What's in this session?

  • Original concept by Brian Dean (1:01)
  • This concept is universal and proven over decades (1:51)
  • The LOST example (2:01)
  • Bucket brigades (3:04)
  • Examples (3:22)
  • Combine with an ellipse or colon to make a bucket brigade even more compelling (6:13)

Show notes and resources

Free Bonus: Click here to download The Perfect Church Homepage Infographic – a complete visual breakdown of the essential elements that every church website homepage needs

The Transcript

Alex Mills: Pro Church Daily is brought to you by StoryTape unlimited stock video downloads on a single monthly subscription. Head to StoryTape.com and you can browse through every single video clip we have to offer for free.

Well, hey there and welcome to Pro Church Daily, the show where in 10 minutes or less you’ll get your daily dose of tips and tactics to help your church share the message of Jesus while we navigate the biggest communication shift we’ve seen in the last 500 years.

I’m your host Alex Mills. I’m joined as always by the boss man, it’s Brady Shearer. And today we’re talking about the best copywriting technique for 2018.

Brady Shearer: This is what I would consider my best, my favorite, pop your rating hack of 2018 that I want to pass on to Pro Church Nation.

Now, I need to warn everyone in Pro Church Nation-

Alex Mills: Okay. Yep.

Brady Shearer: Once you learn this copywriting hack of mine, you will not be able to read-

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: … anything that I write, either in article, social media, or email form in the same way ever again-

Alex Mills: Yeah, we’re kind of pulling back the curtain here a little bit-

Brady Shearer: I don’t know if we’re pulling back too much, but I’m here for it.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: I also cannot take credit for this hack. I learned it from a guy named Brian Dean from the website backlinko.com. Backlinko.com is a platform all about learning SEO, Search Engine Optimization. And a big part of SEO is on page time. And I learned this hack from Brian. He said, “The more that you use this copywriting hack, the more that will be read of your articles. Thus, the more time on page that will be spent. Thus signaling to Google, that the page is worthy of being ranked high because users spend a significant time there.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: And this copywriting hack can be used in what I just mentioned three different places primarily and that is articles, social media, written content, and email written content. Pretty much anywhere that you write you can use this, but I found it most helpful in articles, emails, and social media-

Alex Mills: All right.

Brady Shearer: … copy. Another thing to preface this is to say that is not a new technique-

Alex Mills: No.

Brady Shearer: It is universal, it’s quite, quite old, been used for decades and decades. One example of this could be in the drama, “Lost.” “Lost,” is probably the best example of this though nowadays pretty much every drama and even Sitcoms use this. Where basically, at the end of every episode, “Lost,” would open a new loop. So you would watch through the entire 45 minute episode-

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: … and you’d be on a single plot point. And then at the last second John Locke would discover some hatch and he’d be like, “What’s in the hatch?”

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: And you’d have to watch the next episode.

Alex Mills: Nice.

Brady Shearer: At the end of every episode open a new loop, basically just a cliff hanger-

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Something that is not resolved, and you and your brain want to resolve it. It is curious. You are like, “Huh, my curiosity has been peaked.”

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: “I must know how this ends.”

Alex Mills: I see you this time next week.

Brady Shearer: If you’ve ever binged watched through a show a lot longer than you anticipated, this was happening to you.

Alex Mills: Right. You got hacked.

Brady Shearer: I watched the first season of, “Stranger Things,” in an evening.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: I intended to watch an episode or two, next thing I know 3:30 AM I’m shaking under a blanket as I finish the final episode.

Alex Mills: Hacked.

Brady Shearer: They got me. I got hacked. The hack, when it’s used in the written form, as Brian Dean has titled it is called, “Bucket Brigades.”

Alex Mills: Okay.

Brady Shearer: Basically what it is, is it’s a form of writing that opens loops, leaves them unresolved, and then closes them later but it forces people to keep reading. So for instance, here are one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, eight, nine, 10 different examples of a Bucket Brigade.

Alex Mills: Okay.

Brady Shearer: Number one. You might be wondering … And then the copy would follow. So for instance, you could say, “You might be wondering, what makes a great church website?”

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: That’s a perfect example of a Bucket Brigade.

Alex Mills: I have been wondering, I’m going to keep reading.

Brady Shearer: Open loop peaks curiosity. Doesn’t answer the question. Forces you to keep reading.

Alex Mills: Nice.

Brady Shearer: Another one, this one is super useful and not specific at all. Look. Just the word, look.

Alex Mills: This is one of your favorites.

Brady Shearer: I love this one and it’s one of my favorites because it can be used pretty much everywhere.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: So I’ll be like, “Look, what makes a good church website anyway?”

Alex Mills: Yah.

Brady Shearer: Another one that’s a single word even shorter. Now. N-O-W. Comma. Colon. Eclipse. Whatever you want to put in. “Now, what makes a good church website anyway?”

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Here’s another one. Here’s the deal. Dot. Dot. Dot. “Here’s the deal. What makes a great church website is the following.”

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: Here’s another one, “This is crazy.”

Alex Mills: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I like this one.

Brady Shearer: What makes a good church website you would not believe-

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: And the point I give you is in trying to use that same example again and again is that these are universal, kind of copywriting use cases that you can put in anything

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: And you can use them in just so many different scenarios. I love to start paragraphs with them. I love to just inject them whenever I think that I’ve been rambling on for a little while. You know attention is so, so fleeting-

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: … online nowadays. Our attention span is about eight seconds, gold fish are about nine seconds, that was about three or four years ago. We’re probably half of what a gold fish is now. Gold fishes, they’re like lecture professors compared to us at this point.

