Education

The Art And Skill Of Persuasive Copywriting

What is Copywriting?
Copywriting is a term that refers to the process of writing marketing and promotional texts (also called sales “copy”), in efforts to publicize and promote a product or service in a fashion that will entice the reader to buy. Persuasive copywriting contains the elements needed to engage the reader, and keep them wanting to read further. This is the fundamental goal of good copywriting-keeping the reader captivated, and wanting to continue reading.
Every statement in persuasive copywriting is intended to keep the reader wanting to read the next statement. This seamless chain of statements is written in a fashion that builds excitement by adding colorful words, and psychological cues-designed to influence thought and incite responses. The job of the copywriter is to speak to the mind and heart of the reader, and give her what she is looking for. This starts by knowing what she desires; then, promising the fulfillment of those desires (then making sure to deliver… of course!).
The Headline
The headline is arguably the most important part of any sales copy. This is because if there is no interest after the headline is read, then you have lost your reader-and thus a potential sale. The objective of the headline is to whet the readers appetite, and keep them salivating for more. You want to have them champing at the proverbial bit, to hear what you are preparing to reveal.
One way I often like to test my headlines, is to imagine that the late, great Don “Thunder Throat” LaFontaine (guy that did the voice-overs for thousands of movie trailers) is reading my headline. While that voice will give more flair to any headline, it really helps me put things into proper perspective. Think about how many movie sales were made with that style of enthralling speech pattern. In short, you need to make every word count.
Whether short headlines are better than longer headlines is debatable, because it really depends on the product or service being pitched. On the other hand, a general rule of thumb for the typical business sales copy is that “less is best.” Getting the readers initial attention with as few words as possible is suggested.
Some examples of captivating headlines are:
– Here Is The Secret Your Doctor Does Not Want You To Know…
– 7 Things To NEVER Do During A Sales Presentation
– How To Make $5,000 In 60 Days From Home… No Selling
– Discover This Celebrity Trainer’s #1 Weight Loss Secret
-Instantly Triple Your Monthly Sales Online
The above headlines are clear and specific, yet do not give enough information to tell the reader any of the details. This is how you bait your reader into wanting to see your offer. Notice that there are no exclamation marks, and that is merely because a good headline does not require any exclamation marks.
Some proven headline concepts include those that:
– Appear to reveal secrets;
– Begin with “how to”;
– Feature a numbered list of things;
– Mention making “$x,xxx/month;” or
– Refer to doing something in a much shorter period of time than normal
The Promise
Starting with the headline and continuing throughout the text, there is a subliminal promise that must be translated to the reader. Even in the headline “7 Things To NEVER Do During A Sales Presentation,” the promise is to arm the reader with knowledge, using a list of things that will obliterate the opportunity for a successful sales presentation. Stay focused on your promise while writing your copy, and do not waiver from your key point.
Statistics Say…
If you are not well-known in your field, or are looking to add credibility to your copywriting, there is nothing that creates trust between your reader and yourself, like the expression of cold, hard facts. You will notice that I did not say sweeping statements or generalizations. If your example of a fact is: “Most women like XYZ,” than you have much to learn about statistics. Something like: “In a 2007 interview with Sean Ammirati, Udi Manber-Google’s Vice-President of Engineering, admitted that 20 to 25% of the searches they see daily they have never seen before;” makes for a strong verifiable statistic.
Your reader needs to be able to identify the details of your statistic, and then be able to go and find that statistic (in most cases). In our Google statistic, we see that the “who” and the “when” are established early, thus making it possible for anyone to find this statistic if they want verification. The date (2007) is important in this statistic, because today this number may not be accurate, and the reader is able to take that into consideration.
Consumer Psychology
The man dubbed the “father of spin” was named Edward Bernays. This guy literally wrote the book on propaganda (Bernays wrote the book entitled “Propaganda” in 1928), and learned much of what he practiced from his uncle, and he used his skill of persuasion to promote his uncle whose theories would become more popular in the US than in Austria, where his uncle was from. His uncle was Sigmund Freud, and he is well known for his theories on psychology internationally.
Bernays was the architect of such controversial propaganda campaigns as the campaign to make it acceptable for women to smoke-during a time when it was seen as detestable, and also the campaign to brand beer as “the beverage of moderation.” Praised by many in the PR industry for his skill of persuasion and hated by others for his use of propaganda to alter public opinion, Bernays will take his seat in history as the father of consumer psychology as we know of it today. What can we learn from his controversial and often sinister-seeming approach?

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