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Conversion copywriting and debating are genetically related. We’ve already seen the biological connection between conversion copywriting and the practice of law, now let’s explore the debater genealogy.
Think back to high school. I admit it’s not the first place I think of looking for conversion copywriting lessons. But do you remember that group of kids that talked really, really fast and carried a bunch of cue cards around?
Yeah, I’m talking about the debate team. And, surprise, surprise, debaters can actually teach us some serious conversion copywriting lessons. You see, writing copy is a lot like preparing an argument. In each case, what you are ultimately trying to do, is persuade your audience to take action. Let’s take a look at how that works.
In this article you will learn:
- What debate involves
- What lessons you can take from a debate format to improve your conversion copywriting
- And see a two-part example of how those lessons can be applied
Let’s Learn Conversion Copywriting From the Debaters
Competitive debate takes multiple formats in high schools. The traditional format is the policy debate. Each debate team will receive a resolution (kind of like a topic) ahead of time and then be required to argue each side against other teams.
That’s about as detailed as I’m gonna get on how debate works.
For our purposes, there are five key takeaways from the field of competitive debate that we can use to improve the conversion impact of your copywriting:
Conversion Copywriting Lesson 1: Understand the Problem
Before the debate, each team will be given the topic, known as the resolution. The first job of a team is to understand the topic. They need to know what the problem is.
In business, we do the same thing. What is the problem your customers are solving with your product? What is the job your customer is hiring your product to do?
To understand the problem deeply, you need to do the research:
- What is unique about your product?
- Why did you develop it?
- What problem were you trying to solve when you created it?
- What have your customers told you about the problem they were trying to solve when they bought your product?
- What other products solve this problem?
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but the point stands: research is where you start when you write copy. In our conversion copywriting process we have a step called Deconstruction.
Conversion Copywriting Lesson 2: Prepare Both Sides of the Argument
Debaters are required to argue both sides of the resolution over the course of the competition. To do that, they must prepare both sides.
A positive benefit of doing this is that, by preparing one side, they are able to strengthen the other side as well. When you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your competition, you are able to prepare your arguments better.
When you are preparing to write copy for your product, it is critical that you look at your competition. The competition isn’t just products that are in the same category. The competition includes all the solutions that people may use to solve the problem your product is solving for them.
When you look at all the different solutions you gain a more complete perspective. You see how your product stacks up against other solutions. You are able to walk around the problem. You are able to write compelling copy because you see clearly which points you must address in order to turn your shoppers into buyers.
Conversion Copywriting Lesson 3: Make the Argument Compelling
Once the debaters have formulated their argument, they need to make sure they present it in the most convincing way possible.
You can have a deep understanding of the inner workings of your ideal customer’s problem and know every single thing there is to know about your product, but if you cannot write in a way that persuades shoppers on your website none of that matters.
Conversion Copywriting Lesson 4: Refine Your Argument
Debaters practice their speech dozens of times before the big day. They practice, discuss, get feedback, and refine. Over and over again.
You must do the same with your product’s sales pitch. Your first draft is just the start. You edit, revise, and then put it out there. Let your argument take some punches. See what others have to say about it. Then refine it.
You want your argument to be the most compelling version it can be.
Debating and Conversion Copywriting Practical Example
Let’s say we were hired by Lodge to improve the sales of their bestselling cast iron pan:
The first thing I’ll do is Google “benefits of cast iron pan for cooking”. Here are some of the interesting things I found:
– Cast iron is chemical-free. Nonstick pans since most contain perfluorocarbons, which is a chemical linked to cancer, developmental problems, liver damage, and more. Source. People care a lot about their health and the health of the planet so I can use this line to construct a compelling argument.
– Cast iron cookware is reliable, long-lasting, and full of character. Source.
– Cast iron cookware requires little cleaning and maintenance after its initial seasoning. After you finish cooking, simply rinse the skillet or pan with water and be sure to dry it thoroughly. Source. This is an interesting point because one thing people hate is the difficulty of washing heavy cookware, and cast iron is heavy– so I would craft a mini sales pitch around this point.
– Cast iron cookware offers an even heating area for cooking no matter what type of cooking surface you use. Source.
– Adds Iron To Your Food. Many of us, including me, suffer from iron deficiency. Cooking with cast iron pans naturally adds iron content by as much as 20 times. Source.
Ok, so I have my argument outline ready. And using this I’ll be able to construct a sales pitch that’ll get shoppers from “this is interesting” to “I knew I should have pulled the trigger years ago.”
The first thing I’ll do is Google “benefits of using a stainless pan for cooking”. Here are some of the interesting things I found:
– Stainless steel is made from iron and carbon. What sets it apart is its chromium and nickel alloying elements. When iron is manipulated with chromium, this creates chromium oxide. This acts as a protective surface that prevents stainless steel from rusting and deteriorating. Source.
– Forget about the annoying problems of chip coat like nonstick, stain like enameled, or rust like cast-iron cookware. Source.