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The Apple Guide to Copywriting Magic

I haven’t felt this way since I bought my first Mac.

After just 15 minutes exploring the features of the iPad2 I found myself hopelessly in love. The crazy part is that my current love, my old-iPad, is not even a year old.

Before you brand me an Apple fanatic, you should know that I’m really a marketing cynic. I make a living from getting people to spend money. I know all the tricks and psychological levers. I’m nobody’s punk.

But Apple always pushes the button that turns me into a credit-card maxing gadget fiend. It’s sick. Out of self-defense, I decided to uncover the secrets to their white-magic. How do they sell 15 million iPads one year and then a year later and convince those same 15 million people they need something new?

Blog Tip - No Buzz WordsIt’s deep magic my friend. Here’s what I discovered:

Buzz-Free Language

Apple’s word choice is so simple that it’s laughable. Steve Job’s uses words like “magical”, “revolutionary”, “cool”, and “great” to perfectly describe technological wonders. Apple’s marketing team scrubs every sentence free of mind-bending jargon and boils their message down to something anyone can understand and appreciate.

Work Your Own Magic:

Scour your writing and eliminate anything that a 6-year-old couldn’t understand.  Big words may sound smart but they also confuse your readers.  Instead of jargon, turn your product’s features into expressive “benefit stories” that your reader can instantly imagine in their mind’s eye.  When you are forced to use an “insider” words, spend extra time explaining it in layman’s terms.

Emphasize Lifestyle “Fit”

Apple makes it easy for you and emotionally buy into their products. With the iPad 2, they help you imagine using FaceTime for family calls, or GarageBand to create a quick jingle, or iBooks to read the latest James Patterson novel.  You and I know that I’m buying an Ipad for emotional reasons, but Jobs crew also arms me with the rational argument too.

My wife hates Apple because they do a spectacular job of arming me with the rational reasons why I need to blast a $500 hole in my bank account.

Work Your Own Magic:

Paint a picture showing how your product fits in the life of your reader.  Add emotional power to your benefits by tying them to tangible places, people, or interests your reader enjoy. If done correctly, your reader will fill in the blanks and create their own emotional reasons for buying your product. For example, even though I rarely take pictures, Apple has convinced me that Photo Booth would be fun to play with my kids. Devilishly brilliant.

Show and Tell

Steve Jobs always makes the product the hero. Every surface, detail, click, and app is lovingly explained with benefit-rich language. Even better, the Apple website regularly uses video to the product in action. The video invites the viewer to take part in the experience. By the end, you can’t imagine a moment without the product in your hands.

Work Your Own Magic:

Use video and screenshots to demonstrate your product.  If you are selling a service, then get video testimonials from your customers.  The phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” is rooted in truth and is a battle-tested copywriting fact.

Common Enemy

blog tips - pick a common enemyApple’s first target was IBM who they brilliantly demonized in an iconic 1984 Superbowl ad. Next came Microsoft who is still smarting from the devastatingly effective Switch “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” campaign. The latest Apple whipping boys are Android phones, and Tablet PCs. Every step of the way, Apple finds an enemy and rallies it troops to believe that they are better.

A common enemy is a time-proven copywriting technique that uses an antagonist to help differentiate product benefits. Effective copywriters meticulously create their enemies and use their product to systematically destroy them, feature by feature, benefit by benefit.

Work Your Own Magic:

Every once in a while, you have to go find a villain and beat the daylights out of them.  Your common enemy doesn’t always have to be a specific competitor.  It can be a concept like – western medicine, fad diets, or bureaucratic inefficiency.  The key is to use your common enemy as a black velvet contrast to your products key features and benefits.

Make It Easy to Buy

After you’ve been whipped into a frenzy, Apple gives you three buying actions to take… Browse the Store, Buy Now, and Talk to a specialist. The buy buttons are the most noticeable buttons on the page and specifically explain what happens when you click them.

Work Your Own Magic:

Don’t hide your “buy” or “subscribe now” button.  Your readers will be searching for it if you’ve successfully weaved your magic copywriting spell.  If you feel uneasy about “closing the deal” then go back and see where you can credibly boost the value of your product.

Everyone is a Copywriter

You might think that you aren’t a copywriter. Not true.  Even the most altruistic blogger is trying to persuade their reader to take an action.  Mastering a few of Apple’s copywriting principles will make sure that you are understood at an intellectual and rational level.

Tell me, how can you apply Apple’s copywriting magic to your corner of the world?

About Stan

Stan Smith is the CEO of Pushing Social a content marketing consultancy for aggressive, results-focused organizations.

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