The Enemy Card: The Insanely Compelling Section Your Persuasive Copy is Missing

“It’s really hard to write copy that actually CONNECTS.”

That’s one of the most common things I hear from my copywriting clients.

“I spend all this time writing but when I read back what I created, all I can think is, ‘Who cares?’”

Here’s a golden nugget I’ve learned over 5+ years as a persuasion copywriter…

Your copy has one job and one job only: to connect with your reader.

It can be full of typos. It can use inconsistent brand voice. It can break every grammar rule and online marketing best practice in the book.

But if a reader has that moment where something CLICKS and they feel something

You’ve succeeded in your job as a copywriter.

Pretty sweet, right? Knowing all you really need for a piece of writing to be “worth it” is to have a little moment of true human connection?

Today, I’m going to divulge one of my guaranteed strategies for creating a moment of connection with your reader.

I call it playing The Enemy Card and it’s a pretty much foolproof way to get your reader to feel something…and feel closer to you.

You can use The Enemy Card all over the place — on sales pages, through blog posts, in sales emails, in promotional copy for your lead magnets, in your webinar script, on social media…pretty much anywhere you want your readers to think, “Oooh, I like this person! Now they’re speakin’ my language.”

The Enemy Card is so simple, absolutely anyone can play it. You don’t need a marketing degree or copywriting certifications. You just need an open mind and a few minutes of creative thinking…

The big idea behind The Enemy Card

I came across the genesis of this idea inside Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller. It’s one of my favoritest favorite books when it comes to writing for your business (and I’ve read a ton of ‘em!) Highly suggest it!

In crafting your brand story, Miller suggests that you get clear on who the “enemy” is.


What’s the person, thing, or idea that’s keeping your reader from achieving their goals?

Here’s an example…

If you’re a weight loss coach, the enemy keeping your clients from dropping the pounds might be late-night McDonald’s commercials. Maybe they make those burgers and fries look so gloriously delicious that despite their best intentions, your clients are swayed from the path of righteous eating.

Your common enemy is McDonald’s commercials that make that food look irresistible.

Here’s why defining a common enemy is GOLD when it comes to connecting with your reader:

Ever heard the quote, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”? It plays out in real life.

It’s easy to bond over a shared dislike or hatred of something. Going back to our tribal roots, teaming up with others was necessary in order to take down a big, powerful shared enemy.

You can tap into that same tribal mechanism to create a sense of closeness in your copy.

When you talk about a common enemy in your copy, you not only make your reader FEEL something by saying, “Yeah! That person/thing/idea sucks!”…you also subtly position yourself on the SAME SIDE as your reader.

You’re rallying against that enemy together. And when it comes to persuasion, that’s an insanely powerful place to be.

How to play The Enemy Card

To play The Enemy Card in your copy, follow these 3 simple steps:

1. Get clear on your audience

Before you can understand your common enemy, you need to know a bit about your dream reader. It’s the all-important background work that makes for killer copy!

(For some guidance in this department, click here to download your free Audience + Brand Clarity Workbook. It’s full of fun prompts to help you understand your audience AND how you want your brand to come across. Then move on to Step 2…)

2. Brainstorm a list of things you + your audience both do NOT enjoy

There typically won’t be just one shared enemy between you and your readers. There can be dozens!

Maybe late-night McDonald’s commercials are a big hindrance to your clients’ weight-loss success. But they’re also really irked by…

– Fashion brands that don’t carry plus sizes
– Diet foods full of harmful chemicals
– Celebrities who get paid to promote unhealthy detox teas they don’t actually drink

Take a few minutes to think about all the shared enemies you and your reader have in common. Then move on to Step 3…

3. Pick the enemy that feels the most *ALIVE* and write about it

Suzy Batiz has a concept that I just love…

And it’s that ideas are ALIVE.

You know when you feel all tingly when you dream up a particular concept or idea? Like you could happily think/talk/write about it all day? That’s alive!

I find the best copy comes from that place of aliveness. To write something that resonates with a reader, it’s got to stoke a little fire in you, too.

So read through your “enemy” list and see which of those ideas feels the most charged for you. Which of those enemies gets you fired up?

THAT’S the topic you want to use for your first Enemy Card. You’ve got strong feelings about it and it’s keeping your clients from their goals. Those are the prerequisites for a strong section of copy!

6 Places to Use The Enemy Card

Now that you’ve defined a common enemy between you and your clients (and you’re charged up to talk about it), it’s time to write about it!

Here are a few places I love to include The Enemy Card in persuasive copy:

Sales pages: Include a section where you speak directly about the enemy. Explain why it’s keeping your reader from their goals, why it’s not their fault they haven’t outsmarted it in the past, and how your product/service/program will help solve the problem.

Social media: Occasionally, share a post where you’re addressing the enemy outright. Start your post with something like: “One of the biggest hurdles standing in your way to [[your goal]] is…” and take it from there. (BONUS: Ask people to engage with a comment or a “like” if they’re as pissed off about this enemy as you are.)

Engagement emails: One of the reasons I love email so much is because it’s a casual way to connect with your reader. You can put together a 500-word rant about a shared enemy and receive a flood of replies saying, “YES! Omg I completely agree with you!”

It may not be your typical newsletter format, but it’s good to break from the norm every once in a while! Sending out an Enemy Card email 1-2 times per year is a great way to connect with your readers and encourage them to engage with your emails in a personal way.

Subject lines: In the same vein, calling out the enemy in your subject line is a surefire way to grab attention and persuade readers to click.

Here are a few email subject lines that would get your weight-loss audience to click:
– What? No plus sizes? 😡
– This is more annoying than detox tea ads
– McDonald’s ads + 7 more things that keep you unhealthy

Sales emails: This is another perfect place to play The Enemy Card. Help readers understand that it’s not their fault they haven’t achieved their goals yet; there’s something blocking their path.

Call out the enemy that’s stopping them from success and give yourself space to explain why your offer will help them reach their goals…despite that common enemy.

Welcome sequence: Inside my program Welcome Sequence Wonderful, we weave The Enemy Card into the first few emails to form a strong connection with new subscribers right off the bat.

Be upfront about your common enemy! Let new subscribers know where you stand early on in your relationship and build that sense of closeness and camaraderie from the get-go.

There are a bajillion ways you can create that moment of CLICK or connection with your reader. (Yep. A bajillion.) ← That’s the good news!

The not-so-good news: connection doesn’t just happen. You’ve got to be strategic and orchestrate those moments through clever copy and content.

So get strategic this week!

Download your ABC Workbook to familiarize yourself with your audience. Brainstorm a list of potential enemies and see which feels the most “alive” for you. Then take your pick from the list of outlets above and choose a way you’re going to attack that enemy with your copy!

join the convo

Who/what is one common enemy between you and your clients?

How does that enemy derail their progress towards their goals?

Tell me in the comments so you can TAKE ACTION on this powerful idea, instead of just reading about it!

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© Whitney Ryan LLC

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