This article is written specifically for all of the real estate investment and development firms that try to write their own advertising copy to sell their products and services. Unless you have been studying and practicing the art of writing compelling copy, I would offer these words to you: good luck.
The ability to write great copy that will sell what you have to offer is an art much akin to any skill on the market; it needs to be learned, practiced, and evaluated sometimes for years on end. There is really no substitute for a good, seasoned writer skilled in the art of writing compelling copy to convert prospects into revenue for your company.
How I Found an Obi-Wan of Copywriting to Train Me
I remember the first time I tried to write advertising copy. I had purchased a course or two from some A-list copywriters that were getting some very big contracts (sometimes $25,000 a sales letter) and had very heavy reputations worldwide. Despite studying these courses thoroughly while taking very detailed notes, and practicing every day, learning this craft was very difficult.
My learning curve really didn’t kick in until I was mentored by a seasoned copywriter that was kind enough to take me under his wing. Fortunately, this very kind gentleman really put me through the paces and taught me as much as he could. I stayed up late many nights as well as got up very early to practice. 5:30 in the morning became my favorite writing time.
I wouldn’t say it was grueling because I actually enjoy writing, but it was tough to learn all of the principles and different elements that make up good ad copy.
Not only was learning this art a challenge, but once I started landing my first few clients, I had to put everything I learned into my work. What most businesses don’t realize about good copywriters is that much of the work starts before a single word of copy is written. A decent copywriter has to intimately know the market and understand the prospects he is writing for.
What You Don’t Know Can Cost You a Fortune
Just like any type of salesman, the copywriter has to know all about the product and services he is writing about. He needs to understand all of the benefits and features so that he can structure the copy around the elements that are most important to the prospect. (It’s no mistake that the top benefits are usually in the most important part of the copy – the headline.)
So, having said all of this, the obvious answer to the question of why a real estate investment or development company would even need a copywriter is that it is a learned skill. You can have all kinds of traffic flowing to your website, and send out thousands of direct mail pieces, but if the copy doesn’t convert all of that time and money spent will be wasted.
Here are a few other reasons why you will need to hire a copywriter:
It will save you time…Crap loads of it. Just to write a compelling headline that will get eyeballs onto your webpage or sales letter, can take hours and hours of work. It is not uncommon for a good wordsmith to spend up to 2 to 3 weeks writing copy for a client.
You will need to know how to structure different elements like bullet statements, post scripts, and calls to action so that their sales message will compel the reader to take action.
A great copywriter will also understand how to use terms and voice that your prospects will relate to. Once again, this is from research that has to be done on the front end of the project before a single word can be written but it is super important for copy that converts.
The format of the copy needs to be considered as well. You can’t just slap together a business reply card and expect it to work. A lot of time needs to be spent on how different parts of your copy should be written and formatted, so that the copy is easy to read and directions can be easily understood.
A copywriter will also be able to assist you in testing your copy, and also be able to help you edit it for better conversion. Writing advertising copy is not an exact science; many times, different parts of the copy have to be tested to see if the conversion rate can be driven higher.
As you can see, writing copy for your brochures, website landing pages or direct mail pieces requires a skilled copywriter that can get potential clients to take action and respond to what you have to offer. Hiring a good writer will not only save you time but the copy they write will send you prospects for years to come.
Mark “Elmo” Ellis is a copywriter that specializes in writing copy for real estate investment companies and real estate development companies. In order to get your free copy of How You Can Increase Your Website’s Response Rate By 72% Or More, contact him at the email address below and he will promptly send it on to you.
If you want your real estate firm to totally dominate its market space, creating incredible content is still one of the ways to do it. A recent study by the CAM Foundation showed that the marketing trend that was going to trump all other online methods of attracting online traffic was content marketing.
Research by CAM
The good news is that based on studies and surveys, businesses still know where to place their online efforts. It’s also notable that email marketing is still one of the top methods that can be somewhat automated and utilized as well.
The downside to this is that the lazy man’s path to online success is going to get tougher. Happily, we’ve long passed the days of keyword stuffing and posting irrelevant and random information, and moved to a point where outstanding content and information is the order of the day.
Having said that, the new objective for website owners and entrepreneurs that want to generate interest in their businesses is to have amazing content in every piece of marketing copy they produce.
Recently, I reviewed several websites of top real estate investment firms and developers. In almost every case, the landing page copy was boring and irrelevant to the needs and desires of the people landing there. Actually, I’d be surprised if I found out that the sites were converting at all.
