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thecopycompilation 2 marco fossati http://creativeclassics.blogspot.com ottobre 2010
Right Brain Copy Secrets, Ted Nicholas www.awaionline.com I would estimate 99% of all copy written is dull. Boring. Most of it is unsuccessful. And instead of being a delight, an incredible chore to read. The biggest reason for this lack of success is, in my view, because it is "left brain" copy. Left brain copy may be logical. The copy may make sense. But there is just one problem. No one really wants to read it. And clearly if prospects dont read the copy, of course there is no way they will respond to it. Successful responsive copy must be exciting. Emotional. Passionate. Interesting. Unique. It must be created in the right brain. Unless you find a way to make it so, you are just kidding yourself if you expect to succeed with any offer. Thats why today Im presenting to you what has never been offered before by me or anyone else. A formula that will help you create: "Killer" right brain copy! Imagine this. Youll get a blueprint. A template for creating what the world is crying out for and desperately needs more of. Powerful right brain copy. Ive been thinking a lot lately about what I can do to help improve the copy of all those I influence. The key is activating the right brain. Killer copy is all about the right brain. Once activated and combined with a big central idea, this is the real secret behind great copy. Yet no one addresses it. Or discusses it. Therefore I cant help but wonder how many people are actually aware of the miracles the right brain can achieve. A small handful of great copywriters seem to be able to turn on their right brain almost at will. But, the good news is this. Right brain copywriting is a learnable skill. The human brain can actually be switched into right brain mode. How? With a series of specific actions that trigger the right side of your brain. These actions can help you program your incredibly powerful right brain. Ive broken down into steps what I see as the key brain triggers to writing successful sales copy. The first step is to do what you probably are already doing. Using your left brain. Please dont misunderstand me. I dont mean to disparage left brain functions in any way. These can also be very useful in copywriting. Ill explain how in a moment. So first activate the left brain. How? To start the process, simply study and isolate every single feature and benefit of your product. Write out these benefits. Use a 3 x 5 card for each one. Answer the "so what" question in each benefit. Here is a quick review of the left brain action you must take. Left Brain Actions• Isolate benefits• Write bullet points• Answer the "so what" question• Put your 3 x 5 cards aside for now Now you are ready to take steps that will help you access the powerful and more creative right side of your brain. The very first thing you should do is prepare a powerful right brain headline. I call this technique the "hidden benefit" headline. The hidden benefit headline does not have to be directly involved with any of your previously prepared left brain benefits.
Nor does it need to be directly related to your product or service. Many of my most successful headlines in space ads, e-mails, post cards and sales letters are hidden benefit driven. To create your hidden benefit headline answer this question: "If I had unlimited God-like powers and could grant my product or service the biggest benefit I can imagine, what would that be?" Read that key question at least three times before answering. Remember, 73% of the buying decision is made at the headline. So its really important. In fact, you dont have a chance to succeed without it. Once youve got your headline "nailed," follow it with a series of action steps. Here is a step-by-step summary of exactly how to do the whole process: Activate Right Brain• Discover hidden benefits using the above Ted Nicholas formula. To turn this headline into a huge promise, you must be able to prove and support. Remember, you need a big idea to drive the whole process.• Envision your buyer as a bright 21-year-old who you love and care for very much, but who needs a crystal-clear explanation of your offer. Keep it simple.• Begin roughing out copy. Just discuss the emotions of your prospect only. Do not even talk about the product at this point• What keeps your prospect awake at night? What are his/her aspirations? Goals? Wants?• Briefly explain what hooked you emotionally enough to want to market this product in the first place. Describe why it is fun for you to sell it? Make yourself as real as possible.• Dont hesitate to briefly include key factors about your lifestyle and personal life. Include those close to you such as your wife, husband, significant other, children and even friends.• Find your unique voice and stay consistent with it. Write informally just as you talk. Avoid sounding like youre teaching a course in English literature. Instead communicate as though you are having a drink or coffee with your prospect.• Use testimonials from passionate, happy customers. Make sure their comments support your hidden benefit promise.• Offer a guarantee that is beyond your comfort zone. The longer the better. If you have in mind a 30-day money-back guarantee, make it 90 days. If 90 days, make it six months. Even better, use a full-year guarantee. Offer to give a prompt and courteous refund. Even on the 364th day• Always sell dollars for pennies. To offer dollars for pennies, the actual value of the product including the value of all the free gifts must be several times the purchase price.• Make sure you offer at least 3 to 6 free bonus gifts if the prospect orders now or "within 7 days."• "Blend in" some or even all of the left brain benefits into your final draft.• Offer financial terms that are simply unbeatable.• Offer a dramatic payment plan that increases the appeal of the offer as well as its risk-free nature. Make it easy to buy. For example, offer a choice of three payments over three months instead of one large payment. Perhaps offer free shipping and handling You can also include this in your offer. "Your credit card will not be charged for a month. Nor will your check be cashed for at least 30 days from shipment. In that way you can decide whether you want to keep the product or return it. In such a case it will not cost you a single penny. And in such a case we will return your un-cashed check!" Once you complete the above steps you will be at, or very close to, a huge direct marketing winner online and/or offline. Of that you can be sure. Id love to hear about your big right-brain inspired winners!
10 Ideas for Staying In Touch With Prospects, Steve Slaunwhitewww.ForCopywritersOnly.comBy some accounts, upwards of 80% of prospects who are genuinely interested in your serviceswont hire you right away. There are many reasons for this. Some might need time to get toknow you better. Others might not require any copywriting help at the moment.Regardless, you need to stay in touch with these prospects on a regular basis.Otherwise, youll quickly drop off their radar screens.How do you stay in touch? Here are some ideas.1. Publish an ezine. Theres no guarantee a prospect will sign up for it. But if they do, theresa good chance theyll read a few issues.2. Share a helpful article. I find actually printing and mailing the article works best, ratherthan emailing it.3. Watch the news. Has the prospect launched a new product? Opened a new facility?Received a glowing product review? Send an email or card congratulating them.4. Find out where they "hang out". Is the prospect active in an industry forum orassociation? It might be worth your while to become active there, too.5. Make a special announcement. For example, you can send an email announcing thatyouve recently added press release writing to your list of services.6. Share a success story. Many prospects will want to know how youve helped your otherclients solve a specific problem or get a specific result.7. Connect on the social networks. Is your prospect active on LinkedIn, Twitter or any ofthe other popular social networks? If so, there are plenty of opportunities for you to touch basewith them there.8. Brag a little. Its okay to share a glowing testimonial you just received from a client, orother news that relates to your credentials and track record. Just won a writing award? Tellyour prospects!9. Do a mini-survey. This has worked particularly well for me in the past. I send out a mini-survey -- no more than three questions -- on a topic thats of interest to both the prospect andmyself. Then I offer to share the results.10. Invite them to a virtual "lunch and learn". This is another technique that has workedwell for me. Invite prospects onto a teleconference for a complimentary tutorial on a highinterest topic. For example, "How to write Twitter posts that get respect AND leads." Keep itshort; no more than 15 minutes. There are many low cost and free teleconference servicesavailable, so this stay-in-touch technique wont cost you much.
5 Negotiating Tips Every Freelancer Should Know, Steve Slaunwhitewww.ForCopywritersOnly.comSay you provide a project quote to a potential new client, and she says, "Your price is a bit toohigh for us." Do you now need to drop your price to get the job?Not necessarily.You can negotiate. By that I mean offering the client an alternative plan that gets her what shewants -- your freelance service -- and gets you what you deserve -- your professional fee.Here are five ideas for doing just that.1. Offer to get the job done sooner.If the client wants the job done in three weeks and you can do it in two, offer to do that as abonus. The client may be willing to pay your price in exchange for getting the project donesooner. Its a stress reliever.2. Throw in an extra.Can you offer some value-added extra that doesnt cost you a lot of additional time andmoney? Perhaps you can submit the press release (if thats the project) to the media releasecompany, saving your client time? She may be willing to pay your full fee for that extraservice.3. Ask for more time to get the project done.For many freelancers, getting a few extra days or weeks to do the job is a real benefit -- onethat may be worth being paid a little less. So if the client wants a better price, offer a discountif you can get four weeks to do the job instead of two.4. Offer a discount for paying your full fee in advance.I learned this technique in Alan Weisss excellent book, "Million Dollar Consulting". I say to theclient, "I offer a 10% discount when my quoted project fee is paid in advance." That savingsmay be all the client needs to award you the work. (And it sure is nice to get that cash in thebank right away!)5. Offer a volume discount.Query the client about upcoming projects and offer him a package deal. For example, if youvejust provided a ballpark quote for a new sales brochure, ask her about other sales materialsshe may need created, such as a web page and email series. Then offer a lower overall pricefor all three projects.I know its tempting to just drop your price. But I encourage you to give these negotiatingtips a try. Clients will respect that you stand behind your professional rates. And, more oftenthan not, youll stand a good chance of getting the project.
