Persuasive Copywriting Technique – Find a Common Enemy

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There’s an old saying that goes… “The enemy of my enemy, is my friend”.

And when it comes to writing great sales copy this can be a very powerful thing to remember.


When writing copy, if you really want to rally the troops behind your cause, few things sell better than a little outrage at a common enemy.

If you and your target audience share resentment towards the same institution, corporation, or deity, then you’re already on the same side.

And when you’re on the same side, it’s easy to get people to pay attention to you when you speak out against the enemy.


In religion, it’s the devil trying to get your soul…

In finance, it’s the big banks or the government that wants to steal your money…

In the health industry, it’s bogus medical claims from the other guys, or it’s big pharma and the FDA that’s corrupt, and they’re the ones who are keeping you fat and sick…

In many retail sectors it’s the big box stores, or Amazon that’s destroying the livelihood of small business…


By drawing on a common enemy, you create an emotional reaction in your reader. (the most likely emotion is “fear” or “outrage”).

And invoking emotion is the holy grail when it comes to copywriting.


Of course we don’t want our entire promotion  to be about “attacking an enemy”. Because while it usually gets people outraged, and they might even agree with your protest…

… by itself it won’t sell very much.


That’s why, once we attack the common enemy, we want to present our solution as a way to protect our readers from that enemy (or get even with the enemy).

Our product or service needs to offer one of two (or a combination of both) solutions.

Either “self preservation” or “revenge”.


Let’s take a weight loss example for finding a common enemy…

Common Enemy: Big Pharma and the FDA


“If you’ve tried everything to lose weight and you feel like a failure because nothing seems to work, there’s something you need to know…

It’s not your fault.

Most of those weight loss programs and diet pills simply don’t work for people like us. I know because I spent years trying to lose weight with no success, until I finally discovered the truth…

Big Pharma, and those corrupt officials at the FDA have been lying to us for years.
They sell us their bogus weight loss pills, (which can carry deadly side effects) and their fad diets (which rarely ever work). And when none of it works for us… those self serving Fat Cats simply come up with another LIE to sell us even more useless garbage. All in the name of the almighty buck!

But I want you to know there is a better, safer and more effective way to permanently lose weight. Without all the un-natural side effects of taking potentially harmful drugs.



OK, that’s just a rough draft, and we’d need clean it up a bit. But can you see the direction we’re going here?

You have a problem, but it’s not your fault. There’s a common enemy causing your problem, and now there’s a solution. Now we can get sweet revenge by kicking those bastards to the curb, and taking control of our own lives.


In the financial industry it can be the big banks that are greedy, or the corrupt and incompetent government that wants to steal your money.
And our financial newsletter can help you protect yourself and your family from their sticky little fingers.


In some markets the common enemy might not be a person. It could be a situation.
Like in a money making opportunity the enemy could be poverty, exhaustion from working too hard, or the rising cost of living.


The point here is this… If you can find a common enemy with your audience, then you can quickly get your audience on your side.

Because remember “The enemy of my enemy is  my friend (at least temporarily)” and people like to do business with people they know and like.



As I close this thought, I’ll reflect on the one idea I hope you get from this post…

When writing copy, if you really want to rally the troops behind your cause… few things sell better than a little outrage at a common enemy.


Here’s to writing more persuasive copy… more often


For your success

All the best,

Posted in General Copywriting, Writing Techniques.

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