4 Unbreakable Copy Rules

44 replies
No doubt you've heard Outback Steakhouse's catchphrase, "No rules, Just right." Well, when it comes to sales letters, the "no rules" approach definitely doesn't apply.

There are some rules you must follow if you want your ads to get the best response possible. Here are four ...

Rule #1: Be interesting

Include a headline that grabs the reader's attention. If your prospect is not interested after reading your headline, he most likely won't read the rest of the ad.

Once the headline has grabbed the reader's eyeballs, give him a reason to read the rest of your sales letter. Start off with a story, or talk about the pain he's in. Above all, don't be boring.

Rule #2: Be believable

One of the reasons prospects don't buy is because they lack confidence in the sales message. So make sure what you write in your ad is believable.

When you make a claim, prove it. If you quote the results of previous buyers, be specific. If you think your reader will doubt something you say, give him a reason why.

Rule #3: Use scarcity

Often times, it's not enough to merely convince your prospect. Use scarcity to compel him to click the buy button.

Scarcity comes in two "flavors" - time and quantity. Limit your offer to a certain period of time. Or limit the number of items available. And always be truthful. Buyers can smell fake scarcity a mile away.

Rule #4: Make your offer irresistible

Other than the headline, your offer is the most important part of the ad. Make it irresistible. So irresistible, in fact, that a prospect would have to be "brain dead" not to accept it.

Establish overwhelming value in the prospect's mind. Give an off-the-wall guarantee. Include high-quality bonuses.

Alex
#copy #rules #unbreakable
  • Profile picture of the author Oxbloom
    I agree with and love 1, 2, and 4.

    Believability and scarcity, to me, are almost mutually exclusive these days.

    When so much of what I find myself and others marketing is digital, and therefore pretty much infinite in supply, scarcity just seems trumped up most of the time. A fraudulent attempt to get quick compliance and artificially raise perceived value. I think scarcity is just a subset of irresistibility...one way to make something more appealing. There are those venues where it can still be believable, but they're becoming rarer and rarer...to me anyway.

    Even instances of *real* but "created" scarcity...where a marketer will limit something to a hundred buyers for no obvious reason...seems more petulant than anything, and more likely to turn me off to the buying impulse.

    Around these parts...and *particularly* in IM...I see "believable scarcity" about as often as I see talking unicorns. Which is to say only when I'm drunk.
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    • Profile picture of the author coffeyucf
      I think you can be believable and use scarcity. The problem is msot people who think they are using scarcity actually aren't. They're simply throwing a number on a website and never actually sell out.

      I've made scarcity work a number of times with my list. Here's the key... If you say you're only selling 100 when you sell 100 you stop selling it :-)

      I know what a novel idea.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ross James
    When I think of scarcity I think of this quote.


    "Nobody goes to see the wise man at the bottom of the mountain."
    - Dan Kennedy


    From what I gather, Dan is talking about scarcity but not in the way Ox pointed out? Correct me if I'm wrong.



    Best,



    Ross
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  • Profile picture of the author Linda Hepworth
    A couple of other good copy ideas :

    - use conversational copy
    - always tell them what you want them to do (click here to opt in, buy ....)
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    • Profile picture of the author Globy
      Nice rules.

      The one thing I like sometimes, it's be short and to the point.

      Kind regards.
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      • Profile picture of the author 247Copywriter
        Originally Posted by Globy View Post

        Nice rules.

        The one thing I like sometimes, it's be short and to the point.

        Kind regards.
        Stop spamming the Copywriting Forum!

        It's obvious your'e just trying to get your post count up. :rolleyes:
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        • Profile picture of the author Globy
          Hey,

          Why is always being new and trying to participate in forums considered as spam?
          Am I promoting anything at all? No
          Trying to sell something? No.

          Come on people. Be reasonable.
          Forums are for collaboration and opinion exchanging. Doing that is not illegal.
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  • Profile picture of the author tonio79
    Like it.
    Short sweet and simple!

    With a couple of things coming up in 2011 i will keep this structure in mind!
    Having a harder time with balancing the scarcity piece. How to get the balance right is a bit of an art i guess.

    Also with so many fake scarcity out there on offers are people numb to it now.

