A Roadmap to Effective Web Copy


“When we consider a new project, we really study it — not just the surface idea, but everything about it. And when we go into that new project, we believe in it all the way. We have confidence in our ability to do it right. And we work hard to do the best possible job.” — Walt Disney

Those words above from Walt Disney are words each of us should live by — especially as copywriters.

Really, you could equate what he’s saying to our proverbial search for the “Big Idea” in our direct mail sales letters and website copy, right? Or our attempt to identify the “core emotion” that would prompt our customers to take whatever action it is we’re trying to persuade them to take.

For Walt Disney and company, it came down to what it would take to immerse his guests in a world of make-believe, where even the impossible seemed real. Fiction writers call it “the willing suspension of disbelief,” and if you’ve ever written any fiction and attained that level, then you know what I mean when I say you’re “in a zone” when it happens.

But for us commercial copywriters looking to write compelling and engaging copy for the Web, it’s a whole different ballgame. We can’t immerse ourselves in the netherworlds of whimsical fantasy and dreams when it comes to crafting a strong call-to-action. Nor can we allow ourselves to stray too far from the core emotion that brought our prospects to our home page, landing page, or micro site.

So that’s what we’re going to talk a bit about this week — creating a roadmap to gathering the facts we need to write effective copy, and attaining the level of immersion that Walt sought out in all the projects he undertook.

The roadmap to understanding underlying emotions …

The first step in building your roadmap is to take a look at some things you need to know from your client in order to do the best job possible for them. I’ll be the first to admit it: Past projects that haven’t gone as smoothly as I would’ve liked them to were usually the result of me not asking enough questions … or at least the right questions.

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John Torre

I reside in North Brunswick, NJ, with my wife, Lynn, and daughters Kasey, Jaclyn, and Shelly. We also have a 110 pound, lovable Rottie named Leo that keeps us on our toes! When we're not hard at work we enjoy spending weekends at our bungalow down the Jersey shore, or take extended trips to Walt Disney World as members of the Disney Vacation Club. For kicks, I draw on my dominant "right-brain" and play guitar in classic rock and blues bands, act for local plays and independent productions, and enjoy writing creative fiction. I'm a published author in short fiction and stage plays and a graduate of a local community college's Commercial Writer's Certificate Program. After graduating from the program I was selected as an instructor and taught "Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror" writing for 8 years. I enjoy many fine relationships I made with my students to this day.

One Comment

  • John,

    I have just read, in a nut shell, why you are a happy, professional and successful Person/Copywriter.
    You have touched every base required to experience happiness. So many people are desperately seeking
    [happiness], that elusive potion that is buried deep inside of us. Happiness boils down to being an
    “Inside Job”; usually the last place we look, for it is inside.
    We get caught-up in, “When I have such and such, I’ll be happy”. Here we go again, “You can’t buy happiness”. Happiness is a FREE gift that avails its self when we least expect it. Happiness is not a one-shot, got it, phenomenon. It can come and go and that’s why it is, so, elusive.

    Thank you for sharing you’re narrative.

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