You hate marketing.
All writers are the same. We love to tell stories. We love the process of story writing. We love to elaborate and fill this blank page. The white, empty space drives us nuts.
But marketing is the dirty, ugly word nobody wants to whisper in the artistic gathering. The sound of it cuts our ear like a dagger.
Let me propose an outrageous notion: If you combine marketing and storytelling, you become indestructible.
You can either ignore the power at your hands and remain in the dark forest of marketing-haters. They will never be read, by the way. Or you embrace this notion and ask instead:
How can I use this power?
The answer is: Copywriting.
Combine the power of writing with the force of marketing. Out come stories that are too wonderful to resist.
What’s the snag? – Be brief.
Are you exhaling with frustration yet? Good.
Being brief is a skill that will come in handy with every piece of writing.
How to convey all the depth and the meaning into only one paragraph? Trim it down to several sentences?
The secret is not trimming and cutting. It’s focusing on the right things. Telling a story with the right tools.
There are countless guides on copywriting out there. But I wanted to write one that is directed at you – the storyteller.
The one who is wondering about all the book marketing strategies: how the hack she can write a short book description, amazing email copy or a sales page that blows away the reader.
Who is eager to tell stories rather than sell.
Who needs a minimalistic guide – a checklist every time you edit a piece of copywriting.
I’ve got you covered. Here are 6 secrets and a printable PDF checklist to tell a story with minimum space.
Copywriting secret Nr. 1: Concentrate on feelings
The problem with short writing is that we’re focused on conveying information; bring in plot points, exposition, data on why you should buy the product or read this book.
We think the information is necessary. But is it?
People don’t buy with their brains. They buy with their hearts.
Instead of focusing on conveying as much information as possible, determine the feeling you want your reader to experience. The atmosphere you want to create with this story.
If you start writing a book description, ask yourself what you felt when you write this book? When you edited it? – This is the same feeling you want to convey to your reader.
When writing copy, focus on feelings instead of information. Keep in mind the target – the feeling you want your reader to get when he reads those words. Focus on this feeling. Narrow everything down to it; your choice of words, your syntax, the way you build the story.
When editing, be honest about whether you managed to convey this feeling, and if not, ask yourself how you can make it more powerful.
Focus on the feeling rather than information.
Copywriting secret Nr. 2: Build relatable hooks
Build your text like a pyramid.
Every beat is a hook.
The title is the first one – the most powerful hook of all.
The first sentence is the second one – as powerful, to get your reader into the story.
Then follows the next paragraphs and so on.
Every piece, every paragraph, has to be a hook. It has to raise a question that guides your reader through the story, and as you answer one, you immediately raise another.
But there’s another element to the hook that needs to be head-on: relatability.
You cannot hook the reader with confusion. With a story they neither understand nor care about.
Hooks make the audience want to know more. Find out the answer.
Here are some viral headlines that use this principle:
No, You Don’t Need to be Great at Everything – and Why You Shouldn’t Even Try
How To Write A Great Article – The Easy Way
How To Create A Blog In 5 Minutes
Struggling For A Blog Post Headline? 50+ Viral Headline Examples
Numbers do well in headlines because they are relatable and easy to grasp. Questions that propose outrageous ideas are great. The „how-to“ phrase instantly tells the reader what it’s all about. It’s relatable.
Here’s an example of a bad headline:
The yellow frog and other phenomena.
It might raise a question. But it tells me nothing about who it’s for, what it’s about. It doesn’t hook me; just causes confusion.
The same goes for the book title. Don’t just put it out there – a title that tells the reader nothing about the story. Give it a long hard thought: How can I make the title more clear? More of a powerful hook? How can I make it appealing to genre readers?
Make your copy a story that is a combination of hooks, questions and answers, that you build like a pyramid.
Copywriting secret Nr. 3: Make it about the reader
You are not the hero.
The reader is.
Too many copywriting texts revolve around the author – his struggles, his victories, his story. But a good copy revolves around the reader.
There is a very simple test: Do you use the word „you“ more often than you use the word „I“?
Make the text all about the reader’s benefit.
If it’s a fiction copy (book description), define your hero and make him relatable. Again, it’s all about the reader. Make him understand the hero straightaway, root for him, identify with the situation, sympathize.
Make your reader the hero of the story.
Copywriting secret Nr.4: Make your story unique
The secret to uniqueness is surprise.
Here are some examples:
- The serial killer isn’t on trial. He’s on the jury. (13)
- How do you save someone who’s already dead? (Solomon Creed)
- Jaws in Space (Alien)
Those taglines have two elements: They introduce the premise and then build in an impossible twist. Something we can understand before we go: Whoa, I didn’t see this coming!
What’s special about your story? How is your book, product or blog post different from all the others out there?
Discover what makes your story irresistible. And sell it with a twist.
Copywriting secret Nr.5: Structure the hero’s journey
The hero’s journey is a monomyth. A template that fits the main stories and tales that shaped our cultures.
“A mythological image that has to be explained to the brain is not working.”
― Joseph Campbell
Campbell stresses that the myth of the hero’s journey is so deeply embedded in our human DNA that it needs to explanation. It can be used to structure your stories in a manner that will appeal to readers.
It can also be used in copywriting.
Start in his ordinary world. In the world your reader is in – and call him to adventure. Have you noticed that I did exactly this at the beginning of this article?
I started in your world – the disdain for marketing. And then called you to adventure: to use the power of copywriting.
Then you go on with trials and battles. If you propose answers to those battles, you always raise new challenges.
End with new life. A new-found revelation, outlook or skill the reader can use now (or will be able to if he buys your product). Offer a reward that is combined with a CTA.
Structure your copy according to the stages of the hero’s journey. You don’t need to use all of them (there are 17), but the most important ones.
Copywriting secret Nr.6: Trim down unnecessary words and long sentences
White space is your friend.
When you’re finished with your copy, edit it.
Did you hear me? Edit it. Several times.
Be sure to trim down all of the fill words and trite expressions. No popular sayings. No words that your text could do without. Rewrite sentences to be shorter. More precise.
Work with language.
Copy always profits from short, precise language. Think again about secret #1, the sentiments you want to evoke, and trim your language to achieve exactly that.
The short sentence, all alone in a paragraph (like a did in the paragraph above), is your trump card.
Copywriting is hard. But so is writing a book.
You are a storyteller, and this is what you were meant to do; be it in 100.000 words or in 100.
If you use those 6 secrets and get your hands dirty, start writing copy regularly instead of avoiding it, you’ll become invincible.
Remember: Copywriting is the combination of marketing and storytelling. Its power is immense.
Master the skill. And see your stories spread like wildfire.