How to write copy that converts

Copywriting touches everything we do in marketing; but are we asking people for too much too soon?


Recently, I have been diving into copywriting a bit more. It touches everything we do in growth marketing from the first time someone sees your brand on social media or hears about you from a friend to them buying your product and becoming a champion themselves.

The goal of your copy will always be tied to the behaviour you are trying to change.

Do I want someone to read my post from start to finish? Do I want them to click on an ad to find out more about my business? Or am I trying to make them an offer they can’t refuse giving them so much value they just have to sign on the dotted line?

Upon reflection and from diving into some material I’ve discovered the following truths. Now, these truths are things we know but often take for granted like getting the house clean before you invite people over.

Think about what you want people to do and why they should do it.

1.   People do not like the idea of being sold to

I’d like for you to imagine for a minute you are walking through a car yard at your local dealership. You are walking up and down pretending to know what you are doing when a car salesperson approaches.

Now you’re thinking ok what’s their deal. She could say “like the look of this one, I can give you 15% off today just don’t tell my boss” 😉 to which you’d reply “no thanks I’m just browsing” but really you already know which one you like and wouldn’t mind going for a test drive. She just didn’t ask the right questions. Instead, she should have said, “Hi I’m Jenny would you like a coffee while you browse.”

Jenny knows it is the first time you are here, so she is not going to ask you if you want to buy straight away. That’s like asking someone to marry you on the first date. All she is focused on is getting you to book a test drive.

2.   It is not about the action it is about the sequence

As soon as you begin to skip stages in the customer journey it becomes obvious like pulling out a ring on the first date or asking someone to buy a car the first time they meet you. Particularly if this is a high-value transaction like buying a car or a business deal chances are it is going to take some time to build trust. You’ll need a couple of dates first before they start to consider you as an option.

Until then, all you need to focus on is the next step in the customer journey this is your “call-to-action” it could be another date, a free consultation or sample, a money-back guarantee to get people to try before they buy. Now, if you have a consumer product like a pair of shoes or a smaller offer under $100 to get people started, they might be able to convert straight away because they can see the value in what you do or have upfront and there is less risk involved.

However, most of the time it takes a few dates before you get introduced to the parents. The dating metaphor works well so I’m going to keep rolling with it.

3.   People don’t buy things they buy transformation

In other words, how can I take my customer to a future desired state? Often people think that what they are selling is what they do for a living but really at the heart of why they exist is because they make someone’s lives better if your mum wasn’t bored you wouldn’t be here.

Before Gillette went political and then broke, they focused on what it meant to be a man. Someone who was there for their family a breadwinner, an athlete, a father – the best a man could get. This inspired men to be better. They aspired to be the best a man could get, transform from that guy on the couch to an attractive clean-shaven man. Sounds perfect right?

Back then Warren Buffet was an investor and the stock grew exponentially before being acquired by Proctor & Gamble. Today, they haven’t got their copy right and that’s clear with recent results. They forgot who they were transforming and the augmented benefits that come from a clean shave beyond just being clean you’re being a man.

4.   People buy for emotional not rational reasons

We buy based on emotional decisions every day. From the clothes we wear to the food we eat, to the cars we buy. Chances are you voted in the last election based on your family values or who you liked not because they had a better policy. So, let me ask you this, what feels good? Does it feel good working in a job where you can go home on time because you know you’ll beat traffic and make it home for dinner? Does it feel good to sleep in on a Saturday morning and get brunch with your friends and family then walk it off after? And does it feel good to buy your favourite thing from the supermarket every time you go even though it might not be good for you or it costs that little bit more? Of course, it does.

Now, this is a copywriting article, not a science journal so I’m not going to bore you with serotonin or primal motivation but what we can conclude from buying emotionally is that what we write needs to reflect a deeper need. We can’t lead with; our cleaning products are great for bathrooms. So what? There are loads of cleaning products out there…

Instead, you should say “We kill 99% of germs” because here we are talking about a deeper benefit. 99% of germs means my surfaces will be cleaner and if my surfaces are cleaner my children don’t get sick and if my children don’t get sick, I get a better night’s sleep. Notice how one good bit of copy can spin off into all these other benefits as well. That’s what we are looking for. Deep emotional benefits which get to the heart of the emotions of your prospect and even better if you can include facts.

5.   People like to rationalise an emotional decision

Once you know your customer is a champion of the product they will buy on impulse. They are the type who goes week at the knees when there’s a sale. They are also the type who say eating dark chocolate is healthy or drinking two glasses of red wine a night is good for you (proceeds to drink whole bottle). If you’ve ever been lucky enough to buy a boat, you’ll know the feeling. As consumers, we justify after the fact. Which is why it is ever so important as business and as a product to reiterate the rational benefits of the emotional decision your customer has made.

This is where thank you emails, ongoing customer support, newsletters, gifts and rewards to name a few come in handy. You’ve spent so much of your time and their time getting them to this point you must keep them. As the relationship grows between you and your customer it becomes worth more.

Think about it this way. If I’m loyal to a café around the corner they haven’t just sold me one coffee but all the coffees I’m going to drink every time I go there. Therefore, when you’re writing you don’t just talk about immediate benefits because the novelty wears off. You need to focus on the future like imagine never having to worry about copy again. Having everything taken care of for you like any good dishwasher. Loading the new Sheer Look – PLUS Frigidaire Dishwasher is literally child’s play.

6.   There are words in pictures

Following on from the dishwasher example above looking at the picture you can see the text the compliments “so easy, even a child can do it”. Now if you think about the mother in the background, she can now do two things at once the knitting and the dishes. Best of all her daughter is learning good manners and how to take care of herself and her household when she grows up like any 1950's Middle American should.

Ultimately, through the copy and the picture, there is a promise. A promise that the dishwasher loads easily will hold everything I need it to and come out clean. Not only that but it's so easy that anyone in the family can do it with mum’s supervision of course.

Remember it is not about the action it is about the sequence if you haven’t clearly defined your customer journey you’re going to have a hard time convincing them that you solve their problem and your product or service will help them now and into the future. I’m working on a copywriting template to help with this, get in touch if you would like a copy.

Growth Marketing
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