Who can forget Ernest Hemingway’s shortest story: ’For sale: baby shoes, never used.’ How can six words say so much?
Despite Hemingway’s literary background, many copywriters emulate his writing style as he applied a minimalist approach to everything he wrote. Perfect for sales writing! And Twitter.
Whether you struggle with sales writing or just need to brush up your technique, it helps to be aware of the pitfalls. So, instead of stressing about it, sharpen your skills … and practise!
Here are 30 copywriting gems to help you on your way to becoming a better sales writer.
30 copywriting tips to improve your writing style:
- Aim for short paragraphs.
- Shorten sentences to under 20 words.
- Write early in the morning, when your mind is fresh.
- Avoid distractions by unplugging the phone or wearing ear-plugs.
- Use plain English, instead of business jargon.
- Focus on your customers’ needs and desires.
- Empathise with customers’ problems.
- To extract benefits from features, try asking ‘So what?’
- Use stronger verbs to avoid using adverbs or adjectives.
- Ban gobbledegook – call a spade a spade.
- Keep a list of keywords and phrases to shorten the time it takes to write meta data.
- If two sentences say the same thing, cut out the weaker sentence.
- Avoid using ‘Then’ and ‘That.’
- Use 5 times as many ‘You’ and ‘Yours’ as ‘Me’ and ‘Ours.’
- Mindmap your writing. Break it down into smaller chunks…
- Keep a swipe file of good sales writing examples.
- Use your computer’s ‘Text-to-speech’ function when proofing – or read text aloud to spot mistakes you can’t see.
- Write in a conversational tone.
- Break down copy into sections using sub-headings and bulleted lists.
- Sales writing without a call to action is like an ocean without fish. Be bold: tell your readers what to do…
- Don’t rely on a computer spell-checker. Look out for words which sound the same but have different meanings. (Their and there)
- Invest in a thesaurus. My recommendation is J.I Rodale’s ‘The Synonym Finder.’
- In a bulleted list, reserve your most powerful points for the first and last bullets.
- When in doubt, cut it out.
- Learn how to use the active voice.
- Check writing is consistent – especially grammar, plurals and capital letters.
- After the headline, every press release’s first sentence must answer who, what, where, when and why!
- Use plenty of white space in and around sentences.
- Always use positive language.
- Never stop learning…
The last tip is essential. Once you explore new approaches and absorb skills, your sales writing will improve. If you are writing web copy, you need to consider SEO techniques as well…
Which tip is useful to you? And do you have other techniques to add to the list? Feel free to share ideas…