You can learn a lot about persuasive writing from everyday life. I recently spotted some copywriting gems in a phone message. What do you see in this example of effective call-to-action word crafting?
“Hungry? I’m on my way home with something yummy — not pizza this time. Preheat the oven to 425 and I’ll be home in 10 minutes.”
Why is it perfect? Because it satisfies the four U’s of copywriting… Unique, Urgent, Useful, and Ultra specific.
As I was replaying this quick phone message to my son the other day, I thought. “Hmm, that would make a good tweet. With some fleshing out it would be a lovely blog post or email. Now why is that?
I was right, by the way, about the tweet. It comes in at 133 characters — just enough room for an @XXXXXX. And the promise of food always ranks high among MY favorite personal tweets. (Wait, I’ve never received the promise of food in a tweet. Maybe someday.)
So where’s the earth shaking copywriting lesson this message?
First, the speaker knew her audience. I could picture his face. I knew he was hungry and waiting for me to get home. I knew what he was wearing and where he was going later and the homework assignment that he wasn’t thinking about. And that he probably missed this message because he was bouncing on the trampoline or playing Minecraft upstairs. I knew who I was talking to. My 11 year old son.
That’s what made it perfect. That — and it was short. Gotta love short. Short blog posts, short emails, short videos, tweets and Facebook updates. When it comes to copy small quantities are good.
Finally, the call to action was a no-brainer. I knew he wouldn’t have to think twice to go to the oven and set the heat.
Funny thing is this message also satisfies the Four U’s of Copywriting rule: Unique, Urgent, Useful and Ultra specific.
There’s been much ado about these four U’s lately because they’re like delicious peas in a pod. Crack open an email with these plump babies inside and you’ll be so moved you might not even notice that the Four U’s haver been “used” on YOU (‘scuze the pun).
Same with your audience. So you should know what they are.
Urgent: You need to know this now.
(As it applies to the phone message) You want it hot? and ASAP? Get moving now and set the oven.
Unique: You haven’t seen this one before…this is “NEW” — another wonderful word that works in copy.
It’s not pizza; aren’t you curious now?
Useful: You need this. It solves a problem you have.
A growing guy’s gotta eat. Dinner is one of the most useful inventions on the planet, particularly when it’s been six hours since lunch.
Ultra specific: Here’s exactly what I’m asking you to do. In specific terms.
Ten minutes from now (a specific time) you will see what I brought you to eat. The oven needs to be at 425 degrees (a specific temperature) by then.
The 4 U’sof copywriting plus a short length, plus the delivery to specific targeted audience equal key elements to an email or sales letter that pulls.
As you practice writing your own copy for your own business, keep your eyes and ears sharp for words that follow this formula.
Once you start to notice that this 4U recipe is everywhere, you’ll see it’s unusually prevalent in almost all of the most casual conversations that stir people to take action.
Like the chicken and the egg conundrum, it’s hard to say if people respond because we say all these things, or if we say all these things because people react the way we wish when we do. Probably both.
People naturally possess a deeply ingrained human response to the four U’s in everyday conversation.
Now go use them in your copy and you’ll make genuine, intimate and heartfelt connections with your audience.