5.1: Skimmable Copy

Just as the greatest speakers use techniques to add rhythm and emphasis to make their points and keep listeners engaged, there are copywriting tools you can use to do the same.

One of those tools is the humble bullet point.

Bullet points break up your copy into more manageable, easy-to-read sections. What’s more, because they stand out from your body copy, they’re perfect for:

  • Making your copy easier to read
  • Adding emphasis to important points
  • Getting the attention of your audience

(Do you see what we did there?)

Bullet points not only encourage your reader to stop and take notice, they can also be used to break long lists of information into something more digestible.

So what kind of items could you use as a bulleted section? Here are some examples:

One: The benefits of your offer

If you want to quickly convey the value of your offer, some compelling, benefit-focused bullets may be the way to go. For example:

  • Create beautiful, inspiring rooms without hiring an interior designer
  • Buy jaw-dropping furniture on a budget
  • Discover which simply colours and styles can transform your home

Two: The problem or pain you solve

One way to get your customer’s attention is to highlight the problem you solve for them.

For example:

  • Stop struggling with spreadsheets to manage your accounts
  • Eliminate the need to scan or print invoices
  • Get 90% of your accounting processes done automatically

This short sharp focus on the frustrations in your customer’s life can be effective in helping them visualise their day-to-day complaints, making them more receptive when you reveal the solution.

Three: Define your target market

One problem I see a lot especially in long-form landing pages, is not enough emphasis on who the product is for.

A prospect reading about a business conference may be interested in the topics and workshops, but still have questions that may stop them buying a ticket for example: What’s the skill-level of the workshops? Will the case studies be relevant to me? Is this aimed at businesses my size?

In which case, you may decide to use bullets to describe your ideal customer. For example:

This is for you if:

  • You’ve been in business less than 12 months
  • You have no more than 5 employees
  • Your turnover will be less than £75,000 a year

If you have specific criteria for your target market, bullet-points can be used to make it clear that what you have is perfect for them.

Four: Showing your customer what they get

A natural question of anytone reading a sales page or landing page is: “What do I get if I take this action?”

In this example, we’re not talking about listing the benefits, but the nuts and bolts of what they actually receive. For example:

When you register today, you get instant access to:

  • Your 72 page full-colour eBook on how to dress fashionably when trying to lose weight
  • 32 page workbook with practical exercises for revamping your wardrobe
  • 4 video tutorials files showing you how to find the best bargains, stay motivated and enjoy the process
  • 1 x 60 minute private coaching call for advice and help tailored to you

Separating what you have to offer in this way is also a great technique in ‘stacking the value’ to make your reader fall in love with the price.

Five: Make your process appear effortless

Bullet points can also be used to show step-by-step how easy it is to work with you or use your product.

This also helps customers ‘visualise’ what it’s like to work with you or accept your offer. For example:

Working with me as your designer is simple:

  1. First we get together and talk about your ideas, goals and objectives
  2. I’ll offer feedback and create a proposal for you to review
  3. Once you’re happy with the proposed design I’ll create it within 1 week
  4. We’ll get together to discuss the results and any changes you’d like
  5. I’ll complete the changes, send it to you for final approval and then put it live

This strips away the mystery of what it’s like to engage in your services, building confidence in your reader to take action.

3 more tips on using bullet points

One: Don’t use too many

If you try to make everything stand out in your sales page, nothing stands out. If every section you write is just another list of bullet points, it doesn’t become easier to read, it means people are more likely to skip over reams and reams of lists.

Two: Make sure they flow

Usually, you will have a sentence that leads into your list if points. It’s really important that this sentence flows with each line on the list. For example, the following shows a clunky list:

When you use our product, you’ll find that:

  • You have more energy for longer
  • Jump out of bed in the morning
  • Experience a more positive outlook

Why doesn’t it sound right? Well, the first point is fine, because if we put the introductory sentence with the first point, it reads: “When you use our product, you’ll find that you have more energy for longer”

This flows just nicely. But what about the other 2 points?

“When you use our product, you’ll find that jump out of bed in the morning”

“When you use our product, you’ll find that experience a more positive outlook”

It doesn’t work. As a result it interrupts the flow of your list. Make sure when you use bullet points that you can read the introductory sentence and any point in that list and it makes sense.

Three: Open with a verb to add power and punch to your message

Verbs are your friend when it comes to influencing a reader, and they make all the difference between writing  copy that makes your reader think “blah blah yadda yadda” and “wait… tell me more!”

Let’s dive straight into an example using bullet points for a sales coaching product:

  • This unique and innovative course will make you a master of the art of selling your product face-to-face
  • You’ll be able to see an improvement in your sales within just a few weeks
  • We will help you know what to say and what not to say in any situation

Now on the whole, these are positive points with benefits included, but they’re lacking punch and are too easy for our reader to skip over and ignore.

There is a simple way of beefing them up and making them easier to read:

Trim the fat and start with action

Verbs build active language and give your writing momentum. Let’s take that first bullet point and scrub out anything that’s not necessary:

This unique and innovative course will make you a master of the art of selling your product face-to-face.

I see this a lot in business marketing materials, it’s as though the writer is taking a run up to the main point when what you really want to start with is action, which means putting the verb first:

Master the art of selling face-to-face

“Master” – In the first word we’re using our influence to show the reader that they are going to improve in some area of their life. That first word works to catch the eye and pull the reader into the sentence because it’s making them a promise of results rather than talking about the product.

So how might the other bullet points look like with the same treatment?

First, let’s trim the fat and cut anything that’s not essential to selling the value to our customer.

  • You’ll be able to see an improvement in your sales within just a few weeks
  • We will help you know what to say and what not to say in any situation

Next, what do they all look like if we work around the verb as the first word?

  • Master the art of selling face-to-face
  • Improve your sales within weeks
  • Know what to say (and what not to say) in any situation

This is definitely a habit you want to cultivate in your writing. It gets your reader straight into the action like a good explosion in the opening of an action movie. 🙂