Good Copy Bad Copy

How do you know which one you’re writing?

Good sales copy is about connecting and collaborating with customers. It focuses on truly meeting their needs. Contrary to popular belief, the goal is more than just to get you lots of sales. It’s to get you lots of sales from people without them regretting doing business with you.

Bad copy, on the other hand, is primarily focused on you and your company’s needs. It is about getting what you want out of the customer. But before long (in the words of a wise colleague), “They’ll see right through that shit.”

So here are some key features of good and bad copy for you to compare yours against. And for fun, just like in all those police dramas, we’ll start with the bad cop…y.

Bad Copy

  • Boring: The worst thing your copy can be is boring. No one cares about your “commitment to excellence and customer service”. I promise, we’ve heard it all before and we have no reason to believe you more than anyone else.
  • Technical/Complicated: I know that you’re really jazzed about the inner workings of your products and services, but most of us…won’t be. Plus, we don’t want to feel stupid when we encounter your marketing messages. And I don’t want you to bore me.
  • Outlandish/Misleading: There’s a reason we all cringe when we think about politicians and used-car salesmen. Yes, their tactics work in the short-term, but people grow to hate them. I can assure you that you don’t want people to hate your company.
  • Flowery: You’re not Emily Dickinson, and you don’t want to be if you’re trying to sell me office supplies…or toys…or lawn care…or software…or art. I mean, she barely sold any of her own poems. Keep that in mind.
  • Meaningful only to insiders: It’s possible for your marketing messages to make perfect sense to you and your team but not to your customers. This happens to a lot of businesses because, unlike you, the customers are not living and breathing your company vision, mission, and values. They simply may not have the context and experience to speak your language. You’ve got to speak theirs.

Good Copy

  • Straightforward: I have to understand what you’re selling me and how it will solve my problems if I’m going to bother to pay for it. But I don’t have to understand how it works. Make it as easy on me as possible, but pretty, pretty please, don’t bore me.
  • Creates intrigue: Your sales copy should show how your product or service solves your customer’s immediate problem. But it should also invite them to be a part of your community.  What are the defining characteristics of that community? Is it exciting? A place of safety? Exclusive? Show your customer what it means to belong.
  • Art that works: Artistic flair in your sales copy is like salt in your recipe. You need it, but you don’t want too much. Remember, you’re not writing art for art’s sake. You’re trying to communicate.
  • Relatable to your customers: You first have to know who your customers are, and then you have to connect with their concerns. What are they after? How do they want to be treated? What are they afraid of? If you don’t speak to that, they won’t believe that you can help them.

Good sales copy is, above all, about the customer… and not boring. Did I mention that already?