Master the Art of Writing Copy that Sizzles and Sells | Kerry Morrison


Master the Art of Writing Copy that Sizzles and Sells | Kerry Morrison
Photo by Eleni Afiontzi on Unsplash


Let’s dive into the art of writing copy that not just sizzles but sells.

As copywriters, marketers, or anyone looking to persuade with words, we aim to create content that compels, resonates, and moves people.

From understanding your audience to crafting headlines that turn heads, from conjuring opening paragraphs that pull readers in and delivering body content that keeps them hooked-we’ll explore every nook of creating copy that truly sizzles and, more importantly, sells.

Let’s set the stage for a journey of discovery and growth in powerful copywriting.

We’re not just talking about churning out pretty phrases and catchy taglines.

We’re talking about wielding words meaningfully, purposefully, and potently.

Let’s paint a picture here. Imagine your words as a skillet, sizzling hot. Each letter you type, each sentence you craft is a juicy steak dropped onto that skillet.

You can almost hear the sizzle, can’t you? Feel the heat? That’s the kind of writing we’re aiming for.

As the great David Ogilvy once said, The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife. If you assume a mere slogan and a few vapid adjectives will persuade her to buy anything, you insult her intelligence.

He wasn’t one to sugarcoat, and that’s precisely why we’re here to dig into the marrow of effective, memorable copywriting.

But before we dive into the thick of it, let’s take a moment to appreciate the gravity of this endeavor.

To be clear, writing compelling copy isn’t a walk in the park. It’s an art, a science, and a dash of intuition thrown in for good measure. But most importantly, it’s a skill that can be honed, sharpened, and mastered.

Whether you’re a seasoned scribe or a fledgling writer, there’s something here for everyone. It’s time to turn up the heat and let your words sizzle.

After all, we’re not just writing-we’re cooking up content that sells.

“Good writing is not a natural gift. You have to learn to write well.” — David Ogilvy

Understanding Your Audience

You can craft the most eloquent prose and weave the most enchanting narrative, but it’ll all fall flat if it doesn’t resonate with your reader.

That’s why the first rule, the golden rule, the one rule to rule them all in copywriting is- know thy audience.

Identifying Your Target Audience

Before your fingers hit the keyboard, you’ve got to ask the question-Who am I writing for?

“If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think.” — David Ogilvy

And, folks, it’s not always about demographics. It’s not always about age, gender, or location.

Sometimes, it’s about the busy mom juggling three kids and a full-time job, looking for quick, healthy recipes.

Or the tech enthusiast, always on the lookout for the latest gadget reviews. Identifying your audience means digging into the specifics, the nitty-gritty details that make your reader tick.

Understanding Their Needs, Desires, and Pain Points


What is your reader actively searching for? What’s that burning question they need an answer to?


What does your reader secretly wish for? Maybe it’s a dream vacation or the perfect skincare routine.

Pain Points

What challenges and problems is your reader facing? It could be anything from budgeting woes to the struggle of finding the perfect pair of jeans.

Once you’ve got your audience pegged down, it’s time to tap into their world.

To walk a mile in their shoes, to see through their eyes. Only then can we begin to craft copy that truly hits home.

Speaking Their Language

Language-it’s not just about the words we use. It’s about tone, nuance, and context.

Consider this: Would you use a different vocabulary with a tech newbie than a seasoned programmer? Of course not! And that’s precisely the point.

To connect with our audience, we need to speak their language.

  • If you’re writing for teens, throwing in a few “LOLs” and “OMGs” is alright.
  • If you’re speaking to industry professionals, they’ll appreciate the use of jargon-they’ll feel seen and understood.
  • And if it’s the everyday reader you’re targeting, plain, simple English is your best bet.

So, remember: the reader is king in the realm of copywriting.

Get to know them, understand them, speak their language, and you’ll have the first ingredient to the sizzling copy that sells.

