Finally—The Entrepreneur’s Handbook to Seductive Copywriting
When I absolutely have to have copy that sells, there’s only one person I call…and that person is Demian Farnworth. Demian is one of the most gifted copywriters I’ve had the privilege of working with, and trust me, I’ve worked with quite a few of them. Demian writes for some of the most successful bloggers in the world, and when he talks about copywriting I take notes.
If you wanted to pay Demian to coach you on being a better copywriter (which you can’t do) you would spend hundreds of dollars per hour. However, Demian graciously agreed to share some of his secrets for writing seductive copy. Here’s Demian:
If you take a peek at LinkedIn data on startup DNA you’ll see a pretty standard view of the typical entrepreneur…
He or she lives on the east or west coast, went to the right business schools, worked for the right companies and is fluent in computer science or engineer.
While these entrepreneurs make very good product developers and innovators they usually aren’t the best salespeople…in person or print.
That’s a problem because no matter what your product is…you need to sell it. And being seductive in your approach will help you do that.
The cool thing about learning how to write seductive copy is that what you learn about print can easily be applied to face-to-face encounters.
The Seductive Headline
Spend enough time writing direct-response copy and you will learn what works. If you get in the habit of testing and measuring everything you write…then you can zero in on what really works.
This is true for the headline, which is the most important part of any copy you write. It’s especially the most important part of any advertisement.
Why is it so important? One word: self-interest.
Your first step is to figure out what your readers and customers are concerned about—what interests them. From that write a headline that will catch their attention and suck them in.
Of course you have to know your audience.
Take college men for example. The most successful headline ever written for this segment had a one-word headline: Sex.
Surprisingly enough they were selling textbooks…but that one word was enough to get their attention.
The Seductive First Sentence
After the headline comes the first sentence. Joe Sugarman says that a sales letter should be like a slide. And the only objective behind the first sentence is to get them to read the second sentence.
And so on.
But the first sentence has to be so good that people are launched into your copy. The headline’s objective is to capture your customer’s attention. The first sentence is to compel them to stay in the copy.
If you look at a great writer like David Sedaris you can learn some great tricks to writing first sentences. Here are some examples:
- “It is his birthday, and Hugh and I are seated in a New York restaurant, awaiting the arrival of our fifteen-word entrées.”
- “When Hugh was in the fifth grade, his class took a field tip to an Ethiopian slaughterhouse.”
- “I was on ‘Oprah’ a while ago, talking about how I used to love too much.”
- “My sister Lisa became a woman on the fourteenth hole of the Pinehurst golf course.”
Each of these sentences has a great element of suspense. You have to continue to read to figure out what is going on.
To write great first sentences like that you have to know a few things. Let me explain:
- Write a really ugly first draft. Don’t worry about the first sentence. Just write until you can’t write anymore. And who cares how awful it is. You just need a first draft so you can get all your thoughts on the page. Write yourself silly.
- Find the hook. What unique angle can you take—violence or sex, bizarre people or strange questions—that will make people scratch their heads?
- Ditch the first paragraph. When it is time to edit…get ruthless. Throw out the first paragraph or two, and then figure out your hook.
- Read. Study the greats like Hemingway and Sedaris. But also study people in the advertising field like John Caples, Eugene Schwartz and John Carlton.
- Make a list of great first lines. Anytime you find a great first line—it could be in a newspaper article or a work of fiction—copy and paste it in a list [I use Evernote]. Use this list as your cheat sheet.
- Use this list. Pull out your list any time you are writing a first sentence.
The Seductive Body Copy
Have you ever seen this happen?
- Right on the dust jacket of a book you get the answer to losing weight?
- Smack in the middle of a sales letter you see the secret to raising a fast horse?
- Right there on the DVD sleeve is the 4-step formula for running your fastest marathon ever?
YOU might think this liberal use of information is great…the problem for the business, however, is that you are not giving the customer any reason to buy.
You’ve immediately satisfied your customer’s gratification, which will kill seduction every time.
What you have to do is avoid over educating the prospect so that you suggest something tantalizing, but…don’t tell them what it is!
In other words, the dirty little secret to seducing readers is that you need to leave them hanging until they buy the product. You have to give them something to get worked up over.
If you gratify their desires too soon your prospect will disappear. This means you have to tease your prospect by…
- Promising them you have what they want.
- Painting a picture of how their life will be when they get your product.
- Prove to them how you will fulfill their desires.
- And push them to act. .
Let’s look at that last point in detail.
The Seductive Call-to-Action
Anything you write needs to end with some sort of request for action. It could be to sign up for your email newsletter or to mail in a voucher.
Whatever it is needs to seduce. It needs to convince them they are stupid for not acting.
How do you do that?
Of course most of this work is going to be done in the sections above, so your CTA will simply be the trigger to getting them off their duff.
From writing to design, creating effective call-to-actions involves ten techniques as explained by Jeff Boag:
- Lay the ground work. All the copy leading up to the CTA—from your headline to your first sentence to your body copy—must communicate the emotionally-laden benefits of buying your product. And these benefits need to matter to your prospect. Not you.
- Offer a little extra. One of the best ways to increase CTA conversion rates is to offer a sweetener. No, this is not what you put in your coffee. It’s something you’ve held off until now. For example, “Buy now and you’ll get free shipping.” “Free shipping” sweetens the deal.
- Offer several smaller CTAs. Things like “View video” or “click to continue reading” are smaller, low-commitment CTAs that train your prospect for the big CTA.
- Use active verbs. Think words like “Buy,” “Subscribe” or “Call.”
- Get the position right. Front and center is a great place to position a CTA. If you can’t do that, then upper right on desktop views and upper left on mobile views is idea. Test it, though.
- Use white space. You can draw prospects eyes to CTAs through the use of white space. The more white space you have around a CTA the better.
- Use an alternative color. Use a different color to bring attention to your CTA.
- Make it big. CTAs should stand out. They should be bold and big. Your prospect should NOT miss the CTA.
- Position CTAs on every page. Every single page on your site should have some kind of CTA. Limit your CTA to your home page or a special landing page and you risk prospects never seeing it because they didn’t land on the right page.
- Keep it simple. Once your readers decides to respond, minimize the amount of information required to complete the CTA. Ask for too much and you risk losing prospects who abandon ship.
The above content will hopefully get you up to speed on writing persuasive and seductive copy. But naturally, like all things, it will take time and plenty of practice to get world-class copywriting chops. In other words, don’t get discouraged if you’re not an overnight success. You’ll eventually get there.
What copywriting tips would you offer an entrepreneur to help him or her write seductive copy?
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