by Steve Kellas

The art of selling is the art of conversation. You don’t have to be a student copywriter or an expert in psychology to know the secret of successful selling. In fact, you probably already know that when it comes to conversation, some people punch instead of dance.

“I am a…” “My opinion is that…” “I have done that too. In fact, this one time I…”

Yes, that person. They are boring. They only talk about themselves.

When you talk to this person, you feel cheated. Bored. You might even feel a little put out; they didn’t ask you questions, and they turned everything around to be about them.

You already know this is not the way to behave socially.

So why in the ‘age of social’ is your website copy all about you? Why aren’t you wooing your customers and talking about what they need and want?

Stop talking about yourself

Many companies use the “At CompanyName, we…” kind of ad speak that people generally detest. That’s because they are speaking AT their customers instead of speaking WITH them.

They speak like fighters, practically shouting out their out-dated sales message:

“We won’t be undersold!”
“At CompanyName, we…”
“We are best in class…”

The easiest way to overcome the fighter is to stop self-referencing in your copywriting. Instead, you need to behave like the lover: talk about the customer’s problems and ask questions. Show your insights into their lives and then show them that your product or service helps them. Demonstrate that you share their values and their pain, and relate to them as people.

How to fix poor conversational writing skills

Conversational writing skills don’t come easy. You have to work at it. And that means that the copywriter who wants to get better at conversation in his or her writing will need to do more than avoid self-reference. He’ll need to use other techniques to make the sales copy believable and trustworthy.

Roy H. Williams gives great examples of how to do this in one of his Monday Morning Memos from 2008. He says that we should let the customer say what we want them to, rather than saying it ourselves. He also outlines a technique that I use frequently:

“Admit the downside. It makes the upside easier to believe. Imagine the impact of a jeweler saying, ‘A diamond is just a symbol. The important thing is not to forget what it symbolizes.’”

The power of this honesty in admitting the downside helps build a bond with the customer. The jeweller is demonstrating honesty and is confirming for the customer that they share the same values. The jeweller is confirming what the customer already believes in his mind: the reason to buy the diamond is to symbolize your love.

It’s unspoken, but powerful.

That is real insight. That is true consideration for another. The copywriter who writes in this way is building the basis of an intimate relationship.

Prospects today expect to be wooed, not shouted at. Now take a look at your current copywriting and decide for yourself how well it is doing at the art of conversation.

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