Stay tuned as we delve into the next big thing-mastering the art of the headline.

Because let’s face it, what’s a steak without a bit of sizzle on top?

The Art of the Headline

We’ve set the stage. We know our audience.

Now, let’s tackle the giant in the room-the headline. In the words of David Ogilvy himself, On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.

No pressure, right?

The Power of a Captivating Headline

Consider the headline as the bait on a hook.

It’s the first thing your readers see, the only chance to reel them in.

It’s got to be catchy, compelling, and oh-so-clickable.

But it’s not just about intrigue-it’s about delivering on that promise.

A headline makes a pact with the reader; your body copy fulfills it.

Techniques to Craft Irresistible Headlines

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to headlines, but here are some techniques that can help turn heads (pun intended):

  1. The Question: “Can You Guess the Secret Ingredient in This Killer Guacamole?” Questions provoke thought, curiosity, and engagement.
  2. The Number: “10 Ways to Skyrocket Your Savings This Year” Numbered lists promise clear, easy-to-digest content.
  3. The How-To: “How to Master the Art of Sourdough Bread” How-to headlines promise a solution, a way to learn something new.
  4. The Bold Statement: “Why Your Morning Coffee Is Killing Your Productivity” Bold statements challenge preconceived notions, stir curiosity, and incite clicks.

Remember, the trick is to keep it concise, make it unique, and pack it full of your audience’s favorite power words.

“In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative, original thinker unless you can also sell what you create.” — David Ogilvy

Case Studies of Successful Headlines

Let’s take a quick look at some real-world examples of headlines that did the job right:

  • “The Child That’s Saving Forests: A 12-Year-Old’s Battle Against Deforestation” — Tugs at the heartstrings, stirs curiosity, and packs an emotional punch.
  • “Double Your Traffic in 30 Days: The Ultimate SEO Guide” — Makes a bold promise, hints at a solution, and is super specific.

In the grand scheme of copywriting, a headline is the shiny package that holds your gift of words. Craft it carefully, and your readers will queue up to see what’s inside.

“On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.” — Copyblogger

Let’s prepare to put meat on the bone as we move forward.

Next up, the opening paragraph-the first taste of the feast to come.

The Opening Paragraph — Make or Break

Alright, folks, buckle up.

We’re diving into the deep end now.

You’ve got your readers hooked with a head-turning headline, but what next?

How do you keep them scrolling? Enter stage- the opening paragraph.

As master copywriter, Joseph Sugarman once said, The sole purpose of the first sentence in an advertisement is to get you to read the second sentence.

By that logic, your first paragraph better be a scorcher if you want your readers to stick around for the second act.

The Significance of the First Few Lines

Think of the opening paragraph as your elevator pitch.

It’s your golden chance to grab your reader by the collar and say, “Listen up, this is going to be worth your while.”

If you’re lucky, you’ve got maybe 10 seconds before your reader decides to stick around or scram.

“The first draft of anything is shit.” — Ernest Hemingway

That quote rings especially true for your opening lines. Don’t be disheartened if it doesn’t appear perfect on the first go. Remember, rewriting is your friend.

Strategies to Draw Readers In

  1. The Power of Story: “It was a sunny day in 1983 when I first discovered the magic of words.” Humans are suckers for a good story. It captivates, engages, and immerses the reader.
  2. The Provocative Statement: “We’ve been doing it all wrong.” Shake up the reader’s world. Challenge their assumptions. Provoke thought.
  3. The Open-Ended Scenario: “Imagine, if you will, a world without music.” Invite the reader into a narrative, get them thinking, and engage their imagination.
  4. The Intriguing Question: “What if I told you that you could double your income in a year?” Pique their interest, stir their curiosity, and make them want to learn more.

