The Dirty Little Secret to Seducing Your Readers

image of woman's lips

I’m guessing you want to write copy that sells.

You want to write copy so irresistible it makes your readers scramble down the page — begging to do whatever it is you want when they’re done reading — whether it’s to make a purchase, send a donation, or join your newsletter.

You, my friend, want to seduce your readers.

Well, today’s your lucky day. In a few moments you’ll know not only how to work your readers into a lather … but also what a cold shower over-educating them can be.

Let’s start with a story.

A sexy — but sad — protagonist

Ingrid is a beautiful and accomplished accountant.

Her husband, Milton, is an editor for a big time publisher. And their son, Nathaniel, is a sturdy, blond, lovable wrecking ball.

A sublime family. A nice home. But something’s wrong.

Ingrid wants another baby. Bad.

Unfortunately, with Nathaniel’s ubiquitous presence and the ridiculous demands of work and family life, the days of Milton chasing Ingrid around with wine and roses are long gone.

It could take years to have another child. Only problem is, Ingrid doesn’t want to wait years. Her clock is “ticking.”

That means if Ingrid wants to get pregnant soon she has to calculate. Innocent happenstance is out the door.

Guerrilla tactics are in, folks.

The one thing that stands in her way

Ingrid decides that the evening hours after the boy is safely tucked away is the best time to seduce Milton.

Unfortunately, her husband doesn’t read a bed time story to the boy and then suddenly slip on a smoking jacket and shift into sexy thoughts.

No. After bed time Milton sinks into his black leather paloma chair with a newspaper, a scotch and a wicked bent to falling asleep while sitting up.

Know what that means? Ingrid has to lay the groundwork during the day if she wants a passionate man in the evening.

Here’s how she does it.

Her devious plan

The next morning Ingrid tells the refreshed, perky Milton, father of their future second child, that the time is right — and that she will not be wearing panties all day.

She winks and heads for the door.

Milton’s coffee cup crashes to the floor along with his jaw.

Near noon Ingrid emails Milton. She writes: “I can’t tell you how refreshed and breezy I feel. You?”

At dinner, Ingrid sits across Milton, crossing and un-crossing her legs. And while Milton throws the dishes into the trashcan and the trash into the dishwasher, she puts a sleepy Nathaniel to bed.

Three minutes later they meet in their bedroom.

Now let me ask you a stupid question: Do you think Ingrid succeeded?

Of course she did, but what does this have to do with writing irresistible copy?

Everything. Let me show you what I mean.

Do this and you’ll kill gratification every time

Ingrid’s secret to success amounts to this: she leveraged the erotic potential of premeditated restraint and the human imagination.

In other words: She teased.

She taunted. She fascinated. She withheld gratification until she was certain she could get what she wanted.

The same goes for you, the copywriter.

Listen: gratification is the killer of seduction.

I’ve seen this many times:

  • A book with a dust jacket that explains what someone needs to do to eat right.
  • A sales letter that unpacks the secret to raising brilliant children — right in the letter.
  • A video that demonstrates the best ways to save money for your child’s college education.
  • A movie trailer that spills all the best lines, the funniest jokes, and the most exciting plot twists.

Don’t get me wrong: I appreciated the information. The problem is, I didn’t buy any of the products.

Why should I? They told me everything I needed to know.

With physical products, restraint is just part of the deal. Cars, computers, or steak knives. You can’t start really enjoying that irresistible Macbook Air until you buy it and make it your own, no matter how much fooling around you did at the Apple store.

Get the product in front of buyers, maybe give them a test drive, and they get worked up.

But when it comes to selling non-tangible information products, copywriters often over-educate … and end up giving away the farm.

Ingrid didn’t over-educate. But she still got what she wanted, right?

How this approach works in copy

Your reader, like Milton, has hunkered down, intending never to move again. Unless of course you give him something to get worked up over.

Look at these examples on how to do that:

  • Do your readers want to run a marathon in four hours? Then tell them you have a 17-week training program that will not only get them across the finish line in 3.5 hours, but will also prevent them from dehydrating and allow them to recover in just one day. And the key to seducing this reader is giving him or her a single powerful technique from the program — but that’s it.
  • Does your audience want to overcome crippling insecurity? Then tell them you have a seven-step system that will transform them into a robust, productive human being in seven days — but don’t give them those steps. Just let them get a good peek at one.
  • Does your audience want to retire rich? Then tell them how you’ve helped hundreds of people retire before they turned 49 by using a legal but wildly lucrative investment strategy … a strategy they can get their hands on once they go through a rigorous application process.
  • Does your audience want to live to be 100? Then tell them you’ve figured out how exactly to do just that with a the right combination of exercise, food and vitamins. But don’t ever tell them what that combination is. Just tell them how these will make them live healthier and longer.

