Copywriting To Motivate Consumer Mindsets

Copywriting is not normally a term associated with psychology. But there is no doubt about it, copywriting is a powerful means to motivate and shape consumer mindsets. In this blog, we look at how you can leverage copywriting to activate readers’ unseen motivators. Getting them to think, buy and act upon your word.

The underlying psychology of copywriting
What really makes your consumers tick? Any copywriter who can answer this question holds the Midas touch. If you wish to profoundly influence your target market, you need to understand their psychological make-up. Only then can you pitch your copywriting in a way that resonates with their ‘hot buttons’ or hidden motivators. This is what we call ‘psychologically groomed’ copywriting. A tool that can help you:

  • ingrain brand loyalty upon your consumers’ psyche
  • break down sales resistance by appealing to reader emotions
  • understand what issues your readers face and seek to solve.

Sound good? Let’s look at how you can psychologically groom your copywriting.

It all begins with an understanding of your consumers’ decision-making process.

Emotion is your chief copywriting ally
The human brain functions on three basic levels — instinctive, emotional and rational.

Effective copywriting strategically appeals to all three.

Now, most of your customers would say that their purchasing decisions are rational. Driven by logical reasoning like: I need a new pair of shoes because my current pair have grown uncomfortable. Yet emotion primarily drives consumer decision-making. Your consumer may feel compelled to buy those new shoes because:

  • I feel embarrassed that my shoes are in last season’s style. Your consumer doesn’t want to feel out of date or fall behind the fashion flock.
  • All the other girls are wearing shoes in this new style. Theirs look much smarter than mine and I don’t want to be left out. Your consumer wants to fit in and be accepted.
  • I haven’t seen anyone else wearing this style of shoe…I could be the first. Your consumer is exhilarated at the notion of setting a new trend.

All these are examples of ‘hidden motivators’ your copywriting can play to. There are many more, like:

  • health
  • exclusivity
  • time
  • social or business advancement.

The key is to know the motivators of your particular target market, then tailor your copywriting to fit.

Use copywriting to ignite consumer instinct
Emotion arouses instinct, thus providing another powerful copywriting tool. Say you are pitching to new mothers. Their maternal love arouses an instinct to protect and nurture their baby. Or perhaps you are marketing income protection insurance to executives. Their instinct for self-preservation is aroused by fear of losing income and lifestyle.

Tap into those instincts which dominate your consumers’ action, then tailor your copywriting to fit. A great way to do this is through storytelling. Take readers on a journey where you arouse their instincts, engage emotions, then show them how much better their life will be with your product.

Roll out the rationale in copywriting
So what follows an emotional decision to act? Rational brain functioning! Your consumer employs logic to rationalise their decision. Psychologically groomed copywriting helps them in this process. Outline vividly how much better and easier life will be once they have taken the desired action.

Say you want to sell a designer handbag. Your copywriting should detail the quality of finest leather, intricate hand stitching and exquisite detailing. Outline the investment potential of the bag too. It complements any outfit, offers generous space with clever organisation. Plus with timeless style, your consumer can enjoy her bag all season and it will last her through many more.

Walk in your consumers’ shoes
Just as an actor immerses themselves into character, you must become your consumer. Psychologically groomed copywriting requires that you understand your consumer’s most heartfelt desires, needs and feelings. Then choose words that resonate with these, painting a picture of their ultimate satisfaction. This copywriting method is truly a force to be reckoned with.

Copywriting — why you should make your words visually appealing as well as persuasive

Super long sentences, tombstones of text, wallflower headlines…ugh! When it comes to copywriting, good looks matter. Copywriters sometimes neglect the aesthetics of their work. We get so caught up in what the words say that we forget the importance of how they look. But visual presentation is a hurdle your copywriting must sail over to get read at all! And this is not a job that lies solely with a graphic designer.

Truly terrific copywriting starts with the end in mind

I’m not arguing against the importance of your copy’s message here. Without a doubt, crafting compelling, persuasive and appealing content is a chief concern of every copywriter. But our content is always bound for a final destination — whether online or in print. So a graphic designer will need to take your copywriting and make it look incredible within a visual layout. Quite a tall order when you’re delivering a solid slab of unbroken content. As a copywriter then, you need to keep in mind the medium your content is bound for. Break up your content into easily definable ‘bite-sized’ chunks. Draw out strong word elements to highlight key messages. These are just some things you can do at the copywriting stage. There’s plenty more.

