If I asked you what your first concert was, you’d probably have a quick answer.
Where are my Phil Collins people? No … just me?
But if I asked you the name of the opening band, you’d be far less likely to remember.
That’s because we don’t go to the show to see the warm-up act.
We’re headliner people, you and me.
If openers are good for anything, it’s giving us time to use the restroom, grab a drink, hit the merch table, and if you’re my age … head BACK to the restroom.
Beyond that, they’re just keeping us from getting what we paid for.
We only deal with it because we’re a captive audience—unlike youraudience.
Those folks are free to go at any time.
And if your marketing isn’t grabbing their attention right out of the gate …
They’re gone for good.
Before you think this is gonna be a bad cover version of the typical lecture on headlines and subject lines, that’s not where I’m taking you.
Where we’re going is much darker.
It’s a lawless hellscape littered with woeful wording and flaccid phrasings aimed at extinguishing any whisper of persuasion or influence.
But the most haunting part?
This is a place you know.
And the hideous things that happen here won’t stop until we unmask this common killer of your prospect’s interest …
Warm-up copy is exactly what it sounds like—words that stand between you and the only thing your audience cares about—
Hey, remember when I said: “This is a place you know”?
I’ll bet you recognize this buzzkill …
“We’re excited to announce …”
This may sting a little, but nobody cares if you’re excited. Your job is to make your reader excited.
And beginning your lead sentence with “We” is like asking the first to arrive to be in charge of the coats while you enjoy the party.
That doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate a website refresh, product enhancement, or any other seismic happenings at your company.
You simply need to slip into your audience’s size 10s and ask: “What’s in it for me?”
One way to do that is by calling out where your old offering may have fallen short for your customers.
No need to beat yourself up too badly. But showing your imperfections—and how you turned them around to benefit your audience—is a refreshingly honest way to draw people in.
Author, speaker, and creative sharpshooter Dan Nelken puts it like this:
“When you do refreshingly honest well, you earn customers’ trust. And then they give you their money.”
Bottom line: A message can include you. But it should never be about you.
OK, you might wanna get a little stabby with me for this one …
“Don’t take our word for it. Hear what our customers are saying.”
Have I written it before? Sure. I’ve also worn parachute pants. But we learn from our mistakes, right?
We’re all smart enough to recognize a testimonial without you having to herd us toward it.
Just get right into it.
And don’t make the mistake of focusing only on your customer’s outcome.
We want to know how they got there.
Your testimonial—like everything else—needs to match the mindset of your reader.
Remember, she’s not convinced yet.
Build credibility with testimonials that use anxieties, objections, or skepticism to frame how you’ve helped someone overcome them.
If I can see myself in your customers’ former struggles, you’ve got me.
Alright, last one. Then we’ll have cake, I promise.
🥁 🥁 🥁
Any question with an obvious answer
“Want to generate more sales?”
“Wouldn’t it be great to retire at 50?”
“Wish you could get dinner on the table faster?”
At the risk of sounding like a moody teenager … duh.
Questions like these are just stalling for time while the point you need to make is backstage being powdered and sequined before its big entrance.
Instead, think about the place you want to take your reader, then use your words to put them there.
You can do this by agitating a current problem or by painting a detailed picture of a believable outcome in their heads—anything that stirs emotions and creates desire for whatever you’re selling.
That doesn’t mean leading questions are off-limits. They just need to be thought-provoking.
I’ve crept inside of people’s heads with openers like “When was the last time you …?” or “Has this ever happened to you?”
No matter how you get started, your copy should always involve your reader.
Otherwise, you’re wasting their time.
Thanks for making it this far. You’re a stronger marketer for it.
See you next time. – Matt
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