Everyone hypes around, but not even 1% really understands what actually is copywriting. And I'm going to tell you exactly what this is right now.
But before that, you must be aware that copywriting is probably the most under-rated skill that every entrepreneur should learn in 2021.
Copywriting is the Art of writing effective Ads –– Vlad Kowsky
This is my own definition, but other copywriters have their own definition of copywriting.
That's it. Don't over do it. It is just the ultimate skill that every marketer should aim for: incite people to take out their credit card and give you their hard-earned money.
And that's not an easy thing: there is a HUGE competition out there and specifically on the Internet to get your attention, then your interest, create desire and finally get you through the checkout.
There are a lot of subtleties in the process, depending if you talk to people that have never heard of you (what we call cold traffic) or if you talk to someone that has been following you for years. And in this rainbow of people, let me tell you the first thing you should master before anything else.
What makes a copy actually good?
Deeply understand human psyche
Perfectly understanding human psychology is THE key.
This is, and by far, the most powerful weapon a copywriter can have to win the war against rationality.
Every salesman will tell you : if you can understand how the human brain works, then you can pull the right triggers at the right time and create a strong buying desire in your prospect's mind. And this is exactly how you should write a good copy.
Robert Cialdini, an eminent psychological scientist, detailed 6 fundamental psychological triggers in his best-selling book Influence: Reciprocity, Commitment, Social Proof, Authority, Liking, Scarcity.
Those principles are the only reason why copywriting and marketing techniques actually work. Mastering them is a prerequisite to master copywriting.
Ok so now you must be convinced that you should deep dive in understanding human psychology. But how do you use it in your copy in practice? Read on.
Anticipate reader objections
Understanding human mind ✅
But this is not enough to make you a decent copywriter.
Let's walk through an example to make this point clear.
Let's say I wanna sell some pills to lose weight.
I can pull all the psychological triggers I want but if I don't do it at the right time, it is worthless.
Let's say I urge you to buy my pills by saying I only have 10 left and the price is EXCEPTIONALLY 50% off.
Ok that's good. You're leveraging the scarcity trigger.
But if the reader is actually wondering: "Who is this guy? Is he trustworthy? Is he even a doctor?".
You will never make a sell.
Instead, you should start with elements in your copy that prove that you're an expert of your subject, that your pills actually work and it is safe to order.
This process of anticipating reader objections is essential if you want to write effective copies.
Keep the reader reading
This is a very fundamental point.
If your reader leaves your copy, then you can have written the best copy ever : it is useless.
It is pretty obvious right? But it is the most common mistake I've seen when reviewing my student's copies.
Actually this point is a special case of the above point. The objection here would be : "Why would I listen to you? What's in it for me in your copy?"
At all costs, you must keep your reader reading your copy. Else, every effort you make trying to make him buy will be worthless.
If you've read so far, you may have noticed a few elements that keep teasing you : "Read on", "But before that", "But there’s more.", "Let me explain.", etc.
That's what Joe Sugarman calls seeds of curiosity.
Those little words are making something that is really, REALLY important : they promise you that you're gonna have something if you read the next paragraph. And then you do to know what you're gonna miss if you don't. Pretty powerful isn't it?
Example of a great copy: the iPhone 12 case study
Now we have seen the theory, let's see the case study of the iPhone 12 to understand how they use the copywriting to sell millions of their iPhones.
Copywriting can have many forms, but I've chosen to study the iPhone since it's a product well known by everyone.
Apple starts with a powerful 5 words headline:
It's a leap year.
"What the heck? Why do we care? What does this have to do with the new iPhone?"
That's probably what you're thinking right now.
But this catch line is far from random. Let me explain.
First and foremost, it catches your attention and arouses your curiosity. So you want to read more. Remember the section "Keep the reader reading"? That's exactly the purpose of a powerful headline.
Second, what's the connotation around the term "leap year"? We know it happens every 4 years. It is a special year, a rare event. And if you think of the year 2020, it is exactly that. A special year where we have seen crazy things happen like a global pandemic and confinement... and the release of the iPhone 12!