I’ll be sharing some easy and effective ways for achieving aesthetically pleasing content in this blog. So you can instantly put greater visual appeal to work in your copy.

But first, let’s take a look at why good looking copywriting is so important.

It’s not just about making graphic design easier. It’s about doing justice to your copywriting and making this even better! Visual presentation can:

  • help your copywriting appeal to your audience
  • support your content in achieving its purpose
  • make it easier to navigate your copywriting
  • guide your reader to better follow and understand your copywriting
  • unfold your copywriting like a story to improve persuasiveness
  • logically lay out key detail and information
  • capture and convert time-poor readers at a glance.

Visually effective copywriting encompasses varied pace and different presentation tools

Here are some great techniques you can use.

Include a headline
Here it is…the first line of copy that your reader will see. So you should seldom write copy without a headline. A headline makes your pitch for you right up front. It hooks the readers’ attention and determines whether they see benefit in reading on. If you are a copywriter, you’re concerned with crafting a powerful punchy headline — as you should be. But you should also use visual savvy to boost headline impact by:

  • setting your headline clearly apart from the rest of your copy
  • making your headline 10 words maximum as a general rule
  • setting your headline in a larger font than the body text
  • using a different coloured font…but don’t get too funky
  • leaving a little white space between your heading and body copy.

Soup up the subheadings
Subheadings are vastly underused but make a valuable tool for any aesthetically-minded copywriter. They visually break up paragraphs, group information and clearly drive home key ideas. Plus subheads work in tandem with your headline. Telling a compelling ‘at a glance’ story to time-poor readers. Tricks to using subheadings include:

  • keeping the message simple — a clear summary of the following paragraph in a few words
  • having one idea per subheading — so readers can pick and choose information of interest
  • getting action-oriented — using your final subhead as a call to action to convert your readers.

The silver bullet for visually appealing copywriting
Nothing turns a reader off more quickly than great swathes of unbroken content — especially for today’s readers who like to scan. So bullet point lists are a great way to make your copy visually easy to comprehend and succinctly emphasise important info. These are perfect for time-poor readers with short attention spans.

But bullet points can be a double-edged sword. You should use them judiciously. Avoid lengthy bulleted lists — 6 or 7 bullets per list are generally the most you want without overdoing it.

Pull out the pull quotes
A pull quote is a short extract from your copy strategically positioned on the page. Pull quotes are a terrific way to highlight your key ideas. They break up your copy in a visually striking way too. Set your pull quote in a larger font size to create greater visual priority.

Short is sweet for paragraph length
Keep your paragraphs and sentences short in your copywriting! Succinct paragraphs are heaven to modern readers’ eyes. They are easier to digest, take little work to read and look better too. The same goes for sentence length. Aim to keep your average sentence length under 20 words. (You can find the average sentence length in Word, as we explained in a previous post at


Finally…easy on the font
Don’t extend your creative flair to font choice. A common font will pack a much bigger punch than Wingdings or the like. Stick to one font throughout your copy too. You can select a font family to differentiate headings and subheadings. If you do want to mix it up a little, have no more than three different fonts in one piece of copy.

Remember: consistency is the key to visually appealing copy. So be consistent with typefaces and headline sizes for headlines, subheadings and body copy.

So the next time you need to do some copywriting, infuse visual appeal into it. Your readers and clients will love you for it.


What Many Advertising Agencies Don’t Know About Copywriting (continued)

We sparked some debate in our last copywriting blog post ─ What Many Advertising Agencies Don’t Know About Copywriting. We feel it’s good to have some controversy about copywriting and we’re replying to the comment.


We wrote the article to highlight the fact that some copywriters don’t focus on the customer in their copy. We looked at some copywriting samples from advertising agencies to show that they use the words ‘our clients’ when the word ‘you’ would be more effective.


We didn’t pull this idea out of thin air. All the copywriting books that we’ve read recommend using second person (‘you’) in your copywriting.


For instance, a seminal work on copywriting is The Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert Bly. This book was first published in 1985 and has been reprinted several times.


In The Copywriter’s Handbook, Bly writes about what he calls ‘customer-oriented copy’.


