GET MORE OUT OF MY SITE HERE
You have sales copy or a blog post to write and you’re stuck.
You know what you have to say, but getting the words to clearly communicate your message is a hard task.
Where do you start?
Why isn’t anyone reading your copy?
You’ve spent hours, pouring over all the benefits and facts of the product or service you’re writing about.
You busted your buns trying to make sure that the layout looks clean and uninterrupted and still you’re getting a very low response rate.
Mark Elmo Ellis – Get more out of my site HERE
Years ago I was a telemarketer. If you want to talk about a brutal 6 hour a day grind that can really wear you down, then you should really give a whirl sometime.
Back when I was a wee lad I worked for a startup company in Dallas Texas called Tef-Guard which was an oil additive product. Basically, the product would be added to your oil to keep your car running better and to keep your engine cleaner.
Now that I’m older and wiser, I’ve found out that the very same product that I was promoting to gas station owners and vendors was the very same stuff the oil companies were already putting into their oil in the first place.
This is Part II of an in – depth analysis of a sales letter I received a few weeks ago from Forbes Magazine. To read Part I go to this post: Autopsy of a Sales Letter Part I
Where’s the Evidence?
Most sales letters usually have some sort of evidence in them to prove they can do what they are saying they can do. You will normally see all sorts of testimonials in them from happy customers and clients that reinforce the claims are being made. However, in the Forbes sales letter there aren’t any. Continue reading
Just to let you know, this is Part 4 in a series on how a copywriter approaches writing a blog post. Many of the exact same elements that are in blog posting and writing ad copy are the same.
Of course, there are differences between the two because they both serve different purposes.
But having studied and written copy for years, I can tell that you can write a much more powerful post if you understand the elements of copy.
In case you’ve missed the previous 3 posts on this subject, you can always use the menu to the right to navigate back to the last 3 posts. Continue reading
This is part three of a series of posts on how to write a blog post that’ll get you maximum trajectory.
In this particular post, I’m going to show you how write the bulk of your post so that you can hammer it out with as little difficulty as possible.
If you’ve done the prep work , you’ll be able to write your post with relative ease.
I hope this session will help you write your posts with as little hassle as possible.
Enjoy! Continue reading
You are doomed. Let’s face it, if you continue market your business as if the copy on your website, brochures, and sales letters doesn’t mean squat, then you’ll continue to have low response until your client base has dried up.
The problem with most businesses that have to sell their investment vehicles and services, is they don’t fully comprehend the sheer magnitude and power behind a well written sales piece.
Think about a really well written sales letter, for example. The sales letter gets delivered into the hands of your prospect directly, and instead of hearing your message on the radio, your prospect is actually holding it and reading it. Even if you only have that prospects attention for 4 seconds, that’s probably a lot more time of undivided attention that a potential client will ever give an online ad, TV commercial or some other form of advertising.
One or Two Little Things Can Make All the Difference in the World
Years ago, I sent out two groups of sales letters. One batch had just my marketing message on it, with a picture of the item I was selling on it.
The other sales message was exactly the same except for two things. The second sales message had a dollar bill attached to it, and the headline read: “Can You Guess Why I’m Sending You This $1 Bill?”
The second ad drew a much higher rate of response than the first one of course.
As the years went by and I studied more and more about the art of copywriting, I learned that not only do big changes in copy make a difference, but also little things as well.
I got this one from the famous marketer, Dan Kennedy: A company ran two ads trying to sell a musical item using very similar wording.
The first one said, “Put Music into your life!”
The second one said, “Puts Music into your life!”
The response on the second ad was much greater than the first. The reason? The first ad indicated that YOU were putting music into your life, while the second one indicated that the music was being put into your life by SOMEONE OR SOMETHING ELSE.
One indicated effort on the part of the prospect while the other did not. So, having said all that, it’s a fairly easy assumption that it’s the little things in your copy can have drastic effects on your response rates and bottom line.
Ignore These at Your Own Risk !!!!
Narcissistic Copy —The biggest error I see on most real estate investment and development firm’s website copy, is what I like to call “Narcissistic Copy”. This is landing page copy, either written or paid for, (wasted money in my opinion) that focuses on the host business and ignores the wants and needs of the consumer. It usually tells the prospective client how great the company is, how many awards the company has won, and the pedigree of the sales team. In other words: a lot of bragging. When a client lands on your site, they don’t care about the volume of your business or how great you are. What they want to know is, “What’s on it for me?” So, your copy should almost always address what benefits you can provide for them, and the more benefits that you can list for them the more your message will resonate with your prospects.
