“Don’t bunt. Aim out of the ballpark. Aim for the copy of immortals.”
David Ogilvy said it.
And since he and everyone else in the marketing world started praising the power of copywriting, the rest of us have been scrambling around trying to figure out how exactly to write that god-worthy copy.
And if there’s one thing we’ve discovered, it’s this: that “copy of immortals” ideal sure as hell ain’t easy to reach.
It seems like this ungraspable super power that only a select few among us get the pleasure of being endowed with while the rest of us are stuck tripping over our own words and phrases like an out-of-shape frat guy who’s five beers in and playing dizzy bat.
(No one’s taking that guy seriously. No one. Ever.)
No matter how hard we work at it, we always feel like our on-age writing isn’t quite good enough and that our competition is going to hire some smug, genius copywriter just so they can point and laugh in our face.
But never more, my friends.
We’ve got the copy hacks to help you out.
It turns out that finding those silver bullet statements that you can weave in and out of your copy to latch people onto your page and get them emotionally attached to your brand doesn’t have to be that difficult to uncover.
You just have to reverse-engineer the typical writing process a little bit.
You can write those pieces of god-given, immortal copy that make your visitors feel understood at a deep, core level.
And when they feel understood like that and know that you get them?
You’ll be the one they buy from.
First, Some Ground Rules:
Before we get into the fun stuff, we need to lay some quick ground rules.
They’re quick and painless, but in my experience as a copywriting and marketing consultant, not taking the time to spell them out can be equally as disastrous as using that dizzy bat-induced copy that you’re currently using on your site (or worse).
So here they are:
1) Speak as equals with your visitor.
In other words, the golden rule.
Treat your visitors the way you’d like to be treated if you visited their website interested in their product: as an intellectual equal who’s smart and respectable enough to make your own decisions.
You don’t need to be guilted into signing up for something, and you don’t need overly-simple kindergarten language, either.
Realize that, in fact, you might be the one with a little lower standing ground, since you’re the one asking for money here.
Just don’t let that realization make you panic and go into default sales-y mode.
Because that’s annoying.
2) Don’t add cutesy wording or go off on tangents.
Chances are, you’re not using your landing page to prove your personal creative prowess.
You’re using it to sell and increase your company’s bottom line.
Because the truth of the matter is, if a certain piece of copy doesn’t serve the ultimate goal of your landing page for your company or your customer, it’s just a navel-gazing monologue that no one wants to read.
3) First priority: emotions. Second priority: data. (Lay it on thick.)
“We purchase clothes we think will make us look attractive,” says Sonja Jobson, “we buy movie tickets to escape reality for approximately 120 minutes—even our morning latte is generally linked to an emotion.”
She’s totally right.
Think about it.
If you’re honest, the vast majority of your purchases are based on emotion too.
Why do you really favor one pair of jeans over another?
Chances are, it isn’t because the cheapest jeans on the market.
For example, I’ll tell you why I almost exclusively buy Levi’s and Wrangler’s: They fit well and I think they make my ass look good.
I like that they come in different cuts based on how big your behind is in comparison to your legs and waist.
It makes me feel understood as an individual who sometimes has a hard time shopping for pants.
And I feel confident when I wear them out in public.
I justify my emotional desire for them with the fact that they’re a reasonable price and one pair usually lasts for at least three years… but that emotional bit comes first.
You can also lay those emotions on way thicker than you think you can.
It’s often our tendency to go in the exact opposite direction and take emotions out because we want to seem “professional.”
But really, being stiff and “professional” isn’t what makes money.
For example, here’s how Levi’s lays it on thick: “Jeans that flatter, hold and lift.”
Who doesn’t want that??
They lay it on even thicker with their Curve ID system.
Do you know how annoying it is to have to wear a belt just because you want jeans that fit your hips?
They’re speaking directly to my frustrations and telling me that they’re here for me.
And I LOVE them for it.
Now to the Good Stuff: Finding Those Silver Bullet Statements
Don’t get frustrated with me when I boil this all down into one overly-simple statement, because I’m going to walk you through the process of it afterwards.
But this is what you do:
Translate your customers’ exact thoughts into on-page statements that grabs them by the wrist and yanks them so hard it actually knocks the wind out of them.
Here’s an example I outlined in my ebook for someone writing sales copy for a dress:
First, write down the thoughts someone would have after buying that particular dress and feeling like it was one of the best decisions of their lives.
