Why James Brown would have been a brilliant copywriter
James Brown. The godfather of funk. Soul survivor and Dr Feelgood. Y'all know who he is - and for those who don't (inexcusable unless you've been held against your will in an Afghan cave by OBL for the last 50 years) check this vid:
So when you need to shake yo' moneymaker and get down & dirty with some unignorable copy (is that even a word? It is now!) spare a thought for the godfather of funk. He goin' get all scholarly on yo' ass.
Get their permission
At the beginning of the song (1.30) JB hollers at his band "Can I get into it? (Yeah!) like a sex machine? (Yeah) getting it on? (Yeah)"
So when you sit staring at that blank page (or word processor) consider how you can subtly ask for your readers approval and consent to deliver your message.
Is your relationship suffering because of erectile dysfunction? Would you like to hear about the man who kept going all night just by listening to James Brown and buying one simple product? Then read on...
Empathising with a problem (relationship is suffering) and asking them if they're interested in solving it is a brilliant way to get your readers approval for your marketing message. It's easy, and it works. Once you've got their attention (and their consent) they're yours for the rest of the page.
Stay on the scene
One thing you'll notice about this song is how repetitive it is. JB constantly tells us to stay on the scene like a sex machine. (And I'mma take that advice yo.)
Because repetition is a sure-fire way to make someone remember something. And this works really well if your product has a special, main selling point.
Forget what you learned at school, and if you're a programmer, throw that DRY acronym outta the window. Or re-define it: DO repeat yourself. It works for James Brown and it'll work for you.
Find a way to tell your reader about your main selling point several times in the copy, especially before calls to action.
Because, why stop at one? Especially if you're writing long copy, or have a lot to say about your product/ service, don't assume everyone wants to read it all. It pays to write in several 'escape routes'. If they're already convinced by your copy, don't make them read/ scroll to the end.
I won't be satisfied till I receive my sex machine with 50% off. I'm ready to order and receive my free James Brown CD
Can I dance to this?
Have you ever stopped to hear how spoken English sounds? Unlike French and some other Latin-based languages, English is a stressed language. Which means that we emphasise certain syllables in each word, and if you emphasise the wrong one, you sound like a div. Like controversy. Not controversty (Americans take note).
Which means that our sentences have a certain rhythm - they're almost musical. When you say a phrase 'has a nice ring to it', you're essentially appreciating the rhythm.
And because copywriting seeks to imitate the way we speak, you should always spare a thought for rhythm in your writing.
This includes making sure there's a good balance of longer and shorter sentences. If you have something very important to say, a short sentence is often best (especially when repeated). TV advertising is full of brilliant examples. The strapline for any advert becomes a motif. Instantly memorable and recognisable, and unerringly associated with your product.
If you were a musician in the 70s, you wouldn't want to be in the J.B's. Because if you dropped a beat or played a bum note, Brown would flash you five fingers right there on stage. 5 fingers - code for 5 dollars. That's how much is coming outta your pay check, dawg.
Rhythm goes deeper than just long or short words or sentences. If you read your copy aloud (which you absolutely should), some sections will just sound better than others. The reason is rhythm. If you can't dance to it, don't expect anyone else to, nomesayin? Expect to pay for clumsy copy in reduced sales.
5% for every violation. (OK I made that up, but what if it's true?)
If you want to teach your sales message some new dance moves, I can help. Drop me a line at anthony [at] vividcopy.co.uk and I'll show you how to really tango.