The Art of The Click

What can fundraisers learn from commercial copywriting?

By Daniel Zagórski - Apr 24 2019

Our newest Account Executive Daniel reviews Glenn Fisher's 'The Art of The Click' for key takeaways for fundraisers. 



This is a little embarrassing but it is necessary to mention. Not too long ago, when I was just dipping my toes into fundraising waters, I didn’t even know what copywriting was. 

Now, in the hopes that my past self was not alone in my ignorance, here’s the thing:

It’s basically writing to capture someone’s attention.

Sounds simple, right?

Well, it’s not really. As with anything in life, there’s a lot more to it. So, eager to find out more about it, I picked up a copy of Glenn Fisher’s “The Art of the Click”.

It is, by no means, an exhaustive copywriting encyclopaedia.

It’s not meant to be.

But it absolutely is a worthy read.

It’s the art of copywriting as it should be understood in the context of our ever-changing (and increasingly digital) world.

Below, I discuss some of the takeaways from the book.

If you’re a writer of any kind – or you just have to assess others' writing - read on!


It’s All In the Details

Are all of your readers sitting in front of your writing and analysing each sentence, word by word?

Probably not.

However, our brains are wired to pick up on things we don’t notice on a conscious level. With everything around us screaming for attention, it’s necessary for our brains to sift through and pull out whatever it feels is most relevant.

That’s why the little things matter.

The small bits of copy can actually be great opportunities for that first attention grab.

As an example, take your opening line.

Something like “Dear Reader” might capture someone’s attention – it feels more personal than having no salutation at all.

But what if you could make it more specific?

Say you’re writing about the Harry Potter series. A more appropriate salutation might be “Dear Harry Potter Fanatic”.

Maybe no opening at all will create the best effect. Maybe you’ve got a killer opening sentence and a salutation would ruin the flow – that’s okay!

The point is that you should think about it.

Another example of the small things that matter is the PS. Some fancy eye-tracking experiments have proved that while people may skip the copy, they will read the PS.

If you’re not including one, you’re wasting an opportunity to pull someone back in.

Though remember, it’s not important to merely have one. It has to have its purpose.

Is there anything that you can offer the reader in the PS to convince them that your copy is worthwhile?

Besides the salutation and the PS, the language you use is important. Tomes upon tomes of books have been written on this so I’m wary of re-inventing the wheel here. I’ll simply leave you with this:

Pay attention to the language you use.

If what you’re doing is not working, change it up.



What Are You Selling Me?

Before you ever put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard as the case may be), you should know more about your product than anyone else.

Okay, maybe not more than anyone but you should strive towards that.

The more you know about the product, the easier it will be for copy to flow naturally. Knowing its features is just the first step.

The second step is digging deeper.

What benefits do those features provide? What is this product’s background? How did it come about? What makes it unique? Is there anything about the product that is quirky or makes it stand out above the crowd?

Why should your reader care?

This applies whether you’re selling a physical product or fundraising for a cause.

Fundraisers – there’s no excuse for not knowing exactly what you’re fundraising for, how much is needed, why it’s needed and so on.

If you think you know enough, imagine a potential donor giving you a call and quizzing you on the campaign.

Would you have all the answers?

Being an expert on what you’re writing about will not only help you in your writing process.

It will shine through your copy. The more confidence a reader has in your knowledge and honesty about the product or cause, the better.

Research is mandatory.



Feature or Benefit?

Maybe you’ll think this is obvious.

I didn’t.

So I thought I’d share.

In the “Art of the Click”, Fisher explained the importance of highlighting benefits over features.

Features are often a lot more obvious than benefits. Sometimes readers just don’t dwell on the product long enough to figure out all the benefits for themselves.

It’s your job to make it easier on them.

Let’s say you’re selling a pencil – a crude example, but it illustrates the point.

The graphite nib is a feature – so what?

It allows the user to easily erase any mistakes made – there’s the benefit!

When you identify a benefit, it becomes much easier to build an emotional connection and narrative around it.

It’s very hard to link a graphite nib with emotion, but the ability to erase?

Think about every stressful exam situation where you made a mistake and felt that twinge of panic. The clock is ticking and your hand is cramping up from all the writing.

Knowing that you have, at your disposal, an easy solution to a mistake is pretty reassuring.

So -

  • Step 1: Identify the features
  • Step 2: Dig deeper – what are the benefits?
  • Step 3: How does this fit into an emotionally charged narrative? How would this impact on the reader’s life?

If you’re struggling, pick a few products at random (like a can of Coke!) and try and run through these steps. The more you do this, the easier it’ll become for future copy.

Practice makes perfect.

And if you’re in the world of fundraising, don’t get lazy on me!

Think about the cause or campaign your copy relates to – have you framed it in the context of your donor?

Does your donor understand how their donation relates to their identity? Are they aware of the impact it will have?

If your answer is not a definitive, resounding YES, review and improve!



Beware of The Rambling (Wo)Man

We’re all prone to a bit of rambling now and again. Whether you’re just trying to hit a particular word count or you’ve lost inspiration and are left with nothing but pointless ramble – it happens.

The key is recognising when it happens.

To help with this, Fisher talks about the ‘Golden Thread’ in his book.

It’s the idea that you identify the key elements in your copy and you weave them through in a way that makes up a cohesive and convincing whole.

There will be times when you’re not directly referencing the key elements – like when you’re creating a narrative around it. But if you find yourself three paragraphs deep with no mention of them, consider revising.

As writers, we tend to be far too precious with our words.

Silly, irrational even, but it’s definitely possible to develop a personal connection to an assortment of words.

Fisher’s advice?

Let go.

As you might watch your child disappear through the gates of the school on their first day, so too be willing to let go of your words.

If it doesn’t add anything to your copy, chop it.



So, What Now?

Go read the book!

No, seriously.

If you found any of this helpful, you will really enjoy “The Art of the Click”. I’ve only given you a quick snapshot of the many tips and tricks from the book.

Whether you’re running a direct mail campaign, advertising for a charity event or even curating a blog, this is invaluable stuff.

At the end, you emerge not only with a new set of skills, you end up with a blueprint for further research. This is especially useful if you’re new to copywriting. It immediately gives you about ten different research wells you can dive into.

If you write with the hope of getting that ‘click’ – whether that’s a purchase, a social media share or a ‘like’, it is a must read.

Tagged with: book reviewcopywriting

Daniel Zagórski

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