Sometimes the well runs dry.
You’re passionate about your business, and you want to create a slam-dunk landing page that introduces your product or service to the world, but the words elude you. Every stab you take at the project sounds dull and trite.
As a copywriter, it’s easy to get stuck in a literary rut. You use the familiar formulas and recipes because they’re safe. However, taking in some outside influence might provide the jumpstart you need to create truly unbeatable copy. Here are nine actionable strategies for finding inspiration.
1. Mine your memories
You might think otherwise when you watch the evening news, but human beings are hardwired for empathy.
Imagine you’re walking down the produce aisle at the supermarket and the woman in front of you slips on a puddle of spilled apple juice. Her feet fly out from under her, and she falls to the unforgiving tile floor.
How do you respond? You cringe — either inwardly or outwardly. You imagine the pain of the impact. Maybe you even recall a time when you took a similarly spectacular fall.
It’s all because of mirror neurons, according to the American Psychological Association. When you witness an event, you put yourself in the place of the person to whom it’s happening.
This phenomenon happens with good things, too. If you witness an act of generosity, you feel gratitude on behalf of the recipient. When your best friend wins an award, you feel pride and a sense of accomplishment.
This is why your own memories provide endless inspiration for your copywriting efforts.
You create a landing page to show potential customers or clients how you can solve their problems or make their lives better. If you want to reach those readers on a visceral level, you have to tap into their emotions.
Since humans are empathetic creatures, it’s easy to connect your own lived experiences with the challenges your audience members face. Think about why you started your business and how it influences your life.
For example, let’s say you’re marketing a financial advisement plan. You might use your own biography as a way to connect with your audience on your landing page:
Then I realized I didn’t want to spend the next 20 years paying it all off. So I made a plan. It worked for me, and I guarantee it’ll work for you, too.
Drawing on your personal experiences can help you make connections with your readers. If they see themselves in your story, they’re that much closer to following the directive in your call to action.
2. Skim your social media feed
Here’s some good news: Twitter and Facebook and other social media platforms aren’t just for procrastination. They can also offer inspiration for landing pages.
A social media feed reveals conversations that are occurring in real-time. What could be more relevant to your brand message? Social media streams can inspire you with an insightful quote, a mention of a relatively new problem or a delightful turn of phrase.
Spend some time sorting through the latest conversations. Look for patterns and trending topics.
More importantly, pay attention to the language. How do the heavy hitters in social media land phrase their thoughts and ideas? The limited space on social media forces people to express themselves succinctly, and word economy is a copywriter’s most valuable tool.
Figure out how social media mavens condense their virtual speech while still getting across their meaning.
3. Flip through first lines
Have you ever pulled a book off the shelf at the store, cracked it open, read the first line and immediately headed for the cash register?
First lines mean everything — in fiction and on landing pages. Both novelists and copywriters have to get it right every time, so the bookshelves in your living room offer plenty of inspiration.
In fact, first lines are so impactful that the American Book Review publishes a list of the 100 best first lines of all time. Give them a read when you get stuck.
You’ll notice that, when novelists nail a first line, you can immediately identify their intention. A suspense author might start a book with a foreboding or ominous statement, while a romance writer might begin a book with hearts-and-flowers imagery.
As a copywriter, you have to identify your intentions, too. Decide whether you want to push a pain point, make an emotional connection or provide a safety net for your reader. Then craft a first line that backs up your intention.
4. Set up a story
Speaking of stories, there’s a reason why screenwriters, novelists and other storytellers follow the same three-act structure — because it works.
Your landing page can also contain the three-act structure:
- Start with a compelling setup. Illustrate the problem your potential customers are experiencing. Hit the pain points and show you empathize with their situation.
- Create a confrontation. Show your audience what you have to offer. Make it compelling, engaging and believable.
- End with the climax. Provide your audience with everything they need to write the story ending. This is your call to action.
People don’t like incomplete stories. It’s why you stay up late watching the last episode of your favorite television series and why you can’t put down a book once you reach the last few chapters.
