Copywriting Online Marketing

Have You These 4 Essential Elements in Your Sales Page?


Have you a sales page on your website or blog?

Even if you haven’t a dedicated sale page you will still want website/blog visitors to purchase your service or product.

If you have, there are 4 things that are absolutely essential if you want it to be effective in making sales of your product or service.

Let’s take a look at what they are. Sounds good?

The 4 questions are what, who, why, and when.

1.      What is it?

The first thing to address is to answer the question, “what is it?”. This might seem obvious to you, and it probably is, but you must guard against the well-known curse of knowledge.

You are completely familiar with your product or service; in fact, you may have created it and lived with it with passion for years. We all take things for granted.

But, your website visitor may never have heard of you or your product or service.

So, you must be absolutely clear about what your product or service is, what it does, who it helps, and what problems does it solve for your reader.

2.      Who are you?

You need to address the question, “who are you?”

Why should the reader believe you? Why should she trust you?

Have you the necessary expertise and experience to help her solve her problem?

Do you know what you are talking about? Can you show this?

3.      Why is your product/service essential for the reader?

Why does the reader need what you have to sell? Why can they not do without it if they want to solve their problem?

4.      When will they see results?

If the reader buys your product or service, when will they see results?

People are impatient for solutions to problems, and nowadays especially are used to shortened time spans, shortened attention spans due to social media usage etc.


An effective sales page on your website or blog, or in print, will need many more components.

But without the four essentials above it is very unlikely to perform in the way you deserve, or is supportive of your business.

Copywriting Online Marketing

2 Powerful Marketing Lessons from a Farm Safety Campaign by the Health and Safety Authority


“Because McGeadys’ farm became the bank’s farm.”

There are not too many farmers around Ireland who could ignore a radio ad which explains how a family farm became the bank’s farm.

The beginning of this latest ad from the HSA begins:

“The story of how a family’s name got wiped off the map. Because McGeady’s farm became the bank’s farm.”

I’ve written recently about the power of story and how to persuade with story. I’ve also written about what you can learn from William Shakespeare to tell your story, and the formula he used.

We know that the human brain is hard wired for story. Our love of story and gossip and news goes back thousands of years and the neuroscience confirms the scientific basis for the power of story.

We know too that we are far more likely to remember a story-by a factor of 5 or more-than data and facts alone.

And we know that the starting point for any good story is conflict-have you watched Eastenders or Fair City lately?

Well, the conflict at the beginning of this HSA ad is guaranteed to get attention; because it talks about the loss of a family farm-McGeadys’-to the bank.

That’s enough conflict for any farmer to pay attention.

And in telling the story of how this happened it uses another powerful tool-it explains why. Just listen to the use of the word “because”.

It tells how

“the farm became the bank’s farm because the books wouldn’t balance because the cows weren’t fed because the silage wasn’t made because the farmer was paralysed because the handbrake failed.”

This is a simple, easy to understand, easy to remember, stunningly powerful story.

2 critical lessons

Can you tell a story, like this one, which includes

  1. conflict
  2. the reason why.

Can you tell such a story about your business or product?

Can you describe the conflict or obstacles you had to overcome to get where you are today?

Can you explain how you failed miserably? And what you’ve learned? And why you’re better now as a result?

Can what you’ve learned be put at the disposal of your client?

Can you explain why-the “because”- people should use you or your product/service? Passion mightn’t be enough, you know.

Can you tell a story like the HSA did about McGeadys’ farm?

Will your story make people more likely to use you or your service/product?

Once upon a time…

Copywriting Online Marketing

What You Can Learn From William Shakespeare to Grow Your Business


William Shakespeare, perhaps the greatest playwright in the English language, can help you grow your business.

What the fluff? Have you lost your marbles, I hear you ask?

Let me explain.

Have you ever heard of Freytag’s pyramid?

No? I don’t blame you.

I didn’t either, until I began researching the power of story in persuading people.

Story can go where data and facts alone are unable to travel: the human heart. Freytag’s pyramid sets out the structure of a dramatic work such as a play or film.

Freytag studied Shakespeare’s plays and ancient Greek drama and discovered that there were 5 steps or acts in a powerful drama:

  • Exposition/inciting incident
  • Rising action/complications
  • Climax/turning point
  • Falling action/reversal, with the protagonist/hero defeating the antagonist
  • Resolution/ending/happy ever after.

