12 Mins
April 13, 2021

How To Write Compelling Marketing Copy

Let’s play a game – I’m going to give you two sections of marketing copy.

Both are written trying to sell an environmental washing up liquid (yawn). I want you to ask yourself which is more compelling to read:

Fascinating washing up liquid bottle.

1) This washing up liquid is the most effective washing up liquid ever created. It has natural chemicals which break down the food molecules so it cleans 99% of grease. It has a sweet camomile and clementine odour and can be bought at any supermarket in the UK. It’s made from 100% ethically sourced and natural ingredients. It’s now on special offer at £5.99 for a large bottle and £3.99for a smaller bottle. Each bottle lasts at least a month and we have a satisfaction guaranteed policy so that if you don’t love the bottle, you can bring it back within 2 weeks of opening. (103 words)

2) Johnny has a date. Johnny’s date is arriving in 5 minutes to enjoy his incredible cooking. But there’s a problem -  his housemates have kindly left a stack of grimy plates in the sink. Johnny hates washing up. So do we. That’s why we created a washing up liquid that’s the most effective washing up liquid ever created so he can spin through those plates before his date arrives. Oh, and this washing up liquid is good for the planet too. Have a good date Johnny. (86 words)


Which copy was more effective?


I have a sneaking suspicion that the more compelling story is the second one. And I would also argue that the second story makes the washing up liquid more appealing to buy too as a result.


Why is this? They both exactly the same boring product.


There are a number of differences in the two stories. Let’s break this down:


1) Your customer is the hero of the story, not you

The second story focusses on the customer rather than the washing up liquid. The washing up liquid simply helps him achieve a goal. The customer should be your ideal customer. Johnny is the hero of the story and since he is a human being, we can relate to Johnny and his problem. Haven’t we all been in a situation where someone is about to arrive but the sink looks like a bomb site and we desperately try and clean before they arrive? Of course. So we can see ourselves benefitting from a product like the washing up liquid.


2) Features and benefits

Most businesses seem to focus all their website copy and marketing on their own products. Worse still, they only talk about the features of the products.


Features are things objective truths about a product or service, while benefits are about the result of the features.


Eg. A seatbelt is a feature. The benefit is the seatbelt prevents death if you crash


If you want to read more about features and benefits, read my article Features vs Benefits: What’s The Difference And Why Does It Matter?


We all like to think we make decisions rationally and logically. However, this has been proven to be false.


According to Daniel Kahneman, the Nobel memorial prize-winning psychologist and economist, is not the author of Thinking Fast and Slow, there are two systems humans use when processing information and making information:


1) System 1 (our “automatic system”) is involuntary and fast at detecting simple relationships and patterns. It provides the majority of input for System 2 to act.


2) System 2 is much slower and requires conscious decision making. It is the type of processing that is required when doing mental maths for example.


Why does this matter?


Because people for people to buy your product, you want them to easily understand your product and how it will benefit them. Don’t make your customer think and process information about your product. Our brain responds quicker to stories than facts because we can see simple relationships and patterns in stories better than random features about a product.


Key takeaways:


1) Your customer is the hero, not the product. Think about your ideal client and deeply understand what the problem is your product or service is solving for them. Write your web copy with this ideal client in mind. Would they relate to this? If you can’t do this, you’re toast.


2) Features vs Benefits. Stop banging on about your product’s features. It doesn’t emotionally grab anyone hearing about feature after to feature. You may have a great product but you need to understand who you’re great product is for and tailor you’re offering to them. I’m not saying features are useless – it’s just lead with benefits.


I hope this helps when you write marketing copy or website copy!


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