What's The **Best** Thing You've Ever Learned About Copywriting...

41 replies
If you had to think of just one thing that stands out in your mind as the most important rule/technique/strategy about copywriting - what would it be?
#advice #copywriting #important #learn #learned #technique #thing
  • Profile picture of the author machia
    Last time I rewrote what somebody else did for me as a sales page it felt like giving birth! But when I was done, I was like hell yeah! I'd buy that myself!

    Makes even more regular sales ever since.

    Be sure your copy is enough to convince YOU to buy whatever it is your selling.
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  • Profile picture of the author OutOfThisWord
    Start with the customer, and work backward.
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  • Profile picture of the author Don Halbert
    The best rule/technique/strategy is...NOT TO HAVE ANY.

    Nothing is definitive in this industry and neither should be your mindset. Remember A.B.C. from GlenGarry Glen Ross? Well I prefer A.B.L. which stands for Always Be Learning. You never know it all.

    ...which is why I guess you are asking...which is a good thing.

    Pura vida.
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    Don G. Halbert - Inbound Marketing & Direct Response Copywriter
    "Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago."
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  • Profile picture of the author GlobalMedia
    Copywriting is a passion for me. It gives me immense pleasure. There is so much in it, that it is very difficult to specify any one.
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Newman
    The perpetual pursuit of perfection.

    Even the great Bencivenga is still learning how to make his copy better.
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  • Profile picture of the author travlinguy
    I'm not sure there is a best thing. The most effective technique maybe or the biggest breakthrough, yeah, but not best. It's no secret that the more energy and enthusiasm you can put into your work, the better it will do.

    People often respond more to the writer's enthusiasm than the actual technical aspects of the offer. That's why you'll sometimes see a sales letter that has every one of the necessary elements of an effective pitch but still, it sucks wind.

    First, I don't consider myself a copywriter. I can usually get 'er done but my true passion for writing is in other areas. So I made an intense study of copywriting some years back just so I could have anothe arrow in my quiver. Maybe I uncovered this gem then, I don't know.

    Here's the nugget. When you write your stuff, write it as though you were writing a letter to a close friend, someone you know well and who knows you well. Open up your heart, mind and soul as only a friend could and let this person know that you've found the greatest thing since you first discovered what sex was all about. Then let if flow out according to whatever process works for you. Write for that individual exactly the way you would if you were talking on the phone or face to face even.

    When you approach an assignment that way you can 'borrow' energy from the relationship you have with your friend. Just imagine that he or she would be really interested in your product and that it would be really helpful to them. When you do this you'll discover your own energy building and you might not even understand what's happening.

    When I got started writing direct sale stuff my first piece was for a stop smoking product. I imagined writing it for a friend who smoked a lot. And even though I hadn't seen the guy in years, I was able to rise to the task because I thought he and his family would really benefit from the product. I imagined he would stop smoking and reap the obvious benefits and his family would have a cleaner house and fresh-smelling clothes, cleaner lungs, a husband and dad that might live longer, the whole enchilada...

    It's not necessarily the best thing I've learned, again, there is no best thing. I don't use it much any more because I've since learned to harness my own enthusiasm. That ability comes in part from choosing to write only for products I really believe in. The letter-to-a-friend technique is one of the most effective tools a new writer can use to build up his or her style and of course, enthusiasm. And it's actually pretty simple to do. Good luck.
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    • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
      Well, I've trained more than four dozen copywriters one on one, and I can tell you the hardest and most valuable thing they learn: how to write from the customer's point of view rather than the business owner's point of view.

      This is something that few people instinctively understand and that they need a lot of practice and reminders on.

      It's the huge difference between "who cares" we-copy and copy that connects with the audience.

      Marcia Yudkin
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      Check out Marcia Yudkin's No-Hype Marketing Academy for courses on copywriting, publicity, infomarketing, marketing plans, naming, and branding - not to mention the popular "Marketing for Introverts" course.
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  • Profile picture of the author Robert Brauer
    Probably the best thing I've EVER learned was taking away all risk from the buyer. There needs to be more "risk" on you (the merchant) than on the customer....
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  • Profile picture of the author rougemaster
    Originally Posted by prophetmktg View Post

    If you had to think of just one thing that stands out in your mind as the most important rule/technique/strategy about copywriting - what would it be?

    if i knew that answer i would not be here now.
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  • Profile picture of the author SykkBoy
    One thing that has worked well for me is to see what the competition is doing and think of ways I can do it better/say it better. I'm also one of those types who goes against the grain pretty much all of the time...not for the sake of being "that guy" but because it has served me well and gives me a little attitude in my writing.

    I also agree with Marcia's post above regarding thinking from a customer's point of view. This is so often left out...especially if you are targeting a newbie audience. I also go out of my way to make sure I'm never talking down to my audience, even if it's unintentional...
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  • Profile picture of the author 4Frankie
    That you have to look at everything from the customers point of view and that you are never there, you are ABL (pinching Don Halberts quote)
    Always Be Learning - great one
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  • Profile picture of the author Dexx
    Give them what THEY already want to buy.

