The three levels of creative copywriting:
Word Substitution – most widespread and ineffective. Taking a list of successful headlines, you then change a word or two and hope for the best. They aren’t tailor-made to the current market demands. Those headlines only remind you of another product that went before.
Formulas – the copywriter memorizes a series of principles and pours his product headline and body copy through these. These rules say how a headline is expressed, how the copy must flow. What they don’t tell you is what to do for that particular desire or that particular product for that particular audience.
Analysis – this implies that there is only a single solution to every product, every ad. It means hard work of studying your product and your market and your prospects – each and every time you get an assignment. It is not easy. It is not fast. But it works as well as you invest yourself into that solution.
Remember: When all you have is a single hammer, every problem is a nail needing your one solution. “Breakthrough Advertising” gives you a complete toolbox of tools.
Why do you need more than a single formula? People are wising up as they read or watch or listen to more and more ads. It’s become the buyer’s market, not the seller’s. One explanation of this likens these two styles as the difference between a harpoon or a net.
“One school hammers the reader with red headlines, yellow highlighting, and aggressive copy that grips the reader like a terrier shaking a squirrel.
“The other school develops a compelling personal voice, nurtures a relationship with the reader, and uses soft-sell techniques to nudge the reader down the path to purchase.”
Schwartz’ use of analysis says you could actually use either style, but the key point is to do your research to begin with – and find what your customer actually wants. You will be finding the key desire and then honing your copy to encourage and promote your product or service as the solution to that desire.
In addition to writing style differences, in our own Internet age, the time it takes a reader to reject your copy is extremely short now. This has been attributed (falsely) to a “shortening attention span”. Recall the datum that humankind has hardly changed at all in the last 10,000 years. The fast rejection rate is actually because we are deluged with ads, tempted and stung by scams, and swamped with images and demands for our time and money. The reader is being educated every time they open a magazine, browse the Internet, wait through trailers for the movie or podcast to start. People now can spot advertising bunk within split-seconds. Markets and buyers have matured and become more sophisticated.
Dissatisfaction with all this constant bombardment of ads has developed a new market demand for “minimalism”, “tiny homes”, and deliberate living. In short – accepting few, if any buying opportunities.
This new normal of ad-blocking doesn’t close doors, but rather opens them wide with opportunities to get our product or service known and acquired by our targeted clients. The mass desire to find more happiness in life, to get more of what you and everyone wants individually, this desire has only been sharpened by the huge amount of poor ads out there. People still want to improve their lives. They still want advice on where to find products that will do that.
The huge slog of poor ads out there just means we have to create even more precise marketing, but reject anywhere we’ve been told there is only one formula to do this. Now we can use Schwartz’ book (and the guide you are reading) to break this logjam. We can find our success in spite of the poor examples and bad advice we have already swallowed that explain “modern” or “Internet Age” copywriting and marketing.
Using this guide to study Schwartz’ original masterwork, can bring us to the point of doing what marketing and copywriting is supposed to provide as a service:
…to find and promote the highest possible quality services and products to people – so they can buy and use them to improve their lives and become/achieve everything they want.
The surprising result is that you will be able to dissect any ad in split-seconds – not just rejecting it outright, but studying each one in terms of what is its mass desire, what are the claims, what are the mechanisms it’s describing, how it persuades (or fails) to get the viewer/listener to act, and how it could be improved.
Moral: Analysis is the key – copywriting is not just using a hack “formula” that everyone else uses. Every product pitch requires a breakthrough of its own.
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But… no matter how brilliant our headline and copy – how do we have any success in a crowded field where people ignore or even block our ads?