View Full Version : Copywriting Techniques

04-04-2009, 01:55 AM
Another good article on copywriting I thought you might want to read. It's Four Copywriting Techniques for Engaging Podcasts and Audio Presentations (http://www.copyblogger.com/audio-copywriting/), though don't let the podcasts and audio part fool you. The advice will help you with writing in general.

Some ways to make your writing more compelling:

1. Stories and Anecdotes
2. Metaphors, Similes and Analogies
3. Mirroring
4. Mindís Eye Scenarios

All will make your copy more effective, but I want to pull a quote from number 4 above

With ďmindís eye scenarios,Ē you ask the listener to visualize the desired beneficial outcome they hope to achieve, and then tie that desired future projection to your solution using scenarios and results.

I think it's really effective to present your copy in this way. You're essentially getting your reader to visualize themselves buying from you.

Do you use any of these techniques in your copy? Have a particular technique that works well for you?

04-04-2009, 02:45 PM
I'm glad you included the remark about how this applies to written copy because that was my first thought when I saw the title.

Anyway, I most definitely use these kinds of techniques in my copy. Here is an example opening segment from my recently revised web design page:

As a small business owner myself, I can understand your concerns when trying to choose a web design company. The analogy of land mines and the need for an experienced guide is very fitting.

Large agencies usually have all the resources and skill to do great work, but they also have high overhead and you may need a larger budget before they will even want to talk with you.

But with many smaller web designers, the web sites they create do little or nothing to produce profit. They often lack the planning and marketing needed to make them effective.

Then there are the quick and cheap web sites that leave you to fend for yourself once the providers have your money. The ultimate solution for small business web site design would be to combine the best elements together.

©2009 Steve Chittenden

The above example begins with empathy like the Copyblogger article, and also incorporates another technique where you compare alternatives and explain why the solution you offer is the most logical. I am a firm believer in using analogies, especially when explaining something technical. Stories work great for illustrating how something actually works.

Great article. I agree that therre is direct application to written copy too.

04-04-2009, 05:56 PM
Being a member of Toastmasters, and a public speaker, I tend to write copy as I would a speech. That, at least, makes it personable, I think. Except that I then "stiffen it up" by removing all the contractions and replacing them with correct written grammar - It is, instead of It's, and Does not nstead of Doesn't.

I'm not sure that is the best way to go about it, though.

Also, I find myself focusing too much on the problem and not enough on the solution. I am going to give the 'Mindís Eye Scenarios' a try.

Thanks for the thread.

04-04-2009, 06:52 PM
Steve I figured I'd have to mention the writing thing given the title. The post is really more with the abstract ideas for better presentation of any kind of content. Analogies and metaphors do pull you into content. You can scan through more posts and CopyBlogger to see this. In fact you can read more posts there to see all of the advice in this post in play.

Frederick I use contractions a lot in my writing. They help get that personal feel across. I understand the tendency to want to be more formal in writing than speech, but keeping it informal in writing can work very well. Depends upon what you're writing of course. Some things do call for more formality, but I think being more informal can help give a human element to a website.

The "Mind's Eye" thing is something I saw Brian Clarke mention awhile back. I've been incorporating it into my writing, or at least trying to, ever since.

Dan Furman
04-06-2009, 11:12 AM
I just wrote a video script not too long ago for a company. For me, the hardest part was coming in under their three minute request (for the record, I belong to toastmasters, and always seem to go over there too :) )

These are good tips. I use them all myself, although (again) I never really thought about it.

04-06-2009, 11:43 AM
I hear you about going over the top. As you would imagine I tend to write more than I probably need to.

04-06-2009, 12:43 PM
Writing to a time limit is hard. I've written several scripts for company videos and I always have to edit and then edit some more. I tend to forget we'll have video, which means we can show things as well as talk about them.

Another thing you have to take into account is the speed at which someone talks. I cut most of the audio for our in house stuff and I always talk too fast the first time. When we slow it down to the right speed, a page of copy can go on for a couple of minutes at least.

