Copywriting to generate new business: do you put first things first?

Not everybody is expected to be good at drawing or design. Yet all of us are expected to be good at writing. After all, writing is something that most of us learned at school. However, many of the structures we apply when writing for personal purposes or in the workplace don't work at all in marketing.

Take for example a marketing email or letter. When marketers need to write to somebody they don't know (a cold prospect) many start by introducing themselves and their organisation. They then go on to explain what they do, how long they've been doing it, and who they do it for by listing their top clients. This is an extremely common and completely fatal mistake.

The problem is that prospects and customers don't start off interested in you - they start off interested in themselves. They might become interested in you, but only once they know exactly what you can do for them.

Therefore, all your prospecting emails and sales letters should start by explaining exactly what you can do for your customer. If that appeals to them and they can see value in what you offer, they will ask "who are these guys?"

That's the point, and the only point, at which they will become interested in you.

Put your marketing emails or letters to the test...

Here's a simple test to validate your prospecting emails or sales letters.

First, take two different coloured highlighter pens. Now make a printout of one of your emails or sales letters. Then highlight every sentence that talks about you, your organisation, your experience, your resources and your customer base with one highlighter colour.

These statements are all about your 'credibility and credentials'.

Now take the second coloured highlighter pen and mark every sentence that talks about your products or services, what they do, how they do it, how they save time, effort or money, and why they're better.

These statements are all about the 'virtue and value' you deliver.

Now look at the balance of colour. If the colour representing sentences that talk about 'virtue and value' are mostly at the top, that's good. But if the colour representing sentences that talk about your 'credibility and credentials' are at the top, that's really bad.

When your copy leads with 'virtue and value' you have a high chance of capturing your prospect's attention and interest. Whereas copy that leads with 'credibility and credentials' is doomed to failure. Your customers only care about virtue and value, so make sure you always put that first.

You can hear more from Paul about persuasive and productive copywriting by attending his one-day Copywriting Masterclass at the IDM.

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