It’s not that these companies were unsuccessful businesses, but they were probably not bringing in prospects and new clients by their web sites. Obviously, the grunt work was being done by salesmen or women that did a lot of cold calling from leads. There’s nothing wrong with that if you like forking out high commissions to these people or having professional counselors spend most of their time doing hard –core sales work instead of managing portfolios and giving their clients quality services.
The reason why using a lead generating website would be so much better is for several reasons:
Using a landing page, if done right, will enable you to separate the tire kickers from the people who are really interested in what you have to offer. So, a landing page can be used to prequalify your prospects so that you will know who is truly interested. By going to your landing page and filling out your opt in form, they are basically raising their hand and saying, “Yes, please tell me more about what you have to offer because I am interested.”
In the world of lead generation, having people go to your landing page and fill out a form so that you know they want you to contact them is extremely easy. When you consider all of the other ways of generating leads like cold calling, running advertisements, speaking engagements, social media coddling and so forth, a good solid landing page that converts well is a gold mine that is cheap, and will save you a bunch of time.
Having a good landing page will enable you to place your offers in front of prospects. Instead of having to send out a direct mail piece with a response card, you can place your offer online and it will be seen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It will work for you while you are sleeping, eating, working or whatever you happen to be doing, and if you have a compelling message with an irresistible offer and it, and the copy is solid you’ll get leads without lifting a finger. (Of course you will need to have copy written for your site professionally, so that your traffic will convert. However, if you spend the money and get it done right, you will quickly see the financial benefits.)
Once you have used your landing page to collect data about your clients, you can then use that data to find out more about what your clients are interested in. Usually, opt -in forms on landing pages ask for at least an e-mail address. Once you have that address you can use it to send other messages to engage your audiences which will help you find out what they are interested in. It is not uncommon for email marketers to ask subscribers to fill out a simple survey once in a while. This will help you collect more data on what these people are interested in, and how you can add more services and ideas to your business. Think about it: it is information about your prospects that you would normally have to pay a lot of money to find out about.
So, why should you have great content on your website?
Good, solid content will get crawled and indexed better by search engines as well as being passed around and shared. This will give content more reach while allowing your posts and articles to be visible to the types of people that would be interested in your business. Not only that, but if your content is sterling, then you will get noticed by other people in your industry that are professional, and they will share your content with other professional’s in your industry, thus giving you authority status.
Here is a video that will show you how to create content in a reasonable amount of time:
Once again, people that read your articles will be interested in your line of business and come to your site and they will already be primed for what your niche is. If your articles are about the real estate development industry, then chances are they will already be a rather selective audience. They certainly won’t be looking for articles on how to make fishing lures or bake cookies.
Here are a couple ways to make content on your site work for you.
Create totally original content. You can’t use any black-hat tricks or content generators to create content for your site. The way this type of software works is you type in some words into fields the software provides, and then the software magically creates articles for you. You barely have to do any work. However, most of the content created makes little sense and almost comes out looking like gibberish. If you are in a business where you’re trying to build your reputation, then this type of content could do a lot of harm. The last thing a business that deals in professional real estate services needs to do is to present articles that look like an illiterate person wrote them. Another avenue to getting content on your site would be to hire a writer to create content for you. Once again, trying to go the fast and cheap route here can get you into trouble. People that freelance cheaply, like those that sell their services on Fiverr, will not produce great content for you. You will need to hire someone that understands how to create content that will engage readers in your niche market. So, you are either going to have to hire folks that know how to create great content for you or do it yourself and that is going to cost you marketing dollars. There’s nothing wrong with that if the content you’re writing is bringing home the bacon.
Make well written and useful content. Sure, content is going to be king for a while, but that doesn’t mean your content should be thrown together in a slap-dash manner. You need to research your topics and give your audience the best information you can muster. One of my pet peeves is entrepreneurs that throw together info-products that are obviously substandard. I believe that the days of creating ho-hum info products are coming to a close as well. If you’re going to create an information product, then it had better be good, because at this point, people’s hard drives are jammed with crappy e-Books. Businesses that create well written material that engages their readers are the ones that will get noticed, and that will include information products, white papers, blog posts and anything else that is information based. If you are going to use content as a lead generator, then you need to make it well written and useful.
Try to post regularly and often. You shouldn’t try to create 3000 word posts if you are trying to run a business. Even Stephen King can only turn out about 1500 really good words a day. You might be better off writing posts that are 1000 or less unless your business is blogging. (If you want to write blog posts for a living, then you’ll need to spend a ton of time writing and researching.) However, it is sometimes more difficult to write shorter posts that longer ones, so write your posts the length you need them to be to get your message across. Frequency of posts is something that search engines notice, as well as how SEO for your articles has been handled. Keywords, links and other factors will figure into how you will rank for your posts on the search engine results pages.
Content is going to be a key factor in generating traffic in the foreseeable future. I would suggest you read some articles on how to create incredible content before beginning to write for your business.
Boost Blog Traffic Site – Jon Morrow. If you are new to blog posting,, then read all of the Beginner articles on here.
Mark “Elmo” Ellis writes advertising copy for real estate developers and real estate investment companies. If you’d like a FREE report on How You Can Increase Your Website’s Response Rate By 72% Or More, contact him immediately at the email below and he will promptly send it to you.
Years ago, back when I was stupid about marketing, I tried writing all of my own copy. For some weird reason, I didn’t even think that it mattered how I wrote an advertisement for my product, I just threw a description of what I was selling on a page, and left it to die a horrible death.
I tried making my website look cooler, and added flashy looking junk in a vain attempt to sell what I had to offer. My sales weren’t stellar, to say the least. Actually, looking back at the whole debacle, I did manage to sell some eBooks online because I had accidentally picked a focused niche that wanted what I had to sell.
But because my copy SUCKED, (and I’m using that term lightly) I only sold 20 copies at $25 apiece. I quickly got the idea that Internet marketing wasn’t as easy as I thought. If only I had actually heeded the words that were in some of the IM courses and books I had bought, I might have done some damage; but alas, I did not.
Now that I’m older, wiser, and educated in the ways of “meister word-craftsmen”, I clearly understand why I had so many epic failures in my attempts to sell my puny trinkets.
To be fair with myself, I did have an excuse. Since I had never started a business of any kind, I had very little experience at selling anything. Fortunately, I knew enough NOT to start a big business, or get a loan of any kind. If you’re going to fail, do so as cheaply as possible. With the advent of the Internet you can easily start a business without plunking down a lot of money.
So, I learned a lot without losing my shirt or living out of my car.
But I was small potatoes in the scheme of things. I’m amazed at how many accounting firms, law firms, real estate investment companies, and multi-million dollar development businesses make the same mistakes as I had made!
Don’t know what I’m talking about? Take look at Exhibit A. This is the epic copy from a rather large accounting firm. (The name has been changed to protect the innocent.)
“Once an accounting firm and now a Family of Companies, XYZ is among the fastest growing professional services firms in the state. We are recognized as a leader in every area of service and have garnered numerous awards across industries. We pride ourselves on expert business support with comprehensive services that are customized to meet client needs.
We seamlessly integrate our diverse offerings for services that are efficient, cost-effective and convenient. With personal attention, professionalism and the utmost integrity, we serve our clients in beneficial ways that keep them coming back for more.”
On the surface, this all sounds very professional and accountant like. One can only hope that accountants don’t talk like this when they go out on a date, or they’ll never “go forth and multiply” if you know what I mean.
(Get it? Accountants…Go forth and multi….never mind.)
Now, just to be fair, this is very typical of what I see everywhere in professional business copy, so I don’t want to shame or ridicule the nice folks at XYZ. I merely want to point out that their copy sucks and despite my being a genius, I too have made that mistake.
Are You Missing the Secret Sauce?
What’s wrong with this copy?
Well, other than mentioning THEMSELVES eight or so times in the copy, they fundamentally left out the most important part of the message to potential prospects. The missing ingredient that they skipped right over was, “What we can do for you!”
That’s right. People probably care more about your pets than your bragging rights.
That’s right, people looking for a solution to their problems don’t give a rat’s buns about how long you’ve been in business, how fast your business is growing, how many awards you’ve won, or any of the other impressive accolades you can give yourself. They don’t even care about how many times you tell them you’re professional, because everyone does that.
All they want to know is one or two key pieces of information:
What can you do for me, how can you solve my problem? Or, if you’re in the financial or investment business, “How do I make money?”
Learning Copy from a Salivating Blood Sucker
Apparently, the nice folks at the XYZ firm haven’t seen an episode of Shark Tank yet.
Kevin O’Leary (A.K.A. Mr. Wonderful) almost always asks the blunt questions. The one I remember from the show the most is, “How do I make money?” I love the way the words just ooze from his lips, almost like a salivating vampire.
Take a look at Exhibit B:
But he’s right, and despite his overt bluntness, he’s being very honest.
Actually, I take notes whenever Mr. Kevin speaks, because he’s asking the questions almost every copywriter needs to think about while writing copy for prospective clients. Usually people want to know stuff like:
How do you cure my itchy skin problem?
How can you help me get a better opt-in rate on my website?
How long will it take for me to get down to the dress size I desire?
How can your eBook tell me the best social media strategy to use?
What’s in it for me?
Thinking about this in real estate investment or development terms:
How can I turn a quick profit from your investment advice?
What kind of track record does your business have? (Not how long you’ve been in business, but how many impressed and satisfied clients can you refer them to.)
What’s the background of the principals of this company, or their agents?
How can you reduce my risk on this project or investment?
What can you do to make sure I’m legally safe on this development project?
How often will you update me on the progress of this project or service?
You know, stuff like that.
Most of the time, people could care less about where you’re located at, what awards you’ve won, and how professional you say you are.
If you’re hitting the prospect hot buttons things are usually much different.
The fact that you’re saying exactly what they want to hear in the body of your copy reflects the fact that you’re very savvy in your business and business dealings.
Crap in…Crap out..
There’s an old saying, “You get what you pay for.” In other words, if you buy cheap crap, you’ll get cheap crap.
It’s the same with advertising copy ― Crap in…Crap out. If you hire a cheap copywriter, chances are you’re wasting your money.
Inevitably, you’ll feel like you’ve been cheated every time, because even though you didn’t spend a lot of money, you did waste some of it. You also wasted time in your business, giving your competitors an opportunity to get it right while pulling ahead of you.
Very rarely does a solid copywriter write for money in the hundreds of dollars unless it’s for charity work or a very short paragraph or two.
The problem with most companies is they don’t really understand how much revenue they’ve lost over years and years of running with the cheapest solution.
Trust me; I’m an expert at this.
Way back before I decided to learn how to write advertising copy, I had a website that just slapped together. It sat online for years and didn’t do me a bit of good. So, not only did I lose business, but I also lost years of potential prospects and clients that I could have done business with until this day.
Why I Want to Kiss a Vacuum Cleaner Salesman
For years, the wife and I went through about a vacuum cleaner a year. Most of them clogged very easy, or parts would break, or something would jam into them that you just couldn’t get out.
You can’t do without one, so I guesstimate that we went through about $3000 in vacuums over the years. When you consider that a decent vacuum will run you somewhere between $200 ―$400 a shot, it’s possible to spend quite a bit on them.
One day, we were in Sears and there was a guy demonstrating a Dyson. He went through his whole demonstration and showed how well the thing worked. I was actually quite amazed with how easy you could take the thing apart, and how you could reconfigure the different parts in a whole variety of ways.
There were no bags on the vacuum, and all you had to do was press a button on a canister and empty it. If something got clogged in it, all you had to do was get a quarter and use it to turn big plastic screws that gave very easy access to places that you needed to get a clog out.
I was very impressed with it, because it was a common sense design that any engineer would be proud of.
However, a Dyson at the time cost just over $500! Were they out of their minds?
Yep, that’s what I blurted out loud at the salesman.
“Sir…” the salesman smiled, “Are you concerned with cost, or price?”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Well, you bought those other cheaper vacuum cleaners, and as you mentioned, they cost you all sorts of money; money getting fixed, replacing parts, and buying other new vacuum cleaners. So they cost you quite a bit, right?”
“While the price of a Dyson seems expensive, it will save you a ton of money in the long run. It’s so easy to fix a child can do it, it doesn’t require expensive bags, and it’ll last you for years. So, are you concerned with cost or price?”
I was speechless…I was without speech. (Believe me, that doesn’t happen too often.)
We have owned our lavender colored Dyson for the last decade, and despite my wife breaking a part on it by accident a couple months ago, it still works better than any vacuum we’ve ever had.
A relative even bought us a brand new Shark vacuum last month and we’re still using the Dyson because we like it better.
I swear, if I ever see that salesman again, I’ll kiss him.
So you have to ask yourself the question, am I concerned with the price of hiring a good copywriter or should I count the cost of not hiring one?
What You Should Be Looking For
Let’s say you’ve bought into the idea that maybe you will want to increase the response rate of your website or, direct mail piece by hiring a copywriter. Perhaps, you can now see the value of having very professionally written brochure that actually sold prospects on the idea or a knock ‘em dead video sales letter.
You’re going to need a good copywriter, one that knows how to write the kind of copy that your company needs. Yes, there are all sorts of copywriters out there and only a handful is the Gary Halbert type.
In case you don’t know who Gary Halbert was, he was considered to be Holy Grail of copywriters. The unique thing about Mr. Halbert is the fact that he could write just about any kind of copy. It didn’t matter what industry or product he was writing for, he always hit his mark perfectly and made massive profits for the businesses he worked for. Not very many copy guys can do that.
