10 tips to help you write brilliant copy that sells

What’s the purpose of copywriting and content marketing? To write copy that sells, helps your company grow and increases its revenue. Right?

Sure, goals are often set to raise brand awareness or, for example, improve search engine rank, but all these individual goals have a common end goal.

All roads lead to sales and revenue.

But some agencies focus more on winning industry awards for creativity than on doing what they’ve actually been paid to do – sell their clients’ products or services.

So, let’s bring the focus back to writing the kind of copy that sells. Here’s how to do it.

Speak to your ideal reader

Write like you’re having a conversation with one reader and one reader only – and make them your Ideal Reader, or use your Ideal Buyer Persona. Don’t use ‘we’ or ‘me’. Make it all about ‘YOU.’

Focus on the benefits

You’re never selling what you’re actually selling in copywriting. You sell the lifestyle, not the clothing. You sell the perfect family life, not the 3-bedroom house in the suburbs. You sell the fit, energized you, not the gym membership.

In the B2B world, you sell the bumper profits and free time that your new B2B application offers, not the high-tech features. Make sense?

It’s all about communicating to your Ideal Reader why they should be interested. I don’t woo my clients with my writing and marketing chops (features). No, I tell them that I will deliver profit (benefit) by generating high-quality leads, more website traffic and a richer brand reputation.

Use features to back up your benefits

Features strengthen the case for why the prospect should buy from you. “Achieve 15% higher profit margins (benefit 1) in half the time (benefit 2) with automated market orders (feature 1) and centralized control (feature 2)”.

Use power verbs to begin a sentence that communicates a direct benefit to your prospect

These include verbs like achieve, boost, discover, grow and enhance.

“Boost your work routine. Crush poor habits. Accomplish more every day. Try today for free!”

Who wouldn’t want to do all of the above three? And you get a free trial, where do we sign up already?!

Keep your copy simple and easily digestible

Don’t say “tenebrous” when you can say “dark.” And break up long sentences with full stops – this is particularly relevant for online audiences. Help the reader by making your copy easy to follow.

Edit and then edit some more

Make your copy as succinct as possible. Stephen King has never been a copywriter, but he does offer one golden nugget of writing wisdom for editing: draft two is draft one minus 10%.

King also says in his excellent book, On Writing, not to be afraid to “kill your darlings” – to cull the necessary parts of your carefully crafted work. Yes, it’s not easy at first, but tight, razor-sharp copy is what you really want.

I also find that taking a pick axe to your own work and sculpting something more refined out of it has a strangely liberating effect.

Make your copy urgent

Is it timely – relevant to the here and now?

An example would be – “Boost profits by 37% and lower churn rate by 22% in 2017.” The time indicator says to your reader, “Hey, this is pertinent to you NOW and it will seriously help your business.”

Make it useful

Does your copy help your reader in some way? Or are you just waffling on and on about how great your product is and why it will save the world? NOBODY wants to read that, apart from your mum. Unless your mum is going to be a repeat customer, help your reader by producing unimaginably useful, helpful content.

An example of this is a post titled “Create an effective content calendar for the whole year in less than an hour.” Why is this useful? It promises the reader something that takes little effort (one hour) but lasts for an entire year and that it is going to make a big impact (effective).

Make it unique

Is your content one of a kind, or are you saying exactly the same thing as all your client’s competitors? How can you do something different? OK, so you’ve got your Buyer Persona mapped out, and you’ve got their pain points identified. But so do your client’s competitors.

So are you going to go ahead and just hope for the best by producing the same thing, or are you going to try to annihilate your competition’s efforts with something much better?

You can do this by solving problems in a way that makes your client’s product or service the reference point, and makes them unique.

Use social proof

Social proof is using validation from people to influence others. Client testimonials, social media shares, client number, sales, growth figures etc. are all forms of social proof.

“Trusted by 9,483 CEOs to improve employee productivity,” tells a non-customer CEO that this product is so good that 9,483 CEOs just like them are using it. That number makes for a much more powerful argument, don’t you agree?

A longer version of this post was first published on The Woods Copywriting Blog on 17 May 2017.

You can contact Tim at

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