10 Tips for Creating Marketing Messages that Work Add these tools to your marketing utility belt.

By Robert W. Bly

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


The following excerpt is from Robert W. Bly's book The Marketing Plan Handbook. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes

Robert W. Bly explains how you can develop big-picture marketing plans for pennies on the dollar with his 12-step marketing plan. In this edited excerpt, Bly offers 10 easy-to-follow tips on creating marketing messages that work.

Once you have a marketing strategy in place, it's time to identify the tactics you'll use to implement your strategy. Tactics are the actions you take to implement your strategy. Think about these carefully so you can determine what response you're trying to generate from your target audience. For example, you might want them to:

  • Go to your website to get more information.
  • Fill out an online survey. Call to speak with a salesperson. Request that a salesperson call them.
  • Attend a free webinar.
  • Download a free white paper.
  • Call for more information.
  • Agree to a sales meeting or presentation.
  • Attend a free seminar or workshop.
  • Request a free product demo.
  • Take a 30-day free trial of the product.
  • Refer your services to others in your target market.
  • Become an affiliate and sell your products and services.
  • Buy the product with a credit card.

Next, determine what message you need to give them to motivate them to take the actions you want. You'll also want to ask, "Can I support the message with evidence?" "Do I have testimonials, case studies, thank-you let­ters or notes, or other support?" Only then can you decide which tactics are most likely to give you the desired responses.

Here are some tips on crafting a message to generate the desired action on the part of the prospect:

1. Apply the "So what?" test.

After you write your copy, read it and ask whether it passes the "So what?" test. Copywriter Joan Damico explains, "If, after reviewing your copy, you think the target audience would just respond with "So what?' then keep rewrit­ing until they'll say something like, "That's exactly what I'm looking for. How do I get it?' "

Copywriters' agent Kevin Finn adds, "When copy is being critiqued, you should ask after each and every sentence, "So what?' It's a technique that can assist in changing copy to be more powerful."

2. Use the key copy drivers.

Make sure your copy hits one of the key copy drivers as defined by direct marketing experts Bob Hacker and Axel Andersson: fear, greed, guilt, exclusivity, anger, salvation, or flattery. "If your copy isn't dripping with one or more of these, tear it up and start over," says copywriter Denny Hatch.

3. Try the drop-in-the-bucket technique.

"You have to show that the price you're asking for your product is a "drop in the bucket' compared to the value it delivers," says copywriter Mike Pavlish.

Information marketer Fred Gleeck says this is a function of product quality, not just copywriting. "Produce a product that you could charge ten times as much for," says Gleeck. "If you really have a product that's so much more valuable than the price you're charging, it becomes much easier to sell it hard."

4. Know your audience.

Understand your target market -- their fears, needs, concerns, beliefs, attitudes, desires. "My way to be persuasive is to get in touch with the target group by inviting one or two to dinner for in-depth conversation," says Christian Boucke, a copywriter for Verlag Rentrop in Germany. "I also call 15 to 40 by phone to get a multitude of testimonials and facts, and go to meetings or exhibitions where I can find them to get a first impression of their typi­cal characteristics. Ideally, I accompany some of them in their private lives for years. By this, I understand better their true underlying key motivations."

5. Write like people talk.

Use a conversational, natural style. "Write like you talk," says Barnaby Kalan of Reliance Direct Marketing. "Speak in language that's simple and easy to understand. Write the way your prospects talk."

6. Be timely.

"Pay close attention to goings-on in the news that you can and should link to," suggests Dan Kennedy in his book, No B.S. Marketing E-Letter "Jump on a timely topic and link to it in useful communication with present clients, in advertising for new clients, and in seeking media publicity."

7. Lead with your strongest point.

"When I review my writ­ing, or especially others', I find they almost always leave the most potent point to the last line," says copywriter John Shoemaker. "So I simply move it to the first line. Instant improvement."

8. Use the tremendous whack theory.

"I employ Winston Churchill's "tremendous whack' theory, which says that if you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever," says marketing professional Richard Perry. "Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time -- a tremendous whack."

9. Build credibility with your reader.

"In my experience, the number-one key to persuasion is this: Communicate trust," says copywriter Steve Slaunwhite. "If you do this well, you at least have a chance at engaging and persuading the reader. If you don't do this well, however, no amount of fancy copywrit­ing techniques will save you."

10. Don't use an "obvious lead."

Instead of writing your lead as if you're just starting to talk to the customer, says marketer Bryan Honesty, write as if you were already engaged in a con­versation with the customer and are simply responding to her last statement. Examples: "You have the gift. You just don't know it yet." "You can't quit on your dreams now." "So why is it so hard for you to lose weight?"

Robert W. Bly

Author, Copywriter and Marketing Consultant

Robert W. Bly is an independent copywriter and marketing consultant with more than 35 years of experience in B2B and direct response marketing. He has worked with over 100 clients including IBM, AT&T, Embraer Executive Jet, Intuit, Boardroom, Grumman and more. He is the author of 85 books, including The Marketing Plan Handbook (Entrepreneur Press 2015), and he currently writes regular columns for Target Marketing Magazine and The Direct Response Letter.

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