A Copywriting Lesson From Dr Seuss
Looking for inspiration for your next marketing communication? Try the children's bookshelf.
Dr. Seuss has entertained young (and old) audiences for nearly 50 years with titles such as The Cat in the Hat, Hop on Pop and Green Eggs and Ham.
The reason why his books remain so popular says something about what makes for good writing (and reading), no matter who or where the audience is.
Nouns and Verbs
Nothing keeps readers moving like strong noun-verb combinations. If the sentence were a train, nouns and verbs would be the engine. Adjectives, adverbs and the other parts of speech make the train longer and slower. Dr. Seuss' sentences have strong engines pulling light loads to keep readers moving down the tracks.
Lots of Periods
A byproduct of eliminating the extraneous words is shorter sentence length. Lots of periods. Paradoxically, more sentences of shorter length increase reading speed and comprehension. Dr. Seuss, as are many children's authors, is a champion of the short sentence.
Albert Einstein said, "The gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge." Were it not for imagination, there would be no Cat in the Hat and no Dr. Seuss. Imagination is the beginning of copywriting because first there must be an idea or concept.
Dr. Seuss' books are fun to read. They're funny, too, but that's not the same thing. Fun to read is material that's entertaining and effortless for readers, an excellent standard for all writing.
Dr. Seuss' books are written in verse. Of course they're lyrical. However, this goes beyond silly rhymes. There are a sound and rhythm to the words that, like a favorite tune, you don't mind hearing over and over. Good writing of all varieties is pleasing to the eye and ear.
Children have short attention spans. Dr. Seuss knows how to tell a story without unnecessary detours. Every word counts. That's good advice for all who write copy because children aren't the only ones with short attention spans.
This is the litmus test for all writing. Did readers take something away? Was their time well invested? The Cat in the Hat is a story about having fun, even on a rainy day. Now that's worthwhile reading.
(c) 2005 Neil Sagebiel
Within this article on Web copywriting, we will look at copywriting in general and how to succeed in this particular niche of copywriting. Copywriting is a growing field but some of the greatest growth is coming in the niche of Web copywriting.
There is a great deal of demand for Web copywriting today as more and more people realize the importance of good web content. This is critical for two reasons and explains why there is such a demand for Web copywriting. The first reason is that there are more than 4 billion web pages out there according to Google and this number continues to grow in leaps and bounds every day. With such a large number of web pages, it is very hard for your website to get noticed if you're writing average content that no one wants to read. The second reason that is important to have good web content is that it will give you a better chance at having your website indexed. The way that websites are indexed is that search engines have search bots go through and find different web sites. The search bots analyze the page and look for particular keywords. To truly know what you should write when developing a website, you need to have some knowledge of Web copywriting. There are many different factors that go into getting your website indexed and noticed by the search bots so this is where experience in this arena can greatly help.
If you have experience in Web copywriting, you will find that you will have a great deal work available for you. You can write Web content for websites as well as sales letters and other types of marketing materials for websites. In addition to the reasons that you must write good web content, this content must also be easy to read for your prospective audience so that the traffic driven to a client's website can be converted into sales.
Web copywriting will continue to grow in leaps and bounds due to the difficult nature of this task. You must work to get your website noticed by both search engines as well as human audiences. This is a difficult task because you're writing for two audiences as opposed to one and making sure that you can sell at the same time.
Hopefully this article and Web copywriting has given you some good information if you are thinking about going into this field. There are a great deal of opportunities and it is a very flexible and high-paying occupation due to the fact that you can work from around the world if you have an Internet connection. You'll want to take some time to read more about the field so you have a better grasp of how you should write for people. Any person can write Web content but it takes a strong copywriter to write content that can sell as well as get indexed. This is a field which will take a great deal of time to learn so be sure to expand your Web horizons as well as you can.
The New Secrets To Copywriting That Sells
Anyone who has worked with me over the past 25 years knows that my mantra has always been "benefits, benefits, benefits." Benefit headlines ... benefit copy ... benefit subheads ... benefit captions ... anything to hammer home the customer benefits.
Benefits are still a vital key, but today, copywriting needs much more than just benefits. To sell the most, copywriting needs to connect at a much deeper and more dramatic level than ever before.
