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COPYWRITING — WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH RETAILING? EVERYTHING!

by Rick Segel, CSP

I was asked to do a workshop for florists and garden centers in July on copywriting and design tips. Let me share with you some of the information I presented.

Before we ever set out to write any copy — be it for print advertising, direct mail advertising, newsletters, blogs, our website or even signage — we must keep in mind that our goal is to elicit a specific action from the readers of our copy or to inform them about how our company or our products / services can solve their problems or fulfill their wants / needs.

When consumers read the copy we write, regardless of the media, we want them to do or learn something, including:
• Visit our store
• Call our store
• Visit our website
• Read our blog
• Come to an event
• Buy a certain item
• Gain awareness of our brand
• Learn about our classes / demonstrations
• Learn about us (our history, the products and services we provide, any changes we are making, etc.)
• Find out how to get to our store
• Find out how to do something
• Learn how to maximize their usage and enjoyment of our products

The copy we write needs to influence individuals’ actions, and achieving that is dependent on the words we choose, how we put them together and how we lay them out.

Here of several sets of suggestions to help you create powerful copy and messages.

1. Before you write any copy, answer the following questions.
• Who is my target audience?
• What is important to them?
• What “problem” do they have that you can solve for them?
• Why hasn’t it been solved before?
• What is possible?
• Why now?
• Why buy from you? What makes you different?

2. Here are some of my favorite techniques that will make your copy pop.

• Start your copy off with a question such as:
  - Why gamble with ___________________?
  - Don’t you wish ______________________?
  - How many times have you said to yourself ________?
  - When was the last time ______________________?
  - Is it worth it _______________________________?

• Start your copy off with a statement such as:
  - In this uncertain economy, __________ is our specialty
  - Think about _________________________________
  - For less than $20, you can get __________________
  - You are going to fall in love with _________________

• Keep paragraphs short — four to six lines (lines, not sentences). Continually rewrite to use as few words as possible.

• Use one-line paragraphs for emphasis.

• Obtain and incorporate testimonials from customers.

• Incorporate pertinent quotes.

• Use these 10 powerful words / phrases whenever possible when writing copy.
  - Proven
  - Easy / Easily / Easy to use
  - Action words that end in “ing”
  - The source
  - Award winning
  - Because you appreciate _____________
  - Amazing
  - Breakthrough
  - Secrets
  - FREE

• Remember, it’s about the customers, not about YOU. Customers are more concerned with what your product / service can do for them rather than how long you have been in business.

3. As good as great copy is, a headline reigns supreme; it is the most important copy you will write.

The best headline ever written, which has been a model for so many different products is, “Get Rich Quick!”

Evaluate the components of this simple but intriguing message, then apply them to the messages you craft for your business / products / services.

Discover what your prospective customers want or need, then show them how you can provide it for them — first in the headline, then in the body copy.

4. Keep these design ideas in mind when creating your advertising pieces, signage, newsletters, Web pages, etc.

• Make the font large enough so that it can be read easily. The greatest copy in the world is worthless if the reader can’t read it.

• Highlight a key word or phrase in a paragraph by using Italic type, all capital letters, colored fonts, highlighting or any combination.

• Incorporate product photos.


Rick Segel is a passionate retail business development specialist, public speaker and author. His diverse business background and expertise enable him to counsel businesses in a number of industries by identifying universally applicable secrets of success that are essential for making a business succeed.

As a speaker, he has enthralled audiences in 49 states, in 10 countries, and on five continents. He is a member of The National Speakers Association (NSA) and is a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP).

Mr. Segel has written 13 business management books, including the best-selling Retail Business Kit for Dummies as well as Laugh & Get Rich, Wowing Them Into Your Store, Becoming the Vendor of Choice and Essential Online Solution.

His most recent book — The Retail Sales Bible — a retail-sales training book was released in March. A collaboration between Mr. Segal and Matthew Hudson, Ph.D., this book is comprehensive yet concise, easy to understand, user friendly and written in a way that makes the materials stick.

Learn more at www.ricksegel.com.


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