See how that works? Yes, you can give information — including valuable information your prospects can act on right away. But keep some sexy stuff reserved for after the sale.

And if you think about it, what I’m telling you isn’t any different than what Brian was saying when he was threatening to kill a kitten.

Remember that?

The bottom line

Gratify too soon and your reader — your prospect — is gone.

Instead, make plans to tease the dickens out of your reader. Don’t satisfy their curiosity. Or quench their thirst.

Do just the opposite …

  • Promise them you have what they want
  • Paint the picture of what it will be like when they get it
  • Prove to them that you’ll uphold your end of the bargain if they buy
  • And then push them over the edge

Which should be a piece of cake if you’ve properly laid the groundwork.

Just ask Ingrid.

About the Author: Demian Farnworth is a freelance web writer. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments

  1. Hi Demian!
    This post had me cracking up! You certainly teased and lured me in all the way until the end. Teasing and not telling everything upfront is such a simple concept, yet it somehow gets overlooked. I think it’s in our efforts to cover everything that we forget the value of leaving things to the imagination and then send little reminders like Ingrid that the prize is still to be had…
    Awesomely insightful!

    • Thanks Kiesha! It’s really a powerful tool…and know different than what superb suspense writers do. Take care and look forward to hearing from you again.

  2. I have to say, you guys at Copyblogger come up with some of the most entertaining ways to explain something! But you raise a very valid point. Your content needs to draw the reader further in. Giving them what they want (all of it) up front doesn’t give them any reason to come back.

    • Credit goes to Demian for this one, I wouldn’t have had the nerve. :)

    • Thanks Nick! And I agree with you Nick–CB is the best at the game. It’s really a treat to write for these guys.

    • Agreed!!! What an engaging story… :)

      I have to admit, as simple as this concept seems, it’s incredibly difficult for me to pull off. The writer in me rebels against leaving information out of the story, even as my logical brain knows that I need to leave some mystery in order to capture people’s attention and promote products. Maybe it’ll come with time…

  3. It’s sad, but true, that much information, including that which appears in articles and books, can be summed up in a few sentences. While you don’t want to hide the ball from your customers, it’s better not to give away the entire concept too early. Thanks for the tips!

  4. Wow.. this is interesting. Instead of approaching the readers in a ‘boombastic way.. with “look at here and there”.. why not we go for a seducing one?

    Gosh. I wanna try this. Thanks Demian for the inspiration!

  5. Re: “See how that works? Yes, you can give information — including valuable information your prospects can act on right away. But keep some sexy stuff reserved for after the sale.”

    I think Brian and Sonia have done this well with their 20 step email newsletter – Internet Marketing for Smart People.

    I also agree that if you give them too much info up-front, you’ve lost them.

    Good post Demian! Excellent things to consider for that sales landing page or that email marketing course…

  6. This is something I have been working hard on in my writing. In fact, there are posts and sales pages I have written in the past that reveal everything you need to know in the headline. Why read on if the headline tells you everything you need to know?

    This is a fantastic post Demian. Thanks for writing it.

    • Hey Russ, been there done that. I had two great mentors that beat the habit out of me. It helps when someone else looks at it. Shoot me an email any time and I’d be happy to help you anytime. Thanks!

  7. You just…just…just…made feel better…shaking everything up…making inside out…!

  8. One of the best pieces of advice I have read. “Do just the opposite …Promise them you have what they want, Paint the picture of what it will be like when they get it, Prove to them that you’ll uphold your end of the bargain if they buy, and then push them over the edge”

    I’m going to print it, frame it, or perhaps have it surgically inserted in to my brain.
    Thank you

    • Surgically implanting it helped me, too. That’s the 4 P’s formula for writing copy, by the way. No my invention, just my interpretation. Thanks for the kind words John and look forward to hearing from you again!

    • John, I agree. That was a fantastic wrap-up on Demian’s part. We were seduced to read the article in its entirety to arrive at that superb closing.

    • John,

      I agree, I just copied and pasted that on a post-it!

      Demian,

      Excellent thought process. This is a skill I am working on right now. My struggle is that so many headlines and sales copy are too sensational. Too “infomercial-ish” and I don’t want to go from one extreme to another.

