At car dealerships, the sales person pushes to get you to take a test drive. Why? Because it’s the best way for you to see yourself as the owner of that car.
Copywriting for building materials companies works the same way.
But it’s easy to get someone to drive a car if a customer doesn’t read your email or web copy – there is no test drive.
Step 1: Make it Reader-Friendly
As a marketer, you must realize that when a prospect enters your website or opens your emails that their hand is hovering over the mouse. It only takes one second to decide if the message is worth their time. If it looks “complicated” or “difficult” to read, game over. If the prospect has to “work,” game over.
The key is to understand the workings of an online attention span, without this, you will lose sales.
The presentation of your copy is critical. You must become reader-friendly.
Study newspapers and magazines. Notice how they use headlines and sub-heads; how they rarely use more than ten words a line. Also, notice how they mainly use one font style, in black, on a white background. They keep it simple. They know this makes it easy to skim.
Read your emails and web pages through your prospect’s eyes. Is it easy to skim the page? Is the page cluttered? Does it make it easy for them to get to you?
Step 2: Identify the customers
Whether you are writing about commercial or residential building materials, your customers include owners, architects, general contractors, and subcontractors. Understanding each group’s needs and pressure points will lead you to write in a way that appeals to them and helps them see how your products solve their problems.
My blog on Knowledge and Power In Building Material Sales, available here, is one place to start.
Step 3: What do these customers want?
Ask yourself, what are the likely project goals for each of your group of customers? Although the emphasis may differ, the answer to that question typically will fall into these three broad categories: quality, price, and on-time and on-budget construction.
These factors change with each customer but should become the themes to emphasize throughout your copy.
Step 4: Apply Dale Carnegie’s formula
Yes, Dale Carnegie wrote about speech making, but his old formula works for great copywriting, too.
It’s three simple steps—incident, action, and benefit—to frame your copy so that your customer can visualize happily being in the driver’s seat using your products.
Incident: Describe a case in which quality, price or time and budget caused headaches for the owner/architect/general contractor. You probably know several. Pick one familiar to your target customers.
Another approach is to focus separately on quality, price, and on-time and on-budget construction. Offer a different incident for each factor.
After reading this section, customers should come away thinking, This building materials manufacturer really understands the quicksand we can get into and knows how important it is to me that we avoid doing that.
Notice that we haven’t yet talked about your building material products. That comes next.
Action: Describe a specific action you want your customers to take that will avoid the above headaches.
Attention! This is not the spot (yet) for, “Buy my product today.” This is the time to introduce customers to your products and then, in this order:
- Offer customers a virtual tour of buildings that have incorporated your products successfully.
- Ask customers to take a look at the testimonials that lend credibility and trust to your product claims.
- Suggest that customers take a look at how your product outperforms the competition in areas such as quality, on-time/on-budget guarantees, creative solutions to problems as they arise, and/or ease of installation. It’s best to walk a fine line here, taking care to highlight the benefits of your company and product without burning the competitors.
- Ask customers to click on links to articles that report how your company has made a difference.
Each of these steps builds the case that these customers can trust your company and products, and you can help them avoid the headaches they fear the most as they go forward with their construction project.
Notice how I said “your company and products”—because you are selling yourself as well as your products.
3. Benefit: Now these customers are in the driver’s seat. Your copy in this section should help them imagine what they will experience as a benefit of having used your products.
- Help owners and architects picture a project and how it will meet their needs; maybe the project is a commercial building that they can showcase as the centerpiece in their portfolio.
- Help general contractors picture a stress-free relationship, a partner who will be there to respond promptly and professionally to questions and provide the best products and prices.
You are painting a picture in this section, of a customer having saved time, money, and enjoying a long-lasting, high-quality building or project—because they used your company and your products. The focus is on the benefits for the customer, not the actual products, which are the means to the end benefits.
A lot of the content of this post came from Gerry Black of Relax Communications. Gerry is an expert in direct response copy, where there is always an effective call to action. I find that most building materials copy today lacks an effective call to action. Visit Gerry’s website to learn more.
Visit my blog for other marketing tips, and contact me with specific questions about how to promote your building materials manufacturing business and get your bottom line growing.