Uniqueness —In a raft of penguins, a bright pink one will definitely stand out. You need to explore and crow about your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). What is it about your firm that makes yours stand out from the pack? Is there some aspect of your company that is unique or does it specialize in some aspect of your market that you can focus on?
Proof of Greatness —Probably one of the most overlooked parts of advertising copy when it comes to real estate firms, is the use of Testimonials. Nothing speaks louder than a testimonial from a happy client, especially when they are willing to put their names on it. If you have clients that have been doing business with you for years, they will more than likely be happy to give your firm their endorsement.
Use Recognized Symbols —The use of well-known symbols from organizations that you are affiliated with can be a major boost. If you’ve been featured on a TV show or given them an interview, it really helps to have their logo on your landing page or brochures with the words, “As seen on NBC’s Today Show!” Other seals and emblems on your site, such as the Better Business Bureau’s icon, can lend credibility as well.
Guarantees — If your company has any types of guarantees or other assurances that can be leveraged in your copy, it will make your offer so much sweeter. If your firm doesn’t offer any types of guarantees, you may want to have a brain storming session to try to figure out a way to create one.
If you are missing any of these important, persuasive elements in your copy, you may want to consult or hire a solid copywriter to craft them for you. Sure, on the front end you’ll have to spend some good money, but the copy you use can convert for years to come.
If you’re looking for a solid copywriter that will take you by the hand and give your company’s copy the care and attention that it deserves, then contact me at the info below.
To Your Success!
Mark “Elmo” Ellis
phone: (859) 797-9560
If you’ve ever had to conduct a school fundraiser, you know it isn’t easy to get people involved. As a matter of fact, it’s almost as easy as pulling teeth most of the time.
One of the main reasons why most parents, staff, and business people associated with your school will blow off an opportunity to contribute or participate, is because they don’t see a big enough reason.
If they do want to contribute and get involved, they may put it to the side to deal with it later and then they forget about it.
They will need someone to tell them why the fundraiser is important and urgent, and why they should call right now
This is why a well written fund raising letter can be the answer to your problems.
Let’s Dissect this Fundraising Letter Together!
What I’ve decided to do is show you exactly, by the numbers, all of the elements of making a fund raising letter.
Believe it or not, there is a right way and a wrong way to get this done. Just like advertising copy, there are elements that must be presented in a logical manner to get people to want to read what you have written and then take action.
The average person gets hit with hundreds, if not thousands of marketing messages a day, why would they pay attention to your letter?
Hopefully, this dissection will help you create a letter that’s more effective and will get prospective parents, business people and students to take the action that you want them to in this effort.
Before we get started, take a look at the entire letter, by clicking here: Christian School Fundraising Letter by the Numbers!
The Letter by the Numbers
#1 The very first, and most important part of any advertisement is the headline. Most advertising copy writers spend 80% of their time trying to write one for their copy.
You have mere seconds to grab your reader’s attention and get them to continue reading or they will probably set the letter down and forget about your message.
So, your headline has got to grab your their attention immediately.
In order to do this, you need to do two things:
Let’s take a look at the very beginning of this letter.
This letter was used to promote advertisement space in a school’s yearbook. The school was having a hard time getting businesses to respond to the opportunity of getting their businesses into the yearbook.
When I wrote this piece, I sat down for a couple hours and really brainstormed the top benefits I could present to businesses and parents that wanted to advertise in the yearbook.
Since I had a severe time constraint, I had to spend less time than usual on this. The headline is super important, so usually, when I write a piece for someone it takes a lot more time.
However, this letter had to be done quickly. (By the way, I normally won’t do work that requires this fast of a turnaround. Solid ad copy requires a lot more time and effort.)
In this headline (#1) I presented two benefits.
Important Note: Don’t get benefits and features confused!
Features are niceties of a product like: the color, size, shape, number of buttons, leather seats, clean look, etc.
Benefits are what the product or service will do for an individual like: make your teeth whiter, increase you intelligence, or get you to your destination safely.
The two benefits I presented in the headline are good reasons why a business person associated with the school would want to help out.
