Recently a local sheep farming business approached me to write copy for a promotional leaflet.
“That’s great,” I said. “So what do you want the leaflet to do?”
Bemused looks. They handed me another leaflet. “Well, here's one that a similar farm is producing.”
I looked through it – the design was good, the grammar correct, but something was missing. It didn't SELL anything.
“What do they sell?” I asked.
“Oh,” I said. “That’s not immediately apparent. What do you sell?”
“Right, so what do you want people to do after they’ve read your leaflet?”
They still didn't see what I was talking about.
You see, as a copywriter you’ll spend hours writing compelling headlines. And you know the importance of a great headline, because five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. And after the headline you need to look long and hard at your subheads, making them more appealing, helping the reader navigate through your effortless copy, that’s been drafted and redrafted, edited and pruned until it flows like Guinness from a tap.
Copy that sells, igniting a desire in your reader's psyche that can only be met by purchasing, subscribing to, or otherwise engaging with your client’s product or service.
After all this effort you can kick back and relax, satisfied you've done the best job you can. WRONG. It’s then that you should make sure you’ve answered the reader’s ultimate question: “What do I have to do now?”
My sheep farming customer understood that the primary aim of their leaflet was promotional. They wanted to give background information about the company, its integrity and traditions, the convenient location, phone number, web address and so on. But what was the main purpose of the leaflet? To get butchers, farm shops and markets to buy their lamb. Not anyone else’s lamb, but theirs.
For what will the reader of this farming leaflet really want?
- Not pictures of sheep or slabs of meat
- Instructions on how to join the National Trust
- Recipes for shoulder of lamb
Although some or all of these may be relevant, if they’ve engaged with the copy, they’ll want to know:
- How much?
- How quickly
When you start planning copy, start by finding out what the customer really wants. And be aware they may not understand their business themselves. Hard to imagine I know – after all they know what they do, how they do it, even why they do it, but they may not have thought about the benefits their product gives to the customer, and why they would want it.
Getting them to communicate that is your job. Once you know what they are really selling, as a copywriter you can start to work out how to pitch the copy, determine what benefits the product has, and devise a powerful call to action (CTA).
And what of the CTA itself? How can you craft it to get the maximum response? Here are 4 tips:
Be specific Use highly specific language with clear, concrete details. Don’t leave any question about what you want to see happen unanswered. And don’t be afraid to be too obvious. Give clear directions. The customer will thank you for it.
Give a reason
Having decided what action you want readers to take, ask them to take that action. And ask them clearly, succinctly and unmistakably. Use the CTA to tell the customer why they should take up your offer or phone a certain number or visit their website or subscribe to your newsletter. Again, be specific. Repeat the CTA throughout your copy.
Obviously you need to put at least one Call To Action in your copy. Duh. But why not put more than one. Three? Five? Or even pepper your copy with CTAs. Make them of different length, maybe one detailed, one a single sentence, another one sneaked into a bullet list.
Not ‘We’, but ‘You’ Talk directly to your reader. Show them exactly what you can do for them. And remember, not only will understanding how to craft the perfect CTA make your customer happy, but it will also make your work as a copywriter a whole lot easier.