“Forget words like ‘hard sell’ and ’soft sell.’ That will only confuse you. Just be sure your advertising is saying something with substance, something that will inform and serve the consumer, and be sure you’re saying it like it’s never been said before.”
This is a well-documented and famous quote by William Bernbach, the eminent advertising guru who was the catalyst behind the American Creative Revolution of the 60s and 70s, and more specifically, was credited for being the very first to merge the in-house skills of the copywriter and creative director – a team that is effective and congruous as ever today.
There are two reasons why I can relate to Bernbach’s quote. Firstly, I was in sales, marketing and advertising for over 10 years before finally calling myself a fully fledged copywriter, and the terms ‘hard sell’ and ‘soft sell’ were used with such ferocious regularity in my previous roles, that it was enough to make a young man feel inadequate and under pressure to perform.
And secondly, when I write web copy, irrespective of the client, industry, product and service, I always want to inject it with a healthy dose of insight and originality. In order to achieve “you’re saying it like it’s never been said before” there are still many factors you need to consider to produce high quality, engaging sales copy.
Here are my top 10 tips for successful online copy:
1. Grab attention with a great headline.
2. Write from your customer’s point of view.
3. Write about benefits, not features.
4. Read your copy out loud.
5. Get a colleague or customer to review your copy.
6. Write as if you’re speaking to one person.
7. Be specific.
8. Be simple.
9. Include an offer (or link) “above the fold.”
10. Include testimonials.
Although this is already an overwhelming list of goals, another useful thing to do, or ask yourself rather, is: “Would I ‘buy’ because of this copy?” Your target audience will decide just as quickly and ruthlessly as you, so in the modern era of online customer satisfaction, I’m afraid to say that the customer is always right. Stick robustly to the above check list and your web copy will be more than right.
Unfortunately Bernbach died in the early 80’s, but his passion and knowledge are immortally engrained in the minds of many copywriters, and I for one will always pass it on.