Communication & Alignment

17 Rough Rules for Marketing Copy that Sells

One of my CEO clients asked me, “David, are there rules for writing good marketing copy? I’ve written a ton of material about what we do and I never know what’s going to work…”

This is like asking, “Are there rules for romance?” YES, as a matter of fact there are. Check out 1001 Ways to Be Romantic.

Are there rules for writing marketing copy? Definitely. The best book on the subject is The Copywriter’s Handbook by Bob Bly.

But I’ll do you one better – you don’t even need to buy a book.

17 Rough Rules for Marketing Copy that SellsHere are 17 rough and ready rules that will make you a better copywriter in 10 minutes or less.

Top-performing CEOs and business owners consistently study and improve how they articulate their value proposition. Follow these 17 rules and you’ll be able to do the same.

1. Write like you speak.

2. Speak like a person, not a marketing moron or a sales robot.

3. As you write, ask yourself – if this next sentence is the last thing they read, is it worth writing or do I have something more important they need to know? (You can write a 3-page sales letter this way that will sell like crazy!!)

4. Use short paragraphs.

5. Use action words, not learning words (nobody wants to learn, find out, or get information… they want to BUILD, BOOST, CREATE, INCREASE, SLASH, REDUCE, ELIMINATE).

6. If you start to sound like a late-night infomercial, stop. Ease it back just about 10% – that’s where you need to be. 70% substance with 30% sizzle. Articulate your value, your outcomes and your benefits assertively – not aggressively.

7. Take them on a journey – your copy should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. People are hardwired to absorb information in the form of stories. The better you and your team are at telling them, the more successful you will become at attracting, engaging and winning new business.

8. The four most powerful words in marketing are:

a. YOU




9. It is TOTALLY impossible to overuse testimonials and third-party social proof.

Does your company have 100 written testimonials? Great – find a way to use them. Do you have 50+ video testimonials? Ditto. Do you have two fistfuls of scanned in endorsement letters on letterhead? Post them on your website.

10. Engage, engage, engage… appeal to the senses. Make the experience of working with you as 3-dimensional as you can. What does it smell like? Taste like? What’s the overall experience when people walk into your store? Hire your firm? Start using you as their supplier?

11. What frustrates the heck out of your prospects and clients? Talk about that – show that you understand their heartaches, headaches, pains and frustrations at the deepest levels.

12. Your copy needs to convey TWO and only two ideas:

a. You know what your prospects are up against

b. You can help

13. Stop selling YOUR crap and start solving THEIR problems. Yes, even before they buy.

14. Call to action is key. What’s the very NEXT step you want them to take? Is there a free offer? A bonus gift to download? A free assessment? A demo? A trial? A no-strings phone consultation?

15. Make sure your call to action is a GIVE and not a GET. An example of a GET is “Click here and a member of our sales team will contact you within 24 hours.” Stupidest damn thing I’ve ever seen. Useless.

16. Show them how to go from ZERO to HERO. Paint the picture of the current gap – the missing piece – the shortfall – the misfires – the problems – the glitches. THEN show them success stories, solutions, fixes, wins PLUS the specific ways that people who bought from you are better off, richer, smarter, happier, sexier – or all five.

17. Your copy should deliver three things at the end – the acronym is giving your prospects a big HUG:

a. (H)ope – to improve their condition

b. (U)rgency – to solve their problem

c. (G)ameplan – to start exploring your solution

You can do this – it’s a lot easier than you think. (H)

In fact, if marketing is a challenge for you or your team, you may want to pop over to my website where a whole array of free resources is waiting for you right now at! (U)

If you want immediate help, let’s start with a no-strings, no-BS Marketing Assessment which you can get – again, free. You’ll gain 2-3 concrete ideas you can use right away to grow your business. (G)

There – you’ve just been hugged. See what I mean? Your turn!

Category: Communication & Alignment Customer Engagement


Avatar About the Author: David Newman

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  1. Rachel Stephan Simko

    September 17, 2013 at 9:47 am

    David, this post is absolutely invaluable. I just tweeted it and I think I’m going to feature it on my blog –

  2. Rachel Stephan Simko

    September 17, 2013 at 10:15 am

    One question though — with regards to “speaking like a human” (I totally agree btw) — are there some companies where speaking too informally would turn away your target market?

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