    I suppose the point of being true to the scarcity element is the most important in that case!
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  • Profile picture of the author Marvin Johnston
    Nice summary!

    Scarcity might better be called Urgency though as scarcity is just one way to generate urgency.

    Marvin
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    • Profile picture of the author dorothydot
      You forgot the Cardinal Rule of Copywriting:

      Use the magic 3-letter word every chance you get: Y-O-U.

      Not I. Not We. Not They. Not She or He.

      Y-O-U.

      Dot
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  • Profile picture of the author alcymart
    Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post

    Start off with a story, or talk about the pain he’s in.
    If its your style of writing, I have no problem with that, but it isn't my style. When talking about the pain he's in, you will inevitably use not so good words in your Ad copy unless you can make them hurt otherwise. That being said, there are words that need to be avoided in an Ad copy and here are a few of them and I'm not even including their synonyms in which there are plenty:

    deal, cost, pay, contract, sign, try, worry, loss, lose, hurt, buy, death, bad, sell, sold, price, decision, hard, difficult, obligation, liable, fail, liability, failure.

    So a line like...Are you tired of failing and losing money online, does it hurt to be a failure?

    Ok, I may have put this up bluntly and would appreciate any debate because I think I could write up a line along the lines you preach to get him to hurt but nope, not my style of writing and I have had great success with my style.

    If I'm not on par with your teachings, please share your point of view...
    ...but the rest of your post is great!
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    • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
      Originally Posted by Oxbloom View Post

      I agree with and love 1, 2, and 4.

      Believability and scarcity, to me, are almost mutually exclusive these days.

      When so much of what I find myself and others marketing is digital, and therefore pretty much infinite in supply, scarcity just seems trumped up most of the time. A fraudulent attempt to get quick compliance and artificially raise perceived value. I think scarcity is just a subset of irresistibility...one way to make something more appealing. There are those venues where it can still be believable, but they're becoming rarer and rarer...to me anyway.

      Even instances of *real* but "created" scarcity...where a marketer will limit something to a hundred buyers for no obvious reason...seems more petulant than anything, and more likely to turn me off to the buying impulse.

      Around these parts...and *particularly* in IM...I see "believable scarcity" about as often as I see talking unicorns. Which is to say only when I'm drunk.
      Time-based scarcity works pretty good in the IM niche for digital products. But yeah, it can be tough to pull off quantity-based scarcity.

      Originally Posted by alcymart View Post

      If its your style of writing, I have no problem with that, but it isn't my style. When talking about the pain he's in, you will inevitably use not so good words in your Ad copy unless you can make them hurt otherwise. That being said, there are words that need to be avoided in an Ad copy and here are a few of them and I'm not even including their synonyms in which there are plenty:

      deal, cost, pay, contract, sign, try, worry, loss, lose, hurt, buy, death, bad, sell, sold, price, decision, hard, difficult, obligation, liable, fail, liability, failure.

      So a line like...Are you tired of failing and losing money online, does it hurt to be a failure?

      Ok, I may have put this up bluntly and would appreciate any debate because I think I could write up a line along the lines you preach to get him to hurt but nope, not my style of writing and I have had great success with my style.

      If I'm not on par with your teachings, please share your point of view...
      ...but the rest of your post is great!
      I'm not one to argue with good results. Since you've had "great success" without using the agitate-pain technique, keep doing what you're doing!

      (For those interested in learning more about agitating your prospect's pain, here's a pretty good article on the subject: http://www.marketingforsuccess.com/b...g-winning-copy)

      Alex
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  • Profile picture of the author Zentech
    Hi Alex,

    What a great page you have here. Just wanted to note that. Really liked your approach, and will be referring back to it for further study.
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Ten
    Why not use abundance instead of scarcity?
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  • Profile picture of the author Zentech
    Abundance doesn't psychologically motivate people to make impulsive decisions. This is copywriting we're talking about. It's the art of tapping into people's basic psychological drives to create the desired behavior - meaning a sale. The basic drive tapped by scarcity is fear - fear of missing out. It ain't pretty but neither is this business. To sell, we have to use the tools nature provided us - and fear is a powerful one.

