"How to Write Sales Pages as Good as the Copywriting Legends - in One Easy Lesson - Even If You're a Complete Copy Moron!"
If you'd like to know how you can begin to write ads as good (or better, in some cases) than the "gurus", and do so without-gut busting effort or so much as a hint of strain... even if you've struggled with copy and have yet to be truly satisfied with your skills in the past... then you may be interested in reading the rest of this post.
Here's why: I'm going to do something unheard of.
I'm going to give away, for free, (almost) everything you'd ever need to know to begin to write compelling copy that really will make you money... right here on this post.
I know it may sound ridiculous, but I'll tell you exactly why it would benefit you to believe that I can deliver on this promise... in a moment.
Before we get to that... there's something you need to know.
Otherwise this post won't make sense and you won't get any benefit from the rest of it.
Usually I consider it bad form to drop names.
Because pissing contests are for suckers.
But also... the really important reason why I don't like to drop names is because it encourages the sort of thinking that keeps people trapped in the first place.
If it's assumed that one guy is a guru or an authority... that automatically implies he's inside and you're outside.
Well... as they say in foggy London-town... that's ballocks.
I've met the gurus.
In many different walks of life (not just internet marketing culture).
And don't you believe anybody who tells you they're not the exact same quaking mess that you are. Life doesn't stop being life once you've "made it". "Making it" at all is an illusion and it's a dangerous one because it's that very image that allows people to take advantage of you and keeps you running inside the hamster wheel.
If there's somebody sending messages to your inbox telling you any different... who's seriously trying to convince you there really is some "inside" to finally be a part of that will solve all your problems or something like that... they're just as happy with you eating a menu instead of food, so long as you pay.
That is... they're charlatans.
Fakes. Phonies. That's a challenge I'll back up 'till I'm blue in the face and I invite any of them to try and prove otherwise.
All that said... I know that to move with the stream, instead of against it, is the intelligent way to go about things. So because I know about this structure of authority and... how nobody will listen to you if you're a no-name... I feel it's only fair I tell you why I'm qualified to teach you how to write ad copy.
First, I work as a copywriter professionally. At the moment, my main client who I'm an "in house" writer for is a global hydroponics company called "Advanced Nutrients".
The man who hired me co-founded this company and David Garfinkel (who, if you know copywriting today, you should be aware of) said of this man "he's one of smartest direct marketers I've ever met".
He has before hired writers like Dr. Harlan Kilstein and Tina Lorenz and he regularly attends copywriting and persuasion seminars.
The guy knows his stuff.
I met him at a seminar and during the seminar was able to sell him on hiring me without a portfolio, resume or even sample of my work.
(To learn how I did this, you'll have to wait. This is something I want to keep guarded for now because it actually is a pretty juicy secret that I may end up selling.)
Also, I do nothing to promote myself. I have no website set up, no portfolio put together, no resume... I don't even have a business card. But I regularly get calls from people I've never heard of who have been referred my services. Recently, I even got a call from as far away as Thailand asking me to write (though I turned the offer down).
Scott Haines said of the first assignment I ever wrote professionally, "That's damn good copy." If you've ever worked with Scott, you know he's not one to dole out enthusiasm recklessly. I was hugely flattered.
I'm not saying any of that to brag. I know I'm no better than anybody. I get uncomfortable when people sing my praises even when I deserve it, most of the time, because it's all so superfluous.
Also, I'm currently something of a cripple. I'm fighting a very difficult battle with anxiety and panic disorder I developed while deployed as a Marine last year which has stymied me in a lot of ways and put me in and out of hospitals for the past year (and is in large part the reason I'm spending a Friday night on this forum writing to you all instead of out and about drinking myself silly with friends. For anyone who's ever had to deal with this, the constant tension, high blood pressure, and feeling that this really might be the moment you die knows how awful this thing is).
So uh... I'm a bit behind the curve in some respects.
But one way I'm not behind the curve is in the arena of persuasion. And I had to give myself some credibility so you'd know I have at least some idea... a single clue, if nothing else.... of what I'm talking about.
Because of that, I want to demystify this process for you.
And I want to do it... for free.
Because it's fun, that's why. And who says you can't have fun in the midst of slight agoraphobia?
I like writing anyway. If I'm not reading, I'm writing. That's generally the pace of my life.
But mostly I'm reading and writing.
So now I'm going to make very plain how to write copy effortlessly. And... just to spite my critic down below (nothing personal, it's just fun to spite people)... I'm going to do it without bullets. >
There will be three parts to this post. Each is equally important. They will each be surprisingly and pleasantly short. And altogether they will mesh into a beautiful tapestry of literary genius (cue eyes rolling) that will include all the basic anatomy of a sales letter as well, from headline to P.S.
You're witnessing history here. I don't want your e-mail address, and there's no back-end to this. This really is completely free. I'm excited.
