In this week’s blog, I’m going to bust seven copywriting myths that are floating around out there. Think you’re not a great writer? Odds are you’re believing some things that just aren’t true.
As we bust these myths, you’ll learn some of my best tips for business owners to write your own copy and get you on your way to more confidently selling your craft.
We were taught growing up “don’t talk to strangers” and “don’t talk about money” …. aaaaaaaaand that’s pretty much what sales copywriting is.
So no wonder a lot of creatives don’t just shoot their hand up in the air when asked if we like to sell, right??
It doesn’t always come naturally to us.
I’m gonna go ahead and bust one bonus myth here: No, your art does not speak for itself.
You need solid messaging in place to get your point across and communicate to your clients and your customers.
Myth #1: “The shorter the better.”
👆👆Ever heard or thought some variation of this before? I’ve definitely thought this, too. So I’m right there with ya.
But here’s the thing, that’s a misinterpretation of a concept that is true: “confused customers don’t buy.” But don’t get it twisted, short isn’t always the same as simple. The math on that just doesn’t add up.
Clear and simple isn’t always determined by length.
It’s like Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
Use as many words as are needed to communicate the concept—and then no more.
Sometimes that means a 50-word product description for the calligraphed prints that you sell in your shop, sometimes that means a 5,000-word sales page for your $1,000 course. It all depends.
The golden rule here is this: the copy needs to be useful in and of itself. It needs to educate, inform, and entertain. It needs to be helpful. I think, personally, it should actually be enjoyable or fun to read.
Good copy shouldn’t be salesy. It should be a delight to read.
Last thing here: you know when you’re shopping around at Target, and you have that moment where you didn’t need something but you definitely added it to your cart?
For me, it’s usually nail polish. 💅
You have it in your cart, and you’re going back and forth thinking, “Do I really need this or should I just put it on this shelf over here?”
(Can’t just be me, yeah??)
Well just like that, your copy has to pass multiple, multiple rounds of scrutiny.
Think back to a recent buying decision that you made or even when you were just trying to decide whether to reach out to some vendor that you really wanted to work with, like that dream brand photographer, that dream creative director, website designer, whatever. You think about it. You go back and forth. You add to cart. You remove from cart. And you hem and you haw a little bit.
The copy has to do a lot of the heavy lifting to convince you to go ahead and buy it.
When in doubt here, remember these two things:
- I say it all the time: yes, people still read long copy. People don’t read boring copy.
- Don’t oversell something. Make the copy as long as it needs to be and then no longer.
Myth #2: “I sell art, luxury, or beauty, so I don’t have a problem to agitate.”
If I had a dime for this one …
Because I tend to work with a lot of makers, artists, and creatives, and people who are in the wedding industry, this comes up all the time for my clients and my students.
>>>Let me know in the comments below if you’ve ever felt like this—let’s make sure you know how to sell to your clients!
If you can explain your client’s problems or emotions better than they can—oh my gosh, you’re going to win every single time. And that is why the “problem” is usually what we sales copywriters focus on because it’s just so easy to articulate … usually.
Don’t forget, people buy for all sorts of emotional needs or problems.
We buy to get clout or praise.
We buy to be recognized.
We buy to feel loved, to increase status, to save time, to save money, to save energy, and effort.
We buy to avoid pain.
We buy to be healthier—physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally.
Napoleon Bonaparte said that there are two motives to action: self-interest and fear … and even if you sell beauty, luxury, artistry, or craftsmanship, those two things are still driving people to buy from you.
So take away this tip: If the phrase “agitate the problem” triggers you and makes you feel all icky, then switch that word in your head. Instead of agitate, I want you to think “amplify” and see if you can amplify what they really want, that emotion that they’re going for.
And if you still feel manipulative when you’re trying to work through and write your own sales copy, then I want you to really think about that person walking away from the beauty, the artistry, the craftsmanship that you offer.
If your readers don’t get your product or service, what will they be missing out on? What will they lack? What will they not achieve emotionally?
^^^^^ Write from that place.
Myth #3: “You have to hire a professional copywriter to get a good copy.”
There is a belief out there with creative business owners I hear all the time: “just outsource things you’re not good at.”
This isn’t always wise—in fact, sometimes it can get you nowhere fast.
When I started my business, I told myself that I wasn’t good at numbers. I never had been. 🤷♀️ I was always in math tutoring in elementary school. I just hated math unless it had to do with marketing data. So I stuck my head under the sand and ignored my business’s numbers.
We had profit. Revenue was coming in. I thought it could all just go away, so I just didn’t pay myself for my entire first year in business—mostly because I didn’t know my numbers. (I also didn’t know this was such a terrible plan.)
But no. Just because I didn’t like numbers didn’t mean that I got a free pass to ignore things like knowing revenue, or cost for my overhead, or anything like that. I have to know that. Your messaging, your copywriting is so similar.
Think about Shark Tank if you watch that show. Every single time the entrepreneur goes on there, what are they talking to the sharks about?
They’re communicating their numbers, their profit margins, all that kind of stuff, AND they’re pitching them … giving them exactly the reasons why they should invest in their company and explaining clearly what their product does and who it’s for.
And that’s on the CEO.