04-06-2009, 01:40 PM
So far, I've not done the recording thing, but I do know all too well how challenging it is. When I had my public speaking class at a local business university 3 years ago, I always struggled with keeping within the time limits. While other classmates had trouble filling the time, my problem was always trimming it down. If you went over the limit, you got marked down for it because part of the goal was to keep your material within the guidelines. I did benefit from the experience.

I used to sub for a video production company too. I remember working in another room while I could hear a narrator they hired doing voiceovers. It's amazing how much work they go through to get it just right. That's true with all video production. I have a lot of respect now for how much editing time goes into it. You can spend hours to produce just a few seconds. Doing a few minutes of good audio would be just as demanding if you want it to be effective.

04-06-2009, 04:09 PM
May I offer a suggestion or two for speakers who go over their time. First, I notice from my TM club that those who go over their time waffle. Not only do they waffle in their speeches, they waffle in face to face conversation. By "waffle" I simply mean say something many times in several different ways. Any time you say, "like I said..." you are waffling.

The worst offenders are those who like to speak without having written a script. They are the worst wafflers!

The trick is to determine what you want to get across to your audience. Write out that objective and write it in a single sentence. It works best for me if I write out my objective after I have compiled my speech. I then go through the speech and simply strike out every sentence that does not contribute to the objective. It is amazing how much you will eliminate!

Then go through what's left and cross out everything that you have said more than once or twice. It is sometimes useful to repeat yourself, in different words, but repeat yourself only once. Saying the same thing over and over wastes your time, the audience's time, and it's terribly boring.

I hope this helps.

04-06-2009, 11:27 PM
Frederick. that's probably why speaking classes are so important. When you write out a speech outline thinking it will be x number of minutes, you may be very surprised during practice how much time it really takes. There is such a thing as "impromptu" speaking, and that was covered, but speaking without a script is rarely appropriate, and you learn a lot more when you have a time limit and practice to be sure you stay within that limit.

04-08-2009, 12:27 PM

One of the parts I found exciting in having my own business is the marketing part. I've learned so much in a such a short time. It's almost fun finding different ways to market my business.

04-08-2009, 11:07 PM
I learned the importance of writing out what I want to say when I was in sales. Nobody I worked with ever wrote out a sales pitch and none of the sales training sessions suggested it. Yet one trainer had everyone write out a sales pitch and it was amazing just how difficult it was - even for those guys who had been selling the same products for a number of years.

You really don't know what you are saying until you actually write it out. And then, when you read it back, it's is again amazing how many changes you want to make.

Nevertheless, Steve, impromptu speaking is not speaking without preparation. Not for Toastmasters, anyway. You are still expected to prepare several topics and have someone choose which one you will present at the last minute.

04-09-2009, 12:43 AM
Good point. I've worked a few sales oriented jobs and I always had something prepared for what I would say to people. Sometimes the company had a script, though more often than not there wasn't one. I didn't necessarily prepare a full script or follow one given to me, but I generally prepared myself to have an answer for most any question or situation.

Then when the time came I would improvise a little so as not to sound stale. But I always prepared what I was going to say.

04-09-2009, 12:22 PM
I agree that your presentation should be written out, but no matter how well written, the delivery is crucial. I know I'm not alone in my disdain for telemarketers that just read from a scipt, and sound like they are just reading their pitch. If they can't practice it until they sound natural, then their failure is well deserved. I know that's harsh, but people like that are in the wrong job position, and their trainers are even more dispicable for allowing it.

04-09-2009, 12:37 PM
We have people who do follow up calls and customer service calls. When we started this program, I wrote a basic script with some suggested things that people could say. In the beginning, it seemed to make the callers more comfortable. As they got more used to making calls, they ranged further off script, and they sound more natural and comfortable.

This sort of calling is not for everyone. Some people just aren't comfortable with it.

09-17-2009, 09:26 AM
Good post. Thanks for sharing.