Here it goes:
Part I: Wu-Wei
It's a Chinese phrase used by Taoists that translates roughly to "doing without doing" or "effortless action". All it means is you don't have to help life along. Once you "get" this principle, your writing really will become effortless in the sense that you won't strain to do any of it.
It will be as shockingly pleasant as when you learn how to swim correctly... because the best swimmers have to learn to let the water and their stride carry them along. (Novices have way too many strokes per lap because they don't trust the water or the effort they already put out to glide along just as fast.)
For example... when you see or think about someone who gives you butterflies, we say it happens to us. It's spontaneous.
Of itself so.
That is, it's not through gritting our teeth and muscular strain or grunting that the butterflies start flapping (that'd be a funny sight though, wouldn't it?).
So then... I'm going to present compelling copy to you as nothing more than good news that when delivered will work its magic anyway. You don't have to try to make it work.
When you've got good news, you want to share it. You don't have to get worked up or try to force excitement out of anybody... good news is of itself exciting.
In the same way, when you deliver any sort of message... if you're trying to, by way of some strenuous effort, squeeze the reaction somebody ought to have out of them when they hear good news... you'll kill your efforts.
You'll get strange looks and hear crickets.
This is how things become drenched in hype and we recognize instantly that they're not genuine.
And it is the quickest way not to be believed. (Which, as Gary Halbert wrote, is very high on any market's list of reasons not to buy.)
Here's how you fix it: Just tell the good news.
If you don't have good news, there's no amount of copywriting magic that's going to save you.
Unless you lie, in which case, may God smite you with lightning or even worse... bring you success. (Not all it's cracked up to be, but I've written more about that in another post.)
Remember the butterflies. If you're presenting a pretty picture, they'll flap on their own. You don't have to do a damn thing to get them going.
I'll give you an example.
Here is a ****ty headline:
"I Demand You Be Impressed By My Offer Because I'm An Awesome Copywriter Who You Should Hire Because I'll Make You Lots Of Money, Believe It Dammit!"
The knee-jerk reaction to that is of course "screw off, buddy!"
But how about this:
"3 Spots Left To Learn How To Cheat The California Lotto From A Pissed-Off, Recently Fired Employee, For As Much As A Million Dollar Prize... Our Lawyers Have Actually Confirmed This Is Legal, But Only For 3 More People. All You've Got To Do Is Send Your Name And Address And We'll Ship You The Information Free of Charge."
Is there anybody that's not going to read that?
Not if you a) desire more money and b) have a pulse.
Notice, there's no use of the words "amazing", "incredible", or anything like that. No exclamation marks. I'm not throwing streamers into your face to get you to look at this thing.
But it's good news. And it's not that any of those words are bad per se... they, or words like them, could probably be used to breathe a little more life into that headline.
Do you see though this point of how you don't have to grit your teeth and go GRRRR! to make good news good?
You can get into all sorts of specifics and measuring out just what elements make it so and all this stuff like how it's specific (3 spots) or how there's a human motive (employee got canned) or blah blah blah but really... "good news" is sufficient.
If you complicate things and get lost in the details, it all becomes very frustrating. Just tell the good news you've got. If you haven't got good news, you need to craft a new offer because you're either selling something nobody wants, or you're lying.
In which case, may God smite you with fame and fortune, because you deserve both, you deceitful creep.
Act II: That's it?
Once you understand that writing copy is telling good news, you've got all you need to know to write compelling headlines.
That's too simple though, and most people like to ask questions and complicate things for a bunch of weird reasons, not the least of which is just being difficult, not the greatest of which is if you solve your problems now... what will you do with so little to squirm around about? So here's one more tip...
A quick and easy way to know you're writing headlines correctly: are you matching your message with what the market wants?
Gary Halbert used to say that the one advantage, if we had competing hot dog stands, that he would want over any other... including the best tasting ingredients, or the friendliest cashiers, or whatever... would be a hungry crowd.
The whole mystery of successful selling lies here.
Is your crowd hungry for what you're putting in front of them?
If so, the food will sell itself. They'll eat. You don't have to do anything else but put it in front of them. It's difficult to shew them away even.
Now there are a couple of details in Part 3 that'll clear up some confusion.
But before we get into that... one final word on this.
You may be reading this post (it's coming to a close soon) and thinking that I'm leaving a lot of important details out. Where are all the bullets, and subheads, and P.S.s, etc!
What about using "headers" like pennies or dollar bills instead of headlines to get attention, or mailing a fedex package instead of a big envelope with teaser copy? What sort of font type and size should be used for specific parts of the sales message?
To that I reply... the Coat of Arms letter, perhaps the most successfully mailed letter of all time... was less than 400 words.
It brought home over $650,000,000.00 throughout its lifetime.
