How Do You Write Your Sales Copy

by ebrown 25 replies
For any copywriters who would like to share some wisdom, I was wondering how you write your sales copy.

I am referring to once all the prep work has been done and you are actually ready to start writing the sales copy, do you:

1. Start with a blank page and first write all the copy or a large segment of the copy.
2. Start with a blank page and first write the headline and/or sub-headlines.
3. Have a basic sales page format already completed that you use for your sales letters and write the copy for the current sales letter using the basic sales page format as a guide.

Thanks,
Eric
#copywriting #copy #sales #sales copy #sales letters #write
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  • Profile picture of the author The Copy Nazi
    Banned
    From the King of Direct Response Copywriters, the late Gary Halbert -

    1. Say something that gets attention. 2. Tell them why they should be interested. (Expand on CSI) 3. Tell them why they should believe what you are saying is true. 4. Prove it is true. 5. Itemize and describe all benefits. 6. Tell them how to order. 7. Tell them to order now.

    * CSI - Central Selling Idea.
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  • Profile picture of the author Bigsofty
    I'll answer, if only to get the thread moving...

    First I select the template that best suits the product. My templates are just plain Word docs with some raw headers, such as "Pre-head, headline, subhead, opening statement.." kind of thing.

    Presuming all the research is done, I'll work on the headline first. That can take a few days, as I'll keep coming back to it. Only when I'm 100% happy with the headline will I continue. Some don't work that way, instead changing the headline to suit the copy. I don't.

    I then go through swipes, both general and picked up during research, adding a few choice phrases or data in appropriate spots on the template, just as reminders.

    I then set aside a whole day to try and write the whole thing in one go. The end result is pants but it gives me a skeleton to work on.

    Then I chew on the thing until I'm happy with my subheads.

    Then I ensure important stuff is close to the subheads, for scanners (which is everybody).

    At this point I start writing seriously, producing a half-decent letter.

    Leave it a day and come back.

    Print and read, marking problem areas.

    Then I go through my various research docs, ensuring I've covered everything, every benefit, every objection, every feature, all those basics.

    I now have a mess that needs a lot of editing

    With sufficent coffee, I edit, until I have a 3/4 decent letter.

    Leave it a day or two.

    Repeat the read out loud thing, except now it's someone else reading it.

    Make suitable changes.

    I repeat the checking, including checking swipes, competitors, all that sort of stuff to ensure there is nothing missing.

    Then I get really serious about the editing, ensuring everything flows smoothly.

    Out comes my 2 page list of checks. I check every single line, one at a time, against every relevant check point. This takes about 2 days.

    I now have a good salesletter. At this point I read it (silently) backwards. This catches stuff that spell-checkers or your own eyes will Miss.

    Notice that "Miss"? That's the kind of crap spell-checkers can miss, or even do for you, without you noticing. Hence I read backwards.

    I can now say the letter is "finished". So I change the font and walk away from it.

    A day or two later I return. The different font removes the familiarity and makes it harder to read, so you really get that "1st time" feel.

    Invariably, more editing.

    Then I print 2 copies, 1 for me, 1 for my wife. She reads it out loud. If it flows smoothly, fine. If not, I use a highlighter on problem areas.

    I then go through another checklist. If you're familiar with a different forum you'll know I'm keen on checklists

    I make a copy and delete a few select paragraphs.

    Then I send it off to the client, to see their reaction. They love it, they pay the balance.

    I replace the missing bits, then give it one final check, juicing up some words, removing some, basically "tightening" it. Then I send that to the client and see if they want a press release etc. They usually do.

    You may be thinking "That sounds like a lot of work!" Nope, not for the money I charge, and that's actually my streamlined version, for simple stuff. Not to mention the 2 or 3 weeks of research beforehand, which is essential.

    Some copywriters will be a lot more detailed - and some write by the seat of their pants and think their a genius who doesn't need to do the work. Perhaps they're right, I'd rather do the work and know I've done my best.

    I move onto the next one but mark my calendar to get back to the client and see how things are going, plus I check they haven't 'adjusted' the copy or ruined it with graphics.

    Now you know why I take at least 4 weeks over a salesletter and cannot do more than 3 at a time

    I'd be interested to see how that process compares to others?



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  • Profile picture of the author Daniel Scott
    Obviously the first step is a massive amount of research... but I'm assuming you're talking about the actual WRITING.

