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5 ways to become a better copywriter - The principals of persuasion

Posted by Ingeborg Eldoy on October 12, 2016

Want to write a text that not only attracts attention, but also makes your audience keep reading? We show you how to put the golden rules of copywriting into practice. Your goal is to sell more with less words, and getting your reader to take action. With a little bit of preparation you will have a great text in next to no time. After reading this you will be an expert in the science of persuasion and how to get that yes. Read our five simple steps for anyone who wants to become a better copywriter.

1. Know your audience - find your scenario

A golden rule for copywriting is to always know who you are writing to. In addition to gender and age imagine some of your audience's patterns, like her hobbies, her relationship status and her wants and wishes. What is her motivation and what triggers her attention? Keep a list to remind yourself of who you are writing to so you don't lose focus.

2. Concepting - find your angle

Now you have a better knowledge of your audience, but which angle will you use to lure your audience in? Imagine that your audience is looking for their next travel experience. Consider what is important for the target audience and what triggers her action to buy a trip. Is it curiousity or boredom? Is she looking for a unique and adventurous trip she can brag about to her friends and family?

Appeal to the fear of missing out: Everybody else are going on amazing trips, of course she wants to have that same experience! Is the audience looking for a trip to book as a surprise for a friend? Perhaps the audience is feeling guilty about not having spent enough time with her loved ones. Choose a few angles that you incorporate into your text as you want to appeal to more sides of your reader. Say that she needs an escape from her every day stress, wants to book a trip for her husband and a unique trip that she can brag about to her friends?

3. Approach - find the right package that fits the message

Now that you have found your angle consider how you want to communicate your message. Start a dialogue with her, take her on the journey she wants, and remind her of the cold weather at home, before you take her on a journey to somewhere warm and sunny. If you want to provoke her a little bit, tell her that she has neglected both herself and her loved ones and that only a perfect trip that can create happy memories for everyone is the right thing to do. 

Examples of approaches:
The Dialogue – speak to her: Still haven't booked a holiday? Looking for the perfect sunny destination? We have the trip for you! 

Visualization – paint her the picture: Hear the sound of waves playing against the white sandy beach and feel the warm sun caressing your skin- welcome to the Caribbeans! 

Make the contrast: Leave the dreary weather and everyday stress at home and enjoy the relaxing island life on Jamaica!

Provocation: Surprise your family with an unforgettable holiday that will create wonderful memories for everyone.

4. The art of persuasion - Dr. Cialdinis six principles of persuasion

The author and scientist behind the book “Influence: The principles of persuasion” shows us how influencing people is not luck or magic, but a science. After 30 years of research he has boiled it down to six main principles of persuasion for anyone who wants to get that yes!

1. Reciprocity: Give your audience something extra by giving them personalised and unexpected insider tips that makes them think they owe you something. Research has shown that people will be much more positive towards you (and buying your product) if you offer them something for free, no matter how little it might seem.

2. Social proof: When people are in doubt they often turn to others for advice, or simply do whatever other people do. That is why testimonials from satisfied customers should be displayed on any page. In your text you can appeal to that sentiment by simply insinuating that your audience should go on the holiday that everybody else wants to go on as well. 

3. Consistency and Commitment: People don't like to back out of agreements. Research shows that when people have publicly said yes to doing something they are far less likely to back out of it. So your task as a copywriter is to make the audience make commitments in a "yes-loop” they will not want to get out of. Ask your audience if they are going on a trip, if they want to experience something new and also bring their loved ones with them on that trip. Yes, yes, and yes.

4. Liking: People don't like to say no to people they know and like, and are also less likely to say no if the person they are talking to is similar to them, gives them compliments, or those who are physically attractive. Even a small thing as sharing someone's name can be important if you're trying to persuade someone to give that yes. A way of getting people to like you better is simply finding something you have in common or show that you also have the same problems as they do. “Are you also looking forward to the summer? Come with us to Spain!"

5. Authority: People respect authority and want to follow “experts” with higher education and a great business title, or celebrities who drive expensive cars and own million-dollar homes. We respect authority to the extent that we often don't question it, even if it goes against rational behaviour. So if you are trying to sell a hotel by the Como lake in Italy, mention that both Brad Pitt and George Clooney have vacation homes in the area or that the president's favorite vacation country is Italy.

6. Scarcity - People want more of what they can have little of. If you have a unique product make a visualisation of what they will miss out on if they don't go. You can also use this to your advantage if you're offering a trip to let's say Poland that might not be on everyone's bucket list, but what if it is a place yet to be discovered by tourist hordes?



5. A few golden rules to keep in mind while you are writing.

  • Write in the present tense, you want the audience to feel that they are already walking on the beautiful beaches of Thailand or by the foot of the romantic Eiffel Tower in Paris. 

  • Minimize auxiliaries, skip the can, may or should, write what the audience is most definitely doing on their holiday. Be specific and concise, like they are already at the destination.

  • Use positive words, but never lie: This might seem like a given to some, but in cases when have to write about something with lesser quality you have to find a way to present the product to the audience in a positive way without lying. Selling a bunk bed room in a cottage as a romantic getaway might sound as a difficult task, but nothing is impossible: "Want to escape the city life for a weekend? Find peace and quiet in a cottage in the forrest, and connect with each other on a different level."

  • Variation: This is a nobrainer really, meaning simply that you need to make use of a variety of words to make what you are selling different and interesting!

  • Use “you” more than “we”: We commit to you, and you are the most important. Always direct your text to the one person reading. This way you are making her commit to what she is thinking and making it a personal experience for her.

  • Be careful when using superlatives: It might be tempting to use as many superlatives as possible in a text, but it will backfire. Words like perfect, amazing and incredible should be used very rarely. If you use too many superlatives your text might end up being percieved as ridiculous and untruthful.  

  • Don't promise more than what is realistic, that will only lead to disappointment. If you are selling a trip to a 3-star hotel in Costa del Sol, don't promise first class dining or a luxurious spa experience when the only availble spa you will see is a sauna. 

Conclusion

The art of copywriting is like most things, it becomes better with practice. To be a good and versatile copywriter it is sometimes necessary to go outside your comfort zone. Have you nailed the dialogue approach, and become fluent in the language of persuation? Then try out the approach of visualization and bring your audience to a whole different place without having to actually go anywhere. That is one of the wonderful things with copywriting, it gives you the power to influence people's decisions.

A really good text can invite the audience to something of so much value to them that it will change their life. Maybe your mesmerizing text will make them get out of their chair and do that trip around the world that fulfills a lifelong dream, or go on that sunny holiday that puts a spark back into their life, to start with.

Not everybody needs guidelines, golden rules or to learn the science of persuasion to be an excellent copywriter, but a few tips and pointers might push you to develop yourself further and get some inspiration for your next text, even for those of you who already consider yourselves experts at copywriting.

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