How to Motivate People to Buy

If you’re in business, someone’s got to buy something for you to make money. At least last time I checked. And if you’re sick of hearing that people buy because of emotion, well then … that would be a strong emotional response to a logical assertion, no? But I hear you. Over and over you’re told that people buy according to emotion, and it seems not to make sense when it comes down to selling your products and services. Maybe that’s because you’re thinking about emotion in the context of feelings rather than motivation. And that would definitely be confusing, because it’s not feelings you’re after. In fact, provoking feelings can kill the sale instead of prompting it. Nothing more than feelings … (fail) Feelings are magnified, messy, and often misunderstood forms of emotion, and that makes playing with them potentially dangerous. What we’re trying to do is motivate people […]

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How Introverted Writers Transform into Business Professionals

There’s a well-loved myth out there that if you do something reasonably remarkable and distribute passionate content, you’ll automatically have an audience who will support you in style for the rest of your life. You don’t have to do anything scary. Like sell, for example. Now if that works for you, that’s terrific. So does it? The painful truth is that there are lots of trusted, loved, and wildly influential smart people out there who are working like maniacs creating amazing content. And who are nonetheless still broke. It’s easy to think that if your audience loves you, all that love will translate automatically into paying customers. But if one of your goals is a financial payoff from your content, you still have some work to do. You have to offer something they want Your Aunt Frances loves you very much, but if you’re a Prius dealer and she’s more […]

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How to Make Your Writing Real

In this day and age, substance matters. What you say must be meaningful to the people you’re trying to attract. Your content must solve real problems and satisfy real desires. So why should it matter how you say it? The reality is, how you say it has always mattered, and it matters even more today. For content marketing, it’s basically the difference between success and failure. You’re in a battle for attention. A headline that doesn’t specifically convey a compelling promise results in content that is too often simply ignored. Beyond that, your copy has to hold that precious attention, sentence by sentence, until the conclusion. Even the appearance of your content on the page matters when trying to make a substantive point. Finally, the way you convey information, no matter how independently valuable, affects everything from clarity to engagement to retention at a psychological level. Your ideas and advice […]

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5 Easy Ways to Open Your Blog Post with a Bang

What’s the second most important part of your blog post after the title? Master copywriter Eugene Schwartz often spent an entire week on the first 50 words of a sales piece — the headline and the opening paragraph. Just imagine how disappointed you’d be after crafting a killer headline for your post, only to lose readers with an opening that failed to carry the momentum. A great headline mixed with a weak opening is like inviting someone into your house, only to slam the door in their face as they approach. So, here are five ways to open your post that will capture the reader’s imagination and pull them deeper into your content. 1. Ask a question Opening your post with a question is a rhetorical device (hence, the “rhetorical question”) that creates curiosity and gets the reader thinking. Thinking equals active engagement with your writing, and that’s a very […]

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Does Your Marketing Copy Have Earfeel?

  Each line of copy on your websites and in your advertising should have a job. That job may be to help communicate the value proposition. Or it may be to reduce anxiety. But don’t let the necessity of function blind you to the importance of form in the headline. At the end of the day, it is communication. And so your copy needs a certain earfeel. After all, great advertising and branding doesn’t just get a point across. It gets the earfeel just right. Whether it’s a headline (“At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in the new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock”), a tagline (The Ultimate Driving Machine), a credo (Truth Well Told) or an organization name (Wounded Warrior Project). This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter. What is earfeel, and why is it important? If you’ve never heard the word earfeel before, don’t feel […]

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Get It All Now: Best of the Best Sale Is Open

If you’ve been reading the blog and listening to Copyblogger FM the past couple of weeks, you’ll know that we’re going in a different direction with our education platform. And yet, we still have a ton of current training products that are vital to your digital marketing and sales skill set. So what to do? We’ve decided to retire our current educational lineup next week … but not before making it all available to you one last time at a great, low price. Which you can take advantage of right now, because our Best of the Best of Copyblogger Sale is now open. To join our private education community for digital entrepreneurs, professional writers, and content marketers, just click the button below: Get the Best of the Best of Copyblogger “Copyblogger is the bible of content marketing.” – VentureBeat This is your chance to establish a strong educational foundation that […]

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The Simple Way to Get Everything You Want

I want to tell you a story about two women. One is my hairdresser and the other is my massage therapist. Of the two, I have a stronger connection with my massage therapist. I see her more often, she’s closer to my age, and well, there’s just a certain bond that develops when you get naked that often with a person. But my hairdresser once asked me to recommend her for a “best of” list our local TV station was running. She didn’t cajole, bribe, beg, threaten, or promise me a free haircut. She just said, “Hey, if you think about it, would you mind logging into this site and giving me a review? I like her, so I went home and did it. Took me about three minutes. A few weeks later, I noticed that my massage therapist had a banner over her business saying that she was mentioned […]

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The Content Crossroads: Supernatural Success at the Intersection of Ideas