    Personally I figure out what general shape I want the letter to take... and write out a VERY rough skeleton, like:

    <PREHEAD>
    <HEADLINE>
    <SUBHEAD>
    <INTRO PARAGRPH- this is where I make notes about how I'm going to write this>
    <INTRODUCE STORY - blah blah notes blah>

    Etc, etc...

    I usually write in chunks... and then edit it mercilessly until I'm happy with it.

    Then I do my headline (I always find leaving them til last helps me really crystalize the direction I want to take with it).

    Ultimately... the best thing to do is just to write and figure out what works for you. I know Vin is a little obsessive with his letters... he gets the paragraph nigh-perfect before he moves onto the next one.

    Me, I write like crazy and then edit like crazy... he has a lot less editing to do because he does a good job the first run through.

    Both approaches work... but you need to find your own process.

    Carlton (I think) goes to coffee shops for days on end... just sits and listens to people talk. That's part of his process.

    -Dan
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  • Profile picture of the author Bigsofty
    Then I do my headline (I always find leaving them til last helps me really crystalize the direction I want to take with it).
    See, this I don't understand. The headline is your big promise, the big benefit, the big story - it's everything.

    So to me, writing the headline after is like drawing a map to say where you went, rather than using a map to get where you're going.

    I'd rather keep my writing to the headline, than change the headline to suit wherever I rambled off to.



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  • Profile picture of the author Daniel Scott
    The headline is indeed everything.

    Here's the way I do things though...

    As I write... I might change the direction of the copy several times. Inspiration strikes, and all that.

    So when I have everything down... THEN I know what the headline SHOULD convey...

    Then all I have to do is put the right words down to translate that thought.

    It's not uncommon for me to write everything maybe 10 times before I finish a letter.

    What can I say.... I'm a perfectionist.

    -Dan
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    • Profile picture of the author Intrepreneur
      Does anyone have a mindmap driven salesletter course, or use a MindMap to perfect their copy.

      I've tried 3 books already and still getting miffled, I've also found MindMaps is how I learn best.

      Got one?

      Thanks

      Best Wishes
      Mark
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    • Profile picture of the author Daniel Scott
      Originally Posted by Paul McQuillan View Post

      That I do not agree with

      If we are talking about online sales pages headlines, they are not as
      important as they are in print.

      A lot of the traffic that ends on an online sales page was directed from
      somewhere. People already have the premise and now have interest. The
      headline would than not need to be lights out to be effective.

      Online copy (in my opinion) lives or dies on format and structure. Subheads
      and story far supersedes the main headline as people are scrolling. (which
      they don't do as much in print, therefore headlines are everything).

      I write my offer first, then headline. I follow that by free styling the body
      copy. I then chill for a day to go back and start editing.

      I usually do my best editing after reading a book for 30 minutes. Sometimes
      busting out a book like Tested Advertising Methods sparks that part of
      my brain and allows me to work at my best.

      Anyway, that's my take


      Paul
      Well... maybe not "everything". Everything else needs to be good too, obviously...

      But I think due to the distracted nature of internet surfers... your headline really needs to "knock 'em out"... or you're losing a LOT of sales.

      I've heard of people getting 400% increases in conversion rate just by changing their headlines... and it's what Michel Fortin (who is a testing freak) is VERY big on testing first, before you worry about anything else.

      And we all know the kind of figures his copy pulls.

      -Dan
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    • Profile picture of the author CyrusR
      Originally Posted by Paul McQuillan View Post

      That I do not agree with

      If we are talking about online sales pages headlines, they are not as
      important as they are in print.

      A lot of the traffic that ends on an online sales page was directed from
      somewhere. People already have the premise and now have interest. The
      headline would than not need to be lights out to be effective.

      Online copy (in my opinion) lives or dies on format and structure. Subheads
      and story far supersedes the main headline as people are scrolling. (which
      they don't do as much in print, therefore headlines are everything).

      I write my offer first, then headline. I follow that by free styling the body
      copy. I then chill for a day to go back and start editing.

      I usually do my best editing after reading a book for 30 minutes. Sometimes
      busting out a book like Tested Advertising Methods sparks that part of
      my brain and allows me to work at my best.

      Anyway, that's my take


      Paul

      Hi I'm new so I'm just trying to get a grasp on what's going on. In my position I see the headline as an important pull to get the customer to continue on.

