A lot of do-it-yourself or beginning copywriters tend to ramble, a bit like a nervous job interviewee hoping to fill the silence with something other than an uncomfortable silence.
It’s not their fault–they’re getting all kinds of mixed signals from a lot of well-meaning people. When people like me say things like “a product’s story is incredibly important!” and “don’t waste words!”, you can see how aspiring copywriters might get a little confused.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “How the hell am I supposed to tell a story in under 100, or 500, or 1000 words?”
What if I told you that you only need SIX words in order to tell a compelling, emotionally-moving story?
That’s all that Ernest Hemingway needed. Allegedly on a bet, he once wrote a six-word short story.
What was it?
“For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn.”
Pretty incredible, isn’t it?
Now you might not be on the same level as Papa Hemingway quite yet, and God knows I’m not even close. But more meaning, more emotion is packed into those six words than some authors manage to achieve in entire novels.
Smartphones are actually great for this. I loathe “textspeak” (I still refuse to use “lol” on principle), but texts and twitter force you to get your point across in fewer words.
But remember, shortening up what you write is only half the battle. The far more important concept is to make sure that what you do write is packed with emotion, meaning, and (ultimately) value.
Don’t think an emotional response is valuable? People will pay good money to watch other peoples’ stories and let the scenes move them emotionally. That’s a topic for another post.
And, for sure, sometimes long copy works better than short copy. Some products need that much “runway” to get off the ground in the minds of prospects for a lot of reasons, from price to skepticism about a product creator’s claims.
But I’ll guarantee you that there’s a purpose behind every word a copywriter uses even in a twelve page sales letter!
That starts to get into advanced sales psychology and concepts. For now, start by eliminating needless words. For example, I almost wrote “the advanced psychology of sales” two sentences ago. Why write that when you can get rid of the “the” and “of” and achieve the same meaning.
Humans are social creatures who love to exchange ideas with one another through language.
We also have notoriously short attention spans, and are easily distracted by shiny objects.
If you’re able to pack more meaning into each paragraph, make each story more powerful, and more emotionally resonant…
…then before you know it, what you’re selling becomes the shiny object!
Until next time…