    I promise you that even sales pages pushing New Age products that are all about things like "abundance" will be using scarcity and/or other fear-based techniques in their copy - if they are converting well. It's just the way successful sales has to be done, because of the way the human mind is structured by nature.
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    • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
      Why not use abundance instead of scarcity?
      You mean, as in...

      "You have all the time in the world to make your decision."

      "We have 10,001 of these babies sitting on our lot right now."

      "You are already rich in everything that matters."

      These are very motivating, don't you think?

      Marcia Yudkin
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  • Profile picture of the author dgently42
    Scarcity is a huge influence tactic. Robert Cialdini has a whole chapter on it in his Influence book (which is a fantastic book, by the way).

    Even if something is infinite in supply (a digital file, for example), attempting to create a sense of scarcity will help drive interest. It doesn't have to be done fraudulently either. For example, simply stating that if the customer orders now, they get such and such a bonus. Doesn't necessarily imply that if they wait until tomorrow they won't get the same deal.

    I believe that some of the other influencing tactics that Cialdini discusses are important as well - reciprocation, social validation, authority, liking/friendship. Also, applying any single one of these tactics won't necessarily cause influence. It's using a combination of these that will increase the probability of successful influence.

    "And if you call in the next 20 minutes, 'cause we can't do this all day..."
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    • Profile picture of the author Oxbloom
      Originally Posted by dgently42 View Post

      Scarcity is a huge influence tactic. Robert Cialdini has a whole chapter on it in his Influence book (which is a fantastic book, by the way).

      Even if something is infinite in supply (a digital file, for example), attempting to create a sense of scarcity will help drive interest. It doesn't have to be done fraudulently either. For example, simply stating that if the customer orders now, they get such and such a bonus. Doesn't necessarily imply that if they wait until tomorrow they won't get the same deal.

      I believe that some of the other influencing tactics that Cialdini discusses are important as well - reciprocation, social validation, authority, liking/friendship. Also, applying any single one of these tactics won't necessarily cause influence. It's using a combination of these that will increase the probability of successful influence.
      I *get* that scarcity is a huge influence tactic. And I *get* that it proves profitable, over and over, in marketing.

      I also get that what you describe is urgency, rather than scarcity.

      And I furthermore get that this is merely a semantic argument, but the nature of the OP is semantics. It's "what, out of the whole wide world of sales tactics, are truly indispensable?"

      And I think scarcity is not only dispensable, but is often best dispensed with, when other forms of urgency are called for. Scarcity, indeed, in a digital arena, is flat out UN-BELIEVABLE. Because it's fraudulent, contrived, and laughable.

      That does NOT mean it can't and doesn't work.

      What that DOES mean is that you can't very well have a list of utterly indispensable marketing tools in the modern digital marketing arena, and include both scarcity and believability. Often, one of them MUST be dispensed with. And CAN BE, with little or no effect on the bottom line.

      This board gets tough sometimes, because academic discussions get conflated with practical marketing advice.

      This thread, by nature of the language in the first post, is academic in nature. The premise can be argued without denying the practicality of the individual parts.

      Anyway, enough out of me on what is fundamentally a trivial argument.
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      • Profile picture of the author dgently42
        Originally Posted by Oxbloom View Post

        I also get that what you describe is urgency, rather than scarcity.
        Like you say - semantics, but urgency tactics are related to scarcity. The deadline tactic effect is related to the scarcity of time.

        But also as you say, scarcity, itself is not indispensable. I think that a list of truly indispensable rules would be difficult to come up with. For every one rule, I imagine there are probably loads of success cases where the rule was broken.
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  • Profile picture of the author Scott Murdaugh
    Urgency and scarcity do work.

    You just have to do it right. There are a few ways to do it... Legitimately.

    One way is support. Nearly every product, even digital ones, have some need for support from the vendor. Even better if it's software or hands on coaching.

    In that case it makes sense to limit the number of sales so that everyone gets the support that they deserve.

    Limited time offers also work well...

    Ben Settle was promoting a Eugene Schwartz speech, a swipe file and a couple of other bonuses for Michael Senoff for $20 last week.

    That's a good deal.

    On the first email I was thinking "good deal, but I've heard it. I have it laying around on a hard drive somewhere. I've probably seen most of the ads. Not sure if the bonuses are worth it, I'll think about it"...

