Why? It’s the Offer Stupid

All journalists are taught the 5 Ws – Who, What, When, Where and Why.

The answers to these questions make the story or the article.

John Brown (Who) shot and killed (What) himself (Who) at 8:00 PM on Thursday (When) at the 711 on Elm Street (Where).

The first 4 Ws are easy and usually the story will simply amplify each of these to fill the column area allotted to the story.

We will be told how old John Brown was, what race he was, where he lived, what he was wearing, what school he went to, what his neighbors said about him, whether he had many friends, whether he was a gang member, whether he had a police record, whether he was a member of the NRA and on and on.

Then we will be told what John Brown did, what type and size of gun he used; how many times he shot himself, where he shot himself, whether he had a permit for the gun, whether he died at the scene or at the hospital or on the way to the hospital.

The time of the incident will be given based on what the711 clerk said. We will be told whether the 711 is usually busy at that time of night, what the weather was like.

And finally we will be told whether he was inside or outside the 711, in the parking lot, how well lit the parking lot was, whether anyone saw him at the 711, whether anyone heard the shots, who dialed 999 to call the police and the paramedics.

These are all pieces of the story but the most important part of the story is the Why.  Why did John Brown decide to shoot himself at the time on Thursday night at the 711 store.

Now, if John Brown had shot all of the customers at the 711 before shooting himself, there would be a thorough investigation of the Why and, in the absence of any facts, lots of speculation as to the why.

But since John Brown shot only himself there may not be an investigation into the why.

Now what has this to do with copywriting you may be asking.  A reasonable question.

Let’s apply the 5 Ws to the copywriting process.

Who – the customer

What – the product or service

When – now

Where – online or in a store

Why – this is the key to your whole copywriting project.

Once again the first 4 Ws are easy

But If you can’t come up with Why the Who (customer) should buy the What (your product or service) When (now) and Where (either online or in a store) your copywriting piece will fail.

The Why must grab the Who (customer) emotionally by the throat and turn what may initially appear to the Who as a  need and turn it into a want.  The Who must be made to feel that life will not be complete without the What.

In copywriting the Why is developed over the course of the piece (AIDA) culminating in the How (offer or call to action). So, start by working on the How (offer) and the rest of the Why will evolve.


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