“Fundamentally, all writing is about the same thing; it's about dying, about the brief flicker of time we have here, and the frustration that it creates.” – Mordecai Richler, Born. Jan. 27, 1931.
We sellers of stuff, our products and services all directly or indirectly relate to death. Evading it. Escaping it. Thwarting it. Making the waiting for it a bit more pleasant. Distracting us from it. Giving us meaning and memory beyond it. Helping us cope with it.
Literally everything someone is willing to pay money for is ultimately about life and death, no matter how small or insignificant.
Death is the ultimate ending of us all. The enduring mystery. The perpetual underlying anxiety that separates us learned apes from the rest of the animal kingdom.
We alone know we are going to die, and we created language to express it and propagate that terrible, terrible knowledge.
How can you use this?
How does your product put itself between your prospect and their inevitable oblivion? What does it do to their relationship to their terminal end?
It may seem silly, but it gets at the root of human need, deep in the dirt of shared consciousness and tribal ancestry and evolutionary history, where language is barely a thing and we think in pictures and gut feelings.
Does your product make people look prettier or younger? Why? To fuck more and feel the life they have while it's warm and moist and energetic? To reproduce and leave behind a living remnant of your genetic residue?
Does your product help people make money? What does money do but make the waiting room for heaven or hell more tolerable and comfortable? Is it about altruistically leaving a lasting positive legacy for society, or about maximum distraction with temporal material baubles, or maximum hedonistic sensory experience?
Find these connections and speak to them. Your product becomes almost like a magical talisman for your prospect. Simply buying and owning whatever it is will create a comfort and relief the customer would struggle to explain or describe.
“I don't know why. I just really like it.”
But we know why. Don't we?
<!—- lagniappe Here are a handful of crafty angles one can use to play with this permanent tension we all do our damndest to subdue... 1. Retail therapy is a simple distraction that people enjoy for its own sake. Make your stuff fun to learn about and fun to buy. 2. Your product or service removes suffering, and who wants to spend any of our short time in unnecessary pain? 3. Your offer not only removes pain but increases pleasure - and what better way to spend fleeting time than enjoying it? 4. Why waste time messing around, not buying - you can’t wait forever, right? 5. Does your product help the buyer achieve or build something? Something permanent, like a legacy that will outlast them? 6. Will your product give the buyer longevity, even if it’s just relieving stress and returning time to be spent on other things? 7. Optional - will your product/service or its results make the enemies and rivals of your buyer suffer and waste precious life? Cover these in your content and copy. Make people understand the game that is truly being played at the layer just beneath all others. Watch them begin to take things more seriously as the stakes feel more consequential. —->
1 thought on “Copywriting isn’t “Life or Death” Except When It Is. (And It Always Is.)”
Ok, first context, I read quite a few of the best in the copy bizness, and while there are usually some gems to be found, none of them give me pause, the way your emails do. I can see that real thought goes into what you share. A proper provocateur, I say. It’s wonderful to have a place to go where the conductor takes you beneath the surface.