In fact, I would require my students to study famous direct
marketing pieces and determine what "persuasion architecture" the
copywriter follows. This gives the students practice through this
'reverse-engineering' process to appreciate that, beyond the
words and sentences, there must be a certain flow, plan, map, or
whatever other name you want to use, to great copywriting.
One of the courses I had to take in grad school was 'Research
Methods'. Apart from teaching you how to carry our academic
research, it also has a heavy writing component. The text used
for the class for the writing component of the course basically
covered things I already knew from copywriting, but with an
In fact, I got an "excellent" for my writing but the paper
mechanics (formatting) was a little lacking. (I just hate all
those footnote, bibliography, etc, 'rules' that go with academic
writing. I guess I'm so accustomed to the freedom of
For example, if you are writing a paper based on a deductive
argument, then you must start with a thesis statement and "tell
the readers what you are going to tell them, then introduce the
general topic, narrow your claim, followed by supportive
arguments and after "telling them what you told them" you
conclude with the claims of the thesis statement and its
In other words, there is a pattern you must follow to make the
paper logically connected and lucid. Your readers are prepared
for what you are about to explain and after you have explained
this, summarizing what your paper is about.
As a copywriter, you must also think about the structure you are
going to use for your letter BEFORE you even start writing. This
would be your plan from which you will build your literary house
made up of words, sentences paragraphs and sections.
One of the most common mistakes I see rookie copywriters make is
that they concentrate so much on the "power words" and "sounding
like a copywriter" that the flow of the letter suffers. The main
reasons for this lack of flow arise because:
>>The headline does not logically connect with the opening
paragraph but addresses two different ideas
>>The topic sentence of each paragraph is not logically
supported by the following 'body' sentences.
>>The "transitions" from one paragraph to another is almost
ignored so there is an awkward disconnect.
>>The right information is given in the wrong places such as
the 'call to action' given before the list of benefits. (Think
Too much real-estate is given to a minor selling point.
In order to maintain the "slippery slide" in my letters I always
try and write my letters in one sitting. This may sometimes mean
writing for 12 hours straight, but while I'm writing the last
sentence I still have the first sentence in my head. If I do
break off from writing I'll have to start reading from the very
beginning to make sure that I have the entire letter in mind.
Interestingly, one of the great techniques used by article
writers and which can work in sales letter writing is to bring
the article full circle by ending on the same idea, story, or
issue that you started with.
Now, it would not always be possible to write a long sales letter
in one sitting, but in the planning process (just like you
'outline' an essay) you can ensure that the letter will flow
smoothly from beginning to end. A disorganized sales letter is a
major hindrance to persuasion. It is often said that you sell the
sizzle but not the steak but even the sizzle must have some
rhythm and cadence to it.
When I first started writing my own sales letters for the
internet I took a letter written by a top copywriter and studied
the patterns he used and did the same for my letter. Did this
work? Like gangbusters. No, it wasn't a "swipe" because the
products were different and you will never be able to recognize
this as a "swipe" because I borrowed only the "plot" of his
Speaking of plots, (which is another word for the 'plan of the
story') just the other day I was telling my kids that the best
plots are used over and over again with different stories and its
no accident the top movies and stories use common plots.
So study those famous pieces in your swipe-file and determine the
plan or structure the writer used and borrow those 'persuasion
architecture' to build YOUR own persuasion masterpieces.