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Technique #3: Hope in Copywriting - Seth Czerepak
Curiosity in Copywriting – If relevance is how you connect with your reader, and curiosity is how you turn that connection into interest, hope is how you turn your reader’s interest into a burning desire. Think of hope as the fuel that turns up the volume on that interest until they can literally feel it in their nervous system.

Technique #3: Hope in Copywriting

Article #3 from the series, 10 Persuasive Copywriting Techniques

Topics Covered in This Article

This article on Hope in Copywriting was last updated Tuesday, June 28th 2022.

Hope in Copywriting

If relevance is how you connect with your reader, and curiosity is how you turn that connection into interest, hope is how you turn your reader’s interest into a burning desire.

Think of hope as the fuel that turns up the volume on that interest until they can literally feel it in their nervous system.

I call this creating a “synthetic experience.” A synthetic experience is where your reader can imagine the benefits of your product or service so clearly and vividly that it changes their brain chemistry (more on this in the next section).

Hope in Copywriting
“Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.” – Suzanne Collins

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The Role of Hope in Copywriting

I’ll define hope in copywriting as “the anticipation of a relevant and valuable experience.” The keyword is “anticipation.” Hope is when your reader expects to experience the benefits of your offer and is emotionally involved with that expectation.

  • Think about how many qualified prospects see your ad several times (or more), and never respond.
  • Think about how many visitors land on your website, read a few pages, and never come back.
  • Think about how many people subscribe to your email list, then never open your emails.
  • Think about how many visitors leave your site and buy from a competitor instead of you.

At some point, they were interested enough to take a look at your website, read your content, watch your videos, or subscribe to your email. But as time passed, they simply lost the perceived value of your product. They didn’t so much forget about it as they forgot how they felt about its value. In other words, they lost the anticipation of experiencing its benefits.

Can people really remember how they feel about a product? Don’t you have to build their desire back up every time they see another message from you? Scientifically speaking, no you don’t. But rather than bore you with a lecture on emotions and human memory, let me appeal to your intuition and personal experience to make my case.

Have you ever really wanted something? I have. Hell, I still remember how badly I “needed” my first guitar. I’d wanted to play the guitar since I was seven. But I didn’t get to buy a guitar until I was 17. Still, my burning desire to own a guitar never waned. In fact, it got stronger every year.

I could almost feel the damn thing in my hands every time I heard a song by Bon Jovi, Journey, or Poison. When I was seventeen, after my first two weeks having a job, that feeling made me run to the gas station with my first paycheck (that’s where we cashed checks back then), hurry to my local music store, and dump every penny of my check into putting my first guitar on layaway.

Ten years dammit! And I never once lost the desire to feel that guitar in my hands. Have you ever wanted something this badly, and for this long? Maybe you had to save up the money for it. Maybe you needed to shop around for a few weeks. But that anticipation of driving the new car, living in the house, taking a vacation, or playing with the new toy never left you.

My point is, that when you really want something, you can’t help but remember how you feel about it. This is the difference between interest and anticipation. This is the secret to using hope in copywriting.

I remember my first kiss. I remember my first time catching a large-mouthed bass without my dad’s help. I remember the first time I shot a gun, the first time I lifted weights, the first song I wrote, my first-time playing rock guitar with a band. I remember my college graduation ceremony, the first time I voted, my first day working a job, and my first car accident. I remember vivid and specific details about my first three dates with my wife.

I’m sure you have your own list of memorable experiences. You remember where you were when they happened. You remember who you were with. You probably remember the song that was playing. Most importantly, you remember how you felt.

You remember these things because you relive them every time you think of them. That’s the difference between a “high-definition” memory, and a bland, black and white mental record of raw facts. The purpose of hope in copywriting is to create this same feeling in your reader every time they imagine themselves using your product or service.

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Examples of Hope in Copywriting

The first four persuasive copywriting techniques in this series form the foundation of good copywriting. They also build on one another. In the previous article, we talked about two types of curiosity in copywriting. These examples will build on what we’ve covered so far by converting high-value curiosity into hope. We apply hope in copywriting much in the same we applied relevance, by focusing on two types of hope:

  • Semantic: your reader’s internal dialog.
  • Emotional: the emotional frame of that dialog.