Examples of Powerful Opening Paragraphs

To truly grasp the magic of a strong opener, let’s delve into a couple of examples:

  • “I remember the first time I saw Paris. The twinkling lights, the bustling cafes, the sense of wonder — it was love at first sight.” — Draws you into a narrative, paints a vivid picture, and gets you hooked.
  • “You’re doing it all wrong. The way you’ve been taught to manage your finances? It’s time to toss that out the window.” — Challenges assumptions, shakes up the status quo, and promises an enlightening read.

Remember, folks, your opening paragraph sets the tone for the rest of your copy.

It’s the first handshake, the first impression, and the taste of what’s to come.

Craft it carefully, make it enticing, and your readers will be chomping for more.

Up next, we delve into the heart of the matter-crafting persuasive body content.

Crafting Persuasive Body Content

By now, we’ve tackled the headline and opening paragraph, two crucial appetizers in the copywriting meal.

But now, it’s time for the main course-the body of the copy.

And let’s get this straight-it’s not just about piling on the words. It’s about crafting a persuasive, compelling, and irresistibly engaging narrative.

Let’s draw some inspiration from another copywriting maven, Gary Halbert, who once declared, “Strong copy will not overcome a weak offer but…in many cases, a strong offer will succeed in spite of weak copy written by marketing morons.”

But hey, we’re not just any marketing morons, are we?

The Power of Benefits Over Features

Here’s the thing-people don’t buy products.

They buy benefits.

It’s not about the high-tech gizmos or the revolutionary formula. It’s about what your product or service can do for your reader. Can it save them time? Make them feel more confident? Help them get healthier?

Remember, features tell, but benefits sell.

So instead of saying, “Our vacuum cleaner has a 1400W motor,” say, “With our powerful vacuum cleaner, your cleaning time is cut in half.”

See the difference?

Techniques to Keep Readers Hooked

  1. Tell a Story: Stories engage, captivate, and make your message more memorable. Weave your benefits into a narrative your readers can relate to.
  2. Use Power Words: Power words spark emotion and inspire action. Words like “imagine,” “discover,” “unleash,” and “instant” can make your copy more compelling.
  3. Break it Down: Big blocks of text can be intimidating. Use subheadings, bullet points, and short paragraphs to make your copy more digestible.
“The most powerful element in advertising is the truth.” — William Bernbach

Examples of Engaging Body Content

Let’s dive into some examples to get a clearer picture:

  • Narrative Driven: “It was just another day for John. Another day of struggling with complicated reports and endless spreadsheets. That’s when we introduced him to our software. Now, John’s workdays are a breeze.” — Presents a relatable scenario, introduces a problem, and offers a solution.
  • Bullet Point Breakdown:
  • Cut cleaning time in half with our 1400W motor
  • Say goodbye to dust with our HEPA filter technology
  • Enjoy effortless cleaning with our lightweight design

Creating captivating body content is no walk in the park, but with these techniques, you’re well on your way.

Stay with us as we journey into our next topic-Calls to Action. Because no good meal is complete without a tempting dessert, right?

Crafting Calls to Action — The Grand Finale

So we’ve journeyed together, from the headline through the opening paragraph and deep into the body of your copy. And now, it’s time for the grand finale- the call to action (CTA).

This is your final push, your chance to get your reader to act.

To quote the direct-marketing genius Dan Kennedy, “The only purpose of advertising is to make sales.

It is profitable or unprofitable according to its actual sales.” your CTA is the linchpin that can turn an engaged reader into a satisfied customer.

Why CTAs Are Vital

Without a CTA, your compelling copy is an excellent read.

But you’re not here to entertain.

You’re here to persuade, to convince, to sell.

That’s where your CTA comes into play.

It gives your reader clear direction on what to do next, whether subscribing to a newsletter, buying a product, or downloading a guide.

