Finding a Winning Tone for Your Copy, Part 4

Your prospect doesn’t want to be lectured to. He doesn’t want to read a scientific treatise. He wants to be spoken to in a convincing, conversational tone so he feels comfortable with you … and comfortable with buying your product.

So here are the last five of my 11 strategies for writing conversational copy … copy with that convincing tone. [Don’t miss parts one, two, and three of this series.]

Use "conversational transitions"

A nice conversational touch is what I call "conversational transitions." These are short connecting phrases that move copy from one idea to the next … or drive home a point.

Here are some that I use:


And here’s an example of copy without and with conversational transitions:

WITHOUT: "This stock has the potential to move 200% higher in the next six months. That means a $5,000 investment could be worth $15,000. And there are others …"

WITH: "Here’s a great example: This stock has the potential to move 200% higher in the next six months.

"Think about that a minute. This means a $5,000 investment could be worth $15,000. But here’s the best news. There are others …"

See how much more personal and conversational the one with transitions is?

Don’t get carried away, however. Too many, used in the wrong places, weaken your copy. They’re like manure. A little can green the grass nicely. But too much can stink up the town.

Don’t get bogged down on a single idea

One of the things Michael Masterson convinced me of early in my career was to never spend more than a single paragraph or two on any given point or idea. It’s important to make your selling point quickly and move on to the next. You don’t want to hear someone "drone on" in conversation – the same is true in copy.

Your reader wants you to convince him to buy

Here’s a point a lot of copywriters miss. They think they have to sell the reader on the product from square one. You don’t.

Chances are, your readers are getting your letter because they’ve bought or shown interest in a similar product. They’re getting your health promotion because they’ve bought health products before. They’re getting your financial promotion because they’ve bought financial products before.

If you’ve captured your readers’ attention with a strong headline and lead – and they’re reading your letter – you can assume they’re interested in what you’re offering. Now, they just want to be convinced. Your job is to make it irresistible for them – and answer any objections they might have with stories and track record and facts and so on.

What does this have to do with voice and tone? You’ll have a lot easier time if your letter is easy to read. And that only happens if your prospect’s comfortable with the letter’s tone – and he likes and trusts the person who’s writing to him.

Never talk down to or show up your reader

Every so often, I’ll come across a letter where the tone is boastful and the writer places himself above the reader.

Nothing will sabotage a letter faster. It puts your reader on the defensive. It may even make him dislike you.

I got one letter that said right on the envelope: "If you’re not following so-and-so’s investment advice – you’re off your rocker!

Is that any way to start a relationship? I’ll have to admit, I opened the letter – and it was jam-packed with boastful claims about how much money some guy made trading his system. There may have been some good stuff in it – but I was so put off and defensive that none of it connected with me.

Respect your reader. Don’t do anything to alienate him.

Read a lot of copy

Most of the stuff in your mail is there because (a) it works, or (b) someone in the business thinks it has a good chance of working. There are a lot of very good copy styles out there. Find a style you like and emulate it.

But to do that, you’ve got to read a lot of copy. If you’re not seeded on lists and getting at least five direct-mail letters every day (and the same number online) – get seeded now.

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Published: October 3, 2005

1 Response to “Finding a Winning Tone for Your Copy, Part 4”

  1. There, great information Paul. I'm just beginning this journey of copywriting and have much to learn. Like your comment "read a lot of copywrite", probably the best suggestion yet.

    Guest (Hal)

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