There’s a reason why top advertising firms, says the LA Times, have a cozy relationshipwith songwriters: Money never flows from boring prose.
Content writers, therefore, should learn a trick or two from songwriters.
Songwriters have a gift for tugging on listeners’ heartstrings in three minutes or less. Great songwriters can do it in the first line.
This gift crosses genres—even languages. From The Beatles’ innocent ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ to the opera world’s ‘Nessun Dorma’ (None Shall Sleep), the words of the world’s favourite songs stick to a listener’s brain like real-life memories.
As writerAhava Leibtagputs it, ‘Songwriters are storytellers’. True enough — but it goes beyond that.
Content writing must capture what few wordsmiths can: pure emotion. The kind of emotion that gets your customers to reach into one pocket to pull out a tissue and into the other to pull out their wallet. Here’s how:
1. Tell Stories that Capture Readers’ Hearts
Look at Billboard’sall-time top singles list. Every one of those hits has one thing in common: They touch yourheart as well as your ears.
From the Beatles’ tween yearnings in ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ to Chubby Checker’s ‘let’s party’ invite in ‘The Twist’, these songs capture the entire spectrum of human emotion in what we’d call today ‘flash fiction’ — the shortest of short stories.
Stories that move people to act through a few memorable words. That’s effective content.
2. Write Stories that Solve a Problem
The classic ingredient to any hero epic? A problem.
Your clients have problems, just like music consumers.
Yes, even songster Chubby Checker’s fans had a problem: what to do on a Saturday night in small-town rural America. ‘The Twist’ solved that problem with a dance craze that swept the world, to the great consternation of the moral police.
Go thou and do likewise, content writers.
3. Tell Epic Stories
If there’s one theme that runs through the samples from client briefs to songwriters that the LA Times provided, it was ‘epic’, said one of the musicians interviewed. Again, back to the hero framework.
Let your product be the hero that rides in, captures the bad guy, and makes your clients’ customers a fortune.
We’re exaggerating, of course—but the storyline needs to make a big deal out of solving your target audience’s problem. Make your product, not just a hero, but one of epic proportions.
A product that can achieve world peace in 60 seconds? Epic.
4. Create Copy that Sounds as Good as It Looks
Shorter sentences. Alliteration. Rhyming. Good in small doses, corny if done to excess. But if your product is corny, follow the songwriter’s lead and write the prose version of ‘Tiptoe Through the Tulips’.
You get the picture.
Read what you write aloud before you release it to the public. Imagine your copy as a narrative on a TV advert.
Songs grab listeners by the heartstrings with their rhythm and melody. Let your words have a similar ebb and flow, and you’ll create memorable content.
Write a catchy phrase that captures all the benefits a product offers, and you’ll have a tagline that will outlive the product. Think Audible’s‘Stories that Surround You’or Nike’s ‘Just Do It’—a tagline that became a mantra for countless athletes around the world.
5. Your Editor’s Not Your Enemy—S/he’s Your Partner
Whiny writers who kvetch about their editors knocking down their genius ideas are a dime a dozen. Why not think of your editor as your partner?
As Liebtag points out, that kind of partnership has spawned some of the world’s greatest hits. Where would Sir Elton John’s ‘Candle in the Wind’ be without his songwriting partner, lyricist Bernie Taupin?
Your editor is there not to squash your creative impulse, but to make you look good. Use them to whittle down your words to the essential while you rise to content superstardom.
6. Don’t Steal Content: Give Credit Where Credit’s Due
As you can see, we’ve cited quite a few sources in this post. If we had just written the content from these sources without giving credit, we’d be plagiarising.
You know. The kind of ‘borrowing’ that your English 1A professor warned you against.
Songwriters, too, have tried this and failed, advised Leibtag.
Lawsuits ensued. Some with damages in the millions, reportsBillboard.
Don’t let this be you. Take a few seconds to cite the source and insert the link.
7. Think Outside the Box—But Don’t Be A One-Hit Wonder
Like hit songs, memorable marketing content veers off the beaten path just a bit to get its point across.
But veer too far off, and you’ll lose your audience and become aone-hit wonder. Just like in the music biz, one-hit wonders are killers for your brand identity.
No matter how bold you go, make at least one element of your copy relatable to your readers.
For example—the American insurance companyProgressive, with their hit advert that features a day gone awry. No one has an insurance agent pop in through one’s bathtub after they discover their new sink has leaked all over the bathroom floor. And never does a repairman pop in out of the blue, setting in motion an avalanche of accidents.
But everyone can relate to a bad day—and buy insurance that covers everything that can go wrong.
Balance a little weird with a lot of wonderful, and like Progressive, you’ll rake in the customers.
The next time you sit down to write web content, take a few minutes to listen to your favourite playlist. From it, you’ll find a kernel of inspiration—guaranteed. For even more inspiration and content writing tips, get in touch with the content experts at Creative Copywriting & Content Solutions today.
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