Monday, September 18, 2006

Want Your Copy to Win Clients? Take Your Shots!

Want Your Copy to Win Clients? Take Your Shots!
Copyright © 2006 Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D.

"Start at the beginning." We hear that bit of wisdom everywhere, even in one of the more syrup-y songs in Sound of Music. (I know: I'm the only person on the planet who didn't like Julie Andrews in that role.)

But writing copy often makes me think of playing basketball, something I'd like to do in my next incarnation, when I'll also be six feet tall and coordinated.

Many of us begin by thinking we should write our copy from beginning to end. Begin with a killer opening so we draw in the reader. Add bullets. Insert call to action. Create brilliant sub-head. More bullets. Another call to action.

But it's easy to get stuck writing the sales letter opening. We know it's important, so we keep polishing. And the harder we work, the more frustrated we become. At least I do, anyway.

So how do we break the cycle? Take the pressure off.

Don't write just one sales opening! Write 2 or 3 in dramatically different styles, just for fun.

And then don't stop writing. Keep going. And often your killer opening will appear after you've written a page or two...or ten.

I write a lot. Currently I update 3 blogs. I write tons of articles and book reviews. Lots of e-books.

How do I do this?

I figure most people will hate what I write and I'll go back after awhile and say, "How could I write that?!"

But so what? Some people love my stuff and they buy my e-books. Often folks who buy my e-books come back and buy more.

They're happy. I'm ecstatic.

Here's my reasoning: If I write enough, some of it has to be good.

In my experience, the only way to write compelling copy is to write lots and lots of bad copy. Be willing to toss anything and everything. One day, as you read what you wrote, you'll realize, "That was a gem and I didn't know it at the time!"

So how does this working style resemble basketball?

One of my favorite basketball players is Diana Taurasi of the Phoenix Mercury. I've followed her since she was a freshman at UConn. She's been compared to Magic Johnson as one of the greatest women players ever.

A sportswriter once said, "Diana never saw a shot she didn't like." She shoots from anywhere, even when she's double-teamed (which of course she usually is) and has a hand waving in her face. Most of the time she looks like she's having fun (except when she gets booed for arguing with the referees, who admittedly are pretty awful in the WNBA).

She has a lot of bad shots and, every so often, has a really bad game. But she gets star status for taking those shots over and over again. And when she's hot, she starts getting three-pointers and making them look easy.

Players who keep passing the ball, waiting for a perfect shot, come across as timid. Fans get frustrated. Let's not even wonder what the coaches are thinking. Timid players often end up creating turnovers because, these days, you've got great players on both teams. Botch a pass and your opponent goes sailing down the court for an easy lay-up.

So that's my approach to copywriting.

Take a lot of shots.

Expect arguments with the self-appointed referees (like your client's best friend, who considers herself a copywriting expert because she took one marketing class and got a B-plus after three grade appeals).

And, most of all, look like you're having fun. The fans always know.

About The Author:

Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D.
Strategic Copywriting and Communications Consulting

"Transform your lazy couch potato website into a lean mean marketing machine"

Fr^e 7-best kept secrets of client-attracting copy

Article Source: thePhantomWriters Article Submission Service

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