The magical mushroom of a question that will open the door to kickass copy
In the not-too-distant past, I wrote a post about how to get better at writing copy.
Today, I wanted to expand a bit more on one of those ways. Because there’s always something you can expand on, you know?
Also because I was chatting with some other super cool business owners the other day about this very topic and why it’s so gosh darn effective for upping your copy game.
Writers gonna read books, copywriters gonna read ads and websites, and haters gonna hate. Let’s dive in to the one question that’s gonna make your hatred of writing (hopefully) just a little bit less intense.
A word of caution first, you copy cat, you.
It’s really easy to get stuck in comparison mode. To look at someone else and be all, “Damn. I will never get that/have that/be that.”
First of all, just stop.
Do you have that talking, omniscient magic mirror from Shrek? No? Then I’m pretty sure you don’t *actually* know what the future holds.
And throwing a tiny pity party complete with tiny violins and tiny confetti cannons and tiny thoughts isn’t helping.
So. When I tell you to look at other people’s writing, DO NOT (note all caps for extreme emphasis…I yell because I care.) see it as the most opportune opportunity to browbeat yourself. To use it as an example of why you’ll never do *this thing.* To stray way too far down Comparison Lane and get lost in Sorrytown.
Here’s what you’re gonna do instead: Get really freakin’ curious.
Thank the other person for being awesome and letting you learn from their awesomeness. Then, ask yourself the only question that matters:
Why does this work?
This is a magical mushroom of a question. It pretty much forces you to get curious. (Questions that start with “why” will do that...) It makes you think. It asks you to nix that self-pity in the blossoming bud.
It makes you consider why you like something. It’s not always an easy answer, and you might have a hard time articulating it. I mean, we aren’t talking about a movie here. I like the lead actor. He’s dreamy. It was funny. I laughed out loud a couple times.
This goes much deeper....
Okay, okay, you caught me. I’m holding my hands up shamefully. This is pretty similar to having a swipe file.
But...it’s also totally different.
Because a swipe file is a treasure trove of tried-and-true copy that you think is swell and your copy wants to be like when it grows up. It’s a huge jolt of inspiration and can be a great starting place when you’re not feeling so inspired to bust out some inspiring copy.
Asking why it works is going one step further. It’s being like, “Okay, this is cool” and not being satisfied just being in the presence of its coolness. It’s wanting to know what makes it cool so you can make things cool on your own.
Let’s say you’ve pack ratted some sales page copy away in your swipe file. (Would you swipe right on your swipe file?)
You sit down to write a sales page for a new rabbit hat knitting program you’re working on, and you remember how genius you are and had stashed away some copy for a cat sweater crocheting course and, well, it was the bees knees. The cat’s meow. Or perhaps the bunny’s butt.
So you pull up the copy. But you’re not satisfied to just swipe it – the style, the flow, the structure, maybe even some of the words because, come on, the audience is probably pretty similar, right?!
No, you want to dissect it. You want to know why the headline was so good. Did it have a strong verb? Did it focus on a goal? A pain point?
You need to understand why the call-to-action was so damn effective. Was it because it was clever? Funny? Short?
And why the hell did you read the whole thing with a Joker-like (except not sinister) grin on your face the entire time? Was it the purrfect pictures of happy kitties sporting their new duds? Because the results were so compelling you almost bought the course even though you’ve already spun your cat a whole sweater wardrobe? Maybe it was so specific that you could literally picture yourself surrounded by yarn and darning needles and whatever else you need to knit a kitty sweater.
You don’t just rubber neck from the swipeable copy to yours, simply replacing keywords and maybe rearranging a few things here and there. (You know, swapping in bunny pics for kitty pics…)
You learn what worked, why you responded to it, and you replicate it in your own way.
Here’s the really magical thing:
This question doesn’t just work for copy. You probably already knew that though.
It applies to every aspect of your business. Someone else wrote a social media post that got tons of engagement? Why did it work? You clicked on someone else’s email and couldn’t wait to read it? Why did it work? You saw someone’s website and loved the whole thing? Why did it work?
From social media to email to branding to website design, asking why something works will turn you into your very own expert in no time. Just don’t spend too much of that time feeling sorry for yourself.
Wondering if your copy’s working? Let’s take a look...a Sales Page Second Look. You’ll get feedback on your copy so you can spruce it up and have other people squirreling it away in their swipe file. Grab your spot here.