You've heard it many times: If you want your marketing materials to do their job, you have to stress benefits, not features. Ultimately, your target readers don't care about what your product does. They care about what your product does for them.
But guess what: This still doesn't mean your readers will take the action you want them to.
With all the focus on "benefits," it's easy to forget that benefits don't work in a vacuum. Whenever you write copy, there's more you must always keep in mind:
1. Effective copy establishes context
Does your copy immediately dive into the benefits of your specific product or offer? In many cases, that could be the proverbial kiss of death.
Why? Because maybe your reader isn't aware she has a need for your product. Or even that there is a need.
The likely result? She glances at your copy... and moves on to something else.
So, before it gets too deep into your product, your copy needs to establish context. It needs to address the big picture of your reader's daily life. The big picture of her industry. The big picture of her profession. The big picture of her world. Whatever it is, it's the big picture that has (surprise!) created a need for your product.
Once you've articulated that, the product you're selling and its attendant benefits naturally follow. You've sucked your reader in.
You should be able to establish context within a few short paragraphs, or even a few sentences. It all depends on your medium and audience. For example, with a brochure you have room to say more (and maybe you need to). But with an ad or a promotional email, you don't.
And this goes hand in hand with...