    On the "it's coming down" email I was thinking "Even if I already have it it's only $20. I don't want to dig around on the old hard drives. There are probably ads I don't have. Okay, sold"...

    I'd agree that scarcity or urgency isn't necessary, but it's pretty critical to use it when you can... To use it when you can use it the *right* way, in a way that's credible and believable.

    You can use time, price, quantity... And you can pull them all off in believable ways.

    You can also just use the angle of "the sooner you buy the sooner the problem this product solves will go away" and in some cases the pain of that problem alone is enough to create urgency.

    I also agree, a lot of copy uses bad scarcity, unbelievable and manipulative scarcity, and that will kill sales.

    -Scott
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  • Hey Alex,

    Just wanted to supplement the "believability" part of your list.

    While it is critical for people to believe the words that you say, I believe that's only one of your hurdles.

    Even if you're able to explain someone's problem/situation BETTER than they can, and people believe that because you know this pain/situation so well, that naturally you know how to solve it, and they see you've got proof six ways to Sunday demonstrating you've solved this specific problem before AND that you guarantee your results... that isn't enough.

    All of the above is what's included in a "good" sales presentation but what makes a "Great" argument is helping the specific person you're talking to, believe that it's possible for THEM. Them being the person who always buy **** and never uses it. Them, the person who is scared of risk. Them, the person who fears looking stupid. Them, the person who's firmly welded to comfort at the moment with the devil they know.

    Helping a person see your product or a service as a vehicle that helps them ascend to the proudest version of themselves, despite themselves, is what allows maximum sales.

    Think about it. Why do you think those "Flabber-size, vibrating, weight-loss belts" that supposed to magically jiggle away the lard sold so well? It wasn't the guarantee. It wasn't the scientific data proving the technology worked. It wasn't the price or offer.

    The reason it sold so well was because the person watching the commercial could go inside and say, "****, even I CAN wear a belt for 30 minutes a day while laying here on the couch. Let's give it whirl and if worse comes to worse and I cave on wearing the belt, I'm only out $40 bucks. Where's the phone?"

    Whether it's a scammy product or the next version of Mother Teresa askin' for a million-dollar donation to put towards the elimination of a disease... this a universal concern that needs to be addressed.

    The way a Mother Teresa gets the money is the person responsible for the gift get's to go inside and say, "Me, helping rid the world of this disease, becoming famous for my generosity and I don't even have to leave the couch to do so? I'M IN. SIGN ME UP."

    You gotta help people believe in the most important person in the world; themselves. You do that and you're gonna crush it.
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    • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
      Originally Posted by Note Taking Nerd #2 View Post

      Hey Alex,

      Just wanted to supplement the "believability" part of your list.

      While it is critical for people to believe the words that you say, I believe that's only one of your hurdles.

      Even if you're able to explain someone's problem/situation BETTER than they can, and people believe that because you know this pain/situation so well, that naturally you know how to solve it, and they see you've got proof six ways to Sunday demonstrating you've solved this specific problem before AND that you guarantee your results... that isn't enough.

      All of the above is what's included in a "good" sales presentation but what makes a "Great" argument is helping the specific person you're talking to, believe that it's possible for THEM. Them being the person who always buy **** and never uses it. Them, the person who is scared of risk. Them, the person who fears looking stupid. Them, the person who's firmly welded to comfort at the moment with the devil they know.

      Helping a person see your product or a service as a vehicle that helps them ascend to the proudest version of themselves, despite themselves, is what allows maximum sales.

      Think about it. Why do you think those "Flabber-size, vibrating, weight-loss belts" that supposed to magically jiggle away the lard sold so well? It wasn't the guarantee. It wasn't the scientific data proving the technology worked. It wasn't the price or offer.

      The reason it sold so well was because the person watching the commercial could go inside and say, "****, even I CAN wear a belt for 30 minutes a day while laying here on the couch. Let's give it whirl and if worse comes to worse and I cave on wearing the belt, I'm only out $40 bucks. Where's the phone?"

      Whether it's a scammy product or the next version of Mother Teresa askin' for a million-dollar donation to put towards the elimination of a disease... this a universal concern that needs to be addressed.

