Reverse Engineering A Sales Letter...TRY THIS

by max5ty
29 replies
Here's how to come up with an idea...let's say an ebook...and you haven't written the book...I'm going to show you how to come up with the material by first writing the sales letter...

I got a nasty email the other day that really pi**ed me off...

It read something like: Dear Marcus...you act like you know everything there is about copywriting...you don't know jack. You're just trying to make yourself look good...maybe if you'd quit trying to sound like an all knowing a** and start helping more, you'd be more appreciated on the forum...

that really crimped my attitude for a few minutes...

The nerve of some people...then again, maybe they're right.

So here is my best step by step process on writing a sales letter...even if you have no idea what to say...but you need inspiration for writing your ebook.

I call it reverse engineering...it's worked for me...I know it's not what some would call "creative thinking", but what the heck...give it a try...

I'm offering a lifetime guarantee if the info doesn't help.

1. You have got to start a swipe file: Back in the 70's when I was in high school...I was always into ads...I'd collect all the ads that caught my attention...cut them out and place them on the big pile of other ads.

The Wall Street Journal was one of my favorites...the ads in there are priceless. Think about it...the ads cost hundreds of thousands to place so they're usually not some idiot placing them. They've usually been placed by bright thinking people. Collect the best headlines from the National Enquirer...I did this way before anyone else ever mentioned them. They're priceless.

When you're looking for ideas...just going through your swipe file will get your mind thinking like a copywriter on steroids.

Anyways...I'll try and keep this short and to the point...

2. One of my swipe files is headlines from Cosmopolitan...they hire good writers and their headlines are super. I'll use this swipe file to continue my story.

3. I need a product...so off the top of my little head I'll pretend I'm gonna sell a course on marketing. Just sayin...

4. I need a headline. I go through my massive swipe file on cosmo ads...several are good...I'll grab this one...

First...

Here's something important -- once you start going through your swipe file, you'll confuse yourself if you find a killer headline then keep scanning...show some discipline and stop at the first good one you find that fits into what you're doing...use it...you can test it against others...so here we go.

5. (doing this in real time) I go through the headline swipe file...the first one that catches my attention that I think I can work with is this:

50 Sex Tricks. Trust Us -- You'll Be The First Girl Naughty Enough To Try #43 On Him.

This was about the 4th headline...but I'm going with it to prove a point...remember I said grab a headline and go with it.

I'm gonna change it to this:

50 Online Marketing Tricks -- Trust Me, You'll Drop Everything And Put #12 and #34 To Work Right Now.

Is this the best headline? Don't know...I'll test it and see...then I'll go through my list and grab the next headline that appeals to me and test that.

6. Now I'm gonna move on and come up with some bullet points. I do that because the bullet points will help me come up with something to put in the ebook...

I use headlines and turn them into bullet points...a little trick that works wonders.

So here's the before and afters:

Still just using my cosmo headlines to save time for this post.


Before:The Dirty "Sex Rule" Happy Couples Swear By
After: The Dirty "Marketing Rule" Happy Marketers Swear By

Before: 5 Rules That Get The Truth Out Of Guys
After: 5 Rules That Get The Truth Out Of Buyers

Before: Revamp Your Closet With 8 Sexy Pieces
After: Revamp Your Marketing With 8 Secret Ideas

Before: Out Smart An Attacker
After: Out Smart A Potential Buyer

Before: Colors That Make A Man's Heart Race
After: Words That Make A Buyer's Heart Race

Before: 8 Things Guys Notice Instantly
After: 8 Things Readers Notice Instantly

Before: Mind Tricks That Melt Pounds
After: Mind Tricks That Make Money

Before: The Silent Clue Men Give Off When They're In Love
After: The Silent Clue Buyers Give Off When They're Ready To Buy

Before: One Question No Guy Can Resist
After: One Question No Buyer Can Resist

See what I'm doing here? It's simple.

I didn't even spend a lot of time doing the "afters", I'm trying to show you how simple it is to swipe from a swipe file.

Now that you have your bullets...you've got a guideline of stuff to put into your book.

I have a sales letter format that works everytime...but I've already gone on for too long.

Hopefully you'll get some use out of this post...
#engineering #lettertry #reverse #sales
  • Profile picture of the author Mark Andrews
    Banned
    Not bad advice Marcus, not bad at all.

    I've trained you well.

    Keep up the good work my man.

    Warmest regards,


    Mark Andrews
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  • Profile picture of the author Simon Ashari
    This is some solid advice.

    Never seen the tactic of swiping magazine headlines explained as well as this.
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    • Profile picture of the author Mark Andrews
      Banned
      It's an old tactic Simon, well known in copywriting circles. Marcus did explain it very well though I thought.

      Tickety boo,


      Mark Andrews
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      • Profile picture of the author Simon Ashari
        Originally Posted by Mark Andrews View Post

        It's an old tactic Simon, well known in copywriting circles. Marcus did explain it very well though I thought.

        Tickety boo,


        Mark Andrews
        I had heard of it. But usually someone says 'buy a cosmo and swipe the headlines' and then provide nothing more.
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        • It's a cracking way of writing headlines, subheads and bullets.

