You can’t prove that your exciting new product works before you’ve proved that it’s exciting in the first place.
Think about that.
Because it’s a flaw with long direct response copy that I see over and over.
Too soon a copywriter will start trying to prove a product works before they’ve proved to the reader that they should be excited about the product at all.
It’s a bad habit I see – particularly in new copywriters – to throw as much information at the reader as soon as possible in the hope that something will snare them.
Hell, I do it myself sometime. If a job needs rushing out (sadly sometimes we all have to rush jobs through), I’ll throw as many tricks of the trade into the headline and lead as early as possible in the hope that one titbit will attract the reader.
This isn’t good copy. It’s a punt. It’s leaving your results down to luck.
As I say, needs must sometimes.
But if you’re in the luxurious position to take time over your copy (which I hope that you are), then overloading your headline and lead is definitely NOT the way to go.
Before you prove the soundness of the product, you need to prove the soundness of the idea. You need to get your reader excited about the idea.
You need to have confidence in your idea
Like I say, newbie copywriters tend to do this more than anyone else and I think the reason is they start to write a headline and lead too soon.
Because they haven’t wrestled long enough with the big idea at the heart of their promotion, they haven’t got the confidence to let the idea reveal itself at its own pace.
I talk a lot about the importance of authenticity in copy, but it’s hard to pin authenticity down. Aside from just being authentic, how can you create a sense of authenticity? Is it even possible to ‘recreate’ authenticity?
Probably not. So instead it makes sense to find ways of allowing your own authenticity to come out in your writing.
This is one such example of how you can be more authentic in your own writing…
You see, if you take the time to truly figure out what your big idea is… to the point where you can describe it clearly in one sentence, it will naturally follow that you’ll be able to talk about everything around your big idea with much greater ease.
And because you’ll be so clear and confident about your idea, you’ll be able to pace yourself much better. You won’t feel insecure about it at the headline and lead stage – rather you’ll be excited about revealing everything you’ve discovered in the promotion itself.
Instead of using leas authentic copy tricks in your headline and lead, you’ll instead be able to rely on the natural intrigue your big idea should create (if it is truly a big idea).
In my experience, the first five or six pages of a long copy promotion should really be about selling the excitement of the idea itself. As I say, during these pages you should be less concerned with proving the idea itself, rather you should prove why people ought to be excited by the idea itself.
You see this done most successfully in story-led promotions. There is a good example of this circulating in the US at the moment. It’s a promotion all about the idea that there could come a time when the cash machines run dry.
The idea is very clear and feels very authentic. For this reason, the writer is able to lead with three or four pages of copy that are entirely story-based. They’re not concerned with proving their theory – its long copy remember; they can do that later. Instead they use the headline and lead to generate emotion – nothing else.
They’re only concerned with proving the idea – not the product. Because once you’ve sold someone on the idea, it’s much easier to sell them on the product. The rest of your promotion plays out logically – it just proves why they’re right to be so excited. It justifies the reader’s excitement and therefore justifies their decision to buy.
Think about that next time you’re overloading your headline and lead.