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How Being a Good Listener Can Help You Write Effective Sales Copy

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How being a good listener can help you write effective sales copy

This post is based on episode 146 of the ProBlogger podcast.

Before you start writing your sales page, promotional blog post, tweets or Facebook updates to sell something, you need to do something else.

You need to listen.

I first came across this advice many years ago, and since then I’ve heard from numerous people. Robert Bruce breaks it down very well in his Copyblogger post How to Become a Truly Great Copywriter, where he writes about three core ways you need to listen.

It’s a short post, with three key paragraphs I want to dig into here.

#1: Listen to the Product’s Creator

Robert writes:

Listen to the creator of the product you’re selling. Let her talk (for hours if necessary) about what makes it work, why she built it, what she hopes it will do for her customers. This practice alone can give you the bulk of your copy.

Maybe someone on your team created a product or service your business sells. Maybe you’re selling an ebook that someone else wrote. (All our Digital Photography School ebooks and courses have been created in partnership with someone else.)

Even if you created the product yourself, you might find it helpful to run through some of these questions:

Why do you want to create this product? Who’s it for? (Or if it has already created, who did you have in mind when you created it?)

What are the benefits of the product? How do you use it? What makes it work? What’s the product’s ‘secret sauce’? What problem does it solve?

Do you have any or worries about how your product will be perceived? What are they? (This is really useful information, as it lets you know the limitations of the product, or how it could potentially be misunderstood.)

Are there any similar products out there? How is your product different?

Over at Digital Photography School we ask a lot of these questions before the product is created. The author or creator gives us a description or outline of the product and tells us who it’s for. This helps us decide whether the product will be a good fit for our audience, and how to market it.

Here’s a simple example. When we launched Mike Newton’s Adobe Lightroom course, we noticed that Mike kept using the words “mastering Lightroom” when explaining the course to us. He wanted to help people master Lightroom.

We liked that, and decided to call the course Lightroom Mastery. We used the word “mastering” quite a bit in the sales copy.

That’s just one example of how an author’s language helped shape the sales material.

This can also work if you’re doing an affiliate promotion. Ideally you’d talk to the product creator. But if you can’t then look at the sales copy they use, the blog posts they’ve written about their product, and interviews they’ve done with other bloggers.

#2: Listen to Your Audience

Robert writes:

Listen to your audience. What are they telling you — directly or indirectly — about what they really want and need? If social media has given us anything, it’s an unprecedented ability to hear the demands and desires of real people, in real time.

I love this idea of listening to your audience when it comes to sales copy. This is something you want to do before you even start creating products. That way, you know your readers’ needs and challenges, and get an insight into the language they use.

When you’re writing sales copy, ask yourself some of these questions:

Who is the audience? Who will buy this product?

What are their pain points? What are their challenges? What are their problems? How do they express these – what language do they use?

What do they hope to gain? What are the dreams they hope could come true by using your product, or a product like yours? Again, what language do they use to describe these?

What are their fears? What questions do they have about your product, and what objections do they raise? (These may come out after you’ve launched your product. If they do you can edit your sales page, perhaps by adding Frequently Asked Questions section.)

You can also ask your readers about their challenges directly. When we were launching the Lightroom cause, I asked on the Digital Photograph School Facebook page, “What are your frustrations and challenges with Lightroom?”

Two themes came out strongly:

  • people had bought the software, but felt overwhelmed by it and weren’t using it
  • people had so many photos they didn’t have time to process them.

And so we weaved these two themes into our sales copy.

#3: Listen to Your Competitors

Robert writes:

Listen to your competitors. It’s wise to have a view of the entire field. What’s working in your market? What’s not working? What can you learn from others’ success and failure (and from the language that got them there)?

In the blogging space you can learn a lot from your competitors, who may also be your collaborators.

On Digital Photography School we often create products with people who are actually our competitors. The Lightroom course I’ve been referring to was created by Mike Newton, who sells similar products to ours on his own site. He came onto our radar when we were looking for affiliate products to promote, and we learned a lot by looking at how he was selling his products.

Knowing what other people are selling and how they’re selling it can really shape what you do. Maybe the way they do their sales pages, their launch emails, or even their social media will inspire you.

If you’re selling something at the moment, or if you’re about to create your first product, do this listening exercise.

Listen to whoever created the product, whether it was you or someone else.

Listen to your audience and understand the language they use – this should be the basis for your sales copy.

Listen to your competitors and collaborators, too.

That way you’ll be creating a product your readers will love, and promoting it in a way that shows how it can help them.

Image credit: Jeremy Vessey

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