The 2 things every MHK candidate is getting wrong, & how they can improve.
There's a lot wrong with most of the manifestos from a direct response marketing & copywriting point of view, but there are 2 things that stand out as major issues across the board.
I've not seen a single candidate get these 2 things right so far, or even get close.
To take a step back, when I started this series the plan was to break down 3-4 manifestos at a time against direct response copywriting & marketing methods.
I tried that but there's just too much to cover & so much missing that it was taking far too long.
I don't have time to write a 5k word breakdown regularly, & you probably don't want to read it.
It could also be seen as unfair to those people whose content I did pull apart!
Instead, I'm going to look at the key mistakes I'm seeing across the board.
Not the odd typos here & there but rather the larger core issues that mean they are failing to engage with you, the voting public.
After reading you can have a look through the manifestos/flyers/social media posts you've seen from candidates & see if you can spot the same issues.
When I create new copy, or when I break down & help others with their copy through #TheWetwareIA, these are the 2 things I look to structure & create before writing a single line of text.
The first is the thing that normally goes at the end, & is built up to throughout the copy.
"Yes, I want to do the thing & get the result!"
The Call to Action, or CTA.
What do you want the reader to do, & how do you want them to do it.
This is what should drive your entire structure & content.
Everything should point towards it, build the readers connection to it, & gives them an emotional connection to completing it.
The second is the most important part of any copy.
"X ways your life will become awesome if you read this! Number Y will melt your face off with excitement!"
(Maybe a little less click-baity than that one!)
On average at least 5 times more people read the headline than the copy.
Think about how many headlines & titles you see on social media daily vs how many you click & read fully.
Your headline has to get people's attention, stand out from the pack, & make them think your content is worth reading among the several they see.
It doesn't matter if they are reading online, or if they are looking at a bundle of flyers shoved through their letterbox, this always applies.
It can't be generic, samey, or boring.
The headline & the CTA link together in a loop. The headline raises expectations & emotions, the body content builds on that, the CTA gives closure & a way for all the hopes & desires to be realised.
For this piece though, I'm going to look at the headline first then the CTA as they are mixing the 2 up.
So, how do our daring, nay heroic, candidates do in the headline stakes?
- Tantalise, tease & draw you in?
- Do they build a sense of hope for your future?
- Do then hint at the way things might be for you?
Not a bloody chance.
Virtually everyone does 1 of 2 things.
The first option is they use an ineffective CTA as their headline, which is why I'm tackling the headline aspect first.
"Vote me for area X"
This doesn't work either as a CTA or a headline.
I'll cover why it doesn't work as a CTA, despite them all using it as one, in a little bit.
But as a headline, it is too blunt, too factual, & doesn't lead anywhere.
There is no emotional hook or driver to keep going.
It says "Here's what I want you to do."
It fails to connect to the reader on any level around their goals, dreams, or hopes for the future.
Plus, it's generic.
Everyone uses it, or tiny variations on it, so when you see it as a potential voter, you ignore it.
It just doesn't work as a headline.
The second thing they use as a headline is something more factual or trying to be a bit clever about it.
"Taking back the middle"
"A cleaner greener Onchan for all".
These are slightly better but again, miss the point of a headline.
The first is more of a tagline (though there's a LOT of issues & implications to break down around those 4 simple words, maybe in another article!).
It's a goal, not a headline.
But, at least it's not a CTA they can't follow yet.
The second is similar.
It's a goal, a statement, but it doesn't open a loop at all.
It doesn't say;
"3 ways we're going to make Onchan cleaner & greener"
It doesn't push the reader to keep going & find out more.
But it's a start.
The use of headlines should also continue throughout the document.
People will skim as they read, looking for the sections that attract their attention & are relevant to them.
Even if they do read "properly" they will still lose momentum & need the nudges that a headline can give them as they continue.
Again, none of the MHK candidates use internal headlines.
What they do use is section titles.
- "Taxation and Welfare"
and so on.
These are the titles you would have in a first overlay draft to give you a little structure.
An outline of the key points & areas you want to hit.
They are far too vague to be used in a final document, because they try to appeal to everyone & so miss most.
We are all busy people.
If you want us to read something you have to tell us quickly why it is relevant, specifically to us.
Again, without that specificity, it all feels generic, & what you say underneath probably doesn't matter as people are not likely to read it.
A CTA is about getting someone to do "the thing". That might be buying a product, signing up to an email list, or any other action.
The problem is, it has to be an action they can take at that point.
That's the key here.
The reader, no matter how motivated or driven they are after reading your masterpiece in prose, can't actually do the thing they are being instructed to do.
They have to wait to do it at a later date.
This creates frustration, if you've done your job properly in the content, as they have an unfulfilled urge to act.
Some get around this by having an extra CTA;
"If you want to help on my campaign..."
sort of thing.
But the big CTA, the largest font, the entire focus of the document is
"Vote for me".
Which the reader can't do yet.
How do you get around this?
Well, you choose a CTA that the reader can do straight away which will then lead them to the final CTA down the line & give you a means of re-engagement later.
Something simple & quick to give them a splash of Dopamine.
"Follow my Facebook page"
"Find out more about my campaign"
"Join my email list"
"Book an appointment to meet me & discuss my policies"
They take an action, you get an open channel of communication that they have chosen.
So now a challenge for you.
Find an MHK candidate who ISN'T doing the above.
One who has a decent headline, who maybe uses a proper CTA.
Whose manifesto doesn't boil down to;
"Vote for me because global warming exists, people need houses & food, & everyone has Covid".
Tag it or share it on the link you saw this article & I'll take a look!
Because I'm really running out of hope!
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