Edgy copy is relatable copy on steroids.
Looking at a site talking about badass and someone who says do marketing like a MOFO… one of my favorite business owners says, “I hate that.”
Another says, “I love that.”
The site’s doing well, so clearly more people are like the second person…or are they? The site doesn’t need to appeal to everyone. But it relates intensely to enough of them to make the enterprise profitable
The ad below is for a print shop in Tampa. I looked up their website. They have terrific testimonials. I might use them. But I wouldn’t relate to this ad. It makes no sense. The word “poop” is supposed to get our attention and might attract some readers. But if you think about it, it makes no sense: why not say, “so fast we sneeze snowflakes?” Well, maybe not in Florida…
Whenever I send out a broadcast with a strong sales message, I’ve learned not to worry when someone opts out. That’s because when some subscribers feel so strongly that they leave the list, I get sales.
The very thing that drives some people to walk away is often exactly what attracts others with equal strength.
That’s why many marketers find they get more clients from their tribe when they write edgy copy. That’s what we call copy that sorts your audience into those who join your tribe from those who walk away.
Your copy can be
…wholesome and feminine, invoking the “girl next door” image (which will seem naive and simple to some audiences)
…filled with sports metaphors (which will turn off people who don’t follow sports)
…inspirational and “conscious” (which will be dismissed as woo-woo by some audiences)
Often “edgy copy” gets associated with the kind of language we used to hear from Tony Soprano…
Some marketers use these words and phrases as part of their brand. Their audiences – far from being offended – often don’t even notice they’re doing anything unusual. “That’s just how we talk,” they say.
So when I checked out the home page from one marketer’s website, I found something like this. (Now, I don’t want this article banned by your filters so you’ll notice a clever substitution in several places.)
Have you tried half a dozen different solutions and nothing [******] works? Or signed up for classes and read a million [same ****** books on the topic. And you’re wondering, “What the [****** is this [******]?”
But relying on ****** can come across as sounding lazy.
If the business owner asked me, I’d say, “If it’s bringing you clients who literally speak your language, and you enjoy working with them, you’re on to something. If it ain’t broke…”
But a lot of ****** can come across as lazy copywriting – relying on a few words to create shock value and then repeating those words over and over again. Professional writers – not just copywriters – introduce variety into their copywriting.
Edgy copywriting is not about language.
Once I worked with a client whose website copy included many references to a particular religion.
I asked him, “Who’s your target market? Would you encourage people of other faiths and even atheists to sign up for your program?”
He explained that he wanted to attract only clients who belonged to this particular religion. His copy worked perfectly: he’d turn away anyone who didn’t fit. That’s just the right amount of edge.
To take another example, a business coach who’s a Role Model Archetype shares nitty-gritty details about her life as a divorced mom with illness, anxiety, and family turmoil. Her audience finds her stories reassuring, while she subtly discourages clients who think she’s giving them TMI.
Ultimately, the test of any copy isn’t about the writer’s own sensibilities and preferences.
It’s about how your audience responds — not just prospects, but also potential joint venture partners who refer their own clients, media reps who need a guest expert, podcast hosts looking for articulate guests, and anyone who might do business with you, now or in the future.
It’s easy to get too close to your own message, so you end up with copy that’s so edgy it’s scary, or so timid it’s ignored.
Some people get in-your-face about it, with names like “Maverick” or “Contrarian.” (Some of us don’t need a label. People know we’re different 5 minutes after we’ve met.)
It’s no accident that the op-ed pages of the paper tend to be read most often.
And it’s no accident that some of the most popular shows on television are also the most polarizing. For every viewer who signed up for cable to get the last season of Sopranos (and I admit I was one of them), you’ll find someone who demanded a refund or put the whole household on Disney Channel.
You may not realize you’re reading edgy copy.
But when you feel someone’s speaking directly to you, they’re writing edgy.
Maybe they’re using colorful language that would scare away a sailor. Maybe they’re using ultra-feminine tones that practically scream to be written in pink and make you think of nail salons, Victoria’s Secret and bachelorette parties with themes I can’t describe in a G-rated blog post.
They know you and they know where you live. They’re speaking your language.
Some people will sign off their lists and tune out their messages.
These marketers don’t care. They’re making good things happen and they get more clients who speak their language and vice versa.
And they’re doing something else. They’re communicating their brand message and values in no uncertain terms, with no room for ambiguity.
Free report: 7 copy tips to jumpstart your sales.