Injecting drama into your copy

One of the most powerful ways to encourage your target prospect to read your copy and take the desired action is by injecting more drama into your ad or promotion. You can do so obviously with copy...but design plays a big part as well. Your goal, whether it's a magalog cover or print ad or Facebook ad or sales page is to hook the reader in by the eyeballs and make it impossible NOT to read further. Then you get your prospect gliding through your copy, having all of his or her objections overturned as they become more and more convinced of your arguments or offer. That's why I'm thrilled that one of my current Fast Track to A-List copywriting mentees, Alex Ko, is taking over this week's issue. Alex has been a freelance copywriter for less than 3 years. He initially worked in the financial space with Motley Fool in Singapore, before going freelance less than a year ago and becoming one of my mentees in January. Since then, he's been filling his schedule with high-quality clients in the health and supplement space and other niches who come back and hire him again and again. Alex decided he wanted to share an unusual ad you likely haven't seen before, but is well-known in Singapore for helping to rebuild its economy decades ago. It's got tons of valuable lessons and takeaways, as Alex is about to share in his in-depth breakdown. Okay, Alex, you're on...take it away! ***** How a 35-year-old ad saved a country from recession Written by Alex Ko “Nowadays, people might call this clickbait…” I stopped what I was doing and turned to the TV. (Being a copywriter makes you extra sensitive to certain phrases…) It was Singapore’s Prime Minister addressing the nation as part of the general election held in July. In his speech, he said that Singaporeans must remain competitive in order to tide through the crisis everyone is facing today. He drew parallels with the economic downturn in 1985, when Singapore experienced her first recession since independence in 1965.  The government had to adapt if it wanted to survive the recession.  Other "Asian Tiger" economies had already done so: Hong Kong with a free market economy, Taiwan and South Korea with new export and investment strategies. One way to climb out of the recession was to encourage even more foreign investment. If companies can make a profit here, more jobs will be created which will then boost the economy. In an attempt to attract new foreign investment into Singapore, the government published this ad in the Wall Street Journal:

I wasn’t even born yet when this ad came out, but I’m glad to have seen it today.  And knowing that copywriting did a role in pulling Singapore out of a recession is something I never expected to hear! But was it a success? Let’s find out by looking at all the things it did right, starting with the placement of the ad. Most of you already know that an offer-audience match is more important than the copy.  And by advertising in front of a “hungry crowd”, you’ll grab more eyeballs and interest. This ad did a fantastic job on that. Who do you think reads the Wall Street Journal? CEOs and executives eager to expand their businesses!  This ad spoke to people who are more likely to invest in Singapore. Moving on to the headline: “Who would be mad enough to invest in Singapore in a recession?” While it doesn’t outright mention a benefit, it’s an intriguing question that's dripping with curiosity, forcing readers to give their undivided attention. Also, simply using the word “mad” injects some drama into the headline, which naturally adds even more curiosity too. It could have been “Why would anyone want to invest in Singapore in a recession?” But that would be flat and not as sensational as the original. Building drama into your headline or using emotionally-charged words is a good way to drive up readership. It inherently makes the headline exciting and “newsy.” I think this is also probably the reason why our Prime Minister called the headline a clickbait! But there’s nothing clickbaity about the rest of the ad. Because right below the headline are 9 signatures from well-known companies.  You’ll notice that these are signed off by people like John Sculley, CEO of Apple, and Alan Shugart, CEO of Seagate. This set of signatures is super strong proof that adds a twist to the headline:  That the “mad” people are actually big, successful companies. Using signatures on the ad was a smart way to strengthen the proof. It made the ad feel organic, almost as if the CEOs sat down and endorsed this ad. (Not to mention, the signatures themselves can't help but draw the eye in.) On top of that, they make you feel like you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. If the big players are making moves in Asia, you probably should do the same! You can experiment with different kinds of proof elements in your copy, too.  Don’t limit yourself to text-based testimonials or quotes. Videos and product demonstrations are great ways to add extra oomph in your proof. Now, at this stage of the copy, there’s only one thing in the reader's mind: ”Why would they do that???” The lead gives some context to the story and builds on the twist with this line: “Why on earth then, are some of America’s sanest and most successful companies either expanding their operations or moving into the country for the first time?” Then, line by line, the ad reveals more reasons why it’s good to invest in Singapore. Here’s where the ad gets interesting.  About 90% of the body copy are mini-benefit fascinations disguised as questions. Instead of firing off benefit after another, these questions gently probe the reader to read more.  They keep the reader guessing and at the same time, plant the idea that it’s profitable to invest in Singapore.  Another point worth noting is that the entire ad is essentially answering objections most companies have on going global: The government, ROI, language, shipping. This ad selected only relevant information. This line is an example: “Could it be that in an analysis by the US Department of Commerce, Singapore shows one of the highest return on investment for American companies abroad?” You’ll want to do the same for your copy, too. Keeping your copy relevant, and breaking down objections until the prospect is convinced of your product or service. Before the ad ends, this sentence: “Or is it simply that US investors realise that the current recession is a hiccup?” forces readers to reconsider their assumptions about the economy. And that might have prompted companies to start thinking about expanding into Singapore. By the time you reach the end of the ad, you’ll know exactly why Singapore is such an excellent place for business expansion. Now, if I had to improve this ad, I would definitely add a call to action. It ends abruptly and it’s not immediately obvious that I need to contact the government agency if I wanted to learn more about investing in Singapore. Interestingly, there’s not a single mention of “You” in the ad. Perhaps adding it in would help to make this ad more effective. But the ad worked even though it broke several copywriting “rules.” Singapore made a swift recovery in 2 years, all thanks to a flood of new investment into the country. I hope you enjoyed the breakdown, and the mini-lesson on how copywriting played a part in developing Singapore’s economy! ***** Thank you, Alex...that was a fascinating lesson, both on copywriting techniques and a bit of world history! This ad was definitely an "unorthodox" approach that turned out to be highly effective. Sometimes taking big risks can pay off big. That's how you get your next breakthrough. Don't play it "too safe" all the time. At the same time, use the techniques Alex mentions here to inject drama, make it impossible NOT to read further, and to pile on proof to overcome every possible objection. These are some great insights Alex shared that you can easily apply to your own copy. Alex is a super-sharp copywriter, and he's taking on new clients. So if you're interested in reaching out to him, reply back to this email and I'll put you in touch. Yours for smarter marketing, Kim P.S. If you're interested in joining my next group of "Fast Track to A-List" mentees, you can find out more details here. This 10-month program starts in January, and more than 25% of the spots have already been filled. You can get in at the current 2020 rates if you sign up by November 1st, so be sure to check it out. Here's what Alex has to say about his training and mentoring with me... "Have TRIPLED my income since joining!" "Kim’s Fast Track to A-List program is the rocket ship you need to accelerate your copywriting career. I’ve tripled my income since joining it as a freelancer! This is all thanks to her training, network, and advice. I'm now more confident in writing long-form sales pages, too. The research process used to be my kryptonite. But just a few weeks into the program, I know exactly what to look out for to write convincing copy. This program lets you see how an A-lister thinks. Whether it’s listening to her feedback on our copy, reading her notes, or asking questions during the calls, I always get new insights to improve my skills. You’ll find value regardless of your level. That’s because her program drills you with timeless copywriting principles so you’ll always have strong fundamentals to tackle any copy assignments with confidence. If you want to level up your copywriting career and skills, you won’t regret joining Kim’s program!" —Alex Ko, Copywriter

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