Do you ever play the party game, “Imagine that you could have just one superpower…”
Let’s have some fun with this.
Let’s tell a story about using your superpowers to write better copy. We’ll focus on 3 of the most highly desired superpowers: invisibility, time travel, and telepathy.
Superpower 1- Become invisible
Think about what happens when you watch a suspenseful movie. You get so caught up in the story you forget it’s not real. Someone gets hurt and you think, “Oh no – I really liked him!”
If you’re really caught up in the action, you don’t think, “Oh, it’s just ketchup and sound effects. Big deal.”
That’s the kind of invisibility you need when you write copy.
Alternatively, think about a time you listened to a speaker. A fellow attendee asks, “Wasn’t the speaker wearing a great outfit?” You reply, “I didn’t notice. I was so blown away by her message.
The best copywriters create content that doesn’t draw exclamations like, “Brilliant writing!” Or, “Clever use of metaphor.” Your audience remembers what you said, not how you said it.
To remain invisible, keep your writing as simple and direct as possible. You lose readers when you add clever phrases and magnificent metaphors.
See what just happened? “Magnificent metaphors” just called attention to itself. Major distraction!
For example, this copy will resonate with some audiences:
“Do you want to make badass decisions that don’t involve a stewpot and a frying pan? Do you want advice that doesn’t come from a refugee from a religious cult? Are you looking for a way to enjoy life that doesn’t involve manicures, spas and massage?
But as you read those sentences, I bet you’re thinking, “Wow – that’s brilliant.” For some audiences, this copy works well. But for many other audiences, you’ll do better with less glamorous but more effective:
“Do you want to make decisions with joyful outcomes that add to your bottom line? Do you want solid advice that gives you action items you can implement immediately? Are you looking for ways to relax in your own home even after a horrendous day?”
Superpower 2 – Time Travel
When you’re writing promotional copy, you invite your readers aboard a rocket ship like the one in Back To The Future.
You begin with the present. Let’s face it: most of us walk around in a fog.
You encourage your reader to become aware of all that’s happening in their lives. Talk about all the frustrations your prospect is experiencing on a typical day.
Then, using your time travel powers, you bring readers into the future. You give them a realistic, honest portrayal of what life will be like after they accept your offer.
“Imagine…you finished all your work by Wednesday. The rest of the week is yours! You go to the beach, spend time with your family and watch that movie…”
You can also move back in time, evoking a memorable event from the past.
Sometimes you want to remind them how far they’ve come and how the world has changed.
It’s hard to believe that people used to say, “Let’s wait to make that phone call till evening when the rates go down.”
It’s hard to believe that women wore dresses to work and men wore suits and ties almost everywhere.
Alternatively, you could bring back the feelings and experiences people enjoyed (or think they enjoyed) years ago.
One of my personal favorites: Remember when people actually enjoyed air travel? Passengers used to dress up to fly, as a special occasion. You didn’t need to upgrade to get decent legroom and a real meal.
Of course the past wasn’t nearly as good as we remember it. But never mind: copywriting is your time machine.
The key here is to be subtle and accurate. A lot of marketers exaggerate what they can deliver. They promise you’ll be transformed, with very little work. Your audience gets cynical and nobody believes what you’re saying.
Superpower 3 – Telepathy
Enter the conversation in your prospective client’s mind.
Some people are highly intuitive. They instinctively know exactly what other people are thinking. You might even know someone who’s so intuitive they seem to be psychic.
For the rest of us, there’s research.
One of the best ways to become a mind reader is to interview people who resemble your target market, either one-to-one or in a focus group.
The worst question you can ask begins with “Why.” Most people have no idea why they did something; there’s plenty of research to show we’re often motivated by environmental forces we don’t even notice.
The BEST question you can ask is one that encourages your interviewee to come up with a story:
“What’s a typical day like in your current job? Where are the trouble spots? What, if anything, is enjoyable?”“What would an ideal job look like? Give one example of a perfect day.”
You’ll find more detail on how to conduct research to enter the conversation in your client’s mind in this blog post.
I go into detail about finding your client’s story in my course, The Client Advantage.