From ‘Jaws’ to Jaw-Dropping Copy: How to Hook Your Audience with Suspense

Great white shark jumping out of water with its open mouth. Digital illustration.

“I think we’re gonna need a bigger boat!!”

Ok, not really applicable here. But there is a TON that is, so let’s shake the sand off our beach towels and dive right in, shall we?

Today’s topic is more thrilling than an unexpected shark fin popping up at your favorite swimming spot.

We’re talking about the 1975 cinematic sensation, “Jaws,” and boy, does it have a lesson or two about copywriting!

“Wait a sec, Rob, are you saying I need to start writing about killer sharks?” No, not unless your business revolves around fancy shark cages or underwater bazookas.

Instead, we’re learning from the suspense and anticipation this Spielberg classic built, which had us all glued to our seats and second-guessing our beach vacations.

First things first, let’s understand suspense in copywriting. It’s not about sending your readers into a panic or making them fear a man-eating shark is lurking in their backyard (unless you’re selling shark repellents, then go wild).

Suspense is about holding your reader’s attention, getting them to hang on to your every word, and desperately wanting to know what comes next.

Remember how “Jaws” kept us guessing about when and where the shark would pop up next?  That’s exactly what you want to do with your copy.

You’re the puppet master, and the suspense strings you pull will make your readers dance to your tune.

“But Rob, how do I weave this suspense web?” Well, I’m glad you asked!

Creating suspense is all about understanding your audience’s desires and fears. You need to know them better than the back of your own hand, and then craft a storyline around those elements.

Present a problem that hits close to home, escalate the tension, and then swoop in like a hero with the solution – your product or service.

Now, onto the pièce de résistance, the moment when you reveal your product or service. It’s like that unforgettable scene in “Jaws” when we first get a good look at the beast.

It’s the point where your reader realizes, “Hey, I need this!”

Then show them how your product or service is going to change their lives for the better. Paint a vivid picture of that victorious moment, just like when the shark in “Jaws” finally met its explosive end.

Sounds like a riot, doesn’t it?  But here’s the thing – writing suspenseful copy isn’t just about the thrills. It’s about connecting with your reader on a deep level and leading them on a journey where your product is the destination.

So, at this point, you might be thinking, “Alright, Rob, I’m on board. I’m ready to incorporate some of that ‘Jaws’-style suspense in my copy.

But where do I start?” Well, consider your copywriting as a fishing expedition.

The first thing you need is bait—your headline. Much like the ominous music in ‘Jaws,’ your headline should signal that something big is coming.

A headline that poses a question or makes a bold promise can pull your reader in.

Next up, the cast. Once you’ve baited your hook, it’s time to cast your line. Start your story, establish your characters, and set your scene.

Show your reader why they should care about what you’re saying. Make them a part of the story.

Remember, the citizens of Amity Island didn’t care about the shark until it started causing trouble on their beaches!

As your story develops, sprinkle in some conflicts, uncertainties, and problems. This is where the suspense really starts to build.

Will they catch the shark? Can they save the beaches? Will the Mayor finally listen to Chief Brody?

Then, just when your reader can’t take the tension anymore, it’s time to reel them in with your solution—your product or service.

Show them how it’s the answer to the problem you’ve so painstakingly laid out.

It’s the equivalent of Quint’s shark-hunting expertise or Hooper’s shark knowledge. Your product is the thing that’s going to solve their problem, save their day, and make everything alright again.

Remember that the suspense doesn’t end once the shark (problem) is dead.  You need to emphasize the relief, the success, and the victory that your solution brings.

Let them imagine a world without the shark, a world where your product has resolved their issue. This is your grand finale, where the shark blows up, and everyone can finally go back to enjoying their beach vacation.

In essence, using suspense in your copy is about taking your reader on a rollercoaster ride.

It’s about building anticipation, offering relief, and delivering a satisfying resolution.

Ultimately, you are making your reader feel like they’ve not only survived a shark attack but also saved the day!

So folks, are you ready to create some suspense, capture your readers, and reel them in like a 25-foot great white?

Let’s get to it, and remember, in the words of Quint, “Here’s to swimmin’ with bow-legged women!” (or bow-legged copy, in our case!)

And if you want to get a leg up on that competition and really sink your teeth into the art of persuasive copy, join my VIP Email List.

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So, what are you waiting for?

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About Robert Sean Pascoe

Copywriter Robert Sean Pascoe

Robert has been a freelance copywriter for over seven years. Now, also as a Copywriting Coach and Strategist, he helps small business owners, aspiring freelance copywriters, and entrepreneurs craft compelling sales messages to build their businesses and increase sales.

When not decoding the world of words, Robert is delving into AI for copywriting and marketing. He also indulges his passion for professional wrestling, writing, and producing a weekly program on YouTube with over 40,000 subscribers. This side gig is a natural extension of his 25 years in the professional wrestling industry as a wrestler, manager, coach, producer, and play-by-play announcer.

Whether you’re wrestling with the nuances of writing persuasive emails or creating a buzz for your business, Robert is the coach and strategist you need in your corner.

Sign up for the VIP Email List to embark on a unique journey through the world of copywriting with Robert. Plus, get your free copy of the eBook, “Seven Figure Headline Writing Secrets Revealed”, and learn how to craft irresistible headlines that demand attention.

CLICK HERE TO JOIN MY VIP EMAIL CLUB AND GET YOUR FREE E-BOOK RIGHT NOW

 

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