Copywriting Tips

As you write for marketing materials or for the web, the words you choose can drastically make or break your sale. This is even more critical online, when you can’t communicate with gestures or with the tone of your voice. I had an interesting experience a couple of months ago that illustrates well the importance of language.

I used to take the train into Chicago every morning, and left the station with a massive herd of people. We were a very sweet demographic to get in front of, so it’s a great place to be to catch news of all the latest viral marketing campaigns and got weekly free samples. Free Tropicana OJ, the latest free caffeinated power drink, etc.

Along with the freebies come the other demographic who wants to get in front of us, the Homeless. Don’t get me wrong, I have a soft place in my heart for them, and thus, the story begins::

A gentleman had gotten a hold of some free or cheap fruit. Perhaps it was donated to him, perhaps he unloaded it from a store as it was about to go bad. He was selling two oranges and a banana in bags yesterday calling out “Fruit Bags! One Dollar!”. I passed him by listening to him - and since I have become hyper-sensitive to this stuff, I cringed. Why the heck would I want to buy a ‘Fruit Bag?’ Just the thought of that old fruit stuffed into a Ziploc bag gave me the creeps.

I was about to cross the street, but had an inspiration and walked back to him. I whispered loudly, “Don’t call them ‘Fruit Bags’. Call them ‘Fresh Fruit’. You’ll sell a lot more of them!” The light went on in his head instantly and he got it.

Today, I passed him again. He was yelling, “Fresh Fruit! A dollar a bag!” I swear the fruit even looked different as I passed him hearing that. I asked if my suggestion helped - he laughed and said it made a big difference.

On the internet, you are left with words. Be careful about how you choose them, and test them incessantly. Test them in keyword buys, in ads, in your links, and in blog entries. Always walk outside of yourself and ask yourself the following,

“If I were a one of my potential customers, what would I have to feel as I read these words in order to be inspired to make a purchase?”

Isolate the emotion you want to elicit, and choose your words to induce that state in your audience.

The emotion the homeless man first elicited was a bit of “disgust”. But by changing his words, the emotion I felt was more like “healthy” and “hungry” - a far better state to be in if I want to buy fruit!

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