      Copyblogger has been providing a lot of info on this and I have found it helpful. Your “Bottom Line” points really focus on the steps, so thank you! Now I just have to find the right words.

      Great job – Theresa

  9. Good post. The danger is that readers get stung by the tease method, used by unscrupulous writers with nothing to offer, and turn off.

    But – the opposite is also true. Give the reader small, good things every day. That way, they will trust that you have more for them (judged by experience).

    That approach has played out well on my site.

  10. Demian-

    This post is timely for many bloggers who are stuggling to profit, who are simply doing it for the “love of blogging”. Funny thing is, in teasing me through the article, you really added value, and educated me along the way. I didn’t see anything to buy, I trust that comes later?

    Question: how do you get started with this process on an existing audience who is already use to a “nice guy” style of writing?

    Thanks again for a great post!

  11. Jennifer Desmond :

    You are spot on with this article. I have tried to explain this to my boss over and over again, but they insist on explaining every product and every service in every piece we use to promote. The thought is to educate prospects and to distinguish us from competitors while showing that we go the extra mile for customers. I do keep it high level, but sometimes feel the “everything AND the kitchen sink” approach has been to our detriment. Maybe I will forward this article along…thanks for the validation!

    • Hey Jennifer, recommend testing two different approaches. The tease and the kitchen sink. If you’re doing it online, it’s really easy. And if you’re doing it email, that’s even simpler. Bottom line: You got to test it to prove it…and once you’ve proved it…who can argue with results?

  12. Your best article yet and they’re all great !

  13. Teasing titles are a great way to keep readers interested, but I think that the best copy is the kind that makes a statement and then proves it in a creative manner (exactly what you did here).

  14. Right, you have to do this sometimes, seduce, that is – maybe more often than not.

    I did feel like the story was a bit on the sleazy side for Copyblogger (can you say “Basic Instinct” for blog posts?), but hey, I guess whatever it takes to communicate a point and teach a principle.

    As long as your copy entices and entertains, teasing and seducing is a sound strategy, since the key is to cause the reader to want (to learn) more. I only wish Hollywood would take the hint and not go ruining so many movies thanks to trailers that spill all the good stuff.

    Thanks, Demian!

    Peter

  15. Demian – I work in an industry that ranks as low as, perhaps lower than ‘used car salesmen’. Yes, you guessed it; I am a real estate broker.

    Quick question …how do I separate myself from the low morals, incompetent crowd (Assuming I am not one of them of course, :-) that so many of my audience believe I’m part of?

    The level of scepticism and distrust the public has for us is WAY above anything you can imagine. Any brilliant ideas, books, CD’s or courses I can buy from you or anyone else to help me with this HUGE challenge?

    • Hey John, I’ve done a LOT of work in real estate, so connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter and we can exchange email addresses and talk more about it. Might have some ideas for you.

      • I’m looking forward to connecting with you. I sent you a Tweet and as usual the ‘whale’ won’t let me read anything.

  16. Good article — definitely read through the story to get to the end. A nice change from the typical post — good stuff.

    - JB

  17. Cool Damien,
    I got the idea of how to write seducing copy, but the questions is, how do I seduce my wife to not wear panties through the day so she thinks that she can seduce me into martial evening bliss?

    “Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive” – Sir Walter Scott

  18. Great article as usual. Very different from the normal stuff, but still a good read.

  19. I am guilty of same! I think as copywriters so often we want to solve problems. We want people to be empowered by the knowledge we deliver through content. But as you’ve illustrated, Damian, the trick is to provide enough information that readers feel both empowered and still hungry for more.

  20. One quick question: i have an it blog. How can I use teasing if i offer just the latest news about the IT world.
    I know it’s a bit of a noob question, but I would be grateful if i receive any help.

    • Completely different mindset if you’re talking about news. When you’re dealing with news it’s best to use the inverted pyramid method: give them up front what they want to know and layer in the less important information. But that doesn’t mean you can’t tease them in the headline, though. Great question!

  21. Unfortunately, many folks go too far with this idea.

    Do any of y’all get emails…from everyone it seems, he advertises heavily…to go watch “this” video from Stansbury Research? He’s going to save us from financial calamity…he says.

    And he may have great ideas, but I’ll never hear them. I’ve tried listening to his video. I’ve gotten 8 minutes into it and still…nothing. Nothig but the promise of good shit to come later in the video.

    WHEN it the video? How long? The video is set up so you can’t see hyow long it is to find out the longest you’ll have to listen. There is no “pause” so you can answer the phone.

