Copywriting and the Art of Profitable Advertising

Yesterday Brian Clark asked the question “If content is the new advertising, what is it saying about you?

Knee deep in the article he brings in a good point:

Think about it… the advertising we actually enjoy is often witty and entertaining, but it doesn’t persuade us to do anything.

This is true for your blog. Or your articles. Or your email newsletter. And not only does it not persuade us to do anything, you’re not really sure what it’s doing.

Enter copywriting.

In this post I’m going to give you the five-cent tour of the copywriting world and how it can elevate everything you say or write to a level of scientifically precise persuasion.

I hope it provides some insight into effective advertising, or, at a minimum, gets you to think differently about your current notions regarding advertising and the attention you seek from it.

What Is Copywriting?

Copywriting includes all the written communications used to sell, market and promote your service to prospects.

As a category, it’s bigger than “advertising writing” because it also includes things such as brochures or web sites. Buit it’s smaller than “business writing” because it doesn’t include non-marketing communications such as interoffice memos.

This said, let me introduce to you three important ideas about copywriting repeated through this website: targeting prospects, inspiring action and measuring results.

These three ideas put together make up what is commonly called “direct response advertising,” which is different than brand or awareness advertising.

All direct response advertising appeals to specifically targeted audiences, is crafted to inspire action or response and can be measured to determine its effectiveness.

Targeting Prospects

Instead of making communications that impress a message on as many eyeballs as possible, direct marketers do everything they can to limit their efforts (and dollars) to the prospects most likely to be interested in their offers.

Instead of broadcasting, they narrowcast to increase their customer base.

Why the List Is So Important

Your audience is the single most important element of a targeted direct response campaign. In fact, in descending order, list is more imporant than copy, which is last [list, offer, format and copy].

Keep in mind that a weak message to the right audience has a far greater chance of success than a beautifully designed, brilliantly written message to the wrong people.

If you have limited time and money, concentrate most of your efforts on the list.

And lists need not be complicated.

Building lists are easy. For you, the most effective list is the one you gathered from past clients and propsects who have given you permission to send them meaningful stuff.

And that’s the secret: giving them something meaningful. Whether it’s a newsletter, blog, market updates, housing forecast information or new listing postcards…send people something they care about…something they’d trudged through 3 feet of snow to their mailbox or wait 3 minutes while their computer booted up to read.

Inspiring Action

Dig this: Copywriting provides a means for generating a lead in the here and now. This is done via a toll-free number, your web site, email address or postage paid reply cards. Prospects are encouraged to take action….

This “take action” quality is what separates copywriting from other business communications. It is intended for one thing: increase response.

Brand awareness advertisers attempt to create a set of ideas or emotions they hope you remember. But copywriters and direct response advertisers don’t give two hoots and a handshake about what people remember: They want to motivate action now.

That’s why it’s important you don’t rely strictly on “image” campaigns or “name recall.”

Years ago David Ogilvy demonstrated that brand recall and celebrity endorsements stuck in peoples’ minds…but nobody could remember why.

If you are spending hard-earned and hard-to-replace money on ads, make sure you are investing it wisely. Which brings me to my final point…

Measuring Effectiveness

In the last century, the following words have been put in practically every significant business leaders mouth:

“I know that 50 percent of my advertising doesn’t work…what I don’t know is which 50 percent!”

The truth is nobody knows who exactly said this. But that’s not important. What’s important is this: copywriting and direct response advertising can help you discover what is working and what is not.

The above adage was probably quoted by every business leader at one point in his career because all he knows is that they are selling products…but they are not sure which commercial or which magazine ad motivated people to go out and purchase paper towels or car tires.

Something spurred sales, but despite the best efforts of the best market researchers and MBAs, no one knows for sure.

You never need to be in that position.

You can know scientifically, objectively and absolutely down to the last dime what ads worked and which ones didn’t.

Imagine you send out a thousand letters with postaghe paid reply cards and get 20 cards back requesting a CMA.

Simple maths says you got a 2 percent response rate.

Now, add up the sum of the total houses sold and subtract the cost of the mailing [list fees, if any, creative time spent or charge, production costs, postage, and so on]. The difference is the money made–or lost.

If the cost exceeds revenues, you know you need to change something: the list, offer, format or copy.

As you probably figured out, you can get even more sophisticated and the run the numbers inside, outside, up side down to give you even more information about costs, values, revenues and profits.

In the end, one point remains constant: Action is measurable, and these measure give your business meaningful information on which to base future decisions.

On Monday, I’ll give you some tips on how to actually test your copy.

Stay tuned.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 0 comments

Leave a Reply: