The “Psycho-Killer” Rule of Copywriting

The “Psycho-Killer” Rule of Copywriting

“Psycho Killer – qu’est-ce que c’est? Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa.” 

Oh, how I love this song. But the copywriter in me especially loves this part: 

“You start a conversation you can’t even finish it
You’re talking a lot, but you’re not saying anything
When I have nothing to say, my lips are sealed
Say something once, why say it again?”

This one stanza contains a TREASURE TROVE of copywriting advice: 

    • When you start a piece of copy, know how you’re going to finish it. The best pieces end with a bang, not a whimper. Your writing will be so much stronger when you know where you’re going with it, so get clear on your ending BEFORE you get into the weeds of writing it.
    • Beware of “talking a lot” without saying anything. If you’re asking people to take the time to read something, don’t waste their time with unnecessary fluff. Get to the point and give them something valuable right away!
    • Got nothing to say? Keep your lips sealed.  It’s better to publish fewer posts that are interesting and offer value than it is to carpet-bomb people with forgettable crap. All that does is train people to skip over your posts & emails.
    • >> Finally, my favourite: Say something ONCE – with enough power and impact so you don’t have to say it again! 

This is the Psycho-Killer rule of copywriting in a nutshell: the fewer the words you make people read to understand the import of your message, the better.

So when you edit your copy, ask yourself: “Does this part really matter? Is it REALLY adding something important? Am I repeating myself or saying the same thing in different ways?”

When you whittle your piece down to its strongest, most essential elements and get rid of everything else, your readers will thank you for it and be more likely to read your stuff!

(Betcha didn’t realize you could learn such helpful copywriting advice from a “Psycho-Killer,” did you? ;-D)   

** image from Wikimedia Commons

Keep readers hooked to the end with this simple writing technique

Keep readers hooked to the end with this simple writing technique

A couple of days ago, I emailed you a story about a spooky experience I had while living in Japan.

(Here’s the link in case you missed it: I CAN STILL HEAR HIM BREATHING.)

I shared the story not only in recognition of Halloween, but also to demonstrate an important writing technique that you can use to captivate your readers and keep them hooked to the end of every piece you write.

If you’ve read the story, were you able to guess the technique I was talking about?

Here’s a hint… (more…)

I can still hear him breathing

I can still hear him breathing

When I was in my 20s, I spent four years teaching English in Japan. For the first two years, I lived in an apartment complex in a small town surrounded by rice paddies. It was a four-story concrete building with outdoor stairwells that anyone could access, and each apartment had a heavy metal door that opened onto a stairwell and was the only way in or out. I lived on the top floor.

One early Sunday morning, after staying up way too late writing the night before, I was startled awake by the sound of the big metal door to my apartment being flung open with such force that it hit the wall with a clang. As I lay there trying to figure out what was happening, I heard loud footsteps come marching down the short hallway and into my bedroom, where they paused at the end of my bed.


The key to world peace (and great copy)

The key to world peace (and great copy)

In today’s increasingly connected world, it often feels like we’re more disconnected than ever.

Thanks to the bombardment of news — and opinions, and opinions masquerading as news — that greet us whenever we go online or turn on the TV, we’re more aware than ever of the huge and growing divide between “us” and “them.”

It doesn’t matter how you slice it – Democrat vs. Republican, liberal vs. conservative, religious vs. atheist, Christian vs. Muslim, rational vs. spiritual, white vs. non-white, libertarian vs. socialist, progressive vs. traditional, and so on – we are increasingly encouraged to think of the people on the opposite side of the argument as ignorant, foolish, black-hearted, and quite possibly insane.

How can we bridge the widening rift and get to a place where people on opposing sides can communicate openly and respectfully with each other — and develop the shared understanding we need to come together and solve the problems we face as a society?

The answer to this daunting question could be the key to world peace.

It also happens to be the secret to writing great copy. (more…)