As Brian Clark (Founder, Copyblogger) puts it – People hate to be sold. But they love to buy. (Oh! How I love this observation.)
In our first blog post, we shall try and expand on this observation. And understand what drives consumer choices and why the psychology behind their behaviour should be an aspiring copywriter’s first pursuit.
But hey, Who is a copywriter, you ask? I hear you.
Legendary copywriter Robert Bly starts off his milestone book, The copywriter’s Handbook, with this quote. He further goes on to add that –
“The biggest mistake you can make as a copywriter is to judge advertising as laypeople judge it. If you do, you’ll end up as an artist, entertainer, or, worse, a clown—but not a salesperson. And your copy will be wasting your client’s time and money.”
There. The greatest marketing minds of modern advertising have spoken. Copywriters aren’t supposed to be artists or poets, as William Maynard – creative director at Ted Bates & Company said in one of his columns. They are supposed to sell – through written words.
Fair enough. If you wandered around the streets of New York City or Downtown L.A in the 80’s – you would understand why Bob Bly smashed a piercing nail on the head with that observation.
And yet, I disagree.
Before you term my disagreement – an irreverent arrogance, hear me out. Bly has taught me a million things, but it is the changing landscape of content marketing which makes me wonder if that observation too, is constantly evolving.
After all, a copywriter is not just writing headlines for billboards or sales pages for the brochures anymore. Today, a copywriter is writing blogs to educate his audiences. He/She makes them flow through a sales funnel while he entertains and engages them with a story.
They experiment with their metaphors and implement new strategies of persuasiveness to get audiences to take action. Slowly but surely, the copywriter starts getting better at recognising the nerves that trigger an action. Through this blog, we begin our journey by attempting to understand those triggers by evaluating:-
1. The Changing Consumer Behaviour and The Evolving Psychology of Copywriting
2. Core Objectives of Copywriting – The AIDA principle
The Changing Consumer Behaviour and Evolving Psychology of Copywriting
Let’s go back to where we began – to Brian Clark’s genius.
“People hate to be Sold. But they love to buy” He said.
When a customer walks into a brick and mortar store, for footwear let’s say, she walks around its alleys gazing at those perfectly placed products on display. A beautiful pair of runners catches her eye and her hands reach out to pick up the beauty. She feels the texture with her fingers and looks around for a seating to try it on.
The experiential flow of such a scenario has her undivided attention. But the digital content area differs starkly when it comes to consumer’s attention.
One, much-talked statistic puts human concentration online at 7 seconds, one second less than the goldfish. In those few seconds, multiple sales pages and on-page banner ads hustle to grab consumer’s attention. And we are talking one consumer.
Consider the global scenario.
The global retail sales in 2019 was placed at $3.5 trillion, expected to double itself by 2023, according to eMarketer. This effectively means that online sellers are constantly on a lookout for copywriters to produce high-conversion copy for them in this noisy market.
What does it make you, the copywriter and the art of copywriting? It makes you a very big deal.
Coming back to our footwear store scenario. Throw in a nagging salesman and the whole experience might go for a toss.
This holds even more importance when we are talking online copy like a blog. Customers have a natural uneasiness while buying online. They feel a hint of dishonesty and it might be enough to put them off.
In the digital landscape, copywriters have a greater responsibility of being honest and straightforward. To put customers at ease and make them feel comfortable with unhinged truthfulness.
You will find that when you clearly stand for something, you will never stand alone. Indeed, standing for something special in your overcrowded marketplace sets you apart from armies of me-too competitors who strive to be everything to everybody, and wind up meaning nothing special to anyone.Gary Bencivenga
Core Objectives of Copywriting – The AIDA principle
The result of a good copy is quite simple – sales. To achieve desired results, AIDA is the framework most successful copywriters follow.
This framework expands to:
Let’s see what each one stands for.
1. Grab Reader’s Attention
You need to grab the reader’s attention first up with your copy.
Lack of attention would mean that nothing you write would eventually matter. Which is why it so so important to engage the audience with a headline that hits hard.
Imagine it’s the third week of December and just like any other day you open your mailbox first thing in the morning, just like always, and find 20 unread subject lines. Would this grab your attention?
[Limited Time Strategy] Send this EXACT pitch to every acquaintance you have BEFORE Christmas.
The statistics say ‘Yes’. This email qualified with the highest open-rate among all the emails that year.
2. Spark your Reader’s Interest
Once you have the attention, you only have blocks of a few seconds. The 7-second attention rule, remember! You can’t afford to bore your audience. You need them to keep them engaged. Interested.
Just because they have given you their attention doesn’t mean they will continue to read the copy no matter how bland it is.
Can you look at this Ad and guess what the product is? Are you frustrated that I cropped this image and you’ve no idea what this image actually talks about?
You’re so so freaking mad.
Notice how this copy keeps the readers glued to find out what this AD is talking about.
3. Channel your Reader’s Desires
Grabbing attention and sparking desires aren’t the final of a Copy. It is Sales, remember?
If you have the reader interested, your job is half-done. But it’s only half done – yet. The real goal of the copy has to do with desire and action. First, we need to channel the existing desires of the consumer. And finally, connect them to the product or service on offer.
The product doesn’t need to be a sports car or a platinum pendant to harness desire. It could be just another daily life product.
What could be so appealing about cleaning toilets?
But for thousands of homemakers- it sparks real desire. A real hygiene problem solved. A real desire harnessed to keep their family safe.
4. Provoke Your Reader To ACT
We are at the frontline now. It is time to accomplish the goal we set out to achieve. For our consumers to take action
After everything that we have done until now, this is where it all comes down – the ultimate metric, “How many readers took action?”
How many people went out and sent the copy/paste pitch?
How many people visited their BMW’s showroom (You thought I wasn’t going to tell you)?
For a Copywriter, that is all that matters. Did his readers act on your copy?
Great copywriting is always written from beginning to end with the desired action in mind.
That is it for today! I hope that now we understand what makes for a good copy and the psychology behind it, a little better than before.
In the next post of the Copywriting 101 series, we will see “The core principles of a great Copy”. Things will get warmer and you wouldn’t want to miss out.
I am a Freelance writer and filmmaker. I spend most of my time reading up on history, science, personal growth and the cultures of the world. Writing fiction sets my soul on fire and sometimes, I wonder if I am playing the right character in my own story. Travelling is how I find meaning and playing my guitar is how I communicate with the Universe. Gratitude is my go-to place when I close my eyes.
You’re welcome in my world of thoughts and words! For freelance writing gigs, you can write to me at email@example.com