Effective Copywriting 2 – Embedded Commands, Visualising Your Customer & Logical Justification

Embedded Commands

One of the key techniques we can employ is drawn from NLP, or Neuro-Linguistic Programming. At first sight, it might appear amazingly unsubtle, but there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Have you ever read a sales letter and wondered why some words were underlined or in bold? Of course, it’s for emphasis, but it can seem a bit haphazard at times. Have you ever wondered why the lines in a letter sometimes seem to be cut short? Well, it might be bad design or poor proofreading, but there is another reason.

What the copywriter has done, or attempted to do, is ’embed’ commands within the copy. Once again, the writer has tried to engage your subconscious, to embed or hide instructions within the copy that your conscious mind doesn’t register, but which your much more subtle subconscious mind will record and file away. Because the words are underlined, in bold or in capitals (’embedded commands’), the subconscious brain assigns them greater importance.

Your subconscious also constantly looks for patterns, including language patterns, so it assembles these apparently random words and phrases into meaningful commands. Of course, they were never really random. When you begin to assemble them in sequences or groups, they do start to make sense, and your subconscious can easily make sense of them, often without bothering to make you ‘aware’ of the fact.

And yet, the commands that your subconscious has taken onboard will have a significant effect on your buying decision. After all, what commands might you expect to find in a sales letter? Here’s a brief example:

… buy my manual or go on to buy loads more books and courses, what you’re investing in could hardly be more worthwhile. Your future belongs to you. You just have to choose what you’re going to do with it.

Do you want personal success, financial success and the knowledge that it’s all yours because you’ve helped other people to success as well?

You’re investing for other people.

Still not convinced? Remember how I showed you how helping other people and helping yourself can be in perfect harmony, and how so few people…’

So, the embedded commands in that sales letter will actually run together in the reader’s mind as a sentence that reads: ‘Buy my manual: choose personal success, financial success, in perfect harmony’.

As we said, it can look quite crude, but it works.

Visualising Your Customer

There are two very good reasons for having a clear image of our target customer in our minds.

Firstly, we have to know we’re aiming our product at the right people

Secondly, we need to be speaking their language

Aiming at the right people comes down to market research and, if we’re lucky, to choosing the types of people we’d prefer to deal with.

Speaking your prospects’ language involves a lot of listening first of all. If we’re marketing to a particular niche, it’s very likely to have a language and a set of acronyms all its own. Property investors have their own jargon, just as football fans and classical musicians do. If in doubt, use ‘plain English’, but you’ll sound much more authentic and plausible when you’ve mastered the appropriate vocabulary. Don’t use slang (and watch your punctuation) if your target market is English professors, and don’t be imprecise if you’re addressing professional physicists.

It’s a good idea to read the publications your target prospects read and copy their literary style. Just one warning: some of the simplest-looking writing is actually the hardest to pull off. For instance, The Sun employs some of the most highly skilled journalists around, and for good reason.

The Logical Justification

We’ve already said you need a picture in your head of the person you’re ‘speaking to’ with your copy. And that’s quite true, because, as we’ve said, all buying decisions are made by people.

But it’s also true that a lot of buying decisions have to be justified to an employer, business partner, accountant or spouse. Even those that aren’t may have to be justified later by a more logical analysis. Thus, it pays to equip your customer with the ammunition he or she needs to back up their decision, if only to themselves. Of course, you should never sell anything that your customer will seriously regret buying, which means you need to either have a very cheap product that’s neither here nor there in the great (accountants’) scheme of things, or you should be selling appropriate and excellent products or services. That way, your customer should have no difficulty when it comes to justifying his or her purchase.

So, while you will use emotion to persuade your prospect to buy, because it’s by far the most effective way to do it, you should also try to give them a ‘logical’ reason not to change their mind. Facts, figures, efficiency savings, safety, current media obsessions, potential earnings and even the realistic chance of turning dreams into reality can all be represented as logical justification. You might not get the last of those past a committee, but it can work with real people.

What logical justification(s) could you give to your prospects to help them ‘justify’ buying your products?