      I do have a question. Given that some of the traffic is from other sources, i.e. affiliate or what not, I agree they already have the interest but isn't it still important to reinforce that once they come to your actual sales page.

      After all when they get there the headline is the first thing they see, so I would presume with a number of them if the actual sales page is not up to their expectations then they would go somewhere else. And so then the headline would be important in this regard.

      Thanks,

      Cyrus
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  • Profile picture of the author Bigsofty
    Mmm.

    I prefer the 'preparation is key' approach.

    IMHO you should already know exactly where you're going. Any inspiration half-way through is either a distraction or something that can easily be slipped in, without disturbing the overall thread/theme.

    I'll happily change my subheadings but never my headline.



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    • Profile picture of the author Daniel Scott
      You are, of course, welcome to your opinion.

      But one of my clients just told me he's pulling a 7% conversion rate... so I'm going to stick with what works for me.

      I'm not saying your way of doing things is bad... I'm just saying "horses for courses".

      -Dan

      Originally Posted by Bigsofty View Post

      Mmm.

      I prefer the 'preparation is key' approach.

      IMHO you should already know exactly where you're going. Any inspiration half-way through is either a distraction or something that can easily be slipped in, without disturbing the overall thread/theme.

      I'll happily change my subheadings but never my headline.



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  • Profile picture of the author Bigsofty
    Someone tells you about a great video on affiliate marketing - you go there and the headline says "Suck money outta peep's wallets with our secret tips on internet marketing!"

    Do you bother reading, or just re-asses the link-giver's credibility?

    I don't care if someone clicked an Adsense ad, followed an endorsement or whatever, they still read the headline and it remains everything - unless you overshadow it with an image, which they'll look at first.

    Case in point, on a different forum someone just recently mentioned they used a video scan of how users behave on their site. Found they were reading the headline, skimming straight to the bottom and leaving. The only thing they read was the headline.

    Mark, I tried using mindmaps, still do to some extent but found Treepad Pro to be a better way of organising my thoughts and data. Good for swipes too

    There's a free version but it's worth getting the Pro

    Treepad: Personal Information Manager, Notes Organizer, Word Processor, PIM, Database and more!


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  • Profile picture of the author Bigsofty
    My mistake, it's called "business edition", B.
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  • Profile picture of the author nemock
    I always start with notes. I tend to do them by hand with a 5.6mm lead holder (love it). The notes will be combination of mindmaps and linear notes. I first try to get a feel for the real issues I'm trying to solve with the copy. What's the problem is usually a surface issue...so what's the problem behind the problem?

    After I have all that, I go to the swipe files and start in on headlines. I also like to look at the current magazine covers at the book store. Covers of magazines like Cosmo have expertly crafted headlines. Don't pass them over. I don't enjoy writing headlines so I spend a lot of time there until I get something that rings like a bell. I guess someday I'll enjoy them...kind of like learning to play golf...

    The copy is pretty easy after that.

    Dave
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  • Profile picture of the author The Copy Nazi
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    You know what? It's not the headlines that are the problem - it's the guts of the sales page. That's where you'll make it or break it. People are scanners. They don't read everything. They read the head, the subs, a bit of body-copy and then they'll scroll to the bottom to look for the price. But that bit of body-copy they read better be good or they'll tune out and click off.
    I'm not a big fan of these salesletter templates. The page ends up reading like it's been churned out to a formula - which it has. And for that reason I never use "Dear Friends" (Yes I know Gary Halbert was a big fan of that), "From the desk of" (Yes I know you Americans seem to love that) "To your success", "see you on the inside" - all that B.S. I want each and every sales page I write to stand on its own - to be unique - to "resonate" with my readers. I want them to nod their heads, say "damn!", have a laugh, get excited - and reach for their credit card. And to do that you've really got to understand your product. And you've got to really like your product. Otherwise it shows. Ho hum...more later. Writing some guy's page on Penis Enlargement - which I'm really into (yes this is a joke...no I don't write for crap like that).
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  • Profile picture of the author Bigsofty
    If someone has a headline like that what would the rest of the ad be like?

    p-o-s
    Exactly, that's my point. If the headline fails to hit the spot, the whole page does - online or off.


    My 2 (rapidly depreciating) cents anyway.



