Can You Write a Sales Page Without Sounding Sleazy?

Carol Tice

photodune-6077139-product-xsAsk writers their opinions on creating a sales page and one question always comes up:

“I know they’re important, but do they always have to sound so… pushy and hyped-up?”

You know the kind: countless exclamations marks, outlandish promises, bright red fonts and yellow highlighter everywhere. For a lot of writers it’s an instant turn-off.

But the question is: If a client asks you to write a sales page, or you want to write one for your audience, do you have to write like that? Or will it send people running and damage your credibility?

Well, it all comes down to choosing the right tone of voice.

You can use all the sales copywriting techniques in the world, but if your tone is ‘off,’  even the first line can turn your reader cold. And if they don’t even read your sales page, all the hard work you put into writing it goes to waste.

Why do people write hyped-up sales pages?

Because the style of shouting “buy now!” “get yours before they run out!” works well for certain industries and products. What one customer sees as pushy, another sees as high-energy.

A sales page for a high-intensity workout DVD aimed at males between 18-25 would thrive with an enthusiastic, excitable sales page.

But exclamation points and text in capital letters probably won’t cut it if you’re selling point-of-sale software to a procurement manager of a large supermarket chain.

How to do passion without the push

Think about the last time you recommended a business or product to a friend. I’m not talking about anything you were trying to sell, but something you knew they would love, like a new restaurant.

It wouldn’t be pushy at all to say something like:

“You have to try this place, it’s got a great atmosphere and the servers can’t do enough to help. We turned up without reservations they were happy to fit us in and while we waited we sat at the bar and had the best margaritas I’ve ever tasted, all mixed from fresh ingredients, not syrup. Food was great value, super-tasty and I was impressed at the amount of vegan and gluten-free options they have.”

You mention the things you think they’ll like (atmosphere, value), describe the experience and even cover some potential objections (are the drinks made from syrup? Can I take my husband who is a vegan / can’t eat gluten?)

It feels natural, but what you’re really doing is ‘selling’ your friend on the idea of trying somewhere new.

When you learn to write a sales page, you discover how to write an eye-catching headline and opening, how to pull out the benefits, how to overcome objections and how to write compelling calls to action.

All of these things can be written in the style of recommending something you love to a good friend and work really well as a sale page.

Now, this style of ‘writing to a friend’ works well for a lot of B2C or business-to-consumer businesses, but you might have to tweak your style a little if you’re writing a sales page in the business-to-business or B2B industry.

When to tone it down (without being boring)

Certain industries respond better to sales pages that are less personable and more fact-driven.

Sales pages for engineering, technology, financial or pharmaceutical companies usually have a more serious tone and focus on the facts and relevant figures of a product, rather than the excitement or passion around the product.

On the surface, this can be dry reading to most, but delivering the facts doesn’t make it boring.

“Get visibility into your sales pipeline on any mobile device. You can easily set-up and manage territories, teams and price lists.”

There’s no ‘buzz’ around this statement, no enthusing, it simply states what the product can do.

But for someone looking for software to do this, it is still eye-catching sales copy.

Something to remember is that businesses buy very differently from individuals. While our fitness fanatic only has to make up his own mind if he wants the insane workout DVD, business purchasing is discussed by teams and committees looking for details — and they want to access this information quickly.

As a result, a sales page that gets to the point, lists the facts and makes data easy to find is going to be more effective than one written in the style of the ‘friend’ recommendation.

What tone of voice should you use?

If you’re not sure what tone to use in your sales page, a very simple tip is to read the copy out loud and then ask yourself:

“If my customer was standing in front of me asking me about this product, is this how I would speak to them?”

Does it feel impersonal or lacking in enthusiasm? Or do you need to tone down the fervor and focus more on the facts?

Choosing the right tone of voice is critical as it runs through all the essential elements of a sales page. Once you’ve got that right, you can learn about headlines, openings, benefits and calls to action and write a sales page you can be proud of.

