Seven Tricks for Magical Copy

Spine X-Ray

Magicians are skilled manipulators of perception. They can make people think something is moving when it isn’t or see things that aren’t there. Diverting attention this way and that, they can hide cards and rabbits or make objects appear from thing air.

Sales copy is a little like that, depending on who writes it. Diverting attention with a little smoke and mirrors often draws readers inwards towards a sale. It’s persuasive copy, written to get people believing in the buy.

Now, don’t get me wrong – sales copy isn’t evil. It isn’t there to sneak millions from people’s pockets while leaving them holding an empty bag and no rabbit. Not at all. Sales copy is just a form of marketing and selling through a text-built salesperson.

And it’s tricky. Here are seven of those tricks to help you write yours:

1. Welcome, ladies and gentlemen!

Most performers want to capture your attention as fast as they can. Makes sense – no audience, no show. So how do they do it? A flourish, a bang, a splash… they aren’t shy about stating that they’re on stage and you should be watching. Your sales copy shouldn’t be shy either, so jolt readers into paying attention from the start.

2. I know who you are

To be effective, sales copy has to address the ideal consumer for the product or service. That means you need to know who should buy and why they should buy. Get intimate with that person and make sure that you demonstrate you know every need they have, their pain and fears, right from the start. You aren’t the enemy. You’re on their side.

3. I have what you want

Once you know exactly what the reader needs and wants (and that goes beyond the immediate), your job is to clearly convey that you offer exactly that – a product or service that will fulfill those desires. Focus on the reader’s hoped-for results and explain what your product does to achieve those goals.

4. Putting on a great performance

A good performer keeps the audience entertained with plenty of chitchat, flashy moves and movement. The more people focus on what the magician does, the less they focus on maintaining their beliefs. Your sales copy needs to help change beliefs too, maintaining a patter of conversation and buzz from top of the page aaalllll the way to the bottom.

5. Shall we dance?

Much of sales copy is a back-and-forth play between the reader’s current pains, fears and concerns and that your product or service removes all those sufferings for a better life. Continually mention worries the reader has, answer their questions, and then reassure them that there’s no need to worry at all.

6. Look over here!

Did you hit a tricky spot? It happens. Sometimes you need to divert attention from a sticky point so that you can slip a ball into your pocket for the purpose of the overall show. Respond to the concerns you can and then deflect attention to another area where you can provide firm reassurance.

7. Slipping cards in your pocket

Deflection attention works, but be careful with how much of it you do when you’re working in sales. Readers aren’t stupid; they know you’re sneaking something in your pocket. They just don’t want that to be particularly obvious so that they feel used.

Most important when writing sales copy is to deliver on your promises. People don’t want to buy a ticket to the show only to realize that it wasn’t worth the price.

About the Author: Get more magic from James Chartrand at Men with Pens. An even neater trick is to simply subscribe to the MwP feed.

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Reader Comments (22)

  1. says

    well explained :)
    i loved this one // 1. Welcome, ladies and gentlemen! // :)

    I am not selling anything as such, but i can make this use of this one … the first point ..

  2. says

    Hi James,
    very well written, informative and useful post on copy writing. This is my first time on your blog but I found all of your posts very interesting. thanks a bunch.

  3. says

    Abra-Cadabra! When I think of sales copy I’ve seen I recognize all of the elements you’ve mentioned. I know they work too, because I clicked to a site that has told me I’m going to be the next internet millionaire, earning $20,000 a week in my pajamas! 😉

    Thanks for putting all of the tools in one bag, I will be referring back often.


  4. says

    @ Mussadair – I’m very sad to admit that Copyblogger isn’t my blog. Yet. I’m working on it 😉

    @ Tumblemoose – What, we can’t earn that in our pajamas? Damn! I knew there was a catch! (Do sweatpants count?)

    @ Craig – True value being the focal point, of course!

    @ JD – If you have no rapport with a person, you couldn’t sell them a mansion for a dime. Build that rapport and you could sell snow to an Eskimo. (I think.)

    @ Jamie – Very much so. There’s always good balance in sales.

    @ Blogger – Yeah, getting to the core isn’t always easy when you’re facing looooong copy. But it can be done!

    @ Dinu – Capturing people’s interest can be used across a wide range of industries indeed!

  5. says

    Dinu: Even if Paypal isn’t involved, you’re still selling something. You’re asking readers for their time. That, to me, is far more valuable than money. This entire bag of tricks can be used to think of subscribers as easily as dollars.

  6. says

    A killer title is important for the “welcome ladies and gentlemen”. I recently wrote a blog post titled “why site flipping sucks” and this got loads of attention

  7. Mira Tin says

    besides the post: I had to laugh when I saw your search-field.
    Very fresh and light layout lifting (I think there was?), but I guess it might not be the right layout for a search-field if you don’t recognize that it is a search field anymore, but have to write an explanation ? :-)))

  8. says

    Wonderful and interesting post. I loved this: “A flourish, a bang, a splash… they aren’t shy about stating that they’re on stage and you should be watching.”

    I hope to improve in such a way that all my audience feel the show is worth many times more than the ticket cost.

    Thank you for sharing these thoughts.

  9. says

    Another effective tactic for magical copy is to focus on audience segmentation.

    Too many websites are completely product-focused rather than user-focused. Different users are going to purchase the same exact product for very different reasons. As a simple example, if you are trying to sell “snacks,” a mom might be looking for a healthy snack for her kids whereas an office worker is looking for something to satiate his/her hunger whereas a hipster might be preparing for a get-together or party with friends.

    By customizing a website towards unique audience segments and communicating with them within unique selling environments, website conversion rates should increase.

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