This Silver Bullet will leave them satisfied (and screaming, “YES!”)

LaptopI recently found myself having to explain the Silver Bullet to a pearl-clutching, wine-sipping, slip of an elegant, older dame.

I groped around for the most delicate description I could muster and, after a moment of silence she primly replied, “Would that they’d had that in my day” and glided off for a refill.

Sitting down to write an email or sales page can feel as daunting as explaining vibrators to an influential woman. But using the Silver Bullet can make it so much better.

First, let’s talk about four reasons you’d even want to use bullet points in the first place.

 

  1. People are lazy. Like “My gosh this is three paragraphs long and I just can’t do it” kind of lazy. Using bullet points breaks up blocks of text so, instead of seeing your email as “One more long-ass thing I have to read”, they see it as “Oh look, it’s a paragraph and a few bullet points – I can do that!”.
  2. They make it look short. Bullet points don’t just break up walls of text into bite-sized chunks. Because they indent sentences, they also shorten how far across the screen the line reaches. Remember, people are lazy. Anything you can do to make it look like less work is a good thing.
  3. They highlight the main idea. People aren’t just lazy, they’re busy. Probably busy trying to find new ways to be lazy* but, either way, you have their attention for about 8 seconds. Get to the point. Bullet points are like a giant road-side sign pointing to the good stuff.
  4. People who skim are looking for bullet points. Remember when I said people are busy? Yeah, some of them don’t actually read what you write. I know, I know. BUT! If they’re skimming, they know bullet points are where it’s at. So make ’em good; It might be the only thing people read.

Now you know why you want to use them. Let’s talk about how.

 

When using bullet points, you want to keep them similar in:

  • Length
  • Appearance
  • Style

Length. Bullet points should be short. If they’re not, it defeats the purpose of having a bullet point.

Appearance. Each bullet point should roughly mirror its partners. If the first bullet point is one word, the next one shouldn’t be two sentences. Try to keep them consistent.

Style. Try to keep the style of the bullet points the same. If they’re all light-hearted, stick with it. If they’re all matter-of-fact, keep it going. And they should all start with the same part of speech (bonus points for verbs!).

That’s a lot to cover for something so small.

To recap, bullet points:

 

  • Use them
  • Keep them short
  • Make them look similar
  • Pick one style and stick with it

In the next email or sales page you write, try using bullet points. And keep your eyes open; once you master these steps, I’m going to give you the three-step formula you need to write compelling bullet points that make your copy stand out.

Questions about bullet points (or about what the heck was going on at that cocktail party?) ask in the comments below and I’ll be sure to reply.

*Lest you think I don’t include myself in the “lazy” category, I should confess now: I once refused to do dishes for three days while I waited for the new dishwasher to arrive.

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