Article: Scott T. Smith

The Small Business Library

September 6, 2000

Seven Keys To Writing A Powerful Marketing Copy

In order to maximize sales and profits, these are the essential elements you must have in all your online and print marketing communications:

Open With A Benefit-Rich Headline

A strong, enticing headline is the most important element of any marketing copy. Studies show the right headline can increase response to an offer exponentially.

Did you know that only one out of five people get beyond the headline to read the body of the copy? It's true! So spend the time to make your headline work.

Avoid the cute or witty approach. Why? Because it always says more about your company's sensibilities than it does about your potential customers.

The secret is that customers are far more interested in reading about THEMSELVES than about a company.

State a benefit in your headline that clearly enhances their life, using power words such as: "Discover"; "Announcing"; "Breakthrough"; "Facts"; "New"; "Now"; "Yes"; "Sale"- all words that are active, grab the attention of prospects, and promise them something. (The two words of most value to your customers are "You", and "Free".)

State A Prospect-Centered Proposition

State a proposition that is prospect-centered. It is all about your customer. Either it states their current tough situation, and "...isn't it awful", or it reveals an attractive dream they have about what their life could become: "If only..."

Go back to the roots of the product or service being offered. Why does it exist in today's world, and why does your company sell it? The proposition section of your marketing copy sets up a kind of vacuum, which you are about to fill with... benefits.

Offer Multiple Benefits

A benefit is anything that will make a customer's life better by using your product or service. This is the payoff, and the crucial section of your marketing copy where you must deliver the goods. Take a good look at what is being promoted, and then-

Write down each and every benefit that you can, with no thought about which is the most important. You'll order them later. Write down everything that can possibly do your customer some good. Everything.

After finishing this "brain dump", go back and prioritize. Try not to prioritize as you list the benefits- that will only inhibit you. List first, order second. When writing your marketing copy, begin with your primary benefit first, then the second, third and so on down to least significant.

List Comprehensive Features

A feature is a fact about a product or service, such as "wash cold, hang dry", or "made in Morocco". Features demonstrate how things are created, delivered and maintained. Think of this section as the support system behind the benefits. Be comprehensive here because it demonstrates your professional ability, understanding and level of competence.

Use Long Copy

It's a fact- longer copy sells better than shorter copy.

Consumers are hungry for information, particularly if they are shopping for a big-ticket item. If they read beyond your opening headline, they are a good prospect for the product or service being sold. It's your job to tell them everything they need to know.

Highlight Your History

Not until "the finale" should you talk about your company and accomplishments in any detail. Think of your company as the magician who, after showing their wonders for the total delight of the audience, at last reveals their true self.

Marketing copy fails because it so often congratulates the company magic before any tricks have been performed. The result? No sale.

Ask For Response NOW

All marketing copy must deliver a clear call to action. Do you want the consumer to phone, or write? How about, send you a check?

As residents of the 20th century, we are conditioned by hundreds of thousands of advertisements a year to respond. So make the call, firmly and directly.

Summarize your main sales points, and then: is there a reason why your prospect shouldn't act now? Perhaps offer a benefit: a limited-time offer, or money-back guarantee. Empower your marketing copy to close on just the right selling note.

"Your Time Is Money"

These are the keys to writing powerful marketing copy for your business. But if time is at a premium and you're in a crunch period; if there simply aren't enough hours in the day for you to do the job yourself, I can help.

By Scott T. Smith: "Want to get way ahead of your competition ?"
I'd like to send you free "The Unique Selling Proposition Questionnaire". This special report can help your marketing team sharpen your company's position in the marketplace and clearly identify what makes you separate - and better - than the competition. Simply send any message to and the report is yours free. I'll deliver it right to your email box.