The Art of an Effective CTA

An effective CTA is clear, compelling, and, most importantly, action-oriented. Here are some ingredients for an irresistible CTA:

  1. Clear Instructions: Use verbs to show what action you want your readers to take. Subscribe? Download? Purchase? Make it obvious.
  2. Sense of Urgency: Create a sense of scarcity or time limit. Limited stocks? A sale that ends soon? Urgency can compel readers to act.
  3. Promise of Benefit: Your readers want to know what’s in it for them. Show them how clicking that button will benefit them.
“If you can’t turn yourself into your customer, you probably shouldn’t be in the ad writing business at all.” — Leo Burnett

Examples of Impactful CTAs

Here are a couple of examples to show you how it’s done:

  • “Ready to skyrocket your savings? Download our ultimate guide now!” — Clear instruction? Check. The promise of benefit? Check.
  • “Don’t miss out! Grab your discounted tickets before they’re gone!” — Sense of urgency? Check. Clear instruction? Check.

In the grand orchestra that is your copy, the CTA is the final resounding note that leaves your audience amazed and ready for action.

But wait, we’re still going. Our journey has one final stop-the art of polishing your copy, trimming the fat, and perfecting your masterpiece. Stay tuned, my fellow scribes. The end is in sight.

Polishing Your Copy — Trimming the Fat

Fellow copywriters, we’ve taken the scenic route, from the headline to the call to action. But we’re still not at the finish line.

Before we step back and admire our handiwork, one crucial step is polishing your copy.

As legendary adman, Howard Luck Gossage once said, “Nobody reads ads. People read what interests them. Sometimes, it’s an ad.”

So, let’s ensure your copy isn’t just another ad. Let’s make it a gem that sparkles in the sea of content.

The Importance of a Good Edit

Nobody, not even the masters, gets it right the first time. That’s where editing comes in. A good edit tightens your language, sharpens your message, and trims away the fluff that can dilute your copy’s impact.

Steps to Polishing Perfection

Here’s a quick guide to polishing your copy until it gleams:

  1. Cut the Fluff: Look for redundant words, cliches, and wordy sentences. Be ruthless-every word must earn its place.
  2. Check for Clarity: Does your copy communicate your message? Is the benefit obvious? If not, it’s time to revisit and revise.
  3. Keep It Simple: Remember, you’re writing for humans, not for a Ph.D. thesis panel. Avoid jargon and keep your language accessible and relatable.
“The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.” — David Ogilvy

The Power of a Final Read-Through

Once you’ve done the edits, step away from your copy.

Take a breather, grab a coffee, or simply clear your mind.

When you return to it with fresh eyes, you’d be surprised how many tiny tweaks you’ll still want to make.

When your copy reads smooth as silk, holds attention from headline to CTA, and leaves no room for fluff-that, my friends, is when you know you’ve got a winner.

And there we have it.

From understanding your audience to crafting your CTA, we’ve covered the entire journey of writing copy that sizzles and sells.

But remember, copywriting is an art that evolves with every pen stroke (or tap of the keyboard).

So, keep learning, keep experimenting, and keep writing.

Wrapping It Up — The Finale

Well, folks, we’ve traversed the gamut of copywriting, from understanding your audience’s wants and needs to crafting compelling headlines, enticing opening paragraphs, persuasive body content, and irresistible CTAs.

And let’s remember the critical step of polishing your copy until it shines.

In the words of advertising titan Bill Bernbach, “Word of mouth is the best medium of all.”

So, aim to write copy that doesn’t just sell but also compels your readers to become advocates, spread your message, and make it resonate in the hearts and minds of others.

Copywriting is more than just writing-it’s part science, part art, and a lot of heart.

It’s about understanding human psychology, mastering the rules of persuasion, and weaving words into a tapestry that informs, engages, and motivates.

We hope this guide has given you the tools and inspiration to create copy that doesn’t just sizzle but also sells. Because, at the end of the day, that’s what great copywriting is all about-creating a connection, inspiring action, and driving results.

So, put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, and let’s create copy that genuinely matters.

And that, dear readers, is a wrap. Until next time, keep sizzling and selling!

Originally published at on August 4, 2023.

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