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Copywriting Tips for Small Businesses

“You’ve got mail!”

That phrase blasted from the $10 cheapo speakers that flank my 19” big boy monitor. I don’t use AOL but I set my email client to “belt out” the common phrase to let me know I have a new batch of mail screaming down the pipe.

In that avalanche of mail that poured into my mailbox like a broken-handled faucet, I noticed a piece of spam (gotta love the spam). This wasn’t’ just an ordinary piece of spam this was a high-tech, glossy piece of spam – an html spam (the ones with fancy pictures on it).

This spam was actually from someone I had met in person and gotten my email address off a piece of email I had sent to her and then put me into her spam database without permission.

This piece of spam was a small business marketing lesson that I needed to share with you…

The spam was nicely set up with a headline and subheads, but since it was HTML and the headline was an image the image took way too long to load and I was already into the subhead (it was text) before the headline even made its first showing.

The subhead (first thing I read) said, “Are you trying to force round pegs into square holes?” Now we’ve all heard this cliché line before and I’m asking myself what the heck does it mean and what the heck does it mean to me in the context of your business???

Copywriting Tip #1

Don’t use cliché lines in your headlines and sub headlines. We’ve all heard them before which means we don’t take notice and they don’t cause us to think. You need provocative headlines and subheads that engage your reader and make them think about themselves in terms of your business or solution.

This was a question type of headline and question type headlines are a strong headline option – but, you must ask thought provoking, engaging questions. Don’t waste your one opportunity to grab your reader with a worn out, cliché, wet-noodle question. Smash them over the head with something that will engage them and get them wanting to read the next line of copy.

Copywriting Tip #2

The sole purpose of your headline, subhead and photo captions is to get the reader to read your first sentence of copy!! This is the most important step you can get them to take. If they just skim your ad from top to bottom your chances that they take your desired action is drastically reduced.

You must get them to the first line of copy. Your first line of copy should be short and its sole job is to get them to read the next line of copy. The second line of copy’s job is to get the reader to read the next line – and so forth.

Your first two paragraphs of copy should be short and non-threatening and should create a desire for the prospect to keep reading through to the next paragraph.

The copy should create a “slippery-slide” down the copy to the call to action. All along the copy should anticipate and answer any questions the reader would come up with as they read.

This “slippery-slide” copy concept was taught to me by Joe Sugarman. Joe is one of the all time great direct response copywriters of our time. He is the marketing master behind so huge product success stories such as “Blu-Blocker Sunglasses.”

Copywriting Tip #3

Have you ever been standing in a line for a ride at Disney World or another busy theme park? Have you ever noticed how the line is all zigzagged? Have you ever wondered why they do that? It’s not to save space it’s to make you feel more comfortable and so you don’t freak out at how long the line is.

Imagine how long the line would look if it were perfectly straight!

The same goes for your copy.

The third copywriting tip I’m going to give you here is to use sub headlines to break up your body copy into manageable sections. This keeps the reader engaged and makes the copy seem easier to read and not as long. These sub headlines can be a summary of a major point in the previous paragraph or in the one to follow. They could also be a curiosity generating line about what’s to come in the copy.

Testing has shown that the content of the subheads are not as important as them being there.