Typewriter Keys

I get to see a lot of copy in various stages. Copy clients send over, copy my direct response copywriting students create, what I get in the mail and read online and in magazines.

And, like most marketers, I keep a swipe file of good copy for inspiration. Writing good copy is part art, part science and very definitely an acquired skill.

The funny thing is, since ‘everyone can write’, many people either think their writing is adequate, or they don’t realize that good copy employs not only writing technique, but psychology, sales, demographic information, a theme and a formula.

Add time into the mix, many passes to edit, a hatchet to start the editing process and a scalpel to finish the job. In other words, a pretty robust tool kit is the order of the copywriting day.

I recently read a post by Yaro Starak, who I’ve long respected and followed and he nailed it:

“Copywriting is an art form. It requires marketing savvy, skill with persuasive words and an ability to innately understand what the consumer desires. This skillset is not common. Copy is the main interface that converts prospects into customers and if you don’t nail this part of your process you are wasting all the energy you put in to get to this point.”

This is what I tell people all the time, but it’s so much more powerful when it comes from someone who isn’t ME.

Think about it though, everything – no matter the media is about the message. Underlying every communication is just that – words that communicate a clear (ideally!) and certain message.

Here’s a good example. A client just sent over a video script for an explainer video – you know, the short 60-90 seconds videos that often use animated characters or a white board to convey a message, usually designed to introduce a concept or get someone to take an action.

It was a package deal and the company who produces the video sells the script along with production. The result? Ugh. Yeah, the words were there and the ideas were mostly in place, but the script lacked technique. It lacked the key elements that get people to pay attention, believe the message and take action.

Let’s face it, even if the offer is free, if it isn’t compelling, who cares! In order to resonate with the audience, you need to know what their pain points are. I like Dan Kennedy’s Problem | Agitate | Solution formula. It works well in so many situations.

As human beings we take action for one of two reasons, to avoid pain or gain pleasure. We’re far more motivated to get out of pain. We’re used to deferring pleasure – along the lines of “I’ll do that when….fill in the blank…when I retire, have more money, lose weight, have more time…”

If we’re in pain though, we want to be OUT OF PAIN. Period. So, we tap into the pain our reader is already feeling, because if it isn’t visceral and in the moment, they’ve likely tuned it out – because who wants to think about what’s bothering them?

Once we tap into the pain, we agitate or paint word pictures that make what they feel real and present in their minds. Only then can we provide a solution. Why? Because we’ve made them feel the problem and now they want to be rid of it!

For more about details, you can download my white paper: Write Compelling Copy, Create Results Driven Marketing (it comes with the info kit – see the graphic to your right). Here’s to improved messaging.

Does Copywriting Really Matter?
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