Kate Bradley Chernis is the CEO and Co-Founder of LatelyAI, a content creation machine. Kate’s former life as a DJ gives her a unique perspective on copywriting. She loves lyrics and believes the way things sound trumps the rules. If it delivers results, who cares about the rules? Her Mantra? “It doesn’t matter what you say; it’s how you say it.” Listen to this episode of The Content Callout to bask in her genius.
Outline of This Episode
- [3:07] How Kate approaches copywriting
- [7:36] Kate’s process for capturing tone of voice
- [14:20] Can awful conversationalists be great writers?
- [19:12] The concept of “Vomit—then edit”
- [22:08] Kate’s workshop
- [24:24] Focus on finding better verbs
- [27:32] Connect with Kate online
Kate’s unique approach to copywriting
Kate’s power is turning customers into evangelists. Evangelists are fans who work for you for free. One evangelist is comparable to 10 of anything else. Kate learned through her time on the radio that it’s about pulling back the curtain. Everyone wants to be in the green room—and it’s disappointing, but no one knows that. Your job is to make people feel like you’ve given them the backstage pass. How?
Share pieces of your personality with your audience. Kate points out that I have a diagram of a bicycle on the wall behind me, which gives people insight into who I am and what I like without ever saying a word. Everything someone sees is a touchpoint. That’s one way to give people access.
You also want them to feel like they’re part of the conversation. You can drop points of nostalgia or memories into your discussion. You’re looking to build points of trust. Trust is the commodity that leads to sales.
Kate spent time studying the neurology of music. When you hear a new song, your brain accesses every song you’ve ever heard, looking for familiar touchpoints, so it knows where to index the new song in the library of your brain.
Kate points out that my voice, like a song, has a frequency. When I write, someone else reads the text and hears my voice in their head. As an author, it’s your job to drop those familiar touchpoints.
Kate’s process for capturing tone of voice in copywriting
Great copywriters can take intonation and apply it to text, so when you’re reading it, you can hear that person’s voice. How do you do that?
Read your text out loud after you write it. If it feels cumbersome coming out of your mouth, it’s cumbersome to read.
Kate shops at West Elm and got some snail mail that said, “This certificate is issued for reward purposes and is a duplicate of the certificate you received by email.” They’re really trying to say, “Hey dumb@ss, we emailed you a copy of the coupon. You can’t use both.”
Kate was a line cook before becoming a DJ. She states that everything Anthony Bourdain ever wrote was true. You eat with your eyes, right? You read with your eyes, too. You have all of the tools at your fingertips. When you master the keyboard, you can do some damage.
The way you write a sentence changes how someone reads it:
“The day will arrive anyway. There’s no rush to get to the next moment.”
“The day will arrive anyway… There’s no rush to get to the next moment.”
“The day will arrive anyway; there’s no rush to get to the next moment.”
You want to convey the intimacy and emotion behind what you are saying. “The Duplicate of the certificate” is lawyer-speak—the opposite of intimate. You always want the reader to relate to you. Kate often looks away from the camera as she’s thinking. She’s aware of it and does it on purpose because she knows it’s more communicative and engaging. She wants her listener to lean forward in anticipation.
Use better verbs in your copywriting
Focus on verbs. One of Kate’s professors—Tom Lewis—always gave his students the task of avoiding “to be.” Think about all of the beautiful verbs in the English language. Verbs communicate value. When you can communicate the value of why someone should “click here,” it’s a game-changer. A call-to-action like “Check it out” is overdone. When you communicate what the value is, you gain authority and get more done.
Start sentences with verbs. It becomes a call-to-action and a command. Instead of saying, “I really think you should go to this movie,” say, “Go to this movie.” When you have a verb up front, it changes the flow and feel of the sentence structure. Focus on the language. Celebrate what you have. And always remember—emojis are not the end-all-be-all.
Resources & People Mentioned
- Dragon Naturally Speaking software
- Ann Handley’s Newsletter
- JLo’s That Limitless Glow Sheet Mask
- NPR’s Selected Shorts
- Steven Millhauser
- The Babysitter by Robert Coover
- Empire of the Air by Tom Lewis