Ah, Animal Crossing. It’s so relaxing.

Or at least, that’s what the 35.9 million people worldwide who’ve bought it seem to think.

But what is it that’s made this social simulator so popular? 

Other than the fact that people can live their lives vicariously through their character and get some stability in a time that’s so unpredictable? 

I mean, when I put it like that, it sounds pretty boring.

But it’s not boring: it’s simple.

Animal Crossing doesn’t try to be anything that it’s not, and that’s the beauty of it.

And that’s precisely what it can teach us about copywriting.

Stop trying so hard


When it comes to writing copy, most people try really, really hard. 

They try to be everything to everyone. They lose sight of who they’re selling to. And so they end up failing to sell to anyone.

What makes Animal Crossing work is that it knows what it is. And it’s cool with that.

Nintendo didn’t try to turn it into something it isn’t by giving it a complicated plot. It has no plot.

(Which, for an author like me, is refreshing as it means there’s no story to analyse and my brain can slow down for a bit while still getting its dopamine fix.)

It relies on simple, day-to-day activities, rewards for completing those activities, and a cast of quirky characters. 

And for its audience, that’s enough.

Make your voice stand out

Every villager, visitor, and staff member in Animal Crossing has their own unique voice. Some are sweet, some are funny, some are abrasive. Some have accents, some sing, song talk in riddles.

Players can fill their village with over 100 different characters and have up to 10 living on their island at a time. And they can rotate them out as much as they like.

When it comes to copywriting, too many people are afraid of their voice.

And it’s no wonder, really: from an early age, we’re trained to write to be judged by our teachers, employers, and peers.

We’re also trained to write in a way that pleases those teachers and employers, which means our voices get lost while we focus on sounding like other people. 

So we never really get the chance to find out what we sound like.

Developing our voices takes a lot of writing. I didn’t feel confident in my voice until my second nonfiction book, Writing Myths, and hundreds of blog posts for The Writer’s Cookbook later.

Why? Because I was too busy listening to what other people were telling me I should sound like, rather than leaning into what felt right for me.

All these factors make it really hard to develop a voice, especially if we lack confidence in who we are as a person and/or in our business idea. 

But without a strong voice, your writing will never stand out.

Maybe not so strong that your audience can’t understand you…

Most readers can’t consciously put their finger on what makes a great voice. Or articulate what one looks like on the page. 

But if you don’t have one — or it’s boring, or it’s constantly changing — it’ll make them feel uncomfortable. 

They may not know why, but it’ll plant a seed of doubt in their mind. 

They’ll trust you less. 

And they won’t stick around.

Keep it simple

One of my residents complimenting my outfit. It’s the Princess Leia hair that makes it.

Even if you’re selling a complicated technical product, there are no excuses for littering your sales page with jargon.

The harder you make people work to figure out if you can help them, the less likely they are to come to you for help. Even if your product or service is perfect for them.

They’re probably going to be reading your page during slower times or when they’re doing lots of research. 

During slower times, they’re trying to relax their brains ready for more work. 

If they’re doing research, they’re taking in a lot of information in a short space of time. 

The less work they have to do, the more information they’re likely to retain.

The quicker you can show someone you can help them—whether that’s with a snappy product description that answers all their questions, or with content marketing—the more likely they are to trust you with their time and money.

If your product is good enough, explaining its outcomes and benefits a simple way should be enough. 

That doesn’t always mean short, but it does mean there’s no room for superfluous words or phrases.

Just like in a poem, every word should work for its place.

Your reader shouldn’t need a degree to understand anything you write, even if your product is aimed at people in higher education.

The harder they have to work to figure out what problem you solve, the faster they’re going to go to your competitor.

Don’t be pushy—be polite

A GIF of some of the interactions when you enter the shop, Nook’s Cranny.

When you go into the shop, Nook’s Cranny, Timmy and Tommy welcome you. If you show interest in a product, they’ll tell you the price and if it’s in limited supply. That’s it. 

There are no pushy sales tactics demanding that you buy. They’re not desperate for your money even though it’s a remote island in the middle of nowhere.

Even if your company is struggling and you need more sales, the more desperate and pushy you come across the more likely you are to put people off. 

Focus on the positives and what’s in it for them instead.

And be polite!

People are becoming more and more sceptical of pushy sales tactics.

If you focus on helping them, and allow them to make their own decisions, they’ll come to you at a higher level of awareness when they’re ready to buy. 

Which means the sales cycle will be shorter and you’ll have to deal with fewer questions because your copy and content did all the heavy lifting for you.

Inspiration is everywhere

In Animal Crossing, you can find DIY and cooking recipes just about everywhere: on beaches, on deserted islands, from villagers, even falling from the sky.

Writing is no different. Inspiration is everywhere. You just have to be open to it.

In Animal Crossing, if you don’t listen out for the whooshing sound that balloons flying through the sky make, you’ll miss a recipe, item, or even bells.

In real life, if you don’t open your mind to new ideas, you’ll miss out on ways you can help your audience.

It’s not about overthinking anything. It’s about being open to everything.

The more open you are to experimenting with new tactics, the more likely you are to find something that works for you and your business. 

And the more likely you are to attract even more customers.

This post was original published on Medium.