“To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men – that is genius.” Ralph Waldo Emerson~ Want to know one of my secrets to getting my copy très conversational? Bridge phrases! You know. That throw-away language my journalism school professors called “empty and useless.” The connector phrases that keep the pace going – like a bucket brigade! Direct mail copywriter Maxwell Ross used that concept to illustrate how copy should flow.
Let me take you back to when the West in America was young. When men were rugged. And women didn’t have to diet. I’m talking about the time before there were fire departments. Oh, there were still fires. Just no organized way to put them out. So they came up with the bucket brigade system.
When a blaze got going, the townspeople pulled together. They’d line up and pass water – bucket by bucket – from the nearest water source to the fire. Being careful to keep the water moving along briskly. No let up. No slow down. Can you picture it?
Well, that’s what we aim for in copy. It needs to move along briskly. No let up. No slow down. Each sentence pulls the reader into the next. And so on. And so on. Until he’s so deep in your copy he doesn’t want to come out. In fact, once your reader has gotten through 25% of your copy, chances are he’ll read it all, says copywriter Joseph Sugarman (the marketing genius who introduced the Blu Blocker sunglasses among many other successful marketing campaigns). Joe also said, “The sole purpose of the first sentence in an advertisement is to get you to read the second sentence.” There’s your bucket brigade in action.
Sure, on their own, these phrases may sound a little sensational. But I prefer to think of them as connecting and conversational. Prodding the reader to continue on. Raising the interest level. Bridge phrases break the rules your grammar teacher may have wanted to pound into your head. But they sure do sell. (Thank goodness copywriting isn’t like real writing. We get to break all the rules!) But don’t take just my word for it. Take notes and read on for some examples:
As if that’s not enough
Best of all
But wait there’s more
By the way
On the other hand
Think about it
But that’s just part of the story
These are just a few
Think about it
Take moment to go through some of the copy you’ve written and see if it quickly flows from one statement to the next. Where it doesn’t use one of the bridge phrases listed above. Reread your copy. See the difference?
Author Resource -> Copywriting guru Lorrie Morgan-Ferrero has been helping entrepreneurs and copywriters get their marketing messages razor sharp since 1999.