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  • Profile picture of the author NicholasCarter
    Your Sales Copy should connect with your readers. Simple.....

    Always Connect with people emotionally they will certainly take action emotionally......
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    • Profile picture of the author ebrown
      I appreciate all the comments to my post. It is easy to see that there are different ways to produce quality sales copy; no two people write or approach writing sales copy the same.

      Thanks,
      Eric
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  • Profile picture of the author RyanRingold
    Here is a great trick by Jay Abraham for writing copy. Someone originally posted this in Warrior Forum, and I put it on my blog... it's powerful stuff.
    Jay Abraham Video
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    • Profile picture of the author markpocock
      I always write the bullets first.

      This gives you the guts of the letter.

      Usually then a working headline. Just
      to have one up there. i'll come back
      and write a better one as the letter progresses.

      Interesting thoughts on the importance
      of headlines. Ogilvy says 80% of your
      ad is your headline.

      Online you've only got 3-4 seconds to catch
      your prospects eye before they hit 'Back.'
      So your headline needs to be pretty damn good.
      And hit exactly what your prospect is looking for.

      Do you guys use a Stat tool to see how long
      prospects are hanging around on your sites?
      I use statcounter.com on my sites to see how
      long people are hanging around.

      cheers

      Mark
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      • Profile picture of the author markpocock
        You guys may appreciate this. It's from a
        very successful copywriter/marketer. I guess
        it's OK to post here. As he made it available
        to his list.


        My Marketing Checklist
        By Ben Hart


        This is a checklist I have in front of me whenever I sit down to write a sales letter, an ad, or map out a marketing campaign.

        It's a checklist I have developed and perfected during my 20+ years in the direct marketing field -- a checklist that has helped me generate more than $500,000,000 in sales over the last two decades.

        I think you will find it extraordinarily useful as you map out your own marketing campaigns. So here it is:

        Your Marketing Checklist


        ___ Are you writing/marketing to people who you know want the product you are selling?

        ___ Is your main headline on your ad or sales letter an intriguing attention-getter that stresses the very best benefit to the reader?

        ___ Can your reader grasp what you are offering in three seconds or less?

        ___ Have you written your letter or ad from the prospect’s perspective, not from your perspective?

        ___ Are your claims backed up with facts, a track-record, testimonials?

        ___ Does your ad or sales letter answer the six key questions:
        WHO? WHAT? WHERE? WHEN? WHY? and HOW?

        ___ Are your claims 100% true? (Readers and listeners will sense a snow job.)

        ___ What is your Unique Selling Proposition (U.S.P.)? What makes you different?

        ___ Are you treating your readers and listeners as if they are idiots. (Big mistake if you are.)

        ___ Is your offer irresistible?

        ___ Is your guarantee bold, eye-popping, and attention-getting? (i.e. double-your-money-back)

        ___ Do you have a deadline for the offer to expire and a good reason for the deadline?

        ___ Is it easy to order?

        ___ Have you told your prospect exactly how to respond with step-by-step instructions?

        ___ Have you told your prospect who you are?

        ___ Is your letter, your ad easy to read, scannable, with lots of headlines, sub-heads, strategic underlines?

        ___ Is your letter written in a conversational, friendly style?

        ___ Have you anticipated and answered all your reader’s possible objections?

        ___ Does your order form or reply form (landing page) look like an order form? (It should.)

        ___ Is everything you want your reader to do clearly stated on the order form?

        ___ Does your order form have a headline restating the main benefit?

        ___ Are the graphics and packaging of your offer attention-getting?

        ___ Are your graphics enhancing your message or obscuring your message?

        ___ Are you giving away something to boost response?

        ___ Have you stripped out empty “hype” words like “best ever” and “amazing”?

        ___ Have you replaced empty hype words with facts and proof?

        ___ Have you put your guarantee on a separate document that looks official, like a certificate or a savings bond? Have you signed your guarantee?

        ___ Have you included a FAQ (Q&A) insert?

        ___ Have you written an entire package (with all necessary elements), not just a letter?

        ___ Are you tracking and measuring results meticulously?

        ___ Are you testing (one element a time)?

        ___ Are you zeroing in on your best 20% of customers, treating them with extra care and attention?

        ___ Does everyone in your company understand that they are marketers?

        ___ Is your company worthy of referral?

        ___ Are you posting important marketing numbers at your company so that everyone
        understands what the goals are?

        ___ Does everyone in your company understand that their paychecks come from customers/sales?

        ___ Does everyone in your company know that the mission of your company is to create a “Happy Customer Experience that exceeds the customer’s expectations and causes customers to say ‘WOW!’”?

