You probably won’t read this post till the end.
And I say that with the utmost respect for my writing skills. Because I admit this much – keeping the audience engaged is much, much harder than it looks.
Even after spending 5+ years in the industry, I still have to crush my skull to come up with the perfect combination of words for my clients’ posts & marketing messages.
The challenge is to beat the average fan’s attention span, which is now simmering just below 6 seconds. Most consumers are just scrolling through their social feeds like zombies, passively watching the screen but rarely digesting the content.
Perhaps a chuckle here & there, if it’s a funny cat video. But otherwise, dead silence. The folks in research call this “doomscrolling.”
But what did we expect? The majority of promotional or organic content put out by brands is self-serving, devoid of a truly original personality, completely lacking empathy, and it kinda just feels plain boring.
It’s the equivalent of getting served bland porridge every day. Nobody cares. Unless you’re an influencer or a thought leader they deeply care about, people won’t go out of the way to engage with your posts.
But every once in a while, some crazy mind in an agency or brand’s marketing team serves up a delicious surprise. We know it’s an ad, but we still go along with it.
The combined magic of writing & visuals makes our thumbs grind to a halt and lean in to hear the story.
Before we know it, we’re at the edges of our seat, sofa, or wherever we’re lying.
It’s the creative “chef’s kiss.” A diamond in the rough.
Marketers, of all people, should study such gems to understand what exactly makes them thumb-stopping. By adapting their techniques, we, too, can become better at our craft.
I recently came across one such refreshing ad by Raw Pressery, a premium juice brand in India. The 40-second TVC/digital video spot was conceptualized & produced by Schbang Motion Pictures, an agency-cum-studio HQ’d in Mumbai.
Here’s one part of the series they did for the client.
You can view the rest of the series here (all the videos follow the same youthful tonality).
On the surface, this feels like any other product-focused campaign. Nothing out-of-this-world in that regard. What I mean is there’s no emotional character story, a celebrity appearance, or a profound piece of wisdom.
So then why did I not push the “SKIP” button? What made me watch it till the end? It partially has to do with the zappy visuals & editing. But there’s more to it than just cool cinematography. To get to the core, let’s break down the script.
Sugarcane. But you know it as ganna. And in the plant world, It’s the real Anna. Frothy. Juicy. The original sugar rush. It was written in every child’s story. It was your immunity fix. Now it’s just in your nostalgic mix. The #ThrowbackDrink is now #ComebackReady. So here’s your ganna on the go, ’cause you stopped drinking it. You just want the old-school ganne ka ras, without the fuss. Which is why when we make Sugarcane juice. It’s ganna. And nothing else.
Did you realize what the copywriter did there?
They used rhyming schemes. They altered between short sentences (sometimes even just one word) and really long ones. The entire ad reads like a hip-hop song, rap, or poem.
Call it whatever you want, but the key takeaway is that it has a rhythm. A flow & a beat.
This brings us to the golden insight: Copywriting isn’t words. It’s lyrics. It’s about creating music for your listeners. Witty word choice does matter, but how you arrange them is what makes or breaks the deal.
So when you’re writing something, focus on how it feels when you read it out loud. Is it just a monotonous droning speech of sentences that have the same length & style? Can you chop, stretch, and mix things up?
Can you add any wild analogies, unexpected expressions, pauses, rhymes, streams of raw thoughts, and emotions? Do the sentences settle along an arc, starting humble & small only to rise to a glorious crescendo that gives the audience a memorable payoff at the end?
This kind of musical writing works well for RAW Pressery because its brand tonality is youthful and fruity. Your brand may be different, a bit more subtle. But even then, the rule applies – your copywriting should have a rhythm, even if that’s slow.
Nobody explains this principle better than the late writing legend, Gary Provost.
“This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety.
Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals—sounds that say listen to this, it is important.
So write with a combination of short, medium, and long sentences. Create a sound that pleases the reader’s ear. Don’t just write words. Write music.”
I hope by now you’ve sufficiently understood the theory. If you want to see this in practice, and apply it in your own writing, follow these two habits.
First, search “Spoken Word” on YouTube. This genre of stage art combines the elegance of poetry with the intensity of standup comedy or public speaking. By watching spoken word pieces, you’ll understand how artists infuse music into their writing.
Kalki Koechlin’s “The Printing Machine” is a good starting point. Neil Hilborn’s “OCD” is also a classic, one of the early spoken word videos to go viral on the internet.
Second, once you finish writing, google “metronome” and start the online device. Then read aloud to the beat, and see if it’s hitting the right notes.
- Vary your sentence length. Chop up long unnecessary statements and remove fluff that isn’t exciting to your audiences. Preserve space for long sentences so that when you do use them, they make a big splash.
- Add emotion to your writing. Make your audience feel the excitement, nostalgia, anger, sadness, or frustration you’re feeling. Writing without a voice is like serving soup without salt. It’s pointless.
- Say your content out loud. Notice how each word moves. Is it snappy? Does it have a rhythm? Good writing carries a noticeable beat.
- You’re writing to grab people’s attention, not deliver sermons. So avoid long words & keep it dead simple.
With constant practice of this technique, I can guarantee you’ll become better at copywriting. Your words will start sounding more pleasant to the ears. Your brand will gain a personality that is remembered, admired, and shared.
And hopefully, someday you’ll write an ad or blog post that people stick with until the end! Now isn’t that every creator’s dream? Go scribble something cool & make it come true!
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