This relates to what I have developed in the "Deeply understand human psyche" section. Here Apple is leveraging the scarcity principle by implying that this iPhone is a special one, like the year 2020. But that's exactly what they're trying to do with every new iPhone release. Letting us think this one is special so we need to buy it or we'll miss the opportunity.
Ok let's move on to the next part.
Ok the first thing to note is the overloaded use of superlatives: "rockets", "next level", "bigger jump", "four times better". It's in the continuity of what we've seen before: make you believe that this iPhone is way better than previous iPhones and all other smartphones.
You've got a great example of a seed of curiosity with "Let's see what this thing can do". The only purpose of this sentence is to make you keep reading the rest of the sales page.
The sales of the iPhone is a long running process and most iPhone buyers are already "hot" or previous customers. That's why they try to close you with a "Pre-order".
In their closing, they use elements of scarcity principle. By stating it is "Available" they suggest it might not be anymore if you hesitate too long. Also they use the principle of contrast by showing you the price per month next to the pre-order price of $999, making the $41.62/month almost "cheap" in comparison.
You'll note the "before trade-in" that adds a bit of urgency by implying the price might raise after the pre-order.
Finally, they propose you watch a video to not lose people that prefer watching a video instead of reading text. Don't worry the selling arguments will surely be the same.
What a piece of Art! As you can see, there is nothing superfluous. That's what you should aim for as a master copywriter.
Ok let's go on.
I'll skip some parts to focus on copywriting elements that we didn't see yet.
Here I wanted to show you how they use the Halo effect to benefit from the reputation of NASA. By stating : "NASA is developing LiDAR technology for Mars missions", just after saying the iPhone 12 incorporates a LiDAR scanner, they suggest to your subconscious that NASA developed the LiDAR scanner present in the iPhone.
Also the connotation of NASA is that they develop the most advanced technologies of their time. By associating the iPhone with NASA in your mind, they use the principle of authority to convince you that the technology present in the iPhone is the most advanced we can have today. Genius!
Here I wanted to show you how they brand their screen so no objective comparison can be done with other smartphones. If you type in "Super Retina XDR" in Google, you won't find anything. Indeed it is a name invented by Apple and not a standard of the industry like 4K or Full HD. Smart isn't it?
Bonus: let's see how Apple converts weaknesses into strengths.
They decided to remove the power adapters, EarPods and cables from the iPhone box. To justify their decision, they highlight the facts that "carbon savings equal to 450000 fewer cars on the road per year. What they forget to tell is how much more money they'll make 😉A great lesson of copywriting!
I couldn't review the full sales page since it's pretty long, but I think you get the idea of what is really the copywriting now. I have taken the example of the iPhone that is a mass-known product to show you that copywriting is truly everywhere and used extensively by the most successful companies today.
Before reading this article, you were probably totally new to copywriting. So before we say goodbye, let me show you how I would proceed to become an efficient copywriter if I had to start from zero.
Where to start to learn copywriting
Internet: blogs, youtube & podcasts
There are tons of free resources on the Internet to learn copywriting, but none of them are organized to learn things efficiently. For example, if you're a novice you may find videos that are for more experienced copywriters and the opposite is true. It's a global problem on the Internet: we never find the information at the right time we need it. Instead we consume a lot of information in a de-structured way in the hope to progress in our comprehension of the topic.
I would suggest you to start with this website where I strive to structure information in a pedagogic way so you can find free information at the right time you need it.
There are a lot of books talking about copywriting. Although note that even if you'll learn a lot of theory in the books, you won't learn how to practically become a better copywriter.
I think this is the best way to start if you have money to invest in your education. And there is a vast offer of valuable copywriting courses available.
I hope I answered your initial question "What is copywriting?" with this article and even beyond.
If it is the case, feel free to share it with your friend. But I would understand you prefer to keep all that precious information for yourself (I told you, understanding psychology is key 😉).
If you want to go further, you should check out the work of the greatest copywriters in history.
Anyway please remember the Dunning-Kruger Effect: you're most probably at the beginning of your journey to master copywriting. Take patience and learn what you need in the most efficient way. You business will say thank you (so will your wallet 💵)
PS: If you don't know what the Dunning-Kruger Effect is, see for yourself.