Writing Effective Sidebars
One way to add power, profit, and visual interest to your sales copy is with sidebars. Sidebars are like individual (usually boxed) short stories separated from the rest of the text. Magalogs – magazine-like sales letters – often have sidebars scattered throughout the copy. But you can use them effectively in almost any type of sales presentation. Here's how:
- Keep your focus simple. For example, if you're selling a nutritional supplement, use a sidebar to develop information about one of the ingredients if it might break the flow of your sale in the main letter.
- Keep your sidebar copy short, 150 to 200 words.
- Make sure your sidebar has "the 4 U's" – that it's Useful, Unique, Ultra-specific, and Urgent.
- Think "benefit." If, for example, you're using a sidebar to discuss an ingredient in a nutritional supplement (a feature), make sure you clearly tie that ingredient into the main benefit that your product provides
- Always have a call to action at the end of the sidebar – something like "If you want to ________, turn to page 6 and sign up now." You do not always have to call for the sale, but at least direct the reader back into the main copy or to another part of your letter.
- Use compelling headlines.
- Keep the formatting simple.