26. Pithy pitches that woo for you


Words motivate. We all want to get better at writing motivating prose. I want to tell you about the EMV, my latest toy that helps with writing motivating words. EMV stands for Emotional Marketing Value. The toy is the Advanced Marketing Institute’s Headline Analyzer (http://www.aminstitute.com/cgi-bin/headline.cgi). It has nothing to do with creative writing, but rather it analyses advertising copy. We may think we don’t write marketing copy, but the elevator pitch and the blurb of your book is advertising copy. It aims to secure a sale. This is also true of the first sentence of your book. If you don’t hook the reader’s attention, they may stop reading.

The EMV Analyzer scores your headline or your elevator pitch according to the number of words with emotional resonance, in relation to the total number of words. It also tells you whether the appeal is primarily intellectual, empathetic, or spiritual. The explanation says the English language has around 20% EMV words. A professional copywriter will have 30-40% of these words in their headline, while a gifted copywriter will achieve 50-75%. The blurb claims “While many marketers ‘guess’ how people will react to various words and offers, we have determined a test which will give you an actual rating that you can use to judge how well received your copy will be to others.”

For fun, I ran the elevator pitch for The Golden Illusion through the Analyzer. I had to run it in two bits because the maximum word length is 20.

The pitch reads:

“A mystery story with a difference, in which a conjurer turns detective. Believing he is on the trail of an ancient illusion, he is, in fact, uncovering a conspiracy that hides a crime 150 years old.”

The EMV score was 22.22%. Probably not enough to capture the attention of that busy publisher in the elevator. The EMV words were all intellectually appealing

So then I rewrote it, trying out different words, finally reaching a score of 60.87% with this version:

“An unusual mystery story. An illusionist turned sleuth, believing he hunts an ancient illusion, reveals a conspiracy hiding an atrocity spanning the centuries.”

The EMV words were a mixture of intellectual and spiritual appeal. I’m not sure I’m going to trust my fate to an algorithm and I may tweak it further, but I like the change.

There is some academic fruit-loopery that accompanies the tool, if you’re that way inclined. It is said to derive from the work of US language scholar Dr Hakim Chisti. He “found that there are these basic underlying harmonics, a tonality that flows through language, which are in many ways more profound and powerful than the dictionary meaning itself.” Or if you prefer, you can ignore that, and just use the tool.

By the way, I also tried out the Analyzer on various headlines for this post.
“Getting maximum punch from your pitch” had a score of 0%.
“Making pitches work for you” scored 20% and was spiritual
“Pithy pitches that woo for you” got 50% and was spiritual

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