      The way a Mother Teresa gets the money is the person responsible for the gift get's to go inside and say, "Me, helping rid the world of this disease, becoming famous for my generosity and I don't even have to leave the couch to do so? I'M IN. SIGN ME UP."

      You gotta help people believe in the most important person in the world; themselves. You do that and you're gonna crush it.
      Yes, the more "persuasion triggers" used in copy to generate believability, the better. Of the 49 triggers on a worksheet I developed for writing copy, at least 8 address believability.

      Alex
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      • Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post

        Yes, the more "persuasion triggers" used in copy to generate believability, the better. Of the 49 triggers on a worksheet I developed for writing copy, at least 8 address believability.

        Alex

        Alex,

        Would you do us all a huge favor - and tell us about your 49 triggers?

        (after 20 years experience - my worksheet only has 31 sobs...)
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        • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
          Originally Posted by Steve Copywriter View Post

          Alex,

          Would you do us all a huge favor - and tell us about your 49 triggers?

          (after 20 years experience - my worksheet only has 31 sobs...)
          Steve,

          I define persuasion triggers as copywriting tactics that stir up an emotion or help create a certain state of mind. My full list is proprietory, but here's the eight that help generate believability:

          1. Authority
          2. Credibility
          3. Damaging Admission
          4. Education
          5. Honesty/Integrity
          6. Proof of claims
          7. Social proof
          8. Specifics

          Alex
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          • Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post

            Steve,

            I define persuasion triggers as copywriting tactics that stir up an emotion or help create a certain state of mind. My full list is proprietory, but here's the eight that help generate believability:

            1. Authority
            2. Credibility
            3. Damaging Admission
            4. Education
            5. Honesty/Integrity
            6. Proof of claims
            7. Social proof
            8. Specifics

            Alex

            Alex,

            Many thanks, these 8 are very valuable copywriting tools.

            And I do fully appreciate that you do not wish to reveal your full list.
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  • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
    Here's an insightful quote ...

    "Believe me, nothing works as well on the web as deadlines" (Clayton Makepeace)

    One of the factors that makes Jeff Walker's Product Launch Formula so powerful is the inclusion of a deadline.

    Which, of course, is just another way of saying "time-based scarcity".

    Alex
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  • Profile picture of the author ewenmack
    Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post

    Rule #3: Use scarcity

    Often times, it's not enough to merely convince your prospect. Use scarcity to compel him to click the buy button.

    Scarcity comes in two "flavors" - time and quantity. Limit your offer to a certain period of time. Or limit the number of items available. And always be truthful. Buyers can smell fake scarcity a mile away.

    [U]
    Alex
    One of the most successfull WSO's has no hint of scarcity.

    http://www.warriorforum.com/warrior-...ice-today.html

    110,000 page views...1 edit.

    Does the quality of the offer overide
    the "scarcity unbreakable rule"?

    All the best,
    Ewen
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    • Profile picture of the author up
      Originally Posted by ewenmack View Post

      One of the most successfull WSO's has no hint of scarcity.

      http://www.warriorforum.com/warrior-...ice-today.html

      110,000 page views...1 edit.

      Does the quality of the offer overide
      the "scarcity unbreakable rule"?

      All the best,
      Ewen
      For some products, I'm sure the quality of the offer does override scarcity (I'm thinking this applies more to people who already know with absolute certainty what they want and are just researching which product gives them the best value in terms of cost and features such as with flat screen TVs, mp3 players etc)

      In the case of the WSO it does use scarcity...at the end it says:

      "This price is temporary and it will not be offered anywhere else.

      I intend to sell this exact same course and complete system for $147. If you want to start your own legitimate practice that you can be proud of, be sure to grab this today, before it comes down!"
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  • Profile picture of the author pethanks
    [DELETED]
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  • Profile picture of the author clever7
    Scarcity is always necessary because when you let your reader rest assured that tomorrow the same offer will be there again, he may forget his interest. You must oblige him to act fast, before the opportunity goes away.

    However, in the digital world scarcity is pure hypocrisy.

    A good way to generate the feeling of urgency could be a statement like ‘Do this today without delay because you never know what could happen tomorrow. The more you neglect solving this problem, worse it becomes’. The reader must urgently solve his problem because he may have more problems tomorrow if he won’t act fast.

