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Marketing Copy With Conscience: How to Write a Winning Sales Page, Ethically

by Marcia Yudkin

You've finally completed your product, and now it's time to sell it. But let's say you arrive at the copywriting task with a host of concerns about how to present your offering honestly, without deceptive tricks and without distasteful hype. Use this checklist to understand the ingredients of an effective sales page as well as how to get comfortable with each element so you can implement it in a way that feels good both to you and to your ideal customers.

Before you write a word, spend several minutes focusing on your audience, your potential buyers. What kinds of people or companies do you hope and expect to be your customers? Get clear as well on why you believe they'll be interested in what you're selling. What advantages will they experience from having your product? These points are the essence that you'll be communicating in your marketing copy.

Learn From the Masters of No-Hype Copywriting
In 2013 and 2014, Marcia Yudkin convened the most articulate and experienced practitioners of no-hype copywriting for an exchange of ideas on writing copy that persuades without excessive showmanship or stretching the truth.  Presenters included Peter Bowerman, Nick Usborne, Shel Horowitz, Karon Thackston and others. Order the recordings from this telesummit.

Keeping your audience and those benefits in your mind, sit down and explain to readers in plain language why they should buy your product, how they will be better off with it - and more so than with any competing products. If you truly write your marketing copy draft imagining that you are speaking to your audience, it usually comes out sounding sincerely persuasive. Next it's time to reshape, improve and add to your draft, using the checklist below.

What's Needed for a Sales Page that Sells

1. Headline. Your headline must serve as an attention getter, but it doesn't need to scream, scold, scare or blare an outlandish promise in bold red letters. One strong type of headline simply highlights the #1 benefit of the product. For example:
- Improve Your Productivity: No More Writer's Block or Procrastination
- Turn What You Know (or What Others Know) into a 24/7 Income Stream
- Master the Ultimate Low-Cost, High-Results Marketing Medium: The Postcard

Copywriting Course

Learn to Write No-Hype Copy
Six-week self-study course teaches you to wow people into buying through the power of well-chosen words.  Includes challenging and varied assignments to practice on, with answers from the instructor and participants.  Replace incomprehensible jargon with reader-friendly, motivating content.  Copywriting course.

2. Tone. Consider how you would like to come across to customers- as friendly, authoritative, skeptical, precise, unsophisticated or whatever - then adjust the wording of your page so you convey that impression consistently. Someone else's favorite tone probably won't work for you. Cultivate a tone that is authentic and conscious, rather than imitative. Just as you can ace a job interview by being your best self, your written pitch can sound like you dressed up for company you respect.

3. Details. You must offer clear, unambiguous descriptions of your product and what it includes. Explicitly catalog the product's characteristics, from the fundamentals, such as whether it's a CD or a book, whether it's sent by mail, downloadable or viewable only online, etc., to the finer points, like the number of pages or minutes, and how it differs from similar products. Add anything else a buyer might need to feel clear on whether or not it suits their needs and interests. You'll appreciate the importance of such detail when you put yourself in the shoes of the person considering shelling out money for your product without being able to examine it before buying. Almost all the time, more detail works better than less.

4. Price. Never force shoppers to click to another page or put something into their shopping cart to discover how much your item costs. That's inconsiderate - and visitors to your site get annoyed if they have to hunt hard for the price. If your sales copy is lengthy, make sure someone skimming it can locate the price without having to read every paragraph, word by word. Be equally explicit and considerate you're your description of shipping policies and fees.

Advice on "Help - They Just Don't Get It!"
One of the most unnerving and perplexing marketing dilemmas is having customers who do not believe they need what to your eyes they desperately lack.  In a three-audio set, learn the six most common reasons for such a misfire and the six best remedies that lead to understanding.  Then listen to two coaching calls in which Marcia Yudkin helps a client and listeners understand how to apply this sort of diagnosis and treatment to actual misunderstandings between service providers and potential customers.  Three one-hour recordings, $79.95.  ORDER NOW.

5. Trust boosters. Why should readers believe what you're promising? Provide third-party endorsements, media mentions, credentials, examples, photos, independent studies on your item's effectiveness, and other credibility indicators. People who want to buy but hesitate because they've been scammed or had a fear of scams drummed into them deserve these kinds of reassurances to go ahead and act.

6. Reasoning. Do your best to think your way into the reader's head and head off the most probable "But"s and "What If"s. You can anticipate and counteract such doubts and objections in a section of questions and answers or in plain old paragraphs. Also provide a way for readers with additional questions to get them answered. Again, put this in the category of offering the fullest possible description of your sales offering so potential buyers understand what your product or service is and isn't.

7. Guarantee. Sometimes an unconditional money-back guarantee proves the clincher, giving people the confidence to buy, knowing that they can reverse the purchase if they change their minds. Remember that most people feel disappointed, not triumphant, when they decide to return something for a refund. The guarantee may neutralize the unhappiness and even make them willing to try you again on another offer. Researchers tell us that a 60-day guarantee is more reassuring and effective than a 30-day guarantee, a 90-day guarantee more powerful than a 60-day one, and a year-long guarantee better than any of those. So don't let your fears set an unnecessarily restricted guarantee.

8. Call to action. Whereas sales copy always begins with a headline, it always needs to end with an unequivocal statement of the next step for the reader to take. Usually that's "Buy now." Like the price, the order link or button should stand out visually so an eager buyer readily finds it. Normally this belongs at the end of your sales presentation. If your sales copy is very long, a second link not far below the opening makes sense for people reading through the page a second time.

Notice that I didn't suggest you add a gazillion bonuses, which often end up devaluing the original product. I also didn't recommend you refer to an inflated "original" price so your actual price appears to be marked down. If you never actually sold it at the "original" price, that would be a dishonest and possibly even illegal move.

Once you've included all the ingredients above, go through the copy again with an editor's eye, cutting or clarifying anything that's confusing, correcting grammar and spelling and formatting the page in readable paragraphs of eight lines or fewer.

Finally you're finished. Shoppers will thank you for the care you took to make their decision-making easier!

Copyright 2010 Marcia Yudkin.  All rights reserved.

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