Write like a lawyer first, copywriter second

17/08/2021 | By Sandy
Summary points:
  • Understanding the hidden yet critical backbone of persuasive writing

Our clients all say the same thing - whether they are the solo-founded startup, the scale-up, or the VC-funded behemoth.

Copywriting is important.

But despite the awareness, a critical piece of the copywriting puzzle continues to be overlooked by most. In fact, it also escapes mention in courses and books on the subject.

That piece is logic. And in our experience, it’s the singlemost critical factor in persuasive writing.

We’re about to show you just how much power strong logic adds to an argument, along with our technique for producing it on repeat.

Logic is structural

And because it’s hidden inside paragraphs, rather than expressed as words, it’s easiest to see it through examples.

Let’s examine two lawyers making their cases in court:

Lawyer 1’s argument looks like this:

(A)The defendant is innocent (B) Because she was seen on video picking up her daughter from school at 15:00 (C) Therefore, there is proof that she couldn’t have been at the crime scene between 14:45 and 15:30

The statements and conclusions flow like this: A » B » C. Every statement is derived from either the previous one or from a proven fact.

Lawyer 2’s argument looks like this:

(A)The defendant is innocent (C) Because she couldn’t have been at the crime scene between 14:45 and 15:30

The argument flows from A » C, which is difficult to believe.

These structural faults are called logic jumps

Logic jumps force readers to take a leap of faith in something being true, rather than seeing proof through a clear string of reasoning. The logic jump between statements A and C in Lawyer 2’s argument leaves readers wondering but how do we know she couldn’t have been at the crime scene?

Each successive logic jump adds to a reader’s cognitive load (stack of concurrent tasks for their brain to process). Meaning that as they read on, they must now process the new text and remember that their previous question (why couldn’t she have been at the crime scene?), still needs answering.

Too much of a cognitive load causes readers to give up.

The second problem is getting sidetracked

Let’s zoom out and look at the structure of this article.

We initially planned it to flow like this:

  1. (A) Strong logic is the most important element in persuasive writing
  2. (B) Here’s what your readers experience when you fail to produce it
  3. Here’s how to make sure your writing is always built from strong logic
  4. After building a piece with strong logic, these are the copywriting techniques we often use to further improve its persuasive power

During our team review, we noticed that point (D) drifts too far from the core thesis. This article is designed to leave you understanding that strong logic is the most critical factor in persuasive writing, and, despite adding value, point (D) leads in another direction that distracts from the goal.

Our system for producing strong logic

Because logic is found inside a piece’s structure, it’s difficult for writers to spot slips in their own work. For that reason, we’ve introduced a mandatory process to our copy and content production: Once the author has bulleted out their article/landing page’s key points, a teammate will assess it for connection and flow. From here, the author will rework the structure until the series of ideas are linked by clear logic.

Louise recently put this into action. Her article’s thesis was that Small businesses with small marketing budgets are in a far better place to grow than most owners believe.

Her initial structure looked like this:

  1. It’s a myth that growing a company in a short timeframe takes considerable resources
  2. Even a business with a monthly marketing budget of less than $1,000 is in an excellent place to generate growth
  3. Experimenting is the key to growth, and that is far easier to do when you’re small

Following her logic review, it became:

  1. It’s a myth that growing a company in a short timeframe takes many resources
  2. Even businesses with a monthly marketing budget of less than $1,000 are in an excellent place to generate growth
  • It’s because growing is a process of spotting and removing bottlenecks. Some examples are:
  • Lead generation funnels performing poorly thanks to unclear messaging
  • Customers abandoning their carts because they are missing information
  • A sales cycle slowing down thanks to an unintuitive free product trial
  1. Experimenting is the key to removing those bottlenecks. Experimenting with new funnels, new customer journeys, and new sales techniques
  2. When you’re small, you don’t need to worry about reputational risk, or scaring investors and stakeholders. So you can freely design and roll out experiments to remove your bottlenecks

Where to from here?

Using this information constructively is as simple as:

  • Auditing your website, funnels, and collateral for strong logic (even if you are the author, it will be easy to spot your logic jumps and sidetracks when you’ve had significant time away from them)
  • Set up a team review process to logic-proof your future work
  • If you write alone, consider setting up a reciprocal review process with another copywriter. Reddit’s Copywriting subreddit is an excellent place to find someone

Written by Sandy

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