The difference is that, while relevance is based on the problem your product or service solves, hope is based on its benefits. What is our reader’s internal dialog when they imagine themselves enjoying the benefits of our product or service? For example, imagine our reader is an amateur male bodybuilder who wants to gain twenty pounds of lean muscle. Here’s what he might say to himself during his daydreams about his goal:

  • “I want to build a bigger chest and arms.”
  • “I want to be one of the biggest guys at my gym.”
  • “I want people to stare when I take off my shirt.”

These are examples of semantic hope. They match the internal dialog of our young amateur bodybuilder. Semantic hope is important for clarifying our reader’s desires in plain language. However, it lacks the emotional fuel needed to turn their hope into eager anticipation. 

What emotions are behind our young amateur bodybuilder’s internal dialog? What is he feeling in his nervous system as he pictures himself twenty pounds bigger? Pride? Validation? Excitement? Does he feel safer being one of the “big guys” who nobody would dare to mess with? Answer these questions, and you’ve got both the essential ingredients of hope in copywriting.

Bottom line, if your product or service delivers a valuable benefit, you can bet on two things:

  • Your prospects are thinking about that benefit.
  • Your prospects are feeling something when they think about it.

The thinking relates to their internal dialog. The feeling relates to the emotional context of that dialog. You apply hope in copywriting by matching your message to both of these. This is how we’ll turn our reader’s curiosity into an eager interest.

Hope in Copywriting: Example #1

Let’s stick with our example of the young amateur bodybuilder who wants to gain twenty pounds of lean muscle. In this example (and all going forward) I’ll use [BRACKETS] to show you where I’ve applied the techniques we’ve covered so far in this series:

How I Went from Being a Hard-gainer to One of the Biggest Guys at My Gym

[RELEVANCE >] I once idolized the big guys at my gym. They’d stroll in with Jason Momoan pecs, delts like football helmets, and rippling biceps with garden hose veins. I’d just stare in boiling envy.

“That guy’s got to be on the juice!” [< RELEVANCE]

Five years of killing myself at the gym and eating like a horse. Just to gain a whopping ten pounds.

[HOPE >] Today, I’m one of the biggest guys at my gym . Now the big guys stare when I take off my shirt. I get comments and questions from skinny guys:

“What bicep exercises do you do?”

“What supplements do you take?”

“What’s your chest routine?” [< HOPE]

Think this can’t happen to you too? You won’t for long. [CURIOSITY >] Here’s the first thing you need to know about getting big… [< CURIOSITY] 

(NOTE: The example above is relevant to Buyer’s Journey Stage #2)

Notice how the “HOPE” section of this example is based on our reader’s internal dialog:

  • “I want to build a bigger chest and arms.”
  • “I want to be one of the biggest guys at my gym.”
  • “I want people to stare when I take off my shirt.”

More importantly, notice the emotional context we add by saying that the “skinny guys” are now making comments and asking questions. This ties back to the opening sentence where we say “…I once idolized the big guys.” We’re subtly telling our reader that the hero of our story is now a role model for other men. This strikes at the need for Validation, which, in my experience, is at the core of a man’s desire to look and feel powerful. 

We’ll discuss the need for Validation and other emotional needs later in this series. Before we look at our second example of hope in copywriting, let me draw your attention to the terms “hard-gainer” and “Jason Momoan pecs,” “delts,” and “garden hose veins” as used in the example above. These are examples of what my beloved mentor Dan S Kennedy calls “Dog Whistle Language.”

Dog Whistle Marketing is an advanced application of the first technique in this series (relevance). It’s also an elite-level secret of master copywriters. I’ll say no more on that topic and refer you to Dan’s article on Dog Whistle Marketing. This article was the forward to my first book on copywriting and contains Dan S Kennedy’s endorsement for my signature marketing strategy The VQ Success Copywriting System.