    We can write a 'complications list'.

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    • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
      Originally Posted by clever7 View Post

      Scarcity is always necessary because when you let your reader rest assured that tomorrow the same offer will be there again, he may forget his interest. You must oblige him to act fast, before the opportunity goes away.
      True. Inertia is a strong human trait in many people.

      However, in the digital world scarcity is pure hypocrisy.
      Not necessarily. If a marketer sells a limited number of copies, and has a valid reason for doing so, that's not hypocrisy.

      A good way to generate the feeling of urgency could be a statement like 'Do this today without delay because you never know what could happen tomorrow. The more you neglect solving this problem, worse it becomes'. The reader must urgently solve his problem because he may have more problems tomorrow if he won't act fast.

      We can write a 'complications list'.
      Yes, this is an established direct response copywriting technique.

      Alex
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      • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
        scarcity = copywriting technique

        urgency = a state of mind
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  • Profile picture of the author kris2012
    Great thread you guys...
    thanks for the well needed information, I´ll keep them
    in mind when writing a squeeze page or review.
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  • Profile picture of the author brandonacox
    The scarcity thing will work for 1st time visitors, but I think we're going to see a trend of needing to be careful about that. Everytime I see "Only 197, no 56, no 3 copies left" of a downloadable digital product, I immediately think people must be idiots to believe that you have a limited number of copies of a digital product.

    In other words, if you want people to know you and come back for a second and third product later, be careful with scarcity. Not a bad tactic, but don't just market to idiots.
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  • Profile picture of the author AnitaCross
    This is an interesting thread you've got going here Alex. I'm not a copywriter, but generally write all the copy for my websites. I'm always interested in learning more about copywriting, persuasion, and so on.

    I notice that most of the responses either strongly agree or strongly disagree with scarcity as one of the unbreakable rules. I agree that scarcity works when it's done right. I also agree it can backfire when scarcity appears to be contrived. But I'm not responding because of Rule #3.

    I have a problem with Rule #4.

    Or perhaps, my problem is with the current trends when using the "irresistible offer". In fact, I brought this subject up at Live Marketing Chat Saturday night, asking if the evolution of the "irresistible offer" hadn't, in fact, devalued products in general.

    It's my perspective that both marketers and their affiliates have taken this concept to such a level that many consumers, especially in the IM niche, feel entitled to receive numerous bonuses along with the product they are purchasing. Many shop around, looking for the affiliate who is offering the best bonus package. The value of the actual offer is dwarfed by the alleged value of the bonuses. (Even though many times the bonuses are pure unadulterated crap, or low value items with an inflated monetary "value".)

    So Saturday night, I offered wf member Colin Theriot the opportunity to convince me I'm wrong. And as it turned out, Colin agreed with me for the most part.

    One of the things Colin pointed out, though, made a lot of sense. When the bonus or bonuses are directly related to the original product, and contribute to a better experience with the main product offered, it can work to make the offer irresistible to someone who is on the fence about making the purchase. It can also take the place of a "free shipping" offer on a digital product.

    But this trend to include hundreds of dollars worth of bonuses to sell a $37 or $47 eBook or software tool just seems (to me) like a desperate attempt to sell a product not good enough to stand on it's own. And therefore not worth the $37 or #47 dollars it's being sold for.

    I guess the real question becomes, are the prospective customers reading the sales letter thinking the same thing?

    Respectfully,
    -Anita
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    • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
      Hi Anita,

      Yes, I agree that bonuses, especially in the IM niche, have lost much of their punch. But that doesn't negate the need for making an irresistible offer.

      There are numerous other ways to make an offer irresistible.

      Alex
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  • Profile picture of the author schttrj
    Well, I don't know about rules...

    But remember the purpose of the your ad copy -

    Why the consumer should buy YOUR product?

    It starts with:

    What's in it for ME? -> Why THIS product? -> Why NOW?

    It is just so simple!

    Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post

    No doubt you've heard Outback Steakhouse's catchphrase, "No rules, Just right." Well, when it comes to sales letters, the "no rules" approach definitely doesn't apply.

    There are some rules you must follow if you want your ads to get the best response possible. Here are four ...