Le formule di Gene Schwartz, di Bob Blywww.bly.comGene Schwartz was one of the greatest advertising writers who ever lived.Yet he eschewed the so-called creativity of Madison Avenue, and many of his ads were writtenusing formulas.Here are 10 of his favorite ad writing formulas:1-Numbered lists.Example: "The Seven Deadliest Crimes Against Yourself."2-How-to headlines.Example: "How to Make Anybody Like You!"3-Secrets.Example: "Secrets of Eastern Super-Men Revealed at Last!"4-Question headlines.Example: "Why Havent TV Owners Been Told These Facts?"5-Reason-why headlines.Example: "Why Models Stay Young Till Sixty!"6-Make a big promise.Example: "Ill Make You a Mental Wizard as Easily as This!"7-Reference to a foreign or exotic location.Example: "Doctors in Sweden Say There is a Cure for Arthritis."8-Put a time reference in the headline.Example: "One Day with This Man Could Make You Rich!"9-Use the word "now" in the headline.Example: "Now-Run Your Car Without Spark Plugs!"10-"Dont pay one penny."Example: "Dont Pay One Penny Till This Course Turns You Into aHuman Computer!"Note: once Schwartz found a formula that worked, he would adapt it to many other ads formany different products.
10 Lessons Learned from 15 Years in the Communications Business, Jonathan Kranzwww.kranzcom.comIm approaching my fifteenth anniversary as an independent copywriter. In addition to accumulating inchesaround my waistline and gray hairs on my head, Ive gathered a few insights over the years Id like to share.Some of these pertain to service providers, like myself; some to service customers, like my clients. I hope thatboth perspectives will be valuable, regardless of your role.1. Beware the "its only . . ." projectSurprisingly, the big projects rarely take you down. Perhaps because theyre incontestably challenging, theseefforts usually come with adequate preparations that temper the difficulties. But the "its only" project -introduced as a minor consideration that should hardly take any time or thought, really - will bite you in theass every time. The simple thing is never simple, especially when little time or thought has gone into itsconception, purpose or execution. When a client says, "its only," they really mean they dont want to pay a lotfor it, not that it wont take a lot of work.2. Get (or give) creative briefs for everythingThe antidote to the "its only" disasters is the creative brief, a document that articulates the projects purpose,use, audience, key messages, proof points, etc. Creating creative briefs takes time, so its tempting to skip thestep. Resist that temptation. Time "saved" on the front end almost always leads to unnecessary confusionthat wastes much more time on the back end.3. Safety rulesWhat really motivates the B2B buyer? Sure, features and benefits are important - vital, in fact. But if werehonest with ourselves, well recognize that our competitors make promises very similar to our own. Inside thebuyers mind is a fragile, timid little creature with one ardent desire: "make me feel safe." This creaturecowers before the multiplicity of competing offers, the complexity of conflicting information. Instead of beinginspired by hope, it is numbed with fear; after all, in the B2B context, the rewards of a successful choice arefar less vivid than the immediate and painful results of failure. Above all else, when youre marketing to B2Binfluencers and decision-makers, you have to communicate the certain conviction that choosing you is thesafe choice to make.4. Perfection is a waste of timeTrue story: I once worked for a bank on a direct marketing campaign that was delayed for well over a year asthe client tweaked and retweaked the offer, the wording, the value prop, etc. Why? They wanted to get it justright. Heres why they were wrong: while they spent months making incremental adjustments, they lostmomentum, leads, opportunities and revenue. Had they taken action when they were 80% there - damn theremaining 20% -- they would have gained new business and important lessons for improving their marketingprogram. Instead, they stalled and got nowhere. Moral of the story: Get moving. Perfection is for dreamers.5. Fads come and goSpeaking of perfection, remember "excellence"? That was the big thing businesses were supposed to achieveback in the 90s. After all, the pursuit of excellence made Japan the rising sun in the global economy. ThenJapans economy sank and that sun, set - and the "excellence" fad went with it. Today, there are gurus wholltell you that blogging, Twitter, Facebook, mobile, video or the social media app du jour is the must-havething for any with-it marketer. Now, Im not saying any of these things are bad, just watch the bullshit. Inbusiness, the real question isnt whether a given thing is worth doing, but toward what ends and at what cost?If youre not weighing costs against benefits, youre just following a fad, not leading a business.6. Simple, cheap, effective: pick twoThe fuel for every fad engine is the promise that this thing (whatever it is) will be the magic marketing bulletthat every marketer craves - one that is simple, cheap and effective. But think about it: even if such a thingwere possible, it couldnt possibly last because everyone would do it and the competitive advantage would belost. Truth is, you can only have two of the three virtues at a time: it can be effective and cheap (likeblogging), but it wont be simple; it can be effective and simple (like good PPC), but it wont be cheap; andthere are tons of simple and cheap things that arent worthwhile whatsoever. Abandon the fantasy. If youregoing to succeed, youre going to pony up cash or sweat or both.7. Direct marketing methods remain relevantDirect isnt dead, but dominant. You know when the Web turned from a faddish plaything (late 90s) to areal, commercial power (early 00s)? When Google allowed us to apply tried and true direct marketingprinciples to the Internet: testing, metrics, offers and a relentless focus on specific audiences. If you thinksocial media is any different, think again. The people who are successful arent merely "sharing the love" -theyre creating platforms for targeted offers with carefully crafted response devices. Watch and learn.
8. Brochures suckIm exaggerating - there are times when brochures are useful. But why are they the first thing that comes tomind when marketers are launching a new product/service, when they should be the very last thing to worryabout? When was the last time anyone bought anything on the strength of a brochure? Worry about creatinga real marketing plan that complements a workable sales pathway. Worry about creating content that attractsattention by addressing your audiences interests. Only worry about brochures when youre satisfied witheverything else.9. Measure twice, cut onceIts a classic piece of carpenters wisdom that easily translates into the world of client correspondence: thinktwice, press the "send" button once. In the heat of the moment, its all too easy to react emotionally tocommunications that seem unjust, irrational or just plain stupid. Unfortunately, the very instantaneity ofemail can facilitate an impulsiveness that writing a letter, stuffing an envelope and finding a stamp once keptin check. Resist temptation: the more intense your feelings, the more you need a cooling-off period. Go for awalk, get a cup of coffee, goof around on Facebook. Then cast a cold eye on the correspondence and respondin your best interests - that is, rationally.10. Expect changeI started out writing consumer catalog copy, then moved into healthcare communications and B2B directmarketing. Today, most of my work is Web-content related. Things changed and my business has changedwith the times. Ten years from now, who knows what Ill be doing? How about you? You cant predict thefuture, but you can prepare for it by rejecting overly-narrow specializations and embracing flexibility.
Digital evolution of branding http://colectivoplanner.tumblr.com/
8 Secrets that Reveal How Buyers Really Think, Dean Rieckhttp://www.procopytips.com/Too many direct marketing gurus profess simplistic ideas about psychology. They insist thatpeople - perhaps the most complex creatures on earth - can be understood by using achecklist of motivators or pyramid of needs.But I cant even figure out why the teenage bagger at the local grocery puts three hundredcans of cat food in one bag and a single bunch of celery in another. So how can I possiblysummarize the whole human experience in a few words?Simple psychology is attractive, but ultimately limiting. When it comes to people, you have toobserve closely, continue learning, and keep an open mind. Because just when you think youhave everything figured out, someone does something you never expected.With this caveat in mind, here are just eight of the hundreds of secrets Ive learned about ourwallet-wielding species:People make decisions emotionally. They decide quickly, based on a feeling, need, oremotion. Usually, therefore, intangible benefits are the key to persuasion. Even for offer-drivenpromotions and business-to-business marketing, there is an emotional core to every decision.Always ask yourself, "What is the emotional hot button here?"People justify decisions with reason. Example: A woman sees a dress in a catalog andinstantly wants it. But she hesitates because its so expensive. However, the copy providesdetails on the quality of the fabric, the close stitching, and how buying the dress is aninvestment. This justification allows her to act on her emotional impulse.The lesson? Give people reasons to help them justify a purchase.Another example: I know a guy who bought a huge backhoe because he needed to dig onehole in his back yard. He went on for an hour reciting his reasons for owning this mammothmachine instead of just renting it. Pure justification.People put off making decisions. Psychology and sales experience reveal two interestingfacts: 1) The longer a decision is postponed, the more likely a decision will never be made. 2)The sooner you can provoke a decision, the more likely it is to be in your favor.Therefore, you should simplify the decision-making process in every promotion and force aquick response whenever possible. Specific deadlines are particularly powerful.People are egocentric. Not "egotistic," but "egocentric." That means centered on the ego orself. Anytime you ask someone to do something, you must answer that persons unstatedquestion, "Whats in it for me?" On a deeper level, the question might be, "How does this giveme feelings of personal worth?"We all see the world and everything in it in terms of how it relates to us personally. Thats whyfeatures must be translated into benefits.People are unpredictable. Even those of us who ponder the psychology of selling can neverpredict with any certainty how people will act in a real-world situation. The equation is just toocomplex. You can formulate hypotheses about why people do what they do. You can askpeople what they think and like. But in the end, the results to your tests are the only data youcan trust. So test and keep testing.People seek fulfillment. Love. Wealth. Glory. Comfort. Safety. People are naturallydissatisfied and spend their lives searching for intangibles. At its simplest, creating sellingmessages is a matter of showing people how a particular product or service, or even aparticular cause, fulfills one or more of their needs.
