Leveraging Urgency to Make Readers Act

Woot uses urgent copy to convince readers to take advantage of its daily deals which expire within 24 hours. Here’s why urgency is important in copywriting—even when the copy doesn’t have an expiration date.


Remember Elaine on Seinfeld? She was a fictional copywriter for the J. Peterman clothing catalog. The Peterman product descriptions served up adventure, bridging the gap from urbania to 12,000 feet. Analog catalog, e-commerce, daily deal sites…whatever the medium, great copy still distills imagination into sales.

Woot (.com) depends entirely on copy to move its 24-hour specials. The writing is personal, direct, and positions each product as integral to your life. It’s the kind of content Elaine created with the “urban sombrero”: “It combines the spirit of old Mexico with a little big city panache.”

Channeling Urgency

What if your content had only 24 hours to hit home and, after that, it would be useless? Would it be written differently? Writing that doesn’t seize us, compel us, move us right now is too sure of its own longevity. It’s a page on the dusty rack in the dark corner of the store – the moldy book someone occasionally pulls down for reference from a barely noticed shelf, like some genealogy of the kings of England.

Arresting Readers

Might we bump into a pole while reading your content? If not, why not?

We’re not looking to get you sued, but effective copy is arresting. From Woot, on Samsung monitors: “The monitor is like the door to your house. It doesn’t seem important until you don’t have one.” It’s evocative, provocative, impertinent. Ever seen someone run into something while reading a magazine or their phone? Make your content enthralling.

Getting Them to Linger

What can you say in six seconds to make us stay for more? It’s great to have ‘evergreen’ content that continues to convert people, routinely, but the voice needs to be effective in the moment. Look at a page on your website, or in your internal company publications. Is it a snoozer or an eye opener? Is a hand reaching off the page, or is it waving us on to something more interesting? You have only this moment to grab us. The average page gets a six second chance to score our attention. Your page is today’s deal. So make it zing like one.

And if you can’t do that for yourself? Call MarketSmiths. We’ll be happy to make the arrest.

Janine Stankus

Janine Stankus

Janine’s passion for words is rooted in her lifelong study of literature. Following a stint in boutique publishing and a beloved job as a journalist, she discovered an aptitude for marketing that led to SEO work, marketing strategy, and copywriting for (then) startups like FAB.com and major brands like Aeropostale. When Janine found that she could expound on T.S. Eliot, pen a hard-hitting piece on vernal pools, and promote panties with equal éclat, she knew she’d found a calling.

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