The Basics

What the outdoor retailer offers is personal expertise which is something the web cannot deliver. In a world awash with product and competing claims, the informed sales person comes into his or her own. On these pages and in concert with individual sponsors we offer a series of bullet point guides to the basics of the key outdoor product categories. Our aim is to provide inexperienced sales staff a guide to what to remember and for more experienced ones a reminder of things they might have forgotten. The Basics has been produced so as to make it simple to download – in most cases each takes up no more than single sheet of paper.

The Basics of Web Copywriting

Everyone’s an expert now. Especially when it comes to writing copy. But if you were a passenger would you get on board with a self-appointed pilot? 

 1. The headline
This is it. Your one chance. They have clicked the button and right now your copy is in the spotlight. What you say in that first second will make the difference. Here’s some of the ways it works:

Ask a question
If you know what’s important to your customer, you can hook them with a question.

Example: Where else can you buy this jacket for less?

Tell them not to buy
Girls always seem to fancy chaps who are not interested in them. Something similar is in operation here. 

Example: Don’t talk to anyone about outdoor footwear until you have seen this.

A lack of length can be an advantage
In the classic work on the subject, Tested Advertising Methods, the author cited two examples of single words that could be used on their own to striking effect in a headline. ‘Hernia’ was one and ‘Sex’ was the other. The author reasoned that a middle-aged man with the former and a 16-year-old boy looking for the latter would be guaranteed to read on. Think of your own audience related single word headlines.

Example: Boot fitters might use ‘blisters’, breathable membrane suppliers ‘saturated’ , satnav brands ‘lost’.

2.The body copy
Snared by the headline, you have now got them interested; the balls are in the air and if you want your balls to remain airborne your copy had better be good.

Be an Anglo Saxon when writing copy
In ad or sales copy never use a long word when a short one will do. Being sesquipedalian (see what I mean?) may make you the prince of cool down at the library, but in real life people are happier dealing with words that they use themselves. It is a good discipline to practise writing sentences comprised of simple monosyllabic words.

Example:  One of the best things in life is to sit, have a cup of tea and read Trail

Make it exclusive by excluding
American Express mastered the art of creating a sense of exclusivity for its products by the use of simple psychology, suggesting that there was a right and a wrong person for their product. How? With this opening line.

Example: Quite frankly, the American Express card isn’t for everybody

Get personal
If you’re running a small business, make use of the fact that you’re not some number in a faceless corporation and your customer really matters. So act like it and empathise.

Example: Have you ever been in that situation where the zip goes on your jacket at the worst possible time? I know I have...

3.Closing the deal
The touchline is in site, the opposition is trailing in your wake. Glory lies ahead. This is no time to fumble the ball. (It’s those falling balls again)

Always repeat the main benefit
You might eat, sleep and breathe the offer that you are making, but your customer doesn’t, so tell them again.

Example: Yes, I want to buy that camera and get a free carry case

The ‘buts’ maybe, the ‘ifs’ never
Never, ever start your call to action with the word ‘if’. If is conditional; if means that even I, the writer, am not convinced; if is copy-writing death. Always make it a command.

Example: Yes, please send me the new global satnav package today 

Include a deadline
You know and the customer knows that the deadline isn’t actually fixed. They know that a “when it’s gone it’s gone offer” probably means there’s 10 million of the blighters in the warehouse.

Example: Buy before the 31st August and save 50% 

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