In our post about how to make your small business go viral, we talked about the importance of storytelling in personal branding. But clearly defining your brand story is just the first step.

Once you know what you and your business are all about, how do you communicate that clearly and effectively? In other words, how do you translate your brand story into material that attracts people to your business and converts them into paying customers?

Good copywriting.

In an episode of the podcast EveryoneHatesMarketers.com, Joanna Wiebe talks about the three steps to writing copy that converts. These three steps are actions that anyone can take right away to tell their brand story in a way that connects to potential customers. You don’t have to be a professional writer or marketer. Wiebe assures us that anyone can write effective copy.

Step 1: Listen to Your Customers

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Even to an experienced writer, the blank page can be scary. Thankfully, you don’t have to come up with the words on your own. 

The first step to effective copywriting is to listen to your customers.

Good copy resonates with people because they think “That’s exactly how I feel!” or “I totally agree! In fact, I think I’ve used those exact words before!” The way to build that kind of rapport with your audience is to speak in their language — use their words.

So how do you collect words out of customers’ heads?

Wiebe gives two methods.

  1. Do Customer Interviews
  2. Read Reviews

Customer interviews give you the opportunity to find out exactly what customers are thinking. What was going on in their life that brought them to your product or service? When you’re interviewing customers, it’s important to ask open-ended questions and to dig deeper with follow-up questions when something piques your interest.

Reading reviews is the budget-friendly alternative to doing customer interviews. Even though you can’t dig deeper when you hear something interesting, reviews still provide insight into the language that customers use to describe their experiences.

With both customer interviews and reviews, don’t limit yourself to your own customers. Interviewing your competitors’ customers or reading competitors’ reviews can give you a gold mine of material to work with.

Step 2: Use a Proven Framework

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Once you’ve collected the words that you’re going to use, it’s time to organize. Using a proven framework to organize your material makes things easy. Wiebe says her favorite copywriting template is problem, agitation, and solution.

Problem

First you want to convey the big picture problem that’s being solved by your product or service. This is where the interviews and reviews come in handy. What problems did the customers talk about, and what words did they use to describe them?

Agitation

Next, you want to agitate the big picture problem by providing specific examples of the issue — again from the information you collected from interviews and reviews. Another form of agitation is to provide almost solutions. This solution almost works, but it doesn’t. That solution… never mind. That doesn’t work either.

You can agitate by using one or both methods, but always remember to stick to the customer’s words. Don’t try to rewrite what they said or polish it to make it sound fancy. Revision comes later, and it’s not what you might think.

Solution

Finally, after you’ve agitated, it’s time to present a solution that works. This is where you talk about your product or service, and show (still in your customers’ words) how it can solve their problems. This is also where you put your call to actions like “book your appointment now” or “click to schedule a free consultation.”

Step 3: Sweep It Up

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You should have a solid piece of copy by this point from finishing the first two steps. The last step is to do seven sweeps for revision. Wiebe makes it clear that they are called sweeps because they should be quick, and that the point of these sweeps is not to polish. You want to keep it as raw as possible. The only goal of the sweeps is to do some light clean up and make sure the customer language you’re using doesn’t sound clunky.

  1. Clarity Sweep — ask yourself, “Is the language clear? Is it clear what I’m talking about?”
  2. Voice and Tone Sweep — ask “Is this in line with my brand?” and “Am I feeling what I want my customers to feel when they read this?”
  3. So what? Sweep — ask “Why does this matter? Why do I care?” You and your customer should be able to easily find the answer to those questions within your copy.
  4. Prove It Sweep — after you’ve established the why, make sure your copy contains some proof. This could be social proof in the form of reviews, or demos of your product or service.
  5. Specificity Sweep — ask yourself, “Am I being specific or too vague?” and “Is there any way for me to be more specific?”
  6. Emotion Sweep — ask “Is this making me feeling something? Is it making me feel enough?” and “Will this make my customers feel enough to want to buy my product or service?”
  7. Zero Risk Sweep — finally, ask “When do I feel risk when I read this copy?” and “How do I reduce that risk by the end of the story so that customers feel that making a purchase is a safe choice?”

Tell Your Story

As you can see, good copywriting doesn’t have to be hard, and it doesn’t have to be outsourced. What has been your experience writing copy for your business? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

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