Snake Oil Salesman

Snake Oil Salesman

26-10-2022

15:25

For every 10 likes to this tweet, I'll post one observation, tip, or take around writing and copywriting.

1. To write great copy, start by writing the truest sentence you can write. If it means writing, "I'm bored and do not really feel like writing for this," write that. This is how you make space for genuine thoughts to come through. They'll make your copy feel relatable and human.

2. The frame you're writing within has a significant impact on how you write, right from sentence structure to word usage. I have a friend who had this habit of switching to passive voice and using needlessly convoluted lingo while writing email, to express straightforward stuff.

When I asked him what he meant by what he had written, he used to magically explain it to me in simple language. And then my next suggestion to him was: now write it like you just explained it to me.

The problem wasn't that he couldn't write; the problem was that he felt that you are expected to write emails in a particular way. This frame imposed by the medium hampers a lot of your writing. To write naturally, throw the frame out.

3. The kind of writing where you're trying to explain a concept is most effective when it is fractal in nature. There's an overarching concept/stance/argument, but in each example, the argument is repeated on a smaller scale.

I see many writers provide examples without reiterating the main concept again at the end of it. So, readers sometimes may find it hard to see how the example ties back in with the concept. To make the concept stick with your readers, restate it in the context of every example.

4. Good UX is recognized by how empathetic it is and how actively it can pre-empt a user's needs and solve for them. Good writing UX follows the same principle.

As soon as a question or an objection comes up in your reader's mind, answer it. If questions or objections keep piling up in your reader's mind without resolution or even an explicit promise of a resolution, they will stop reading immediately.

No one has that much working memory to store multiple unanswered questions. A confused reader starts hating you. Pre-empting what questions may arise upon reading a sentence or a paragraph and addressing them immediately is how you convey to your readers that you understand them.

5. A good copywriter is an anthropologist, a sociologist, a psychologist, and a psychotherapist all rolled into one. If humans and human behaviour don't fascinate you, it is unlikely that you'll be great at copywriting or even ordinary writing meant for public consumption.

6. Forgot to mention: a great copywriter is also a great detective who is able to get to the root of the problem and address it appropriately. Getting to the root will often need you to reframe the problem entirely. This is where clarity of thought becomes essential.

7. As a writer, you're never not working. Everything you come across is potential material. A good writer, first and foremost, is a slut and a whore for interesting ideas.

8. The best copywriting is to be learned from social media, not copywriting books. To talk to your readers, you have to talk like they talk and talk about what they talk about. Books with generic advice are no substitute for cultural observations. Nothing is.

9. Most copywriting sucks ass because marketers look down on their readers and think they're dumb. They aren't. If you give them better writing, they will appreciate it. The more expensive your product, the more this holds true.

10. Good metaphors are your bread and butter as a copywriter. Never ignore them or miss a chance to note down a great one. If you don't believe me, look at family group WhatsApp forwards. People across stratas love metaphors, even if they're often quite terrible.

11. If you're writing longform, include some punchy statements or one-liner insights that people can use as a pull quote while sharing your piece on social media. I have done this with decent success.

12. If you know the product is good but in a new category, your primary job as a copywriter is to seed words that help happy customers describe your product to their friends. Repeat a few key words in your marketing comms till you hear your customers use them to describe you.

13. If I can understand 100% of what you wrote, I probably won't feel smarter after reading it. And if I don't feel smart after reading your writing, I won't read it. Write simply, but not too simply.

14. How your writing sounds in your reader's head matters more than you think. Remember: If it plays like music, it stays like music.

15. The Rule of 3 is a technique that can be used for all target audiences. But how tastefully and appropriately it's executed will make all the difference. You can do: "Teen ungli, teen sides, teen rupay" for mass recall value Or you can do this to add beats to your writing:

16. Don't discuss product technicalities with an audience that dreams of a better life. Don't discuss visions of a better life with engineers who are trying to get something specific and technical done. Talk at the level of abstraction your audience thinks in.

Freelancers want to read tactical stuff that helps them move the needle with specific and actionable tips. CXO-level folks want to read stuff big picture stuff around developing good judgment and decision-making ability. They will also appreciate some timeless philosophy.

Don't offer abstract frameworks to a freelancer. Most won't appreciate them. And don't offer detailed tactics to a chief decision-maker. They are often not thinking on that level.

17. For a purely utilitarian product, make sure your audience knows that **you know** that they don't care as much about your product as you do. Once your readers see that you understand this, they will want to listen to what you have to say.

The kind of copy that makes "I know that your life doesn't revolve around my product" explicit works way better. Now, the reader knows that you understand the actual job they're trying to get done in their lives, of which your product is a tiny part.

18. On the other hand, if you're trying to build something that you wouldn't want to be seen as purely utilitarian but something that holds more meaning and significance, paint the image of a world where your readers would love to live in.

Show how your product can help them manifest this world. Talk about elements of the good life, and never try to sell your product. Be secure in your value proposition and let your readers make up their own mind. If you sound needy, that will be the death of your brand.

19. If you want to see the no. of people who read your thread, see the no. of impressions on the last tweet. If you want to see how good your hook is, see the impressions on the second tweet or detail expands on the first one. Impressions on the first tweet hardly mean anything.



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