Use This Checklist Before Asking For A Critique

Profile picture of the author Chris Ramsey by Chris Ramsey Posted: 08/19/2009
If you've been on the copywriting forum for a while, you've seen a LOT
of critique requests. I like that business owners are looking to improve
their copy, but most of the time we end up giving the same advice again
and again.

So, to help out all those looking for critique's, here's a checklist
that you should run your copy through before asking. By following the
rules on this list, you'll see a huge improvement in sales. Then by the
time you ask for a critique, you're going to get a lot more meat.
  1. WIIFM - "What's in it for me?" The prospect doesn't care who you are,
    what your product is, or where you went to school. All they care about
    is how you can help them solve a problem.
  2. You -MUST- have an effective headline. Write at least 30 emotionally
    descriptive headlines that mention the problem that you solve before
    choosing one.
  3. Any big statements you make must be backed up by proof or
    credibility.
  4. Don't ever sell a product - sell a solution to a problem
  5. Include as many (well-written) testimonials and case studies as you
    can.
  6. Offer a guarantee
  7. Make your offer time sensitive
  8. Follow the formula "AIDA" - Grab attention, interest the reader,
    build desire, and get them to take action
  9. Write in a conversational tone.
  10. Explain why you're making the offer.
  11. Make it easy for the reader to take action
  12. Give the reader multiple chances to take action.
  13. Find out how the target market talks to each other - then use their
    language.
  14. Show, don't tell.
  15. Does your copy talk more about the reader and how their problem can
    be solved or about you and how you have a product for them?
  16. Always use a powerful P.S. that reiterates your entire message in
    just a few punchy sentences.
  17. Use plenty of subheadlines that grab attention just like the main
    headline.
  18. Address all potential objections.
  19. Talk about benefits as often as you can.
  20. The goal of the first few lines is ONLY to get the reader to read the
    next line, then the next, then the next, then the... etc.
  21. Test multiple versions of your copy. Simply changing the headline may
    be all you need to make millions.
  22. Decide on exactly what you want the reader to do and slowly guide
    them towards it.
  23. Use emotional words as often as you can.
  24. Tell seductive stories throughout the copy.
  25. Get the reader to nod "yes" to your copy, especially at the
    beginning.
  26. Use supporting images, not attention grabbing images (the focus should be on the content, not the images)
  27. Keep sales page narrow and not too wide.
  28. Don't concentrate on keywords only and apply them where they BEST fit. Fit the keywords into the copy, not the copy into the keywords.
  29. Keep paragraphs short and easy to read. Tip: no longer than 4 lines a paragraph.
  30. After it's all over and done with, ask yourself, "so what?"
  31. Create a buyers environment.
  32. Use good justification techniques, especially if a higher priced item, product or service.
  33. Make the first sentence extremely short.
  34. Create interest and excitement.
  35. Use drama to good effect.
  36. Explain what makes your product or service different.
  37. Use short punchy, precise sentences, no more than 2-3 sentences per paragraph.
  38. Anticipate questions in advance and answer them directly.
  39. Create gravity pulling, slippery sales copy that virtually compells the reader to slide right into the direct call to action...
  40. No. Humor does not sell.
  41. Johnson boxes. Use them. Johnson Box - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  42. Don't go overboard in bolding/italicizing/underlining. Only bold the strong, emotional pieces.
  43. Use custom bullets for lists. Things like money bags, hypnotic circles, or bananas. Whatever goes with what you're selling.
  44. Always give away as many bonuses as you can. People will often buy just for these.
  45. Try using "action elements" like check boxes, fields, and text area's for the user to take part in the sales letter.
  46. Please no yellow on white or black on dark grey text. You must have contrast to be able to read text.
  47. Do not over use exclamation points!

Really. Run your list through this copy before asking for a critique.
You're going to get a MUCH better response from us copywriters if you do.
#checklist #critique

  • Profile picture of the author Chris Ramsey
    Chris Ramsey
    Thanks Mark.