There are a few others out there like Clayton Makepeace, Bob Bly, and Jon Carlton that can pull this sort of thing off, but they are few and far between and extremely expensive. (Sometimes they get paid $25,000 a sales letter or more!)
So, what you’re going to need to find is a copywriter that is specialized in the type of business that you’re in. Someone that understands the real estate investment or development business and understands your prospects, language, and marketing strategies ― A real estate development and investment copywriter!
There I said it!
As a matter of fact, that’s the niche I’ve decided to work in. But if you’ve already contracted a copywriter for this particular type of niche, there are a few things you need to look for.
For one thing, you don’t need to hire someone that writes in this niche all of the time. Decent copywriters can and do write in more than one niche, but if you know that they are knowledgeable about your industry that’s a major plus.
Another thing that’ll help you is to take a look at samples of their writing. If they have copy that looks and reads professionally then chances are they should be able to do the job for you. Testimonials from other happy clients are also a major plus.
Many times you can tell if things are going wrong by the professionalism that is displayed at the onset. If you’ve displayed interest in hiring a copywriter, and he can’t quote a price to you based on what you’ve told him, then that should be a warning sign.
NOTE:In this situation, I’m talking about an email transmission or a substantial conversation wherein you have already told the writer what you want. Depending on how much work you’ve got to have written, he may not be able to immediately spit out a quote to you.
But if you’ve sent a description of what you need to have done, and he’s still grasping at straws as to what you’re going to pay, this may not be a good sign. However, If the copywriter sends you a professionally written contract with an itemized list, that’s a real good indication of his professionalism.
The Colombo Factor Should Be Present!
If you don’t know who the iconic character Colombo is, you need to get on Netflix and watch a couple of episodes. He’s a 1970’s detective that’s chronically asking questions to people he suspects of committing a crime. As a matter of fact, he just about drives them nuts with his questions alone.
Well, copywriters need to be just like the lieutenant. They should be asking a lot of questions.
For my copywriting business, I have prepared questionnaires that I send to my clients even before I’m contracted.
What’s the reason for this?
First of all, I’ll need to know all sorts of things like:
What the goal of your marketing is
What type of traffic driving strategies you’ve been using?
What other types of marketing has your company been using?
Were these strategies effective?
Usually, the initial questionnaire is several pages long.
The other reason for this is to prequalify the prospect before they sign the contract.
Many times when the client is faced with a questionnaire like this, they balk at it. Perhaps they were thinking that the copywriter was a mere hobbyist that was going to perform these services dirt cheap.
Once the prospect takes a gander at the preliminary question sheet I send them, they know I mean business.
By the way, that’s just the preliminary questionnaire. After the contract is signed, they will get another rather large questionnaire asking all kinds of questions about their services and especially their clients. If the contracted party can supply me with a list of happy past clients, I’ll send them a sheet to fill out too.
So, if you are hiring a copywriter and they aren’t asking you all sorts of questions…RUN!
He has to analyze your site, consider your marketing strategy, think about how you’re going to follow up, and investigate your competition, just for starters.
So, if you get a bunch of questions from a copywriter that you’ve hired, that’s a good thing. Make sure that you answer all of the questions he asks you, because it’ll make your copy a bazillion times better.
Other Factors That Are Muy, Muy Importante!
(These are so important, they warrant 2 Muys!)
The one thing I always try to impress on my clients is the personal touch they’ll receive from working with me. I don’t like working on copy without keeping the clients “in the loop”. Since they’ve contracted me to write the very best copy that I can, they need to get daily updates from me by phone or at least email.
This lets clients know what I’m doing, while letting them know how the progress is coming along. It also gives me the opportunity to ask a few more questions if I need to. As a businessman, I understand that the more contact I have with my client, the more familiar they will be with me and they’ll understand my writing process. They’ll also see how much care I am putting into their copy.
The more they hear from me, the more they’ll trust me and let me know their concerns. Not only that, but we will probably develop a working relationship that can go on for years.
I hope I’ve given you some ideas on what to look for while shopping around for a copywriter.
If you’re in the professional real estate development or investment business, please keep an eye on my blog at: www.ElmoCopy.com
I’ll be writing many in-depth articles on copywriting and marketing for this industry, and I look forward to reading your comments and answering any questions you may have.
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.
#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:
Present the biggest benefit
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.
Making a difference in the lives of the students at the school
Getting businesses ads in a publication that won’t be thrown away
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 Lettersby 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.