This may be weird to say because I am a copywriter, and I have an entire copywriting agency side to my business, but nobody can write your copy quite like you, because nobody’s in the position you’re in.
You know your story better than anybody.
You know exactly why you do what you do better than anybody.
I tell my students inside Copywriting for Creatives™ if you can’t tell me why you do what you do, the way you do it differently or better than somebody else who does the same thing or does the same thing and charges less, we need to camp out there first.
Because I do think about the first 3isg years in business you should be writing your own copy.
You need to be testing where the offer lands, tweaking different things. A lot of the more high-end packages that my agency side of my business offers, those people have been writing their own copy for a long time.
It’s okay to hire a copywriter, but you need to bring them in for specialty things.
Obviously, I definitely think it’s okay to hire copywriters, but you need to at least know enough to be able to tell if it’s working or not, and bring in that copywriter to be a specialist.
Your job as the marketer behind your business is to present your reader, your ideal client or customer with a pile of proof. And I promise you can do a good job of that.
Myth #4: “People think a marketer is out to separate a fool from his money.”
Okay, sort of … but this is no secret: People like to buy things.
I mean, we have a budgeting problem, a credit-card-debt problem.
We like to stand at our window and wait for the Amazon delivery guy to show up with whatever it is that we ordered.
And even in this crazy, uncertain climate, especially for small business owners with coronavirus going around, the fact that we like to buy things is a bit of human psychology that I don’t think is ever going to change.
I mean, think about how excited you get when you save up and you finally get the thing that you’ve wanted so badly.
People just don’t like to be sold to our pitched.
If you can frame your messaging in a way that allows people to understand you’re helping them get what they want, then that copy is going to be super powerful.
Side note here: people usually buy what they want, not what they need. So keep that in mind.
Also, keep in mind that your copy about your reader, not about you. <<<<< I know you’ve heard THAT before, but let me ask you this: if right now, we went over to your website and I opened up your services page, would I think that that page is about your ideal client or customer, or would I feel like I have a ticket to the me-me-me show?
Myth #5: “You can Mad Lib examples from your swipe copy file and make it work.”
AKA the if-it-worked-for-her-then-it’ll-probably-work-for-me lie.
I could probably get it tattooed on my forehead at this point because I say it A LOT.
In fact, if you’ve spent any time around my little corner of the internet, you’ve probably heard me say it:
Best practices are nothing but pooled ignorance if you’re not testing them.
You have to test things. Because what works for your people, and your niche, and your story, and your offer is going to probably be different than whatever else is out there. Best practices are good rules of thumb to start with, but you have got to try things with your own people to see if they’re really going to work.
One of the best things you can do as a creative is to start with some kind of swipe file. I call it a copy bank, and my Copywriting for Creatives students know I talk extensively about this.
Pocket any sales message out there that has gotten you to click, gotten you to buy, gotten you to download or whatever it is. Swipes like these and formulas, I have an entire blog post on formulas here. Those are a great place to start, but they really just tell you the order of the message. They don’t exactly tell you what to write. You still have to figure that out.
Dale Carnegie said, “When you’re dealing with people, remember you’re not dealing with creatures of logic but creatures of emotions.”
We tend to sell like we like to be sold to. I’m a super logical buyer to the point that I don’t think I’ve ever bought anything unless it was like 11:59 on the day that the cart was closing. I will hem and haw, and pro and con until the cows come home.
Maybe you’re like me, but maybe you’re a more decisive buyer and you tend to decide very quickly and definitively about what it is that you want. You buy with your heart and back it up with your head.
Maybe you’re more of an emotional buyer and it’s the story and the future pacing of it all that really sells you on that and you “know in your heart” if you want this or not.
Your takeaway tip here? Go ahead and get that copy bank or swipe file system going, but I also want you to at least know enough to be dangerous when it comes to copywriting for your audience so you can DIY a good chunk of it.
Myth #6: “Your about page isn’t about you.”
So I busted this in a video the other week. But, it is and it isn’t.
To make anything about your ideal client or customer, you are going to have to talk about yourself, but you want to do it in a way that is a universal story that they can relate to.
Again, I’m not going to say too much here because I’ve done an entire video on this, but I’ll give you a quick tip: you can do a test on this by going to a website page and doing a Ctrl + F and looking for any word like “I” or “me,” “we,” “us,” or “our.” THEN, I want you to do a search for the word “you.” See what the comparison looks like.
BONUS Myth?? The idea that “You have to be a poetic, beautiful writer to be a good copywriter.”
I refer to this as Hemingway or Fitzgerald syndrome. 😉 You do not have to be the next F. Scott Fitzgerald to write good copy on your business’s website.
I’ve worked with thousands of students at this point, and I can truly say that lots of them didn’t feel like good writers when they first got started.
“Copywriting is approached the same way that an engineer approaches building a bridge,” Caples said, AKA it’s assembled, not written.
Yes, you want charged, powerful, sometimes poetic language. Yes, you want to use proper grammar.
But, these are skills you can brush up on and totally master. I’ve seen it time, after time, after time, after time.
If you want to go ahead and get started refreshing some of the copy on your website, don’t forget to grab my Google Docs website copywriting template!