However, remember that motivations always have deeper motivations. You seek wealth forsecurity. You seek security because you fear change. You fear change because ... well, you getthe idea.People usually follow the crowd. We look to others for guidance, especially when we areuncertain about something. We tacitly ask, "What do others think about this? What do othersfeel? What do others do?" Then we act accordingly.A related concept is what I call the Bandwagon Effect. When lots of people do something, thatthing becomes more than acceptable, it becomes desirable. This is one reason whytestimonials and case histories are so influential.People fear loss. In general, the fear of loss is more powerful than the hope of gain. And thisfear includes (1) losing something you have and (2) losing the chance to have something youwant. By properly manipulating the instinct to avoid loss, you can trigger a favorable responseto your offer.Be careful. Dont turn every appeal into fear. Fear is powerful, but tricky. A positive approach isusually easier to pull off.
The 10 essential ingredients of succesful sale pages, Dave Navarrohttp://www.copyblogger.com/When you see dozens of copywriting formulas promising “the perfect sales page,” how do you know whichones to trust?After all, each formula seems to have a successful direct sales superstar behind it, and each one looks like asolid plan. What do you do in the face of these wildly different sales letter styles?The first step is to realize that copywriting is more than any one “formula” — it’s an exercise incommunication and persuasion.Just like a recipe, different formats will give you different results. The recipe you’re looking for will depend onyour audience — and you’ll have to test yours to find out what they respond to best.But whatever sales page recipe you choose to follow, the important thing is to understand the reasoningbehind the “ingredients” that go into it. Let’s take a look at what every successful sales page should have —regardless of how your recipe gets stirred up.1. Headlines that make promises and demand attentionHere at Copyblogger we’ve talked extensively about writing great headlines — and the importance that asolid lead-in has for getting your copy read.If you don’t nail the headline (the single most important part of your sales letter), no one will stick around forthe rest.Your headline must pre-qualify the reader based on their needs and wants, as well as promise them anintriguing result if they’ll stick around and read what comes next.Want to get good at making this happen? Practice. If you’re not cultivating a headline swipe file and honingyour attention-grabbing skills with each blog post you write, then you need to get started now.2. Opening paragraphs that promise and persuadePresuming your headline piques your readers’ curiosity, you then need to lead readers to a psychologicalcommitment to read every word of your copy.You can do this by using those initial paragraphs to draw them in, establishing rapport, and expanding on thepromise you made in the headline.This is the place to get more specific about what your readers are about to learn. Most important of all, letthem know how that knowledge will get them closer to their desired result.There’s a reason opening paragraphs are often called “teasers” — they’re meant to show just enough tomake the reader want to see more.
Continue to help your reader understand they’re in the right place (and that there’s juicy knowledge to begained by scrolling down), and they’ll keep reading all the way to the very end.3. Stories that reveal the reasons behind the offerThe old expression “Words tell, stories sell,” is still 100% true — people become more emotionally connectedwith copy that tells a story. You’ll do well to create a compelling (and true, of course!) backstory to why theoffer you’re making came into existence, because that pulls the reader into your copy on a deeper level.We all want to see how the story unfolds — and that’s precisely why so many effective sales pages includetransformative stories about the product’s author (or the people the author has helped). The reader wants aresult via your offer, and they’ll pay close attention to storylines that involve that result coming to pass.If you’re not a natural storyteller, then revisit some sales pages you’ve seen in the past and read them againwith an eye for story. You’ll be surprised how you see good writers work these seamlessly into their copy.4. Details that foster rapport and credibilityMany sales letters include a “Who am I and why should you listen to me?” section meant to establishcredibility (and more backstory) about the product author. You can definitely emulate this straight-to-the-pointdelivery, but there are other ways of achieving the same result with more subtlety.Let’s go back to the story — this is the perfect place to weave in the writer’s background — the resultsreceived, the credentials that establish authority, and the reasons that make that person the perfect choicefor satisfying the reader’s needs.Readers buy from those they trust and like. Pepper your copy with details that make the product author aninteresting and authoritative source, and the overall message becomes much more compelling.5. Subheads that stop scrollers and make reading easySolid subheads serve two powerful purposes in a high-conversion sales letter.First, they make it easy for the reader to know why they need to read the section of text below. Essentially,they are mini-headlines designed to set up a promise and entice the reader to keep going.For each text block in your sales letter, ask yourself “Why should anyone read this?” and translate theanswer into a compelling sub-head. Revisit blog posts you loved reading, and watch how the author kept youhooked with solid sub-headlines.The second purpose of subheads is to convey such an attention-getting promise that the people who “scrolland scan” stop in their tracks and say “I’ve got to go back and read this.”Don’t let a subhead into your sales letter without first asking if it’s “stop-worthy.”
6. Anxiety-reducing testimonialsMost people treat testimonials as an exercise in stroking the product author’s ego.But readers don’t care about that. They care about their own problems (and specifically, getting them solved)and they care about the objections they have when they consider clicking that “Add to Cart” button.They’re going to be thinking things like:“Will this work for my situation?”“Is this going to be too hard?”“Will I have time for this?“What if I need to return this?”“How can I trust this person?”It’s your job to anticipate their objections and gather testimonials that show an antidote to the anxietiesbehind them. Take a look at your testimonials and ask if they’re doing their job. If not, you know what to do.7. Proof that your product or service actually worksIf “the proof of the pudding is in the eating,” then you need to have some full bellies to show to your soon-to-be-customers.Walk them through specific examples of how the product or service worked for you (which incidentally, youcan easily do by weaving these elements into your story).If you have customers on hand with success stories, here’s where you work these in as well — taking specialcare to position the results in a way that reduces customer anxiety.Look for ways that previous customers were able to get results despite the obstacles, setbacks, orcircumstances that your new customers are likely to be worried about. Then use those examples to showhow your new prospects can do it, too.8. An offer they can’t refuseRemember, you’re selling more than just a product or service — you’re selling solutions, outcomes, andexperiences.Break out every detail of what your product does for them (and weave that into your story as well), and getvery specific as to how much each benefit is worth — financially and emotionally.Paint a clear picture of everything they’re getting. Stack value upon value until your readers are filled with thesense that your offer is exactly what they need — and furthermore, that the price is a no-brainer bargain.Shoot for the “10X factor.” If you can show the reader that your offer is truly worth ten times what you’re
charging, the buying decision becomes much, much easier. And if you can show how the product pays foritself (essentially becoming “free”), so much the better.9. A risk-free environmentPeople are terrified of being oversold, scammed, and taken advantage of on the internet — and so theirshields are up when it comes to trusting what you say.That’s why it’s such a good idea to offer a strong guarantee that takes all the burden of risk off of theirshoulders.It’s called “risk reversal,” and it’s easy to do. Simply offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee — if they don’t likewhat you’re giving them within 30 or 60 days, let them get their money back.Never make refunds difficult — the goodwill you generate from being a no-hassle provider is worth any costof returns.Of course there are some exceptions — when a return is truly costly to you (for example, for a physicalproduct), you may need to put some guidelines on returns so that you don’t get taken advantage of.But if what you’re selling is digital, the downside just isn’t there. The small and temporary cost of refunds willbe more than made up by the word-of-mouth referrals of happy customers.10. A solid close that gets your “buy” button clickedAll good things must come to an end, and when your sales message does the same, you need a strong callto action.Remind your customer what benefits they’ll get when they buy, and resurface the pain and inconveniencesthat will go away when they’ve fully used your product or service.Once you’ve done that, ask them explicitly to buy. Not doing so will cost you conversions, and it’s an easymistake to make because we can be hesitant to ask for things.You don’t have to do the “hard sell” here — just invite them to “join you,” or “get access,” or “download” —just by clicking and making a purchase.And that “P.S.” that’s such a sales letter cliché? Works like a charm.When people get to the end of your letter, all their lingering objections get put on one end of the scale, andyour price tag gets put on the other. Here’s your opportunity to tactfully let them know that they have thechance to get the benefits they want, and solve their problems at the same time.
Your call to action: Tell us what else you think is essential to a great sales letterAs I said at the beginning, there are dozens of copywriting formulas out there, and all of them serve theirpurpose and have solid avenues of conversion. This list isn’t meant to be exhaustive, it’s meant to give youthe basic framework for persuasive copy.Why don’t you join us in the comments below, where you can add your wisdom and get access to the ideasof others? Click in the comment box below and tell us what other essential “ingredients” you would add tothis list. We’ll see you there.About the Author: Dave Navarro is a product launch manager who can’t wait for you to join the 7,000+people using his free workbooks in the Launch Coach Library (a crowd favorite in the Third Tribeforums).P.S.Don’t forget to bookmark this page after you leave your comment, so that every time you return to it in thefuture, you can learn even more about writing great sales letters.
The golden key of persuasion, Gary Bencivengahttp://www.makepeacetotalpackage.com/Dear Marketing Top Gun,If you’re willing to use a little imagination, I will now place in your hand a golden key.Ready to play along?OK, vividly picture in your palm a large, gleaming, golden skeleton key.Feel how heavy it is? It’s made of solid gold.See how brightly it shines? It seems to pull extra light out of the air itself!Notice how cold it feels? It’s as if it’s been stored in the refrigerator.Can you see and feel this key in your palm now? OK, squeeze it. Feel its heft and coolness. See it gleam.Good!Now you start to feel very pleased to have been given this golden key, because it is priceless!How so?As you will soon discover, this rare key will enable you to open numerous treasure chests hiding in plainsight all around you. It will make you uncommonly effective as a persuader, someone known and respectedfor being able to unlock many hearts and minds with only your words.Such is the power of the key I hand you now – the golden key of metaphor.Metaphor? Whazzat?"Metaphor" is based on a Greek word meaning to "carry something across" or "transfer." Today we use"metaphor" to mean a direct comparison between two or more seemingly unrelated subjects.You’ll get the idea in a minute, but first let me promise you that this is no mere grammar lesson …If you heed my advice today about how to use metaphors, you can easily become one of the mostpersuasive people on the planet. As Aristotle said about the art of persuasion, "The greatest thing by far is tobe a master of metaphor." And the Big A was right too, because nothing persuades as quickly, effectively,memorably, or permanently as a well-crafted metaphor.As an added benefit, just as the God of Genesis breathed life into man’s nostrils, metaphors will breathe life,color, and power into everything you write.
