Arranging Text to Your Advantage
No matter how good your writing, most readers are, initially, only going to skim your marketing materials. The typical consumer is exposed to 3,000 advertising messages a day; so you can’t expect them to spend more than 30 seconds perusing your piece.
That’s why it’s so important to arrange the text so your strongest sales points are emphasized above everything else.
Focusing on the most important aspects
With any direct-marketing effort, there are three things you always want to emphasize in the text:
- The offer (i.e. “Get a 25% discount if you come in before April 13th). That’s what will get the biggest reaction from readers.
- Your call-to-action (i.e. “Call 555-5555 today to get started”). Any direct-marketing effort that doesn’t direct the reader to do something – right away – is missing the boat.
- The benefits of your product or service (i.e. “costs an average of 20% less than competing programs”). You’ve got to let people know how your product / service will benefit them.
Winning text arrangements
How you arrange and emphasize the above selling points really depends on the design of your marketing materials. But these seven techniques (proven winners one-and-all) can be adapted to a wide variety of layouts:
- The sub-headline – Usually, there’s only space to highlight one benefit in your headline. That’s why copywriters invented the sub-headline. See an example.
- The Johnson Box – This technique allows you to hit your target audience right between the eyes with your most powerful marketing message. See an example.
- The side-bar – Summarize your best product / service benefits in a stand-alone list. See an example.
- Underlined and bolded text – To make specific statements within your text jump out as the reader is skimming along, underline or bold the words. See an example.
- Headers – If there’s a lot of text, consider using headers to break it into easily digestible bits. See an example.
- The stand-alone paragraph – Your high-school English teacher may not be a fan of the technique, but a short, one-sentence paragraph is a great way to emphasize one (maybe two) of your most compelling arguments. See an example.
- The post script (or “P.S.”) – Even though it’s at the very end of the letter, a good P.S. can attract a lot of attention. See an example.
Don’t overdo it
Each of these techniques has its place, but you don’t want to overuse them – and you certainly don’t want to use them all in the same marketing effort. Think of them as fashion accessories: Adding a few looks great; but incorporating more than that may earn you a spot on someone’s worst-dressed list.