There are 6 main reasons why. I call them The New Secrets to Copywriting That Sells.
1. The "Yahoogle" effect
Thanks to mega search engines like Yahoo and Google, tons of information on just about any topic, product or service is literally at your fingertips ... for free.
Here's what that means to your marketing:
If you are a good writer, you should be able to pick up copywriting. The key behind copywriting is that you must understand that you're writing in a different style and to a different audience. A good quote that will be used to start this article comes from the book The Copywriter's Handbook, A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Copy that Sells. "A copywriter is a sales person behind a typewriter." (p.1 of book mentioned above)
This is the key when you are learning copywriting. You must learn to communicate with the audience in a way that persuades them to buy the product or service that you are writing about. There must be an initial connection that is made or else you'll find that you've lost the audience's attention. In this day and age, people are inundated with the number of advertisements that they see every day and quickly discard any advertisement that does not fit within their perspective immediately. You must realize that your writing cannot be for the entertainment of an audience now but rather to sell a product or service.
As a quick introduction to some of the important points on learning copywriting, the first key is to pay attention to the headline. The headline is read more often than copy at an exponential rate. If you cannot catch someone's attention with the headline, you have wasted the rest of your sales copy. A sales letter essentially only has about five seconds in which you can grab a person's attention and the headline is one the most important factors in being able to pull that attention. This is just an example of copywriting and what you must look for.
In learning copywriting, look into the works of Dan Kennedy. He is one of the foremost experts on the subject and he has said before that he became better by continual development of his skills. If you would like to learn more about any one of his books, look into the following title: The Ultimate Sales Letter. You will want to make yourself a lifelong student of the subject in learning copywriting because there is always something more to know.
Hopefully this article on learning copywriting has helped you. This field will seem very challenging but at the same point it is one of the more interesting fields that you can find out there. The key to being successful and copywriting is to learn from what you do. If you constantly read and continue to develop your skills, you'll find that you will become a great copywriter. It is hard within a single page to truly give you an idea of what it takes to be a copywriter but go back to the quote at the beginning of the article that a copywriter is a person who sells. Your goal is to educate an audience in a way that persuades them. This is the only difference between how you currently write and how you will write as a copywriter.
Freelance Copywriting Jobs
You can find that there are numerous freelance copywriting jobs out there. Within this article today, we'll look at a couple of the different websites and how you can make sure to set yourself apart from all of the other freelancers out there.
Our first task is to identify the different marketplaces where you should have a subscription. The website that will be profiled first is www.elance.com. This particular marketplace has a very strong following as more than 100,000 potential customers come by the website each week. You are able to sign up to sell your services and the system allows you to upload your best work to sell yourself to potential clients. There is also a search agents in place so that you can have jobs that meet your criteria e-mailed to you on a daily basis. Cost for a subscription to this particular website can range from eight dollars per month up to one hundred twenty dollars per month.
The second website which you should look to register for it is www.guru.com. This is actually the largest online freelance marketplace on the Internet to look for online jobs including freelance copywriting jobs. The capabilities of this website are similar to the ones that were posted in the paragraph above for that particular website. It has a service provider base of over 481,000 people. If you live in Europe, you can use both of these websites as well as a European challenge to these two, which is found at www.getafreelancer.com. There are many other websites that also offer a freelance online marketplace and one of these is www.directfreelance.com.
This should get you started in being able to find different websites and which you can bid on projects. When you are bidding on projects, companies that are looking at the bids will not be looking just at price but also at how their work will be done. To do this you will want to set yourself apart. The way that you can set yourself apart in creating a bid is to include copies of your best work but also make sure that you include testimonials along with a sales letter on why you will be the best party bidding on this particular project. By doing this, you will be tailoring your message to the particular party and you will be showing them examples of your past work along with happy clients. This will help improve your credibility and firmly anchor you as a potential candidate who can get the job done. Many copywriters do not have a website today so if you take the opportunity to create a website, you will find that you could have a competitive advantage in the freelance copywriting jobs market.
Hopefully this article on freelance copywriting jobs has helped you. It is important to know which websites you should use in finding work but it is also important to find ways to set yourself apart. By creating a website as well as creating an advertising package that shows off your best side, you are setting yourself up to stand apart from other freelancers. You are selling yourself when you create this package so keep that in mind.
