Writing Sales Copy is Tough

After reading many bad and cheesy salesletters and many salesletters that I know convert well you might think that I was good at writing sales copy. After all, even before Brian Clark worked his magic on my salesletter, other internet marketers frequently asked me who wrote my original sales letter because they wanted to hire that person to write their sales copy. That person was me, but to this day I still felt that the sales copy I wrote was a bit (or maybe a lot) cheesy.

I am trying to write more sales copy and keep finding myself falling into the typical traps:

  • Jargon filled verbose prose.
  • Poor formatting and organization.
  • Self aggrandizing.
  • Too much focus on me.
  • Features not benefited.

I have came up with an angle or idea to start from. Even though it may be true it still keeps sounding a bit weird. It is easier to talk about my book or some other random object that has been on the marketplace for years, but it is so much harder to personalize it and take ownership over something and talk about it as an extension of me. And then I wonder am I just talking about me for me.

Blog posts seem to write themselves for me. No so with sales copy. I find writing sales copy for myself hard. Especially if I am trying to write it for a new product that does not have any public feedback yet. The best I can do is use feedback on other public services and products I sold as a proxy for value, but it comes off a bit dis-jointed. Ultimately social proof and trust are what sells. But if you are just launching a new product it is tough to show social value on day 1, especially when you intend to iteratively improve your product based on customer feedback. Maybe I should ask a few friends look at version 1 and offer feedback to me.

Do you sometimes feel a bit weird or too self promotional when writing sales copy? What do you do to get past it? How do you make people want to salivate without feeling like you are spitting on something or someone?

Published: February 13, 2008 by Aaron Wall in marketing


February 13, 2008 - 8:29am

I was once a subscriber of John Reese's Reese Report and he had some interesting things to say on copywriting:

  • Focus on the benefit within the benefit.
  • The prospect's life should improve even while consuming your marketing material (reminds me of Teaching sells)
  • Tell them what your product has done for others like themselves
  • Tell a story

I've been writing copy using mostly these things in mind and well, I've been doing pretty well.

February 13, 2008 - 8:40am

The feeling that I am feeling 'salesy' even though I wasn't, came from being insecure about asking for the sale. I was internally criticizing myself - "look how shamelessly salesy he is" and stuff. I've since overcome that once I realized it.

I would like to think I am doing the person reading a huge favor by letting them have the product that I am selling.

I also write the copy first, even before I start working on the actual product. Trust me it totally works miracles. I get a better idea of what I am doing and get some direction. I know if the product I create is good enough for promises I made at the sales letter. And prevents me from becoming overly perfectionistic and get carried away.

I had to unlearn a few things too. I had bought into conflicting views from various people and decided let it screw up, I'll test and tweak it.

February 13, 2008 - 9:38am

Thanks for the great tips Rajasekharan

February 13, 2008 - 10:06am

You made the right choice to outsource the sales letter writing to Brian Clark.

The fact is that writing sales copy is very difficult. It also may take a lot of time to get right.

I'm learning as much as I can about copywriting, but I don't have any intention of ever writing it myself.

As marketers, we need to focus in on our core competencies, mine being:

1) Managing a team
2) Adwords
3) Niche Research

Taking time to write copy takes away from what I'm good at.

I think learning how to manage a team is so important to our overall success as internet marketers/ affiliate marketers.

February 13, 2008 - 1:13pm

One of the most rewarding experiences I learned about writing sales copy was to focus on the customer not the product. All too often our cheesy sales copy is due to the fact that we are PUSHING a product onto an unknowing visitor. An approach you might want to take up is focus on the customer from the start. Take a look at Woot. 99.9% of the copy they write has nothing to do with the product and if it does it is so far fetched that you truly can’t say it is promoting the product but engaging the customer. Ohh and don’t forget! Try not to limit your sales copy to who you think your customers are but rather having everyone be a customer. Perceptions can trap your judgment and I have lost many sales due to this limitation. We may not be aware of this but so many sales we transact are due to the receptiveness of the sales “person” or object. I use person loosely because often it is not a person but a store layout or a common understanding between buyer and seller. When writing copy online it is all about connections and understanding and in many cases it has nothing to do with the product but knowing the customer.

February 13, 2008 - 7:54pm

Ohh and don’t forget! Try not to limit your sales copy to who you think your customers are but rather having everyone be a customer

I strongly disagree. Talk to who you intend to and only to them or your message will get diluted and you'll sound like a politician.

Jesse Skeens
February 18, 2008 - 12:38pm

I've had the same problem...currently reading: "Marketing Your Services: For People Who Hate to Sell" by Rick Crandall.

Excellent book, puts things in a light that's devoid of 'gimmicky cheese'. Basic premise being when you have a good product that actually helps people there's no need to feel guilty or go about things in a deceiving manner. We've just had to deal with so much of the negative 'pushing' type promotion it gives marketing a bad name. Mind you this particular book deals with a wider scope than just copywriting...but the way it frames the process is very helpful for that aspect of marketing(and it does touch on that specifically)

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