    ~Dexx
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  • Profile picture of the author Daniel Scott
    While research is great, it won't necessarily tell you the full story.

    Customers lie... and sometimes the only way you can get to the truth is good old-fashioned empathy.

    -Daniel
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    Always looking for badass direct-response copywriters. PM me if we don't know each other and you're looking for work.

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  • Profile picture of the author BrianMcLeod
    Marcia brings up a crucial fork in the road for new copywriters... and frankly, for marketers in general.

    It's not the thing... it's not even what the thing does... it's the projected future EXPERIENCE of all the benefits of the thing.

    Brian
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    • Profile picture of the author dorothydot
      I agree with Marcia - empathy with the consumer is everything.

      For me, the best thing I ever learned about copywriting is how to use my strongest talent, writing compelling stories and scenarios, to create trust and empathy with the ideal consumer.

      Once I learned that, it felt like the whole world opened up!

      Crafting a scenario that represents the typical prospect in the dilemma which your product is designed to resolve - that is sooo up my alley! And I can use my 30+ years of public service (where I daily had to contact homeowners and explain complex concepts so they could understand - like Hypoxylon Canker, for instance) to create just the right words to speak directly to your buyers.

      Talk about empowerment! Yippee! This even made writing my own website fun - and that's by far the hardest writing any copywriter ever has to do.

      Dot
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      "Sell the Magic of A Dream"
      www.DP-Copywriting-Service.com

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      • Profile picture of the author bobsilber
        Originally Posted by dorothydot View Post


        For me, the best thing I ever learned about copywriting is how to use my strongest talent, writing compelling stories and scenarios, to create trust and empathy with the ideal consumer.

        Dot
        Have to agree with Dot, that writing a compelling story is at the top of the list. Some time back I was having lunch with Gary Halbert and discussing this.

        We often think in terms of copywriting skills being used for Web site sales letters but those skills come into play whenever you write, whether it is just writing an email letter to your list or autoresponder series. If I were sending my list an email today I might say ...

        Did you know today was the Thai New Year? The Thai people celebrate "Songkran" by chasing each other down the streets with buckets of water. For them, this is a day for good deeds, for karma polishing acts.

        In a gesture of mercy for "all sentient beings," young girls purchase small live fish for the purpose of bringing them down to the river on "Songkran," for the purpose of setting them free. Similarly, this is a prime day for liberating songbirds from their cages. Etc., etc.

        Then I would tie that story in with my email promotion.

        I have a story for every day of the year. One trick is, if you want to always have a quick story you can tell to tie in with a promotion, do what I just did, and look in
        The World Holiday Book: Celebrations for Every Day of the Year. It appears to be out of print but Amazon has a small supply available starting at a penny.
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  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    It's a secret. (Or maybe just weird.)

    -Ray Edwards
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    The most powerful and concentrated copywriting training online today bar none! Autoresponder Writing Email SECRETS
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  • Profile picture of the author Warrior X
    That you have about 3 seconds to get your reader's attention, make them think "Hey, this is for me" and get them to keep reading.

    Second is to read your copy aloud to yourself a day or two after to you write it. Any awkward parts will stick out.
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    • Profile picture of the author Prosechild
      I'm with DorothyDot, write compelling stories that show customers that your product/service is the answer to their problems.

      Second would be to follow one copywriter and learn from their work, instead of trying to dissect/digest a whole lot of gurus.
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  • Profile picture of the author SykkBoy
    Another thing I would add:
    keep writing

    I'm always writing. Whether it's little poetry snippets, copy for a product I don't even intend to create, etc. I just keep writing and honing my skills. Writing is like anything you want to be good at: practice, practice, practice.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rach72
    Not getting too specific!

    I never had a problem with empathy - I just over-did the technical stuff )
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Ten
    Write about what you are genuinely interested in and enjoy writing about.
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  • Profile picture of the author BartsTreasures
    Most important? ALWAYS appeal on an EMOTIONAL level...but we've all heard that one before right?...here's another important thing that you DON'T hear.

    "Always compare APPLES To ORANGES!" <= read that again!

    This goes to the idea of how to build greater 'perceived value' in the prospect's eyes.

    For example, say you have a product... a book... that teaches people how to lose weight. The inclination is to compare this product to similar books in the marketplace (apples to apples). "Look here...my competitor's book is 100 pages and sells for $47, mine is 150 pages and is only $37"

    This creates in the prospect's mind a perceived value roughly equal to these similar products...WRONG approach.

    The clever copywriter finds ways to NOT compare apples to apples but instead compare apples to oranges!

    "3,000 people traveled 200 miles and paid $5,000 EACH (not including hotel!) to attend a weekend seminar on how to lose this weight! - Now YOU are getting ALL this SAME information HERE for just $97 !

    See how we end up comparing two DIFFERENT products to increase our product's perceived value? See how suddenly the $97 price seems like a steal even though it's more than twice the competing book's price??

    You see the same thing applied all the time if you look for it. In the money making niche, how many 'stories' have you read that go...