Let’s Look at a Few Examples …Let’s say you are an ad agency executive pitching a new account. You could drone on about the necessity ofhaving "impactful ideas that capture consumer awareness …blah, blah, blah."Or you could begin your presentation like David Ogilvy, with a deft metaphor …"Ladies and gentlemen, unless your advertising is built on a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night."Instantly, your audience thinks, "A ship in the night? No, we can’t have that!"That image perfectly sets up a show-and-tell presentation of the big ideas you’ve come up with to boost yourclients’ sales.With a good metaphor, you fuse at the hip two different things and, by a mysterious alchemy, instantlytransfer the qualities of one into the other. Good metaphors are wizardry that work real magic in yourprospects’ minds. That’s because this process of transferring the qualities of one thing into another takesplace instantly, bypassing critical analysis and resistance. All you do is compare A to B in an effective wayand voila! your point is made instantly without disagreement. This can make you a magician of persuasion!A perfect example …Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan won the understanding and acclaim of the entire country – fromWashington to Wall Street to Main Street – when he proudly reported that he presided over "a Goldilockseconomy. Not too hot. Not too cold. Just right." That simple metaphor – "a Goldilocks economy" – wasmore persuasive than a 10-foot stack of economic reports.Let’s say you are writing about the wisdom of starting early to invest for retirement. You could write a sleep-inducing treatise on the subject. But look at how effectively master investor Warren Buffett does it – with asimple metaphor …"Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago."Or consider Ben Franklin on the wisdom of frugality …"Small leaks sink great ships."Do you see how tight, how irrefutable, how powerful such arguments are when phrased in an apt metaphor?They yield instant agreement, and that is their magic.Float Like a Butterfly …Do you remember Muhammad Ali in his prime? His wit was as quick as his left jab. In prefight banter withreporters, Ali could verbally out-shadowbox even the cleverest reporters, leaving them laughing withmetaphors like these:
"Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.""Only last week I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick. I’m so mean I make medicinesick.""Joe Frazier is so ugly that he should donate his face to the U.S. Bureau of Wildlife.""I’ll beat him so bad he’ll need a shoehorn to put his hat on.""I’m so fast that last night I turned off the light switch in my hotel room and was in bed before theroom was dark."Novelist and journalist Norman Mailer, who covered Ali and was himself a master of metaphor, described thechamp’s wit this way: "He always held aces to your kings."A Personal StoryWhen we were young, Pauline and I, while driving on vacation, came upon an adorable little cottage for saleon a little bluff overlooking the ocean. We fell in love with it.Prices of Hamptons real estate were much lower then, and we bought it, signing a contract to close in May.We couldn’t wait for our dream summer at the beach. But as the closing date drew near, the scheming sellerrealized he could make even more money if he rented the cottage out to someone else for the summer, sohe insisted that he had to postpone our closing until mid-September."No way!" howled my lawyer. And then he lowered the boom on the seller’s gambit with this telling metaphor:"You want to sell Gary and Pauline a toy store on the day after Christmas. No fair!" The seller caved;we closed in May and enjoyed the first of many enchanting summers in our cottage by the sea.Best Sources of Persuasive MetaphorsYour richest sources of metaphor include the Bible, fairy tales, sports, the movies – any source of imagesthat we all know by heart. And I do mean "by heart," because the mere mention of certain images willautomatically trigger in your audience powerful emotions they already harbor, which often enables you topersuade instantly.For example, when writing to investors, I would shamelessly massage their greed glands by describing "aSleeping Beauty stock" or "Cinderella opportunity" or "ugly-duckling company about to become aswan." If you manage a team trying to outperform a superior competitor, you can instantly give them moreconfidence by describing them as fearless David’s about to take down Goliath. If you’re putting a workgroup together for a special project, it’s motivational magic to tell each member that he or she has beenselected for an all-star team …or that they are about to move from summer stock to Broadway …or getthe chance to compete "in the Super Bowl of our industry," etc.
You can instantly illustrate a charismatic leader’s strong hold on his followers by saying that, to them, "hewalks on water" or she could "part the Red Sea." You could call a crooked politician a liar, but it’s so muchmore amusing – and devastating – to quip, "With his every statement, his nose grows longer."You can give a metaphor a humorous twist to enliven any speech or ad. In the keynote address at theDemocratic National Convention of 1988, former Texas Governor Ann Richards lampooned the firstPresident George Bush. Describing, in her view, his fumbling attempts to connect with the American people,she lamented …"Poor George. He can’t help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth."You Can Do This!First identify the point you want to make. Then imagine, just as you did with the golden key above, ametaphor (or comparison) that makes your point for you. It’s fun, like a treasure hunt, like looking for moneyas you walk down the street in a city where everyone’s pockets have holes. (Hey, I just penned a metaphor!When you get into the habit, it becomes second nature.)Start looking and you’ll notice useful metaphors everywhere. Collect them like coins and you’ll find manyopportunities to spend them on more colorful prose. Just the other day I heard Jacob Teitelbaum MDspeaking on the radio about the effect of too much coffee:"Caffeine is an energy loan shark. What it lends you in the morning it takes back with heavy interestin the afternoon."Please don’t turn up your nose at the more familiar metaphors. I love clichés, and you should too! They areclichés precisely because everyone already believes them, so using them gives your copy greater credibility.Some examples …"Old as dirt.""Smart as a whip.""Cool as a cucumber.""Dumb as a box of rocks.""You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.""A leopard doesn’t change its spots.""Where’s there’s smoke, there’s fire.""The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree."
"This product gives your portfolio Gibraltar-like security because …""The lion’s share of the profits will go to the few who realize …""You are opening a Pandora’s box of problems.""A sea change is sweeping across this industry …""Overall, we like the agreement, but this clause is a bone in our throat.""While most products of this kind are punched out cookie-cutter fashion, ours are custom-made. Youwill instantly notice the difference. For example …""Asleep at the switch.""Play hardball.""Tip of the iceberg.""Roller coaster of emotions."The list is almost endless.Mistakes to AvoidAs with all claims in your copy, don’t exaggerate with metaphors. That reduces credibility and depressesresponse. Recently I saw an online promotion for a bizop that "sucks in money like a vacuum cleaner onsteroids." A little over-the-top for my taste. I find myself automatically reacting, "Yeah, sure."Also beware of using "mixed metaphors." On page 178 of her entertaining grammar book, Woe Is I, PatriciaT. O’Conner features a sidebar cleverly titled "Metaphors Be with You." In it she writes …"If you’ve heard it’s unwise to mix metaphors, this is why: The competing images drown each other out, asin, the silver lining at the end of the tunnel or don’t count your chickens till the cows come home."Some people are so wild about metaphors that they can’t resist using them in pairs. This may work, if theimages don’t clash: Frieda viewed her marriage as a tight ship, but Lorenzo was plotting a mutiny. Since theimages of tight ship and mutiny have an idea in common (sailing), they blend into one picture. But usuallywhen two figures of speech appear together, they aren’t so compatible. In that case, the less said, thebetter."Speaking about metaphorical gaffes, I heard one of my all-time favorites when a New York TV reporter wasdoing man-on-the-street interviews about the meaning of Presidents’ Day. She buttonholed a passerby,asking him, "What would George Washington say if he knew that his holiday has become famous for sales ofmattresses, underwear, and used cars?" To which the man somberly intoned, "If George Washington were
alive today, he’d roll over in his grave."To get better at coming up with metaphors, read John Updike’s stories or Shakespeare’s plays and poems.Let me leave you with this magnificent example …Libraries are lined with acres of bookshelves groaning with tomes on the nature of life. Most of these bookswill remain closed, gathering dust for all their days because they’re impenetrably long and boring. Bycontrast, marvel at how economically Shakespeare captures a world of wisdom with this single metaphor …"All the world’s a stage,And all the men and women merely players:They have their exits and their entrances;And one man in his time plays many parts …"Top Gun, when life gets you down and your days grow heavy with worry or crowded with idiots (or, as myScottish grandmother called them, "eejits!"), remember Shakespeare’s metaphor and it will give you solace.It’s all a big play. Perform your role with gusto, but don’t take anything too seriously, at least not for too long.Soon this act will be over, the curtain will fall only to rise again, new players will assemble onstage in freshcostumes, and perhaps you will star in a different role. Shakespeare’s eloquent metaphor can change yourwhole perspective any time you think of it, which is exactly what a good metaphor does.Sincere wishes for a good life and (always!) higher response, Gary Bencivenga, Guest Editor,The Total Package
