The Art, Science, and Imagination Behind
Copywriting That Sells
The following message has travelled a long distance to reach you. Reading it carefully could mean the difference between closing your business or achieving your next record month.
What separates successful empires from
businesses that wallow in obscurity?
Great copywriters are well-read. They love art. They love science. They study every facet of human achievement and culture to mix a captivating elixir of stories that move people.
And that's why I mentioned that this message has travelled a long distance to reach you. It's taken well over 20 years of near-constant copywriting of sales letters, landing pages, audio and video scripts, and graphics to get here.
Most copywriters talk about all the copywriting and advertising study they do. It's a given, though, that any decent writer is going to study technique. What most of them lack is a good. lifelong reading habit.
This is an undervalued trait in select copywriters as it separates the daring and inspired pros, who get far better results, from the more common milquetoast writers. (Who would absolutely never have the cojones to use the word milquetoast ...or cojones.)
Accomplished writers, in general, are students of human nature. A copywriter lives and dies by their ability to know exactly what makes their intended audience tick. And for that experience, a copywriter must submerge themselves in good writing, often.
I've written winning letters inspired by a range of influences from Shakespeare to Anthony Bourdain. Not to mention the legends of copywriting and advertising themselves.
The result of a lifetime of studying the the art of getting people to take action? Tens of millions of dollars in sales for my clients.
"[T]here are, at the very least, a quarter of a million distinct English words, excluding inflections, and words from technical and regional vocabulary not covered by the Oxford English Dictionary, or words not yet added to the published dictionary... If distinct senses were counted, the total would probably approach three quarters of a million." Oxford Dictionaries
This is the copywriter's palette. In order to to be considered a great copywriter, one must be comfortable plumbing the depths of the vast wordscape that is the English language to craft an emotionally mesmerizing story that moves readers to action.
Reaching into a giant pile of words and pulling out a fistful of effective infinitives, appellations, and idioms, then arranging them in a specific order for the sole purpose of making a meaningful impression on the reader at any reading level is the Art of good copy.*
Testing and tracking the outcome of the copy over time is the Science.
Imagination is the tool that conjures compelling copy ideas that motivate readers to action.
Voices and Reading Levels
Copywriters should be able to write in many voices, at all reading levels. Male, female, young, old, macho, feminine, and even regional dialects. From grade school to PhD reading levels.
Knowing when to apply hyperbole or when to back off and play it cool is also key. One must never bust an ALL-CAPS-STYLE on customers of fine art prints. Nor should one write in a sleepy, one-stoplight-town voice to promote a monster truck rally.
My goal with copy is to make my clients hover over their own "Buy Now" buttons, subconsciously moving them to (almost) purchase their own product or service.
You may be proud of what you have to offer the world. A perfect product. A stunning service offering. But until you've seen your product dressed in the finery of professional copy, you have no idea how compelling your offer could be!
Great copy should make readers feel like a groom seeing his
beautiful bride walking down the aisle on their wedding day.
The perfect copy is what makes your offer feel like a natural choice. Almost an afterthought.
It makes your potential customers float in anticipation of holding your product in their hands.
It beguiles them with the idea of experiencing the outcome of your service.
If you've ever experienced buying something as if in a dream, from the sales page to the checkout process to reading the purchase receipt in your inbox, you know how powerful great copy can be.
"I didn't really notice I was clicking through the pages and buying this thing
until I saw the credit card in my hand."
Losing track of time. Being transported. Getting lost in the story.
These are some of the ways people describe their experiences after reading something they are fully engaged with on a deep emotional level.
Excellent copywriting can accomplish this feat in as little as a few words to a few sentences.
In short pieces, like social media content, it is all about the triggers used to ignite the reader's imagination in order to enlist their own memories and experiences in the subtle battle for their attention.
In other words, short copy is a catalyst for the reader to fill in the blanks with their own personal details and, in effect, co-writing their own personal copy to convince themselves to stick around and learn more.
Successful short copy sets off a cascade of the reader's own
experiences, which then takes over the process
in order to sell themselves on engaging further.
Long copy accomplishes the same thing. It's simply a chain of triggers to personal story recall until the desired effect is achieved: a lead or a sale.
Putting readers into the story, rather than taking a lecture approach, is one of the many tricks of the trade that is part art, part science of good copywriting.
There is no substitute for experience.
It has been said that 10,000 hours is the minimum practice for one to achieve expert status in a trade. My spin is that it takes 10,000 stories told to achieve the same measure of expertise in professional copywriting.
New copywriters are urged to put pen to paper and copy, word for word, the works of greats like Collier, Caples, or Schwartz. All in an effort to begin the process of understanding and guiding the unchanging human psyche.
After that, experience is the only teacher. And accumulating experience takes time.
I've been writing copy consciously since 1998. Before that, I began my journey in the art of wordfluence in college as a Communications major. I didn't recognize it then, but those early years were when my copywriting muscles first began to flex.
I've even written copy on my feet as a door-to-door canvasser raising money for nonprofits. In wealthy neighborhoods. At dinner time. This is a world where you live and die by every word, every inflection. If you don't make a connection, and quickly, you don't survive.
It takes decades to read enough, write enough, and make enough mistakes
to produce effective results in practically any industry.
To sell someone on anything you must understand people. You have to know what gets a person emotionally invested in reading the next sentence. And the next. And the next. Until they are anxiously awaiting the arrival of their purchase.
Businesses that find themselves languishing in obscurity, unable to gain the traction they need without gruelling hours of work, clawing their way forward by mere inches with miles to go, are almost always being underserved by whomever is charged with telling their story.
Most often, that person is the result of a decision to cut corners, save money, and go with an inexperienced copywriter.
To me, this is like giving someone with basic first aid training the job of saving the life of a victim of a serious car accident who is bleeding out from multiple severe injuries.
Though your business isn't literally bleeding out on the side of the road, it is susceptible along the way to all kinds of "injuries" created by poor decisions.
Like treating your copy as an afterthought. This is how many businesses bleed cash and eventually die.
Inexperience costs businesses far more than
a professional copywriter ever will.
In every case where a business wants to make huge strides in growth over short periods, nothing less than a truly experienced copywriter on the level described here is required.
There is no substitute for results.
Bottom Line: Your copy must perform if your business is to succeed. Thus, it MUST come from a copywriter with experience, imagination, creativity, and the ability speak to your customers' deepest desires in order to move them to buy.
I do my best work when I'm inspired by a product and the people behind it.
The only way we'll know if I'm inspired by what you have to offer is when we get together and talk about it. If I love what you've got, and I have an opening, yours could be the next story I tell.
In order to:
Capture your audience's attention, captivate and pique their curiosity, and convert at a high level, click below...
Gigs I'm interested in:
- Long and short-form copy for landing pages, full sales letters, and funnels
- Scripts for audio/video, webinars
- Email series
- Ongoing, retainer work
- One-off projects that are interesting and where I think I'll have a blast creating a great story that sells
* Its only good copy if it rings your bell. You'll notice this letter is written at a higher reading level than you'd expect for a broader audience. Knowing who you're writing for is paramount, and it should be clear in this letter that I think a lot of you! Getting a kick out of this letter (or not) is how I filter for the kind of clients for whom I love to write.
Copyright 2018 | Jack Humphrey