These 5 screenwriting techniques can help you write sales copy like a blockbuster movie:
Expect A Reluctant Hero
In Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero With a Thousand Faces” he outlines a common hero archetype: The Reluctant Hero.
This is the kind of hero who doesn’t go looking for adventure, but cannot avoid it. In this film, John Matrix is a retired commando living the quiet life. Matrix is then forced into action when his daughter is kidnapped. Many explosions and high speed action chases follow.
In your sales copy, the hero is your reader, and their reluctance could be a number of reasons: apathy, scepticism, price issues. I’m definitely not suggesting you should kidnap your customer’s child to get their attention, but you do want to convince them to sign up for your “adventure.”
So whether you calm their fears through guarantees and testimonials, or stir their desires with a sneak peak at what’s on offer, make sure there’s no way they can turn down your invitation for adventure.
Build A Credible Character For The Adventure
The opening scene to the first Indiana Jones film shows good old Indy making his way through booby traps in a temple to retrieve a Gold Idol. We have no hesitation in believing later on, that this is the man to kick some ass in a journey around the world.
Had the film opened up showing him teaching his archaeology class instead, we might have been less inclined to believe he knew how to use a bull whip.
It’s exactly the same when you’re writing sales copy. You want your audience to believe that you are the right person to take them on their adventure. You can do this by:
- Showing them your portfolio of previous work
- Show them examples of other people who have benefited from what you have to offer
- Showing them your credentials or qualifications
By the time they reach the final word of your sales copy, they should have no doubt in their mind that you are the person to follow, and that you may, or may not know how to use a bull whip.
Grab Them In The Opening Scene
In Jaws, the opening scene shows a haunting glimpse from beneath the ocean set to tense music. Suddenly we’re transported to a late night campfire at the beach, tense music quickly replaced with chatter and laughter. Two teens leave the party and run down the beach to go skinny dipping. Only the girl makes it as the guys passes out drunk on the sand. Within 5 minutes the first shark attack has happened and we’re suddenly transported once more into the following morning.
Those first few minutes of any great movie are like the headline and opening paragraph in your sales copy. The reader will know exactly what you’re going to be talking about, but will be eager to read on to see just how you’re going to make it happen.
Show Character or Move The Story Forward
Little Miss Sunshine
This film is a great example of how really strong characters push a story forward and make you absolutely love them. A dysfunctional family take an 800 mile road trip to a beauty pageant in a fantastically funny and moving story. It includes superb lines of dialogue such as:
Richard: Sarcasm is the refuge of losers.
Frank: [sarcastically] It is? Really?
Richard: Sarcasm is losers trying to bring winners down to their level.
Frank: [sarcastically] Wow, Richard, you’ve really opened my eyes to what a loser I am. How much do I owe you for those pearls of wisdom?
Richard: Oh, that ones on the house.
With everything the characters say it either moves the story forward or it shows their character and builds how we relate to them.
With your sales copy, really look at your first draft. Is it telling the reader something about that shows off your character, or is it telling them about why your business is going to rock their world? If it’s neither then it’s got to go.
Change Your Hero
The Wizard of Oz
At the end of any great movie adventure, the hero is changed. They have learned a valuable lesson and they have usually become a better person and their lives have changed because of it. In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy returns after a thrilling adventure in Oz and you know she’s changed because of it. She may still be the same country girl from Kansas, but she’s got a new appreciation for her Aunty Em, Uncle Henry and her life that she once thought was stifling.
In your sales copy you need to show your reader just how their lives are going to change by your offer. You don’t have to knock them out with a tornado and send them on a technicolour adventure for a few days, but you should try to paint a vivid picture of the transformation they’re going to enjoy by signing up with you. If people are visiting your sales page it’s because they want something to change in their life, whether it’s having a better web design or feeling buying a new dress. Tap into that desire for change and show them that you can offer it.
Now all you need to do is bust out the popcorn, grab some icecream and throw on your favourite movie, and if anyone asks, you’re working very very hard.