My wife Hayley sat down beside me at 8pm last night, after putting the kids to bed.
She pulled out her phone, and started flicking through her emails.
“Oh look! Here’s one of yours. I’ll read it now,” she said.
For a minute I watched as she read it, expressionless.
Then she looked up.
“I like it,” she announced.
“But you didn’t even laugh,” I said.
“So what? I liked it.”
I turned to stare at her.
“So just imagine some director just invited you to the exclusive premiere of his new romantic comedy. He’s really proud of it, and he’s sitting there watching you for your reaction. The lights dim, the movie starts … and you just sit there stony-faced without laughing or crying during the whole thing. And then at the end you turn to him and say ‘hey man, that was a GREAT movie!’ You know, somehow, I don’t think he’s going to believe you …”
We both paused for a second … then started laughing.
(Bummer, I thought — turns out she does laugh.)
Between fits of giggles she sputtered “but … I really … do like … your emails!”
“Oh c’mon, you’re just making this worse!!!”
Anyway, the good news is that in my emails, I’m not talking to my wife.
In fact, here’s a confession: I’m not even really talking to you.
Huh? Isn’t that like copywriting 101 … “imagine you’re writing to a friend”?
Well, sure … I’m just not going to lie and say I’m sitting here thinking about YOU. I didn’t even personalise this email with your name!
Yeah, yeah, that idea of “write to a friend” is good advice for newbies — who otherwise tend to go a little cray-cray with their copy, and turn out text that sounds like it was written by a sixth-grade robot doing a persuasive essay.
But I’ve worked under some amazing copywriters … and I can tell you they don’t spend 5 minutes before they write, “visualising” someone in their target audience. Instead, they just have a feel for how to do it automatically — and their writing just comes out in a natural, conversational way.
Whenever you’re writing, that should be your goal, too.
How do you train yourself to do that?
First, study people who are good at writing stuff you want to read.
(Oh, easy — you’re already doing it right now, clever you.)
And second … write yourself. A lot. Like, every day.
(Ah … not so easy.)
But, do both those things, and you’ll be surprised how easy it gets after a while …
Okay, that’s enough teaching for today.
One of these days, when I’m not so busy, I’ll properly set up my website to offer more coaching on this (and perhaps a product or two).
For now, if you want to access my knowledge (as a client or a student), you’ll have to do it the long, painful way and apply here:
Till next time,