One technique to help you write for the reader is to address the reader directly as ‘you’ in the copy ─ just as I am writing to you in this book. Copywriters call this the ‘you orientation.’ Flip through a magazine and you’ll see that 90 percent of the ads contain the word ‘you’ in the body copy.


Bly shows the difference between customer-oriented copywriting and advertiser-oriented copywriting in the following examples.


1. BankPlan is the state-of-the-art in user-friendly, sophisticated financial software for small business accounts receivable, accounts payable, and general ledger applications.


2. BankPlan helps you balance your books and manage your cash flow. It also keeps track of customers who haven’t paid their bills. Best of all, the program is easy to use — you don’t need special training.


Which  do you think is more effective?


In the previous copywriting blog post we showed that many advertising agencies fail to apply ‘you orientation’ in their copywriting. Their copy is more like the first example above.


Robert Bly isn’t the only one to write about customer-oriented (second person) copy. If you do international Google searches for the phrases “second person” copywriting and customer-oriented copywriting you’ll finds hundreds of copywriting blog posts and articles about the benefits of writing directly to your readers.


So when advertising agencies write ‘our clients’ instead of ‘you’ in their own promotional copy, they aren’t ‘wrong’ ─ they’re just not being effective as they can be.


We welcome your comments.

What Many Advertising Agencies Don’t Know About Copywriting

One of the basic rules of good copywriting is to speak to your readers. A simple copywriting technique that helps you speak to your readers is to use the word ‘you’ in your copy. Grammatically speaking, this is called ‘second person’. If you don’t remember your grammar terms from school, ‘I’ and ‘we’ are first person pronouns, and ‘he’, ‘she’ and ‘they’ are third person pronouns.


The consensus among copywriters is that using second person when copywriting is one of the best ways to connect with your readers.


I did some research and found that many advertising and marketing agencies don’t know this simple rule in their own copywriting. Some of these firms are internationally recognised as the top marketing and advertising agencies. You’d think they would know better, but I guess a big name doesn’t always guarantee quality copywriting.


Let’s look at a few of the examples of how some marketing and advertising agencies fail to use second person in their copywriting (I’m not mentioning any names here because I don’t want to offend anyone).


Examples of copywriting that aren’t customer focused



1.We offer our clients a full spectrum of advertising related services.

2. We offer our clients common sense advice that helps them grow their businesses.

3. Our attention to detail and timelines and our solid production base enables us to offer our clients the best results.


4. This level of integration allows us to offer our clients coordinated campaigns.


5. We offer our clients a full suite of communications solutions including brand strategy, market strategy, marketing support, public relations, website analysis, web design, web marketing, and advertising services.


6. We offer our clients a comprehensive range of programs and services.


7. We offer our clients an insightful and personal approach, full of creative energy, and dedication to your individual business needs.


8. We offer our clients strategic and creative leadership across a full array of marketing communications.


Do you see what these companies have missed with their copywriting?


They use the phrase ‘our clients’ when they should write ‘you’ in their copywriting.


Why is this important?


Copywriting is selling with words


Copywriting is the art of selling with words. One of the basic rules of any sales interaction is ‘assume the sale’. If you use second person in your copywriting, you are assuming that the reader is already a customer. If you are timid and afraid to assume the sale, your copywriting won’t be as effective.


We can tell from the examples above that many copywriters don’t have sales experience. They might have strong credentials in public relations, marketing or journalism, but they don’t understand sales and the art of persuasion.


Simple copywriting changes can make a big difference


Let’s quickly fix the sample sentences to see how simple changes greatly improve the copywriting.


1. We offer you a full spectrum of advertising related services.

2. We offer you common sense advice that helps you grow your business.

3. Our attention to detail and timelines and our solid production base enables us to offer you the best results.


4. This level of integration allows us to offer you coordinated campaigns.


5. We offer you a full suite of communications solutions including brand strategy, market strategy, marketing support, public relations, website analysis, web design, web marketing, and advertising services.


6. We offer you a comprehensive range of services and programs.


7. We offer you a personal and insightful approach, full of creative energy, and dedication to your individual business needs.


8. We offer you strategic and creative leadership across a full array of marketing communications.


There are other changes that I would make to improve these examples, but I only want to deal with one issue in this copywriting blog post.


