How to Write for Fidgety Skeptics

The title of today’s writing lesson is inspired by the book 10% Happier, which I’ve been listening to lately on audiobook.

Dan Harris (the author) talks about being a fidgety skeptic in regard to meditation...and that got me thinking:

That’s how I feel about a lot of sales-oriented writing.

Fidgety. Skeptical. It just doesn't work for me.


I know, I know: Sales writing is traditionally long-form because it has a lot of work to do.

But can I be honest with you?

Especially online, if you’re selling to me--you’d better do it fast.

I want to understand your core idea as quickly as possible and then move on to the next thing. I don’t want to invest 15 minutes into a never-ending scroll of words.

I can’t be the only person that feels this way, either. Some of your customers/readers/subscribers are in that very same boat.

So how do you write for the fidgety skeptics? How do you convert that tricky demographic without words on words?

Here are a few tips.

Use explainer videos

For me, one of the biggest assets isn’t even a writing tactic, per se. It’s a visual resource: An explainer video.

These videos (1-3 minutes max) are one of the fastest ways to communicate your complex value proposition in a simple, visually appealing format.

In fact, some data shows that videos combining audio, visuals, and text can be understood as much as 60,000 times faster than standalone text. Plus, it’s a chance for you to show your product or service in action.

They’re pretty versatile pieces of content, too: Aside from the landing page enivronment, you can also include them in emails, use them in presentations, and share them on social media. You can get lots of mileage out of them.

Spotify has an excellent example that shows you what I’m talking about.

Leverage bullet points

Bullet points are your friends. The reason: Speed readers aren’t big fans of long sentences for big blocks of text.

Think of them as literal obstacles on the path to conversion. You’re scanning along and then, “PFFFT!” you crash into a big chunk of words. Full stop. Game over.

Bulleted lists help break up these word walls. They can turn important words and data points into easily consumable pieces of information. You may notice that I use them regularly in this very newsletter (for that purpose).

They’re also good for:

  • Highlighting individual deliverables
  • Spotlighting statistics
  • Showcasing results
  • Accenting accolades

See this in the wild: Appcues does a nice job of incorporating bullet point lists into their landing pages.

Tie in the *right* words

I’ve written in detail about how you can do some reverse engineering to find the exact language your customers need to hear in the sales environment, but here’s a quick recap:

  • Go to the spaces where your target audience spends time and study the language they use
  • Drop the jargon and acronyms that can alienate would-be buyers
  • Add authenticity via storytelling and experience-sharing

There are a unique set of words and phrases that your niche audience uses to talk about the problem and pain points your offering can solve. The trick is figuring out what they are (and then mirroring them back).

When I see sales copy that triggers the internal dialogue I’ve had around a problem, it instantly becomes more interesting and relevant to me. It grabs my attention and makes me feel like the brand "gets" me.

Example: Airstory’s sales page does this very, very well.

Based on my own experience, I know that these tips can help you break through with your more dubious audience members.

Dubious. That's a fun word.

Showcase praise from key people

Last, but not least: Tie in praise from respected figures in your niche (when you can).

I always look for testimonials from respected people when someone's trying to sell me something. If I see that someone I know and trust is behind a product or service, it's almost like instant validation.

Think about the go-to people your audience looks to for validation, advice, recommendations, etc.

Can you bring them in? Getting that person(s) stamp of approval can go a long way at convincing the skeptics.

This article originally appeared in my newsletter, A Cup of Copy. Sign up and get these free tips sent right to your inbox every other Wednesday.