When studying marketing, I learnt an interesting phrase. It's a great couple of words — useful in conversations when wishing to sound clever. I'd probably already read and heard it many times. However, it wasn't until my lecturer brought it to my attention that I knew it existed. What's interesting, is now I notice this phrase quite often.
The phrase I’m referring to is perceptual vigilance.
What is perceptual vigilance?
You spot a pair of shoes that you’ve never seen before. Then, after you buy them, every woman and her Labradoodle seems to be wearing a pair. That’s perceptual vigilance. Or, like me, you learn a new phrase. Now you notice it all the time. That, too, is perceptual vigilance.
Why does this happen? Well, every day we’re continually flooded with information. The human brain is pretty amazing (in most cases), but it can’t absorb everything. So, it picks and chooses what to focus on — low-level information gets filtered out.
When something new piques our interest, our brains get the message, “Take note. This is important.”
In this post I explain why acknowledging perceptual vigilance can help you write better copy. If you find this post useful please share. Also, please leave your comments at the end.
How can perceptual vigilance help?
Knowing what’s on your customer’s mind is important. Without this knowledge, you’ll struggle to write copy that connects with them. Before your copy gets read, though, you must attract the reader’s attention. This is where the acknowledgment of perceptual vigilance is useful.Enjoying this post? If so, please shareClick To Tweet
People scan read
More often than not, people scan read copy — they don’t read all the words. A bit deflating for a copywriter, but, hey, that’s life. So, particularly when written for the web, your copy should be scannable with bold headings and bullet points, etc.
Words that the reader is familiar and has a connection with will stand out in your copy. So, you need to know what they are.
As a copywriter, I realise many people don’t know what a copywriter is. Some think I’m involved with copyright law; they joke about hiding their illegal downloads.
So, depending on who I’m writing for, sometimes I don’t call myself a copywriter. For example, a heading like The No. 1 Reason for Hiring a Copywriter might get more attention if re-written to say The No. 1 Reason for Hiring a Sales and Marketing Writer. In this situation I substitute copywriter for sales and marketing writer throughout the copy. This will get more attention from someone wanting a professionally-written advert if they don’t know what a copywriter is.
How to find the right words and phrases
Finding the right words and phrases to use in your copy isn’t hard. Here are some ways to find them:
- Customer testimonials — either your own or look at your competitors’ websites
- Conversations with clients
- Emails from clients
- Social media — find out what customers are saying about your industry
- Comments on blogs within your industry — this is one of the benefits of having a blog. If you don’t have a blog, you can find plenty relating to your business on the Internet.
When you notice useful words or phrases, write them down. Make a list to refer to when it’s time to write.
What do you think? I’d appreciate your comments. If you found this post useful please share.