If you’re not familiar with Dan’s work, you need to be. Despite what the emerging swarm of Rubber Chicken no-nothing millennial marketers says on their blogs, Dan S Kennedy remains one of the wisest teachers of the timeless principles of marketing and copywriting. Now, let’s check out our second example.

Hope in Copywriting: Example #2

Imagine our Buyer Persona is a mom in their mid-thirties who wants to lose the weight gained during her second or third pregnancy. Here’s an example of what her internal dialog might be:

  • “I just want to feel good again.”
  • “I just want to be a size eight again.”
  • “I want to eat dessert without feeling guilty.”

The language in this example is damn important for a few reasons. First off, having written for this audience, I know that a woman’s motives for losing weight change drastically after her second or third child. It’s no longer about looking sexy in her bathing suit or even fitting into size four jeans again. It’s more about feeling good about herself again. 

“I Just want to Be a Size Eight again.”

[HOPE >] Nellie just wanted to feel good again. She didn’t need to be a size four. She didn’t need to run a 5k as she did in high school. 

“I just want to be able to eat dessert without feeling guilty,” she said, pulling a pair of size 8′ jeans from her closet. “If I could  just fit into these jeans again, I’d be happy.” 

If you’re a mom of two or three kids who wants to feel good again, you’ll be inspired by Nellie’s story. One year ago, she was a size 14′. Today, she’s a size 7′, and happier than ever. [< HOPE]

[RELEVANT >] “I was tired of feeling guilty about eating a piece of cheesecake,” said Nellie “I tried every diet and workout. I was tired of starving myself. Tired of feeling worn out. [< RELEVANT] [HOPE >] Then I learned something that changed my life.” [< HOPE]

(NOTE: The example above is relevant to Buyer’s Journey Stage #2)

Notice how the “HOPE” section of this example is based on our reader’s internal dialog:

  • “I just want to feel good again.”
  • “I just want to be a size eight again.”
  • “I want to eat dessert without feeling guilty.”

Notice also that this is the first example where I’ve put the “HOPE” section before the “RELEVANCE” section. I did this to based on what I know about this buyer’s persona and their attitude toward the problem we’re trying to solve. Weight loss is still a sensitive topic for women in their mid-thirties. While it’s still important to show them that we understand their problem, we don’t want to create more guilt or shame about their present circumstances. This is why I opened this example with hope and moved to relevance after.  

Finally, you’ll notice that I made happiness and feeling good the emotional context. Contrary to the common assumption, validation is not the primary emotional hot button for this buyer’s persona. Not when it comes to losing weight. They just want to feel happy and comfortable in their clothes again. They want to be free of guilt and shame and enjoy their life.

If we were to take this same example and base it on the need for validation, or excitement, it would be far less compelling. This is why it’s so important to define your Buyer Persona and understand their internal dialog, and their emotional frame of reference. That said, let’s talk about how to apply this persuasive copywriting technique.

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How to Apply Hope in Copywriting

The smartest way to master hope in copywriting is by:

  1. Defining Your Buyer Persona.
  2. Defining Their Ideal Day.
  3. Defining Their Internal Dialog.
  4. Defining Their Emotional Frame.

You might recognize this list from the first article in this series. The only difference is that we’re defining your reader’s ideal day instead of their typical day. We’re defining what a day in their life might look like after they’ve bought your product or service and are enjoying its benefits. 

Imagine this ideal day from the moment they wake up to the moment they fall asleep. Picture it as a filmed documentary or reality TV show. If you could plant hidden cameras and microphones to capture every single experience of your reader’s day, what would it look like? Think about how they experience the benefits of your product or service. Remember that your goal is to create a copywriting message that leverages both types of hope: 

  1. Semantic: your reader’s internal dialog.
  2. Emotional: the emotional frame of that dialog. 

What internal conversations is your reader having as they experience the benefits of your product or service? What emotions might they experience as a result of those internal conversations? The more clearly and vividly you define these two things, the more relevant, interesting, and authentic your opening and headline will be. Here are some tips on how this exercise helps you uncover the two types of hope.