A full-time staff had to be hired in the beginning just to cash the checks. That's a staff of people working 40 hours per week doing nothing but cashing checks.
It had no headline. No subheads. And God help us, it had no bullets.
It was as bare bones as you can get.
If people are hungry for what you're putting in front of them, they'll eat.
Don't get lost in the details of the format your message takes.
There is no magic in the format of writing.
Find out what your market wants, and tell them how you've got the solution.
If nothing else, if you look different than everyone else, especially if everyone else is being loud and obnoxious (which is the case these days online)... you'll get noticed much, much more quickly if you're not.
(Ex: what kind of envelope does everybody open? The personal envelope that is quiet and nice. What do they throw away? Obvious "junk mail". The brilliance of this strategy wasn't in the paper, the medium. It was in the principle. THe same thing applies online.)
Act III: The Details
That said, we're going to solve once and for all the problem of bullets, and enough other details to make sure you've got a solid structure to work with that you feel comfortable beginning to use as soon as you finish reading this post.
Creating compelling bullets is like carving a raw, natural, dirty tree stump into something fascinating.
The tree stump, as it is, is what we call a feature.
If you're selling a DVD on self-improvement, a feature might be that it's light weight.
So the first step in our journey is to identify all the features we can.
List every feature about this thing you can possibly list.
All the facts.
Then, you turn every feature into (at least one) benefit.
The benefit is what you begin carving the feature into. The value of it. What it does for the person using it. It's no longer just a tree stump, it's a beautiful carving of a flying duck that you can put above the fireplace on the mantle that everyone will ooh and aah at (it should be noted here that the only reason you should be carving a duck out of the tree stump is if you know the market is crazy about ducks. Do you get that? It's what the market is hungry for that shapes how you present what you've got.)
So if the DVD is lightweight, maybe that means they only have to pay $1.50 for media mail shipping. Or free shipping even. Why not? Let's not be cheapskates. You self-improvement folk have pretty good markups anyway.
That's a pretty nice benefit, free shipping.
When stating a benefit, you don't say "it weighs x ounces, YOU figure out why that's great, moron!"
You tell them, plainly, why that's great.
"Because it weighs only x ounces, we can offer you free shipping."
Ah, how nice...
And maybe on the DVD you reveal how to stop hating yourself or some other self-improvement lesson.
So what's the benefit of that? Well when you stop hating yourself it'll be nice because you can hang out with your friends again because you won't be a drag.
What the market wants will tell you what the benefits of your product are.
Finally, the finished bullet is the presentation of the carving. You need features to make benefits, and benefits to make bullets.
So you might polish it all up by saying "A concrete, surefire way to get a million friends who will all beg to hang out with you - because you'll be the life of the party! (This works so quickly, it's not unusual for your phone to begin ringing off the hook as early as tomorrow)"
Maybe you throw a drum roll in and build up the suspense before you reveal everything, by making a bullet "blind".
On that note, one more example.
Product: Dating E-book.
Feature: Teaches a trick to get noticed and approached by girls that works right away and can be used anywhere.
Benefit: Never have approach anxiety again.
(Blind) Bullet: "-One trick you can perform tonight that will completely destroy approach anxiety once and for all, no matter where you find yourself or who you're after."
So here's a starter formula for a good sales letter:
2. Tell your story briefly... who you are, how this all came to be, and what's inside in a way that works with the headlne... I'll give you a great structure for this in a minute.
3. List a ton of bullets to get them amped. Or don't. You may just create bullets to know where to steer the writing and keep it in normal paragraph format. But in general, bullets are nice eye relief and encourage people to read messages that are longer than they would otherwise.
4. Ask for the order.
5. You may also include a post-script or P.S. as a final note to knock them off the fence. Usually this is where you mention a guarantee or something to do with scarcity... like limited supply or time.
Speaking of which, here is where we're going to talk about guarantees.
If you want to learn to write guarantees (or any part of a sales letter) well, study John Carlton. Especially his OHP and TRS Direct stuff. (In fact, here's a free swipe file you'll find invaluable: ohpdirect. com and trsdirect. com. Both great marketing in very different niches.)
The purpose of a guarantee is to reverse the risk. At the advice of Scott Haines, I've learned that you can include guarantees in your headlines or subheads to increase response dramatically, especially if you're struggling to come up with a big benefit for the headline.
Scarcity, also, will increase response but this isn't always easy to do believably. It's sort of common knowledge that people will lie about scarcity to get you to buy and there have been all sorts of dreadful internet fads like counters and other script junk that are obviously phony.
However, keeping this all short and sweet, and in an honest (although probably failed) attempt not to overload you with information, I'm going to move on.
Number 4 is huge.
It is, next to headlines, the most important on the list.
You've got to ask for the order. If you've got them all worked up to eat what they're hungry for and you don't take their money... they leave hungry and you leave broke.