    Rule #1: Be interesting

    Include a headline that grabs the reader's attention. If your prospect is not interested after reading your headline, he most likely won't read the rest of the ad.

    Once the headline has grabbed the reader's eyeballs, give him a reason to read the rest of your sales letter. Start off with a story, or talk about the pain he's in. Above all, don't be boring.

    Rule #2: Be believable

    One of the reasons prospects don't buy is because they lack confidence in the sales message. So make sure what you write in your ad is believable.

    When you make a claim, prove it. If you quote the results of previous buyers, be specific. If you think your reader will doubt something you say, give him a reason why.

    Rule #3: Use scarcity

    Often times, it's not enough to merely convince your prospect. Use scarcity to compel him to click the buy button.

    Scarcity comes in two "flavors" - time and quantity. Limit your offer to a certain period of time. Or limit the number of items available. And always be truthful. Buyers can smell fake scarcity a mile away.

    Rule #4: Make your offer irresistible

    Other than the headline, your offer is the most important part of the ad. Make it irresistible. So irresistible, in fact, that a prospect would have to be "brain dead" not to accept it.

    Establish overwhelming value in the prospect's mind. Give an off-the-wall guarantee. Include high-quality bonuses.

    Alex
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  • Profile picture of the author sodette1
    I think that the premise of the OP is solid as a general guide.

    What get's lost in the translation of dogma like this however is something less
    tangible... that...

    "Why do Grandmas cookies taste better than mine? I use
    her exact recipe!! Ugh!"

    ... element.

    It's sort of like the same exact joke told by two totally different people,
    one is funny, the other isn't.

    Same joke, same words, same everything - just, somthing isn't right
    about the delivery of one person.

    Sadly, this is also often the case with sales copy.

    You can learn all of the words, all of the formulas, all of the techniques
    and NLP and Hypnotic Inductions you like... but, if you don't have that
    intangible "something" - the copy, like the bad joke, just won't get
    the results you are after.

    That can't be taught it seems... or, it can't be taught quickly and easily.

    Getting to this level of copywriting is more an element of experience,
    timing, rhythm, connection with the target market, attraction of qualified
    and hungry buyers, relationship with the list, intuition even.

    Just saying.

    ============

    As for the argument that scarcity and urgency are the same - hogwash.

    Scarcity is about quantity or limits of some sort... anything that makes
    an offer scarce: the only one from ME, the only one like it, only 'x' available,
    only 'x' available at this price, because I'm an arrogant cuss and this is how
    many I'm going to sell, whatever... quantity, limits, exclusivity, uniqueness -
    these are all about Scarcity.

    Urgency is an element of TIME. It can be scarce; "only available until midnight"
    or "only 'x' available so you better act now, before it's too late!" but urgent -
    URGENT! Is about NOW... time... taking action.

    These are also very important - likely the two most important elements - in
    your sales message other than the offer itself.

    Not as means of MANIPULATING your audience - but to help your audience
    make a decision that can benefit them - and you - or your client. Which, by
    the way, is your responsibility as a copywriter, yes?

    Statistically, few people return from memory only. Now, add a solid autoresponder
    sequence and an optin page first, and it's less critical that you use more
    aggressive urgency or scarcity tactics because you have time... you can send them
    additional information, create new desires and emotional draws through the
    email messages (assuming they read them that is) - still...

    Just the other night my wife came up to my cave and said: "Hey, the kids
    are asleep and I'm going to take a shower, crawl under the covers and I'll
    be there in 15 minutes if you want to tuck me in... **sly, sexy, smile**

    I could simply KICK MYSELF for getting so engulfed in my writing that I
    didn't go downstairs for almost an hour!!! Doh!

    If only she'd have used scarcity and urgency on me! I would not have missed
    that window of opportunity (and will not miss it again, I assure you!)!

    Scarcity and urgency can be and are responsible - when used correctly.

    =====================

    Anita - I respectfully have to disagree with you.

    An irresistable offer is just what it says: Irresistable.

    How can that be anything but good?

    Simply adding a long list of valueless crap to a salesletter doesn't qualify
    it as irresistable, does it?

    My wife made an irresistable offer... no added bonuses, just the offer
    itself was MORE THAN ENOUGH for ANY red blooded male with any sense
    at all... again... "Doh!"