        ___ Have you raised your prices 10%? (This will increase the profitability of most companies by 50%)

        ___ Do you have a computerized database that includes all relevant information on customers and prospects that will allow you to segment your customers and precisely target your communications?

        ___ Do you know how much it’s costing you to find a lead?

        ___ Do you know how many leads it takes to find a customer?

        ___ Do you know which sources, ads and letters are producing the most leads and the most productive leads?

        ___ Are you keeping your database clean and accurate, eliminating duplicates? Are you a fanatic about list hygiene?


        Your Marketing Tool Kit
         Direct Mail
         Sales letters
         Lead generation letters
         Referral generation letters
         Monthly newsletter
         Postcard announcements
         Card decks and co-op mailings
         Self-mailers
        Phones
         “Free 24-Hour Recorded Message Hotline”
         Voice message broadcast (thank yous and announcements left on voice mail)
         Teleconferences and teleseminars
         Toll-Free 800 Numbers

        Traditional Advertising
         Yellow Pages
         Classified ads
         Print ads
         Radio ads
         TV Ads
         Bill Boards
        Internet
         Your Web site (Does your site have a clearly defined purpose?)
         Tailored landing pages for particular offers
         Email
         Audio and video on Web site and in email
         Autoresponders
         Ezines and Enewsletters
         E-books
         Webinars, Web conferences, and webcasts
         Google AdWords and Overture
         Banner ads
         Search engine optimization
         E-commerce essentials (shopping cart, credit card processing,landing pages)
         Domain names (tailored to product or service you are selling)
         Forms to capture email addresses
         eBbay and other auction sites
         Monster.com and other job listing sites
         Classified ads on the Internet
         Affiliate Marketing
         RSS Feeds
         Podcasting and Webcasting
        Other Media
         Fliers and door-hangers
         Business cards
         CDs, DVDs
        Methods to Boost Response
         Super-charged guarantee
         Irresistible offer (14 that never fail)
         Benefits tailored to what you know prospect wants
         Deadline emphasizing most important benefit to prospect
         Deadline (with good reasons for deadline)
         Incentives to respond now
         Easy to order . . .
        Signature

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        And have the secrets A-List Copywriters - David Garfinkel & Parris Lampropoulos
        use in their multimillion dollar promotions
        www.markpocock.com

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        • Profile picture of the author CyrusR
          Thanks markpocock for sharing the checklist. It certainly is a big help if you have a guide that you can check off instead of just having it run through your mind whether you have done this or that.

          And I would agree that it is all about the headline. After all that's what gets us to open emails or read articles. To my mind the more daring and somewhat controversial the headline the better. It's human nature, part of our voyeurism mentality whether we admit it or not. hehehehe

          It's like a train wreck, you don't want to look but you just got to. Somewhat same principle I suppose.
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          • Profile picture of the author markpocock
            Here is another check list you may like to use.


            AN AIRTIGHT DIRECT MAIL PACKAGE REVIEW CHECKLIST
            (Courtesy of Kevin Finn, Finn Communications)

            Reviewer's Name: ____________________________


            Date: ____________________________________


            1) Package Description:

            CARRIER ENVELOPE

            [ ] Excellent
            [ ] Good
            [ ] Needs some improvement, but can be salvaged
            [ ] Needs to be rewritten
            [ ] Needs to be redesigned


            Is there a strong teaser that effectively does these two
            things?:

            (1) The copy identifies and qualifies the prospect
            immediately.

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No
            [ ] MAYBE

            (2) Gets him inside the envelope?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No
            [ ] MAYBE


            THE LETTER

            [ ] Excellent
            [ ] Good
            [ ] Needs some improvement, but can be salvaged
            [ ] Needs to be rewritten
            [ ] Needs to be redesigned


            Content:

            The letter must contain the following in this general
            sequence--all done strongly and effectively according to
            proven direct response methods:

            A. Does the superscript, or headline, compel the reader to
            go on?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No


            B. Does the headline give exciting news, make a promise, or
            offer a benefit?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            C. Should a superscript be used in this letter?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            D. Is there a strong lead sentence that picks up from the
            teaser or the superscript? Must start reader on the route
            to a sale.

