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Crafting Words that Get Results.

Your Profit-Boosting web copywriting specialist for the fitness, lifestyle and travel industries.

Jan

26

Conversational Copywriting will Increase Your Sales


Why Conversational Copywriting?

First of all, what is Conversational Copywriting?  It’s a unique copywriting style designed to do one thing:

Increase your sales.

As we’ve discussed here before, consumers are bombarded with thousands of marketing messages daily.  Your message needs to break through the noise and grab their attention.  It needs to engage your web visitors, so they stay on your site longer.  And it needs to keep their attention until the offer and the close.

You do have something to sell, right?

The best way to do this is with Conversational Writing.

Conversational Writing, or more specifically, Conversational Copywriting, connects with people.  It’s the best voice to use when getting your message out, because it speaks to your reader as a regular person.

Conversational Writing stays away from big, fancy words.  This isn’t The Atlantic Monthly or  The Economist.

The purpose of Conversational Writing is not to impress people.  Aside from pretentious people and intellectual academics, no one speaks in paragraph-long sentences sprinkled liberally with $5 words.  Average folks speak in sentences that are about 7-12 words.

First trust, then a sale.

Conversational Writing puts web visitors at ease, because they’re not intimidated or bogged down in prose.  It shows that the writer is a regular person, too, someone your readers can easily relate to.  When there is trust, a sale is much more likely to follow.

The conversational voice is key to writing strong, compelling web copy.  It understands what keeps your readers up at night, and what they think about when they first wake up.  It addresses their concerns in an honest and sincere way.  Understands their worries, needs, hopes, and fears.

Coffee, anyone?

Conversational Writing passes what I call the “coffeeshop test” (yes, it’s a term I coined.)  Picture two friends hanging out at Caribou Coffee, drinking coffee by the fireplace, having civil conversation about local sports or even politics.  Conversational copy sounds the way one of these friends would talk to the other if he was trying to convince the other of his point of view.

Natural conversation with good flow.  Thoughts and ideas connected to each other in a logical way.  An easy-flowing, conversational tempo.

Conversational Copy is a respectful, intelligent, convincing style of winning people to your way of thinking.

24 years of direct sales experience

Since 1986 I’ve been in direct sales, dealing one-on-one, face-to-face with consumers.  The majority of people under the age of 30 have no idea what I’m talking about.  (Yes, even in this age of social media, VOIP, texting and tweeting, there is still a need for communicating your ideas in person.)

I figure I’ve given over 25,000 sales presentations in my career, and that was before I became a copywriter five years ago.  It’s taught me a lot.

I’ve found that people buy when they feel they know you and trust you.  When there’s a reasonably good offer.  And when they feel they aren’t being “sold”.

That’s not as easy as it sounds.

Most copywriters are more concerned with writing “killer copy” and bombarding the reader with one benefit after another.

Other copywriters promise “hypnotic writing” that will mesmerize your readers.

My approach is more subtle, more genuine, and more often than not, gets better results.

That’s the bottom line, right?  Results.

Conversational copy always convinces web visitors to take action.  It just does it in a very skillful, conversational style (versus a heavy-handed, “telemarketer-ish” way.)

You’ll have a lot easier time convincing your readers if your copy is upbeat and easy to read.  And that can only happen if they’re comfortable with the tone of your copy.  And if they like and trust the person who’s writing to them.

Give Conversational Writing a try (either do it yourself or hire someone proficient in it.)  Your prospects will like you.  They’ll trust you.  And most important, they’ll buy from you.


Jan

25

So, Who’s This Steve Roller Copywriting Guy Anyway?


Introducing: Steve Roller, copywriter and marketing guy

Steve Roller

Steve Roller

Once a month, I take a brief detour from web copywriting, direct response and marketing advice, and give you a glimpse into my personal life.

Why?

Well, a lot of my clients and prospective clients have never met me in person.  Some would prefer to keep it that way, but others want to know more.

They want to know a little more about the person behind the keyboard, cranking out web copy and print materials that sell.

Why I’m a copywriter

In July of 2004, three big loves of my life (besides my wife and four kids) converged to create the career I had been waiting for.

I love to write, I love to sell, and I love to travel, and each one plays a part in my life as a copywriter.

Steve Roller, writer

I’ve loved writing ever since my 4th grade teacher (Ms. Biwer, if you’re out there – thank you!) pulled me out of class to compliment me on my writing journal.

Later, it continued with a travel journal as I backpacked across Europe in my early 20’s.

Most recently, it popped up as I started my first book, an inspirational biography of sorts.  The Great American novel is still rolling around in my head, while I pursue my copywriting passion.

Steve Roller, salesperson

Copywriting is selling with words, online or in print.  You simply have to know how to sell to be an effective copywriter.

