This week I went to the bonfire celebration in Lewes, one of the largest in Europe. In addition to celebrating the foiling of the gunpowder plot, the event also remembers 17 local martyrs who were burned at the stake between 1555-1557 for being protestants. There are signs and leaflets telling you the story but nothing made more of an impact than when the procession passed by with 17 burning crosses to represent each martyr.
It gave me goosebumps and the crowd fell silent.
The story hadn’t changed, I wasn’t given any new facts, but the visual representation was profound.
As much as I love writing, pictures, illustrations and videos can tell a story faster than words. Used within a page of sales copy, they can also act as visual hooks to catch the eye of your reader.
When you’re writing copy it’s easy to focus on getting the facts across, and forget to tell an engaging story. Once you have your copy written, set it aside for a little while and when you return, see if you can include any of the following to put some fire into your writing (not literally, don’t burn anything.)
1. An image to fear…
Targeting the fears of your audience has always been effective in copywriting. Highlighting their concerns first and then moving into your solution works because rather than jump straight into the solution, you’re setting up the value of having the problem solved.
Direct marketing expert Joe Polish started his career in the carpet cleaning business. When he began implementing copywriting advice from Gary Halbert, his business was transformed. One of his favourite piece of copy he used had the dramatic headline:
“Crawling Critters and Crud: A guide to the Slime Grime and Livestock That’s Seeping, Creeping and Galloping Through Your Carpet”
But he didn’t stop there. He amplified the message by using a photo of a dust mite magnified hundreds of times and a cute baby with the headline: “Who’s Crawling on Who?”
The image really grabbed the attention of mums in his audience much more than simply warning them about dust mites in their carpets.
2. Your product in action
As early as 1916 advertisers knew the value of a sexy product shot. You might already be including images of your product in your sales copy, but what if you’re selling a service, or an online course? What illustrations can you use then? Here are some ideas for you to use:
- If it’s an eBook, show the front cover, and shots of a few interior pages
- If it’s an online course, show a screenshot of the member’s dashboard where they will access their materials
- If they receive a physical product (CDs / binder etc) but you haven’t had them made yet, look for icons of CDs, binders, checklists etc so that your reader has an instant visual hook into what they will receive
- If you’re running an event, use images of the location (if it’s aesthetically pleasing)
- If you’re running a workshop, use photos from previous workshops to show attendees at work and interacting with each other
There are plenty of ways to use images or icons to add a visual representation of what your customer will receive. In addition to selling your product by showing what it does, you make it easier for your reader to trust you by having a peek behind the scenes.
3. Sexy science
Look at any TV advert today for cosmetics, shampoo, fabric softener or wash powder and you can be guaranteed some hot, animated science illustration. Bouncing balls exploding into towels in a washing machine releasing dirt and inducing freshness. Wow, that stuff must work!
As we saw in a previous post, science is used to sell in sales copy, so if there’s a way you can illustrate the science behind what you do, even better. If you sell software or a similarly intangible product, have a look at the home page of Automated Insights. This company creates automated content based on analysing data points. Similar to the B2B copywriting client I had with a product for the investment industry.
They do a great job of illustrating a slice of the science by a simple before and after shot. On the left you can see the data points, and while you can’t see HOW they do they analysis, on the right you have the finished product to compare.
On that same note, you can also do the old….
4. Before and after photo
Photos that show the transformation your product or service has on a customer are very powerful and compelling. So what should you try and capture?
- If you do web design, take a screenshot of your customer’s site before you do a revamp on it. A portfolio of your work is great but if you can show the transformation you’ve done it will really show off your skills
- Any type of beauty therapy or nutritional therapy / fitness service also lends itself to a before and after photo if your client is willing
- Offer dog training? Take a video of your client’s pet before you start work and after you finish
The key here is that you have to be thinking about your future marketing before you create it. It takes a little foresight to capture the ‘before’ images when you’re working with someone, but it is worth it.
5. Drive home key selling points
When I was at school, the stand out teachers were those who used illustrations to make sure the critical information really stuck.
Volume of water pollution was explained in terms of numbers of swimming pools. Extreme length was equated to the length of football fields, and as I recall, the majority of biology was based on unravelling various parts of your inner organs and laying them end to end to understand how far they’d stretch… Queasy.
The point is, if you’ve got some key details about your product or service, think about how you can use a visual illustration to convey the message.
- If you sell software that minimises workload, can you create an illustration that shows the equivalent work time if completed manually?
- If you save your clients money, how much is this and what does this mean? Could they take an extra holiday? Remodel their house? What illustration would be more powerful to them than simply the figure?
- If your web company helps speed people’s sites up, use illustrations to show how this can help to increase traffic, drive down bounce rate and increase time on site.
What did you come up with for your product or service? How can you illustrate the key selling points in your copywriting? Let me know in the comments!