Winning Copy Appeals to Basic Instincts

Sharon Stone in Basic InstinctHow do you get somebody to do what you want them to?

You can just ask of course. That will work with some people. A more successful approach though is to appeal to their human nature. Show what’s in it for them.

We are simple creatures really. Scott Adams of Dilbert fame calls us “moist robots”. As accurate a description as any!

Press the right buttons and you get a predictable, automatic reaction.

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Is it OK to Write for Digg?

Digg BaitingThis is the first post from Digg power user Muhammad Saleem, who will be offering tips about creating content that appeals to users of social media news sites.

Back in January, Ethan Kaplan proposed a new term to describe certain sites:

Made for Digg (MFD), just like Made for Adsense sites, these are sites that are specifically formatted as Digg bait…

While people often argue that there is something inherently wrong with content that is specifically designed to be consumed by socially driven sites, I was probably one of the first people to go on the record arguing to the contrary, and the reasoning behind my stance is simple. For content to be successful on Digg, i.e. for it to be classified as “Digg bait,” it really has to appeal to the community and it has to incite a passionate response from the users, whether the response be good or bad.

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The Copyblogger Theme for WordPress

When Brian rolled out the latest design for Copyblogger, he promised to chain me to a computer and whip me until I was able to resurrect the old design as a ubiquitous WordPress theme.

Copyblogger Theme for WordPress

Today, I’m happy to announce that the chains have come off, the welts on my back are beginning to heal, and you, my friends, have a brand new toy—the Copyblogger Theme for WordPress.

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Check Out This Spam From a PR Flak

I don’t usually do things like this, but this is too delicious. Here’s an email I just received from someone named Tami Queen:

Countless accounts of “PR Flaks” who have spammed bloggers, mis-targeted pitches or just plain gotten blogger relations wrong fill the Internet. Don’t risk finding your next pitch blasted on your favorite blog!

As a Public Relations professional, it is your job to find every opportunity to get your organization covered and be an expert on the inner-workings of the media. However, the explosion of the blogosphere has left many confused and wondering: How do bloggers operate? What type of approach will get my news covered? How can I integrate blogs into my overall PR strategy?

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Did Alanis Morissette Get Irony Right?

Alanis MorissetteMany people struggle with irony in their writing, despite the media fable that everyone born after 1965 lives a life so deeply entrenched in irony that we can’t handle a direct assertion. Many bloggers are sarcastic and snarky (nastier forms of irony generally intended to deride a specific person) simply because it’s an easy substitute for a fully developed writer’s voice. Irony is a bit more subtle, and that’s why it can cause people trouble.

When it comes to “not getting” irony, there’s one person who comes immediately to mind for many—Alanis Morissette. More than a decade later, her hit song “Ironic” from the 1995 album Jagged Little Pill is still the punch line of scores of irony-related jokes.

If you’re not familiar, Morissette’s song describes various life situations followed by the two questions “Isn’t it ironic?” and “Don’t you think?” The perceived problem with the song is that most if not all of the given examples do not constitute either situational or literary irony.

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Copyblogger Copywriting Contest
Now Closed

Thanks to everyone who submitted an entry for the first ever Copyblogger Copywriting Contest. The response has been great, and now Seth, Darren and I need to work our way through the submissions to pick the three winners.

Results will be announced soon!

Quick and Easy Sunday Links

Seal the Deal, Part II: 5 Tips for Designing the Ultimate Landing Page

Image of Landing Page graphic

In my first post on the subject for Copyblogger, Seal the Deal: 10 Tips for Writing the Ultimate Landing Page, I devoted most of my time to copywriting tips since, well, I’m a copywriter. I craft the words.

Unlike direct mail, however, the web is a strongly visual medium. Good design helps support the content, leading the visitor’s eye from here to there and directing them through your message layer by layer, step by step.

This is especially so in the formatting of an effective landing page. That’s why I’ll devote myself to the overall look, feel, and formatting of effective landing pages for this post.

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Writing Copy Even Grandma Will Love

Grandma is frustratedIt just happened again.

I’m reading, but I’m not getting it. Maybe if I continue to read, all will become clear.

Nope.

I feel dumb.

Obviously, there is something I’m missing. It’s my fault. I’ll read it again.

Nope, still not getting it.

The pictures look great, nice web design. Looks like a trustworthy company.

Keep your money, Chris. Maybe somebody can explain it to me later (if I remember).

Sorry friend, you’ve just lost the sale.

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Do Your Metaphors Rock?

Chris Cornell of Soundgarden

I’m looking California, and feeling Minnesota…

That metaphor is from the 1991 Soundgarden song Outshined, written by front man Chris Cornell. He shared an interesting anecdote about writing those very personal words in a magazine interview:

“I came up with that line — ‘I’m looking California / And feeling Minnesota,’ from the song ‘Outshined’ — and as soon as I wrote it down, I thought it was the dumbest thing. But after the record came out and we went on tour, everybody would be screaming along with that particular line when it came up in the song. That was a shock.”

Instead of the “dumbest thing,” those are the most famous six words Cornell has ever written. In addition to being a fan favorite, the line inspired both a movie title and an ESPN catch phrase whenever Minnesota Timberwolves player Kevin Garnett was in the news.

Why did it work? Because with those six words, Soundgarden’s audience understood instantly what Chris Cornell was trying to convey. That’s the power of metaphor. Cornell is no slouch in the lyrical department, and yet he was taken aback by how well this particular metaphor worked.

So, how do we non-rock-gods know if our metaphors are any good? That they will actually help us inform and persuade our readers in the way we intend?

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