How to write red hot copy—even when you’re not in the mood.
Ever feel lukewarm about a copy project? Maybe it’s a blind date product you know absolutely nothing about. Or conversely, copy for a client you’ve been married to for years—the kind of content that lets you go through the motions.
How do you write strong, action-driving copy that does justice to your clients when you’re indifferent to their product or service?
You look for the love.
You search for ways your clients’ product, service or brand provides emotional connection and resolution for customers. You dig deep to find the humanity, emotional neediness, satisfaction and redemption that connects the product and customers.
Look for the love—then weave it into your copy.
What the heck does that mean—look for the love? How can you find love when you feel indifferent? And what’s love got to do with selling product anyway?
That’s the single most important question we marketers must ask—and answer.
Crank up copywriting mojo even when your creative motor’s cold.
If copywriting is your livelihood, sooner or later you find yourself confronting a project that, well, just doesn’t turn you on.
Let’s face it, how often do we get to sell Swiss chocolate, leather corsets or Corsican travel packages?
Before I wrote about them, bankers’ training services, dental implants and petrochemicals left me cold. But in the end I wrote hot copy—and felt real passion—for those products and services.
All you need is love.
Most of the time.
Don’t move over to the dark side.
Let me qualify: You should never sell unethical stuff. No matter how much money you’re offered.
I struggle with this because I write pharmaceutical copy. Reasons to turn down the project? Hmmm…Greed, exploitation of people in developing countries and animal testing.
Reasons to take the project? Life-saving cancer drugs, innovative gene therapy, treatments targeted to underserved patients.
But yes, I have walked away from work even though I really needed the money. Kids tuition! Vet visit! Visa bill!
You can too.
In the end you answer to yourself. So make sure your conscience is clear before you accept a copy job…and let it tug at your heart strings.
Learn about love—from actors.
My first career was in the theater. I credit my ability to write warm, empathetic, customer–focused copy to actor’s schooling.
I trained at a conservatory that taught a holistic approach to acting and inculcated a profound respect for craft. I learned one of the most important acting lessons my first day of class.
Our teacher explained a core acting imperative. If we explored this tenet, she noted, we would understand how to approach scenes. We’d discover the playwright’s intentions. And we’d deliver powerful, cathartic performances.
The critical rule was Look for the love in the relationship.
As actors parsing a play, we needed to find elements of love in characters’ relationships.
I remember rolling my eyes. I needed practical tactics to approach a role, and this latter-day flower child—the conservatory is in San Francisco—was telling me to “Look for the love in the relationship.”
But once we students stopped smirking and started doing it, rehearsals and performances transformed.
Look for love in all the wrong places.
It’s easy to “find the love” in theatrical romances. With Romeo and Juliet or Beatrice and Benedict, love is almost cliché. But great drama is also about conflict. Some of the most compelling theater includes scenes of rage, hate, revenge and bitter sorrow.
Where’s the love? How do you look for love in those relationships?
You find the love by asking a lot of questions. In this play…
- What fuels rage? Thwarted love, misdirected love, unrealized love
- What drives hate? The desire for love, fear of love, hope for love
- What spurs revenge? Spurned love, misplaced love, misunderstood love
- What lies underneath sorrow? Lost love, soured love, longing for love
Where do you look for love in your copy?
Let’s say you’re starting a new copywriting project. Your client’s product or service makes you feel…nothing. You can’t imagine where you’ll find an emotional hook to get you—and your client’s customers—in the mood.
Where do you start?
Look for the love in your customers.
As a marketer, your customer is priority #1. Take time to get to know her. Learn what she cares about. Uncover her needs, wants, fears, pain points, desires, hopes and dreams. Once you know your customer, really know her, you’ll grow to love her. Once you love her, you’ll want to help her. And you can. Because you understand her head and heart, you can reach out, pat her hand and fulfill her needs—with your copy.
Look for the love in your clients.
You can also dive into the tunnel of love through your clients. Think there’s no passion behind cancer surgery or auto parts? Oh, how wrong you are. Get a doctor or CEO talking about her work and you’ll discover a true evangelist. Her passion is transferable to your copy—and contagious to her customers. Try to set aside time at the beginning of a project to interview your client. Ask her about her company, work, product and service. Ask what makes her product different from her competitors’. Ask if she’s still excited about her work after all these years—and why. And make sure your recorder is charged because you’re going to have a lot of material.
Look for the love in your client’s competition.
Competitor research is crucial to positioning your clients’ product. It reveals how the competition fulfills—or fails to fulfill—customer needs. Discover your competitors’ love deficit—and fill it.
Look for the love in your family or partner.
Cold hard truth? Sometimes you can’t jump start passion for a copy job. With a deadline looming, emotional aridity is torturous. That’s when you rely heavily on copywriting as craft. How can you muster the energy to make a start? Think about the people you love. Recall what this job means: Mortgage, rent, tuition, financial stability—your work makes these things possible. Don’t hesitate to fall back on the love in your life to light the spark.
Where do you find the love you need to write red hot copy?