How to Influence People
(And Sleep Well at Night)

Senores y Senoras, nosotros tenemos mas influencia con sus hijos que tu tiene… pero los queremos.

Translation: “Ladies and Gentlemen, we have more influence over your children than you do… but we love them.”

I always thought this introduction to the Jane’s Addiction song Stop on 1990’s Ritual de lo Habitual was poignant. It’s an interesting way to open an album, but the message is also important.

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“Kids Eat Free” and Other Irresistible Offers

Copywriting 101

The sign says it all – “Kids Eat Free Every Monday and Tuesday.” It’s out in front of a Mexican food restaurant on my way home.

That’s called an offer. It’s not the restaurant’s main offering (which is trading Mexican food for money). As far as that goes, this is probably the third best (out of four) Mexican food joints in my hometown.

But every Monday and Tuesday night, the place is packed. They’ve made an appealing offer that caused people to take action.

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Now Featuring Benefits!

Image of Man Wearing Victorian Headphones

One of the most repeated rules of writing compelling copy is to stress benefits, not features.

In other words, identify the underlying benefit that each feature of a product or service provides to the prospect, because that’s what will prompt the purchase.

This is one rule that always applies, except when it doesn’t.

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The SEO Debate is Alive and Well

ProBlogger’s Darren Rowse chimes in with an excellent, balanced addition to the growing debate over traditional SEO as applied to blogs. This is the topic that I commented on with SEO Copywriting is Dead, which built upon a couple of posts by Nick Wilson of Performancing and was pushed further along by Steve Pavlina.

Darren is always a diplomat, but here his even-handedness is especially welcome. While demonstrating both sides of the story, I think he actually makes a stronger case for writing for humans first.

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Blog Pimping

“Pimpin’ ain’t easy but it’s necessary.” – Ice Cube

Chris Garrett at Performancing writes today about “blogging for hire,” meaning a new corporate job description, or maybe a consulting gig, as a company blogger. Think Microsoft’s Robert Scoble, but at firms of all sizes and across all industries.

In fact, Chris inspired this post title when he mentioned Hugh Macleod “pimping wine and bespoke suits.” Chris isn’t being derogatory at all, but if you’re offended, blame him. :)

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The Structure of Persuasive Copy

Copywriting 101

We’ve seen that the purpose of each element of copy is designed to get the first sentence read, and from there keep the reader engaged step by step to the conclusion.

We know to keep things clear, concise and simple so that our writing communicates with ease.

And we definitely understand the make-or-break importance of an attention-grabbing headline.

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How to Write Headlines That Work

Copywriting 101

Your headline is the first, and perhaps only, impression you make on a prospective reader. Without a headline or post title that turns a browser into a reader, the rest of your words may as well not even exist.

But a headline can do more than simply grab attention. A great headline can also communicate a full message to its intended audience, and it absolutely must lure the reader into your body text.

At its essence, a compelling headline must promise some kind of benefit or reward for the reader, in trade for the valuable time it takes to read more.

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To Be or Not to Be?

Copywriting 101

Now that’s a question.

The first six words of Hamlet’s Act III, Scene 1 soliloquy are without doubt the most famous line William Shakespeare ever wrote. It’s also one of the most recognizable quotes in the English-speaking world.

And not a single word over three letters long.

The lesson? Keep it simple. Good copy is written in clear, concise, simple words that get your point across. It’s conversational.

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SEO Copywriting is Dead

Before we get further into our “Copywriting 101” series of posts, I thought I’d tell you what NOT to expect.

If you’re here looking for tips on SEO copywriting for your blog, you’ll want to look elsewhere. But you’re probably wasting your time.

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Fame, Love, Redemption, Violence…

Given the topic of today’s article, I just had to link to this Times Online (UK) article (via Seth Godin). Seth calls it the “headline of the year,” and I have to agree it’s an excellent example of a compelling attention grabber:

Eminem remarries sweetheart he vowed to murder

Even if you don’t give a flip about Eminem, how do you resist reading that story?

Want to write compelling post titles? Appeal to the recurring themes that define our humanity.