    Just droning on and on and on. What is bad is that even if he fixes it now, it’s too late. When I see it I’ll just assume it’s the same one and won’t bother with it.

    Yep…tease…but only for a reasonable amount of time. At some point…a reasonable point…ya gotta produce or you’ll not only lose the sale, you’ll lost the chance of EVER making the sale.

  22. Well it certainy drew me in, love it

  23. This is very cool. I loved how you put together the story and made it mean exactly what it’s suppose to be. The tips are great and am sure that they will succeed in many ways for writers. Bringing a viewer into the topic, seducing them, will have them read your article, no doubt. Great post.

  24. Ha! This was hilarious Demian – enough to make me want to comment:) So true – we give the goodies away before we should. Funny though – while reading, I thought you were a woman. You’ve explained the art of seduction to a tee! Not sure about the no panties bit though – a bit R rated for Copyblogger don’t you think? Ohhhhhh! Well, maybe just M. Great stuff!

    • It’s a bit on the PG side and we generally stick to straight G. But it was such a good lesson that we thought we’d run with it — our readers are grown-ups, after all. :)

      • Hi Catie! I play a woman on TV. Just kidding. Yeah, CB editors would have vetted if it I crossed the line even into PG13 territory, so…

        Well said, Sonia!

        • Funny stuff! I sound like a prude now! I suppose after watching the Royal Wedding and bits and pieces thereafter I was feelin’ a little posh and regal. And yes – a great lesson – I’ve cut and pasted the bottom line bullet points on a mac sticky note for later reference – because even though we read this stuff we forrrrget! Thanks again for the morning laugh:)

  25. I’m always struggling when i try to write articles or copy, especially since english isn’t my first language.
    Usually i break down and order what i need from someone else :)

    But posts like these helps alot a long the way.
    Thanks and keep’em coming.

  26. I love it! Thanks Demian! Except now I’m not really thinking about copywriting….

  27. Kerry O'Keefe :

    Recently I have been kind of struggling with this great wash of free content. What I can’t help thinking is that if what I am being offered for free is so wonderful, why would I go further and buy? And if what I am being offered for free is NOT so wonderful…why are they wasting my time trying to give me something that is…second rate?

    Here is a sales concept that is starting to haunt me: Attraction rather than promotion. I am someone who helps people clean up their websites, make the language…kinda goodlookin’, and this idea of teasing rather than badgering…really appeals. Bringing a little beauty and sex appeal – even linguistically…to the proceedings…

    I love CopyBlogger. You guys are smart and outrageous.

    • We’re actually totally fine with people who just use the free content. Go forth and conquer!

      We’re very happy with the numbers of people who decide they want to take it further, who want more structured information, more detailed tutorials, and things like access to us in forums & Q&As. We’ve still got some pretty sexy stuff behind the curtain. ;)

  28. Once again another creatively crafted copyblogger post…

    I loved how the story built into the power packed content. I can’t tell which was better…

    The example of how to write a killer story in your copy…

    Or the actual copy tips at the end…

    Well Done,

    Jesse

  29. Too Sexy… Nice strategy!
    :)

  30. Hi Demian,

    What a crack-up! Loved it.

    Can’t wait for your next post.

    Sue

  31. Would it be wrong to say I’m not wearing panties right now?

    • OMG Tyler! I’m following the ‘pantie saga’ thread via email and just received this and thought “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH..how dareth they blot the copyblogger site with such filth…I must be the moral compass and stop this eeeeemediately”…but then I came on and found you were a man. So, it’s only natural you don’t have panties on..you’ve probably some nice, manly-looking jocks on covering all things that require covering? Don’t you? Please?

  32. haha this is amazing. I’m following you guys from a very long time. I teach seduction in Italy, and as you can imagine this article is perfect for me :-)

  33. I agree at the part information marketing doesn’t like physical product marketing. Other physical product, if tell them much about the product they still want it bad. But if you tell much about your information product, what left in the product anymore? All had gone the head pf the prospects..

  34. Oh Ingrid, your such a tease – I’m finding it hard to believe you’re an accountant…

    Seriously though, great post Demien – I always find it hard to balance the tease and giving away the farm. Food for thought.

    Chris

  35. Great post! I love this tantalizing text. However, I need to work on this with my products. It’s tough to tantalize with art…

    I’m pasting this into my posties, too!

    Thanks again.

