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copywriting circa method

Learning to master copywriting is no easy task. 

There’s so much to think about and capture with every single word you choose. 

Copywriting requires a lot of strategy behind your words, and it needs to balance psychology with business acumen. So, whether you’re writing for yourself or a client, you need to approach the task with a goal. 

Luckily, my CIRCA method makes it slightly simpler to structure your copy. 

So, in this article, I’m going to introduce you to my very own method that has helped my clients make big sales, and my copywriters in my copywriting agency nail it every time. 

About the CIRCA Method 

Before we jump into each phase of the CIRCA method, let’s explore what it’s all about. 

The CIRCA method stands for:

  • Capture
  • Identify
  • Resonate 
  • Compel 
  • Assure 

Each stage in the CIRCA method is needed to move onto the next phase. Plus, it provides a tried-and-tested structure for successful copywriting that actually converts. 

You won’t find the CIRCA method in your copywriting courses, because it’s a framework I’ve tested over the years myself. 

While mainly used for sales pages, you can take the CIRCA method and apply it to essentially every type of copy out there. 

So, with that in mind, let’s explore each component of the CIRCA method.

Capture 

We start with the need to capture the reader. In other words, we need to hook them in with a powerful heading and opening line. 

But it’s not enough to hold the attention of your reader for the headline and drop it seconds later. 

You need to carry it throughout your copy, word for word. 

That’s no easy task. In fact, for untrained business owners, it’s virtually impossible. 

However, for those who are experts in freelance copywriting, it’s a strong component of their skillset. And it’s why they charge big bucks. 

Leads choose to make a purchase because they want to feel something. It’s not about the product or service. It’s about the emotional consequences of it. 

Take a gym membership, for example. You don’t sign up to a gym to loose weight.  That might be the physical consequence, but the real reason is the desire to feel confident. To feel sexy. To feel less guilty about your diet. 

All of those potential reasons have one thing in common: it’s about emotion. 

So, with that in mind, to capture your readers effectively, you need to empathize and relate with them immediately. That way, when you come to showing the contrast in the way they will feel, they’re more likely to trust your judgment. Why? Because it feels like you’re talking directly to them. 

Identify 

There is not one product or service out there that appeals to absolutely everyone.

You may have clients who will tell you that their target audience is “anyone and everyone!”. If they do, they’re either in the very early days of their business’s lifespan, or they’re in complete denial. 

Every product has a target market and an ideal buyer. 

And that’s what the “identify” phase is all about. 

If you’re on a busy bus, and someone calls your name, you look up. 

And you try to determine who said your name. 

Your copy needs to do the same thing for the client’s ideal buyer.

That doesn’t mean you need to know their name. Obviously, that’s impossible. But it needs to feel like they’ve been spoken to directly. 

An identifying statement tells the reader who the offer is for. The more depth you explore, the more specific your identifying statement. And the more specific you can be with your identifying statement, the higher the likelihood is of resonating with them. 

You’ll know you’ve done it right when the ideal buyer feels you’ve picked them out of a crowd and they keep reading. When you have identified them.

Resonate 

The next step up from identification is to resonate with the ideal buyer. 

The key is to allow the reader to feel like you “get them”, and you’re not just trying to sell them something. You’re there because you understand their pains and struggles, and you know all about what they’re hoping to achieve. 

One of the most important parts of resonation stems from empathy. And we empathize through the difficulties or pain points the reader is experiencing. 

You can resonate with the ideal buyer through either pain, pleasure, or both. While many new copywriters believe they have to stick to pain points exclusively, a pleasure point can be just as compelling, and a refreshing method for the reader. 

A pleasure point describes what your audience is looking for, and that pleasure stems from the product or service that you offer. 

For example, let’s imagine that your ideal buyer’s pain point is that they’re embarrassed their house smells of kitty litter when their friends come round. The pleasure point, then, is a home that smells super clean. 

So, you can resonate with the reader by exploring the pain point, the pleasure point, or offering a combination of both. 

Compel 

Next up, the compel phase.

This is usually the biggest section of your piece, and it’s the “meat” of your job as a copywriter. 

Essentially, compelling is all about influencing them to take the action. And we do that through introducing them to their future with or without the product or service. 

You can do this through either negative future pacing or positive future pacing. 

Positive future pacing explores how their life will improve once they’ve received the product or service. 

Negative future pacing, on the other hand, shows what life will be like if they don’t purchase the product or service. 

Whether you choose positive or negative future pacing, you’ll be appealing to an emotion. Negative future pacing plays on fear, while positive appeals to hope and pleasure. 

The one thing to remember is the brand you’re writing for. If they’re all about positivity, it may not be advisable to use negative future pacing. 

That said, don’t mistake negative future pacing with fear based marketing. And don’t overdo it. Too much will make the brand seem spammy, manipulative, and pessimistic. It’s all about balance. 

Assure 

The last phase in the CIRCA method is to provide assurance. 

At this point, if you’ve done a sterling job of all the other stages, you’ve likely gained some pretty heavy interest. The reader is thinking “I’d really like this product/service”, and you’re close to gaining a sale.

But this last phase turns that decision from a “I’d like to buy it” to “I must have it now”. 

And it all comes from assurance. Proving to your audience that you can deliver on the promise you’ve made. 

One of the best ways to do this is through social proof. Reviews, testimonials, and videos that prove how the product or service was used deliver assurance in abundance. 

You can also provide statistics and facts surrounding your offer. “Join 4.5K women on their journey to self-confidence” is far more assuring than simply “join us on your journey to self confidence”, does it not? 

Don’t forget, too, that screenshots count as social proof. Google or Yelp reviews, Whatsapp or text messages, and even Instagram DMs will work. Just make sure you’ve got permission to use them. 

The CIRCA Method: Give It a Shot! 

I’ve spilled my copywriting secret. 

And I don’t regret it at all.

Because now, you can go out into the copywriting world and wow your clients with copy that actually converts. 

You’re welcome. 


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By Liz Slyman

Over the past decade, Liz Slyman has worked as a copywriter and digital marketing executive for a multitude of companies from startups to mid-sized businesses to working as the VP of marketing for award-winning, platinum-selling artists and is now teaching copywriting courses. Leveraging an understanding of the nuance of language in marketing, Liz founded Amplihigher, a content marketing and copywriting agency, designed to connect consumers to companies in a way that results in next-level brand expansion.

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