Words Are Still What Sell

I’ve spent the summer writing all new content and couldn’t wait to get it into your hands. We’re talking content, because words are still what sell on a page.

Today, I’m going to get right down to the point and keep this writing lesson short and direct. I know you’re busy! If you’re writing copy (as in, writing to sell something), there are four things I recommend doing:

  1. Write in first person.

    First person means using pronouns like ‘we’, ‘us’, and ‘our’.

    This inclusive language taps into what Seth Godin calls tribal marketing. “More than features and benefits, we’re driven to become part of a tribe,” he writes.

    That means creating copy that teases out the mentality of “people like us do things like this.”

    Dagne Dover backpack example: This capsule’s gestation took two solid years—longer than it takes to create a human baby. Trust us, we know because one of our founders has been pregnant for one-third of the time we’ve been working on it. But the time spent thoughtfully creating these bags was well worth it because we believe it’s the best baby capsule eva (like eva).

    See the use of ‘we’ and ‘us’ and ‘our’? It makes you feel like an insider listening to a friend.

  2. Incorporate sensory language.

    Sensory language helps create a vivid mental picture through words that describe textures, moods, and feelings.

    Remember: We buy based on emotion and then justify with logic. Tap into those emotions and leverage nostalgia when it makes sense.

    Jeni’s Ice Creams example: In the Buckeye State (aka Ohio, where we are headquartered), one two-bite sweet is revered above all others: Buckeye candies. Designed to look like a nut from a buckeye tree, they are little rounds of creamy dark chocolate filled with rich peanut butter. And they are everywhere. Grocery stores to gas stations, gourmet chocolate shops to grandma’s kitchen. Salted Peanut Butter with Chocolate Flecks is our loving tribute to Ohio and our signature candy. We make it with fresh, salted roasted peanuts and chips of rich Belgian dark chocolate flecks.

    Vivid, right?! This copy makes me want ice cream, like, NOW.

  3. Write like your audience speaks.

    To do this well, you’ll need to do some research and talk to your audience. That might be via a focus group, conducting surveys, by looking through customer reviews/ratings/testimonials, or having one-to-one conversations.

    From there, you can look for common words and phrases your audience members use when talking about your offerings and then mirror it back to them in your copy.

    Glossier lipstick example: The (cashmere) sweatpants of lipstick. The rich moisture of a balm, the sheen of a gloss, and the buildable color of a lip tint, without the hassle of layering multiple products—it’s one tube, one step.

    You can tell these descriptions came straight from product reviews. It just feels real, you know?

  4. Be specific.

    Context is king. When talking about what you’re selling, get specific.

    Provide details that build a story and draw the reader in. Answer questions like: What does your offering do/look like/feel like in action?

    Help the reader envision him or herself getting value from the offering and enjoying it to the fullest.

    Haus (alcoholic drink) example: Chardonnay grapes are the foundation of every bottle. We started with grapes from our farm…our grapes are unoaked for a clean, fruity palate. We also peel our lemons by hand and use the rinds for their essential oils to add a bright citrus flavor that gives the tastebuds a wake up call.

    This copy’s so good you can almost taste it.

Happy writing.

Darren Slaughter is the founder and president of DarrenSlaughter.com, a digital agency focusing on website design, social media management, and content creation for home improvement contractors.