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How to write sales copy: a 5-step formula

five coins

5 step sales formula. (Image by Aotaro)

If you need to write compelling sales copy for any kind of marketing materials, the obvious thing to do is to turn to a professional copywriter.

But if you’re starting a new business, launching a new product or offering a new service, you may not have the budget available. You may need to write your own sales copy.

How hard is it? Not too hard, providing you can write a decent sentence or two – and follow a simple five step formula.

What follows is a basic template for producing sales copy for the internet. It’s not the final word in copywriting, but if you want to produce an effective sales page, this will get you started.

And where do you start? With your audience.

1. Hey, what’s your problem?

Your product or service has been designed to solve a particular problem, a pain or a predicament that your audience faces. They may not know they have this problem, in which case you’ll need to let them know that they do. Or they may need reminding how much pain the problem causes in their lives.

As the writer, you should jot down what these problems are. Your headline and opening paragraphs are going to address this problem.

2. Why hasn’t someone solved this already?

So, your audience has a problem. Hopefully, (for your sales and marketing efforts), there are lots of people who share this pain, this predicament. So why hasn’t someone done anything about it yet? Why have previous efforts to solve this fallen by the wayside?

What’s wrong with those previous efforts? Why does the problem persist? Why won’t it go away?

3. If only

The next step is to ask what life could be like for your audience if this problem could be solved. Could their teeth be whiter and their smile brighter? Could they become smarter, richer, happier? Generalisations are OK, but it’s better if you can be more specific.

As the copywriter, you should make notes about all the ways your audience could benefit from your product or service. Think broadly. Think visually. Picture how the person’s life or circumstances could change for the better. Are there ways you can paint that picture with your words, so they can see it too?

4. What’s new?

So… the audience has a problem and it won’t go away. But if it did go away, life could be so much better. What’s new? Your product or service. Now is the time to explain what is new and different about what you have to offer, how it can help them to finally overcome the problem and reap the benefits you set out in step three.

Make a note of what is truly different about your product, and why it changes the game as far as this particular problem is concerned.

5. Do this

You’ve sold them by now. You’ve set out the problem, shown why other attempts to solve it went wrong, painted a picture for what life could be like if only it would go away, and demonstrated that your product is the true solution.

Now tell them to buy it. Really. Don’t be shy about this. Tell people exactly what you want them to do. Do you want them to sign up, give your their email address, press the buy button, ring you? Whatever it is, make it clear.

How to write sales copy… and structure an interview … and assess a product or service

If you’re writing sales copy for someone else and need to interview them to get at the information you need, then this five point plan can be a good way to structure an interview.

You can also use this as a way of testing the marketing viability of a product or service. For example, if your product doesn’t really solve a problem for someone, or doesn’t have anything new or different about it, then that’s a major obstacle. Maybe you have the wrong idea. Or you might need to change your product, adapt it to make sure it meets real needs and solves a problem that no one else is tackling.

And if writing your sales copy still sounds like too much work, or you’re not confident about your ability to execute it in the timescales available, or with the polished professionalism of a seasoned copywriter…. then please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I can help – and my charges are surprisingly reasonable 🙂