Lower Cost Increase Conversion Of Your Adwords Ads
Comparison shoppers are the mortal enemy of pay-per-click (PPC) advertisers. When you're paying each time someone clicks your AdWords (or other PPC) ad, the last thing you want is a person determined to visit every site to find the best price, the closest location or the most secure guarantee. But, with many categories of products or services, it's bound to happen. There is a way to eliminate many of the lookers, however.
When you qualify your AdWords leads, you can reduce the click-through rate (CTR) of browsers and help direct only those most interested in your offer to your site. How is it done? By inserting text that will purposely eliminate arbitrary visitors.
Qualifying Your PPC Leads
Purposely eliminating visitors sounds like an awful thing to do, doesn't it? Perhaps, until you consider the fact that - once these visitors got to your site and found out the details of your offer - they'd most likely leave anyway.
Why not save yourself a click (and the money associated with that click!) and prevent the visitor from running up your monthly AdWords bill? This is exactly what Steve Jackson of Conversion Chronicles and I discussed awhile back. Since that discussion, I've come up with a process that will allow you to easily write pre-qualifying ads when you use these simple steps.
Outline the specifications of your offer. Be precise. List all the details of the offer, the price, length of time, physical location, size, etc. For example, say you have luxury cruise packages available. You'd want to list the details such as: packages depart from New York City and go to several destinations in Mexico including Cozumel, Puerto Vallarta and Mazatl
Website Copywriter Tips Write Web Copy For People Not Technology
Every website copywriter faces a trap - Search Enginitis. Writing web copy with technology makes sense, but writing web copy for people makes the sale. Here are two ways to connect with people across broadband and create web copy that sells.
Your website looks great: solid words, easy navigation, graphics just so, and maybe even a bit of flash with some multimedia. But customers are not buying.
The Technology Trap
You wonder if it's the web copy itself. How can that be? You remembered the two key mantras of powerful web copy - "write for the search engines" and "write for the medium."
Your web copy used appropriate keywords to help search engines find you and traffic is up. Surely, customers enjoy reading your content because your web copy is laid out with the internet in mind using:
Customers might be reading your words, but they still are not buying your product.
Chances are your web copy has been optimized for technology not people.
Even on the internet, selling is still about connecting to people. Selling on the internet means writing web copy for people not technology. So how do you press the flesh across broadband? Start where brick and mortar relationships do - trust. Why not become the trusted provider in your marketspace? Your web copy can use words to raise your credibility in at least 25 different ways.
Here are two ways to craft web copy for people not technology:
write the way customers speak
replace your pitch with a theme.
Write Web Copy for People not Technology Step 1:
Write the way people speak. People instinctively trust strangers who speak like them.
If you find this article useful, how would you tell someone? Are you really going to say, "I read an unusually amazing web copy article that fundamentally increased my sagging sales"? Not likely.
Weak web copy, not everyday people, uses too many modifiers. "Amazing," "fundamentally," and "sagging" weaken trust. How's your site for modifiers?
Give your web copy the finger test.
You might not want fingerprints on your screen, so I suggest printing a copy of your homepage content.
put your baby finger on the first modifier you can find.
put your ring finger on the next adjective or adverb.
repeat until you run out of modifiers or fingers.
If your page is a handful, you've got too many modifiers and your web copy is hype heavy, not trustworthy. In addition to giving readers web copy that matches how they speak, it helps to give them time to get to know you.
Write Web Copy for People not Technology Step 2:
Replace your pitch with a theme. Customers need time before they trust.
They will get used to your site in tiny steps, so hold off selling; buy some time with thematic web copy. Have a theme for your site, introducing your offer only after your customer feels comfortable. Themes are a subtle form of repetition because they continually reinforce a single concept. Repeated exposure to an idea usually makes it familiar and safe. Remember the first time you used instant messaging or the family car - not so scary now.
Let's say your site sells dental floss.
Here's how your web copy might handle it. Instead of listing the benefits of DentaThread, you could tie the presentation together under the central idea "Some people have nothing to smile about."
The opening section could point out how the discomfort of Gingivitis wipes the grin off a person's face.
Another segment of the web copy would show how ugly cavities make someone too self- conscious to smile.
