If your response to this title was something along the lines of “Themes in copywriting? I think NOT!”
… then I don’t blame you.
When we hear the word “theme,” we think of 8th grade English, and no wonder, because Mrs. Hermes just would not shut up about it.
So I, and probably you, dismissed the idea for the next 15 years. Until one day I realized, actually, themes are everything.
In fiction. Short stories. Essays. Articles. Even blog posts and web copy.
The theme, as I explain in this post, is the central element that underlies everything you say, the idea that gives all your otherwise empty words meaning. Until you know what that theme is, you have precious little chance of seeing the results you want.
Now the question becomes how do you develop themes in copywriting?
Think copywriting’s not a story?
Your words are a way to position your reader as someone who lacks something now, but will have that thing once they take your advice.
Whether you’re selling a product or service, signing students up for a course or funneling people to an email list, you want them to take that advice – so you want to really sell that story.
In any story, I believe in creating great characters, developing a theme and using a strong voice.
If you’ve noticed, those are all skills traditionally associated with fiction. But if your nonfiction writing lacks them, you’re up S creek without a P.
That’s “paddle,” if you were wondering. And I know you were wondering.
So today, I want you to think about story.
What’s a comedy? A tale in which your character’s situation elevates. A tragedy? One in which they end up lower than they started.
You can tell any kind of story in any kind of writing. Your blog post might prove a tragedy because you so wanted to like this book and instead hated it.
Your news article can prove comedic if the characters within it see major boons they weren’t expecting. (Bonus points if you can crack a few jokes about beet sugar or doggy hairdos.)
There’s a story everywhere. The question is, have you found it yet? Because you writing isn’t complete without it.
Once you have your story, you can develop themes in copywriting.
Again, the word “theme” tends to scare us because it sounds like BIG LITERATURE. Like, The Pillars of the Earth big, or The Poisonwood Bible big.
But your themes don’t have to achieve such grandiose heights. In ad copy, a blog post or an email newsletter, your theme is much simpler than redemption or betrayal or legacy.
Your theme might simply revolve around personal best. Or self-sufficiency. Or overcoming obstacles.
But choose one. Initially, it might feel hard to build a piece of nonfiction around a theme, but it really does work.
If you’re curious, my theme for this post was flouting convention. Not only do I claim that themes are perfectly appropriate in nonfiction copywriting, but I make light of them – even though humor and * Morgan Freeman voice * theeeemes usually seem incompatible.
Point? They’re not.
So go ahead, start to develop your own themes in copywriting and see where it gets you!
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