For compelling copy, stick to one main plot.

November 24, 2011

It’s been said that when most people write copy for their website, they sound a lot like a talkative, hyperactive teenager, moving all over the place. It’s a common mistake that we try to stuff several different concepts into our headlines and tend to have a first paragraph that attempts to cover all the possible points.

It’s dangerous to cover too many points too quickly as the bouncing and jumping around is exhausting for your reader. We may have the story in our heads, but nothing is quite getting across to them. We must pause to take a breath and consider whether we still use all the persuasive points that we want to cover on our landing page…

Just like a gripping movie or novel, your web page or article needs a single main plot. You can also have sub-plots, if they add interest and continue to hook the reader, but you should have just one primary storyline that the reader is most interested in.

You may be wondering how you know which one of your points is the main plot… Well, that’s easier to determine when you consider that you want to get the reader’s attention by driving home their biggest, scariest and most pressing problem.

Your headline should cover this problem and then your text drives home the problems involved with that point, the consequences of that one point, and the solution to that one problem. Only then can you move on if you need to.

You’ve likely made your most compelling point in that one story, but if there is other stuff that you badly want to get across, you can roll out the remaining sub-plots in slightly less detail in a feature/benefit format, one at a time. After all, you’ve likely already introduced your business and  how it can directly solve the audience’s most pressing problem.

So, in short – have a main plot (and make sure it is what your customer cares most about), and drive it home. You can put in sub-plots with less intensity, to simply retell your story and if you’ve succeeded in locking them in with the main point and how you bring a solution, they will happily trundle through the rest of the points and become only more convinced that you can solve their problem. Remember to only do it one plot at a time!