Friday, 27 April 2012

Get people to go your way with Lenny Kravitz

Remember Lenny Kravitz's old school rock 'n' roll hit Are You Gonna Go My Way? ? Was listening to it just today and it dawned on me that in the song lyrics he gives two great pieces of advice for copywriting. So without further ado, I thought I'd share with you how he informs how to get people to go our way!

'We must engage...'
Spot on, Lenny. You're writing to persuade. You want your audience to buy your product, hire your service, subscribe to your newsletter, return to your website, etc. Unless you're hoping to lull them into a deep sleep and sell to them using the power of hypnotic suggestion - in which case, change your day job- your words have to engage. 

So keep your audience interested. Hook them with your words. The longer you hold their attention, the more likely they are to do what you want them to.

'.... And rearrange...'
Well sung again, Mr Kravitz. 

Maybe the ideas aren't coming to you. Maybe you've done your first draft but aren't particularly happy with what you've written. 

So rearrange the paragraphs. This sometimes reveals a new, better angle from which to persuade your audience. It can strengthen your copy, too, by exposing weaker paragraphs or points. You can give them the snip and, by doing so, tighten up your copy and make it more persuasive. 

Easier said than done - so how do you do it, Mr Clever Clogs!
There are any number of ways to engage with your copy:
  • Open with a strong sentence. - Remember the cliché 'SEX! That got your attention!'? Think of something that will hook the reader. It could be a question. It could be a powerful statement, such as 'How I made more money by.... ' . Tap into the reader's interests and write something that twigs them. 
  • Be original in your writing - Avoid clichés. They look lazy. If the readers feels you haven't made the effort to write for them, they won't make the effort to read for you. And why should they, says I!
  • Challenge the reader - Not to hand-to-hand combat, though! Say something like 'These are just 5 ways to engage your reader. Bet you can't think of more.' They'll be itching to defy you!
  • Break long pieces of text up -  Copy that looks like one neverending block of text looks dull to the reader. Split it into sections, with bullet-pointed or number lists or even with images. This makes copy visually more appealing. More importantly, it makes it easier to read which, you've guessed it, also holds the reader's attention easier.
  • Vary sentence length - Short sentences of 10 to 16 words work best in copy. But don't keep every single sentence to that length or your copy will become monotonous. Write longer sentences, too, to keep the text inflected.
That's engaging, but what about rearranging?
One good approach is to start at the middle. Save your first draft, delete the first few paragraphs (or place them towards the end of your text) and see what emerges. As well as revealing possible new, better or more original angles, the second benefit of this is that it can put your points into perspective. Changing the order of paragraphs can make the copy more persuasive. That's because it highlights the weaker points, which you can either leave towards the end or simply leave out. 

The third benefit is that it makes the copy stronger in general. A lot of the time, our first few paragraphs act as a warm-up, helping us to hit our stride. Delete them and you'll see how the copy suddenly seems tighter. After all, you're audience is busy and wants you to get to the point, too! 

What would you do?
So, Lenny Kravitz has spoken me to from the music studio with some helpful words of advice. Now I'm passing them on to you.

Have you got any suggestions on engagement or rearrangement for me? Are there any musicians you think have given us some sound advice on copywriting? Surely we could draw something from all those rock ballads that are out there!

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