    I spent 10 years and over $20,000 dollars to perfect this technique...now YOU can have it for just $497.

    I met this guy who was doing this thing making all this money... I paid him $5,000 to learn his secret! But now YOU can get the secret for just $37

    Now to get great copy writing you'd need to hire a copywriter, $5,000!!
    But with this software let's you do it yourself - only $47

    To take guitar lessons you'd have to pay HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS, but this instant downloadable guide shows you for just $37

    ...and so forth.
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  • Profile picture of the author BartsTreasures
    Ok, I couldn't resist...here's one more...

    Develope your sales letter FIRST - Make it the BEST POSSIBLE sales letter you can with benefits that make the offer irresistable!

    THEN create your product and make it LIVE UP TO YOUR SALES LETTER.

    I find this forces me to create a better product and my sales letter is better too.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jim Hughes
    It's all about them, not about you! Tell them what they want to hear, not what you want to say.
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    Never Give Up!

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  • Profile picture of the author Rezbi
    Originally Posted by prophetmktg View Post

    What's The **Best** Thing You've Ever Learned About Copywriting...
    That you can make a ton o' dough, if you're good.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ultimately
    Others have already touched on this concept but I just wanted to give my version...

    Those of you familiar with Gary Bencivenga's 100 seminar will remember the story of Captain John Rade - one of the greatest fishing Captains who ever lived.

    When asked what his secret was Captain John replied "When most fishermen go out to fish, they think like fishermen. When I go out, I think like a fish."

    Gary repeats this sentence often throughout the seminar "Don't Think Like a Fisherman,
    Think Like a Fish."


    If your out of sync with your prospects you're going to make the same mistake Ford made with the Edsel and that is try to sell a product because you want to sell it NOT because people want to buy it ^_^

    The most important thing I learned about copywriting I learned from Gary and it boils down to one sentance... Writing good copy that pulls and converts is more about understanding the psychology of your prospects than anything else.

    Think like a fish....

    ^_^
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  • Profile picture of the author AdmiralGloom
    I originally wrote up a long generic post about how I have learned this and that.

    But I guess what I learned most about copywriting is that it is not easy. There seems to always be a way to improve your copy but in the same accord one letter can ruin your entire letter.

    I have to remind myself of this and stay diligent. It is a hard game, but I really do love to play.
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  • Profile picture of the author Bruce NewMedia
    For me it has probably been the concept of ...

    "Entering the conversation ALREADY going on in the prospect's mind"

    That has helped me immeasurably.
    _____
    Bruce
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  • Profile picture of the author travlinguy
    Here's another smart thing to do. When you write your guarantee, write it like an call to action. Since you're backing up your offer with the guarantee, once again summarize all of the strongest selling points and tell the buyer with stuff as great as all this, how can I not give you such a strong guarantee.

    If someone is considering your offer the guarantee is one of the things they're going to look at right up front. If you've included a compelling summary of your offer with a CTA flavor it might get them to look closer to the overall page. Every little bit helps.
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  • Profile picture of the author mattlaclear
    I learned the power of posting as many real testimonials as possible into my sales copy. Some of our pages have over 150 testimonials on them and they are literally rocking ion the cash quicker than I can spend it.
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    • Profile picture of the author ARSuarez
      Overload your copy with credibility.

      Frank Kern said once one of the big reasons people don't buy is... "Dey don't believe yew." (He said it with that accent).

      Others have said it, but for some reason... the way he said and presented it stuck with me.

      If they don't believe you, they won't buy from you. Empathy and all else aside, nobody buys if they are incredibly skeptical. Have a good dosage of credibility make what you say believable. And if it's believable, they'll risk their money on your word.

      Profound discovery for me.

      Cheers,

      Angel
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  • Profile picture of the author peejaydee
    For me, the most valuable piece of advice would be to accept the fact that you're still learning. Everyday's a school day.
    Always look for improvement but you know, at some point, you also have to decide when a piece of work has been worked enough.
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  • Profile picture of the author MikeSME
    Copyblogger is my best friend! That's what I learned! I think these guys are great, they have a lot of valuable advice, oh and they have great copy (my opinion). Does anyone else use Copyblogger as a resource? Or do you know of any other Copy resources that are equal or better? Thanks!
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    • Profile picture of the author JasonParker
      Originally Posted by MikeSME View Post

      Copyblogger is my best friend! That's what I learned! I think these guys are great, they have a lot of valuable advice, oh and they have great copy (my opinion). Does anyone else use Copyblogger as a resource? Or do you know of any other Copy resources that are equal or better? Thanks!
      hardtofindseminars.com
      the gary halbert letter
      makepeace total package
      michelfortin.com
      marketingbullets.com
      daniellevis.com
      marketingclambake.com
      john-carlton.com
      thecopywritersedge.com

      enjoy
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  • Profile picture of the author JasonParker
    For me...

    I would say the answer is: know your market and know your product through and through.

    But no one wants to hear that crap...

    So I'll give you my 2nd best thing.

    Learning how to craft sales stories has given me the biggest bump in conversions than anything else.
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