Yet another piece would reveal how the high cost of root canal causes an individual to frown.
In this way, the web copy offers three versions of one idea to help the site grow on the visitor: one idea, three versions. Does your homepage have a theme? How many chances does your web copy give visitors to get comfortable with you?
In this article, I tried to use the two key elements a good web copywriter uses to write for people not technology:
the language of my readers
a central idea, trust
Did it work? Did my web copy help? If yes, I guess I proved my point. If no, I have 23 more ideas to go.
Website Translation And Localization Diy Guide
Expanding businesses into other countries means that you will be conveying your messages to people who speak other languages. What's more, your audience may have cultural background other than yours - and it does matter.
Surprisingly many people think that creating, say, a website in a foreign language means just to translate the existing English version. Good translation by all means is very important. But what about putting your message into the context of the particular culture, which is native to your new audience?
This process is called "website localization". It is like "tuning" your website (both content and design) into unison with mentality of other people - the prospective visitors.
Here I won't describe the part of web site localization which deals with programming; this issue itself is complex enough. I will focus on writing content for your website and its further translation.
What part of this work you can do yourself? Probably not all of it, but quite a lot. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you in the process.
Step Zero: Remember: Your Website is Not for You.
It is for VISITORS. So it is logical to consider what THEY think such websites should look like. It is their points of view that matter, not yours. When you memorize this axiom, go to
Step One: Learn!
Self-education is useful in itself; besides, this knowledge is going to save you money and bring profit later. Learn as much as you can about your prospective audience. The more, the better.
It's a rather time-consuming but exciting process. I hope you will manage, as Ancient Romans used to say, "Miscere utile dulci" (to mingle the useful with the pleasant). You will find out plenty of interesting things about another culture. Customs and traditions, rules of etiquette and moral principles, stereotypes, superstitions and lots of other stuff for you to consider when addressing people from a country other than yours.
You can find plenty of information in the Internet. Search Groups as well. Show your interest in other culture, and almost any native will appreciate it and help you as an expert. In addition, you will make good friends with great people.
Travelers' guides can be an excellent source of information; they will help you avoid costly mistakes not only during a trip abroad. Just one example. You must have seen websites with pictures showing people gesticulate. Note that any gesture which is quite OK in the USA may be misunderstood somewhere else. By the way, do you know what the "OK" gesture means in some Asian countries? Demand for money, that's what. In Tunisia it will be interpreted as a threat to kill; in Arab countries - "go to h..." In France it means just "zero" or "nothing." In Denmark or Italy it can be taken as an insult; and so is in Brazil, Guatemala and Paraguay - here it is considered very obscene. So, you'd better make pictures of your website "culture-neutral".
The farther in, the deeper... What is considered rude, impudent, offensive, or impolite in this culture? What is respected, valued, venerated? What traits of character are appreciated most? What are the favorite colors and what are they associated with? What are the most noticeable differences between your culture and this one?
Don't be surprised if points of view on what is beautiful and what is ugly will also differ from yours. When you come to the conclusion that your text won't do and the design probably needs changing as well, go to
Step Two: Analyze!
Turn your findings into tips for writing another text. "Don'ts" here are of much more important than "Do's"
Realize how you shouldn't write. Learn what won't work. Find out what to avoid in graphics and website design.
When arranging content and graphics, it is very important to know whether the audience reads left-to-right, right-to-left or vertically.
Step Three: Write for your audience.
What to begin with when writing for a person from another culture? Put on his shoes first. Well, that's second. First, take off your own shoes. I mean don't be a representative of your own culture - just for a short time you'll be writing the content.
Avoid jokes, slang, idioms, proverbs and sayings. They are YOURS, not theirs. Allusions to books they probably haven't read, quotations, however familiar they are to you - all that won't work.
Be cautious with metaphors and similes (comparisons). Pretty clear and familiar to YOU, for others they might be not so obvious.
Symbols can mean something very different in other cultures. If you can't do without one, find out what it means THERE.
Abbreviations and acronyms are tricky, too - they may be unknown to your audience.
You will have to explain stuff you think to be trivial. Not everybody in the world knows what is eBay, Paypal, or Amazon. Celebrities' fame isn't worldwide, either. Big companies and brands may be unknown on the other side of the globe.
