Furnace Fails, Copy Cruft and Han Solo

Yesterday when my alarm jingled me awake at 5 a.m., my first thought was:

“Yikes, it’s cold in here…”

I stumbled down the pitch-black hallway to the living room…

A quick glance at the thermostat confirmed my suspicion—overnight the temperatures here in The Berry dropped to 24 degrees, and my furnace was struggling to keep up.

That worried me.

Is the furnace dying?

Last winter we had a cold snap where the temps dropped to MINUS 20 degrees F. Then it made sense that the furnace just couldn’t warm the house.

But if my furnace was huffing and puffing at a balmy 24 degrees, we’ll be in deep trouble when the for-real cold weather arrives…

I fretted about this for a good part of the morning, and I was just explaining to my wife what I was thinking when I remembered ignoring the push notification on my iPhone…

Last year I replaced our thermostat with a wifi-enabled one made by Nest.

I can control the furnace from my iPhone from anywhere in the world. Super cool.

Another feature this thermostat has is it keeps track of how much your furnace has run and prompts you to change the air filter.

And I suddenly remember dismissing that notification.

Come to think of it, I’d dismissed the last TWO notifications.

I held my hand over the heat register, and… Sure enough, there was almost no air coming out.

I yanked out the air filter—CAKED caked with filth.

There was so much dust and grime on it that the air couldn’t get through…

My furnace was suffocating.

I threw the washable filter in the laundry tub and hosed it out, and the furnace was as good as new.

Guess what?

Your copy can have this same problem too.

It gets loaded down with cruft and dirt until your readers are gasping for breath and you’re smothering your sales.

A few days ago I was critiquing an email for a coaching student of mine, and she was having this problem.

The email had a great subject line—she was tapping into the interest over the new Star Wars movie with a Han Solo reference.

And she opened by describing a scene in the movie.

Good start.

Then as the email progressed, she kept throwing in more and more Star Wars quotes and allusions.

And every time I hit one of these I felt like the email’s central theme slipped further and further from my grasp.

It was just too much detail, and too many rabbit trails that were left unexplored…

Recognizing the problem is half the battle.

Once you realize that your copy is loaded with unnecessary details, you can just “flush out” all the junk that is blocking the natural flow of the copy…

Like unnecessary description…

Too much explaining and teaching…

“Clever” word play that doesn’t really fit…

The excellent copywriting book “Great Leads” has a section all about this.

Authors Michael Masterson and John Forde describe the power of a single, focused idea.

This book is a must-read for all serious writers and marketers.

Check it out here: