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Copy that.

October 7, 2021

Why most small businesses fail — and what you can do about it.

Open Robert W. Bly’s The Copywriter’s Handbook, turn to page 35; item 30 in the list of 38 Model Headlines for your “Swipe File,” and you’ll find the above headline (Address the reader’s concern).

And it got your attention, didn’t it? Effective copywriting is all about persuasion — writing copy that sells. And finding a great copywriter can make a big difference in the success of your next marketing efforts. Bly’s book is a must-have for everyone who writes or approves copy for (or about) their business.

Even more critical is crafting the right words in the digital age. According to Steve Krug in his book, Don’t Make Me Think, one of the most important facts about web users is that they don’t read, they scan. This is a frequent topic with our clients while reviewing blog posts, newsletters, website content. Most tend to overwrite, over-describe, and otherwise use too many words. We all want to describe our work/product/service well. And that’s certainly important.

But descriptions don't sell anything to anyone (or persuade anyone) until they: (1) provide a benefit to; and (2) solve a problem for the buyer. A lengthy feature list doesn’t sell, either — benefits sell and persuade. And if readers have to use too much brain power to find that benefit, the opportunity for the sell may be missed.

Check out a few website headlines from Basecamp:

Basecamp website headlines-1

Nifty and attention-grabbing, huh? What you don’t see FIRST is a list of features. It’s an appeal to the reader (not a catalog from the seller). Features are certainly listed (somewhere) but the primary focus is getting you to buy. We did, actually [buy], years ago. Basecamp is still our preferred project management application. But enough about them. Back to copywriting.

So how do you improve your copywriting skills?

  • Practice. Start writing.
  • Ask a copywriter to review your writing.
  • Use Grammarly (see more below).
  • Try Youtube for lots of copywriting tips.
  • Invest in (and read) good books on this topic (we've mentioned two in this newsletter) 👆.
  • Download this Headline Copywriting Cheat Sheet.
  • Start your own swipe file with Pocket.

Check out Grammarly’s writing assistant.

I used this while writing this newsletter content. So handy, inexpensive, can be added to most browsers as an extension. No brainer purchase. (And there’s a free version.)

How to create a great pitch deck

(A pitch deck is a brief presentation, often created by using Powerpoint, Keynote, or Prezi, used to provide your audience with a quick overview of your business. Canva is also a good resource for finding good pitch deck templates.) Recently we revised our own process (hello Keynote) and thought it might be helpful to publish some of those steps:

  • Start by researching your client. Your pitch is just noise unless the client believes you understand their specific needs. What are the products or services they offer? Who are their competitors? Is there common language or terms used in their industry?
  • Personalize the pitch. The secret to a successful sales pitch is not selling your services, it’s solving the client’s problem(s).
  • Introduce yourself or your team.
  • Define the problem and your solution.
  • Provide your unique selling proposition — what you offer that none of your competitors can match.
  • Outline next steps.
  • Prepare to answer questions.

We also redesigned the main slide in our Keynote template, formatted to Widescreen 16:9.

And from the bookshelf:

As promised, here are books we’re reading — enjoy:

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