One of the hallmarks of great copy is simplicity. As one of my favorite copywriters likes to say, “Clarity will beat persuasion every time.”
And you’ve no doubt heard (over and over), “A confused mind doesn’t buy.”
Buyers like to feel they’re lacing up their comfy sneakers, not cramming their feet into pointy stilettos (unless they’re buying pointy stilettos on purpose, which is a subject or another blog post). They want to anticipate that their purchase will make life easier, simpler and (dare we say it) more fun.
So how do you keep things simple, without promising that your offer will magically, effortlessly transform your buyers?
Readers often predict that something will be complicated based on subtle cues sent out by your copy. For example:
1 – Long, text-y paragraphs give readers a headache, just looking at them. When they expend effort to read your copy, they subconsciously assume they’ll need to put forth even more effort to work with you or use your product.
When you come from a traditional writing background (as I have), you were probably taught to shudder at one-sentence paragraphs. Yet they actually work well in many online settings because you’ve created an area of white space.
2 – Instructions delivered as a list or series of steps will seem more manageable than instructions delivered conversationally.
You can number the steps, accompany them with illustrations, and break them down as small as they go. As an extra step, run through them yourself or find someone else to follow them. You may find that you’ve omitted a step or something doesn’t work halfway through.
If you’re offering any online information product, be aware that changes can occur unexpectedly. Recently the Google Adwords Keyword Planning Tool changed the terms of access, thereby making thousands of information products obsolete in a matter of seconds.
In my program on course creation, I advise preparing for obsolescence by creating separate videos for time-sensitive topics. That way, if you realize something needs to be changed, you can just substitute the new material without major changes to the course. You could have a video “keyword tool” and just replace Google with whatever you’re using instead.
3 – Use a simple, sans-serif font.
In her book, What More Can I Say, Dianna Booher cites research showing that Arial font connotes simplicity. For instance, students reading an exercise routine with a script font estimate the exercise would take twice as long as those reading instructions in Arial. Similarly, estimates of time and skill needed to bake a cake were related to type face used to share a recipe.
Similarly, trained copywriters will advise you to avoid using italics for more than a phrase or two, whether you’re writing a website, sales letter or blog post. They’ll also advise you to use dark type on a light background. Effortful reading leads to perceptions of effort.
You can simplify process, too.
Of course we don’t want to promise that you can get a million dollars, a dream vacation and a charmed life with no effort. But we can make a process more entertaining and engaging.
One way to simplify any activity is to invite participants to share stories.
You’ve probably discovered that storytelling helps create clarity and engagement during marketing activities. You can even use storytelling for planning. Check out this free video
Thus was born my webinar, Storytelling For Business Planning. You can attend tomorrow afternoon at 3 PM Eastern/NY (or get a limited-time replay) when you register here. You’ll discover
… why storytelling fills the gaps left by traditional planning methods,
… why you’re more likely to implement your plans after you’ve expressed them as stories
… the 3 stories you need for planning (which are different from those you use fo marketing)