Here’s some thoughts that went through my head after buying a dress to attend my brother’s wedding:
1) My ass if someone’s going to think I’m some washed up old cat lady just because I’m showing up single to my younger brother’s wedding.
2) Good job, Chelsea. It’s respectful for a church wedding, but it’s hot enough that you’re still getting hit on later.
I did a little brainstorming and came up with these statements that would have sold me in a second if I’d been shopping online:
1) Showing up stag? So not an issue.
2) Appropriate for church or tongue kissing at the bar. You choose.
To come up with these, you have to be willing to commit to sitting down and writing down everything that crosses your mind.
Everything, even the crappy ideas.
Then you can pick out the best ones.
It can be a fun exercise, and the more you practice, the better you get.
But what if you’re selling software?
Or something that’s inherently less sexy than a tight, sparkly dress?
It’s still possible to have equally sexy and god-like copy.
So let’s imagine you’re selling small business invoicing software.
Here’s a brainstorm I went through for that sort of product.
First is the customer thought, followed by brainstormed pieces you could weave into your site copy.
“People can’t be taking me seriously with these shitty-looking invoices I’m throwing together in Excel.
My 12-year-old son could make something that looks better than these things.
It’s so embarrassing.”
- Tired of invoices that look like the artwork you used to make with crayon and construction paper?
- Make chin-dropping invoices that have nothing to do with your shocking price tag… even if you hate Excel more than your mother in law.
- Because we hate Excel as much as you do. Maybe more. In fact, it makes us weep for our mothers.
“I just hope to god that I’ll have everything I need to file my taxes.
I guess I’ll just pray that I don’t get audited.”
- All your business finances, automatically recorded, all in one place, all ready to shove in the IRS’s face.
- Invoices, expenses receipts, income, taxes, payroll. All automatically done for you. All filed together.
- Everything your tax accountant keeps nagging you for all together. No mess, no sloppy receipt piles.
“I hate doing my books. I wish I could afford to hire someone to do it all for me. But anyone that’s any good is way out of my budget.”
- Payroll + expenses + invoices + taxes + balance sheets = One big (expensive) headache. Or does it?
- Full-time accountants that can make mistakes are expensive. Part-time accounting software that runs like a flawless number-crunching machine isn’t.
- World-class accounting. Even if you’re on an embarrassingly low shoestring budget.
Putting everything into practice, here’s an example from my own website:
“It’s time for website copy that doesn’t make you embarrassed to hand out your business card.”
This is one of my proudest silver bullet statements that I uncovered using this exact process.
And it’s also something that really resonates with my target audience… something that makes them feel like I totally understand where they’re coming from.
Just like Levi’s does for me.
Or that imaginary dress company would.
How to Use This Magic Silver-Bullet Copy
Once you have these silver bullet statements, you’ll be surprised at the versatility of them.
If your existing website copy isn’t absolutely horrible, you can weave a few into each landing page and see the difference it makes.
(Like the example from my site above.)
Beyond that, you can use them as teasers for free trial or lead magnet signups, headlines for ads, or on social media as a way to attract attention and activity.
Beyond going through the above exercise for your own pages, of course.
Think about your favorite website. (Facebook and Pinterest don’t count.)
For example, one of mine would be The Middle Finger Project and any of the courses sold there.
The blog posts feel like they’re exactly my personality and since discovering it less than a year ago, I’ve already purchased three of their courses.
I just can’t say no.
Yours will probably be one of those websites or blogs that you’re giddily excited to see a new blog post or product from, and whom you spend way too much money on because they just get you every time.
Go back and read through their landing page copies or blog posts with a fine-toothed comb and pick out the silver bullet statements they’re using and think about how those statements make you feel.
For example, here’s how I might do it:
This is a screenshot from the end of the landing page for Brandgasm, a course by The Middle Finger Project.
Since I’m not a designer, I was teetering on whether or not I should invest the time to learn these things myself, or just hire a brand designer.
But that last sentence above the options really resonated with me & pushed me over the edge: to take control of my own brand for good.
And as someone who’s proud of the DIY approach I’ve taken with my business thus far, it was really all I needed.
That idea of being in control of my brand was the silver bullet statement that got me.
Does doing the exercise on your own spark any ideas for your own website?
Disclaimer: Levi’s brand is in no way associated with this post. And I am not associated with Levi’s.
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