Why not use questions in copywriting?

Fudge brownie with ice cream

‘Why not round off your meal with one of our delicious desserts?’

Christ, I don’t know. Because I’m already overweight? Because I already stuffed my big fat face with some manifestly gratuitous onion rings? Because frankly, £9.95 seems like a lot for a wodge of sponge and a dollop of ice cream, no matter what picturesque rural county that ice cream may purport to be from?

Should you use questions in copy? Only if the reader will mentally respond the way you want them to. And while some questions will gently lead the reader towards a sale, others are like lobbing a grenade of cognitive uncertainty into their poor addled brain.

‘Sound good?’ No, perky on-pack copy, that is mighty presumptuous of you. I will make up my mind about your product in my own sweet time, thanks.

‘What are you waiting for?’ I’m not waiting, I’m literally reading the copy that you wrote and are now making me read. Once I’m done, I’ll get right to waiting – and believe me, it’ll be a long wait.

But ‘Why not…’ is the king of them all. I know it looks like a graceful rhetorical flourish and a get out of jail free card for your otherwise unwritable ending. But while rhetorical questions may not require answers, they still demand consideration. And in my view, ‘why not’ merely invites the reader to speculate on all the reasons why they might reject your advice.

You can usually drop the ‘Why not’ to form a nice forceful imperative that just tells the damn reader what to do. After all, why leave them hanging by ending with a question?

For more like this, why not check out Copywriting Made Simple?

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