Austin, Republic of Texas
“We’re the Free Texican Airforce, and we’re flying tonight…” (Peter Rowan)
People constantly ask me for simple tips to write copy that persuades.
And I like to drop lots of easy shortcuts. However, I often cloak them in riddles or inanity.
People seem to learn better when not lectured to, but rather teased and forced to think.
If you want to write copy that persuades in this day of lightning fast tech, AI and chatbots, this is a handy ‘lil resource you’ll want to get your hands on. Like yesterday. And it’s FREE too. The details here.
But get this:
In the process of reminding folks about the value of journalism when communicating with prospects…
… I sorta accidentally came up with a VERY cool new twist on a traditional rule…
… that just may be the Mother Of All Shortcuts to writing killer ads.
Wanna hear it? Okay, here it is:
The fundamental rule of journalism (which you should have been taught in grade school, had you existed in the parellel universe where the American education system hasn’t been degraded and murdered) is to communicate the “essence” of a story as succinctly as possible…
… so that even skimmers can get the specifics.
You’re excused if you’re young enough to not remember when newspapers and real TV newscasts dominated the info media world. Pre-Grid, and yes, I understand how difficult that concept is to get your brain around today.
And even if you currently read newspapers (say, online) you may be hearing about this rule for the first time…
… because journalism is now into it’s second generation of pure, unadulterated FAIL and suckiness. Reporters now consider their opinion and personal experience to trump the need to disseminate actual news. (But that’s a rant for another time.)
That basic journalism rule for reporting is to make sure you deliver on the “who, what, where, why, when and how” of the story as promptly as possible.
“Mayor Flytwaddle, speaking to reporters from his office downtown yesterday afternoon, insisted he did not know the dead hooker found in his secret apartment last night, despite the discovery of his handwritten check for $75 in her purse, nor could he explain how she had a key.“
Or something like that.
The key is communication of the specifics… MINUS all external bullshit (like the reporter’s opinion, political spin, or personal context).
Just the facts, m’am.
As Sgt. Friday used to say.
When it’s done right, you come away from reading a story (by a crack reporter) knowing as much as anyone. And if someone’s hiding something, you know that’s the case, too.
You are informed. You are hip. You are The Man.
Most folks, untrained in allocating and delivering basic information, can instantly transform their ability to communicate clearly just by having this checklist tattooed on their forearm, and going down the list as they speak.
So, instead of “Dude! It was, like, totally awesome!“…
… you get: “So, yesterday afternoon, Jimbo and I were at the park practicing Frisbee golf, when this sheriff’s helicopter landed right next to the statue of General Lee. We overheard a cop say the tail rotor was wobbly, so they needed to do an emergency landing, and nobody was hurt…”
Now, yes, there is some argument to be made that a primal form of “essence” associated with the experience is actually contained in “Dude! It was, like, totally awesome!“.
But “essence” isn’t communication.
As a professional communicator — the raw definition of a good marketer — you can’t rely on dude-speak to persuade anyone to buy your shit.
Thus, this simple journalism tool really can shortcut you into being a better salesman.
I’ve come up with an even more awesome (awesomer?) way to use this checklist.
First, make sure sure you deliver (in your ads) on the “5 W’s + H” basics:
1. Be clear on who you are, and who your intended audience is. You want to identify yourself to strangers, and remind your fans… and you want to be clear on the needs, fears and dreams of your prospect.
2. Have a freakin’ point. Be able to simply explain what you’ve got that is so special, it requires an ad.
3. If there’s a deadline for acting, say when it is. (Classic old-school blunder was placing a print ad for a gazillion bucks in a big newspaper, and forgetting to say when an event was being held.) (Second only to the more common botch-up of printing the wrong phone number.)
4. There is always a “where“, too… whether it’s virtual and online, or in the real world (like at a hotel in the middle of Texas, where even the armadillos won’t leave the shade when it’s 107). You want to give your reader a sense of “place”. Our brains are still wired for jungle living, so help folks undertand if travel is required, virtually via the mouse or in the sky via jets.
5. Explain why it’s so important to hear your message, and to possess whatever crap you’re pitching.
6. Finally, tell me how to get this ball rolling.
So, as your reader, all my questions are answered (to whatever degree of satisfaction I require), and I’m able to release the lock on my greed glands and get busy getting what you got.
… I’m adding one more “W”:
7. Take a hint from the tabloids like Weekly World News and the NY Post…
… and add some “whoa” to your tale.
Meaning — shoehorn a truly startling hook or twist that causes me to say “Whoa! What up with that?“
For an ad to be world-class good, it has to be the best thing your prospect reads or hears today. It’s got to lay out the basics, yes…
… but more important, it’s got to grab attention, hold it, and deliver on being something that was worth waking up from his zombie-like daze and hauling out his wallet for.
Thus… it’s who, what, why, where, when, how…
… and whoa!
Journalism profs, please take note of this change in the curriculum.
And for cryin’ out loud, get my free report already.
P.S. For even more biz-boosting resources, feast your eyes on this bonanza.