If you need inspiration for your copywriting efforts, turn to books, television shows and movies. Pay attention to the narrative flow and find ways to translate scene sequences to your landing pages.
5. Hoard a host of headlines
You’re standing in line at the grocery store for 15 minutes, wondering why some people insist on writing checks (yes, some people still do this) when it’s so much faster to swipe a debit card. To curb your boredom and frustration, you shift your attention to the gossip rags displayed behind the cashier.
The tabloids might not enjoy stellar reputations for their incredible journalistic content, but there’s one thing gossip writers do better than anyone else: They write amazing headlines.
Maybe you’ve even grabbed a tabloid off the rack and tossed it nonchalantly into your shopping cart. Then you read it in the front seat of your car while your ice cream melted in the trunk because you had to find out if the story delivered on the headline’s promise. That’s great copywriting.
If you feel stuck, let tabloid, magazine and periodical headlines inspire you. How do they grab your attention? What verbs and adjectives to they employ?
6. Take in a talk
Public speakers structure their talks much like copywriters structure landing pages. They front-load their speeches with compelling facts, figures and anecdotes, and then spend the remainder of their time on stage offering engaging arguments related to their ideas
Some speakers are more polished than others, but watching a talk (in person or online) can provide endless inspiration for copywriters. Take note of what works and what doesn’t, and then translate your observations to the page.
If you don’t know where to start, check out TED’s list of most popular talks of all time. Speakers like Ken Robinson, Simon Sinek and Brené Brown populate the list.
7. The emotional connection
Have you ever picked up a Hallmark card in the middle of the supermarket and burst into tears? Maybe not, but you’ve probably experienced an emotional response to a greeting card’s sentiment. Human beings are hard-wired for emotion, and your viewers are more likely to buy your products or services if they feel connected to them.
Words can inspire emotion, but images accomplish that goal faster and more acutely. For instance, a friend could describe her new puppy to you over the telephone. She could tell you about its floppy ears and super-soft fur, and you might have an emotional reaction. However, if she texted you a photo of the adorable puppy, you’d instantly connect with the image. That’s how the human brain works.
Mike Parkinson of Billion Dollar Graphics uses a photo of an infant to illustrate this phenomenon. He points out that certain colors can provoke emotional responses and that the human brain processes imagery faster than it does language.
If you want your viewers to connect emotionally with your landing page, a video offers an effective solution. You can engage your viewers’ emotions through imagery and voiceover dialogue so they understand your product or service viscerally instead of just intellectually.
8. Canvass the competition
Never steal your competition’s words or ideas. That’s a recipe for failure (and a potential legal nightmare). Instead, get to know your competition so you can fill the gaps they leave in their own marketing efforts.
What segment of the target audience does your competition ignore? What features of their products do they leave unsung? What stories do they neglect to tell?
Since you know your industry better than anyone, you have the keenest eye when it comes to evaluating your competition. If you can find untapped resources, consumers or features, you’ll make your copy sing.
9. Kick it with the kids
You probably don’t need an excuse to spend time with your children, but did you know that your kids can give you inspiration for your copywriting efforts?
Start with their books and movies. Media aimed at children must be simple, concise and thorough, just like landing pages. While you never want to talk down to your audience, you do want to provide them with information that they can understand.
Simple, direct language works for picture books and marketing copy.
Check out your kids’ favorite toys. Look at the products’ design and packaging. American businesses spend up to $17 billion per year marketing products to children, and kids make excellent consumers.
Consequently, products and services geared toward children offer a goldmine of inspiration for marketers and copywriters. They might not have driver’s licenses or credit cards, but kids force businesses to pull out all the stops.
If you want to create unbeatable copy, look outside the landing page for inspiration. You’ll know a great idea when you see it, and you can mold it to fit your brand’s message, image and features.
Don’t worry if something doesn’t work. The beauty of a landing page is that you can — and should — continuously test it to make sure you are getting the most out of your efforts.
Have you found success with your landing page? Was there something you did that blew away all the other advice out there? Let us know in the comments what you did to turn your beautiful landing page into a lead-driving, conversion machine.