I could have said something to the effect of making it possible for parents to see what their kids were doing during the school year, but I wanted the reason to be more compelling.
Telling parents and business people they’re going to be making a difference, means a lot more. Also, I didn’t want to address this just to parents but also businesses that usually had a relationship with the school and believed in the Christian mission it represented.
The statement “Get Your Business in a Publication that People Won’t Throw Away!” is another benefit to advertisers and it also generates curiosity.
Notice I didn’t tell them initially that this is about advertising in the yearbook. I wanted them to read the rest of the letter, so I didn’t come right out and tell them what it was all about.
#2 In most advertisements, I wouldn’t put a formal statement of who this is from with contact information like this. Because this is a letter from a school and teacher with a sterling reputation, I kept elements of a formal letter on the page.
#3 Call them out. Whenever you’re writing a fundraising letter of this nature, you should know who your audience is. So call them out. If you were talking to parents of the basketball team, you would use;
“Dear Basketball Team Parents,”
This lets them immediately know that you’re talking to them. So, call them out and let them know that this message is for them.
#4 Break up the Spacing. Your school’s Grammar/English teacher will probably want strangle you. Don’t worry about how a paragraph is formed, but how a person’s eyes will travel down a page.
(This is especially true about writing for an Internet blog or webpage. People’s eyes just can’t handle small print, big blocks of writing.)
So, break it down.
Vary the size of your paragraphs so that people reading your ads won’t get tired eyes and sore heads.
#5 Give them benefits and reasons to help. Sit down and brainstorm every reason you can with students, parents and staff on the benefits of helping or contributing to the school’s cause.
Actually, this step should be done before you write a single word, because it will make your writing go so much easier. I once evaluated a ten page advertisement that was written for the Internet. Almost every sentence on that report had a benefit or two in it.
A good fund raising letter will give people plenty of reasons and benefits as to why they should help. So you need to brainstorm and write down every single benefit and reason why a person of interest would need to buy or contribute to your fund raiser.
#7 (#6 is explained below) Change up your font elements. Use bold, italics, underlined and a combination of the three to make important points stand out. Just like paragraph spacing, you want to create a page that is easy to read and not boring.
If I have an important point to make, I use these font elements to make my point stand out.
(In the case above, I used bold, italics and underlined at the same time. See how it stands out?)
However, never change the font in the body of the letter. Once you’ve started writing the body, stick with a plain, easy to read font like Arial, Times New Roman, or Verdana and stick with the same font throughout the body.
The only part of a sales letter, or fundraising letter that I’ll use a different font in, is the headline.
For the headline, I use large letters (if color is available, I’ll use red in the headline) using the Impact font. As I stated earlier, you’ll want to make sure that your headline grabs the eyeballs of your reader immediately and using large letters in a noticeable, yet very plain font is important.
#6 Use bullet points to call notice to important points, benefits and features. These are used to give the reader short and sweet points that will drive them tom take action.
I like to “dimensionalize” my bullet points if I can. If I present a feature about a product I’ll try to add a benefit to it so that it will carry more weight in the mind of the reader.
Example: “The yearbook cover is professionally printed and looks great, so people that see your advertisement will know your business is in a serious, well made publication, rather than a cheap newspaper that gets thrown away.”
See how I took a feature like the professional cover, and turned it into a benefit to the reader that will make their business stand out?
Bullet points also make important points stand out from the rest of the text on the page. Once again, this breaks up your body copy and makes it easy to read.
#8 Use a call to action (CTA). Near the end of almost any advertising copy, you’ll find a CTA. This is where you’ll actually tell the prospects exactly what they need to do to get involved.
If you want them to call you and place an order, then tell them to do so. Many copywriters feel that next to the headline, the CTA is the second most important element of a sales letter.
If you watch any infomercials on TV, whether they are trying to sell you a Chia-Pet, or trying to get you to donate money to rescue whales, you’ll see a call to action. Some of these infomercials run their calls to action throughout the entire presentation.
The example above shows a local car dealership that bought airtime on a Saturday morning slot. There are at least three or four calls to action here.
Can you spot them all? (Please see the answer at the bottom of this post.)
Something I should have mentioned from the start…
I know what you’re thinking. You’re starting to think that I’m telling you to use slick sales tactics to promote your Christian school’s fund raising activities.
You’re starting to think this is unethical.