Encoding advertising in the mind, Dan Hillhttp://www.brandingstrategyinsider.com/While the ﬁrst job of advertising is to get itself noticed, the second job is to be remembered. Otherwise,the third job, being persuasive, won’t typically have a chance for success until the advertising is beingexperienced directly at the point of sale. So, from both my study of how memorable advertising works aswell as my decade-plus experience in using facial coding to scientiﬁcally quantify emotionally effective,impressionable advertising, what actually works in generating high recall?Here’s a short primer, involving nine possible variables:The scientiﬁc estimation is that a visual impression enters the brain’s sensory storehouse for no more thanhalf a second. In that brief time interval, consumers intuitively make a decision as to whether the image ifworthy of retaining. Everything else gets discarded, given that the brain is like a paper-shredder constantlytrying to avoid overload. Radical simplicity is therefore the ﬁrst secret. Just like the joke that has to beexplained to you is never as funny as the joke you just get, visual complexity kills recall potential. Sincehalf the brain is devoted to processing visuals, failure to leverage imagery is fatal.Invoking emotional engagement through relevance continues to be another key attribute of memorableadvertising. But relevancy isn’t only whether the offer ﬁts our needs, or wants of what we don’t want (ourfears). It could be that we relate to the talent shown on screen or in print, to a problem that’s beingdepicted, or to a story line or theme. Because visuals serve as metaphors to help us understand the worldaround them, leverage them to establish a need or want. A case in point: the famous Maxell audio tapeadvertising that shows a guy in a chair inside his house or apartment, the lamp shade and the guy’s scarfboth blown back from the force of the music coming out of the guy’s loudspeaker. There, the visualmetaphors being exploited consist of conﬂating loud (versus soft) and fast (versus slow), given that the guyis also dressed to resemble a motorcycle rider (think, Easy Rider). Excitement and rebellion is the evokedwant, reminding me of the funniest request I ever heard on a radio station. A mousy, timid sounding girlcalls in to ask the DJ to play Steppenwolf’s hit song, “Born to Be Wild.”Associations aided by familiarity provide another point of leverage. The storage of memories is often basedon the degree to which the information is associated with or linked to what else we’ve already retained.That’s because people are inherently lazy, like house cats, are what they already know and have retainedworks because it’s easier and ties in to what they have already deemed to be important, interesting, etcetera. The greater the number of these links (evoking stories already in our hearts and minds), the betterthe chance of recall. The Maxwell ad takes advantage of a number of associations we have regarding theoutlaw status/myth of bikers. Link a key product attribute to a meaningful memory and use the latter tohook us on the former.Speaking of associations, since neurons that ﬁre together, wire together, yes, repetition does work. Butsince that approach can cost you lots of money (you may not have) and runs the risk of alienating people,let’s go on three more ways to generate recall.The opposite of repetition is novelty. What’s new and surprising and of interest can literally make our eyesgo wide with curiosity. Just make sure the mind’s eye has time to absorb it and let it register emotionally,
which is at least 1/6th of a second (or 5 frames). That sounds easy to allow for, but believe me in testingadvertising I’ve seen many instances of “bald spots” where consumers aren’t engaged because everything ishappening too fast.Change works, because real or implied motion gets our attention. The explanation is from an evolutionarypoint of view, survival. Any change in the status quo may provide an opportunity or pose a threat. Whenthe change involve intensity, even better. What’s red-hot invites or even demands scrutiny.Finally, make sure your advertising involves an explicit or at least an implicit story, and that the story has apeak or climax to it. Nothing bores people more than a story, or joke, without a pay-off or punch line. Waytoo many commercials are like a drive through Kansas, instead of Colorado. Everything’s ﬂat, with theproblem/solution scenario not really working because the problems depicted are as dull as the outcome. Agreat ad should have at least one peak, maybe even two. Our research furthermore shows that a peak thatcomes later is better, leading the emotional momentum build. For the TV spots we’ve tested, peaks thatcome later enjoy a true-smile, top-box emotionally pay-off that’s 12.8% greater than a peak that occurs at orbefore the mid-point of a 30-second spot.
Writing to the 2010 customer, Luke Sullivanwww.heywhipple.comWhat follows is one of the single most interesting passages I’ve read in my 50-some years of reading. It’sfrom a marvelous book called 1939: The Lost World of The Fair, by David Gerlernter.It paints a picture of an America that no longer exists.“Question: What is wrong with this picture? [Rhetorical; there was no actual picture in the book.] Itappeared in a 1939 survey of New York City: a construction site with pedestrians walking past in front, leafytrees and apartment buildings to the rear. Painted on the fence around part of the work site are the words‘DYNAMITE STORED HERE – DANGER EXPLOSIVES DANGER.’ It is a tall, solid board fence. Butthere is no barbed wire, no policeman; Women and children [walk] by a fenced-off magazine of highexplosives,” the caption reads.I ﬁnd this observation amazing.To think that there was actually a time when you could safely store dynamite in an unprotected shack inNew York City; and to feel so certain of the character of your fellow Americans that a simple danger signwould be sufﬁcient to keep people away. It’s hard to believe such a world ever existed but clearly there wassome social force in play that kept this dynamite safe. This force, Gerlernter proposes, was the fact that in1939 “people lived in an ‘Ought’ culture.”Such a marvelous insight, and all gleaned from one photograph in a yellowing magazine – America as an“Ought culture.” We ought to eat our vegetables. We ought to doff our hats in the presence of ladies. Weought to report neighbors who we suspect of communism.Later on Gerlernter expands the deﬁnition to what I’d describe as “Authority culture.” In fact, it’s arguablethe entire period from ‘30s through the early ‘60s was all Authority culture. Citizens trusted authorityentirely, wherever it was; in a corporation; in a policeman’s uniform; or just the voice over the radio. (“Holdon, ladies and gents! I’ve just received this important telegram!”)For purposes of discussion, I tender here a few advertisements typical of the times, copied from mycollection of old magazines. I regard advertisements like these as windows into the soul of the times;emotional Polaroids of ancient evenings; the zeitgeist in rotogravure.
Note how Plymouth baldly states – with neither hesitation nor proof – that big-ass cars are glamorous.Saying it’s so, makes it so. General Electric decides for us that spring has a new color. And don’t get mestarted on this ad for Gaylord shaving supplies ad. I will note however also that illustration seemed to bethe preferred visual style of the ‘40s through the ‘60s. Screw photography; illustrations let advertisers showlife the way they wanted it to be and showing it so, of course, made it so. Note, too, that all three ads useexclamation points. (Hey, when youre an authority, you can bark your orders.)Simply running an ad in a magazine made you an authority. (“See, honey, it’s printed right here. In amagazine!”) A cigarette ad could claim there wasn’t “a cough in a car load.” The government could denyradioactive iodine 131 was in the nation’s milk supply. Facts didn’t count. Authority did.Pick up an old magazine sometime and see if you don’t agree; almost every ad and every article feels like apronouncement from an authority.Sometime in the mid-‘50s, however, this omnipresent voice of authority started to lose its credibility. Howthis came to be is perhaps a story for another day, but it happened. Somewhere in the cultural whirlwind
of the times (the dethroning of McCarthyism, the quiz show scandals, the arms build-up), Americansdeveloped the ability to be skeptical; to doubt; to question authority.For my generation, I’ll wager many of us date the last days of unquestioned authority with the Vietnam war– its ﬁnal public humiliation, the resignation of Dick Nixon. America ﬁnally had evidence – on tape even –that authority could be more than just wrong, it could be corrupt.FROM AUTHORITY TO AUTHENTICITY.Let’s turn the yellowed magazine page now to the year 2010.Imagine we were to run that Plymouth ad in next week’s Time magazine. I’ll bet that even if we updatedthe ad’s look and feel, its presumptuous tone (“Big is glamorous, dammit!”) would still make today’s readerssnicker at its authoritarian cluelessness. We simply wouldn’t get away with it today. It is a different Americanow.We’ve become a nation of eye-rollers and skeptics. We scarcely believe anything we hear in the media anymore and marketers can’t make things true simply by saying they’re true.So, what I’m wondering today is this: where people once looked to authority to tell them what was true andwasn’t true, perhaps what people look for today is authenticity.Merriam-Webster says something is authentic when it actually is what it’s claimed to be. Which makesauthenticity in advertising an especially tricky proposition given that advertising is at its heart self-promotion and driven by an agenda. And yet while Americans today are suspicious of anyone with anagenda, being authentic doesn’t always require the absence of an agenda, only transparency about it.Admitting that your commercial is a paid message with an agenda is one way to disarm distrust. Under-promising and over-delivering is another. Even self-deprecation can help establish authenticity; VW’s “It’sugly but it gets you there” being perhaps the most memorable example.
