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July 5, 2011
The Key Element for Successful Sales Copy
 
As an experienced marketer, you know that a winning ad or sales letter, online or off, must provide at least one “shout it from the rooftops” benefit to your target market. Ideally, this outstanding benefit, typically embodied in your product or service, should be one your competition either doesn’t posses or at least doesn’t advertise in sufficiently loud terms. This benefit may double as your unique selling proposition (USP); it may be part of your offer, in a guarantee, or in the terms of sale. And ideally, this benefit, as well as your USP, if they are not one and the same, should be positioned as something offered only by you.
 
It should also go without saying that your promotion must have direct access to a motivated list, a hungry crowd; one that is able, willing, ready, and wanting to buy now — never later — whatever it is you’re selling. There are, of course, many other concrete and essential elements that every successful promotion must have; credibility, proof, and urgency (to name but three) come immediately to mind.

Yet there is one element that will always drive your hungry crowd into a frenzy of uncontrollable, impetuous, spontaneous buying, and…
 
This is what’s missing from most sales copy.
 
This missing element is often confused with hype, which is usually crass, over the top, unbelievable, unproven, grandiose, and often obnoxious shouting and chest thumping. In fact, hype is the $1.99 version of this missing element. Indeed, hype attempts to artificially create this element: the fire, wonder, and awe that breathes life into a promotion. I’m talking, of course, about excitement!
 
However, because hype and excitement are viewed as two sides of the same coin, though one is real and visceral and the other is a cheap and lifeless counterfeit, they have become synonyms. So now there arises a reactionary marketing philosophy that strives to denude sales copy of all excitement and emotion. But without excitement and emotion there is no imperative to buy, and no thrill in purchasing and owning.

How many times have you read or been told, if not experienced it: people buy based on emotion, not logic.
 
It's True! 
Buying a Ferrari, a $10,000 evening gown, a yacht, or your tenth Internet marketing course is not logical. It’s EMOTIONAL! Logic only enters the picture when you try to explain the purchase to he or she who will chop your head off when they learn of it. Yet so much sales copy today, in reaction to the pervasiveness and excesses of hype, is as exciting and as stimulating a read as the United Technologies (NYSE: UTX) annual report.
 
Sales copy that has been lobotomized, that drones on in a robotic, formulaic, analytical, purposely-subdued and even-keeled fashion will not motivate, will not compel, will not inspire a purchase half as well as copy infused with excitement and feeling. Yes, without a doubt, facts, features, pros, and cons should be laid out so that an intelligent and reasoned purchase decision can be arrived at. But within that empirical and dispassionate mix there must be the waving, breeze-filled flags and colors of excitement and emotion. Our world is NOT populated with consumers who are replicas of Mr. Spock from Star Trek, as much as I enjoy his character and admire his cool and detached intelligence. Sales copy must seethe with a passion and a fervor that compels action. And by the way…
 
Making Friends and Building Relationships is Not Nearly Enough! 
Now too arises a new class of brand marketers, believing a purchase has more value when attained through a nearly subliminal, socially adaptable, interactive marketing process. These marketers would employ widgets and games, and ask, by way of “ethical” bribes, to be introduced to their followers' friends, thereby letting their followers do the selling for them, which is sort of like leading the charge from behind. Of course, if it works, which implies it’s measurable — why not!
 
Interesting Note: As recently reported in Internet Retailer, selling for these marketers is not the goal. Indeed, one highlighted marketer prefers throwing parties instead. Now, she couldn’t say if these parties lift sales, but she did say that each party typically results in a gain of about 500 Facebook fans. I can’t help but conclude, therefore, that in many cases it’s fear of rejection, or fear of being stigmatized, or fear of being embarrassed when asking for an order that drives many of these marketers to…
 
The Drip-Brew Approach to Selling 
Many marketers equate excitement with the “hard sell,” which for them is a style of marketing best left to fast-buck artists at best or con artists at worst. And because they’re loath to ask for an order on the first date, so to speak, they sell by innuendo instead, otherwise known as content marketing. I’m not referring to auto-responders that may continue for a few weeks or a couple of months prior to the delivery of the sales letter and the offer. No, I’m talking about marketers who prefer to be detached from and unsullied by the process of selling and prefer to market by sending out loads of information, ad infinitum, just to let their market know they’re still alive and waiting to be asked out on a date.
 
Again, if it works, which implies it’s measurable — why not! But if you’re the type that can’t wait, that wants to be kissed now, you’ve got to excite your date.
 
How to Kiss and Be Kissed in Return
Excitement is a physiological reaction to emotional stimuli. It causes your eyes to open wider, your heart to beat faster, your breathing to deepen, your muscles to tense. You’ve no doubt experienced it at the movies, in a book filled with suspense, mystery, romance and action. And you’ve experienced it in a sales letter, too, the last time you jumped at an offer without giving cost a second thought.
 
To begin with, infusing a sales letter with excitement requires near-equal measures of craft and art. Craft is far easier to teach and learn; art, on the other hand, is more instinctual and intuitive, and somewhat ineffable.
 
How to Fill a Sales Letter with Excitement that Compels Action
While hype typically relies on adjectives and adverbs like “Amazing!” and “Astonishingly!” and the attendant exclamation mark, true excitement thrives in nouns and verbs: words that tell a story and show action. The art, of course, is in the arrangement of those nouns and verbs within the body copy of a sales letter so that the tension builds and relaxes but still grows in ever-increasing crescendos of anticipation and desire.
 
Excitement is also built on rhythm, cadence, and pacing, which also provide necessary contrast. Because without contrast, without hills and valleys, without conflict and resolution (for example, benefits that overcome objections), the reader’s eye and mind will tire and wander.

After all, you need to allow the reader to breathe once in a while, too; you cannot expect the reader to sit at the edge of his seat throughout the reading of a 26-page magalog. A one-or-two page email, sure, keep ‘em glued to each word and sentence, never loosening your grip on their eyeballs. But within a longer ad, you must provide contrast,  and one way you can do that structurally is by altering the length of your sentences and paragraphs. A one-word paragraph, for example, can be far more impactful than a sixteen-word sentence or a fifteen-line paragraph. But knowing when to insert a one-word paragraph and how often…well, that’s a bit more intuitive.
 
Finally, and Most of All...
Excitement requires these three additional ingredients:
  1. That you possess a palatable and overwhelming passion for the benefits your product provides.
  2. That there is undeniable value in your offer.
  3. That you have an abiding belief in the validity of your message.
In short, if you are truly excited by what you are offering, you will naturally convey your excitement to the reader. They, in turn, will notice and feel your excitement and be excited by it.
 
No hype required. 

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Barry A. Densa is a freelance marketing and sales copywriter at Writing With Personality. To read more of his articles and irreverent musings, and download a FREE copy of his NEW eBook, containing 21 of his most outrageous rants, visit his blog: Marketing Wit & Wisdom!
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