I’ve worked at several private schools and every one of them used fund raisers to bring in MONEY. As a matter of fact, all of them had multiple fund raisers of every kind you can think of to bring in cash.
Yearbooks, bake sales, fall festivals, strawberry sales, cookbook sales, candy bars, etc. There are so many types of these fund raisers operating on so many levels, I can’t actually name them all….and that’s at just one school!
Now, ask yourself this question ― is it unethical for your school to have these fundraisers? Should they really have this many? Should your school be using children to bring in funds for a school?
Do you want your students to go on field trips?
Do they need uniforms for the baseball team?
Does your Senior Class want to go on a graduation trip?
Does your science class need more supplies?
Do you have any students involved with missionary work through your school?
I think you can see my point.
So, if your school is going to be using these types of activities, doesn’t it stand to reason that you’ll want to bring in as much cash as possible?
If I can show you a way to get the job done easier, while reminding people that are involved in your class or school what you are fund raising for, wouldn’t you do it?
Of course you would.
Not only that, but the fund raising companies you’re working with also want you to do well. I hope you don’t think for a second that the Golden Wrapper Candy Bar Company wouldn’t LOVE to see you sell a ton of their chocolate, and make a lot of money for your school as well as themselves.
Of course they would.
Hey, wait a minute! Now you’re going to tell me I’m trying to sell you on using this technique!
Moving on… (Yeah, just can’t win!)
Getting Back to My CTA…
#8 Continued ― You don’t need to be overt about telling people to take action because there are ways you can do it subtly. Take a look at this excerpt from my sales letter:
The first section gives the supporters a reason to donate or purchase outside of the reasons I’ve already hit upon. It actually introduces the CTA section while giving them another reason.
The next section creates urgency. You know as well as I do, that if your hand isn’t open right in front of your supporters, they’ll put it off, no matter how badly they want to help your school. So, with a fund raising letter you have to give them a reason to order today.
Always put a time limit in your letter.
If your strawberry fund raiser has a time limit on it because this is the perfect picking and delivering time, say it.
If you have to have the money in by a certain date because the senior class has to have the money to buy tickets, say so.
The last section is the overt CTA. This where you’ll come right out and say what you want the supporters to do. Always have a way they can easily order.
If you can have multiple ways they can order, so much the better. For example, if you’re working with a company that provides you with a webpage for sales, the best situation would be something like this:
The easier and more ways you can get people to order, the better off you’ll be.
#9 Closing ― Close out your letter professionally and always place contact and ordering information under your name. If you can add your signature do so because it adds a personal touch.
About Postscript (PS) Sections
Usually, copywriters like to use a postscript section in their copy. The reason is because you can remind people the benefits you just mentioned, but the main reason copywriters is to sweeten the deal somehow.
If you can come up with an extra benefit or treat to go along with your initial offer, put it in the postscript (PS) section.
Lists of Books that can Help Your Fundraising
If you want to learn more about how to write sales letters, fund raising letters or any other type of a persuasive message, I’ve put together a list of resources that you can draw on.
These resources deal with the art of copywriting however, you can adapt these to your fundraising communications as well.
The Ultimate Sales Letter by Dan Kennedy ― This book is a great introductory text that will give you all of the basics you need to craft a persuasive message of any kind. Dan Kennedy is a master marketer that commands $25,000 for a sales letter from his clients. You can get it used from Amazon for a lark.
How to Write Successful Fundraising Letters by Mal Warwick ― Here’s a book that deals directly with writing fund raiser letters and actually gives you examples to work with. In the world of copywriting, “swiping” or the practice of using other people’s advertisements and letters as a template, is common practice. So there are quite a few examples you can swipe and quickly adapt to your fund raising efforts.
The Fundraiser’s Guide to Irresistible Communications by Jeff Brooks ― When other good copywriters recommend a book of this nature, you better believe it will get results. Not only does Jeff Brooks give you great fund raising ideas, but he also shows you how to design them for a better response. Once again, you can get this book from Amazon for free.
If You Don’t Want To Do This Task Yourself…
Well, I am an advertising copywriter myself, so if you need help with this task, please feel free to contact me. I’ll be happy to talk to you and give you some free tips on how you can make your next fund raiser more profitable.
To Your School’s Continued Success!
Mark “Elmo” Ellis
Oh yeah, before I forget!
***Answer to the Call to Action (CTA) question above: