The very first thing a copywriter must do in a sales letter is gain the reader’s attention, and keep it. If your readers aren’t paying attention, then it doesn’t really matter what you say, the reader won’t buy.
Most of the time, being an Attention Grabber means crafting a powerful, intriguing headline that makes the reader go, “Hmmm… tell me more.”
Fortunately for the budding copywriter, great headlines are all around us. For example, newspapers rely on them to sell newspapers. The top blogs are where they are today partly because of their attention grabbing headlines.
Head over to Digg.com and the first few pages will be full of articles that have been highly rated, in part, because of the headline used. Often, it’s the headline that determines whether an article becomes popular or not.
Most copywriters have a “swipe file”. If they read a good headline, they swipe it for their files. It acts as a reminder for them, and they can model their headlines after the best.
Getting their attention is just the start. After that, the copywriter must keep it. Keeping their attention is a lot harder than it sounds, especially in this age of short attention spans and lots of other content to distract us.
This is a critical difference between, say, a fiction writer and a copywriter. For example, one of my favorite fiction authors occasionally likes to go on two page descriptive rambles. Personally, I find these boring and disrupt the flow, but I forgive the author because I’m enjoying the overall story, and because I bought the book in the first place.
A copywriter doesn’t usually have that luxury. There is no commitment from the reader. They haven’t “bought” the sales letter. So if you bore them, all they have to do is close the browser window, and your client loses the chance of a sale.
So a copywriter needs to keep it interesting. They can do that with writing the reader finds relevant, informative, fascinating and entertaining.
And they must also make it easy for them to read. A fiction writer might be trying to impress the reader with their language skills, but that could be FATAL in copywriting.
So a good copywriter keeps paragraphs short and punchy, and avoids words that are likely to cause their reader to rush off to find a dictionary (losing their attention).
Good copywriters write clearly and simply, because they NEED their readers to understand.
And they also know when to bend the rules of grammar. For example, I was taught at school never to start a sentence with “And”, and “But”.
But here’s what your grammar teacher didn’t tell you – they are great words to begin a sentence with in sales copy, because they compel the reader onwards. Your mind can’t help but read on when you see the words “And” and “But”, especially at the beginning of a sentence!
(There are lots of these sneaky devices hidden away within the English language, but some of them do involve bending the rules of grammar. You can see these devices in Video #3 of my series of copywriting videos.)
In Part 7, we’re going to look at how to be a Desire Magician, and Feature Converter, two more important “hats” worn by good copywriters. Make sure you’re subscribed to this blog so you don’t miss out!