It’s an objection often raised, especially when it comes to longer pieces of copy.
If handled badly, it can ruin your work.
But get it right and it could be one of the most important tools you employ.
I’m talking about repetition.
A reader asks an interesting question on this very subject:
“Is there a good technical reason why so many of these sales letters go on for ages and repeat themselves endlessly?”
Put simply: Yes.
The repetition this reader notices in so much copy is very deliberate.
Don’t get me wrong – if you notice it too much, it’s possibly a little overdone.
But done well, you might never notice it at all.
Why it’s so important to repeat yourself
It’s the repetition of an idea in your copy that gives you the best chance of convincing a reader it’s an idea worth engaging with.
I mean if you’re bored writing about it, chances are it’s not a good idea in the first place.
But the real reason repetition is so important in copy is simply down to the way we act as humans.
The human mind is easily distracted.
Look – Kanye West is wearing a funny hat.
Like I was saying, it’s easy to get distracted and it is especially so when it comes to reading copy.
People don’t really plan to read copy, no matter if it’s long or short. It happens on a whim. And that means they’re far more likely to be distracted whilst doing so.
Sure, some astute readers will diligently sit down to read a piece of copy from start to finish, but many will not.
Many will flit between reading it and dealing with another task.
Many will skim read.
Many will skip to the end to see the offer.
So, to ensure your big idea registers, you must make sure it’s repeated throughout.
Also, it’s important to remember you’ll naturally need to veer away from your main idea to some extent as you write your copy. This is especially the case when it comes to longer pieces – a long copy sales letter, for example.
You’ll talk about the benefits of the product or service…
You’ll talk about the experience needed to use it…
You’ll talk about the work involved, about the social proof supporting the idea, about the guarantee of the product or service, the price, the extra bonuses – there’s so much to cover.
And that’s why you always need to return to the big idea.
It’s why repetition is key.
If you’ve written longer copy – be it a sales letter or just a larger content piece perhaps – you’ll know how easy it is to lose sight of the big idea underpinning your work.
But it’s the big idea that engaged your reader in the first place.
It’s what got their attention initially.
And it’s why it’s so important to consciously repeat it throughout your copy.
However, it must be done correctly.
When it is, a reader shouldn’t really notice the repetition at all.
Don’t just repeat yourself randomly
So, how do you distinguish between the right way and the wrong way to repeat your big idea?
Well, for a start you need to make sure you don’t just arbitrarily copy and paste the same text throughout the copy.
This will be noticed and it will stop a reader progressing.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it is possible to almost copy and paste a main promise or prediction, but it’s important when you do, you do it at the right point.
Further to that, you should adapt the idea whenever it’s used so it fits with the thread of the part you’re writing at that point.
But really, the key to repeating your idea effectively is to find different ways to express it each time.
Use metaphors, stories, anecdotes, questions, use all the different ways of communicating you have at your disposal to get the idea across in a fresh and interesting way.
Do that and even despite the repetition, your copy will remain engaging.
Bottom line: repetition is an essential tool in copy.
Sure, it’s hard to get right and it will alienate some readers…
But that’s the price you must pay to write a truly effective piece of direct-response copy.
P.S. I’m’ repeating myself, of course, but have you got my book, The Art of the Click yet? It’s now just £10.26 on Amazon and recently became a bestseller. Which is nice.
Also, in rather pleasant news, I just found out the book is in the running for an award. It’s been nominated in the Business Book Awards 2019. Hurrah.
So, if you haven’t picked up a copy yet – you can do so here.