How to Win Friends and Influence People

You can have the best marketing plan, tons of creative ideas for your social media campaign, and a killer product or service. But, if you don’t communicate your message in a compelling and persuasive way, you might as well pack up and shutter your store (virtual or  brick and mortar).  Here’s a primer on how to write compelling and persuasive copy.

Feature-oriented copy

Way back in the early days, advertisers would go to great lengths to tout the features of their product or service. Their goal was to convince you that the quality of their product or service was superior. Think of how excited you got when you read the product’s promotional literature. It read like an owner’s technical manual telling you about the details of a product.

When advertisers use feature-oriented copy, it reminds me of the old television show, Dragnet, where the police would emphatically say, “All we want are the facts, ma’am”. Features = facts. Feature-oriented copy is telling someone about something. Not very convincing, in fact, it’s downright boring. Feature-oriented copy is what’s known as ‘tell’ copy. “Let me tell you about X, Y and X features of my product of my service. Where’s the compelling sales message?

Feature-oriented copy is all about you

Benefit­-oriented copy is all about your customers needs

Benefit-oriented copy

Towards the end of the early years, some creative advertising copywriter suggested advertising messages should focus, not only on the features of a product, but, mostly on the benefits of the product they are selling. And so, benefit-oriented copy came flying into the mainstream. Benefit-oriented copy answers the question, “What’s in it for me, the customer?” Benefit-oriented copy sells, not tells. This type of copy convinces customers that your product or service will help them.

Here’s an example of how features can be turned into benefits. This example is taken from Varidesk’s (the manufacturer of stand-up work desks) promotional copy I found on their website.

Feature: Patented two-handle design coupled with a spring-assisted, boost enabled lifting mechanism. Benefit: Makes moving from sitting to standing quick and easy

Feature: Desk works either standing or sitting. Benefit:Perfect way to increase energy, your health and productivity

Feature: No hardware needed to secure desk to workstation. Benefit: Easy to install

As you can see, the list of benefits definitely answers the question, “What’s in it for me”.

Now you have an understanding of how and why to use benefit-oriented copy. Rewrite your website and other promotional material to include as much benefit-oriented copy as possible. Don’t over-do it. You need some feature-oriented copy.

Lots of Help for You

The Internet is full of blogs, forums, articles and e-books on how to write effective copy for your website. Consult these resources and you’ll get a sense of what style of writing works and doesn’t work for you.