Copywriting is all about persuasion. The entire purpose of written content hinges on a reader following the call to action. However, persuasion doesn’t come as naturally to some writers as it does to others. It’s important for a reader to believe they are carrying out the action on their own accord. A writer walks a fine line between persuasion and force. The greatest copywriters on the planet can walk this tightrope. For up and coming writers or those who are struggling with the idea, here are several secrets to becoming one of the most persuasive copywriters on the planet.
1) Focus on One Idea
One of the biggest problems copywriters with all kinds of backgrounds run into is trying to cram too much information into a single post. No matter the subject or the desired call to action, a single written piece needs to have a singular purpose. If the business wants to drive up Facebook friends, this needs to be the single focus. If a business wants to boost sales of a particular product, this needs to be the single focus. Once content moves in varying directions, it dilutes the outcome, draws a reader’s attention away, and someone viewing the content won’t know what call to action to follow. There’s no limit to the amount of copy and pieces a writer can produce. So if a business wants to both increase sales and increase social follows, there needs to be content based on each.
Persuasive copywriters understand the importance of ideas. An idea needs to be clear and precise. It needs to come with supporting facts and a reason why the reader should care. Emphasizing one singular idea makes this possible. Even when writing a book, each chapter needs a singular idea. With a single idea, the copywriter can target a singular emotion and tell a single story.
2) Persuading the Senses Persuades the Client
Copywriting often focuses on selling a product, service or experience. The problem is, many writers don’t know the best way to connect a reader with the content. It’s all about the reader mentally forging this connection. One of the best ways to do this is to persuade the customer’s senses. For example, when selling food, an inexperienced (or sub-par) writer may say the food is great, or smells sweet or something else along those lines. However, this doesn’t really connect the reader’s senses to it. Instead, a reader should “savor” the “mouthwatering” food. Using visually descriptive words that specifically connect with a certain sense is a must. When writing about food, it is necessary to use food specific words to explain the senses. If talking about the quiet provided by noise-canceling headphones, it is necessary to connect with the sense of hearing.
Persuasion doesn’t just come from convincing a customer’s brain of what they may or may not like. Connecting with a reader’s senses forms an almost subconscious bond, which then convinces the reader’s brain without them even knowing they have been convinced. That’s the beauty of persuasive copywriting. It’s making it seem like the decision is their own, when in fact it comes directly from the copy.
3) Persuasion Happens Without a Reader Knowing It
Everyone has read content with the writer trying far too hard to sell a product or experience. Now, everyone reading the content knows it’s from a company or serves a specific purpose, but the continual bashing over the head does more to turn a prospective customer away than to make them want to follow through with the call to action.
Similar to connecting with a customer’s senses, forging a mental connection without the customer knowing about it helps boost persuasion tactics. Again, the very best persuasion occurs when a customer doesn’t know they are being convinced to do something but instead believes they are making the decision on their own. A quality copywriter takes advantage of what is referred to as awareness pattern words.
What are awareness pattern words? These are words that suggest a reader should become mentally aware of something around them. Words like discover, notice, see and realize are examples of awareness pattern words. When telling a customer to become aware of something, their brain instantly begins thinking of this kind of awareness. Terms like, “Have you ever noticed…” can work wonders. The reader will, in turn, look at whether or not they have, in fact, noticed this. The thing is, even if they haven’t actually noticed the suggestion previously, it’s still forcing them to mentally think about it. It’s simply what the brain does. The brain instantly forges ahead with this thought process. In a way, it’s like subliminal persuasion. It’s forcing the customer to think of a suggestion without physically forcing the reader to do it.
4) Hooking the Reader
New copywriters may find hooking the reader as quickly as possible is extremely difficult. It is vital for any form of media to hook the viewer. There’s a reason why movies often have a major event take place right at the beginning of the movie. It hooks the viewers (or at least that’s the goal). It brings the viewer in, allowing the audience to sit through necessary character development. If a movie were to simply skip over the initial hook and move right to character development, it would lose the attention of the audience. Once the attention of the audience is gone, it’s next to impossible to get it back. This happens with copywriting as well. It’s important to hook a reader’s attention within the first sentence. If this doesn’t take place, persuasion fails as the reader likely won’t even finish the copy.
