Space - Copywriting's vital ingredient
Every other Thursday, I enjoy the great pleasure of an hour or two in the company of a man called Martin Beckley. There’s plenty to admire about Martin. Not only is he splendid networking company. Not only is he a terrific graphic designer. Martin also happens to be a speaker worth listening to.
Pithy pregnant pauses
He always manages to hold the attention of the room. We sit transfixed on the edge of our seats. Sausages stuck in mid-air, perched on the end of our forks - we daren’t take a bite in case we miss what’s coming next.
How does Martin achieve this control over his audience - this pregnant sense of awe?
He says nothing.
He punctuates his pithy pearls of wisdom with pauses, generating an almost Hitchcockian sense of drama.
Intriguingly, Martin’s topic is often a reflection of how he speaks - ‘space’ - how, in graphic design, the areas which are left empty are critical to the overall impact of the visual message.
Pause for The Days
Yesterday, I heard a strikingly beautifully simple piano piece - The Days by Ludovico Einaudi. Listen to it here. How grateful we are for the pauses between each phrase. How much less moving would this piece be without them.
Inspiring our readers into action
It’s the same with effecting copywriting.
Every time we write something, anything - a note to the Amazon delivery man or an epic novel - we always have a goal. It might be to politely request the delivery man not to lob our precious parcel over our neighbour’s side gate into the salivating jaws of the rabid Rottweiler. In writing our novel, our goal might be to move our reader in some way.
When writing commercial copy - a web page, a sales letter, or newsletter, very often, our goal will be to inspire our reader into action - to pick up the phone, place an order or register an enquiry. We achieve this with space - plenty of it. Space at the top. Space at the bottom. Space at the sides and space formed by paragraphs throughout the copy.
Present our reader with a hefty block of text, and in no time, their mind will wander off to pastures far more fascinating. This applies even more to online content than the printed page.
However, break up our page with spaces between paragraphs (and even between sentences), and it's uncanny how much more likely our readers are to do what we want them to do.