Image Credit: Glenn Halog
Have you ever struggled to communicate your passion?
Think back to the last time you were genuinely inspired.
Maybe it was over a song, or a movie, or a book, or a podcast. Maybe it was just an idea.
Whatever it was, you were struck. I mean, absolutely arrested. Full stop, dead-to-rights, totally captivated struck.
What happened next?
In all likelihood, you took your beautiful, new passion out into the world fully convinced of its self-evident glory and worth.
And then … it fell flat.
Flat like a ten-year-old catapulting himself off a twenty-foot diving board to impress Ms. Shultz fourth-grade class and belly-flopping at 15 MPH.
Because the truth is we all struggle to communicate our passion.
Nowhere is this struggle more painful than copywriting, where all our nonverbals — like eye contact, enthusiasm, pacing, and body language — are gone.
Add to this the fact we’re trying to communicate passion for a particular product or service and the struggle only increases.
Copywriting with passion — creating a shared, emotional experience of desire, delight, excitement, and awe — is the primary challenge all copywriters face.
That’s why today I’ve compiled 10 powerful rhetorical tools to amplify your copywriting.
What are “amplifications”?
Simply put, amplifications are proven formulas for emphasizing and supercharging an idea that don’t rely on bare repetition.
1. The Pile
Technical term: accumulatio (ac cu mu LA ti o).
Gathering together — literally “piling up or heaping” — a series of scattered points, descriptions, or words of praise.
Your organization, your vigilance, your devotion to duty, your zeal for the cause must be raised to the highest intensity. (Winston Churchill)
He was a good dog, a loyal buddy, a smart hunter; proud, funny, tough; a brave soldier; though, at times, he begged at the dinner table. (Richard Lanham)
I don’t know how to manage my time; he does.
I don’t know how to dance and he does.
I don’t know how to type and he does.
I don’t know how to drive. If I suggest that I should get a license too he disagrees. He says I would never manage it. I think he likes me to be dependent on him for some things.
I don’t know how to sing and he does. (Natalia Ginzburg)
This last example is one you can easily make your own:
Don’t know how to [fill in the blank]? We do.
Don’t know how to [additional challenge]? We do.
Don’t know how to [the last most painful difficulty]? We do. In fact, we’ve done it for [data on success rates or revenue]. And we can do it for you.
2. The Exaggeration
Technical term: hyperbole (he PER bo le).
Exaggerating or overstating something to the point of absurdity or excess.
The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup.
It doesn’t get better than this. (Oscar Meyer)
His name was Skeel. And he was so strong everyone in the lumberyard called him “The Man of Skeel.” He put the forktrucks on their shelves at night. (Richard Lanham)
The exaggeration works best when you’re infusing humor into your copy.
Here’s a great example from DirecTV:
And another classic is from the climax of Old Spices 2010 series with Kevin Rose:
Lastly, here’s a bit of poetry … for all you lovers out there:
I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you till China and Africa meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain
And the salmon sing in the street,
I’ll love you till the ocean
Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
Like geese about the sky. (W.H. Auden)
3. The Impossibles
Technical term: adynata (a DY na ta).
A specific form of hyperbole that lists the impossibilities of a task and is often accompanied by the insinuation that “words are not enough.”
Not if I had all the time in the world and the best poets working at my side could I list all you mean to me. (Emily Dickenson)
For copywriting with passion, the best place to use the impossibles is when you’re agitating fear.
You can read more about the “Fear. Agitation. Solution.” formula here. Pay special attention to the “It Gets Worse … Much, Much Worse” portion.
4. The Opener
Technical term: anaphora (a NA pho ra).
The use of the same word or phrase at the beginning of multiple sentences.
You know, my friends, there comes a time when people get tired of being trampled over by the iron feet of oppression.
There comes a time, my friends, when people get tired of being thrown across the abyss of humiliation where they experience the bleakness of nagging despair.
There comes a time when people get tired of being pushed out of the glittering sunlight of life’s July, and left standing amidst the piercing chill of an Alpine November” (Martin Luther King).
5. The Closer
Technical term: antistrophe (an TI stro phe).