So how do the great copywriters hook a reader right off the bat, and how do they do it over and over with each new piece? There is a pretty easy to follow formula every great copywriter followers (at least to an extent). A hook sentence includes an intro, followed by how what and when. Basically, the intro sets up the problem a product solves, followed by how a product can fix it, what the product is and when it can help. For example, if a pair of shoes is designed to improve sore feet, a sentence might go along the lines of, “What really is important to us is how quickly your feet feel relaxed and ache-free while using our X Brand Shoes.” A customer that suffers from this kind of a problem will instantly connect with the product and want to know more about these “ache free” shoes. By hooking the reader it ensures they will stick around and read up on the specifications of the shoes (aka, the character development of the product).
The very best copywriters know how to not only use this formula but also then bend it to better meet their particular needs and the needs of a customer. However, it’s important to not try to edit the formula until after its mastery. Picasso is world known for his cubism and abstract paintings, which often depict scenes and subjects from varying angles on a singular plane. However, before Picasso moved to this abstract representation, he worked in more traditional means. A copywriter can become more abstract with their hooks, much like Picasso, but only after they understand and have mastered the basic hook.
This is also where combining the awareness pattern words with the intro can pay off. Using “have you noticed,” “have you wondered,” and so on not only forces the reader’s brain to think on the subject but it also helps establish a stronger connection within the hook. This builds a persuasive path mentally for the reader with all subsequent information coming after building on this initial foundation.
5) Metaphors Are Powerful
Metaphors help beautiful illustrate an idea to make it more visually impactful for a reader. Some of the very best writers to ever live were masters of metaphors. They understood the importance of not only a reader following the written word, but imagine what the writer wants them to imagine. Writing something like, “His clothing crackled like fall leaves under the feet of a child.” Naturally, his clothes didn’t actually crackle like leaves. However, it instantly gives the reader a visual connection with the written word they may not have had without the metaphor.
The thing about metaphors is while powerful, when misused it can completely fall flat. It is very important for a reader to understand and connect with the metaphor. Even if someone grew up in Mexico or Saudi Arabia where they do not have foliage, they can at least mentally imaging what it sounds like. However, if the metaphor is more obscure, it risks alienating the reader. If a reader is unable to mentally process the metaphors because of this obscurity, they may either check out or completely stop reading. As is the case with anything especially powerful, it is important to properly use it.
When properly executed, is there a reason why a metaphor can prove so powerful? For starters, people can identify with a metaphor. Because they may not have ever used the give product or service before it’s difficult to identify with it. However, the metaphor helps bridge this gap. Additionally, a persuasive copywriter can offer suggestions within the story that make a product more appealing. Writing metaphors do not always come naturally to all writers. This is where constantly reading helps. All copywriters, regardless of their current experience, need to constantly read as it is possible to learn new tricks. For those struggling with the idea of metaphors, it is important to take notice of whenever a writer uses the word “like.” When something is “like” something, there usually is a metaphor involved. Another great avenue for learning metaphors is to listen to music lyrics. Some of the greatest lyric writers (Bob Dylan may come to mind for many) are masters of the metaphor. Again, paying attention to the “like” and how it is used should help writers develop their metaphor writing skills.
6) Write To Your Audience
It’s impossible to not hit this idea over the head over and over again for a copywriter. Understanding the target audience is one vital for many different reasons. The more a company understands its key demographic, the easier it becomes to market to these consumers. The same holds true for a copywriter. Copywriters don’t just write content to the target audience.
Persuasive copywriters understand the importance of altering language and text to better fit the needs of a reader. The kind of words and phrases used for a demographic with a secondary college degree from an affluent neighborhood will differ from a target audience without a college degree with a lower median income. Using the same text and writing style for both will either alienate one audience or simply fall flat without forging a connection. Consumers want copy that speaks to them. They don’t want to be “talked down to” yet they also don’t want content with overtly complex words they don’t understand (as this may end up causing the reader to feel inferior or unintelligent). The most persuasive copywriters on the planet can change their writing style, or at least how they write, in order to better connect with their target audience.
There is a truly fine line between persuasion and attempting to forcibly change a reader’s mind. It takes finesse and a light touch to persuade a customer. It is important for the reader to believe they made the decision on his or her own. The other approach is akin to taking a blunt instrument to fix a light bulb. It likely won’t work and will end up failing. The secrets to becoming the most persuasive copywriter on the planet hinge on a writer learning the finer ways of connecting with the reader mentally, even if the reader doesn’t know about it. Through specially targeted wording to understanding the target audience and the power of metaphors, all of this goes a long way in developing an exceptional copywriter. It does take practice, and even the best copywriters know there’s always room for improvement, but by following these secrets, any writer will be well on their way to becoming a truly special persuasive copywriter.