Thankfully, I learned how to sell long before becoming a copywriter.  You could call it a baptism by fire!

In the summer of 1986, after my freshman year at UW-Madison, I had the wonderfully crazy job of selling educational books door-to-door, 81 hours a week, on straight commission, 1500 miles from home.

You can’t help but learn how to sell in that situation.  You learn how to read people quickly, how to figure out their wants and needs and hopes and fears, and how to quickly grab their attention.

You learn what motivates people to buy, and you expertly lead them to that decision.

Over the next five years I mastered the art of selling.   I loved the feeling of improving people’s lives because our paths crossed and I communicated effectively.

I’m still selling everyday with the words I craft, and I still get stoked about a successful campaign that brings in a lot of new customers.

Steve Roller, traveler

Selling skills and writing skills (and a love of those things) make sense for a successful copywriter.  But traveling?

Let me explain.

My career has mostly been in direct sales.  I’ve sold educational books door-to-door in 5 different states back East.  I’ve sold legal publications to high-powered attorneys in Minneapolis.  And I’ve been in fundraising sales, helping schools and non-profit organizations in the Madison, Wisconsin, area raise well over $1 million in profits.

Great jobs, all of them.  But they all required me to physically be there in person, making presentations face-to-face (I figure I’ve made over 25,000 such sales presentations.)  If I wasn’t on selling appointments, I wasn’t making money.

My wanderlust is too strong to be physically confined to one place.

When I found out I could use writing and selling skills as a copywriter, and indulge my passion for traveling at the same time, I leapt at the chance!

Copywriting freedom

Most recently, I spent 17 days in Istanbul, Turkey, and Lagos and Benin City, Nigeria.  As a copywriter, my “office” was under the coconut palms and avocado trees, soaking up the 90 degree sunshine.  I spent 17 days relaxing, writing a few hours a day, and making money while I was on vacation.

I’ve been to all 50 states, 28 countries, and 5 continents so far.  I have big travel plans for the future, and they all involve copywriting on the move!

Writing, selling, and traveling.  A melding of three of my favorite things into my perfect career – copywriting.  And being a copywriter gives me flexibility and time to spend with my two great loves – my wife and kids.

That’s what really counts.


Jan

22

How to Write Hollywood Headlines that Pull


How to write Hollywood headlines that pull in more online readers

IMAG0047Millions of us do it, but most of us won’t admit it.  It can cause embarassment and nervousness on one hand, excitement and elation on the other.

What is “it”?

Reading the Hollywood tabloids – People, Us, Entertainment Weekly, and whatever other ones there are (as if I didn’t know.)

I sneak in a peek at my health club in between sets, hoping that no one sees me.  Apparently millions of us do, because their readership is off the charts these days.

Why do we read tabloids?  In large part, because they have great headlines that suck us in, right?

Online headline tips from the tabloids

Granted, even without good headlines, a lot of us would read about our favorite Hollywood stars because, well, they’re Hollywood stars and we seem to be fascinated with their lives.

Even so, here’s three quick headline lessons from Hollywood tabloids that you can apply to your online headlines. 

  1. Keep it short.   In the book The 100 Greatest Advertisements by Julian Lewis Watkins, 95% of the headlines had fewer than 8 words.  My favorite?  “Blow Some My Way” (for Chesterfield Cigarettes).  My favorite recent short tabloid headline? “Crisis!”
  2. Be specific.  Don’t be vague (“The best for the least!” or “Exercise Tips”).  Much better, and one of my all-time favorites: “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, the classic headline and book title from Dale Carnegie.  A specific Hollywood headline: “Angelina Spying on Brad!”
  3. Suck them in and grab their attention.  We all know the big headline requirement of grabbing the reader’s attention.  This is more important than ever on the internet.  You might have to spend some time to get good at this.  Some copywriters spend half their project time just on the headline.  My favorite attention-grabbing headline, from Bottom Line Personal: “What never – ever – to eat on an airplane!”  Favorite recent Hollywood headline: “The Truth About Their Baby!” (it sucked me in and I read the whole article.)

Remember “the 3 S’s”, and you won’t go wrong:

  1. Short
  2. Specific
  3. Suck them in

There’s more to writing good online headlines, of course, but that’s a good start.

Here’s to better online marketing and writing and bigger results!

P.S.  Did you hear that Katie is moving out on Tom?


Jan

19

A Simple Lesson in Copywriting for Online Businesses


A simple lesson in copywriting for online businesses

You hear the term thrown around all over these days – “copywriting”.  Not to be confused with “copyrighting”, of course.  Half my neighbors and some of my friends (still) think I hole up in my office 10 hours a day dealing with intellectual property law or busting out scofflaws pirating copyrighted material from the internet.