    The "Irresistable" part is subjective... as copywriters we need to ask:

    "What does the reader WANT and how can I make this so enticing they
    can't resist it?!"

    That isn't always by adding more... in fact, sometimes it's by taking away
    all of the chafe, the garbage, the wasted words and unnecessary BS.

    Or... raising the price to create a feeliing of affluence, exclusivity, value,
    uniqueness.

    But "Irresistable" is... well... like the gently drifting scent of your favorite
    cookies cooking in Grandma's oven during the holidays when you walk into the
    kitchen on an empty stomach, your diet on vacation, and family gathered
    around.

    It's hard to say no to just one.

    ======================

    One more thing...

    Also... one other element of copy success that is so often not discussed
    by copywriters or coaches of copywriting because it's not really an element
    of the copy, but of the results - but that is ultimately critical to your copy's
    success and conversions:

    The Targeted (or often NOT targeted) traffic stream coming to your salesletter
    and the mental pre-disposition they have (their expectations) before they even
    get there.

    For instance, an add that says:

    "The nude truth about copywriting revealed...
    see her breasts for yourself and judge the FULL affect of good copy now...
    CLICK HERE!"

    Might be cute and creative, but I'm personally curious about the motive
    of visitors to the site and the qualified (or probably not qualified) value of
    the steady flow of traffic you will get using something like this.

    But... I see it all the time - especially in e-mail headlines.

    "You've got a new Commission!"

    Open... Damn! Got me again. Unsubscribe.

    Wrong mental seed planted - incorrect pre-disposition established -
    wrong motive - bad copy move - zero conversions.

    okay... got long winded again - but hey - I'm a writer, what do you
    expect?

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  • Profile picture of the author Perseus Shearer
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    • Profile picture of the author virginiad
      I think you missed a very important one:

      The Big Promise: show them how their life will be inifinitely better if they purchase your product, and just the same old, same old, if they don't
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      Virginia Drew


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  • Profile picture of the author Carol_A
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    • Profile picture of the author AnitaCross
      Originally Posted by sodette1 View Post

      Anita - I respectfully have to disagree with you.
      Hi Steve!

      Honestly, I don't think we disagree! I think we described different sides of the same coin.

      Originally Posted by sodette1 View Post

      Simply adding a long list of valueless crap to a salesletter doesn't qualify it as irresistable, does it?
      I totally agree.

      Notice that in my post, every time I referred to the "irresistible offer", I put it in quotes. I was not talking about making an offer irresistible, (I love both of your examples, by the way.)

      I was talking about the mind-set that to make your offer irresistible, you have to add value with multiple bonuses. This mind-set has developed over the past several years and has been touted by many high profile IM marketers as "The Irresistible Offer"... Some have even said it isn't about the value of the bonus, but the perceived value of the bonus... (I can't tell you who, because shortly after such tripe arrives in my inbox, I unsubscribed from the list--their credibility with me completely gone.)

      Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post

      Establish overwhelming value in the prospect's mind. Give an off-the-wall guarantee. Include high-quality bonuses.
      I admit, I probably had a knee-jerk reaction to the OP when Alex said that bit about including bonuses.

      However, I thought I was clear that I was talking about the current trend to pile on numerous bonuses of dubious value...

      Originally Posted by AnitaCross View Post

      Or perhaps, my problem is with the current trends when using the "irresistible offer"...
      Apparently that was not clear. I'll try harder next time.

      By the way, Grandma's cookies do sound irresistible all by themselves. But you add a plate and a tall glass of milk, and I guarantee you I'll bite.

      Respectfully,
      -Anita
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  • Profile picture of the author success1618
    I think number 2 would be the one I most frequently forget, its easy to get caried away and want to add that extra sizzel, but I guess you need to be careful so you don't overcook your stead as well. Great post !
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  • Profile picture of the author Ordinaryme
    That pretty much sums up most of the aspects of copywriting. Great job!
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  • Profile picture of the author dilnaj
    I've been trying to learn how to write copy and this sums it up very well. Thanks Alex
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  • Profile picture of the author aleabby
    Thanks for sharing such great news. I am pleased to read and learned from it.
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