How to measure customer focus in your copywriting


At Word Nerds we use a free online tool that measures how well we focus on the customer in our copywriting. It’s called the WeWe Customer Focus Calculator and you can find it at


Simply enter a web address, or paste your copywriting in, and it tells you how much you are focusing on your company in your copywriting versus how much you are focusing on your customer.


These are sample results of  some copywriting we checked on the site.


For the copy you submitted:

Your Customer Focus Rate: 85.71%

You have 6 instances of customer-focused words.

Your Self Focus Rate: 14.29%

You have 0 instances of self-focused words.

You have 1 instance of the Company Name.

You speak about your customers approximately 6 times as often as you speak about yourself.




If we find our copywriting has a low Customer Focus Rate, we go back and improve it.



You don’t have to look very far to see examples of poor copywriting. Large and respected advertising agencies don’t necessarily know what good copywriting is. They fail to speak to their customers when copywriting.

Remember that copywriting is about customers, so speak to them directly by writing ‘you’.  

Copywriting Basics — Use Simple Words

Copywriting Basics ─ Use Simple Words


One of the first rules of copywriting is to keep it simple. When copywriting for any format you need to keep in mind that people don’t like reading long or complicated copy.


Have you ever looked at a brochure, website or letter with too much text? Most likely, you put it down without reading it. Poor copywriting is to blame. You’ve probably received eight-page sales letters in the mail or been on a website where you have to continue scrolling to get through it. With so much information out there, it’s easy to stop reading when the copy is so lengthy.


Simple and Effective Copywriting Requires Time and Effort


When copywriting, it takes time and effort to put more effort to produce simple and effective copy. Mark Twain summarised this well when he wrote, “I am sorry this is such a long letter, but I did not have the time to write a short one.” He wasn’t referring to copywriting per se, but his statement still applies.


A basic copywriting tip – use simple words


One of the most basic tips to reduce the length of your copywriting is to use simple words. Copywriting that includes simple words takes up less space and is easier to read.


Here are some ideas of how you can use simple words to improve your copywriting.


                        Instead of:                            Use:

                        accomplish                            do

                        ascertain                                find out

                        disseminate                           send out, distribute

                        endeavour                              try

                        expedite                                 hasten, speed up

                        facilitate                                  make easier, help

                        locality                                    place

                        optimum                                 best, greatest, most

                        utilise                                      use


You can see that simple words convey the same idea with fewer letters. If you apply this idea to your copywriting project, your copy will be much easier to read and take up less space on the page. It’s more inviting to readers, so there’s a better chance your copy will be read.


You can apply this concept to wordy phrases by replacing them with single words.


Instead of:                            Use:

                        with regard to                        about

                        by means of                           by

                        in the event that                      if

                        until such time                        until

                        during such time                    during

                        subsequent to                        after

                        it would appear that               apparently

                        adequate number of              enough


You can improve your copywriting if you follow the suggestions to use simple words and replace phrases with single words.


After you have completed a first draft of your copywriting project, go back and edit what you have written. Replace complicated words with simple ones (a thesaurus is a helpful tool for this) and replace phrases with single words when possible.

Although we’re specifically looking at copywriting here, applying the concept of simplicity will improve any type of writing.


What is copywriting and why is it important?

Blog On Copywriting

Welcome to our new blog on copywriting.

In the coming months and years we’ll be covering a diverse range of topics on all forms of written communication for business. We’ll divide these into four main categories: copywriting, speech writing, business writing, editing and proofreading. During the next five weeks ─ through the end of January 2009 ─ we’ll be looking at copywriting.

There is a lot of confusion about copywriting. Many business people don’t have a clear understanding about copy writing and its importance. I’ve met small and medium business owners and managers who are surprised that an outside company or individual would offer to write copy for their business. Some are even surprised that such a service exists. One of their first questions is, ‘How can you write about our business if you’re not in our business?’ Others confuse the term copywriting with copyright, a legal concept for protecting intellectual property.

On the other hand, there are professional copywriters who have a very narrow definition of copy writing. They think that the only good copy writing is direct response copywriting. These are the copywriting gurus who offer to teach you copy writing in a weekend ─ for the special price of $6,000 for a three-day course. You’ll learn all the copy writing secrets and become tremendously successful in a very short time.  

In the coming months I’ll cover copy writing from the ground up. The first step will be to give you a solid definition of copy writing. Then we’ll look at the different types of copy to determine which style is best for your product, your service and your organisation.

See you soon!