What’s the secret to creating instantly gripping and useful copy?
Engage or Die
Gripping copy engages. It spurs the reader to action and leaves an impression. It connects. If your words fail, your content flatlines.
The Internet is ripe with opportunities for entrepreneurs and they understand the value of content marketing. They know it’s not a get rich quick scheme guaranteed to produce immediate results. It’s evergreen. And just like an evergreen plant, it takes time to nurture and grow.
Words create content, and they have to connect with readers. Who chooses words? Often a copywriter or a wordsmith. Whether you’re a writer ready to up your game or a business owner looking to hire the right expert, there’s something crucial you must understand…
Anyone Can Write
Bt only an expert can write something powerful.
What makes an outstanding and effective copywriter? Is it the art of enticing just enough to get the desired response? Is it weaving the client’s needs and expectations into the copy? Is it the ability to consistently make each piece stand out from the monsoon of mediocre inundating the Internet?
Copywriters build a reputation on the quality of their words. Their primary focus is on delivering a clear message, and that message must achieve a specific goal. At the same time, the words on the page must speak to their intended audience and engage them. After all, word wielding experts are hired to be the voice of their client, and a voice motivates people to action.
So how do wordsmiths engage, enlighten, and delight readers? By writing instantly engaging copy. But how do they DO it?
Here are five techniques used to create head-turning copy:
#1: Evaluate and Define Your Audience
It’s basic but essential.
Imagine meeting a person for the first time. What would you talk about? Obviously, something relevant. You’d probably pick something you have in common. Whether the meeting was planned or improvised, you would evaluate that person to define the contents of your conversation.
Skilled copywriters do the same thing but with words, and here’s the blueprint:
- Build a profile of the ideal reader.
- Visualize, detail, and describe who they are and what matters to them.
- Describe their situation or problem to establish common ground.
- Predetermine what they will (or should) think when reading the copy.
- Determine and address issues that might hinder the desired reaction to the copy.
- Ensure the presented message addresses their needs and wants.
Remember, the message in any given piece of copy is not for everyone; it’s specifically for those who it will benefit. Cater to their perspective.
#2: Find and Fix the Pain
Have you ever been a purchasing agent?
They sort through a huge assemblage of product features. As buyers, they must be attuned to every detail of every item they purchase for their company. Imagine reading columns of features and comparisons all day long. Thankfully, technology has automated many of these tasks, but still, reading lists of features is not very engaging. In fact, it could put you to sleep.
Readers don’t first care about features. They care about solutions because they want a fix to what pains them. Here’s how you help them with words:
- Write first about solutions and benefits.
- Learn your readers’ environments, their concerns, their needs, and their desires.
- Describe a scenario that mimics their pain.
- Define and describe a value proposition to build credibility, but avoid getting too intimate too soon.
Now, avoiding rushed intimacy is important.
Think about it. When you go on a first date, the attraction probably isn’t caused by an immediate hug or kiss. Sure, you might really need a hug right then, but instinctively, if someone becomes too intimate too soon, you automatically doubt their intent and message.
Copywriting must craft a credible message to instantly let the reader know their needs can be met. But you have to pace it because too much too soon is like going in for a hug or a kiss at the very beginning of the first date — not cool!
#3: The Billboard Approach
The best way to create instantly engaging copy is to leverage what we call the billboard approach.
The message you craft needs to stop the reader in their tracks and spark the intended reaction while channeling the reader’s problem and need.
Imagine being hungry on the interstate and seeing a billboard that shows exactly what you’re craving — no list of features or details, just the right words and graphics to attract enough want to take the next exit, turn left, and drive half a mile.
The words you write, from headlines to paragraphs, should create a digital billboard directing people to follow a specific course of action.
#4: Appease the Grammar Police
As professional writers, we edit. It’s just what we do, but we need to go beyond a mediocre review of what we’ve written.
The Internet is full of self-appointed grammar police just looking for a chance to issue citations. Nothing will lose audience engagement (and clients) like failing to appease the grammar gurus, be they legit or self-proclaimed.
Develop a consistent and focused review process to combat a multitude of mishaps. Use checklists and grammar checks. Work with a personal editor if necessary.
Editing and proofreading will provide the assurance that you can consistently produce exceptional copy. And that kills two birds with one stone:
- It keeps your readers engaged as nothing erodes attention faster than errors.
- It helps keep your clients happy as no legit grammar police will be commenting about a flood of flaws and linked it to lack of trust or authority.
Now, this isn’t to say your copy will always be 100% perfect. The English language is packed with controversial rules, multiple interpretations, and continuing evolution. To err is human, and it can actually increase trust and authority. BUT that’s different from a tempest of typos.
#5: Reaction by Rebellion
It goes without saying that your clients have high expectations for quality writing. Whether on the Internet or on paper, wordsmiths strive for perfection. But improper grammar, odd punctuation, and colloquial language are all effective techniques for persuading readers.
Take Shakespeare as an example. When there wasn’t a satisfactory word for a scene he wrote, he created one. He rebelled against the English language when it suited his purpose and made sense. Look at how engaging his work remains to this day…400+ years after its release.
What’s the lesson?
You can achieve the desired reaction through rebellion. If you evaluate and define your intended audience early on, and keep them in mind during the writing process, you’ll identify areas where a hint of defiance to the rules of grammar will demand attention and produce the desired reaction — grammar police be damned.
As a high-level guideline to be used with caution, you can incite a minor mutiny by creatively using:
- Dangling prepositions
- Slang words
- Sentence fragments
- One-sentence paragraphs
Rebell on sensible occasions while dominantly demonstrating excellent grammar. Look for opportunities where disregarding a rule makes your copywriting both impactful and specific to a profiled reader. The more readers that can relate to the message, the more likely they will be to act on it.
Go Kick Some Copywriting A$$
And there you have it! You’ve just delved into five of the most important techniques behind lively and engaging copy.
Use these to improve your writing. If you’re contracting a wordsmith, find out if they’re aware of (and use) these techniques. And hey, one last thing. Two heads are always better than one. Drop us a comment and share how you make your writing instantly gripping.
Until next time, keep kicking copywriting butt!