Do you know what happens down at the crossroads? Legend has it that Robert Johnson — the most famous of the Delta blues musicians from the 1930s — took his second-hand guitar and went down to the crossroads in the middle of the night. When the young plantation worker returned home, his guitar skills had taken a quantum leap. The overnight improvement in Johnson’s playing wasn’t just significant; it was supernatural. Something strange happened down at that crossroads. Word got around that Johnson ventured to the crossroads to meet the Devil himself, and sold his soul to become the best blues guitarist who ever lived. Sure enough, less than a year later, Robert Johnson was the king of the Delta bluesmen, and created, played, and sang the greatest blues anyone had ever heard. Johnson is now known as the “Grandfather of Rock and Roll,” and has influenced artists ranging from […]

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Ask MarketingSherpa: Finding and hiring content marketing writers

We frequently receive questions from our email subscribers asking marketing advice. Instead of hiding those answers in a one-to-one email communication, we occasionally publish edited excerpts of some of these conversations here on the MarketingSherpa blog so they can help other readers as well. If you have any questions, let us know.   Dear MarketingSherpa: What factors should I consider when hiring a content marketing writer? Do you have any recommendations for content writing services or other ways of finding content marketing writers? We produce a lot of content internally but are aiming to scale by outsourcing. We’ve used a few providers in the past (freelance writers and an online writers’ marketplace, for example) and currently use a content writing agency, though I’d welcome any other suggestions.   Dear Reader: From our limited experience, there is no content writing service that is head and shoulders above the rest for every […]

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A Farewell and Some Advice to Keep You Moving Forward

Well, our big news this week is that I’m going to be moving to a more solo career. The ultra capable Darrell Vesterfelt will be taking over my partnership interest in Copyblogger Media. It’s a huge step for all of us, but it also feels like a natural evolution. It helps a lot that I think Darrell is going to crush it. 🙂 But Copyblogger has never been about only one person. (OK, apart from those very early days when Brian kept it all afloat himself.) And we still have advice and strategies for you! On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman helped us through a painful moment — when a prospect chooses a competitor over our solution. And she explores the ways we can build trust in our prospects, becoming a complete package that they prefer over any other option. On Tuesday, Robert Bruce talked about a brutal problem that writers face […]

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The Art of Finding Ideas

Every writer who has ever lived has lusted after ideas. Where are they, how do I get them, and how do I keep them coming? If you’ve been writing long enough, you know that — like Solomon — there is nothing new under the sun. Try as you might to sweat them out of your head or pull them gently from the stars above, there are no new ideas. So, relax. But the page is not going to write itself, is it? Where then do we turn for ideas that work, ideas that move, ideas that persuade? In short, we “steal” them. The moment you free yourself from The Cult of Originality, you realize that original ideas do not come from within. They are given to us, from without. A writer should not look inside, but outside, at external sources, stories, events, and emotions. If you’re offended that I’d suggest […]

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Changes You Can Make in 10 Minutes for Exceptionally Effective Copy

Sure, professional writers spend a lot of time on our craft. As we should. But it’s also nice to have a few fast tweaks to make your content and copy a lot more effective. This week, we offered three ways to make your persuasive writing work a lot better … without spending a zillion more hours on it. In fact, you can implement all three of these tweaks in about 10 minutes, every time you publish. (You can also spend a little more time and really make them sing … it’s up to you.) On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman shared a foundational technique every content marketer should be using — strategically managing your internal content links. It seems simple (and it is), but it has outsized benefits for the time you put in. Typical time investment: 3 minutesPayoff: Improved authority, significantly better audience experience, SEO benefits On Tuesday, Brian Clark reminded […]

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The Brilliantly Sneaky Trick You Must Learn

Are your readers doing what you want them to do? Are they signing up for your email newsletter, registering for your membership site, or downloading your ebook? If not, you need to learn a master craftsman’s copywriting secret. This technique acts like a remote control to get your readers to take action. Press this “magic button” and you’ll see your results improve dramatically. The secret, masters-only technique to compelling your readers to act is to … Ask them. Annoyed? Think I’m pulling your leg? There’s nothing magical or tricky to getting someone to do something just by asking them, right? That’s completely obvious. And most copy doesn’t do it. Which is why most copy gets weak results. Persuasive writing needs a strong call to action The advice to “always ask them” has been turned into a heroic-sounding marketing term called the call to action, as if trumpets were sounding and […]

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Little-Known Ways to Write Fascinating Bullet Points

Oh, those magical bullet points. What would blog posts, sales letters, and bad PowerPoint presentations be without them? Bullet points are so common because readers like them. But typical bullet points are kinda lame … kinda like this one. So let’s start making our bullet points downright fascinating. Bullet point basics Before we get to the graduate level, we’ve got to nail the basics. So, here are the five cardinal rules for general bullet points that convey your points clearly: Express a clear benefit and promise. That’s right; they’re mini-headlines. They encourage the scanning reader to go into the real meat of your content or go forward with your call to action. Keep your bullet points symmetrical, if possible, meaning: one line each, two lines each, etc. It’s easier on the eyes and therefore easier on the reader. Avoid bullet clutter at all costs. Do not get into a detailed […]

