How Not To Suck Part 4 [Copywriting Guides]

Continuing from part 3 of this “How Not To Suck” mini series, let’s get all preachy. After all it works for the church, so why shouldn’t it work for everyone?

This brings us to good and evil. If I let you know there’s some bad consequences to be paid if you do such and such, you’ll weigh up the risks and make a decision based on how much you value your freedom vs the pain of doing it.

But that’s not yet preaching, that’s being pushy. We need to add some moral consequences to transform our demand towards the preachy zone.

Here’s the next step: “Why is it that everyone else cares, but not you?”. This is an example of how to use the ‘3rd party as evidence’ blame game. “This is what will happen to you if you don’t tow the line.”. “Wait till your dad gets home.”.

Let’s take it up a peg: “I’ve seen what happens to people like you.”. By introducing another pronoun (‘I’), we got a little more personal. The subconscious thought going through Mr and Mrs Preachy’s head is: “This is not just about you, it’s about me too, and I’m way above you in terms of self-righteousness.”. Bear with me here (that’s a patronising way of saying if you’re finding this hard to get, that’s OK).

The stronger the opinion, the more preachy we get. It’s a matter of right and wrong – we’re right, and they’re wrong.

That’s how I’m able to sit here and churn out moral stuff all day long. I’ve got strong opinions on it. And that’s the problem. When you’ve got something to say that upsets the status quo, it’s oh so easy to fall into the preachy trap. I used to do it all the time. But after years of trying to become humble, I’m learning mechanisms and frameworks to keep my writing in check (and still fail from time to time, forgive me).

So what’s all this got to do with copywriting. Imagine you’re a villain. That means you’re going to lie, cheat, and steal your way to the top. How are you going to do that?

Think about some product or service you want to sell. Now write down everything you can think of that would ensure it sells in cartloads and brings you in a handsome profit. Because you’re evil, you don’t care about truth, only what will get the sale.

Use preachiness to force it. Think of the worst thing that could happen to your prospect if they were to ignore this thing. Now make some moral reason up why that would be “very bad indeed” for them.

Let them know HOW you know. Make it personal. You and them. They’re either with you or against you, and God forbid the latter.

Once you’ve done that, reverse it. Be the hero. Tell it like it is. And then let your prospect know it could have been very different if they’d gone with your evil competitor.

Both exercises, good and evil, use divide and conquer to persuade. But doing this exercise helps sharpen the mind, and that will make you stronger whichever side of the fence you’re on.

Just remember one thing, if you choose the evil side, you’ll become an addict, get no satisfaction, and forever feel you’ve never got enough. It’s why dictators not only want the world, but eventually kill off even their closest friends (it’s always been that way).



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