When you write sales copy, it’s easy to get consumed by one thought: make the sale.
But this focus could actually be your copywriting downfall.
While you want to make a sale, your customer wants a transformation.
If you don’t share that vision of transformation when you write, your message could fall flat right when you need it most: at the buy button.
Here’s how to guide your customer through — and beyond — the sale with confidence.
Why focusing on the sale is like hitting a brick in the road
On a very early driving lesson, I was picking up speed when my instructor casually remarked, “Mind that brick in the road.”
I don’t know how it got there, but there it was, right in my lane, in line with my tires.
There was plenty of room to maneuver around it — but there was just one problem.
I couldn’t take my eyes off of it.
It was all I could think about. If you drive, you know that whatever you focus on is what you tend to steer towards.
“Amy, mind that brick!”
A few seconds later, there was a sickening “thunk” and my instructor turned grey (it was his own car).
Fortunately, there was no serious damage. (I don’t think — I know nothing about cars, but I’m sure it was fine.)
My instructor then wanted to know how I’d managed to pull off this incredible feat.
We had two very different visions of where we were headed. He visualized a clear path past the brick, and all I could see was that imminent rock in the road.
Your customer isn’t thinking about the “sale”
There’s a principle in copywriting called “being on both sides of the counter.”
It means that while you want to make the sale from your side of the counter, you have to also understand your customer’s perspective from where he stands.
To do this effectively, you have to know what your customer is thinking in the lead-up towards the sale.
For example, if my dad has to visit a store to buy a new cell phone, he might be faced with a clerk, who — excited about the product — immediately jumps into discussing the bells and whistles of the device, as well as data plans.
While all of that might be exciting to a phone expert, it’s certainly not what’s on my dad’s mind. My dad is thinking:
“Right, I need to get something cheap, quick, and simple, and then find a quiet pub to have a pint, frame of snooker, and game of dominoes.”
It’s the same with your sales copy. If you don’t know what’s important to your customer, you’ll struggle to write copy that connects.
1. Read your customer’s mind (and put it on the page)
My driving instructor was confident that “mind the brick” was all he had to say to avert disaster.
A simple solution except that, as a complete beginner, I didn’t know how that solution applied to my problem.
I needed my instructor to read my mind, which would have shown that while he was thinking this was no big deal, I was thinking:
“Oh no, what am I going to do?! What do I do? I’m going to hit the brick. I don’t know how to avoid it!”
Had he known that, he might have realized I needed more incremental instructions, such as: “turn the wheel slightly to your right, and now straighten up.”
The same principle applies when writing your sales copy. You have to know how your customer thinks about her problem.
If you focus too much on the sale when you write, you might be tempted to dive straight into details about your product and the solution it offers.
This is like a doctor handing out a prescription before giving at least some attention to the patient’s symptoms.
Consider the following copy:
“Take this 30-day blogging course and see your blog improve by next month.”
The copy races into the sale without taking time to consider the details of what the customer might be thinking.
So what might a perfect customer be thinking?
“I love blogging, but I wish I could reach more people. I’m spending lots of time creating my content but can’t seem to build my audience fast enough. I was really proud of the post I wrote last week, but only two people shared it and no one left a comment. I must be missing something because I’ve seen other people do really well with their blogs. I just don’t know where I should focus my efforts.”
Here are that prospect’s key problems:
- Not reaching enough people
- Spending lots of time on content but not attracting enough readers
- Frustration that posts she loves only get a few shares and comments
- Envious of other bloggers (and wondering what the “secret” is)
Copy that includes these details is going to build a stronger connection with the reader because it sounds like the conversation she is already having in her mind.
This technique helps you get your customer on board as you lead her up to the sale, but how do you keep her on track so that she buys with confidence and enthusiasm?
2. Focus on the point past the sale
In copywriting, you’re not trying to get prospects to the buy button; you’re trying to get them beyond the buy button.
If the sale is all you can think about when you write, asking for it can feel ominous and foreboding, resulting in a weak call to action.
Remember what it was like to pluck up the courage to ask for that date you really wanted? There was probably some stuttering, sweaty palms, and a rushed mumble of words while you waited and hoped for the best.
Sometimes with a sales page, the pressure to make the sale feels so uncomfortable that the writer eases up.
The result is that the copy feels shy and lacking in momentum. It’s a bit like stopping a speeding train short of the platform and hoping the passengers know to get off and walk the rest of the way.
Take your customers up to the buy button with confidence and gusto. Remind them why this is a great idea for them. What pain will you make go away? What results will they experience?
Then use active language to continue that momentum right through the buying process:
- “Start creating a digital business you love by …”
- “Take the first step to eliminate your fear of public speaking …”
- “Increase your sales in just 60 days from today when you …”
- “Get the copywriting course marketers have been raving about for years …”
Now we’re on the customer’s side; we’re encouraging her to visualize the transformation rather than the sale.
It’s time for the final tip …
3. Strip away the mystery of the sale itself
When it comes to spending money on a product or service, customers really don’t like surprises.
If you see the sale as the “end goal” when writing your copy, you could subconsciously write in a way that makes the buy button look like a closed door.
If your reader isn’t clear on what’s going to happen after she opens that door, hesitations and potential objections can creep in.
Even if you’ve been painting a wonderful picture of how her life could be, it’s easy to skip the little golden details that build the last-minute confidence she needs to open the door.
These details often get missed because, well, they’re just not as sexy as those beautiful selling points.
Not as sexy to you anyway, because you know exactly what happens when someone buys a product or signs up to work with you. Those processes are probably so familiar to you that you don’t even think to mention them.
But those details are sexy to a customer, so make the buying process as clear and free of mystery or surprise as possible. For example:
- What exactly happens after she clicks “buy?” Is she taken to a payment page? Is it secure? Does she have to fill in her details and register first?
- After the payment, then what happens? Does she get a confirmation email? Is she taken to a downloads page? Does she get instant access to the product or materials?
- If you provide a service and someone is hiring you, when does she first hear from you? Do you send her a welcome pack or a contract to sign?
Guide your customer through the purchase process with confidence
These simple tips let you share your customer’s vision of the problem she has, the transformation she wants, and the curiosity about what’s behind the buy button.
That’s how you write copy that guides her through the purchase process with confidence.
Oh, and if you ever need a lift, I’d be happy to drive … I haven’t driven over a brick in — ohhh — days.
How do you assist your customers every step of the way?
Editor’s note: If you found this article useful, you may also want to read How to Price Your Product so Your Prospect Says Yes (Yes!) by Sean D’Souza