These, too, are the elements of a great story-one which will move the listener to action.


Superbowl 2014

The most popular ad at Superbowl 2014 was an Anheuser-Busch ad for Budweiser. It lasted 60 seconds and cost in excess of $4,000,000.

It told a story about a pup and a Clydesdale horse that people loved, and has been watched over 58 million times on YouTube.

(Unfortunately, they have made the ad “private” and it is no longer accessible on YouTube)

The success of the ad came as no surprise, though, to researchers at John Hopkins University in the United States who, after a 2 year analysis of 108 Superbowl commercials, predicted the success of the “Puppy Love” commercial.

One of the researchers, Keith Queensbury, knew this ad would be huge because:

“People are attracted to stories, because we’re social creatures and we relate to other people.”

Queensbury also found that ads that told a complete story using Freytag’s Pyramid were far more likely to succeed, and be popular.

Neurological science

There are good neurological reasons why stories work to move people. During tense moments in a story, our brains produce a stress hormone called cortisol, which allows us to concentrate.

A happy ending to a story triggers the limbic system to release dopamine, making us feel hopeful and optimistic.

It’s easier to persuade someone who is hopeful and optimistic rather than pessimistic and devoid of hope.

In short, storytelling induces trust in the listener.

Storytelling is old-fashioned because it has been with us since the first man/woman walked the earth.

But it works. It works to move people to action, to persuade.

Aristotle knew this. Shakespeare knew this.

Moving people to action, persuading is what you are trying to do in your business, isn’t it?


How to Write an Eye-Catching Headline To Get Your Content Noticed and Read Online



It’s an easy mistake to make.

It happens the best of us.

You shed blood, sweat and tears producing great content.

You share it on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, and LinkedIn-and nothing happens.

Nada. Zilch.

It isn’t even noticed.

It’s just drowned in a sea of rubbish.

But your great content is going to waste, because nobody is noticing or reading it.

It doesn’t have to be like that.

Imagine your social media channels driving a flood of traffic back to your blog/website.

The key is in your headline.

Let me explain.

80% of people will read the headline of your blog post, but only 20% will read the rest of your article.

The one thing your headline needs to do

The only thing your headline needs to do is to get the reader to start reading the rest of your post/blog/article.

That’s it. One job. And the only task your 1st sentence has is to get your 2nd sentence read.

And so on.

You know this story yourself: you are scrolling through your Twitter stream or your LinkedIn feed.

You’re in a hurry, you’re glancing to see is there anything that interests you, and you will ignore most of what you see.

Until one Tweet or LinkedIn discussion title grabs your attention, and then you have to click the link to see what it’s about.

Because it has grabbed your interest, and persuaded you to take a closer look.

But how has your interest been piqued?

And how can you do it to promote your content?

Interest=benefit plus curiosity

Your reader is busy. there is an infinite number of distractions to distract her. Family, business, career, email, Facebook feed, Twitter stream, etc.

So, you must win her interest.

And you need to answer the question that enters her head when she glances at your headline: “what’s in it for me?”

But before she asks that question, you need to get her attention. And the best way to do this is to arouse her curiosity.

The combination of arousing her curiosity, combined with a benefit, will win your reader’s interest.

One of the best ways to arouse her curiosity is to share some news-everybody loves news, gossip, stories.

But news alone won’t be enough-you do need to explain what’s in it for her to click on your headline and give your article or blog post a chance.

Here are a few examples of headlines/titles which combine curiosity and a benefit for the reader:

“13 Things Your Accountant/Solicitor/Business Advisor Won’t Tell You”

“The Shocking Truth About Facebook Ads”

“Can We Really Trust Gmail?”

“27 Reasons Why It Would Have Paid You to Respond to Our Ad a Few Months Ago”

“How I Made a Fortune With a ‘Fool Idea’, And You Can Too”

The crucial importance of headline templates

Anatole France, the French writer and philosopher, was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1921.

He, like T. S. Eliot, recognised the value in plagiarism.

“When a thing has been said and said well, have no scruple. Take it and copy it.”

T.S. Eliot :

“Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.”

These quotes may have been made with tongue planted firmly in cheek-I don’t know.

But they recognise that there are very few truly new ideas, and much of humankind’s progress has been on the back of those that went before, and making incremental improvements.

And copying.

