Writing Customer-Centric Sales Copy
When it comes to professional
writing and editing, experts will tell you that preparing
effective, customer-oriented sales copy is dependent almost
entirely upon knowing your target market.
The bottom line is that it really is all about
your potential customers—they are the drivers—and everything
revolves around them.
So, knowing exactly who those customers are—how they think, what
they want, what they’re worried about, what their hopes are, how
they feel—helps you understand how to reach them.
As a business owner, you must get to know who they
are—their average age, their psychology, their fears, their
aspirations, their socio-economic status—because “all of the
above” is what it takes to connect with them—and motivate them
with good copywriting.
You’ll understand not only what they need, but
why—and you’ll also
learn how much they can realistically pay for it.
Once you’ve accomplished this, you can offer them a
product that is exactly what they want—and you’ll then find that
they’ll be happy to pay for it!
So, your goal when writing and editing your sales copy is to
always keep your customers—and everything you know about them—in
mind. For example,
the copy you would write to sell affordable, skimpy swimwear to
14-year-old girls is not going to be the same copy that you
would write to promote expensive, anti-aging creams to wealthy,
But how to get there?
Here’s a list of some of the more important points to
consider when wrapping your mind around who your customers
really are and how to sell to them effectively:
Learn about their most serious, recurring worries—the ones that
keep them from sleeping at night.
If your customers fall into an older age bracket, this
may be such things as elderly care or affordable special
equipment for dealing with handicaps.
Identify your target market’s problems, their frustrations, the
challenges they have to face on a daily basis.
If you’re selling software, for instance, this could be
ease of use, price, cost of updates, installation problems,
and—last but not least—the learning curve involved.
Dig deep. Find out
what your customers’ un-voiced desires are.
Sometimes you can gain
this kind of knowledge through focus groups.
Another way is to simply socialize—either in person or
online—with people who could be your potential customers,
getting to know them on a deeper level.
Pay attention to tendencies or biases that are ingrained in the
way particular groups of people tend to think and feel.
For instance, male athletes usually don’t make decisions
in the same way that single mothers do.
Decisions made by teenage girls are based on an entirely
different way of thinking than those made by ambitious, adult
engineers. Worlds of
Don’t underestimate the importance of language.
You need to understand colloquialisms and jargon that are
common to your target audience.
And naturally, if a portion of your market is comprised
of a specific ethnic group, cater to the way they think and the
way they express themselves—their use of English may be
different than you expect it to be.
Next, segment your target market to make your copywriting
As you can see, there’s more to understanding your customers
than it would seem at first.
One of the most important things to consider is just how
many different categories comprise your target market.
What are these categories—and what are their demographics
and the characteristics of the people within them?
Your target-market audience is probably not completely
homogeneous, so you need to identify and catalogue each segment
of your market—because the pitch to each one will be different,
depending upon what resonates with each particular segment.
For instance, if you sell shoes, do you sell to children, which
means you sell to their parents (they make the decisions)?
Do you sell to teenagers, which means they make their own
decisions, but are heavily peer-influenced?
Do you sell to adults—and if so, which adults—those who
wear typical “workplace” shoes or those who are in recreation
mode (or both)? Do
you sell specialty shoes, such as work boots with reinforced
Each one of these possible market segments has a different
profile, so before you begin to even think about how to sell to
them, you need to separate them and define their characteristics
along these lines.
This may sound like a lot of unnecessary work, but
remember—you’re selling the benefits of your product first, so
you have to know what those benefits are for the audience you’re
selling the features, the “reinforced steel toes” second.
Okay, now how do you get inside their heads?
You ask questions!
Customer surveys and focus groups are the perfect way to find
out what people are thinking.
They can give you invaluable feedback—and uncover
information that you haven’t even thought about asking.
Both surveys and focus groups are relatively inexpensive
ways of collecting data that you can use immediately to build
your target-market profiles—and then guide your copywriting so
that it hits the nail on the head each and every time.
Here are some benefits you will reap from this customer
intelligence-gathering—in whatever form you wish to pursue it,
surveys or focus groups:
First of all, you will find yourself amazed at the number of new
things you will discover by just asking people about
themselves—and asking for their opinions!
What they like.
What they don’t like.
Your customers may have discovered uses for your product that
you don’t even know about.
For example, it may turn out that thrifty housewives are
using the vinegar you sell (for salad dressings) to clean
kitchen counter tops and glass surfaces because it’s cheaper
than the usual household cleaning product.
Maybe they like to use it to eliminate the odor of
chopped garlic from their hands.
Market surveys can also show you what’s wrong with your present
product mix or your marketing efforts—so you can apply a fix
Perhaps you will discover that many of your customers find your
online ordering process to be confusing or too time-consuming.
Or maybe quite a few of them just don’t understand how
your product applies to them because the language you’re using
and the assumptions you have made about them are all wrong.
You’ll also quickly find out if your product is too highly
priced for the socio-economic group you are targeting.
Or you may discover that because your vinegar, for
instance, costs so much less than similar products on the
market, people assume that it is a low-quality product.
Learning why your marketing strategy is not working may not be a
But you can’t fix a problem until you know what it is.
And this is all about maximizing your sales potential, so
what’s a little unpleasantness along the way?
Your questions should also revolve around what else your
target-market wants or needs.
What improvements would they suggest.
People generally love to offer their opinions, so always
give them plenty of room to do so.
The answers you get to this “what else” question will not only
allow you to modify your present offering to better fit your
market’s needs, but those answers may even inspire you to
develop a brand new product or service—or packaging—that you had
Word to the wise: Be
sure to provide people with an incentive to answer your
questions—something with absolutely no strings attached.
Rather than offering a discount on future purchases, give
them a free sample of your product now.
Or it can be another freebie of some kind—something
This type of bonus will increase participation, while at the
same time, provide you with an excellent opportunity to enhance
your business credibility and develop long-term relationships
with your customer base.
So, let’s recap...
Knowing exactly who your target audience is will enable you to
laser-focus your copywriting.
And it will also help you select the types of ads and
placements that will reach them—since you’ve learned precisely
what it will take to get their attention.
People usually turn to the internet to solve a problem or to
locate information about something.
Your job is to guide them and assure them that
have the solution to
their problem—and the information they seek.
This means that your sales copy must be totally customer-centric
and compelling enough that your visitors will go ahead and make
the decision to buy from you.
And this is where the strength of your copywriting, your
expert proofreading, and your laser-like editing skills come
Writing great sales copy is not the easiest thing in the world
to do, but when it’s done right, the results are amazing.
Denver Business Editor | Boulder Business Editor