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The 4 Pillars of Sales Copywriting That Converts Untold sleep hours have been lost by CEOs and owners over why sales copy has failed to perform, but keeping a few critical elements in mind can assure that storytelling and marketing stay on track.

By Billy Williams Edited by Matt Scanlon

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Few things are as frustrating as spending a lot of time and effort on sales copy that doesn't convert. Copy that does, right out of the gate, can help give you the numbers you need to keep a business growing without interruption. And even if you don't write your own, it's critical to understand good copy's inherent structure and the reasons behind it, if you don't want to be at the mercy of your marketing director or ad agency — of being in the awkward position of having to take everyone else's word. In the long term, that's not a winning strategy.

But where to begin if you're not a trained copywriting professional? These are the cornerstones that offer the greatest leverage to persuading prospects to take action.

1. Headline

The headline is essentially the ad to the rest of your ad. Ideally, it grabs prospects' attention and draws a reader into the rest of a sales message. To do that, a headline has to be meaningful by tapping into a prospect's core beliefs — resonating with deepest aspirations and desires. Done right, it will trigger a spark in that prospect's emotional core. And that's when the magic starts — a series of chain reactions that can transform despair to hope, doubt to confidence, fear to courage. This pillar you'll spend much time on, but once it's optimized, it will become an emotional lightning rod to draw people into your message, and set up…

Related: 4 Smart Ways to Write Dynamic Sales Copy (Without Actually Writing a Single Word)

2. The lead

Every winning ad campaign is built upon the foundation of a "big idea" — the promised benefit of what you're offering. The first 150 to 700 words after the headline constitutes the lead — its function to restate the promise of an offer but also to state who it's for, and who it isn't for. Once a headline has a prospect's attention, he or she might begin to wonder, "Is this for me?" At this point, your lead's job is to clarify what your product or service is and what it will deliver. If this isn't made clear, a reader will be confused, and a confused mind almost always says "No". A winning lead prevents that from happening, creating rapport and forging a connection.

To help that process, spend time on crafting…

Related: The Right Words Can Make You More Money

3. Bullets

These are concise statements that offer glimpses of an offer's benefits, but without revealing how it's obtained. The focus of effective bullets is to arouse curiosity, and well-crafted ones have elements of novelty, mystery, promise and vivid imagery. These stoke a prospect's imagination and make it easier to move a reader to action.

For example, if writing for an accounting service, you could introduce an exchange-style bullet such as, "Invest 20 minutes with me once, and you'll save 20 hours a week for the rest of your life". This arouses curiosity in the reader to ask, "How do they do that?" and draw a person further into your message, and ultimately to a buy.

Without question, this is the most important pillar to spend energy on, in part because creating quality bullets will force you to hack into your own creativity, and curiosity-driven thought processes are where you'll find a treasure chest of other concepts — building blocks for headlines, subheads and your sales argument, and will also help built out your…

4. Body copy

Your broad sales argument is what makes up body copy, which is often the least-read part of a sales letter. Most readers skim this in an unconscious (or conscious) attempt to answer the internal question of, "What's in it for me?" For this, consider applying unused bullets as subheads to break up a letter into easily read sections (another reason why crafting effective bullets is so critical). Good subheads draw a reader into a sales message — encouraging a prospect to glide from one section to the next.

Related: 3 Storytelling Force Multipliers That Drive Sales

As the client engages with the body of your sales argument, a combination of picture, promise, proof and push tactics — interwoven with a unique selling proposition around your big idea — drives home the promise of an offer. Done right, body copy becomes a frictionless call to action.

Billy Williams

Copywriting Strategist & Marketing Consultant

Billy Williams has been helping businesses grow with the Emotional Touchstone Method since 2006. His copywriting methods help entrepreneurs create more true fans who are hungry for their products and services.

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