Headline templates, therefore, give you a head start when it comes to coming up with great headlines or titles for your content.

Headlines which will get your work notice and read.

Here are some which have stood the test of time:

“The truth about..”

“The facts you should know about..”

“The art of..”

“A little secret that..”

“They grinned when..”

“They laughed when..”

“How to..”

“Do you make these mistakes..”

“The key to..”

You can drill down deeper and actually make different categories of headlines. For example:

  • threat headlines egHow Safe Is Your [Valuable Person/Object] from [Threat]?
  • piggyback headlines eg[Famous Person’s] Top 10 Tips for [Blank]
  • simpler life headlines egHow to Take Charge of Your [Unruly Problem]
  • mistake headlines eg7 [Blank] Mistakes That Make You Look Dumb
  • how to egHow to [Do Something] While You [Do Something Else]
  • list headlines eg7 [Blank] Secrets Every [Audience] Should Know

You can build up a bank of headline/title templates which you can use again and again, but adapted for your specific circumstances and topic.

The benefits in “how to” headlines

So, one of the most important factors in any headline is the presence of a benefit for the reader-answering his question, “what’s in it for me?”

Quite frankly, the more benefits, the better.

One of the most famous, benefit laden, headlines in history is“How to Win Friends and Influence People”.

This heading contains, not one but two, benefits. This doesn’t fully explain the phenomenal success of the book of the same name.

But, including more than one benefit in your headline will increase its power, and likelihood of a click through to read more.

3 power words to use in your headline

There are 3 words that can be used in your headline, and are always guaranteed to do a great job.

  • new
  • free
  • you

A word of warning about your headlines

Don’t think you can do a great job of attracting attention, and promising a benefit in your headline, and then failing to deliver whatever benefit you promised.

You must deliver.

Whatever you promise, you must deliver in the body of your article/blog. Your credibility will disappear like snow off a hedge if you promise something in your headline/title, and fail to deliver.

The art of headline writing

If 80% of people of people read a headline, but only 20% click through to read the rest of your article, the importance of your headline can’t be overestimated. So, spend most of your time crafting your headline.

Try different variations, and generate a big bunch of them. Then, let them simmer, take your time, even sleep on it. And then decide on the best one.

Because, when your headline flows through in someone’s Twitter stream or LinkedIn discussion feed, you want it to jump out and lead them by the nose, and heart, to your post.


Do you struggle to write your headlines? Are you getting the attention you deserve? That your work merits?


Copywriting Online Marketing

Why the “Ryanair Business Class” Ad Makes a Common, Avoidable Mistake


Did you hear the  Ryanair business class radio ad which came out a few months ago?

The one for “business class” seats.

I heard it again on the radio at the weekend when I was out walking. The end of the ad is clever. Funny. Humorous. Amusing.

But there is a problem with that.

Let me explain.

The titans of copywriting have always been adamant that you don’t write to be cute or clever.

No. You write in plain, clear language.

Because the purpose of your ad is to sell.

Not to entertain, or be cute, or show how clever you are.

And the more people it appeals to, the more it is likely to sell.

And simple, clear language is how you ensure your ad is read and understood by the greatest number of people.

Humour should be avoided because you are not looking to entertain. You need to sell. This is the only purpose of advertising.

Back to the Ryanair ad..the end of the ad has the punch line “no business curtain?”

It’s “clever”. Makes me smile.

But I’m not paying for the ad.

Earlier in the ad though I am almost certain I heard 3 or 4 benefits or features of the Ryanair business class service. The problem is I can’t remember them. I can remember the “gag” though.

As David Oglivy, an advertising legend and founder of Oglivy and Mather, said: selling and writing to sell is a serious business. It is not a time to get “cute” or “funny”.

Ad agencies like to be seen as cute and funny and creative.

If you’re a small business owner, you can’t afford that luxury. I know I can’t.

As Oglivy says, “we sell…or else”.

Ensure that your message is unambiguous.

And understandable to the greatest number of people, regardless of their education.

Ernest Hemingway said

“people think I’m an ignorant bastard, that I don’t know any $10 words. I know plenty. But I use $2 words because I can tell a story perfectly well with the $2 words”.

Use short words, short sentences, and short paragraphs.

And don’t try to be cute or entertaining like the Ryanair ad.

Not unless you have Ryanair’s advertising budget.