Amy Harrison is a veteran copywriter who taught our Freelance Writers Den bootcamp, How to Write a Sales Page. Find her at HarrisonAmy.

26 Comments

  1. Kim Hamlin

    This isn’t about the topic you wrote, so I apologize. I just wanted to say thank you for all your hard work. I don’t usually comment, but I’m a huge fan and I am reading. I can’t wait until I have enough saved to take your course. Please keep doing what you do!

    • Carol Tice

      I’m assuming you mean you’re a fan of Amy…me too!

      And you might want to check out the bootcamp page right now if you’re interested, as it’s on a crazy half-price sale. We should probably charge 3x that…but I want a lot of writers to be able to take this one. Such a valuable skill to have!

      • Stephen Quinn

        Kim,

        I just want to say the half price offer for this upcoming Bootcamp is really a good value. I paid twice this for a previous Bootcamp, but it was totally worth it.

        Plus you get a month’s membership in the Freelance Writers Den just for taking this course. That’s another $25 that you save. Plus, I am sure that you will discover that a month in the Den is invaluable.

        • Carol Tice

          Thanks for the feedback on the bootcamps, Stephen! We are doing kind of a crazy sale on this one – but it’s only for early registration, expiring shortly.

    • Amy Harrison

      Hey Kim!

      Glad you liked the post and I know what you mean about being a fan of Carol’s hard work. She’s a total rockstar when it comes to giving support to freelance writers. I’m very honoured that she’s happy to share her audience with me 🙂

  2. Rachel

    Recently I had to write a sales page for a forex company. While I have experience writing landing pages for software, real estate, and other B2B products, this was new for me – especially since I have absolutely no experience (or knowledge of) forex, bonds, stocks, etc.

    Usually I take a look at the company’s website, and take my cue for there, but they hadn’t put up a website yet.

    Instead, I just googled “forex + keyword (relevant to product), and I after a few minutes I’d already found several websites as well as two landing pages for nearly the exact same product.

    This gave me an idea of what was acceptable for the industry, and also showed me how I could one up the competition with a better sales page.

    • Stephen Quinn

      Rachel,

      Now that’s thinking on your feet.

      Good job – and great ideas (for me to use). 🙂

      Thanks for sharing this.

    • Amy Harrison

      Great example of being resourceful Rachel! I love that you had the courage to take the work, even though it was new to you.

      I remember reading a recent post of Carol’s saying how if she was asked to write something new to her, rather than turn down the job, she would say yes and then ask lots of questions.

      Research is key 🙂

  3. Luana Spinetti

    I love this blog post, Amy! 🙂 I know the sales page clients who work with me are serious, comprehensive and enthusiastic at the same time, so that’s how I’m trying to write my sales pages (I still feel insecure and I need feedback, but you know — I’m having fun!).

    I have a feeling that non-boring B2B copy would still carry the ‘friendly’ factor, but in a more ‘serious’ context. Like those friendly yet professional industry meetings and conferences I’ve been at — the ‘friendly’ factor helps motivate and reduces the stress of making an informed decision, but doesn’t take anything away from the facts, features and benefits that the prospect needs to know.

    As for bad copywriting, today I looked up a politician’s website to make an informed decision before I went to vote for European elections. Well… that politician had a page full of objectives and a lot of percentages for the votes he got until now… but absolutely NOTHING about the facts that count! No reforms, no successful initiatives, no “I’ve done this and it has benefited my country/region/city”. Nada.

    I closed the page and that was it. That fluff didn’t buy him my vote.

    – Luana

    • Carol Tice

      Wow, great example of how a bad sales page can impact a client’s life, Luana!

      • Luana Spinetti

        Really, Carol — it was THAT terrible! I can’t vote you if you don’t give me a valid reason to do so — and the reason lies in FACTS, because politics is already filled with enough fluff to buy my fluff.

        I’m wondering if I should send them an email and tell them. 😉

        • Luana Spinetti

          Oops! What I meant is “politics is already filled with enough fluff to buy me on that.” LOL

          • Carol Tice

            Don’t worry — remember, you’re covered under my universal blog comment typo insurance policy! We know what you meant. 😉

    • Amy Harrison

      Luana, you make a fantastic point about the fluff and promises without fact.

