How to Write Marketing Copy that Works


Words are powerful. They can move people into action. They inspire, they challenge, they amuse, but words also sell. Regardless of your industry, you are in sales. We all are, especially those who are in the non-profit sector or church leadership. It’s perhaps the most important of all sales: hope for better days and the ultimate hope of eternal life. Here are some key points to consider when writing copy that’s going to be used to compel and motivate people into action.

compelling marketing copy

Write to a person. Unless you understand your target audience, you cannot communicate effectively. Writing to “everyone” guarantees that you reach “no one.” Have a person in mind as you craft your words. Are you writing to a 50 year-old business professional, or a 35-year old stay-at-home mom with snotty-nose kids running around the house?

Understand your audience’s motivation. Forget your agenda for a minute and try to think of your audience’s needs. I recently saw a commercial for a local congregation featuring the preacher talking about the church’s choir and their lovely sanctuary while showing shots of him preaching from the pulpit. I couldn’t help thinking “what a waste of money.”  The number one question we all ask when confronted with an offer or an option is a simple but powerful one: “What’s in this for me?” If you don’t understand people’s motivation, you cannot compel them to move forward. Your motivation, the “right thing to do,” are all irrelevant in moving people into action. Find out what’s important to them first, then lead with that. Instead of a generic spot about the church, that congregation would have seen more fruit from trying to begin with its audience’s needs first.  Since I know about the church and its perception as a strong family church, I would have led the spot with something like “Growing a strong family is not easy these days. But we are here to help you.” That’s a simple line but it is written to motivate the spiritual decision maker of the home, the mom, to bring her family to church. It solves a problem every mom in America is facing as she tries to keep her family together and growing strong.

Have a strong value proposition. In any marketing or persuasive copy writing you must answer the “so what?” question. It amazes me how often I intersect marketing pieces that fail to give me the pay off. In our sentence above, the value proposition is simple and yet very compelling: if you want a strong family, we can help you get there.

Give clear next steps. You must close the deal. If you got my attention and gave me a value proposition, then the next question you must answer is “what do you want from me?” If we continue the church commercial script, I would create a clear call to action like this: “Join me this Sunday for a new teaching series…Power Parenting…and find the tools to love and grow your family.” In this example, I want you to come this Sunday, because there is a “new” teaching series. People like to be in something new and it’s timely, since it will no longer be new a couple of weeks from now. It’s also a series which implies a limited amount of time. Yet another easy way to get a “yes.”

What else would you add to this list?


  • Jason Tham

    Great summary of what copy guys like myself do at the office everyday. In a nut shell, we write copy with an aim to influence – to influence a group of people, to impact a society of culture. Like you’ve mentioned, to get your readers to make the move, it’s always a must to include that good ol’ Call-to-action.

  • Daniel Decker

    Great perspective!

  • Great tip on writing to one person. I’ve often heard it is helpful to create a persona. Go into detail, give ’em a name and be as descriptive as you can. “Stay-at-home mom with snotty-nose kids running around…” gives me a clear picture of my ideal audience.

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