Copywriting 101 for Entrepreneurs (…In Three Simple Steps)

by John McIntyre

Are you tired of spending thousands in tools and ads with nothing to show for it? Do you worry that your website is missing the mark… but aren’t sure what to say differently? Would you like to know exactly what to say that will make your buyers rush to hiring you?

The answer is copywriting.

What is Copywriting?

Copywriting is what will make your product or service sound enticing. Done well, your copywriting will not seem hypey, spammy, or sleazy to your ideal buyer. It will become a relief…. they’ll think, “Finally, someone who understands me!” and they’ll readily take the next step by opting in to your email list, requesting more information, or hitting the buy button.

In short, copywriting is writing that converts potential buyers into paying customers. 

What Makes Copywriting Persuasive?

Copywriting is persuasive when it causes others to do what they might not otherwise do:

  • Read your email or direct mail letter
  • Opt in to your prospect database (email list, mailing list)
  • Download your lead magnet
  • Buy your tripwire product
  • Buy a high end product
  • Schedule a sales call with you
  • Accept your proposal or pitch
  • Pay you for your services without asking for discounts

To make it easy, remember that copywriting is used to do one of three things:

  1. Attract new leads
  2. Indoctrinate or “pre-sell” leads
  3. Sell your product or service

Where is copywriting used?

When speaking with entrepreneurs new to copywriting, I try to break it down by the purpose. There are three main purposes for copywriting: attracting, indoctrinating, and selling.

To Attract New Leads

Level: Cold

Copywriting which attracts clients is what we usually call advertising. It’s copywriting which is usually short, benefit-driven, and which sells a low threshold action.

The purpose of this type of copy is to gain new leads for your database. Selling is not usually done at this stage. Instead, the goal is to get a specific segment of the population (your ideal buyer) to perform a low threshold action such as:

  • Send in an order form or coupon (direct mail)
  • Submit an opt-in form in exchange for a lead magnet
  • Call a phone number for an information packet
  • Click to learn more (Google PPC ads, FB ads, banner ads)
  • Click to watch a video
  • Answer a survey or lead quiz

Specific copywriting tactics at this stage include:

  • PPC Ad Copywriting
  • Space Ad Copywriting
  • Opt-in Page Copywriting
  • Squeeze Page Copywriting
  • Survey Copywriting

At this stage, your sole goal is to call out a very specific portion of the population.

Your copy should do this by:

  1. Calling out the target directly (“Attention Homeowners…”)
  2. Promising a Benefit (“Sell Your Home within 14 Days Guaranteed…”)
  3. Asking for immediate action (“Call TODAY…”)

Once you’ve hooked the potential buyer, you will need to warm him or her to you and your philosophy.

To Pre-Sell Leads

Level: Warm

The next type of copywriting  is copy which “pre-sells” your buyer and primes him for the sale. The goal here is to build rapport with your ideal buyer so that you further intrigue the person who feels the problem you solve with your product or service.

The purpose of this type of copy is to keep leads in your database and entice further action. Selling is not usually done at this stage. You want them to perform actions such as:

  • Read the lead magnet you sent them (report, ebook, webinar, video, etc)
  • Open and read your emails (autoresponder sequence or daily emails)
  • Consume more of your content (articles, videos, social content, etc)
  • Share your content with others or comment on it
  • Reply to your emails with their description of the problem

At this stage, you want leads to either disengage or further engage with the funnel. Lukewarm won’t sell, so aim for strongly connecting with whoever you’ve identified as an ideal prospect.

Specific copywriting tactics at this stage include:

  • Content Marketing
  • Video Sales Letter Writing
  • Email Copywriting
  • Social Media Copywriting
  • SEO Copywriting

At this stage, your sole goal is to build close rapport with your ideal buyer. Why? Because rapport builds trust and trust makes the sale. You want him to believe that you’re so attuned to his problems that you’re in his head. Because when he believes you understand him, he’ll believe you can help him. This is your chance to stand out above everyone else who’s still talking about themselves.

Done right, your ideal buyer will beg you to let them buy early. They’ll consume your content and engage with you.

Related reading: The Boron Letters by Gary Halbert

To Sell Your Product or Service

Level: Hot

The final type of copywriting depends on doing the aforementioned actions correctly. A stellar sales letter shown to the wrong audience won’t convert as well as an average sales letter sent to a rabid, engaged audience.

The purpose of this type of copy is to induce the leads in your database to buy and buy on demand. Selling is the name of the game at this stage. This isn’t the time to be shy about the offer. Here, you want your leads to act or get off the pot, as they say.

You want them to perform a high threshold action such as:

  • Call you to schedule a sales call… and then invest in your service
  • Buy your product (and ideally the upsell too)
  • Pay you money for the thing you do

Specific copywriting tactics at this stage include:

  • Sales Page Copywriting
  • Funnel Copywriting
  • Email Copywriting

At this stage, your sole goal is to sell.

Your copy should do this by:

  1. Continuing to build on the “salt in the wound” you rubbed in the pre-selling stage
  2. Connect the pain with your problem or service, which will resolve it
  3. Tie in social proof or guarantees which reverse all risk

Once you’ve hooked the potential buyer, you will need to warm him or her to you and your philosophy.

Final Thoughts

Of course, this post is a simplification of all that’s involved in copywriting. But it should help you get started.

I hope I’ve impressed why good copy is so much more than writing.

Another point – you’ll also notice that email copywriting is essential at every stage. It’s the one type of copy no one can ignore. If you learn any skill, it’s writing effective, engaging emails.

This is a guest post by Lynn Swayze. Is your website converting like it should? Get Lynn’s free report, “7 Website Copy Tips to Transform Your “Billboard Website” into a Digital Salesman”. Discover the seven most common reasons that websites don’t generate leads for your business.

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