Copywriters and orators have the same task; forge an emotional connection with the audience to make them more likely to take action. To succeed, they must use words that resonate deeply, and deliver them for maximum impact.
Technical structure is the key to effective delivery. Orators use beats, intonation, pitch changes, inflection and volume to signpost important information – they can do this overtly, because they control how the sentiment is delivered to the listener.
Copywriters can’t use these techniques on the page, but through an understanding of how humans parse text, copywriters can increase their control of the reader’s internal voice and use technical structure to present their sentiment in the most potent form.
Here’s a first attempt at writing copy for a new set of golf clubs. I have chosen words I feel resonate deeply with the audience, for example ‘harder,’ ‘faster’ and ‘next level.’ I want to maximise the impact of these words.
State-of-the-art materials combine with master craftsmanship to take your game to the next level. Drive further, swing faster and play smarter.
The important words drown in a sea of poor technical structure. The first sentence is too long; there’s a lot to read before the emotional payoff of the resonating phrase. If we use shorter, more relevant words to build momentum, we can make the sentence easier to parse, while magnifying the payoff.
State-of-the-art materials deliver increased control and speed to take your game to the next level. Drive further, swing faster and play smarter.
There’s another problem – the complex structure of the second sentence focuses the mind on parsing, rather than feeling the impact, of the sentiment. Also, the important words don’t have the desired effect; that’s because they aren’t placed where the mind naturally stops and adds emphasis – at the end.
Words that end a sentence tend to linger in the reader’s mind; they take the longest to fade away. Readers will also tend to associate the entirety of the sentence with the meaning of that final word. End the sentence with something forgettable and the sentiment falls flat.
State-of-the-art materials deliver increased control and speed to take your game to the next level. Drive further. Swing faster. Play smarter.
This breaks the copy down into shorter sentences and places the most important words at the end. The mind naturally pauses on each important word, adding emphasis.
One final thing we can do is apply the concept of ‘most important information last’ to the overall structure. By rearranging it into a pyramid, with the punchiest information at the end, we can maximise the impact.
State-of-the-art materials deliver increased control and speed to take your game to the next level.
Drive further. Swing faster.
This creates an interlinked chain of benefits in a piece of copy that’s easy to parse. It builds to a crescendo using technical structure at the sentence level and at the structural level. Control and speed help take your game to the next level; once you’re there you’ll be driving further, swinging faster and playing smarter.
This shows how important it is to signpost the most important words using technical structure. By starting with words that tap into the reader’s motivations and desires, and arranging them so that the reader’s mind emphasises the key message, you’ll find it much easier to forge an emotional connection with your audience.
Written by Jamie Lawrence