How to Write a Golden Thread
Have you ever heard a TED talk that just took your breath away? Some of my favorites are Brene Brown’s The Power of Vulnerability and Robert Waldinger’s What Makes a Good Life?. It’s incredible how they wrap up their talk so eloquently, so perfectly. You didn’t know where they were going with the story when they started and then BAM! It hits you like a ton of bricks.
I want to let you on a little secret… That bam-effect is the result of a well-executed golden thread.
One of my favorite TED talks is below… Be prepared to laugh!
Besides this talk being absolutely hysterical and discussing something that we’ve all been tempted to do – reply to your spam emails – it’s a perfect example of a golden thread.
You see, James Veitch begins acknowledging that we want to respond to those ridiculous spam emails but don’t. He actually does. Then he spends several minutes covering the correspondence between him and “Solomon”. Finally, he comes back to the thread – we all want to respond to those spam emails.
So he gives another, much shorter, and slightly less funny example of spam emails.
Besides the Giant Gummy Lizard and hilarity, he continually weaves back in the problem (we receive ridiculous spam messages) and the desire to respond.
Let’s get into what a golden thread is and how to write a golden thread into your copy.
The Golden Thread
A golden thread is an idea or feature that is present throughout a company’s messaging or a single piece of copy that holds it together and ultimately is what makes the copy so valuable. We define it as a promise or central theme that is threaded through the promotion and keeps the reader interested.
American Writers & Artists Inc. (AWAI) defines the golden thread as,
“The manner in which a copywriter connects core desires to the sales pitch throughout a promotion. Usually, it’s in the form of a promise or central theme that runs through the entire promotion and keeps the reader from losing interest by reminding him or her of the benefits offered by the product or service.”AWAI
How the Golden Thread Works
The goal of copy is to get the reader to take the intended action on a specific webpage, video, sales letter, etc. When you break that goal down into smaller chunks, you’ll find that how you meet that goal is to engage the reader and get them to move from the first line to the second to the third and so on…
If the copy isn’t engaging, then your prospective customer isn’t going to be prompted to do business with you. They will move on to the next potential partner.
As you weave a golden thread throughout your copy, it reengages them and reminds them of the promise you are making. The golden thread is what gets your prospects to nod their heads as they track with you. Then clicking the “buy” button becomes a no-brainer to them.
With the TED talk above, that promise is to show you what happens when you respond to a spam email. You can see the audience nodding their heads, laughing in agreement, and ultimately cheering James Veitch as he closes his talk. This is exactly what every piece of copy should be doing for you.
How to Write a Golden Thread
In 3 simple steps, you’ll learn how to write a golden thread that converts your prospects into customers.
1. Write Your Big Promise
First, you need to figure out your one big promise or one big idea. Ask some of the following questions to see if the promise or idea is big enough:
- Does this idea expire or is it evergreen?
- Does it fit into your marketing strategy?
- Is this big promise unique and special to your company?
- Does it hit the nail on the head?
In the TED talk, James Veitch’s big promise is to show you what happens when you respond to a spam email. It’s evergreen – we’re always going to have spam emails unfortunately. It fits into the TED Talks’ agenda to “make great ideas accessible and spark conversation”. This talk is very unique to Veitch and special to what he’s done over the last couple years. Has anyone else invested weeks of their time corresponding with spammers? And it hits the nail on the head.
2. Focus on Your Major Benefit
Then you need to figure out the major benefit for that big promise. Now, a big benefit is basically the benefit of the benefit of the benefit. It’s BIG!
For example, we work with a lot of professional services that offer leadership coaching. A benefit for leadership coaching may be feeling more confident in leadership coaching. But what’s the benefit of that? Perhaps, it may be no second guessing yourself in your decision making or leaving the office everyday knowing that the company is growing in the right direction.
There may be a ton of benefits that you can list, but the golden thread is all about one BIG promise and its BIG benefit. You can sprinkle in a couple other benefits; however, don’t let them distract your reader from the golden benefit.
Need help to develop the big promise and big benefit of your product or service? Our copywriters are standing by to help you convert your prospects into customers. Click here to contact us.
3. Weave Golden Thread Throughout Copy
Weave in the golden thread throughout the case for the product or service. People buy with emotion but need logic to back up their decision.
That being said, tie the emotional tugs into the logical side (i.e. features or logistics).
Example of Leadership Coaching Program:
Feature: Weekly Check-Ins with Coach & Participants
Emotional Tug: Develop relationships with your coach and other participants so that you’re never alone as your lead your organization
Where the Golden Thread Goes Wrong
Like all threads, the golden thread FAILS when you forget to tie it off. Don’t leave it hanging in the middle of your copy! You must continue to weave it through the copy, the call to action, guarantee, offer, upsell, and order form. In a longer piece of copy, it’s easier to break the golden thread. That’s why it’s super important to read know what your golden thread is before you start writing so you can identify where and if it breaks in your copy.
We freely admit that writing with a golden thread does not always come easily. If that’s you, go back and weave it through again.
Don’t overlook headings, subheadings, and the call to action. These are generally known as beads throughout your thread. Remember that while many people use logic to back their decisions, most buying decisions are still made on emotion.
(Even if you are selling something not emotional like an O-ring, you can make the copy emotional! For example, you could write trust that our O-rings are malfunction proof because our quality inspection ensures each O-ring is perfect.)
Your prospects will ask these questions…
Can I trust this company?
Do I know this company and their product?
Do I even like what I’m buying and who I’m buying from?
It goes back to the age-old rule: people do business with people they like, know and trust.
If you need help strategizing what your golden thread is or writing your copy, we would love to help you.