swiss army knife as analogy to copywriting technique

The Copywriting Technique Every Writer Should Learn

In Content Writing Tips by cmeyer

I realized something recently…

… and it has to do with the words on this page.

It’s the idea that the ums and ers that our speech teacher hated… are actually a really important part of how humans communicate. But that’s only part of my realization.

Think about the last group conversation you had with your friends… or your last meeting.

Chances are, each of you took turns speaking, and you probably never thought about it. Humans beings—at least the ones with manners—are really good at figuring out when someone has finished speaking.

And ums and ers—the filler we use while we’re transitioning to our next thought—are essential. They tell the person listening to us that we are not done speaking.

Nick Usborne showed us how it’s applied to copywriting.

He called them “pause fillers.” Words and phrases that let the reader know we have more to say, such as:

But wait! There’s more.

Better still…

That’s why…

It’s a fantastic, effective copywriting technique… the idea that writers can leverage the conventions of conversation to hold their readers attention.

But wait! There’s more. Look at this headline:

They Laughed When I Sat Down at the Piano. But When I started to play!~

Written by advertising legend, John Caples, this headline expertly taps into what academic George Lowenstein called: “the information gap theory of curiosity.”

In simple terms, it’s called a cliffhanger. But I didn’t realize that right away.

Only after reading Demian Farnworth’s article, did I understand it.

That’s when everything started to come together.

Farnworth demonstrated the idea of the “internal cliffhanger.”

The basics of it is this:

Even if you hook your reader with a headline, your job is far from over. Every sentence is a battle to keep that reader on the page.

But how do you do it?

Farnworth suggests a cliffhanger… but not the kind that keeps you watching Netflix until you don’t know who you are anymore.

Rather, it’s the kind of cliffhanger that keeps your reader on the edge of every sentence: the internal cliffhanger.

After reading Farnworth’s article I was both enlightened and confused.

I understood the internal cliffhanger… it was an incredible idea that I had actually used without being aware of it. Still, I didn’t know where and when to use it… it seemed to just happen.

Then I realized something.

I took the concept of those “pause fillers” and mashed it together with Farnworth’s “internal cliffhanger.”

How does it actually work?

Construct your sentence such that the edge of your cliffhanger falls at each transition in your thinking.

I’ll show you what I mean… In the excerpt below, everything in purple is both a pause filler and an internal cliffhanger. Everything in blue is me advancing my idea.

It’s a fantastic, effective copywriting technique… the idea that writers can leverage the conventions of conversation to hold their readers attention.

But wait! There’s more. Look at this headline:

They Laughed When I Sat Down at the Piano. But When I started to play!~

Written by advertising legend, John Caples, this headline shows us how to write a headline that taps into what academic George Lowenstein called: “the information gap theory of curiosity.”

In simple terms, it’s called a cliffhanger. But I didn’t realize that right away.

Only after reading Demian Farnworth’s article, did I understand it.

Then everything started to come together.

Farnworth demonstrated the idea of the “internal cliffhanger.” The basics of it is this:

Even if you hook your reader with a headline, your job is far from over. Every sentence is a battle to keep that reader on the page.

But how do you do it?

Farnworth suggests a cliffhanger… not the kind that keeps you watching Netflix until you don’t know who you are anymore.

Rather, it’s the kind of cliffhanger that keeps your reader on the edge of every sentence: the internal cliffhanger.

A Copywriting Technique that Anyone Can Learn

If you’re a content writer, you’ve probably been preached to about the benefits of writing the way you speak. But “write like you speak” is pretty vague instruction…

By combining these two techniques you can make it much easier and enjoyable for your reader.

The best part of this copywriting technique is that anyone who has ever spoken implicitly understands the concept.

You just need to analyze the flow of your written ideas and understand when those ideas change direction. Then, once you can tell where your ideas change direction, you know where to insert your internal cliffhangers.

Interested in More Insights, Ideas, and Some Book Recommendations?