Step Four: Find a RIGHT translator
If you can, get a well-educated native speaker of a language you are going to have your text translated into (it is called "target language")
The reason is that nobody can ever say: "I have learned this language" - only "I have been learning". We all have been learning our mother tongues since birth. That is why native speakers have an advantage. The larger the translator's vocabulary, the better your message will be expressed. Besides, a native speaker often has precious knowledge on the culture - it's precisely what you need for website localization- and will help you in the process.
Step Five: Bring it to Perfection
How to check the end result? Ask somebody from this culture to proofread the text before launching the website.
Encourage feedback when your website is launched. Correct mistakes, if any, at once. Improve your website all the time.
Getting your messages understood in other languages and cultures is a tricky task. It takes plenty of effort - but it will pay. Not only will you make profit and avoid bitter losses caused by misunderstanding. As a bonus you will get deeper undestanding of people whose languages, cultures and even ways of thinking are different. This understanding is the key factor of your success in doing business or communicating with these people.
Good luck to you! Success be to your efforts!
Value Added Copywriting
I know a preacher that can burn any pulpit down within an hour. His sermons cause the greatest stirs and responses in his audience and he really can keep his congregation awake. But there is one tiny problem. Ask many of his listeners what they think about his sermons and they'll quickly respond with only words of acclamation. Follow that questions with a request for what the sermon was about and you're met with only blank stares.
They knew that the sermon was "great" but cannot recall what they learned.
This reminds me of the popular selling tenant referred to as 'selling the sizzle and not the stake'. In other words, build enthusiasm and curiosity about your product without giving away too much. Let them hear it, smell it, imagine it but never taste it until they buy.
I find however that when you're selling high ticket items, because you are asking for a higher level of commitment from the prospect, you have to give something in order to get something back. So you have to give some 'steak' along with the 'sizzle'. This is what is commonly referred to as 'value added copywriting'.
I use some of this myself at my website http://www.webcopy-writing.com to sell my copywriting services. Right there in the sales letter itself are some tips and ideas on how to sell to prospects online. So the reader gains some value from reading the letter even before he or she uses my services.
But this "free information" also serves a few other purposes:
1. It helps to establish goodwill with the potential client. My willingness to share this information shows that I'm not stingy and helps to develop a relationship with the reader. So even if the prospect doesn't use my service he walks away with something.
2. It helps to establish my credibility. This is an opportunity for me to show that I know what I'm about and have the qualifications to help the reader's business.
3. It serves as a teaser. It's obvious that I'm not saying everything that I know and that there is a 'lot more where that came from'. In other words, if I'm willing to give away this information I must have a lot more 'secrets' up my sleeve.
4. It lowers the sales resistance of the reader because I'm in the giving rather than the taking mode. There is really no argument against someone who is giving you something for free.
5. It provides a natural incentive for the prospect to read your entire sales letter. Any device that encourages readership will also improve sales especially with longer sales copy.
It will be therefore helpful if you can provide your prospects with useful information in your sales literature. This may be in the form of a free report, an email course or case studies. Once this information is useful and not seen as an overt sales piece, then this should lead to an easy conversion of a new customer.
This technique of value added copywriting works very well in service-type industries. There are many services where the professional can 'reveal' a lot without fear of losing his value to the customer. This often occurs because even though someone may know how to perform a task, the job may be sufficiently difficult or unpleasant that it may be better left to the professionals.
A quick example comes to my mind. I know how to do simple maintenance work on my vehicle but I'll prefer to pay to have this done. I'll happily read all the available literature from my mechanic about how a mechanical repair should be done. The fact that my mechanic made this literature available to me gives me confidence in his performance of a great job.
So, in the same way, a lawyer may want to provide information on how to fill easy legal forms, while a plumber may provide information on performing simple repairs around the home. When a prospect read this helpful information and they need further 'expert' attention they would easily think of that lawyer or plumber.
Because the public today is bombarded with so many advertisers' messages the usual sales talk is having less impact. With the advent of online advertising where it is easier and cheaper to get your message before thousands of eyes your sales message must have a lot more bite than its bark; a lot more steak where only sizzle use to be.
After listening to your sizzling message, your market congregation will need to recall more than the enthusiasm of your delivery. They must be able to recall enough value to want the whole shebang from you.
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