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Episode 011 - 10 Ways To Polish Your Copy

Published by: David Garfinkel on 07-03-2017

A friend of mine had an old Fender Stratocaster guitar he wanted to sell. He put up an ad on Craigslist. The price was good and he got five people to come by and look at it. Most of the people liked the way the guitar played, but they all kind of hesitated and nobody bought.

He asked me what was wrong. I looked at the guitar. It was clean enough and it had new strings. It sounded good, but it looked kind of dull.

“Get something to polish it up with,” I said. “Then raise the price $100, and you’ll sell it.”

My friend said he wasn’t that much “into appearances.” But he was so frustrated that he followed my advice anyway.

And, guess what? It worked. The first person who came by from the new listing looked at the guitar… played it for five minutes… pulled the exact amount of cash out of his pocket… and walked out the door with my friend’s old guitar.

My friend smiled. After the buyer left with the guitar, he admitted he was dumfounded. How could one coat of polish make such a difference?

As it turns out, the same thing is true with your copy. Turning it in to a client when it’s rough and “almost good enough” does not usually work out very well. Or, if the copy is for your own product or service, showing your prospects sloppy copy will hurt your sales results.

So, this episode is about polishing your copy once it’s written. Not with Fender Guitar Polish, but with a series of simple techniques and steps to make it shine… and sell.

Today we’ll talk about 10 ways to polish up your copy for maximum engagement and sales.

And before we get into these 10 ways, a quick announcement:

Copy is powerful. You’re responsible for how you use what you hear on this podcast. Most of the time, common sense is all you need. But if you make extreme claims… and/or if you’re writing copy for offers in highly regulated industries like health, finance, and business opportunity… you may want to get a legal review after you write and before you start using your copy. My larger clients do this all the time.

OK, now, on with these 10 ways to polish your copy:

1. Get your spelling and grammar correct… and your punctuation, too.

- Microsoft Word tool: “Spelling and grammar” under “tools”

- A review will make punctuation suggestions

- But the bottom line is, you’ll need to learn the rules yourself, or get a good editor who won’t mess up your copy but will fix the errors.

2. Use only one idea per sentence.

- A lot of good writers will put more than one idea in a sentence at first

- You need to edit ruthlessly

- Either break up the sentence into two or more sentences, or choose one idea and get rid of the other or others.

3. Tighten things up.

- Find the extra words you don’t need and take them out.

- Especially, unneeded adjectives and adverbs, and the word “that”

- Good copy moves at a pace. Extra words slow it down.

4. Cut out the boring stuff.

- Famous movie director Alfred Hitchcock: “Drama is life with the dull bits cut out.”

- Same with copy. The excitement and momentum come in large part from lean writing

- Focus on the human elements (emotions, experience, how things affect people’s lives) and minimize the technical elements that only geeks care about. Even if you are a geek and/or are selling to geeks!

5. Read it out loud. Notice especially if you are keeping the momentum going and the excitement building.

- Good copy is conversational

- One of the hardest things to do is to learn to write truly conversationally

- A great way to get closer to that is to read it out loud. If you stumble or it comes across as awkward,

6. Change passive sentences to active sentences.

- Passive sentence: “The ball was thrown.” Or “The ball was thrown by him.”

- Active sentence: He threw the ball.

- Key: use of a form of the verb “to be” before the main verb. Was, were, is, will be.

7. Wherever and whenever you can, use visual and/or visceral and/or emotional language.

- We experience life through our feelings and what we see.

- You may have to learn what these kinds of words and descriptions are, if you’re not already familiar.

- Notice in other copy. Also, The National Enquirer. Also, good fiction.

8. Build and maintain a chain of logic.

- Logical thinking is not natural. It’s something need to learn.

- A clean logical flow is invisible in your copy. Everything just seems to pull together.

- The most important thing I can tell you is start with a strong promise you can prove and deliver on, and make sure everything in your copy flows from that and is related to it in one way or another.

9. Keep your copy focused on: your prospect… your offer… and selling your offer.

- It’s easy to get off track. Rein yourself back in when you’re polishing your copy.

- Think: What do my prospects need to see and hear to know this is about them, that you are for real and can be trusted, and that this is an appealing offer

- Take out any tangents that are “interesting” but not relevant to your prospect, your offer, or selling your offer.

10. Make sure your close is clear… and strong.

- Tell your prospect how to buy in clear, simple language.

- Don’t be shy.

- Make it as impossible to screw up as you can.


If you can’t do all of these, do as many as you can. Your copy will still be a lot better than if you didn’t do any at all.

The same thing applies to how well you do the ones you do. The better you do them, the better your copy will be. But if you do the best you can, your copy will be a lot better than if you skipped the “polish” step altogether.

Keywords: editing your sales copy

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