16 Quick Writing Rules that Help You Sell

This quickie copywriting list is from a marketing book I wrote for McGraw-Hill in 2005. They're evergreen tips that still apply today in the world of over-hyped social media marketing madness.

  1. Write like you’re talking directly to the prospect (use the word you).
  2. Forgo “style copy” and use “selling copy.” Style copy is vague and moody, while selling copy is no-nonsense. It identifies needs, desires, and problems and satisfies them.
  3. Support assertions with evidence and examples. Tangible, mentally vivid examples help pull readers through the text.
  4. Make sure you accurately describe the item’s condition.
  5. Break complex sentences into shorter, clearer sentences.
  6. Arouse the curiosity of the reader (rather than satisfy it).
  7. Provide readers smooth transitions so they don’t pause and click over to some other listing.
  8. Write compelling benefits into headings and subheads.
  9. Use real facts and numbers (for example, use “57 satisfied customers” instead of “dozens of satisfied customers”).
  10. Go back and weed out excessive adjectives.
  11. Edit your copy for misspellings and grammatical errors.
  12. Provide a compelling offer at the end of every description (more in Chapter 5).
  13. Offer a solution. Don’t waste time on theory, probability, and speculation. Good writing establishes well-defined problems and offers easily understood solutions (more in Chapter 5).
  14. Avoid exaggeration.
  15. Use “selling” words in your keyword title, if necessary.
  16. Utilize customer comments and testimonials in your description.