Persuasive Copywriting sees Andy Maslen delve into the inner recesses of our minds. The book reveals how to use emotional response, psychology, and neuroscience to write powerful copy that will influence and sell.
Q: Andy, as someone who has all your books – and frequently recommends them to others – what’s inside the pages of your new book, Persuasive Copywriting, that you haven’t already covered in your other titles?
Good question. The first half is all about the psychology of influence. I have never explicitly covered that before, not in such detail, with so many examples. Storytelling, for example. That’s pretty much unploughed ground for me. The second half deals with what I call the pleasure principle. Making our copy easy to read, in other words. So not just benefits, but beautifully expressed benefits.
Also, now I’m on a roll, there’s a whole chapter about writing for social media. Obviously that world moves as fast as a weasel riding on a woodpecker but there are some underlying principles that will, I think, always apply. Finally, it’s a book in the conventional sense, but it’s also integrated with the web – there are downloadable worksheets, and social media – it has its own hashtag and LinkedIn group.
Q: I often get asked for feedback from writers who want to write a book and wonder if there’s a place for their idea. I tell them to think about where their imagined book would sit in a large bookstore. Which shelf would it be on? And which books would be its neighbours? Where does Persuasive Copywriting sit in my virtual bookstore?
That’s really good advice. I hadn’t thought of it like that before. I suppose it would be in the business section, under marketing first, then communications, then copywriting. The psychology angle means you might also find it in the applied psychology section too.
I’d like to think you could find it alongside books by Ogilvy but also Robert Cialdini, author of Influence.
Q: You’ve been writing to sell for 25 years. Did you learn anything new from writing this book?
Not directly about writing copy – this is very much a process of getting my experience down in book-form for me. BUT, I did learn more about writing to be published. I’ve always believed that you have to have a respectful relationship with your publisher. They take the greater part of the risk so it seems only polite, at the very least, not to mention commercially sensible, to listen to their advice.
I am very fortunate to be published by Kogan Page. Their editorial director, Melody Dawes, gave me the excellent advice that if your title isn’t already showing up in search, it’s not a good title.
Q: What’s your favourite part of the book – and why?
In terms of its content, probably the prefatory matter. I love Sian Lewis’s foreword about the neuroscience behind persuasion and I enjoyed the challenge of setting the scene for what was to come. In terms of the book as an artefact, the colophon. I’ve always been a book nerd: I like it when the publisher lists the typefaces used in the book right at the front and I always read the dedication and acknowledgements.
The colophon, as you know, is the small passage of copy at the back (usually) that, by tradition, is headed A note on the type. Here you can find out a little more about the typefaces and why they were selected.
Q: Are your readers going to be shocked by the content of the book? I’ve seen one line asking ‘Why do psychopaths make terrible copywriters?’ What’s that about?
You know? I think they might. Not by all of it. But by some of it. There’s a lot about breaking the rules. Not just of grammar, which is everybody’s hobby horse these days, but of copywriting.
The psychopath reference is because they apparently can’t empathise, an essential skill for copywriters.
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