9 Copywriting Lessons from Robert Collier
Robert Collier was an American author who published numerous books including many on copywriting. This article explores key lessons writers can learn from Collier’s work.
Robert Collier was an American author who wrote numerous new thoughts and self-help books. He spent much of his life in the editing, writing, and research industry with his most popular book selling more than 300,000 copies.
His work, ‘The Secret of the Ages’ is arguably the foundation of the world-famous self-help book ‘The Secret’ which has become widely popular over the last few years.
As well as being a pioneer of the self-help industry, Collier was also widely considered to be a genius in the world of direct mail.
He published numerous books on the subject of marketing including ‘How to Make Money at Home in Spare Time by Mail’ and ‘Copywriting & Direct Marketing.’
Below, we’ll discuss some of the key lessons that copywriters can learn from Collier when honing their skills.
Write The Best Opening
Collier firmly believed that writing the best opening was key to immediately grab the attention of the reader. He suggested that writers approach this by considering the “inner conversation” that audience members were having with themselves before they viewed the copy.
This inner conversation could be about anything from a hard day of work to a craving for food that they have had since lunch.
As Collier postulated, if you can jump into the train of thought for the customer, then you can get them interested in what you can offer. This interest could trigger further curiosity about what you have to say. But, you need to hit the right mark from the beginning.
If your opening doesn’t hit the right mark, then you will already lose the attention of your readers.
Consider The Basic Proposition
Collier also suggested that it was important to use content to explain the basic proposition. Essentially, a copywriter needs to show the audience what they have to offer and what they can bring to the table.
The copy should mention the benefits or advantages of a product or service. Within these advantages, the copywriter should also draw attention to elements that make a service or product stand out more on the market.
It’s important to understand and address the pain point of the audience. Collier believed that copywriting should address the needs and desires of the reader.
Finally, within the description of a product or service, you must show why a product is unique and ideally suited to the specific audience. Including this information will help you create a foundation that you can then use to build out your argument as to why readers should be interested in a specific product or service.
Find The Motive
The basic proposition is all about honing in on the rational elements that guide an audience. However, Collier suggested that copywriters should also focus on the irrational or the emotional aspect.
This is the motive that pushes an audience towards a purchase decision.
When writing copy, you should think about why your audience would be interested in the product, sign up for more information or provide support for your cause.
Collier suggested numerous ways that writers could achieve this goal. They can create a mental picture of how customers feel and what is driving them. Collier was a firm believer in the power of imagery through copywriting, as we’ll discuss a little further down.
A writer can also focus on how the lives of the audience will change if they commit to a decision regarding the focus of the copy. You can highlight the transformation that could be experienced by the audience as well.
As mentioned, Collier was a firm believer in the power of pictures. Collier argued that copywriters should avoid making a list of the points that they wanted to convey to audience members.
Instead, he argued that to be successful copywriters need to help an audience visualize an idea or concept in such detail that they can see the argument as a point that completes the puzzle.
To do this, a copywriter needs to take an element that an audience member is already familiar with and add a new point of interest here. The writer can then build up this point until the picture is complete.
According to Collier, the visualization should be embedded in an that drives the point home while allowing readers to become utterly immersed in the argument. (See also:
Great Copywriters Use Verbal Imagery to Tell a Story)
The Importance of The Closer
Collier claimed that the closing of a piece of copy is made up of two vital parts. The first is the penalty. It’s important to ensure that the reader feels as though they will lose out on something or miss something important to them.
The losses that the reader will face should be specific as well as definitive. This should be part of the last paragraph.
The other part of the closer is what the audience member will get by completing a specific action. As well as referring to what the audience will gain, you also need to ensure that they know the next step that they must complete.
This is usually the call to action or CTA. It is important to ensure the audience member knows that there is a guarantee of delivered value while minimizing mentions of cost.
Focus on value rather than the price they will pay.
Focus On Emotions Over Logic
Unlike other professional copywriters and authors, Collier suggested that writers should focus on emotion rather than logic. He claimed that while tabloids outsell newspapers, very few people will read them.
Collier also referenced religion as another key example. Religion does not appeal to the intellect of an audience.
Instead, it hits at their emotions to connect and ensure that it creates the right impact. Indeed, getting an audience to complete the right action is all about ensuring that they develop the key emotions.
Collier suggests that if you want an audience member to complete an action you need to make sure that you are triggering the right desire. It is not enough to simply provide information on the benefits of the products or service.
People connect with content and make purchases based on their primary emotions. This is what Collier suggested writers tap into.
Dopamine is the hormone that is triggered when someone expects to receive a reward. There are various things in life that lead to the release of dopamine. For instance, it can be triggered by the use of social media like Twitter and Instagram.
Collier suggested that the same type of hormone could be triggered through the best copywriting.
He claimed that this can be achieved by telling the audience something new while also providing a key twist or element that reflects how it is relevant to them specifically.
After this, it’s just a matter of ensuring that the copy is interesting and exciting enough to get the audience to the end and ensure that they reach the closer.
According to Collier, using grabbers can elevate the power of a piece of copy. These can be placed before or after the headline. Today, these are often referred to as click-bait titles.
Essentially, these are key phrases and ideas that drive people to click on a piece of content and engage with it.
Click-bait titles are another way to help ensure that you connect the prime emotions of an audience. It can even trigger emotions such as a fear of missing out. This can be a powerful tool when working to get audience members to complete an action. (See also: Master the Art of Headline Writing!)
Finally, it’s important to ensure that you are simplifying your copy, cutting out any details that are irrelevant or potentially useless.
For instance, Collier suggested that writers focus on removing descriptive phrases as well as adjectives that can not be directly applied to the product.
Writers are apprehensive about taking this step because they think it will reduce their amount of work. However, Collier claimed the work left would be more than enough to create the right image in the mind of the customer.
When simplifying the copy, Collier suggested that you should avoid exaggerating.
If writing includes exaggerations, Collier suggested that the reader will dismiss the entire structure of the argument or pitch presented.
It needs to be attractive without overselling what is on offer to the audience member.
Furthermore, Collier warned against giving all the benefits and features of a product or service. Instead, he suggested that a writer should focus on one main point and then plant the sale piece around this key element.
We hope this helps you understand some of the key and most crucial lessons from Robert Collier. With his timeless advice, you will have the building blocks that you need to write effective copy that is going to resonate with your target audience.
You will be astounded at the impact that this type of writing can bring and how it will elevate your copy.
(For more insights from pioneering advertisers, see also: 9 Copywriting Lessons From John Caples)