Every entrepreneur has something to sell. The single most effective way to achieve that is with copywriting, best defined as "salesmanship in print."
Today, however, "print" has multiple meanings. As Ray Edwards, an expert copywriter and author of the new book How to Write Copy That Sells, told me in an interview: "These days, 'print' can take the form of an email, content on a web page or blog post, a script for a video or podcast as well as any number of other formats.
"What it comes down to," Edwards added, "is, when you're selling with words, you're writing copy."
This author has written thousands of pieces of copy that have helped generate millions of dollars for dozens of entrepreneurs, who include Tony Robbins, Robert Allen, Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Jeff Walker. Edwards told me he believes that nothing can drive revenue more effectively than high-quality copy.
"There is no other skill that can make you as much money or give you as much leverage in any business as that of copywriting," Edwards said. "You can change the words in your current advertising, and without spending a dime more in marketing, you can literally multiply your revenue. I don't know of any other skill that can do that."
Nor do you have to write like Shakespeare or Hemingway to get results, he said. Anyone who can write an email or Facebook post can learn to write good copy. And it's a critical skill every entrepreneur should learn.
Based around the acronym P.A.S.T.O.R., Edwards has developed a simple six-step copywriting model designed to persuade potential clients to buy without coming across like an annoying carnival barker. He shared with me the model, whose steps are:
1. 'Person, problem and pain'
According to Edward, the first step in effective copywriting is knowing your audience and the specific situation its members want to change. "You have to begin by first identifying the person you're trying to reach with your message, understanding the problem you're solving for them and the pain the problem causes," said Edwards.
Without this foundational insight, he said, your marketing activities will be suboptimal at best.
2. 'Amplification and aspiration'
The next step in the process is to magnify the potential customer's problem while also appealing to an ideal future state that he or she can achieve.
Amplication and aspiration "is usually the most neglected step in the process because it can be perceived that you're using fear as a motivator," Edward told me. "But in reality, before you can paint a picture of paradise for a potential purchaser, you have to fully lay out to the reader the consequences of not solving their specific problem."
Ultimately, buyers must believe that they not only want but need your product, service or offering. Effective copywriting forces them to ask the question, "What does it cost if I don't solve this problem?"
3. 'Story and solution'
This is where the copy should paint a verbal picture that clearly demonstrates exactly how the problem can be solved.
"Here's where you have to capture the reader's imagination," Edwards said. "It's going to be different in each instance. For example, the story of 'Bob the frustrated business owner who was on the edge of bankruptcy, whose family lost faith in him, and out of desperation tried one last idea that saved his business . . .' is much more powerful than writing, 'One day Bob figured out the answer.'"
In other words, let the story compel and inspire the potential client, not some rote description of your offering.
The idea at this step is to remember that potential buyers don't want the features you're providing. They want the beneficial outcome as they've defined it. Simply stated, they don't need an electric power drill, they need the hole the drill creates.
"For example, when somebody buys the P90X workout, they didn't wake up saying to themselves, 'I sure hope somebody tries to sell me some DVDs and a wall chart today.' No, the buyers of P90X want the lean, healthy, youthful physique they see in the advertisements," Edwards said.
It's important, he pointed out, to not confuse the vehicle with the destination.
This is the portion of the copy where you want to lay out your offer that explains exactly what the customer can get if they decide to purchase your solution.
"At this stage you need to clearly explain the deliverables that the potential buyer gets; however, that explanation and listing should only account for about 20 percent of the copy within the offer section. The other 80 percent of your offer copy needs to clearly link back to the benefits and transformation your clients will receive," said Edwards.
This final step is where you ask the potential customer to buy from you; and, ironically, Edwards said, this step often contains the weakest copy because entrepreneurs are afraid to ask for the sale.
"At this point, you shouldn't be shy about making the request to purchase," he said. "You need to tell the customer exactly what to do here because you've earned the right to [issue a] directive and provide instructions to them if they're still with you at this step."
While the six steps of this copywriting framework may not help you generate millions in sales, they will almost certainly save you thousands in freelance copywriting fees and improve the impact of your marketing activities.