People often ask me, “I want to give my audience solid information. After all, that’s why they’re in my audience, right? They want to get something from what I send them.
“But let’s face it. Every audience these days is jaded, bored, exhausted, and overwhelmed. So everybody’s advising me to entertain, captivate and engage.”
…It feels like taking an old-fashioned black and white television and demanding, “Show up in color!”
The television just doesn’t have the tubes to do it. It’s hard-wired at the factory. Black and white is that television’s destiny.
But your copy doesn’t get built the same way. You aren’t hard-wired to write dull, boring prose. You can open the back, move things around and — there it is! Your ideas just came alive in Living Color.
So…how does this really work? How can you rework your word to reach your readers and keep them, dare we say it, fascinated? Safe from the distractions of phones, bells, noise and scary news flashes?
“Hot” content doesn’t have to be “warm and fuzzy”
We keep hearing that the Internet is a cold medium. That’s true for some people but you can create warm content that draws people into your world. Whether you want “warm” or “warm and fuzzy” is up to you.
One way to think of this challenge is that we usually think of creating content in terms of words and we tend to think in black and white. Our brand will come alive when we think of creating a multimedia multicolored canvas instead.
The three techniques I use and recommend to my own clients are:
We’re hearing more about stories these days. Stories go back to the beginning of language (I suspect) and I believe the earliest cave paintings were created to tell stories. Now we’re using them for state-of-the-art 21st century marketing.
Stories keep listeners hooked because they want to hear how everything turned out. They allow you to promote yourself without bragging. Every online business owner should have a portfolio of 3 stories and an awareness of what makes storytelling work. Get my course on “Copywriting With Stories” here.
Metaphors are stories in capsule form. When you’re trying to explain what you do, who you are, or how you help people, it’s often useful to come up with a metaphor. For instance, I like to say that web development is like football, where the copywriter is the quarterback and the design team is the offensive line. (I say this a lot, so it’s probably not new to you.)
The problem with metaphors? You can overdo it. Or you can let the metaphor drive the strategy: I’ve done this myself, more than once.
Painting word pictures
Copywriters use this subtle technique often. Instead of saying, “I organize your home so you can find everything,” you can say, “Imagine … you’ll never spend a minute or an hour looking for that document you need to sign right now.”
Invoke all 5 of your reader’s senses. Bring your reader into the scene.
Believe it or not, this tip will be more effective when someone is reading than when someone is watching a video. The reason is that we have higher involvement in print media because we have to use our imagination. We can be more passive when we’re watching a movie.
The old “Mad Men” advertisers knew this. Stan Freberg created an iconic 60-second commercial to illustrate the power of radio – i.e., audio only. “Imagine Lake Michigan is drained and filled with hot chocolate. Then a helicopter drops a giant maraschino cherry…” You can listen to the original commercial at https://youtu.be/USotnlORBZ0 starting at 3:13. (The other commercials are fun too.)
Which of these strategies can you use in your own content?
FREE – 3 Mistakes Most Business Owners Make When Telling Stories – http://mycopy.info/3storymistakes
Jasper Oldersom says
Dear Cathy – thanks for your powerful little blog post 🙂
I am also a big fan of engaging the senses of readers. It’s funny that you brought that up, i just wrote a little article about that 2 weeks ago. I don’t write as vividly as you do, though. But it’s fantastic to see you bringing this up here as well!
Metaphors can be very powerful, even though it’s a little tricky. But if you have an excellent one – you can be sure that people will be drawn to it. I’m still working on this craft myself. I read the book by Anne Miller on this subject though which was really good.
I don’t think the internet is a cold place at all. I meet wonderful people there daily 🙂 I think you’re doing wonderful things as well Cathy. I’m glad to have come across your site.
Have a lovely weekend!
Hi Jasper, Thanks so much for the comment. And I agree with you – the Internet can be a warm place filled with connections!
solanki kajal says
Incredibly informative post.
I was actually just wondering why my posts had been lackluster lately. I’ve been writing pure information articles for a client, and couldn’t seem to get back to that ‘engaging’ feel I once had with my writing.
Now I remember. Stories! Very timely post, it’s going to come in very handy for me.
Thanks, Sonia – When there’s a content question, often the answer is “Tell a story!” Thanks for stopping by and leaving this nice comment.
Steve Borek says
Something appropriate to the post. Could be a song, an inspirational clip, even a tv commercial.
Great idea, Steve! What type of content do you have in the video? You can use stories, metaphors … even act out some scenes!
Steve Borek says
Every now and then I’ll add a video to spice things up.