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Challenging an expert copywriter to sell his guide using 160 characters

Resources & Blog

Challenging an expert copywriter to sell his guide using 160 characters

Interviewing Cole

We're excited to announce that our new podcast episode, "Writing Copy That Will Outlive You", is now available on all major platforms. During the episode, we speak to a professional copywriter, Cole Schafer, about his writing style as well as his road to success.

While 20 Minute Marketing covers a range of topics, we felt that it was the right time to include SMS marketing in the conversation. So, we challenged Cole to write some sales offers that used 160 characters or less. His results should provide you with something to think about when you're planning your next campaign.

Cole has a very diverse portfolio. He's written hugely successful crowdfunding pages, raising $500,000 for the American Ultimate Disc League and $140,000 for Samsara Luggage. He's also published articles in Entrepreneur Magazine, Hootsuite, Business Insider and several other established sites. For anyone that is looking to write some killer content, be sure to check out his copywriting guide, "How to write words that sell like a Florida Snow Cone Vendor on the hottest day of the year".

We're also big fans of Cole's email newsletter, Sticky Notes. Every week, he sends out free stories and tips to over 8,000 marketing professionals. Those emails often achieve open rates as high as 60%.

Being personal

Before we look at Cole's sales offers, we'll take a look at some of his tips when writing copy. Whether you are writing a text message, email, sales page or blog post, you should consider your copy as a dialogue between two people. Cole believes that a lot of marketers miss the mark because they view things on a large scale. By that, he means that they try to look like a big organisation that is speaking to hundreds or thousands of readers. Using Samsara Luggage as an example, here's what Cole would do before he starts writing:

"I'd imagine that I was at dinner with Samsara Luggage and their customer. Then I'd think about what type of conversation we'd be having. How would they look? What would they speak like? What music do they like? And then I'd turn around and do the same thing for the customer. What do they find funny? What's interesting to them?

So, once I sit down and write the sales page, it really feels like a dialogue between Samsara Luggage and a customer. Most people will say my copy is conversational and that is because I am talking to them as an individual. Whether I write for myself or another brand, I always think about it in terms of a conversation between two people."

Afterwards, we also talked about the importance of pinpointing who your target market is. If you can clearly define the person that you are trying to speak to then your copy will get better and better. Cole mentioned that companies can fall into the trap of saying that their target market is 'women between thirty to fifty'. Well, there is little similarity between a thirty-year-old accountant and a fifty-year-old bartender. That market is too big. Instead, be more specific. Think about your target markets profession, their hobbies, their approximate income and anything else that could be relevant.

Selling with a character limit

We challenged Cole to write some SMS marketing offers. He could write the offers for any product or service that he wanted. We told him to write the offers for any product or service of his choice. The only condition was that he kept each example to 160 characters or fewer. That limit represents the length of one text message. Here's what happened...

First off, Cole talked about his approach. He said, "I receive a lot of SMS offers. One thing that I notice is that their messages read like an ad. They often use all capitals or multiple exclamation marks. I usually see things like '$5 off' or 'daily deal'. Those types of messages aren't effective to me. I think companies should try to write their offers so that they sound like an actual text rather than an ad."

All four of Cole's examples are very conversational. They could easily have come from a friend as opposed to a business. They also read as if they were intended specifically for one person. By taking away jargon such as 'act fast' and 'daily deals', they connect with the individual on the other end. The next time that you create an SMS campaign, think about using this style of approach. If you do, then we'd love to get some feedback on how your campaigns perform. We'd also be more than happy to help you write a new sales offer.

Example one

The first example that Cole gave was for his copywriting guide. His guide is titled 'How to write words that sell like a Florida Snow Cone Vendor on the hottest day of the year'. 92 characters long. He had 68 characters remaining to sell the guide. How did he do it? He added three words. Here's the example:

Want to learn how to write words that sell like a Florida Snow Cone Vendor on the hottest day of the year?

Example two

Cole's second example was also for his copywriting guide. This time, though, it was more specific. He said he was targeting a young man that may be approximately 25 years old. The description he provides was, "probably a bachelor. He's texting a few women or men that he's interested in. However, things aren't going as well as he'd hoped for and his inbox has dried up. So, I'm going to tell him about my copywriting guide." Here's the example:

Is she not hitting you back? perhaps your text is the most boring sh*t in her inbox, let us help you write better ones.

Example three

The final example that Cole provided can be used to target anyone that may be looking to improve their copywriting. This one focuses on the challenges of not knowing what to write, which most of us should be able to relate to. Although Cole wasn't able to include a short link to his copywriting guide without breaking the character limit, we think it's still a great example. Here it is:

Hi. Writing is hard. And, if you're like most, you find yourself at a loss for words at the most inconvenient of times. Here's a short course that might help...

Example four

The last example that Cole provided was for Reach. His message targets business owners by highlighting the benefit of using text messaging to improve your marketing strategy. The approach this time was to use a statistic that would leave a lasting impact. Here's the example:

Folks check their phone every 12 minutes. That's 80 times a day. Making more moolah for your business is as simple as sending a text

If you'd like to receive free writing tips every week, check out Cole's email newsletter, Sticky Notes.

Cutomer Account manager
by Liam Quinn | Marketing Executive

Hi, I'm Liam, Marketing Executive at Reach Interactive. I have a background in international marketing and love branding, social media and seeing how companies communicate with their customers.


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