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            E. Opening paragraphs: do they begin immediate development
            of the benefits promised in the teaser? Do they develop
            desire for the product/service? Do they show the reader
            how he will benefit specifically? Or else do they compel
            the prospect to read on?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            F. Is the opening section mostly "flattering" and not
            critical?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            G. Proof: are all claims backed up by success stories,
            charts, figures, or a track record or by testimonials,
            endorsements, etc., from satisfied customers or
            acknowledged authorities?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            H. Are the "credentials" of the writer defined strongly
            enough that the letter has authority and credibility?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            I. Are all benefits brought out strongly? (Product
            characteristics are features. What those features do for
            the customer are called benefits.)

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            J. Is the prospect told he'll lose something if he doesn't
            act?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            K. If the product is new or unique, does the letter say so
            and state how it's better?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            L. Is there reason given for an immediate response?


            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            M. Is the price justified? Or are there equivalent
            tangibles listed to dramatize the amount requested?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            N. If a publication, is there a choice of subscriptions and
            terms?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            O. Is there a money-back guarantee?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            P. Is there a free premium or some incentive to bring quick
            action or a bigger purchase?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            Q. Strong summary: Are the major benefits restated? Have
            you answered all questions and objectives?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            R. Is there a reference to the order form or procedure that
            tells exactly what you want the reader to do?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            S. Credit card purchases and toll-free "800" number
            purchases increase response up to 30%. Are they offered?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            T. Action: Is the order/donation/action/asked for strongly
            and clearly?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            U. Is there a P.S.? Does it add a note of urgency,
            incentive, etc.?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            V. Overall, has the entire presentation been directed to
            the toughest, hardest-to-sell prospect, and NO STONE LEFT
            UNTURNED in order to get the job done?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            II. TECHNIQUE

            A. Use the "you" attitude all the way through. Talk about
            the reader, not you--his needs and problems from his
            perspective.

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            B. Is the "bucket brigade" used? Use connectors that
            subtly lead from one paragraph to the next: "And, But, So
            you see, Of course, Better yet, As I mentioned, Now here's
            the important part, And don't forget that, But that's not
            all... "

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            C. Does copy read smoothly? Does it keep moving?


            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            D. Is it in a sincere, first person singular,
            conversational idiom?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            E. Is it in the reader's vernacular--the jargon of his
            field, sex, age, or other psychographic limit?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            F. Does the copy breathe enthusiasm? Excitement?
            Conviction? Like you truly believe in what you're writing
            about?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            G. Has the reader been recognized as a unique individual,
            and are his needs and problems identified and solved by the
            end of the letter?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            H. Does copy hold the reader's interest all the way
            through?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            III. Writing Style

            A. Punctuation--forget the rules! You're writing the
            "spoken" language for the most direct effect. Do you use
            punctuation for impact and clarity and not for the sake of
            "grammatical correctness"?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No


            B. Words

            1. Are there too may long words? (About 65%-75% should be
            five letters or fewer.)

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            2. Are they familiar, common words most used in ordinary
            conversation--NOT pedantic, pretentious, or "business
            letter" English?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            3. Do you use the active tense, not the passive?


            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            4. Are there "word pictures"--metaphors, similes and
            analogies that make concrete, emotionally stimulating
            images?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            5. Is the verb-adjective ratio good--about three verbs to
            every adjective?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            6. Is the writing fresh? Does it avoid clichés?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            C. Sentences:

            1. Are most sentences under 20 words? Fewer than 150
            syllables long?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            2. Are they varied in length to lend rhythm and pace?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            3. Do the sentences flow logically--from subject to
            predicate to object? Do they read right the first time
            through--give the meaning you intended?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            Paragraphs

            1. Are they six to seven lines maximum, but varied for
            visual appeal?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            First line indented?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No


            3. Are whole paragraphs double-indented occasionally for
            emphasis and visual appeal?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            IV. Appearance:

            A. Placement on page: Ample borders all around?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            B. Subheads used for visual and strategic purposes? (The
            ideal is to have your subheads form a synopsis, in
            sequence, of your basic proposition or story.)

