Make every list a sales pitch

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready…
list of lists

A lot of my work involves reading and sometimes collating other people’s words. I’ve become very picky about the weak spots in most people’s copywriting. And you should too. You’re paying, after all.

One of the most effective ways to beef up a written presentation is to use lists, as they force you to digest complex concepts or steps and make them easy to understand. Who can argue with that?

But this is a concept you can milk even further.

Write lists to empower people

How about adding words and phrases that empower people so they can see themselves using the product or service. How? The thing about lists is that they automatically cause us to slip into passive mode. I’ll take a random example (honest) from some sales material for a virtual classroom. The issue here is that the good systems can be expensive, so prospects are rightly asking if they are worth the money and if they are so complex that people won’t use them.

So my client drew up this list based on customer research:

(Before) Top 5 influencers of success

  1. Group exercises and effective live collaboration
  2. Active learning and high levels of personal, face-to-face interaction
  3. Differentiating learning experiences from other virtual meetings
  4. Professional production values
  5. Ease of use

These are all perfectly valid points – but they are hardly motivating, and some require a little work on the reader’s part. Here’s the same list put through the copywriting filter.

(After) Want better results? Our 5 tips:

  1. Set group exercises so people work together
  2. Get face-to-face often using active learning
  3. Make the learning experience feel different from virtual meetings
  4. Use the best production values you can afford – it pays off
  5. Make the session really easy to use
    1. What does this mean in your case? Our classroom expert can show you how. Just ask.

Get the copywriting reflex

The perception here is that the prospect has received something we all love, tips, rather than just reading a spec sheet – or worse, a pitch. They feel they have learned something. The tips we present are, of course, some of the questions they should be asking in the purchase process. These are the issues you want people to bring up! You have also subtly suggested that they can afford a system. I also took the liberty of adding a mini call-to-action in case people have a question.

From a copywriting perspective, this must become a reflex at every level of communication. Remember, you are not only talking to prospects, you are also trying to motivate your channel sales or potential investors. Both will appreciate receiving inside tips for products that they might not know in detail. They will also feel reassured that you know what you’re talking about as you are using the voice of authority (but nicely).

And if you get into the idea of lists, you might like the List of Lists of Lists on Wikipedia 😉

If you want help on this or other copywriting issues, just call me on +32/496 62 68 43.

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