31 Jan 2010

Nobody. Reads. Copy.

A copywriter may spend hours (yes, a good writer would spend hours crafting copy) chopping, chipping, pruning, and finally buffing away at the last jagged splinters of text to get a gleaming, finely polished 25-word gem of copy that no one reads.

Frankly, there's just too much written word coming at us in a day. We just can't be expected to read everything!

People surf. They browse. They don't read - superb layouts and typographical genius notwithstanding.

So what is the secret to survival (for writers at least) in the Era of the Superficial Scan? What distinguishes reader-worthy copy from daily drivel?

In Advertising, we have something called the 'consumer benefit' - or the 'what's-in-it-for-me'! But with virtually every medium saturated with ubiquitous, screaming (and often misleading) '50% OFFs', 'FREEs' and their ilk, both written and visual communication can easily miss the bullseye and hit a blindspot. What we need is a secret weapon!

I call it 'The Eye Trap'.

It's a steely hook, a razor-sharp barb that jabs and holds the scanning eye. You can almost hear 'The Eye Trap' snap shut a split-second before the victim reaches out for a 500-page self-help title in a bookstore. And when it's sticking out menacingly in the headline on a 24-page tabloid, it inevitably - rrip! - snags a passing eyeball.

It can take many forms.

Sometimes, it's a word:
- Scandal
- Controversy
- Rape
- Liar
- F***k, etc.

And at other times, it is a phrase as familiar as:
- 10 Ways To __________
- The Secret Of __________
- How To __________
- 3 Warning Signs __________
- 5 Reason Why __________

And sometimes it's as innocuous as an ironic title in a blog post.

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