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When It’s Time to Get Serious about Your Content and Copywriting

We write a lot about the importance of creativity in content marketing. Generic, flavorless content has very little chance of getting noticed in the sea of content that’s generated every day. Pros know that creativity needs to be harnessed to professional discipline. Creative work is work, and it calls for a serious mindset. And when your creative work is directly tied to a company’s revenue (and the grocery bills and mortgages of everyone who works for that company), there’s no time for self-indulgence. This week, we offered three posts about the power of creative discipline. On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman talked about how people perceive the writing life, and what it’s actually like. While from the outside, professional writers sometimes look a little fuzzy, working writers know what it’s like to keep wrestling with a piece when everyone else has gone off to hit Happy Hour. On Tuesday, Beth Hayden shared […]

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Meet the Lazy Marketer’s Best Friend: The Email Autoresponder

No one loves blogs more than I do. They’re a great way to attract an engaged audience, develop trust and rapport, attract links, and stake your claim in search engines. I love blogs. But like babies and kittens, two other things I love, they’re also a lot of responsibility. Blogs take time. You’ve got to write terrific content that stands out from the general noise, promote it intelligently, and cultivate reader relationships. And that’s in addition to everything else you do in your business, from producing your product to getting your taxes filed. That’s why there’s another content marketing tool that I always recommend having in place — ideally before you write your first blog post. It’s the email autoresponder. What is an email autoresponder and why do I want one? An autoresponder is just a sequence of email marketing messages that gets sent to subscribers in the order and […]

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13 Timeless Lessons from the Father of Advertising

In 1962, Time magazine called David Ogilvy: “The most sought-after wizard in today’s advertising industry.” During his years as an advertising executive and copywriter, Ogilvy created some of the world’s most successful and iconic marketing campaigns, including the legendary Man in the Hathaway Shirt, plus notable efforts for Schweppes, Rolls-Royce, and the island of Puerto Rico, among many others. Ogilvy was one of the pioneers of information-rich, “soft sell” ads that didn’t insult the intelligence of the prospect. Ogilvy’s successful advertising campaigns demonstrate how to persuade prospects, influence readers, and create memorable, evergreen content. But “The Father of Advertising” also has plenty to teach us about productivity, branding, research, and ambition. Let’s look at some things David Ogilvy had to say, and what we can learn from each of them. On creativity and creative process “In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative, original thinker […]

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Effective Landing Pages: 30 powerful headlines that improved marketing results

There are 21 psychological elements that power effective web design (see infographic). Of those elements, one of the first your customers will experience is the headline.   A powerful headline is your make-or-break opportunity to connect with the customer and get them to engage with the rest of your page — and ultimately convert. We’ll provide you oodles of examples of effective headlines in this MarketingSherpa blog post to help spark ideas as you brainstorm your own headlines. And you can delve deeper into all 21 of those psychological elements in the following videos from MarketingSherpa’s sister brand, MarketingExperiments: The 21 Psychological Elements that Power Effective Web Design (Part I) The 21 Psychological Elements that Power Effective Web Design (Part 2) The 21 Psychological Elements that Power Effective Web Design (Part 3) (This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.)   Now on to the examples … Like […]

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Real-World Advice for Rocking Your Career as a Freelance Writer

The life of a freelance writer is always intense. (That line cheerfully ripped off and mangled from the ’80s cult film Repo Man.) You’re balancing craft, strategy, your clients’ business interests, your own business interests, and maybe even a little bit of art thrown in there. We love freelance business writers, and we strive to give you lots of resources that make you more effective. (Our advice applies to writers working for companies as well, and many marketing writers move back and forth between freelancing and in-house roles.) On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman gave 30 steps to becoming an in-demand freelance writer. No, it’s not “3 steps” or “5 steps,” because building a successful freelance business is complicated. But each of these steps is well within your power. You can use this post as a road map for staying on track to a rewarding and lucrative career. On Tuesday, Nick Usborne […]

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Boost the Relevance of Your Content with Benefits and Features

One cool thing about being a content marketer is that you tend to become an expert in your topic. You probably know an awful lot about your business, your project, or your subject matter. In fact, you might actually know too much about it. It’s called the curse of knowledge. Because we research our topics deeply and spend so much time writing about them, we tend to understand the technical specs inside and out. We have a great grasp of the under-the-hood details that make the thing work. And we think customers want to know all about those details. But most of your potential buyers? They don’t care. What have you done for me lately? To be effective, marketing needs to show exactly what the offering does for the person buying it. The features of your offer are what make it work. The benefits are the results it creates for […]

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