The use of the same word or phrase at the close of multiple sentences.
He never stopped running.
His foot throbbed, but he never stopped running.
He later found out that he had the start of a stress fracture, but he never stopped running.
He had already technically lost the race, but he never stopped running. (Richard Lanham)
A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break the bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down, but it is not this day. This day we fight. (J. R. R. Tolkien)
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I understood like a child, I thought like a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. (The Bible)
6. The Lingering
Technical term: commoratio (com mo RA ti o).
Dwelling on a specific point, repeating it over and over but with different words.
This parrot is no more, it has ceased to be, it has expired and gone to meet its maker! This is a late parrot; it’s a stiff! Bereft of life it rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed its feet to the perch it would be pushing up the daisies! It’s run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible! This is an ex-parrot! (Monty Python)
On many days, the dampness of the air pervades all life, all living. Matches refuse to strike. The towel, hung to dry, grows wetter by the hour. The newspaper, with its headlines about integration, wilts in your hand and falls limply into the coffee and the egg. Envelopes seal themselves. Postage stamps mate with one another as shamelessly as grasshoppers. (E. B. White)
The lingering works powerfully when highlighting a specific feature of your product or service drawing out all of its benefits.
7. The Follow-Up
Technical term: conduplicatio (con du pli CA ti o).
The use of the same word directly following different phrases.
You were not impressed by the beauty of the sushi? You were not impressed? (Richard Lanham)
This afternoon, in this room, I testified before the Office of Independent Council and the Grand Jury. I answered their questions truthfully, including questions about my private life — questions no American citizen would ever want to answer. (Bill Clinton)
So I ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King — yeah, it’s true — but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love — a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke. We can do well in this country. (Robert F. Kennedy)
8. The Extension
Technical term: extended analogy.
A metaphor, simile, or brief story that is carried beyond a sentence or two.
Globalization should not be a huge melting pot into which people of uniqueness go only to come out all the same. It should not be a process in which countries gradually lose their identities.
To my understanding, globalization should be a grand orchestra—an orchestra in which every player has his particular position and function; an orchestra where the uniqueness of every member is so cherished that everyone’s role is irreplaceable by anyone else; an orchestra based on the joint contribution of every participant, which can and will produce the most beautiful symphony of tomorrow’s peace and prosperity. (Zhang Jiexuan)
The best rule to follow when using the extension for copywriting with passion is to pick a single running metaphor (sometimes called a “controlling” metaphor) to frame — or weave into — an entire piece.
For more help developing captivating metaphors when copywriting with passion, check out Henneke’s “How to Use the Persuasive Power of Metaphors.”
9. The Negation
Technical term: occupatio (oc cu PA ti o).
Calling attention to something by “first saying you’re not going to talk about it.”
I will not dwell here on the twenty books and the thirty articles Professor X has written, nor his forty years as Dean, nor his many illustrious pupils, but only say that last year in Africa he killed ten men with his spear. (Richard Lanham)
The negation is a compelling way to list the penultimate benefits of a product or service and then turn the focus onto the king benefit. Here’s an example of copywriting with passion using it:
I don’t want to talk about the five hours each week our customers on average save nor the $2,497 they generate each month in passive income.
What I want to talk about is the difference we make in their personal lives.
10. The Multiplier
Technical term: zeugma (ZEUG ma).
Using one word, most often a verb, as the key or hinge upon which multiple words or phrases turn.
She pierced me with her eyes, with her voice, with her pencil. (Richard Lanham)
Lust conquered shame; audacity, fear; madness, reason. (Cicero)
Histories make men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, subtle; natural philosophy, deep; moral, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend. (Francis Bacon)
We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty. (John F. Kennedy)
Using the multiplier for copywriting with passion simplifies your sentence structure and leans on the power of verbs without repeating them.
The truth about copywriting with passion
Passionate copywriting doesn’t come naturally … to any of us.
Overcoming the struggle to spark emotion with your words starts with passion itself. But it doesn’t end there.
To truly create an emotional experience, arm yourself with the 10 amplification formulas above.
Play with them.
Make them your own.
See what works.
But above all, get started today.