Semantic Hope in Copywriting

Let’s use our previous example of a mom in their mid-thirties who wants to lose the weight gained during her second or third pregnancy. Here’s an example of what her internal dialog might sound like:

  • “It feels so good to wear these jeans again.”
  • “I’m glad I stopped those fad diets.”
  • “I can enjoy dessert without feeling guilty.”

Here’s how you’d use these statements to create a semantically relevant copywriting message for your reader:

(NOTE: The example above is relevant to Buyer’s Journey Stage #2)

Notice how I teased the reader by hinting at the real cause of my shoulder pain. I didn’t tell them anything, yet. I want them to keep reading and find that out for themselves. Most of them will, and if I deliver on my promise, my reader will see me as an expert at solving their problem. Notice also how I’ve listed all the failed things they’ve tried (stretching, ice packs, heat, yoga, meditation). 

These negations are important when you’re applying curiosity in copywriting. I am making it clear that my reader isn’t about to hear more of the same solutions they’ve tried and failed with already. By teasing my mind-boggling revelation and assuring them that they’re about to learn something new, relevant, and possibly life-changing. They will read on in eager anticipation of what I’m about to tell them. 

“I Just wanted to Be a Size Eight again.”

[HOPE >] “It feels so good to wear these jeans again,” said Nellie, pulling a pair of denim jeans from her closet. “I’m glad I stopped those fad diets. I’m so much happier now.” 

If you’re a mom of two or three kids who is tired of fad diets and just wants to feel good again, you’ll be inspired by Nellie’s story. One year ago, she was a size 14′. Today, she’s a size 7′, and happier than ever. [< HOPE]

[RELEVANCE >] “I tried every diet and workout.” said Nellie. “I was tired of starving myself and feeling guilty about eating a piece of cheesecake. [< RELEVANCE] [CURIOSITY >] When I learned why all that wasn’t working, my whole life changed. [< CURIOSITY] [HOPE >] Now I can eat dessert without feeling bad.” [< HOPE]

(NOTE: The example above is relevant to Buyer’s Journey Stage #2)

Can you spot every place we used your reader’s internal dialog snippets in this message? We used all of them. This is how defining your reader’s ideal day helps you apply semantic hope in copywriting. This is how you get inside your reader’s heads and turn their curiosity into eager interest. The trickier part is decoding the emotions behind their internal dialog.

Emotional Hope in Copywriting

Read the above copywriting example and ask yourself what emotions are in play. Notice how the first part of the final paragraph talks about the personal impact of your reader’s problem. This is how you discover the emotional frame of your reader’s internal dialog. You think about how the benefits of your product or service will change your reader’s daily experience. 

If you’re struggling with this, don’t worry. It will be a recurring theme as we unpack the remaining techniques. Later in this series, I’ll show you the three basic human emotional needs and how to use them to find your reader’s emotional hot buttons. For now, practice thinking about your reader’s ideal day. Think about the larger emotional context of their daydreams about solving their problem and enjoying the lifestyle they really want. The better you get at this, the quicker you’ll master all the copywriting techniques in this series. 

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Mastering Hope in Copywriting

By now, you should be realizing why it’s so important to define your buyer’s persona and to define their typical day and their ideal day. Remember, their typical day is what their life looks like before using your product or service and their ideal day looks like after using it. No other exercise can make you a master copywriter faster than this. We’ll be using it to apply every technique in this series. 

This is why your first job is to define your buyer’s persona, define their typical day and their ideal day, and gather the crucial information you need for applying the three techniques we’ve covered so far. If you don’t plan on doing this work, there’s no point in continuing this series. Your marketing messages are only as good as the information and data they’re based on.

Rubber Chicken Copywriters ignore this principle and rely on Pick Up Line Marketing and amateur shortcuts like copying their competitors. Having been in sales, marketing, and copywriting most of my adult life, I can tell you that the one thing that separates great copywriters from ordinary ones is their willingness to gather accurate information, to THINK about what they’ve gathered, and use it to craft an authentic message.

Lazy marketers, on the other hand, waste their time and energy creating content that doesn’t connect with their readers. If you want to rise above this cesspool of mediocrity, start with the above technique. This is the skeleton key for unlocking your potential as a master copywriter. 

-Best



           
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