There are lots of ways to approach marketing copy. A quick Google search for “tips for writing good marketing copy” serves up 185 MILLION results, proving that lots of people feel they have the secret for copywriting success. As a copywriter, I too have my own personal arsenal of tips and tricks for writing copy that converts; my heaviest hitter is the SBDO/A method, first introduced to me in the book Get to the Point! by Ron Blicq and Lisa Moretto.
What exactly is this mysterious acronym and how does it help with copywriting? Let me break it down.
S – Subject
The subject can be very simply described by finishing the sentence “I want to tell you that…” Once the sentence is finished, take off those six invisible words, and you have the essence of your message.
I want to tell you that you should visit Fulkerson winery because of their established history.”
I want to tell you that Vega plastic surgery will help restore your natural beauty through various cosmetic procedures.”
By boiling an entire website down to one simple statement, it’s easy to identify the main message your copy should be centered around. Once you know what exactly you’re focused on, you have the framework for your home page positioning statement and other high-level headings.
B – Background
Okay, so you’ve got the main point of whatever you’re writing – now what? Next comes the Background, aka high-level information that talks about who was involved, where and why something happened, and, sometimes, when this thing happened.
For marketing copy, the who is almost always the “implied you”, or the person who is reading the copy. The where is sometimes overlooked (this is often especially true for eCommerce sites that aren’t tied to any one physical location), as is the when. The when is typically only relevant for limited time offers, sales, events, or conferences – anything that is truly time-sensitive.
However, you can skip answering any of these questions and still be set up for success; it’s the why of the matter is crucial for marketing copy.
Why should someone visit your store? Or buy your product over a competitor’s version? Why should someone partner with you? Or subscribe to your monthly newsletter? The answers to these questions are your Background points.
Once you’ve figured out the meat of your message in the Subject stage, thinking about Background details (or the why’s) helps naturally transition your copy into benefit statements and buying rationale. You’re able to think about what the website visitor/potential buyer needs to know in order to get the big picture of the offerings.
“Fulkerson’s established history has helped them perfect their craft over generations.”
“Vega is the right choice for you because they help in all areas of the body. Whether you want to reshape your natural curves or enhance your facial features, Vega can help.”
D – Details
Similar to Background, this stage focuses on supporting your Subject with, you guessed it, valuable details. Everything in this stage is designed to help the reader come to a conclusion or make a decision about the product or service. Details work best when they support specific Background elements, often driving home not just the benefit of the product or service, but the direct ways the product or service will impact the buyers’ lives.
Often, you will end up with multiple sections of Background followed by Details. After all, Background is a benefit and Details are the facts to support it. It’s no secret that your product or service should offer multiple benefits, thus the repetition of these two stages.
“Fulkerson has perfected not only wine making, but also pressing their own grape juices.”
“Vega reshapes curves by offering tummy tucks, breast lifts, or liposuction and helps enhance facial features through rhinoplasty, browlift, and facelift procedures.”
O/A – Outcome/Action
In Get to the Point!, the authors say this method of writing ends with either an Outcome OR an Action, but when it comes to copywriting, I say it ends in both. The Outcome is basically the end state you want all of your website visitors to be in after making their way through your website or article. The Action is your call to action (I know, crazy).
The perfect example of that can be found at the bottom of all pages on CEIPAL’s website. You see the large text, “Why wouldn’t you want to save money and get a superior platform?” alongside the CTA of, “Get a free trial.”
The Outcome is basically a wrap-up of all the Background and Detail points previously shared. In this case, it’s asking the question of “why wouldn’t you want all these great things we just explained to you?” The desired Outcome is “I do want them”, which is why they’ve chosen to make it a hypothetical question. This Outcome then transitions naturally into the CTA, aka the direct action the site visitor is to take – signing up for a free trial.
By partnering the Outcome with the desired Action, you get to conclude your website with how you hope your reader is now feeling before asking them direction to do the thing.
“Try a wine that’s been perfected over time. Buy Your Bottle >”
“Don’t settle for less than the best for your body. Schedule a Consultation >”
Before you sit down to write your next article, website, or email, think through the SBDO/A method and figure out what exactly it is you’re trying to say. Writing in this pattern makes it easy to identify where the piece is going before you even begin and helps to tie information together in a way that makes natural sense to the reader. By using this method, you can rest assured that you aren’t hiding valuable information too far down in your text and you keep topics focused on one central subject.