    Also, if any other copywriters want to add to the list, please do.
  • Profile picture of the author Kevin Lam
    Kevin Lam
    26. Use supporting images, not attention grabbing images (the focus should be on the content, not the images)
    27. Keep sales page narrow and not too wide.
    28. Don't concentrate on keywords only and apply them where they BEST fit. Fit the keywords into the copy, not the copy into the keywords.
    29. Keep paragraphs short and easy to read. Tip: no longer than 4 lines a paragraph.
    30. After it's all over and done with, ask yourself, "so what?"
  • Profile picture of the author Bill Jeffels
    Bill Jeffels
    Yes, great points Chris.

    I'll second the sticky on this one. I'm glad you montioned the P.S. I find that most people screw this up... It should be like a second headline.

    Take care,

    -Bill
  • Profile picture of the author Collette
    Collette
    Got my vote for Sticky.
  • Profile picture of the author Chris Ramsey
    Chris Ramsey
    A few more points.

    40. No. Humor does not sell.
    41. Johnson boxes. Use them. Johnson Box - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    42. Don't go overboard in bolding/italicizing/underlining. Only bold the strong, emotional pieces.
    43. Use custom bullets for lists. Things like money bags, hypnotic circles, or bananas. Whatever goes with what you're selling.
    44. Always give away as many bonuses as you can. People will often buy just for these.
    45. Try using "action elements" like check boxes, fields, and text area's for the user to take part in the sales letter.
  • Profile picture of the author Jamie Orman
    Jamie Orman
    My vote for sticky. So many good points.
  • Profile picture of the author ScoTech
    ScoTech
    It might be nice to have this reformatted into a sticky that has all the points in one post, so it would be easier to read or print out and check off.
  • Profile picture of the author ScoTech
    ScoTech
    47. Please no yellow on white or black on dark grey text. You must have contrast to be able to read text.
    48. Do not over use exclamation points!
  • Profile picture of the author Kevin Lam
    Kevin Lam
    Chris, mind putting all the added suggestions into your posts so others can print it all out at once?
  • Profile picture of the author Chris Ramsey
    Chris Ramsey
    Originally Posted by Kevin Lam View Post
    Chris, mind putting all the added suggestions into your posts so others can print it all out at once?
    Done and done.

    Edit: I'll try to keep track of any more that are added to the thread and add them to the list above.
  • Profile picture of the author Ross Bowring
    Ross Bowring
    Nicely thought out list Chris,

    You don't have to add this to the mix but I'd emphasize that every single... word... utterance... graphical element must exist to forward the sale. The old selling adage "ABC" Always Be Closing should be seen in every element of your page.

    Maybe a couple to add to the list might be...

    Use intriguing sub-heads which act as on-ramps for browsers to enter the copy...

    For skimmers, tell your complete sales story in your subheads...
  • Profile picture of the author David Babineau
    David Babineau
    Great list!

    Here's a few more points I can think of:

    1. Read the letter out loud. You'll discover where things don't flow as well
    2. Vary sentence and paragraph lenghts. Don't make everything the same and boring!
    3. Use multiple PSes

    Cheers,
    David
  • Profile picture of the author Len Bailey
    Len Bailey
    Great checklist everyone. A couple more to add ...

    ORDER FORMS:

    51. Begin the order form with a "Yes!" statement written in the buyer's perspective.
    52. If it's not a separate order form (i.e. - at the end of an online sales page), include a headline that is consistent with your main headline and theme.
    53. When presenting ordering options, list YOUR preferred option first. This will often pull stronger than the subsequent options.
    54. Distinguish the order form from the rest of the piece.
    55. Include ordering information (toll-free number/web ordering form) on every page.

    MARGINALIA:

    56. Include "hand-written" notes in the margins of your sales letter, but no more than one or two per page.

    CREDIBILITY:

    57. Regardless whose voice your sender is, you MUST establish him/her as an expert.

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