Time to read: 4 minutes
The other day I did a copy review on reddit for John, let’s call him that, who had a job seeking startup.
Time to read: 4 minutes
The landing page had a picture of a baseball hat on it and no other text but this headline:
Tell everyone that you’re looking for a job. Learn more.
When I clicked the button, an email form splashed at my face and said:
We’re so happy that you’re interested in buying the job seeking hat.
“What??! I’m not buying anything and I’m definitely not interested in a hat”, I thought.
Since I couldn’t gather what the landing page was about exactly, I asked John to pitch the product to me. Here’s what he said:
Do you feel like a jack rabbit hopping around trying to make people happy so that they can consider you for a job? Finding a job sucks especially in this market. Arguably, the Internet and corporate recruiters have made it worse. What if I could tell you that something new is around the corner, something that will take recruiting offline, make it about you rather than the job, make it more personal, more rewarding and more successful?
“Wow, John, now THAT is a piece of copy”, I said, “Put it on your landing page.”
John was able to pitch the product in a conversation, but, somehow, when it came to putting down the copy, he failed.
I’ve seen that happen a lot of times.
If John’s struggles seem familiar, the problem is not that you can’t write copy.
The problem is in the way you perceive copywriting.
The problem is that you think that writing the copy for your product is different than pitching it in a conversation.
And it’s not.
So, that’s (one piece of) the copywriting hack I wanted to share with you:
Write copy like you speak.
Easy, right? But there is a huge pitfall here—not everyone is a skilled talker.
That’s an art on its own. It’s an art that salespeople excel at.
And they excel because they know how to make people like and trust them. When you manage to do that, you can easily convince someone to do what you want them to do, i.e. buy your product.
That’s why the complete copywriting hack is this:
Write copy like you speak. Speak to make people like and trust you.
Since you’re the one writing the script of your salesperson (the copy on your landing page), you have to know how to write like you speak and make people like and trust you, so that you can convince them to do what you want them to do.
So, are you ready to level up your
conversational copywriting skills?
Two basic principles to writing copy like you speak
1. Avoid jargon at all costs
Imagine for a second that you’re a marketer looking to automate their daily routine, like, for example, schedule their posts on Twitter for a week ahead. You’re attending Awesome Marketers Summit and, during the break, somebody comes to you and tries to pitch a product:
Have you tried the automated social media lead generation tool? It allows you to qualify leads via automated social media engagement.
What would you do? I’d roll my eyes and put on my pretend-that-I-get-it-face. Then, I’d find an excuse to leave.
Would you be inclined to like and trust that person? Would you want to learn more about that tool?
I don’t think so.
Yet, I’ve seen this text on an actual landing page. And I can guarantee you that it doesn’t work. I don’t even need to see any stats.
Jargon makes people feel like they’re not smart enough to understand your copy.
Jargon is frustrating because it gives the website visitor no valuable information and it doesn’t help them decide whether they should buy.
Jargon isn’t something you’d use in a live conversation, unless you’re a real pretentious prick.
And that’s why you should avoid it like the plague.
Speaking of pricks, there’s another characteristic these people share:
They just LOVE talking about themselves. They love saying how successful and smart they are without backing up their claims in any way. And nobody believes that.
Which brings us to the second principle:
2. Avoid hype at all costs
Now imagine the same salesperson coming to you and saying:
Marketing automation. Reinvented. Meet the worlds’s best marketing automation tool.
Not only is that pretentious prick using short annoying taglines-of-sentences and making awkward pauses, but he’s also claiming something he can’t possibly prove.
This pitch won’t work in real life.
So, why would it be okay to have this text as a headline on a landing page?
The worst part is not that hype is annoying.
The worst part is that it’s unbelievable. It even undermines trust.
Skilled salesmen would never say something like this. They talk numbers.
And so should you.
Instead of trying to create fake hype around your product, your copy should explain exactly why your product is better, with numbers.
Show, don’t tell.
How to apply the “Write like you speak” hack right now
Read your copy out loud.
Imagine you’re having a conversation and you want to convince the other person to try out your product.
- Do I sound like a pretentious prick? :D
- Would I feel comfortable saying this live?
- Does this make sense to someone I meet for the first time?
- Does it sound inconsistent?
- Do I say things that I can’t prove?
If you have a friend who’s willing to listen, read it to them.
P.S.: Don’t be ashamed to talk to yourself. Reading out loud will do miracles with your (copy)writing. If that will make you feel better, I just read this post a couple of times before publishing it. It felt weird, but the post reads times better than it did initially. :)