      One of the biggest copywriting mistakes is to describe all the potential benefits WITHOUT backing up how you’re going to do it.

      We’re taught to sell the sizzle, not the steak and to promote benefits not features, but we do want and need the logic / fact / proof that backs up the promise otherwise there’s no credibilty.

      Thanks for commenting!

      • Luana Spinetti

        Every time I write copy, whether that’s a blog post or a newsletter article, I do my best to convince people using both facts and imagery. That’s the same concept I apply in creative storytelling and it comes natural to me. Guess that’s why I tend to get harsh when I see fluffed copy. It makes me physically itchy. LOL

        Thank YOU for replying, Amy!

  4. Hiten

    Hi Amy,

    Excellent post, indeed!

    I loved the tip you shared about reading out loud what we’ve just wrote and testing if that is the way we would describe our product to our potential customer. Thank you.

    • Amy Harrison

      Thanks for commenting Hiten.

      I do a number of workshops for organisations in Europe and tone-of-voice always comes up. By asking people to think how they would address a customer in person, it makes the concept of tone-of-voice so much easier to understand.

      • Carol Tice

        No kidding! I see people use the most stiff, formal words like “therefore”…would you say that to someone in person?

        • Jordan Walker

          I do, then again I also say alas, and where forth art thou when I’m really irritated that someone is taking to long to be somewhere on our scheduled meeting time. I’m a barmy child I know.

  5. Nadia McDonald

    I never wrote a sales page before. But after reading that tone, style and facts are essential, propelled me to challenge myself. This is an entirely new niche of writing, and therefore I have to equip myself with research to look into ways of winning my audience. Thanks for the article Carol!

  6. Willi Morris

    I am slowly…and I mean ever so slowly, training myself to be a better copywriter. I’m starting with “about” pages, because I love writing features and profiles, so those seem to come more naturally to me.

    It probably seems easy to most people to describe a great restaurant to friends, but even I have trouble with it sometimes. I’m definitely going to start reading my copy aloud more or having people I care about read it (or both!) Thanks for the tips.

  7. Jordan Walker

    OMG!

    This is truly an amazing article simply because I mention you in my blog Paving Spoken Words. I was so nervous when I read your article. I even mention that. In case you don’t believe me you can see for yourself here
    It’s funny because it was Jonathan and Heather who made me feel at ease, during the times I was so confused, why my dam good article (yes according to me and a few others) about Obama and Netanyahu, talking about Middle East Peace when he visited the White House couldn’t be published because of a pictures, then it was google can’t except that. Heather was my editor and she and Johnathan were the only nice people I had, every one else e-mails came across as rude, and I dropped out after my fourth day of bootcamp. All my work for no money wasn’t worth it, especially when I had read your article that had twelve paying jobs for freelance writers.

    Now that I made a short story long, basically I wanted to thank you for allowing me to not have wasted too much of my time.

    • Carol Tice

      Glad I could help, Jordan! But why were you nervous? And reading which article? This one or some earlier one?

      I did hear other reports of rude treatment, but thought Heather’s filing went into that enough.

      • Jordan Walker

        I was nervous because I wasn’t sure if I had fallen into a scam or not. It was another article. It was the one where you and Rebecca went back and forth in the comment section and she wouldn’t give out her earning.

        I don’t know what happened to Heather, but, it makes me really sad to think that they mistreated her, she was really sweet to me, and for my very brief time there thanks to you and you’re advice I’ll be more careful with Craigslist writing adverts.

  8. Lorraine Reguly

    So far, I have not had to write a sales page, but this article provides some good tips. Thanks, Amy and Carol. 🙂

    One thing I would do, however, is take a look at some of the sales pages of others, and mimic it – to a point.

  9. Molokela Modiba

    Great tips and quite useful. Being genuine and avoiding being generic will bring in the results 🙂

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