One of the most useful lessons I’ve learned about writing engaging content came from studying screenwriting.
It’s that every single piece of dialogue or screen direction had to be working hard to hook viewers in and keep them gripped.
Audiences don’t like fluff or irrelevance.
Write like that and you won’t keep their attention.
And while there’s no absolute science to it, the screenwriters I trained under drummed into me a single golden rule to help me write powerfully engaging content …
Every single piece of dialogue or screen direction needs to be doing one, or both of the following:
- Revealing character
- Moving the story forward
It was a simple method of evaluating what was written.
For example you could ask yourself if the character’s monologue on which milk to buy from the store was really necessary for the viewer to know? Or, was it just padding to bump up the page count?
Unsurprisingly, you can use the very same rules to assess your own copywriting.
Just as a great script needs to be constantly pushing your story on or revealing character to engage the audience, your sales copy needs to be:
Moving your audience further to the goal of taking action (moving the story on)
Convincing your audience that you, your product or your business (or all 3) are the right choice for them to solve their problem (revealing character)
So next time you write, make sure you’re …
Giving them characters they love
You probably already know that people buy from those that they know, like , and trust.
Now this might mean revealing your character on a personal level if you’re a teacher or a coach.
Or, it might mean giving people enough proof that your company is a legitimate enterprise and not a boiler room operation.
Either way, when you’re writing, you should be deliberately including content that allows your audience to believe in you or your business as they would believe in the hero of a gripping movie.
Take a look at your copy and ask yourself:
- Are you letting readers have a peek into your life without revealing too much?
- Are you encouraging them to trust you by showing examples of previous adventures where you’ve triumphed?
- Have you already proved yourself a heroine with stories of others you’ve saved?
- Are you displaying your medals or scars from previous battles won or lessons learned which can convince your audience that you are the greatest expert in the land?
And remember, it doesn’t have to be as dramatic as that.
It might mean talking about your family life, or using testimonials and talking about your past experience.
All of it works towards building a picture of you or your business as a character with depth that people will know, like, and trust.
Then don’t forget to …
Make your copy a real page turner
Making your readers warm to you makes them more receptive to offers.
But you can’t just stand there all day long and give out free hugs, if you really want to help your customers, you know that they need to do something.
They have to be compelled to take action.
The first action they take is deciding that your content is worth reading with your attention-grabbing headline, and then you’re off on a journey together.
So when you’re re-reading your copy, ask yourself:
- Do you kick your story off with an opening that gets the attention of your audience and pulls them in?
- Are you clear and to the point about what adventure (offer) you want them to join you on?
- Do you appeal to their emotions and prove beyond doubt that life would be worse if they decide to stay at home and sit this one out?
- Do you take your customer by the hand and show them the excitement and wonder of what awaits them as soon as they take action?
- Do they know exactly what they need to do to as their first step?
- Are you using suspense, bullet points and sub-heads to push your reader along to the next line of copy, and the next?
- Do you soothe their fears about the road ahead and encourage them that the challenges they previously thought were holding them back can now be overcome?
- Do you persuade your customer to accept the adventure NOW, before they miss out?
These rules are a simple but very effective tool in helping you write in a way that helps you cut the crap out of your copy.
If you’ve got paragraphs or phrases that neither endear people to you nor encourage them to move to the next stage, it’s got to go.
This is Hollywood after all, what’s your dream?
P.S. Screenwriters wish they had it this easy …
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