And the best way to ask for the order is, like all the rest, just do it.
After you've written your headline, told your story, amped up the emotional charge with some bullets... just say, "here's what to do now".
Here's what to do now:
Click this link.
Or Call this number.
Walk them through it a bit too. "Call this number and you'll reach my assistant, Tracie, who you'll be blown away by because she's so nice and pleasant to talk to. She'll take care of you and all you need to do is have your credit card out and you'll be done before you know it. You won't hear a busy signal because we've set up a voicemail box you can leave your information on if the lines are tied up, and we'll get back to you lightning fast."
Or something like that.
If you want a good example of this formula in action (there will be more going on than JUST this 1,2,3,4 5 formula, mind you, because the page I'm about to recommend is written by THE copywriter, John Carlton)... check out simplewritingsystemdotcom. But you can relax. All you need to absorb for now is what we've covered here.
There you have it.
A free, basic course on how to write compelling copy that will make you money.
Don't sweat buckets about the structure. This post is about principles that when applied will take care of the rest. Like I said, there is no magic in the medium of writing. Your job, really, is to be a salesman.
Is there any way to tell anyone on this planet that someone special to them has passed away that will keep them from being sad?
Is there any way to tell somebody that their baby was just born that will keep them from being thrilled?
Of course, it should be noted that "salesman" is just as much a misleading word as "copywriter"... that people will keep themselves down with and put things off with (I've got to study all the best courses and spend roughly $2,000.00 before I can really consider myself a salesman. Maybe even go to a few seminars too and get a piece of paper that tells me so.)
So let it be known, if you're selling something, you're a salesman. Poof. Hocus pocus.
Congratulations, welcome aboard.
If you're writing sales messages to multiply your efforts, I officially deem you a copywriter.
Congratulations, welcome aboard.
Your biggest hurdles will be: 1) trying too hard to MAKE the selling process work, which is why I included some esoteric Chines stuff as the first part of this course... and 2) perfectionism. IF you're constnatly anticipating your mistakes and trying to get it "right" (as if there were such a thing) before you get the message out... you'll never get anywhere.
This post SUCKED in its first draft. I know that. I knew it as I wrote it. I wrote it "stream of consciousness".
There are even lots of areas it coule be improved now.
But, it's received a good amount of traffic since it's been up and even in its ****ty infant stage, I have testimonial proof that it helped at least somebody.
"So good I could hug it."
That's a pretty damn good testimonial, wouldn't you say? How many pieces of writing have you written lately that people have told you they want to hug?
I'm pretty satisfied with that.
Speaking of which, something should be mentioned about testimonials before I cut out.
When other people sing your praises, it goes a lot further than you singing your own praises. The internet climate is changing the rules for this a bit, because you have independent forums where people come to discuss the truth about products. And they're going to trust forums a hell of a lot more than they will the testimonials you, the seller, post.
But in general, they increase response.
If you're going to use testimonials (and you should), keep them specific and credible.
Ex: "Your product is great! - Anonymous"
That's not nearly as convincing as the following...
Ex: "Using this method, I earned $5,000.00 more in February than I did in January. And... I was doing it slightly wrong. Thanks for an amazing product! - Gnarls Barkeley, Walla Walla Washington, 55555 somewebsitewhereyoucanseemyfacedotcom"
So there you have it. Free starter course on how to write great copy that will make you money.
P.S. You'll pick up the details on the way. Just start writing. The road to mastery is the road that repeats the basics... over, and over, and over, and over...
P.P.S. If you do visit John's site I mentioned above, simplewritingsystemdotcom, you'll notice scattered about the page are what look like newspaper clippings. Each of these is a story about a student they trained that has had enough success that they consider it bragworthy.
My newspaper clipping is "Case #152." At some point or other, Stan Dahl and Kevin Rogers had a phone interview they did to learn my story about how I studied their course through mail order while I was deployed as a Marine in support of OIF, but I'm not sure if it's up anymore.
But I was proud to have made the front page of John Carlton's flagship course.
It's my sincere hope that this post has been of some benefit to you all and I wish you the best in all your efforts.
Just don't take things too seriously, alright?
Copywriting is fun, dammit.
The if/then structure!
Earlier I promised I'd show you how to tie in your headline with the rest of the copy.
The easiest and most effective way for beginners to do this... a real fail-safe... is the if/then structure.
You see it all the time. Because it works.
So you've got your headline
"They All Laughed At Me When I Said I'd Teach You Basic Copywriting... But Then When I Began To Speak!"
so here's how you use if/then
if you'd like to learn how to write a simple letter that you can turn into money, then here is why this letters is important.
My name is... blah blah blah.
The if/then is a bridge from the headline and main benefit of your message... to the story of how it all came to be.
Phew. Almost forgot that. I'm off for now.