AIDA: The Structure Of Effective Copy
Good copy has four key elements, which copy-writers know as the AIDA formula. It's old school, but it works, and that’s why you should bear these four fundamentals in mind while you’re writing:
Attention. You need to grab your reader’s attention, so they’ll pick up your letter/blog post/newsletter and start reading.
Interest. You need to pique your reader’s interest, so they’ll keep reading.
Desire. You need to convince your reader that they want what you’ve got.
Action. Tell them how to order or what to do next
The AIDA approach gives you an easy way to remember the flow of effective copy, so that’s how I’m going to break up this ’quick start’ guide.
Getting Your Headline Right
The single biggest key to grabbing your reader’s attention is your headline. Get this wrong and you can wave goodbye to a huge chunk of your potential readership, get it right and you pretty much guarantee readership.
My top-tip for finding a headline that works is to stick with a classic formula, like the ‘How to’ formula or the ‘7 steps’. You’ll see these kind of headlines all the time, on sales letters, online, even on You Tube videos, that’s because they work!
How to ____________ in just 20 days, guaranteed.
7 steps to _______________ that the professionals don’t want you to find out.
Fill in the blanks with whatever’s going to work for you.
How to ‘learn how to play piano’ / ‘lose 2 inches off your waist’ / ‘publish your own book’
7 steps to ‘financial freedom’ / ‘a cleaner kitchen’ / ‘a better job’
Making your copy more personalised is a great way of grabbing attention and driving up readership. It’s not difficult or expensive to personalise your print anymore and technically quite straightforward to add personalised fields online.
If your headline has got your reader’s name in it, then it’s going to get more attention than a generic headline. Fact.
Depending on what you’re writing and who to, you might be able to pull other personalised data in too; like the name of their business, their job-title, the town they live in or indeed their market.
“Richard, 3 secrets other Restaurant Owners in Lichfield don’t want you to discover!”
The other big “trick” used to grab the attention of your readers is the use of handwritten “scribbles” around your copy. Because so few people use them, they can be really impactful.
Bullets and Lists
Lists and bullet points can really help you to pique the interest of your readers.
- People skim read, bullet points help you to communicate your most interesting information
- They ‘break up’ your copy into scannable, more readable chunks
- They allow you to convey lots of information very quickly
- They allow you to reiterate the main points from your body copy
Don’t get carried away and use loads of bullet points, but adding 4 or 5 bullet points to your copy can really help you to capture reader interest.
Bulleted lists are a particularly useful tool to communicate the benefits of your product or service.
Storytelling can be a really powerful technique to deploy in your copy, people are trained from childhood to pay attention to a good story.
It only works if you’ve got a good story though, that ties in really neatly to whatever you’re trying to achieve in your copy.
If you’re selling weight loss programmes to recent mums, for example, there’s little benefit in telling the story about a man on one of your nutrition programmes who managed to loose 2 stone in a month.
You need the story of a recent mum, who was really unhappy with her body a few weeks after childbirth, didn’t want to leave the house let alone go back to work but after 6 weeks on your programme, she’s out dancing with the girls again, excitedly shopping for a new wardrobe.
Your customer testimonial bank can be a real treasure-trove of short stories that you can include in your copy. If you use the right story, your target reader can easily relate to it and your copy will be much more interesting.
Tell Them The Benefits
We see plenty of sales copy that talks about the features of a product or service, rather than the BENEFITS, but there is a really big difference between the two.
Let’s use a hairdryer as an example.
The feature might be: it has a 2200 watt motor, it’s very powerful.
The benefit of that would be: it will dry your hair quicker, saving you time.
Nobody’s desire is going to be aroused by a 2200 watt motor, but most people would like to save time. If you can join up the dots for your reader and tell them that your hairdryer saves over 5 minutes of hair-drying time each morning, meaning that they’d be able to spend another 35 minutes in bed every week, snuggled up to their loved one, then you’re starting to create much more desire than telling them about the number of watts you’re packing.
It’s exactly the same with whatever you’ve got to sell, you need to relate the features of your product or service to one of the ‘hidden’ benefits that are going to create desire.
Is your product going to make your readers richer, happier, sexier, more popular? If it will, tell them how. Make it crystal clear, don’t leave it to your reader to join the dots themselves.
This is a super-smart strategy that works by using reverse psychology to get your readers to convince themselves that they’re right for whatever you’re selling.
It’s not a difficult technique to use in your copy, typically it’s just a case of saying:
‘what I’m offering here may not be for everyone, in fact, it may not be for you’
‘this service isn’t for people who are interested in a cleaner house, this is for homeowners who are pernickety, fastidious perfectionists, with a painstaking attention to detail and who would never settle for second best’.
Get this wrong, and there’s a good chance that you’ll turn a whole bunch of your readers off completely, which is probably why it’s not a strategy that’s widely employed. But, if you’ve got the ‘cojones’ to include it in your copy and you do it the right way, then it can help to transform everyday copy into killer copy.
The Right Offer
It’s a competitive world out there, whether you’ve got direct competition or not, your customers and prospects have a finite amount of money with plenty of people competing for every pound.
Using the right offer can help you to stand out from the crowd and transform your copy from a whimpering poodle into a foamy mouthed attack dog.
- DON’T use a boring, vanilla offer like 10% off
- DO keep your offer dead simple
- ALWAYS use a deadline on your offer
- BE SURE it’s going to make you money
Think about what extra value you can make available to your buyers. Something that will have a high perceived value for them and a low cost for you.
Information bonuses work well, like “21 ways to squeeze maximum value out of your ________”.
The right offer will leave your reader thinking “I’d be mad not to”, so unless your offer is strong enough to compel everyone who reads it to take advantage of it, you’ve got to keep thinking...
Closing The Sale
It might be the number one schoolboy error that most copywriters make, but failing to close the sale is like firing an unloaded gun, or going to band practice without your trumpet.
Even the best, most engaging copy in the world, won’t close the sale unless you ask your readers to buy.
Closing the sale is all about telling your reader what they need to do.
- If you want them to pick up the phone and call, ask them to do it and give them the number
- If you want them to go to a website, tell them where to go and explain why they need to do it urgently.
Closing the sale isn’t difficult, just make sure there’s a sense of urgency to it, give your reader clear and simple instructions of what they need to do.
You can go right back over your close in your PS too. We have included a whole module of making the most of your PS in this training...
...the good news is that there’s plenty of food for thought in the “Irresistible Offers” module.
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