  36. Hahaha, great article. It is about emotion……And another way to convincing people is by storytelling. I learnt a lot from this article. Will use it on my blog! :)

  37. Great article, I love to read about persuasive marketing techniques but to be honest I did not think to much about how long to make the “prelude” before executing a call to action until I read this post…LOL, great stuff.

  38. I am not a writer, but am trying to help my husband market his small pest control business on the web – I built the content last year and then started educating myself about bugs to be able to write a blog on the site talking about current bug problems people in our area might be facing at a particular point in time. I signed up for copyblogger to learn in little bits and pieces how to make our blog better and me a better writer – even without the proper skillset. I learn something from all of your contributors every day and whether or not it is reflected in my writing, I enjoy each email! Thanks to all of you for all of your posts – they make me smile and someday I may just figure out how to blog properly!

  39. Yeah, baby! I feel my inner Austin Powers coming out. That’s certainly a tease, Demian. You don’t really hear of a lot of people making money by giving away their product then hoping the client will just send them a check. I’m a firm believer in giving some of your best stuff away, but not all of it. It’s fine to be a tease every now and then; otherwise, you’re going to starve. Very entertaining post.

    • Spot on, Brad. At it’s very essence, there’s a fair value exchange in commerce…so it’s not too much to ask people to give you their time/energy/attention for an exchange entertainment/money/etc. By the way, glad I helped you get in touch with your inner Austin Powers. ;-)

  40. A very unusual post, this is great Brian! am still amused at it. Bravo

  41. Seduction sells, but if you don’t deliver before you’ve stripped ‘em naked they’ll never come back for more—not talking about sex here, so keep your pants(ies) on.

    We’ve all read some come-ons that we think might be hype, but it sounds so good or we start salivating that we read on and on, but then they drop the bomb demanding we hand over our contact & credit card info or we’ll just be losers who won’t learn “How to Grow 40 Lb Tomatoes on Our Window Sills.”

    What I’m saying is that Demian’s advice is terrific, but make sure your seduction isn’t laced with snake-oil. Thanks for a great post.

  42. I’m a copywriter and have a blog called A Dull Roar. You may want to visit to read my post Bordello Music for a slightly different take on the Seduction vs. Persuasion topic.

  43. I love reading your site because there are great ideas here – but what about us that blog for the sake of the art of writing – tips on how to get attentive readers would be great – for instance how do you navigate this massive culture of world voices without loosing your own?

  44. Great post! Seduction is a fine art that all writers need to have in their tool bag. Cheers!

  45. Quote: ” want to seduce your readers.” > excellently put :)

    Great points and example. It’s a very good marketing and business analysis.

    Thank you for the very interesting post :)

  46. Brilliant post and I will indeed use this strategy with my readers.

  47. Great Post! Although I write my Blog more as an outklet than a selling vehicle, I am hoping to get readers to “buy” into reading my next Post. You intrigue me that I should tease what the next post would have as subject matter. Thanks!

  48. Dee, this method works equally well for readership of any kind–entertainment, news, product selling. You are on the right track. ;-)

  49. I hate Ingrid. What she did was soo devious and manipulative. What? Oh, it’s only a story. I think it just goes to show how we all love stories. It’s a great way to highlight your message. And it’s a clever strategy too.

    Terry

  50. You had me going there, Terry. ;-)

  51. I’ve been reading copyblogger posts consistently for since I found you guys almost a year ago. I can’t thank you enough for all the great content you provide! I focus on applying at least one copyblogger concept in every blog post but I think last week was the first post where I felt really happy with the finished product!

    There is such a huge different between providing good content and providing good content that drives people to want to buy your product. Thanks for helping us there there!

    Last week I posted my 200th blog post and it is probably the first one I am really happy with… Thanks to copyblogger. Thank you!! In case your curious if I really applied your principals, here it is http://blog.picachomountain.com/?p=1681

  52. The key is we have to put ourself in thinking how to get connected with our audience. To add value to them. And we have to find the way how present the value in interesting presentation.

  53. Awesome article Demian.

    The key aspect that a good eye-catching book jacket, newspaper headline, advertisement, etc. have in common is the process of drawing emotion from your initial presentation. If presented correctly, curiosity will derive from a wide range of emotions.

    The idea of seduction in marketing is perfect. Like a man or woman hoping for a second date, the best way is to leave the other wanting more. The “what could have been” will drive people to take action to find out.

    As marketers, we should stress this cliff hanger approach more often. We need to build call to actions that convey curiosity worse than a big red button reading “Do not push.” We can without a doubt rely on human nature to do the rest.