Alex Mills: Yeah. Yeah.

Brady Shearer: You have to find ways of hacking people’s attention and keeping them engaged. You could have the greatest story of all time, which we as churches do.

Alex Mills: We do.

Brady Shearer: You can have information that people really care to read about. I’ll find myself scrolling through Twitter. I’ll click on a link of something that I think is so, so exciting. I’ll be like, “Man, I really want to learn about this,” and then I see the 3,000 word essay and it’s in giant blocks of text and I’m like, “Eh, I’ll just go back to Twitter.”

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Why? I wanted to learn about that. All my attention is just so messed up at this point. This is one great hack to keep attention.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Let’s give a couple more examples. “It gets better or it gets worse.” So I’ll be telling a story and I’ll be like, “That’s when I decided to watch another episode of “Stranger Things.”

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: Line break. It gets better, as I continue to watch-

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Just a nice way of seguing, keeping the attention as you transition into something else you can say, “It gets better or it gets worse, and that’s when I decided to watch another episode of, “Stranger Things. It gets worse.”

Alex Mills: Yeah, for sure. It’s gotten a lot worse for you.

Brady Shearer: Here’s another example, “Want to know the best part?”

Alex Mills: Yes.

Brady Shearer: Question mark. Open loop. Peak curiosity. Don’t answer. Don’t resolve. Move onto the next paragraph. And the final tip that I want to make with this is that I’ll often combine a Bucket Brigade, any of the examples that I’ve just mentioned with either an ellipse or a colon.

Alex Mills: Okay.

Brady Shearer: And I’ll often put them on their own line. So one huge copywriting hack and tip when it comes to written content online is you want it to be scannable. You want it to be super easy for someone to digest it in chunks to scan through, get the information that you’re trying to present without them having to engage with line, after line, after line, after line of-

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: … huge chunks of copy without breaks. I’ll often break up my content with these Bucket Brigades. I’ll put the phrase, “This is crazy.” Dot, dot, dot on its own line-

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: … line break and then into the next paragraph. Combine a Bucket Brigade with a colon or an ellipse, which by nature are grammatical features that open a loop and you don’t resolve it-

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: … and then go to the next line with your next actual resolution.

Alex Mills: Awesome.

Brady Shearer: Again a bunch of, I’ll just go through the examples again real quick. “You might be wondering.” “Look.” “In my experience churches that succeed on social media do two things very well.” That’s a good one where you can basically just say, “People, churches, individuals, anything succeed do these two things very well.”

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: Basically you’re making a promise, but you’re not actually delivering on the promise yet. “Here’s the deal.” “This is crazy.” “Now.” “It gets better.” Slash “It gets worse.” “But here’s the kicker”-

Alex Mills: Nice one.

Brady Shearer: “Wanna know the best part?”

Alex Mills: Awesome.

Brady Shearer: Any thoughts from you about how I’m secretly hacking your attention without you noticing, but now you notice because I just told you about it?

Alex Mills: Look I was on your email list before I started working here.

Brady Shearer: That’s true.

Alex Mills: You craft some pretty good emails. And then I started working here, got the curtain pulled back-

Brady Shearer: Oh no.

Alex Mills: And saw that, yes, you are a great copywriter. And you’re good at what you do.

Brady Shearer: But-

Alex Mills: But it’s also just very practical tools and-

Brady Shearer: Anyone can learn them.

Alex Mills: Yeah, anyone just start putting these things into practice. These are simple. Some of them are one word, you know?

Brady Shearer: Three letters.

Alex Mills: Yeah, and it’s just a way to gain someone’s attention, or regain it if they’ve landed on your 3,000 word essay and they’re considering going back to Twitter. Break it up. Use these Bucket Brigades and keep your reader’s attention so that you can communicate your message.

And like you said, our message for most of the people listening to this show is the gospel message. It is the greatest story ever told and so why not use all the tools at our disposal to get people’s attention and keep it?

Brady Shearer: Perfect. That’ll do it for today’s episode of Pro Church Daily. We’re doing a bunch of giveaways throughout the month of February and beyond, and we’d love for you to be a part of them. It’s all gonna down on my Instagram account @BradyShearer. S-H-E-A-R-E-R.

Alex Mills: Nice.

Brady Shearer: Shearer, it’s actually a word in the Bible. One who shears sheep.

Alex Mills: Oh.

Brady Shearer: A shearer of sheep.

Alex Mills: That explains all the wool in your back yard.

Brady Shearer: It does. When I was dating my wife when we were 17, 18, we were like, “What if we opened up a barber shop? Shearer’s shears.”

Alex Mills: Yeah. God’s providence.

Brady Shearer: @bradyshearer on Instagram is where all the giveaways are going down. You got to be following there. You got to be part of Pro Church Nation on Instagram.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: We’re trying to get to 10K.

Alex Mills: We’re trying.

Brady Shearer: We’re at like eight as of this recording. We need that swipe up feature and we need you to be part of the giveaways @bradyshearer on Instagram. That’ll do it for today’s episode of Pro Church Daily. We’ll see you tomorrow.

Alex Mills: Hey thanks for listening to today’s episode of Pro Church Daily. If you haven’t already, make sure to subscribe to the Pro Church podcast for new podcasts just like this one every single day and if you’d like to support this podcast leave us a rating or review. It doesn’t cost you much, but it means the world to us. Talk to you tomorrow.

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