Monday, 29 August 2016

Fiction Formula: Your product is your protagonist

Like many other copywriters, I have dreams of one day writing a novel.

Recently I have been reading a lot of books and a lot of fiction writing guides. In doing so, I have noticed many similarities between writing fiction and writing to sell.

Some of the descriptive and storytelling techniques fiction writers use can also add depth to your copywriting.

The main character is the star of the story.

When selling, your product is your protagonist. It's the thing you want your audience to be interested in and the thing you want them to buy into.

10 Things every protagonist should have.

1. A fitting and memorable name.

The name of a main character is important. If, for example, the protagonist is an international man of mystery, he needs an intriguing and memorable name.

The same goes for your product. It needs a unique, fitting and instantly recognisable name.

2. Key strengths

An interesting main character has to be good at something. A strength separates an intriguing character from a dull one.

Your product's strengths are also its selling points. Think about what your product is good at and what it has to offer the buyer. 

3. History

A good fictional protagonist should have a history — life stories and experiences that have shaped who that person has become. The character we see in the book is a product of those experiences.

Likewise, your product has a history. Think about why and how your product was developed and what is meant to achieve. Does its history count as a selling point?

History might be important if your product is longstanding and built on tradition — like Guinness. Or if the concept and development behind your product has made it different or unique — like Dyson.

4. A well-rounded character.

Imagine if the main character in a book you are reading only had one character trait. That character would be one-dimensional and incredibly tedious to read about.

A well-written piece of fiction creates a believable protagonist: a complex person with many facets — a character who can be examined and explored. 

When writing about your product, remember to consider all the features, for example: function, aesthetic, ease of use, price, guarantees, versatility, flexibility and design. You  can, of course, give priority to the most useful features and unique selling points, but referencing some of those additional elements could just clinch the deal.

5. An appealing personality

The fiction writer shows a protagonist's personality through his/her speech, thoughts, attitude and behaviour. This persona is determined by a number of factors including age and experience.

When you write about a product, you establish personality through your tone of voice. One of the main challenges here is choosing a tone of voice that connects with your target demographic and persuades them to buy.

Consider your target audience. Would your product be recommended to them by a friend their own age, or someone older and wiser? Someone enthusiastic and excitable, or authoritative and dependable?

Choosing an appropriate tone of voice for your product adds to its appeal. 

6. Clear motivation

In fiction the main character's wants and needs determine their behaviour.

Think of your product's motivation as wanting to improve or enrich your customers' lives — for example by solving a problem or fulfilling an aspiration.

Start by defining the problem you're going to solve or by painting a picture of the lifestyle you're going to sell.

7. Desire to influence

An interesting character is always active rather than passive. Active characters make choices and influence outcomes — they make things happen rather than just allowing things to happen. 

Similarly in copywriting, the active voice is stronger and more engaging. 

Here are some examples.
Passive: "Further examples have been added to the website for you."
Active: "You can see more examples by visiting our website."

Passive: "These changes were implemented by us."
Active: "We implemented these changes."

Passive: "It was brought to our attention that…"
Active: "We discovered that…"

8. Connections with other characters

In fiction the protagonist connects with other people around him or her. They could be family members, friends, work colleagues or neighbours. 

Your product most likely has its own supporting cast, in the form of other, similar products on the market — or maybe even in your own product range.

Where does your product sit in relation to these other products? Is it budget or premium — at the bottom or top end of the market? How is it different to the other products available? How is it better? 

9. Meaningful narrative

In fiction the narrative needs to engage the reader and drive the story forward. If it waffles too much about mundane things, or things unrelated to the story, then it risks losing the readers' interest. The same is true when writing about your product.

Avoid waffle at all costs. Keep your writing succinct and to-the-point. Stay focused and don't wander off topic. Make each sentence count and make sure it has something important to say.

10. Believability 

Finally, and possibly most importantly, the main character must be believable. One of the key pieces of advice for writing a believable character is to give that character a base in reality and to draw on what you know.

When writing about your product, use what you know about your target market to make your product real to them. 

If your market has a struggle that your product can solve, describe that struggle and make it relatable. If your target market can relate to the problems you're talking about they will be more invested in learning about how to solve them.

Do you need compelling sales copy for your business?

I am an experienced copywriter who writes persuasive and engaging copy for clients in a wide variety of sectors.

If you need sales copy that packs a punch and delivers the results you need, why not get in touch.

You can find out more about me and my work at my website:

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