In writing sales copy, two of the most important principles to master are urgency and exclusivity. An urgency is a form of persuasion that triggers a certain urge in prospective buyers, while exclusivity draws attention and brings out the impulse to buy.
The other five principles for writing a good sales copy are clarity, conciseness, persuasion, credibility, and engagement. (They will be discussed in a forthcoming article.)
Now, let's discuss the ten tactics used by successful sales copywriters in adopting the first two principles: urgency and exclusivity.
As a form of persuasion that sparks a specific urge, a sales copy has to convey a sense of immediacy and finality. Also, the value projected must be irresistible enough, so it's both scarce (limited) and beneficial (functional). The most valuable product (or service), ideally, has no substitution, which makes it unique and highly desirable.
First, impose "limited time" or "deadline."
Time sensitivity always connotes urgency. Both offline and online, use phrases that express such limited opportunity to purchase, own, and use.
On a web page, whenever possible, place a countdown ticker to show the final day, hour, and minute of the promotion period. A ticking clock always brings out some anxiety, especially in those who already have some interest or are impulsive enough to buy.
Several popular phrases used to express urgency in a sales copy:
Today only Limited time only Hurry Act now Last chance Final sale One day only Clearance Now or never Don't miss out Last day Offer expires
Second, show the undeniable value.
Draw attention to the readers' needs a.k.a. product values: the benefits and the features. Show that by addressing customers' pain points, their problems can be easily and comfortably solved. Include success stories of satisfied past and present users, whenever possible.
Another option is by providing case studies, which can be based on actual or hypothetical issues presented in an up-close, in-depth, and detailed manner. Each issue should be solved with one or several well-described approaches using the product.
Third, host a flash sale.
A flash sale is a specific period dedicated to discount or special promotion of certain products. Usually, it's just for a few hours or, even, minutes. Occasionally, it's for 24 or 48 hours.
Hosting a flash sale is a great way to move a lot of products in a short period, which explains why many e-commerce sites and stores at the malls host such events from time to time. The overall goal is to entice impulse buying, increase brand awareness, and loyalty.
Fourth, show "running low on stock" counter.
Supply and demand affect how products are moved in the market. Thus, when you share how low the stock is at any given moment, prospective consumers would feel the rush to act immediately.
This explains why real estate listings on Zillow share information on neighboring properties and whether or not they're being offered for sale, rent, or pre-foreclosure. "Running low of stock" is an effective way to change people's minds from "just wait and see" from "I've gotta have this now."
Whenever appropriate, on a web page, place a counter showing how many units left. If it's not possible, the copy should unabashedly state the number of available units or imply the limited inventory. Be straightforward about the limited stock, so people can sense the urgency without having to guess.
Fifth, use a call to action.
A CTA (call to action) button in the middle or at the end of a web page has a strong psychological impact in readers, as humans are inclined to follow suggestions that make sense after reading a narration passage. Naturally, the human brain is wired for a story, as the mind is a story processor, not a logic processor.
When someone already has an interest in a product, which is apparent by reading through the copy, they might as well click a CTA button if it's simple, persuasive enough, risk-free, and placed strategically on a page.
It can be achieved by a good copywriter cleverly develops a strong copy with narration that leads to clicking the CTA. You may want to start with a personal story, a historical story, a "meet the guru" story or a success story.
The thing is, sometimes an excellent copy isn't sufficient to convert visitors to paying customers. The exact location of the CTA button and its color would determine the level of success. Therefore, make sure to perform multiple A/B tests to select the best performing one.
An exclusive product is both scarce and attention-grabbing. The imagination of holding or using it would translate into feelings of wanting and pride for owning. Luxury pop-culture brand Supreme, for instance, is known for its "limited editions," which also works well in sales copy.
Sixth, create waitlists and pre-order lists.
Most likely, you'd try new restaurants with long waiting lines and forego the ones with empty seats. The view of long queues itself is perceived by our brain as high-quality foods and salivating tastes. And empty seats connote bad tastes or services.
Similarly, many published authors offer pre-order specials to entice a following of buying readers. Most people tend to feel excited about products ordered by many, so they're more than willing to wait and pre-order. After all, selling is more psychological than merely about developing enticing narrations.
Seventh, get personal and personalize.
Whenever possible, personalize the introduction of the sales copy. In conventional direct marketing, where sellers send out print letters to prospects via snail postal mail, most likely, they show the recipients' names in the salutation part. This way, they can get as personal as possible with the offer.
Remember that the one word that humans favor over any other words is our own name. Since birth, our name means a lot to us. Particularly, when someone calls us by our name, we get the attention we always crave.
Thus, in any letter or email, make sure to personalize by mentioning the recipient's name, either first with last name or nickname. A generic "hello" or "dear friend" could work, but using a person's name would be better.
Eighth, create "limited versions."
Many businesses offer limited versions of their products. Luxury handbags, print artworks, grand watches, leather jackets, handmade furniture pieces, stuffed animals, dolls, and others are often offered limitedly to magnify their uniqueness and create perceived high value.
Such limited editions are created to exude an aura of exclusivity since only a handful of people with strong finances and connections can be invited to this "special version." And it's not restricted to fashion and luxury products only.
Both tangible and intangible products can be offered limitedly. With tangible ones, it's quite straightforward. With intangible products, you can place a cap or quota to the total units sold or downloaded. Today, the blockchain technology provides incorruptible numbering and file protection for convenience and security, which can be utilized for capping quotas and unique file recording.
Ninth, build groups for "members only."
Offer special membership groups, which are based on specific requirements. For instance, past customers can be invited to purchase the new version of a product with a discount. Other than invited, customers can invite themselves or sign up as a member voluntarily.
Be creative in terms of membership types and levels to develop favorable expectations as in gamification. When customers belong to "members only" club, they would feel appreciated, thus are more likely to repeat orders.
Exclusive membership is ideal for both online or offline products. Many web-based businesses, for instance, are only available for members, which pay a monthly fee. The swanky crystal brand Swarovski, for instance, has "members only" events that provide loyal customers, socialites, and wannabes with exclusive new and limited-edition product events.
Tenth, show favorable demand for products.
Ideally, a strong sales copy projects an aura of high-demand products, which are more than worthy to own and purchase. This means that the products' high quality, impressive features, and undeniable benefits should pop off the copy page. Well-styled photos should accompany the copy whenever possible.
Another way is by showcasing testimonials and success stories from past clients that confirm proven demand without sounding pushy. Sprinkle data with industry and global statistics whenever appropriate. After all, numbers tell and sell very well. Figures don't lie.
Overall, writing an ethical sales copy involves understanding the seven key principles: urgent, exclusive, clear, concise, persuasive, credible, and engaging. The first two principles (urgency and exclusivity) can be achieved with ten tactics, which ideally are simultaneously executed.
As long as the copywriter is aware of the psychological and the emotional aspects of storytelling and sales narration that spark readers' impulse and trigger their buying interest, sales should be on the way. The best sales copy projects a positive aura with positive sentences in a positive tone. With confidence and integrity. Happy selling.