When we talk about disruption, we usually think of that initial moment when we aim to grab someone’s attention.
We think about an intriguing subject line…
A bold and shocking headline.
Or perhaps a controversial opening paragraph.
We know by saying something weird or wonderful in that opening gambit – or even something strange and awful – we stand a good chance of being noticed.
But as we work our way through the copy, we tend to stop being disruptive.
We can become a little complacent.
We start telling, rather than showing. We begin to just list our research simply because we’ve done it. And we swing from obvious subhead to obvious subhead, without much imagination.
It’s no wonder.
The idea you should spend 80% of the time on your headline and not worry about the rest of your copy is an idea I’ve had mentioned to me in two recent podcast interviews I’ve done.
In each case I’ve urged caution…
Yes, if your opening is weak, no one will see the rest of your copy. But at the same time, to think all the work is done once you’ve got a good headline is just insane.
It’s why I believe you should be aiming to disrupt your reader at various point throughout your copy, not just at the beginning.
You’re an idiot, and your copy stinks
That subhead seems harsh.
Of course, I’m not calling YOU an idiot.
You’re subscribed to All Good Copy for one, which surely qualifies you in the upper echelons of copywriting intellectuals.
(Wait – you’re NOT subscribed to All Good Copy? You’re reading this on the website and missing out on all the mailing list secrets? Shocking. You can correct that here.)
No, that subhead was a cheap shot at being disruptive further down in the copy.
I’m trying to prove my point in the doing. Very ‘meta’ and all that.
But that’s the idea…
When you’re writing a longer piece of copy that requires your reader to scroll once or twice – you must…
It’s too easy once you’re in ‘the zone’ to just carry on writing on an almost subconscious level. But you should mentally reset every few hundred words and force yourself to really think if the reader will still be with you.
Chances are, they’re lagging. No matter how interesting what you’ve written might be…your reader is always busy.
Just as you disrupted them a moment ago and took their attention away from what they were doing…now there are a million and one other people vying to disrupt them and get their attention away from what you are trying to tell them.
It’s why you need to be proactive…
You need to disrupt your own copy.
Wait! With all this disruption, isn’t it all going to get a bit frazzled?
That’s the risk, right?
If you keep throwing random curveballs in your copy, it is possible things could get a little confusing.
See? Why did I just write ‘ergonomic pyjamas’. Totally confusing.
That’s why when it comes to deploying disruption later in your copy, I use a technique I call ‘the knowing disruptor’.
This is disruption, but with ‘a nod and a wink’.
It’s a statement that is on the surface disruptive and out of the ordinary, but refers in someway to the shock it is intended to cause.
It wakes the reader up and makes sure they’re following you…but then quickly reaffirms the thread and allows the reader to go on.
I did it with my subhead example earlier.
I called you an idiot to get your attention, but then quickly explained that, of course, I don’t think you’re an idiot, but was just using that disruptive phrase for illustrative purposes.
That’s what I call a ‘knowing disruptor’.
You can apply this to almost any subject…
Say you’re writing about blockchain technology and why everyone should invest in it. You’ve written five pages on why it’s effing great…
But then you use a ‘knowing disruptor’ to freshen things up.
You could have a subhead read, for example, ‘Why you should NOT invest in this one piece of blockchain today’.
The reader is shocked. This goes against what you’ve just been saying. It wakes them up and keeps their interest piqued.
They know something weird is going on because you’ve said blockchain technology is good but now you’re saying you shouldn’t invest. So, they’ll naturally read on to find out why you’ve suddenly changed your tune.
But of course, you go on to reveal that while this one piece is flawed, there is another piece that is a complete game-changer.
By disrupting your reader in this way, you’re able to keep their attention for much longer and – perhaps most importantly – make sure that attention is focused.
Ultimately, it helps you to maintain control over your copy and direct the reader as you wish to direct them.
That’s the aim of the game here.
So, when you next come to write a long copy sales letter, a content piece that runs over a few pages or perhaps a brochure that’s intended to be read as a whole – make sure you don’t just disrupt on page one…
Keep the reader on their toes and shake things up all the way through.
P.S. Hey! Down here! This post script is trying to disrupt you too. Take notice!
What I wanted to ask is whether you’ve picked up a copy of my brand new book on direct-response copywriting yet?
It’s called The Art of the Click: How to Harness the Power of Direct-Response and Make More Sales and it’s currently climbing up the best-seller list.
The feedback I’ve had from All Good Copy readers has been great…
So, if you haven’t got a copy yet, you should order one here.