DDB’s early Avis work was similarly authentic whether it was admitting to shortcomings (“We’re only #2.”)or giving customers with complaints the CEO’s actual phone number.In my opinion, Canadian Club’s masterful print series is an excellent modern example of an advertiserleveraging reality, warts-and-all, to sell its wares. An unapologetic statement of “Damn right your Daddrank it” coupled with images of ‘70s dads (somehow still cool in their bad haircuts and paneledbasements) leveraged authenticity instead of authority.So too does a marvelous campaign for Miller High Life. Here the beer truck delivery guy takes back casesof his beer from snooty people who aren’t truly appreciating the Miller High Life. Grumbling on his wayout the door of some hoity-toity joint (“$11.95 for a hamburger? Y’all must be crazy.”), he is himself aspokesman for authenticity.But even with these good examples of authentic messaging, it’s now time to question the supremacy of theformat itself – that of paid messaging. It worked ﬁne in the ‘50s when TV was new and citizens were happyto listen to the man tell them Anacin worked fast-fast-fast.But everything is different in 2010. As Ed Boches said, “In an age when the manufacturer, publisher,broadcaster and programmer have lost power to the consumer, reader, viewer and user, … the power ofcontrolled messages has lost its impact.”AUTHENTICITY IS THE WALK, NOT THE TALK.It may be getting to the point now where marketers can’t make anything happen by employing messagingalone, no matter how authentic. Doc Searles, co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto, agrees, stating that a
brand isn’t what a brand says but what it does. What all this suggests is that perhaps the best way toinﬂuence behavior and opinion in the year 2010 is to do things instead of just say them.Where it once served our clients to make “claims” on their behalf, it may be better now to do things thatare less claim-based and more action-based, or reality-based, or more experiential – to demonstrate in thead itself a brand’s promise or a product’s beneﬁt.For example, a print ad promising that VW is a fun brand, well, that’s nice. But bringing this claim to lifewith a subway stairwell of working piano keys was more powerful in a number of ways. Instead of makingsome happy claim about an emotion, it created the emotion right there on the stairs. And of course there’sthe P talk value of such an interesting execution. .R.I’m reminded also of Denny’s offer to America: a free breakfast during a recession. This is an event asmuch as it is an ad, and America took them up on it. Also from Goodby came the Hyundai AssuranceProgram, which allowed customers who bought a new Hyundai to return it if they lost their job within theyear. These are not ads so much as they are events. They are not “claims,” they’re actions.In the end, these musings suggest several possibilities.• Marketers cannot simply list a product’s beneﬁts and tell customers why they should want it. It doesn’twork very well anymore.• Persuading a nation of eye-rollers requires a message, tone, or platform that is authentic.• No matter how authentic your message, you cannot become X by saying you are X. You must actually beX. So, after you ﬁgure out what your brand needs to say, ﬁgure out what it needs to do.• Same thing with customers: after you ﬁgure out what you want customers to think, what is it you wantthem to do?• Similarly, don’t try to tell customers how they’re going to feel. Help them actually experience the emotionby doing something.The bottom line: Brand actions speak louder than words. Brand experiences speak louder than ads. Walkbeats talk.
BIG PHILOSOPHICAL CLOSINGMy college psychology professor once wrote on the board, “Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.” It meansthe life of the individual organism is often reﬂected in the life of the species.I confess I see in my own life a similar pattern of authority-to-authenticity. As a child, I blindly ascribedauthority to many things (ﬁrst was my parents; second, the Beatles) and in so doing came to know theworld. But as I grew up, black-and-white authority became nuanced with the greys of authenticity.Perhaps the nation grew up the same way. We don’t need Dad-Brands anymore, wagging their ﬁngers at uswith nothing by way of proof beyond “Because I said so.”••••••••••••••••••I got some much-needed advice on this essay from the delightful and brainy Nicole McKinney here atGSD&M.
COPYWRITING TIPS Dave Trotthttp://community.brandrepublic.com/blogs/dtb/default.aspxIʼve been asked to write an entry for D&ADʼs Copy Book.I just found this list of tips in my desk drawer.1) Avoid alliteration. Always.2) Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.3) The adverb always follows the verb.4) Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.5) Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.6) Remember to never split an inﬁnitive.7) Contractions arenʼt necessary.8) Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.9) One should never generalise.10) Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”11) Donʼt be redundant; donʼt use more words than necessary; itʼs highly superﬂuous.12) Be more or less speciﬁc.13) One word sentences? Eliminate.14) The passive voice is to be avoided.15) Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.16) Who needs rhetorical questions?17) Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.18) Donʼt never use a double negative.19) Proofread carefully to see if you words out.20) And donʼt start a sentence with a conjunction. (Remember, too, a preposition is a terrible word toend a sentence with.)21) Donʼt overuse exclamation marks!!!!!!!22) Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.23) Avoid trendy locutions that sound ﬂaky.24) Last but not least, avoid clichés like the plague; theyʼre old hat; seek viable alternatives.Like most lists of rules for creativity, this one is long and thorough.Itʼs detailed and proscriptive.Itʼsconﬁdent and dogmatic. And itʼs about as useful.
Dear Business-Builder,A couple of my copywriting colleagues from Germany came to visit me in myoffice, and as we were chatting, the question came up: “When you sit down towrite a promotion, where do you start?”While there is no right answer – you should do whatever works for you – aninformal survey of copywriters reveals that these are the most common startingpoints:1. Headline. Many copywriters start with the headline. They write many differentheadlines. And then agonize over which one is best.James Web Young recalls sitting at home one evening when the thought “Why doesevery man hope his first child will be a boy?” just popped into his head. Hewrote it down and later used it as the headline for a successful ad.Other copywriters just write a rough headline as a placeholder and write theentire promotion. Often, something they write in the body copy makes a strongerheadline than their placeholder.I prefer to get a strong headline (with subhead) down on the screen before Istart writing the rest of the piece. Reason: the headline is your mostarticulate expression of the big selling idea behind your package, and if youcan write a strong headline on it, you probably understand that big idea prettywell.2. A theme or big idea. Porter Stansberry and his team of copywriters writevirtually all of their promotions around a big idea, theme, or story. I believethey actually build products (in their case, newsletters) around big ideas theythink will work in the mail.One of the early promotions Porter wrote had the headline: “There’s a newrailroad across America.” As I recall, the new railroad was a large fiber-opticdata network. The big idea was that just as the railroads connected us in theearly days of America, communications networks now connect us in modern times.3. The prospect. Copywriter Don Hauptman says, “Start with the prospect, not theproduct.” Another top copywriter, Sig Rosenblum, advises: “Don’t talk aboutwhat’s interesting to you. Talk about what’s interesting to the prospect – hishopes, dreams, needs, fears, problems, concerns, and desires.”Traditional advertising often centers on the product. Even Bill Bernbach’s
classic Volkswagen ad, “Think Small,” focuses on the product, not the prospect –at least in the headline.But a better approach is to start with what’s on the prospect’s mind – what hecares about – and then connect your product to the prospect’s major need orproblem.4. The list. Ed McLean’s classic letter for Newsweek began: “If the list uponwhich I found your name is any indication, this is not the first – nor will itbe the last – subscription letter you receive. Quite frankly, your education andincome set you apart from the general population and make you a highly ratedprospect for everything from magazines to mutual funds.”Physician’s Desk Reference, a directory of prescription drug data, beat a long-time control when they focused their mailings to specific lists. For instance, amailing to a list of people who had bought their PDR three years earlier said,“Your PDR is now three years old and woefully out of date. Do not makeprescribing or clinical decisions with PDR until you replace your dated editionwith the new volume.”5. Core emotion. Superstar copywriter Clayton Makepeace says the most importantthing to nail first when writing a promotion is a lead that somehow resonateswith what he calls the prospect’s “dominant resident emotion” – the strongestfeeling he has relating to your product or the problem it solves.Once he has a lead capturing that emotion, he writes a headline to get prospectsto read it. Example: “LIES, LIES, LIES … we investors are fed up with everyonelying to us and wasting our money!”6. The core buying complex. Michael Masterson, co-founder of AWAI, uses asimilar approach, except he starts with what he calls the “core buying complex.”This consists of the beliefs, feelings, and desires the prospect has that relateto the product or offer.A training firm launched a new seminar by making the title of the workshop theheadline of the letter: “Interpersonal Skills for IT Professionals.” It did notdo well.While analyzing the core buying complex, the marketing team determined that akey feeling of prospects – IT managers – was the adversarial nature of therelationship that often exists between IT professionals and end users.They tested against the control a new letter with the headline: “Important news
for any IT professional who has ever felt like telling an end user ‘Go tohell.’” The test pulled 6X more leads than the control.7. A big problem. A great question to ask your client is, “What’s keeping yourprospects up at night?” Then write a lead that acknowledges that problem.My friend Sy Sperling became a multi-millionaire by founding the Hair Club forMen. He began with tiny space ads in the Daily News. These small space ads hadno room for long headlines. If he wanted the headline in big, bold type, he onlyhad room for a few words. His one-word headline focused on the biggest problemof men who had lost their hair: “BALD?”8. Body copy. Write the body copy first. Then read it several times. Highlightany strong sentence or phrase you think should be moved closer to the front. Onemay be strong enough to move to the very front, as your headline.Jim Rutz said in an interview he used a similar method to beat controls. He’dread the control until he found something buried in the middle that would make astronger headline and lead than the one the copywriter had used.9. The offer. If the offer is extremely appealing, or your audience is one thatresponds to offer-driven promotions (e.g., book and record club buyers), you canstart by writing the offer.Years ago, the Chemical Engineer’s Book Club introduced a new offer: join theclub and get the major reference work in the field, Perry’s Chemical Handbook.The package I wrote worked very well. The outer envelope teaser was: “Why are wegiving away this new 50th anniversary edition of Perry’s Handbook practicallyfor FREE?”10. Order form. An effective way to overcome writer’s block, especially whenwriting longer documents, is to start with the easy parts. When writing amagalog, DM package, or landing page, that means for some copywriters startingwith the order form.To get something down on the screen, you can even copy the order form from theold promotion. Why not? Having that part done can energize you to move forward.And you can always come back to the order form and improve it later.11. Word file template. Another way to overcome writer’s block is to create atemplate for your new promotion in Word. Just copy the file from your lastpromotion, delete the text, and leave the outline: subheads and breaks
indicating where the various elements go. Then start filling in the blanksections on the Word template.12. Your swipe file. Keep a swipe file of controls in your market as well asstrong mailings in other industries. Look to both files for ideas andinspiration when facing a blank screen on your new copywriting assignment.Copywriter Milt Pierce says: “A good swipe file is better than a collegeeducation.”Robert W. Bly Guest Contributor THE TOTAL PACKAGEhttp://www.makepeacetotalpackage.com/
18 Ways to Walk the Talk on Content, Valeria Maltoniwww.conversationagent.comA couple of days ago I wrote a post about exposure and visibility and how quality content that isvaluable takes time to create. Everyone agrees with that sentiment. However, when push comes toshove, with very few exceptions, people tend to spread content that is more popular -- even whenpopularity means less helpful, sometimes incomplete.The ability to think critically is a gift -- its also the underpinning of an effective business strategy,where you work from your core competencies. I worry that much of that ability gets lost to the desireto fit in and become popular -- to make the quick list, in blog parlance.Popularity doesnt equal value to your customers, the messenger is not the message.Its counter intuitive because there is so much more content online than just a few years ago, howevercontent that addresses the needs of your customers is not plentiful. You get that, and youre ready to putsome resources against content creation.Here are 18 ways to walk the talk on content for your consideration:(1.) Have a clearly defined goal before you start on the writing assignment -- what is that white paperor case study for? What part of the buyers decision journey does it map to? Does your PR read like this,for example?(2.) Eliminate jargon or minimize it -- some industry talk is part of what endears you to search. However,make sure youre using terminology your customers are using to find services like yours and not inside-speak.(3.) Map the proof points and benefits to the selected phase in the buyers decision journey -- if thereare opportunities to make it specific, you should take them.(4.) Match the benefits to the specific needs of an industry vertical -- if youre looking to attract aspecific group, it pays off to know the industry and play back those issues. Expertise is a sought afterquality.(5.) Build context around your content -- either articulate what is already there, or provide a frameworkto guide the reader, in your case the customer. Your narrative overall can help guide you with context.(6.) Develop a sense of timing -- know when to be opportunistic in joining an existing conversation, andoffering your expert advice and information. This is easier to do when youve established a presence innetworks. Hire people who can seize the moment and time you well in social networks.
