When Sian asked me to write this guest blog on 'the impact of copy on sales', my first reaction was, ‘Oh crap’. I kept that to myself, obviously. But as a blog topic, that’s just oozing with expectation, isn’t it? Straight away I imagined you reading this and waiting on me to share some secret combination of words guaranteed to get your customers throwing their wallets at you.
I tried to oblige. There are copywriting tricks and techniques that can convert customers faster, and I spent a good while trying to recall the few I knew that I knew.
Thing is, the more I thought, the less comfortably that idea sat with me. As fascinating as you may have found them, tricks are, well, tricks. They’re fake. Manipulative (not in the good way). And unless they’re performed flawlessly, the audience can see through them.
In copy, that kind of shit can make you look like a desperate salesperson. You know yourself, as soon as someone becomes aware they’re being sold to, they start looking for an escape route. If they recognise they’re also being manipulated, you’ll be lucky to ever get them back.
Fortunately, I believe there actually is a magic formula to writing copy that can have a huge impact on sales. It’s not quite as sensational as word trickery, but it is effective, and it’s this: Be interesting.
I don’t think I’ve delivered that with quite the impact it deserves, so give me a chance to explain.
My theory is that you can write business copy in one of two ways. You can write it to facilitate a transaction, or write it to make a connection. Pick up any piece of copy and it’s easy to tell the motivations of the person behind it.
Transactional copy is jammed full of selling points and all the reasons to buy. It contains the right words, but no feeling. I picture it as stuffing a bag full of benefits and hurling it blindly across the room in the hope it hits someone. It’s only interested in making a sale, and in doing so, it makes what I always think is a terrible assumption. It assumes the reader is interested – that they’re waiting to catch it.
If you’re writing copy for your own business, you’ll most likely, and quite understandably, opt for this kind of transactional route. Of course, you want to include all the great things about your product. And because it’s so important to you, naturally you assume your customer wants to read about it too. So you hit them with a shower of cold hard facts.
The problem with cold showers, is they’re not exactly inviting. You either want one, or you really don’t. Same for transactional-type copy. The response is either sale or no sale. The reader is in or out. You win or you lose.
The alternative approach is to treat your copy as an opportunity to make a connection. In real life, when you meet someone you like, you don’t climb onto a chair and start spouting off all the reasons why they should like you back. That would have the complete opposite effect.
Instead, you work on the friendship slowly. You bring them into your world with interesting conversations. You expose them to your interesting personality. You charm them with interesting… You see where I’m going with this interesting thing, right?
Interesting grabs attention, draws people in and gives them a reason to want to connect with you. (Just to be clear, I’m talking emotional connection here, not the social-media kind.)
When you’re writing to make a connection, not everything hinges on the sale. Maybe you’re not even trying to sell anything. The goal is to get your reader to warm to you – by being entertaining or funny or whatever you are.
The value of writing like that, is that even if it doesn’t result in a sale right now, you haven’t lost. As long as you’ve got the reader interested, the door is never closed.
Remember, people don’t just buy you for your features and benefits. They also buy you because they like you. And they discover they like you because of your really interesting copy.
That’s the true impact copy can have on sales.