By Dan Stelter

How long have you looked for an edge on your competition? Weeks? Months? Years? At least part of small business success involves your personal dedication and hard work. But another part of it means using innovation to blow your competition out of the water.

Sometimes, competitive advantages hide right under your nose. And believe it or not, this particular edge I’m talking about has been around for decades. But just a handful of businesses, maybe 1% or even less, even think of it. What am I talking about?

Persuasive copywriting by a professional.

How Does Copywriting Work?

The basic process is simple, but it’s not easy. It takes a lot of time to get your copy right so it speaks precisely to the problem your ideal client faces and positions you as the solution. For most copywriters, it begins with a questionnaire. When most business owners say they know more than anyone else about their business, they’re right.

Copywriters are not experts in your particular business. There’s no way they can be because you need years of expertise in your niche to be a true “expert.” But, they are experts in quickly learning about your business and selling its products and services through the written word.

Having a phone conversation with clients often reveals valuable insights they would never discuss if they wrote answers to the questions. Sometimes, they give you all the information you need to write copy. When they don’t, you research websites, forums, and blogs to gauge what really bothers people who need your product or service. You also want the exact words they use to talk about your products and services.

The Importance of Headlines

Let’s focus on the process of copywriting for the piece of content that gets eyes on it first — the headline. To get attention, your copy must have a single focus idea. The headline must immediately capture interest. The success of the entire body of your copy hinges on how well you get people to read the headline. With headlines, there’s a couple different ways to go.

Touch on a big fear your clients have.

If you sell financial services, you might talk about a potential market collapse and needing to have an expert guide you through tough times. Focus on the fear factor to give some urgency as to why the reader needs to click right now in order to get some very timely advice.

Sell the benefits.

A benefit is what your product or service does for your client. Going back to the financial services example, a benefit-focused headline could be “5 ways to preserve and grow your wealth during turbulent economic times” or “7 investing strategies that consistently outperform the DOW.”

Include a call to action.

Many websites don’t even have a call-to-action, and when they do it’s often the last thing that you’ll see at the end of the web page. On most websites you see something like “call us” or “contact us.” Does that really motivate you to take action now? A call to action that’s more likely to spur buying behavior reminds the reader of the value they get by calling.

Using a call to action in your headline is also an effective way to generate interest. So you might use a headline like,”Learn how to save money for retirement today.”

This post only touched on the bare essential elements of copy, but has hopefully helped you understand the importance of copywriting for small business owners.