(7.) Get creative -- is there a unique approach you can take? Is there opportunity to make clarity in aspace where there is a lot of information that is hard to digest? David Weinberger does it with theInternet as a topic. I should do more of this. Here are 50 content ideas that create buzz.(8.) Be more authentic -- this goes hand in hand with clarity. Is there an opportunity in your industry orniche for a business that communicates what it stands for? Could you be communicating more from yourcore beliefs and values?(9.) Use your platform for your customers -- Im liking what Dave Winer is doing with the announcementof a proposed panel Sources Go Direct. Hes gathering a talented group of speakers around a topicwhere there is a lot of passion: news that serves users/readers.(10.) Organize the distribution system to appeal to your customers -- in a fragmented media landscape,having a media strategy helps you tremendously. First you figure out where your customers andprospective customers are, then you learn what theyre talking about, what engages them, etc.(11.) Put people in front -- although we see many examples of this point in social media and blogs, I thinkcontent overall can use a refresh to be less stodgy and more accessible, to have a point of view. Bringforward the personality of the expert with the expertise.(12.) Embed ways for them to talk back when they share -- downloading a white paper after registeringon a form is not the only way to learn if your customers like your content and share it. Embed share thiswidgets in your newsletter, for example, and learn where they share it.(13.) Hire good writers and pay them well -- everyone can write just like everyone can do marketing andcommunications, right? Writing that sells is a whole new level of skill, and you should appreciate thedifference. Online, you can measure it all the way to the cash register, metaphorically speaking.(14.) Refresh your content with what you learn -- although evergreen content will give you a lot ofmileage, more specific content needs a refresh. Remember youre writing to zero in on needs and specificis a good thing to support conversions. Monitor what gets shared and what doesnt and test new iterations.(15.) Include what your customers say in your content -- with permission, please. What Jonathan Fieldspoints out here is a common trend. Permission marketing should include asking for permission to quote.(16.) Recycle the best, with something new -- when youve invested in a piece of content, you want tomake sure you leverage it across multiple media. Theres nothing wrong with recycling the ideas andconcepts in forms that are appropriate for the medium and the goals youre looking to achieve. Youll knowwhats best from sharing and downloading numbers.(17.) Make it easy to find -- how many layers are there on your Web site? Do you have an intuitive sitearchitecture? Is it linked to from pages that are natural complements or high in search? Are there simplecalls to action begging to be followed?
(18.) Write with the future opportunities you have in mind -- much of the current activities undertakenin marketing communications focus on the present opportunities and learning from the past. The biggestopportunity stands undiscovered in the future.Well written and effective content that is tailored to the needs of your customers is worth gold to yourbusiness -- its your online body language, and it cannot easily be duplicated by other businesses.How easy is it for you to write helpful content? What do you find challenging about the process? Whattools do you feel youre missing to make it work?
20 Ways to Make Your Copy More Believable, Daniel Leviswww.makepeacetotalpackage.com“If you can channel the tremendous force of belief behind only one claim, no matter how small, then that onefully-believed claim will sell more goods than all the half-questioned promises your competitors can write forthe rest of their days.” – Gene SchwartzDear Web Business-Builder,When planning a promotion, “there are always things you need your prospects to believe before they willbuy. The idea that not buying your product or service right now would be the epitome of dumbness is just oneof them. On the way to that end goal, there are always supporting conclusions that must be hurdled …You may need to convince your prospect that a certain process or method is superior to all others when itcomes to solving his particular problem.You may need to prove to him that even though your company is small, you can meet his needs.You may need to lead him to the conclusion that despite what he perceives as his own limitations, he cansucceed with your help … and so on.Every selling situation has its own unique supporting conclusions.I think we’re all familiar with the idea of substantiating claims with proof, in the form of testimonials, customersuccess stories, expert endorsements, the credentials of the seller, and so forth … but these are just a few ofthe factors that impact belief.Indeed as I sat down to write this article I counted 20 different mechanisms for getting your prospects tobelieve what you need them to believe… on the road to buying your product.There are mechanisms that can be applied to a conclusion itself. There are mechanisms that can be appliedafter a conclusion has been stated, in order to substantiate it. There are mechanisms that can be usedbefore a conclusion is even introduced that will make that conclusion more believable. And all of them worktogether to produce conviction.Here’s a convenient checklist of things you can do to enhance believability. Use it as an idea starter on yournext promotion.Credentialize — Credentials answer the question, “Why should I listen to you?” They are like badges ofauthority. They do not always have to be formal designations received from professional bodies orassociations however.Demonstrating your track record for producing results is a powerful facsimile of credentials. This is especiallytrue when those results are especially relevant to what you’re promising to do for your prospect.When voiced by someone other than yourself — ideally a recognized authority figure within your industry —
these informal credentials are every bit as impressive as real credentials, perhaps more so.Reason with Them — to reason with someone is to offer evidence and to draw conclusions based on thatevidence.In selling, you use reasoning to answer the questions, “how does this work?” and “why is this so?”Show a person how and why something works and they are much more likely to believe that it does. Explainwhy the price is going up next week, and they are much more likely to believe that it will. Offer reasons whyyour product is worth more, and they’re more likely to believe that it is.If you want people to believe, give them reasons for doing so.Gradualize Your Copy — Gradualization is a term coined by legendary copywriter Gene Schwartz. You canand should get the full scoop by reading or rereading his book, Breakthrough Advertising, available in THETOTAL PACKAGE bookstore. I’ll give you the Cole’s notes on gradualization here …In a nutshell, gradualization is achieved by beginning with statements your prospects already believe, andthen gradually extending and molding those beliefs to new ones that are required to make the sale.To give you an oversimplification, if you want people to believe the statement, “no matter how many timesyou may have failed in the past, you can do this,” you can make it more believable by prefacing it with anumber of truisms — things the prospect already believes — like so:“You want to be the best you can be. You want the best for your family. As you sit in front of your computer …as you read this message … now is the time to believe that no matter how many times you may have failedin the past, YOU CAN DO THIS!”Give Away Samples — Giving away a sample of your product is a very powerful and often overlooked wayof convincing people of your product claims when you don’t have much of a track record.With information products, it makes total sense to turn your sales copy into a sample of your product. Theadvertorial approach, were you give away valuable information in your sales copy in exchange for readershipis in effect, a product sample.The quality of that information and the experience it creates, are potent proof of the claims you make in yourcopy.Make a Damaging Admission — in the hilariously funny 1987 comedy “Tin Men”, Ernest Tilley opens hisaluminum siding pitch by handing the home owner a silver dollar, saying he found it lodged between thewalkway steps.Surprised by Tilley’s apparent honesty, the homeowner lets down his guard and Tilley handily makes thesale. Yes, Tilley was a con man, but you don’t have to be one to use the damaging admission.
