As a copywriter you are placed in an adversarial position with your readers.
This happens whether you like it or not.
The relationship is adversarial because you are trying to get your reader to change in some way. Change their brand of toothpaste. Change their diet. Change the software they use. Change the coffee they drink. And so on.
It is our job as copywriters to drive a change in behavior. Or, if you are writing to existing customers, it’s our job to prevent change from happening.
Either way, there is an adversarial element to the relationship.
If you don’t think there is anything adversarial about trying to persuade someone to change a behavior, pause for a moment and think about the last time you tried to make your spouse or one of your kids change their behavior.
Or think of the last time someone suggested you eat less, drink less or exercise more.
Trying to change behaviors is adversarial in nature.
The trouble is, as you will recall from those family conversations, the change you are looking for doesn’t happen if you push too hard, or you fail to respect the other person’s position.
It’s the same in marketing.
If you view your prospects as suckers, marks, the enemy, sheep, cattle etc, you won’t respect them. You’ll bully them, and you’ll fail.
In other words, if you want your copy to work, you need to write from a place that shows respect for your readers.
Now for the tricky part.
You still have to be persuasive. You can’t just be the reader’s respectful best friend. Do that and you’ll no longer be earning your keep as a copywriter. Your job is still to sell stuff.
So how can you avoid being adversarial, but still change people’s minds?
You create an information flow that makes your readers enthusiastic about changing their own minds.
For change to happen, it has to be the reader’s idea, not yours. They have to make the choice.
You have probably experienced this yourself when at the receiving end of some great sales writing. When you get to the end of the page, you WANT to change your behavior by making a purchase. You don’t feel you have been sold to. You feel like you have made up your own mind. Somehow the copywriter has written a page that connects with you, resonates with your own beliefs, and makes you want to buy what he or she is so carefully selling.
At its simplest level, this means making your reader nod his or her head and say Yes numerous times while reading through your text.
Not, “Yes, you pushed hard enough to change my mind.” (You don’t get to yes by being adversarial.) But, “Yes, I agree with what you are saying, and I can now see why I want to make the decision to change.”
If you can get the reader to keep saying Yes, right up to the point of asking for the sale, you’re pretty much home clear.
You don’t get there by pushing and bullying.
Nor do you get there by holding your punches as a copywriter.
You get there by getting them to nod and say Yes from the opening of your copy right through to the last line.
NOTE: If you have yet to receive any professional-grade training in the craft of online copywriting, find out more about my program, Copywriting 2.0. Copywriting 2.0 is published by AWAI, and you can find their information and sales page for the program here…
About the author: Nick Usborne is an online writer, copywriter, author and coach. Read more…
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