These 4 Copywriting Techniques Work Really Well … Right Up Until They Don’t

These 4 Copywriting Techniques Work Really Well … Right Up Until They Don’t

When using urgency as a technique to close a sale, make it fit the tone, voice, and context of the rest of your message. Killer Technique #2: Grab people’s attention with bullet points As copywriters, we do like to sing the praises of bullet points. In the words of the late, great copywriter, David Abbott: “If you believe that facts persuade (as I do), you’d better learn to write a list so that it doesn’t read like a list.” Great advice. Killer Technique #3: Tap into the power of asking questions Do it right, and asking questions is another great way to engage with your readers. They think they know how people will answer the question. Perhaps your headline should have been more like: “Which of these 5 Caribbean water sports would you try first?” That’s an open-ended question — and doesn’t even mention resorts — so maybe I’ll keep reading to find out which water sports you’re talking about. In other words, if you want your readers to engage more deeply with what you’re writing, give them an open loop to chew on. You still need to put in the hard work of crafting great copy. Don’t be like that local lawn care company, switching from neighborly language to full-on direct-response shouting. First write some great copy, and then see how you can use one or more of these techniques to make it even stronger.

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These 4 Copywriting Techniques Work Really Well … Right Up Until They Don’t

Search on Google and you’ll find hundreds of thousands of pages devoted to copywriting secrets, tips, tricks, and techniques.

Go through them all and you might get the impression anyone can become a great copywriter … just by using a few of these “killer techniques!”

Like painting by numbers. But with words and phrases.

Nice idea. But no.

While these techniques can definitely help your copy, they don’t deliver the easy wins some people hope for … They won’t turn dirt into gold.

In fact, there are times when you should either not use them at all or, if you do, use them with care.

Let’s go through four of these techniques, one by one.

Killer Technique #1: Close more sales by creating a sense of urgency

Instilling a sense of urgency is helpful because people love to procrastinate, and generally wait as long as possible before making up their minds.

Give those people a deadline and a decent proportion of them will get off the fence and buy.

But you have to be careful how you do this.

For example:

Recently, I was helping a fellow copywriter with the draft of an email she had written for a local lawn care company.

The offer was that the company would come and “put the garden to bed” before the onset of winter. Yard cleanup, some pruning, mulching, and so on.

Toward the end of the email, she wrote:

“Offer ends midnight on Friday, so call us NOW for your FREE appointment!”

Fair enough. But …

This is a local business. The homeowner may have met the person who sent the email. Their kids may go to the same school.

All of a sudden, that clever direct-response urgency sounds off. It doesn’t feel right. Neighbors don’t talk to each other like that.

She might have done better by writing something more along the lines of:

“By the way — winter is coming, and soon we’ll have our first hard frost. After that, it will be too late to put your garden to bed. So please call us soon to make that appointment.”

Urgency … but real urgency, based on the changing seasons.

Not made-up blah blah blah.

When using urgency as a technique to close a sale, make it fit the tone, voice, and context of the rest of your message.

Killer Technique #2: Grab people’s attention with bullet points

As copywriters, we do like to sing the praises of bullet points.

And, yes, they can be useful. Really useful.

They give us an eye-catching and punchy way to deliver a sequence of points.

And when you have a list of things to share, bullet points are much more reader-friendly than a long, meandering sentence with lots of commas.

But lists of bullet points can backfire too.

This happens when they look and feel like … um ……

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