Your prospects are naturally resistant to sales arguments. They are actively looking for “the catch.” Whenyou say something apparently damaging to your own self-interest, voluntarily admitting a flaw in yourproduct, it communicates your honesty. And they stop looking for the catch.Use Testimonials — Contrary to popular belief, more testimonials are not necessarily better. Manytestimonials I read online are just a waste of pixels and actually undermine the sale.To be of real value, testimonials should demonstrate results, as in “I was having horrible hair days and all thegirls at the office were laughing behind my back until I starting using XYZ — now they‘re all green with envyover my soft curly locks and my new boyfriend.”Bonus points if the testimonial helps you to overcome an objection. “I was totally grossed out by XYZ when Ifound out it’s mostly frog pee. I mean, come on … gag me with a spoon. But when I saw the awesomeresults people were getting, you know, I had to try it. And I’m so glad I did!”Voice and video testimonials are more believable than straight text. If you can’t get audio or video at least tryto get a picture and permission to use the person’s full name, location, Web address etc. The more detailsthe better.Use Authoritative Quotes — This one’s a little sneaky. If your product is based on a particular process orcontains a particular ingredient that has been endorsed by recognized experts, then using thoseendorsements in your copy makes your product claims infinitely more believable.Here’s an example of how the big guy used this technique to amp up the believability of one of his client’shealth product promotions — for a formulation that promises to blast plaque out of your arteries. Its activeingredient is an amino acid called E-D-T-A.… So what is this miracle of nature?… This 23-cent capsule that works the wonders that the world’s most expensive prescription drugs can’t?Scientists call it “ethylenediaminetetraacetic.” But please don’t be put off by the fancy- schmancy jargon. Therest of us refer to it with four little letters E-T-D-A.In a nearby sidebar appears the following authoritative quote …“Published research and extensive clinical experience showed that EDTA helps reduce and preventarteriosclerotic plaques, thus improving blood flow to the heart and other organs.” – Dr. Linus Pauling, Two-time Nobel Prize Winning ScientistYou can use authoritative quotes to increase the believability of virtually any supporting conclusion you needto make in your copy.Use Repetition — Have you ever taken stock of how you’ve come to believe something? Chances are it isbecause you heard that something many times, and from different sources.
By drawing a conclusion repeatedly, you make it more believable. Find captivating ways to make your pointby direct statement, by example, through story, visually, through third party testimony, and more.Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them.Be Specific — Details are convincing. Generalities arouse suspicion. When quoting figures, be exact.Ivory Soap, as we all know is 99.44% pure. Would it seem as pure if it were advertised as "almost absolutelypure"?When naming nouns, be precise.It is more believable to say “styles now reigning from Rue de la Paix, Paris, to Fifth Avenue, New York" thanit is to say, ”styles now reigning from the fashion centers of Europe to those of America.”Use the Language of Logic — The very appearance of certain words can help your prospects to feeljustified in their decision to buy your product, beyond the actual presentation of proof.Words and phrases like “Because” … “The reason being” … “Why?” … “The truth is”… “The facts are” …“If_____ then_______” … “Proven to” … “Scientifically tested and validated”… “Borne out by research” …“Studies prove” … etc., all increase the believability of your copy.They can lend believability to even the most absurd claims.Play show and tell — If you can demonstrate visual proof with before and after photographs, screenshots orvideo footage — do it. Seeing is most definitely believing!Graphics are also useful when presenting reasoned arguments. If you can demonstrate a processgraphically, it lends believability to your reasoning.Be emphatic — When you are emphatic about something, people tend to believe you.The arrested man who says dispassionately, “I am innocent” and then stops, is probably guilty. But he whoproclaims his innocence empathically and incessantly shakes the strongest conviction to the contrary.When the conviction of the person communicating the copy is obviously extreme, it tends to rub off on theprospect. What’s that? You want an example?In sheer dollar terms, unadjusted for inflation, we have just witnessed the largest loss of wealth in the historyof humanity, dwarfing the “great” stock market crash of 1929 by a factor of 23 to 1.And that crash lit the fuse on the worst depression this nation has ever suffered.You can bet your bottom dollar that the devastating losses we’ve seen recently guarantee economiccatastrophe and ANOTHER vicious slaughter of US stocks and equity funds in 2002.
Use presupposition — Statements that presuppose a conclusion lend credence to that conclusion.If you want hockey players to believe your new graphite hockey stick could double the speed and accuracyof their slap shot, you can make that conclusion more believable by presupposing the inevitability of thatoutcome.Note how the second phrasing does this:“Imagine what it would mean to your game if you could slap the puck with twice the speed andaccuracy.” “Imagine what it means to your game when you’re slapping that puck with twice the speed andaccuracy.”Be congruent — The moment of conviction — that moment when the realization that not buying right now,would be about the dumbest thing in the world — is a very delicate moment.I believe there is a split-second gut check that takes place, something akin to our primeval ancestors lookingaround in all directions, to see if it’s safe, before descending on a patch of berries. Does everything add up?Is this a trap?A congruent sales argument is believable, because everything about it communicates a consistent meaning.It fits together so tightly from beginning to end that it couldn’t possibly be anything but genuine and honest. Itjust rings true. There is no weak link, simply no room, for doubt to exist.Get them to like you — There is a strong connection between likability and believability. So anything youcan do to inject personality into your sales copy is a step toward producing conviction.We tend to like people who are like us. Therefore the more you can demonstrate that you share the samehopes, dreams, ideologies, ideals, faults, and frailties as your target audience, the more they will like you.And when they like you, they will allow themselves to believe what you have to say without much criticalthought or resistance.Use metaphor and analogy — we trust what we know. Our beliefs are very comforting to us, because theyare familiar.And one of the fastest ways to help someone to become comfortable and familiar with an idea is to comparethat idea to something already known and understood.To say that accomplishing something new and unfamiliar is easy has no meaning to someone. To say it is aseasy as falling off a log, gives them a point of reference.Use short words and simple phrases — Plain talk sounds like the truth.Lengthy, highfalutin-sounding words woven into flowery rhetoric give the impression you’ve got something tohide.
Establish buying criteria before talking about your product — One of the best ways to avoid skepticismis to introduce supporting conclusions before even mentioning your product.This is, of course, yet another benefit of the advertorial approach to selling. Because people feel like they arebeing educated rather than sold, they are much less resistant to accepting the ideas you present.Tell Stories — We resist other people’s conclusions. We embrace our own. That’s why a conclusionembedded in a story is more believable than a conclusion expressed as a direct statement.The prospect can take ownership of the moral of the story. Nobody told him what to think. He arrived at hisown conclusion when he grasped the moral of the story. The moral of the story just happened to be theconclusion you needed him to accept.Answer Objections before they Arise – If you can answer an objection before it arises you strengthen thebelievability of your claims.By doing so, you prevent doubt from festering in your prospect’s mind. The longer an objection bouncesaround in his noggin, the more difficult it is to overcome.Inoculate against objections while you have the chance. They may not have arisen on their own, prior to thesale, but you can be sure they will — sooner or later.Your prospect may have to justify his decision to his spouse or his buddies. And he will most certainly haveto re-justify it to himself at some point in the future.Give him the ammunition he needs to defend his decision.Offer a bold guarantee — A powerful guarantee is more than risk relief.It should communicate to your prospect that your claims must be true. How could you possibly afford to laymoney on the line and guarantee them if they weren’t?So there you have it, a whole score of belief-inducing ideas for detonating response on your very nextpromotion. Can you say, “THE TOTAL PACKAGE over delivers?”Until next time, Good Selling!
http://briancray.com1. The Emotional brandPeople may like your products or prices, but there will be someone with a better product or a lower pricesooner or later. To survive the market you need to build relationships with customers. People are loyal tobrands because of emotional associations that align with their own belief systems.The emotional brand is theheart of your brand, what you stand for: Values, beliefs, ethics, culture, norms, customs.A durable productmakes us feel tough or secure. A stylish product makes us feel fashionable. We buy products or servicesbecause of how they make us feel. The emotional brand should be at the core of how you communicate yourbrand, linguistically and visually.
2. The linguistic brandWe love the grassroots entrepreneurial stories of today’s big brands, such as how Steve Jobs startedApple. Why? We are trying to understand or confirm how we feel and like keeping a diary, stories clarify howwe feel. The linguistic brand is how you use language to communicate your emotional brand: Slogan, valuepropositions, mission & vision statements, stories, themed words.3. The visual brandA second of exposure to a logo has the potential to strike a fire of emotions in us. Visual elements areplaceholders for everything a brand represents. They are portals into the stories and emotions that representour brand. The visual brand is how you visually communicate your emotional brand: Logo, colors, commondesign patterns, office design, visual artifacts, photos. Emotions and language convey meaningindependently, but a logo is nothing but a pretty picture by itself. Emotions and language give it meaning.Use your visual brand to reinforce the emotions and language that give your brand meaning to the customer.4. The customer brandAt the end of the day the customer brand is the brand. It is the sum of customer (stakeholder) experiences.You can tell yourself who you think you are all day, but if the customer doesn’t experience that, then it’s allsmoke and mirrors. Your customer brand is a melting pot of experiences. Good and bad. Fun and boring. Allof it. The closer the emotional, linguistic, and visual brands align with what the customer experiences, thebetter. The more these elements align with the customer’s belief system, the better.So what defines the most powerful brands? Powerful brands have clear values communicated throughlanguage and visuals that align with customers at an emotional level.