How To Be A Better Copywriter – The Carrot and Stick

I’m pleased to introduce a short series of posts on how to be a better copywriter from my good friend and colleague Clive Cable.

In this first post, Clive focuses on the Carrot and The Stick.

What does it mean and does it work?

How To Be A Better Copywriter

How To Be A Better Copywriter

You’ve heard of the carrot and stick, right?

Think of the carrot as a motivation for moving towards a goal, and a stick as moving away from something you don’t like in your life.

That’s the same when you’re writing to sell.

You must cater to someone who is either moving towards a goal or moving away from a problem.

Towards words:
– Attain
– Achieve
– Goals
– Accomplish

Away from words:
– Avoid
– Get away from
– Evade
– Escape
– Exclude

As you can clearly see, someone with a desire has a different set of needs than someone with a problem.

Just let this sink in for a moment because you write to the ‘towards’ motivation differently than the ‘away’ motivation.

For example, if you’re writing to sell on Facebook focus on the positive, towards motivation.

If you choose Google ads or YouTube focus on solving problems and ‘away from’ motivation.

Whenever I go on Facebook I see images, photos, and videos on the brighter side of life.

However, when I search on Google or YouTube it’s because I’m trying to find an answer to a pressing problem.

Or as Ben Feldman said:

Problems Have Price Tags.

One thing I want to stress.

Don’t overthink the research on your reader.

And always remember, keep in mind, and etch in stone that when you’re writing to sell everybody is pretty much the same.

Everybody’s most intimate thoughts are essentially EVERYBODY’S most intimate thoughts.

What you were thinking before you found a solution to a problem is what almost everyone else is thinking right now who has that same problem.

Everyone feels stuck and uncertain about how to get unstuck.

That means you are selling certainty EVERY time you’re writing to sell.

Everybody is skeptical and untrusting.

Which means you must supply a preponderance of proof. Skip this and you may as well not write anything.

Something else I want to say…

Your reader is asking you these questions:

“Can I trust you?

Do you really have my best interests in mind or are you just here to make a sale?”

“What is this, what’s in it for me, and can you prove it?”

“Will it really give me what I want and need?”

“Do I really need it now?”

Make sure you answer all these questions before you start writing to sell.

Everybody BLAMES a group or ideology for their circumstances.

Or as I’m often quoted as saying, “life is not the same without someone else to blame.”

We touched on this earlier with the ‘common enemy’ theme.

Everybody thinks the grass is always greener on the other side.

Surprisingly enough, one of my favourite strategies, whenever I’m writing to sell, is to have my reader imagine a new life without this problem solved or living in a world where they’ve surpassed their dreams.

If you sell improvement forget it, it’s like trying to put a saddle on a cow.

The cow doesn’t want it, and you look like an idiot for trying.

When you try to sell improvement, your reader must admit to themselves that they’ve failed at something.

Trust me, that’s not a good look. ☹

Make no mistake, readers like the ‘new.’

That’s why it’s better to sell them a NEW way of being, or a NEW life where they get to leave the past behind them forever.

Everyone thinks “gatekeepers” hold them down.

By gatekeepers I mean outside forces, or circumstances beyond their control, or even an unhappy childhood.

Tell them why it’s not their fault and you move the “YES” decision another step closer.

Eliminate what they hate.

That reminds me of something Stuart Francis once said. “I hate scrabble so much I can’t put it into words. Hate is a strong word, hated is even stronger!”

When writing to sell remember your readers have a list of tasks in their mind that they hate.

The great news is if you know what they are ahead of time, you can eliminate them one by one.

More about that later, for now, let’s take direct response copywriting and look at it from the business owner’s perspective.

Q. What do they hate?
A. Trying to sell their product or service using sleazy sales methods.

Q. What things do they not want to do?
A. Sit and write for hours.

Think up ways to get people to buy.

Spend money trying to learn copywriting.

Q. What results do they want without doing those things?
A. Increased sales. New customers coming on their email list. More repeat purchases from existing customers.

Q, Why have they not done this on their own?

– Don’t like the idea of being a pushy salesperson.
– Can’t find a good copywriter.


Your Clients Problems Are Your Business Opportunity.

The above are just examples to give you some ideas.

There will be plenty more ideas and tips for How To Be A Better Copywriter in the next post in this series…

Related Posts:

A Convincing Offer

Why your Product Name Matters in Copywriting Success!

How to create Product Personality

Author: Clive Cable

Clive has been writing winning sales copy for over 30 years and is the author of “Influence Intelligence – why people resist you and what to do about it.”

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