Ah, to lead such a glamorous life!  Not quite.

Copywriting, in a nutshell

Copywriting, as I explain to anyone who will listen, is crafting words to persuade the reader, listener, or viewer to act.  In other words, writing to persuade the reader to buy your product or service.

Copywriting is selling with words, online or off.  It sounds a lot easier than it is, which is why a lot of small businesses attempt to do it themselves and save money paying a professional. 

Copywriting 101: 7 essential components

If you think you have a flair for writing, and do decide to go it alone, here are 7 essential components (in order):

  1. Always, always focus on the needs of your reader.  Try to get inside your reader’s mind, and write from the perspective of what he or she would want to hear.  The biggest mistake I see in non-professional copywriting is writing from the standpoint of the seller, which is natural, but doesn’t sell as well.
  2. Make sure your headline has a big idea – a compelling promise that not only grabs the reader’s attention, but offers something specific (more on that in a future post.)  Oh, and make sure you have a headline!  Yes, even on web pages.  This is the 2nd mistake I see most often.
  3. Write clear, concise, conversational copy.  Focus on the main idea and don’t be superfluous.  Write the way people talk, and the way they want to be talked with.  Web Content Copywriting is a division of  Conversational Writing, LLC, whose tagline, is “Clear, concise, conversational copy – that sells.
  4. Show the reader how your product or service will specifically benefit from your product or service.  Mistake #3 is rattling off a bunch of features (most often in bullet point form.)  Don’t do that.  In fact, go further and hit “deeper benefits” that really strike a nerve and get at what I call “core emotions”.
  5. As all the good folks from Missouri would say, “show me!”  Give your reader proof that backs up what you’re saying.
  6. Tell your readers what to do.  Mistake #4 I see is general confusion.  Nothing is obvious – make sure a reader knows exactly what to do at each stage of the online sales process.  This is where a good professional copywriter is worth his or her weight in gold!  If you can do it effectively, more power to you.
  7. People are skeptical by nature, and even more so on the internet.  Give your readers a guarantee.  Let them know what your privacy policy is.  Offer phone numbers and a physical address of your business (yes, even if you’re a not brick and mortar.)  People want to know you’re real.  Customer service line?  Give it out, even if it goes to your cell phone, the only phone in your business (another tip: get a toll-free number.)

A primer on copywriting for small (and large) businesses

So, there you have it.  7 essential components to effective copywriting that does its job: gets your prospects to buy.  Do it right, and your copy will sing.  Do it not-so-right, and your marketing may fall flat.

Don’t have time to mess with it?  Professional copywriters (good ones, that is) will deliver a big return on your investment.  We’re easy to find.  Just don’t confuse us with those guys who went to law school for intellectual property.


Jan

18

Don’t Throw Away $200 Million


A message of hope for your business

Before ever publishing a book, Stephen King worked at a laundromat, as a janitor, and as a low-paid English teacher in Maine.  He wrote a lot but was rejected over and over. 

After yet another rejection, he threw his manuscript in the trash and was ready to give up.  His wife, Tabitha, pulled it out and insisted he keep trying.

That manuscript was “Carrie”.

Since then, more than 300 million copies of King’s books have been sold.  His net worth is estimated at over $200 million.

On marketing, business, and life.

Have you had any business failures?  Has the economy knocked your sales down a notch or two, or brought it to the brink of bankruptcy?  Have you ever had a marketing campaign totally bomb?  Have you ever lost everything and had to start all over? 

If so, join the huge crowd, and the majority of people in this world who have initiative and drive.  If you haven’t failed, you probably haven’t put yourself out there much.

As we careen into a new decade, there is a lot of uncertainty in business and politics.  My advice?  Persist.  Look for creative new ways to grow your business.  Consider new ways to market your business (without necessarily spending any more money than you do now.) 

Direct response marketing still works!

Find a fresh approach.  Test everything you do.  And by all means, ask people to buy!  The good old-fashioned direct response method of marketing still works wonders, when done right.

My hope for you is that in the process, you also have someone like Stephen King’s Tabitha, who insists you keep trying.

Here’s to a bigger and better year, and a great start to the new decade.


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About Steve Roller

Steve Roller started Web Content Copywriting to help you maximize your web content and get more customers.

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Testimonials

"Steve Roller came through for me with solid research, sound insights and valuable input for a major copywriting project of mine, involving direct-response advertising encompassing every medium: print, direct-mail, internet, and broadcast."

- Dan S. Kennedy, Consultant/Copywriter, Author, NO BS series - www.NoBSBooks.com

"Steve Roller is a ‘go-to’ copywriter. When you need copy that connects with your prospect … that persuades him to take action … Steve’s the copywriter to turn to."

- Katie Yeakle, Executive Director, AWAI, www.awaionline.com