A brightly lit exhibition stand in a bustling arena. “One Night in Bangkok” explodes from the speakers and two burlesque dancers emerge onto the stage.
My friends and I giggled.
We’d read about an exhibition showcasing fun and cheeky products for couples. We thought it would be fun and were intrigued by the promise of a live burlesque show.
The ladies began to make their moves, and then…
“Is she chewing gum?!”
One of the women in all her exoticness was chomping away open-mouthed as she plodded through the routine. Not particularly seductive.
It got better.
As the routine developed, the 2 girls lit candles and were about to pour hot wax onto their tongues, (to me… just painful) when miss chewing gum realised she would have difficulty completing this task.
In one swift movement she turned her head and gobbed (for my US friends: spat with some force) her half-chewed gum onto the floor, poured wax on her tongue, realised it was too hot and gobbed that onto the floor also.
What a tease.
The point is this: burlesque can be very seductive and captivating. In this case, it was clunky, and slightly nauseating.
I want to make sure it doesn’t happen to your copywriting.
The art of teasing in copywriting
Persuasive copy doesn’t lay everything bare in the first couple of lines. From your headline, to your opening line to the first set of bullet points, you’re seducing your customer and telling them a marketing story they want to read.
You don’t simply say:
“Sign up to my $1,400 business coaching course today”
The product is the final prize and just as with a burlesque show, you don’t give everything away to start. In copywriting you compel your reader to move to the next line, and the next until all is revealed.
And you do this by moving through the copy in different stages: tackling the problem, appealing to your customer’s desires, making big promises. Each step is like removing a new layer the further your reader gets into the copy.
When the tease goes wrong
In copywriting, I mostly see the tease go wrong when the writer promises to reveal something that:
- Isn’t interesting or relevant to the reader
- Is unbelievable
- Is too vague
1. The tease isn’t interesting or relevant
“I designed the Pet-Wonder-Washer 2 years ago and in that time I’ve been incredibly successful, with lots of exciting things happening to me, things you wouldn’t believe! Want to find out how my life has turned around by inventing such an incredible product? Read on…”
If you were a burlesque dancer, this is like offering to show your audience a scab on your knee. No-one really cares about it other than you.
How to be more seductive
The tease has to be about something your customer is interested first and foremost. This might be:
- Something they want to achieve
- Something they want to avoid
- A subject they want to research further
When creating the tease, you can either make a simple promise that you will reveal this later:
“If you’d love to find out how to set up a professional looking Facebook page, read on…”
Or you can throw in something a little unusual to arouse their curiosity:
“If you’d love to find out how to set up a professional looking Facebook page (that attracts sales, NOT ‘likes’), read on…”
2. The tease is unbelievable
In burlesque, the promise of a seductive show is over when one of the stars spits on the floor. In copywriting, there are other ways you can undermine the credibility of your promises.
One way is to write things like:
- Find out the ONE secret you need to have perfect health forever
- Discover how to have more energy overnight
- Learn this one weird trick for losing 30lb, in 5 days!
These aren’t seductive, because at first glance they’re too unbelievable to be taken seriously. I’m not saying that you would have such claims, but I have seen business owners with great products who have tried to tease, and as a result made their claim sound unbelievable.
How to be more seductive
I wrote the sales page for Site Setup Kit, which is a comprehensive kit for building a website yourself, without technical headaches. If you really apply yourself, you can create something impressive in a weekend. But, if we’d used the headline:
Get a brand new, polished, professional website in 2 days for less than $300
It would have raised suspicions and skepticism. While this is possible it still seems ‘too good to be true’ and is likely to have people doubting the quality, or technical effort involved. (Ideal customers for this product don’t want to immerse themselves in a lot of technology / coding, they just want a website they love).
Instead, we chose the following headline:
Build a beautiful website you love … with ease
(No design or tech skills needed, just a ‘can-do’ attitude)
There’s still a sense of curiosity, a tease there, but it’s not so unbelievable that people click away.
3. The tease is too vague
This is another one I see commonly cropping up in sales pages. For example:
- Learn my 3 secrets for improving your work life
- Discover the 1 thing I do every day to make me happy
- Find out how to develop the skill you need the most to succeed (you won’t want to miss this)
They have all the characteristics of a tease, but they’re not specific enough for the reader to feel a real connection to. What does ‘improving your life’ look like? How does this person know what “happy” is to me? And the skill could be anything in the world, how do I know I don’t already have it?
How to be more seductive
When making promises about things your customer will discover, find out, learn etc, the more specific you can make them, without giving away everything, the more effective this the of tease will be.
These would be better teases:
- Learn 3 ways to say no to colleagues without offending them
- Discover the quick breakfast food that keeps you full and energised
- Find out the fast, painless way to improve your presentation skills (without embarrassment or practising endlessly in front of the mirror)
So there you go, when you’re revealing the different layers of your offer and making promises about what’s to come, remember these 3 techniques to make your copywriting more seductive than a gum-chewing, wax-spitting, half-hearted burlesque dancer.
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