Today I was digging through Joseph Sugarman’s ‘Advertising Secrets of the Written Word‘ and came across a section describing how he teaches students to work out the sequence of ad copy.
Without rehashing the whole chapter his style is very much about identifying a reader need and then leading them through a logical process of asking questions and providing answers to a point where he can close the sale.
In asking the right question at the right time in an ad he argues that you get the to read on and establish a flow for your readers to progress through your ad (or if you’re blogging, your post).
In the same section Sugarman also suggests copywriters use a Flow Chart to outline the process that you’re attempting to lead readers through.
At each step along the process you state a problem or question that your readers need to overcome and present an answer to that problem or question.
The idea of a flowchart is probably not something that most bloggers would do on any given post – however it’s a good exercise to do occasionally on longer posts (or series of posts).
In fact I used to use this type of approach when writing sermons and have applied it quite a few times over the last couple of years in writing posts.
Another way of thinking about it is like this:
1. State ultimate Problem – starting with a problem that your reader needs to overcome (or a need that they have) is a great place to start if you want to call them to some action. People rarely take action on things if there’s no felt or perceived need.
2. Outline sub-problems – break down the larger problem into sub problems that need to be overcome for that problem to be solved. You’ll then tackle each problem one at a time.
3. Answers/Solutions – Logically step through each of the identified sub problems one at a time. Every time you propose a solution for one of the smaller problems you make a stronger case for the solution of the ‘ultimate’ problem
4. Call to Action - once you’ve tackled each of the smaller issues or problems along the way you’re in a good position to restate the ‘ultimate’ problem and call readers to an action that will answer it and meet the need that they have.
This sort of process will obviously work better for some blogs than others (the way I’ve written it is ideal for ‘how to’ blogs) – however it can be applied in a variety of situations.
It works because of the weight from the accumulation of answers. Give it a go and tell us how you find the process.