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            C. Underscoring: Effective for emphasis, but use
            sparingly. Overuse kills the effect. Has underscoring been
            used effectively?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            D. ALL CAPS: Effective for emphasis, but unsparingly.
            Overuse is more likely than with underscoring. Has ALL CAPS
            been used effectively?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            E. Is there a second color and is it used well? It
            increases response substantially when used sparingly but
            wisely.

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            F. Type: Use typewriter -- Don't typeset unless you use a
            type font that looks very much like a typewriter.
            Prestige, pica 72, ten pitch, is preferred by the many of
            the world's top direct mail letter writers.

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            (JF Note: Does this still apply? You can judge best. But
            more than a few copywriters say it still does.)

            G. Are ragged right lines used (lines not justified at
            right end?)

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            H. Bottom line of page--break sentence at a "leading" word
            when possible so reader must turn page to get the meaning.

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            I. Is there a continuation note in the bottom-right corner
            (such as "please turn... ")?

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            V. Specific Comments:

            OVERALL EVALUATION OF INSERT

            I. Overall rating of your strategy, writing, design,
            pricing, and terms:

            [ ] 10 - Rare. A landmark achievement.
            [ ] 9 - Outstanding. Deserves a prize.
            [ ] 8 - Unusually good, top 5% of all copy.
            [ ] 7 - Good. Reaches ordinary standards.
            [ ] 6 - Passable, with luck.
            [ ] 5 - Marginal value, may even lose money.
            [ ] 4 - Weak. An almost certain money-loser.
            [ ] 3 - Very weak and unprofessional
            [ ] 2 - Awful.
            [ ] 1 - Offensive or illegal.

            II. Your offer is clear as presented.

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            III. The pieces in your package complement each other in
            the right way.

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            IV. You have separated yourself from the competition
            adequately.

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            V. Your product/service/publication/ministry is marketable
            through direct mail.

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            VI. You should also look into other direct response media
            like magazine ads, radio, television, posters, fulfillment
            house stuffers, etc.

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No

            VII. Your strategy, product, service or publication can
            and should be improved before you continue marketing.

            [ ] Yes
            [ ] No
            Signature

            Get a FREE 20 minute consultation on your sales letter. Contact me today
            And have the secrets A-List Copywriters - David Garfinkel & Parris Lampropoulos
            use in their multimillion dollar promotions
            www.markpocock.com

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  • Profile picture of the author CDarklock
    Originally Posted by ebrown View Post

    For any copywriters who would like to share some wisdom, I was wondering how you write your sales copy.
    If the product has an existing sales letter, I use that as my template. I divide it into blocks and title them, then subscript them with callbacks. I recently did a sales page that had a template like this:

    A - Secret techniques, open loop

    B - My story

    C - Content

    D - Payment and delivery (C)

    E - Scarcity (A)

    F - Bonuses (B)

    Then I reorder. Loop A was never really closed, so I created G to close the loop. So I redid it like this:

    B1 - My story, open loop

    F1 - Bonuses (B1)

    A - Secret techniques, open loop

    C - Content

    D - Payment and delivery (C)

    G - Secret techniques, close loop

    F2 - Bonuses (B1)

    B2 - My story, close loop

    E - Scarcity (G)

    If I'm writing from scratch, I just examine the product and write up a skeletal structure myself first - basically pretending I've decomposed an existing sales letter into topics already.

    Once I've split up and rearranged the copy as it stands, I put it away and go do something else for a while, and when I'm ready to come back I look at it with fresh eyes. After I've tweaked the skeleton enough, I put it away again and go out for a walk. During my walk, I try out several headlines, and after about two or three hours I usually have a decent one. Then I come back, write it down, and try to improve it.

    Now I rewrite each section to flow nicely, then go back through looking for "blockers" and bad wording - which I fix. Once that pass is finished, I do a visual scan and add emphasis and sizing, so you can read a consistent and coherent message without reading text below a certain size. I size things as head - subhead - callout - emphasis - text, and make sure every critical point is hit on each level.

    That's when I go through and do the hypnotic/NLP pass to see where I can improve specific wording to inspire action. Once that pass is done, I throw the copy over the wall to the client, and we start the editing round.
    Signature
    "The Golden Town is the Golden Town no longer. They have sold their pillars for brass and their temples for money, they have made coins out of their golden doors. It is become a dark town full of trouble, there is no ease in its streets, beauty has left it and the old songs are gone." - Lord Dunsany, The Messengers
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