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According to Hubspot, copywriting is “one of the most critical elements of any and all forms of marketing and advertising. It consists of the words, either written or spoken, marketers use to try to get people to take an action after reading or hearing them. ”
Good copywriting, especially long-form (think longer sales pages and emails), is a delicate ballet that intertwines both art and science.
The initial part of the process — research — is data-driven (you know, algorithms, keywords, conversions, etc. — all the marketing things). Also, some copywriters take the scientific approach even further with formulas and scripts.
On the other hand, the art is the dance — the flow of the descriptive words written ever so creatively with the sole purpose of persuading the reader to take a specific action.
But, just like so many fields, copywriting is undergoing massive change. It’s all the rage: Machine learning and artificial intelligence are emerging, streamlining processes. With this recent advancement, many writers ask, “Are my days numbered?”
Let’s consider a creative example
Imagine you’re inside a Tesla-esque spacecraft, zooming through the city-planet of Coruscant between towering skyscrapers. Lasers streak past you. In the distance, you can dimly make out galaxies millions of light-years away.
Anakin Skywalker is in the pilot’s seat with his hands clenching the wheel, determined to evade the flying monkeys of the evil Doofus Droid Army zeroing in on your spaceship.
Your mission is to reclaim the almighty lightsaber called WMP and ultimately restore freedom to the galaxy.
For what seems like an eternity, you’re just falling. After you hit the ground, you try to dust yourself off but quickly realize your hands and feet are shackled.
You look around and …
Can evil robots write effective copy?
In a world of automation, where a click of a button triggers a set of actions performed by machines, carrying out most of the work for you, it’s inevitable: Gutless droids will continue to get smarter, and eventually they’ll produce some creative work.
Will they be effective? Only time will tell.
But, fret not.
Although the Doofus Droid Army can regurgitate formulaic sales copy against parameters, pre-set limits and raw data, there’s one key element it can’t replicate: being human.
Weapons of mass persuasion
You see, in addition to art and science, masterful copywriters know when to use psychology to pull emotional levers to connect with their audience. I like to call this trifecta the “WMP,” aka Weapons of Mass Persuasion. Let’s dissect each psychological trigger using our creative example.
Use mystery and curiosity. George Lowenstein, a psychology and economics professor, identified that triggering a high level of curiosity included violating the right expectations, tickling the information gap and knowing when to stop. In the creative scene, the writer (me) creates mystery and curiosity by placing the reader (you) in the middle of a chaotic chase in outerspace. This scene violates some of your typical expectations for an article of this kind. Curiosity then creates an information gap; you want to continue reading to determine its relation to the article’s objective. Lastly, it leaves you hanging … just enough to hook you in, but not too long so your curiosity starts to decline.
Create a common enemy. Using the word “evil” to describe the Doofus Droid Army creates two collective identities: good and bad. In psychology, this is referred to as social identity theory — “us vs. them” mentality, which stems from our evolutionary need to belong to a group. Research states that collectives thrive in the presence of a shared enemy. This creates a strong connection between the reader and the characters and, more importantly, the collective’s mission.
Tell a story. Since childhood, we’ve been hard-wired to listen to stories. We crave memorable, tension-filled tales like Toy Story. They help us create experiences as if they were real and generate behavioral responses. Here’s a pro tip: Use a second-person point of view that implies the reader is the protagonist in the story and the events are happening to him or her. It can give a unique and powerful perspective. The creative scene creates a fascinating parallel world through suspense and action, where you are the hero in your journey to defeat the robo tyrants.
When you apply these psychological triggers and write using your creativity, skill and captivating personality, there’s no AI or machine learning in this galaxy that can replicate your work. Because well … only you can be you, and a computer cannot tap into the interactions and life experiences you may express in your writing.
May the force be with you, Jedi Master.