3 Crafty Writing Tactics That Get Positive (and Negative) Attention
Plunging into the world of entrepreneurial copywriting bliss allows for several freedoms: setting your own schedule, creating your own relationships with clients, owning more than 3 sets of sweat-pants, and operating your business the way you see fit. As with the tactics you incorporate to run the day-to-day tasks, it’s also important to define writing tactics that are specific to your identity that work well for you and your clients.
Here are 3 such tactics that I’ve experimented with and why they have and haven’t worked.
I believe that the most crucial aspect of copywriting is sparking a positive emotional reaction with readers, so one of the writing tactics I use most often is simply asking questions. If your work promotes internal thought processes beyond your copy then your readers are going to be far more inclined to take action. Questions encourage discussion and help readers toward their own conclusions, rather than you merely telling them what their conclusions are.
I normally ask these questions like so:
1. Do you like reading questions in blog posts?
2. Are you silently answering these questions as you read them?
3. Have you thought about anything else in the time it’s taken you to read these questions?
It’s as simple as that; three questions beneath the subheading ‘Ask Yourself’, stylized with heading number five in wordpress and presto: a helpful little tool that naturally attracts attention. These questions create a light, bouncy mood and evoke a positive reaction.
Here’s another question: are you ready to read about the next writing tactic? I hope so, because it’s landed me in some hot water in the past.
Defining the Reader is Dangerous
The complete opposite result of asking questions is achieved when, instead of asking questions, you tell the reader precisely who they are and what’s going through their head.
“You’re a professional wedding photographer and you’re ready to expand your company with improved on-location photography.”
That’s a great sentence and represents a possible benefit for readers – if they’re exactly what that sentence says they are. Even if your subjects are professional wedding photographers, understand that no one wants to be talked at when they could be spoken to.
This writing tactic is dangerous because it’s limiting and it screams of a boring professor-student/8am lecture situation. Copywriters fall into this trap because they’re trying to be specific and cater directly to their niche (which they should be doing), but it’s a lazy method of defining your audience. With writing tactics such as strict reader definition you’re likely to fall short when encouraging action because you’ll assume that the readers already understand the benefit to be gained from said action. They’re exactly the readers you’re writing for, so why wouldn’t they take action? Right?
Writing tactics should define the author, not the reader.
It’s a slippery slope, and one that I’ve been guilty of sliding down in the past. Help your niche as well as those who may be interested in becoming part of that niche and your work will resound with a much larger audience. Instead of a cut-throat definition, why not ask questions? (I’d link to this post if I could, but you’re already reading it, so check out subheading two again if you’d like an alternative to strict reader definition-syndrome.)
Ready to check out a writing tactic that’s worked pretty well for me
all most of the time?
Straight up. I’m not afraid to say it: I write funny stuff. In the past few months I’ve written about mooching uncles, sombreros, broadswords, zombies, hard drugs and so many other seemingly random things in order to effectively describe my ideas. This is just the natural path taken by my brain – random funny objects and words pop into my mind when I’m writing about Function’s perspective on copywriting and content marketing, and I’ve learned to embrace it as long as my central theme is being effectively communicated.
Not all of the aforementioned random ‘elements’ have made it into published posts (until today!), but they still help me release some of my creativity. The problem with copywriting is that you’re not paid to be creative.
You’re not an artist, you solve problems.
Don Draper, from AMC’s Mad Men
Regardless of the writing tactic you’re employing it’s vital you’re aware of your audience.
I work for bridal companies, photography blogs, woodworking shops, hockey academies, software startups and other businesses in different industries and it’s my primary responsibility to write in an appropriate manner in order to persuade the clients of those businesses to take action. The Function blog is in part a demonstration of copywriting versatility which is fostered every day with colloquial writing tactics intended for different types of readers.
For a great example of using humour to help craft effective copy, make sure you check out Brian Clark at Copyblogger. Brian is the god-father of copywriting humour in my opinion. He’s written some hilarious stuff and Copyblogger seems to be doing just fine.
These writing tactics have taught me a lot throughout my career, and I still make use of the first and the third while avoiding the second. What say you? What methods or habits have you developed that contribute directly to your writing process?
Photo by Flickr user veryuseful.