Copywriter defined: a spellbinder. Our job description includes “putting readers/viewers/visitors into a waking trance”–which is far more ominous than it sounds.
You’ve been in a waking trance thousands of times. Whenever a movie, book, sporting event or other cherished activity (including watching your children play or sleep) has you enthralled and thinking of nothing else, you’re in a waking trance. You’re “spellbound”–and it’s your unique perspective on the activity you’re immersed in that casts the spell you’re under. You do it to yourself willingly and without reservation!
A copywriter’s job is to find out who their clients’ target audiences/ideal clients are, what their pains, problems or predicaments are that are making them miserable (or what pleasures they seek that haven’t been met yet) and clearly deliver the messages that will have them picking up the phone, filling out the form, or downloading the special report that promises to deliver a solution to them.
It’s really as simple as that! (And as damnably hard.)
The challenge is that there is no magic net that lifts every potential prospect into the boat. When a client tells me their target audience is “everybody” I know it’s going to take a careful conversation to convince them that by trying to appeal to everybody, they’ll appeal to nobody strongly enough to put them into a waking trance of their own making.
Need proof? Which two people do you know who are compelled to immediate, synchronized action by exactly the same information? Darned few, I’ll wager! Only “sheeple” behave that way–among them lynch mobs incited to violence that they’d enjoy getting behind, political operatives, paid and unpaid Internet trolls, and scores of other group-think androids that I hesitate to name…but you know who they are if you watch cable news or listen to talk radio. Blow the whistle and they respond like Pavlov’s dogs! Sheeple are pretty much always in a waking trance of their own making and volition!
This is why I always get a giggle (and a little bit of heartburn) when someone tells me that he or she has a teenage son or daughter who gets straight A’s in English who can write their sales copy for them, or that they can find someone on a cut-rate freelance services website who will do a great job for them for less than I charge. Buyers get what they’re willing to settle for. I know, because I see a lot of copy on websites that is fit only for lining the bottom of bird cages…and guess what? It delivers the same result: Crappy!)
I don’t know any teenagers (or many adults, for that matter) with sufficient training and psychological underpinnings to discern how to appeal to busy, multitasking consumers quickly and powerfully enough to stop them in their tracks and put them into a waking trance.
Busy people give a sales piece a total of five to eight seconds to capture them. But capturing them is only the first hurdle. Next you have to be sure they remain riveted in place. Every word, every line has to compel them forward. No period at the end of any sentence must be allowed to usher them out; the next word has to cue their brain to insist that they read on!
If you think this is easy, try it yourself. Consumers drive hard bargains these days: they won’t stick around to be bored or lectured. They want to know, quickly, that you “get” them, that you can help them, and that they can trust you to deliver what you promise. Lose them anywhere along the line and they’ll find someone else who won’t, someone else who doesn’t waste their time.
If you’re trying to write your own copy, read HYPNOTIC WRITING by Joe Vitale, WEB COPY THAT SELLS by Maria Veloso, TRIGGERS by Joe Sugarman, and six or seven other copy writing books. Not just once– five or six times each! Hand copy the examples until the cadence and rhythm of a great sales piece becomes as much muscle memory as it is book learnin’.
It will take years to be exceptional. It absolutely will not happen overnight or in a year’s time. You’ll keep getting better if you keep at it religiously, but you won’t be great for a very long time.
You can’t microwave excellence.
It doesn’t work that way.
If you define yourself as a copywriter, you’d better be as spellbinding as Professor Harold Hill!
(If the last line throws you for a loop, watch ‘The Music Man’ starring Robert Preston. Focus on his communication skills, not the fact that he’s a cad.)