.

Now, you’d be forgiven for thinking I’m selling myself here. I’m not. After all, as Andy further explains in his blog post: ‘It is a fact commonly acknowledged that the great majority of copywriters actively avoid selling.’

Of course, Andy is talking about copywriters selling themselves. But whether you’re selling copy for a client or selling your own services, here are five selling techniques that will make you a better copywriter.

Sell benefits, not features

It’s an age old selling technique, but one that really works. As Andy says in his book, Write To Sell, readers aren’t interested in features, they’re interested in how your product or service will benefit them. Sell the benefits.

Listen to your audience

An ex-manager always used to say to me: ‘You have two ears and one mouth. Use them in proportion.’ Whether you’re actually speaking to customers directly or simply using personas to understand your typical reader, you have to listen to them and understand what they actually want.

Build trust

For me, one of the best ways to sell to a customer is to convince them to trust you. In my previous sales roles, I had clients and customers that would come back to me week after week, month after month. Why? Because they trusted me. Whether you’re creating blog content as part of a content marketing strategy, or simply writing copy for a client’s website, you need to convince readers to trust you.

Initial benefit statement

Anyone who has worked in sales will have heard of the initial benefit statement. In sales, it’s said that you only have 20 seconds to make an impression. In copywriting, your headline is the first opportunity you have to make an impression on a prospective customer. Use it wisely. Or else.

Close the sale

Now that you’ve got your customer interested in what you have to say, and they understand the benefits of your product or service, it’s time to close the sale. I was always taught the best way to close a sale is to summarise the situation and reinforce the benefits. In copywriting, make your call to action clear and concise.

Do you have any other sales techniques that you use, or that can help us become better copywriters? Please leave your words of wisdom as a comment below.

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Photo courtesy of epSos .de under CC BY 2.0

Originally appeared on LinkedIn on March 5 2015.

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