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Disruption shouldn’t stop at your headline

When we talk about disruption, we usually think of that initial moment when we aim to grab someone’s attention.

We think about an intriguing subject line…

A bold and shocking headline.

Or perhaps a controversial opening paragraph.

We know by saying something weird or wonderful in that opening gambit – or even something strange and awful – we stand a good chance of being noticed.

But as we work our way through the copy, we tend to stop trying to be disruptive.

We become a little complacent.

We start telling, rather than showing. We begin to just list our research simply because we’ve done it. We slouch from one obvious subhead to another, without much imagination.

It’s no wonder.

The idea you should spend 80% of the time on your headline and not worry about the rest of your copy is an idea I’ve heard countless gurus preach.

Instead, I urge caution…

Yes, if your opening is weak, no one will see the rest of your copy. But at the same time, to think all the work is done once you’ve got a good headline and lead is just insane.

It’s why I believe you should be aiming to disrupt your reader at various points throughout your copy, not just at the beginning.

You’re an idiot and your copy stinks


That subhead seems harsh.

Of course, I’m not calling YOU an idiot.

No way.

You read The Fix for one, which surely qualifies you in the upper echelons of copywriting intellectuals.

No, that subhead was a cheap shot at being disruptive further down in the copy.

I’m trying to prove my point in the doing. Very meta and all that.

But that’s the idea…

When you’re writing a longer piece of copy that requires your reader to scroll once or twice, you must…




It’s too easy once you’re “in the zone” to just carry on writing on an almost subconscious level. But you should mentally reset every few hundred words and force yourself to really think if the reader is still with you.

Chances are, they’re lagging.

No matter how interesting what you’ve written might be, your reader is always busy.

Just as you disrupted them a moment ago and took their attention away from what they were doing to get them to this point… seconds later, another truckload of people arrived vying to disrupt them again and get their attention.

It’s why you need to be proactive…

You need to disrupt your own copy.


With all this disruption, isn’t it all going to get a bit frazzled?

That’s the risk, right?

If you keep throwing random curveballs in your copy, it is possible things could get a little confusing.

Ergonomic pyjamas.


Why did I just write “ergonomic pyjamas” on the right there?

Totally confusing.

It’s why when it comes to deploying disruption later in your copy, I use a technique I call the knowing disruptor.

This is disruption with a nod and a wink.

It’s a statement that is on the surface disruptive and out of the ordinary but refers in some way to the shock it is intended to cause.

It wakes the reader up and makes sure they’re following you, but then quickly reaffirms the thread and allows the reader to go on.

I did it with my subhead example earlier.

I called you an idiot to get your attention, but then quickly explained that, of course, I don’t think you’re an idiot, and was just using that disruptive phrase for illustrative purposes.

That’s a knowing disruptor.

You can apply this to almost any subject…

Say you’re writing about blockchain technology and why everyone should invest in it. You’ve written five pages on why it’s effing great…

But then you use a knowing disruptor to freshen things up.

You could have a subhead read, for example, ‘Why you must NOT invest in this one piece of blockchain today’.

The reader is shocked. This goes against what you’ve just been saying. It wakes them up and keeps their interest piqued.

They know something weird is going on because you’ve said blockchain technology is good but now you’re saying you shouldn’t invest. So, they’ll read on to find out why you’ve suddenly changed your tune.

But of course, you go on to reveal that while this one piece is flawed, there is another piece that is a complete game-changer.

By disrupting your reader in this way, you’re able to keep their attention for much longer and – perhaps most importantly – make sure attention remains focused.

Ultimately, it helps you to maintain control over your copy and direct the reader as you wish to direct them.

That’s the aim of the game here.

So, when you next come to write a long copy sales letter, a content piece that runs over a few pages, or perhaps a brochure that’s intended to be read as a whole…

Don’t just disrupt on page one…

Keep the reader on their toes and shake things up all the way through.

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