          If you google "Cosmo Swipe File" - you'll be able to buy 100's of cosmo swipes on PDF - for around $27.00.

          Just re - write them along the lines that Max suggested.

          And you can get the latest ones by looking at magazines.com


          Steve


          Special Warning - If you're wife or girlfriend reads Cosmo make sure she follows the precise instructions on the "tips" - I once did my back in by being jettisoned off the bed - she momentarily lost her grip...
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  • Profile picture of the author Matt Ausin
    Ah yes, the Cosmo. Still have piles of old issues collected for the very same reason - to nick their headlines.


    And as for writing a sales letter for a product that doesn't exist.. I think a client recently pulled this on me. I had to write a sales page for a product that doesn't exist and he'd do it later. All he had was an idea and an USP.

    And I think that he'll be able to create a great product. After all, that sales letter is practically a blueprint to his prospects' mind!

    Thank you for the great post!
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  • Profile picture of the author JasonParker
    Best damn post I've read on here in a long time
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  • Profile picture of the author Mark Pescetti
    Another great place to swipe from is Amazon.com...

    ...Just use the search function and check out all the book titles and sub-titles for your niche.

    It's a wealth of awesome information.

    Also...

    If you read the customer reviews, you'll discover tons of fantastic angles for your copy.

    Mark
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    • Profile picture of the author max5ty
      Originally Posted by Reflection Marketing View Post

      Another great place to swipe from is Amazon.com...

      ...Just use the search function and check out all the book titles and sub-titles for your niche.

      It's a wealth of awesome information.

      Also...

      If you read the customer reviews, you'll discover tons of fantastic angles for your copy.

      Mark
      Hey Mark, speaking of Amazon and customer reviews...

      You've got to check this web page out.

      It's the funniest reviews on Amazon.

      Click on the customer reviews for each item and read the reviews.

      One of my favorites is the review for the Badonkadonk Land Cruiser.

      Amazon.com: Funniest Amazon Product Reviews
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      • Profile picture of the author videolover7
        If you want to learn how to write "killer" bullets, study the work of John Carlton, Ben Settle, and Craig Clemens.

        Here's some examples...
        • How to tell when your attacker is just "bluffing" with a knife... and when he's about to commit to stabbing you! (Crucial knowledge for making your best fight-ending move!) - Carlton
        • How even "newbie" copywriters can beat the pants off seasoned pros. (This secret is perfect whether you're a freelance copywriter trying to beat someone's control... or a marketer wanting to eliminate your competition.) - Settle
        • A proven way to "keep the power" in a relationship with a woman and guarantee that YOU are in charge... and the ball is always in your court (This will also eliminate her desire to play "head games" with you... because she'll fear that if she plays games that she'll lose you) - Clemens
        VL
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        • Originally Posted by videolover7 View Post

          If you want to learn how to write "killer" bullets, study the work of John Carlton, Ben Settle, and Craig Clemens.

          Here's some examples...
          • How to tell when your attacker is just "bluffing" with a knife... and when he's about to commit to stabbing you! (Crucial knowledge for making your best fight-ending move!) - Carlton
          • How even "newbie" copywriters can beat the pants off seasoned pros. (This secret is perfect whether you're a freelance copywriter trying to beat someone's control... or a marketer wanting to eliminate your competition.) - Settle
          • A proven way to "keep the power" in a relationship with a woman and guarantee that YOU are in charge... and the ball is always in your court (This will also eliminate her desire to play "head games" with you... because she'll fear that if she plays games that she'll lose you) - Clemens
          VL

          Wouldn't it be good if someone did a swipe file from these 3 writers.


          Steve
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          • Profile picture of the author videolover7
            Originally Posted by Steve Copywriter View Post

            Wouldn't it be good if someone did a swipe file from these 3 writers.


            Steve
            The workbook for Carlton's Simple Writing System has a bunch of his mail order ads, most with bullets. I see the entire course on ebay for < $100 from time to time.

            VL
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        • Profile picture of the author JasonParker
          John Carlton does what he calls something like the 1 2 Punch with bullets.

          (I'm not sure the exact term. I haven't studied simple writing system for over a year.)

          As you can see in his bullets it's like a 1 2 punch. The first punch is a benefit, but the 2nd punch really drives home like an ultimate benefit.

          So you could take Marcus' tactic for the first punch. Then the second part of each bullet can drive home a deeper benefit.

          Originally Posted by videolover7 View Post

          If you want to learn how to write "killer" bullets, study the work of John Carlton, Ben Settle, and Craig Clemens.

          Here's some examples...
          • How to tell when your attacker is just "bluffing" with a knife... and when he's about to commit to stabbing you! (Crucial knowledge for making your best fight-ending move!) - Carlton
          • How even "newbie" copywriters can beat the pants off seasoned pros. (This secret is perfect whether you're a freelance copywriter trying to beat someone's control... or a marketer wanting to eliminate your competition.) - Settle
          • A proven way to "keep the power" in a relationship with a woman and guarantee that YOU are in charge... and the ball is always in your court (This will also eliminate her desire to play "head games" with you... because she'll fear that if she plays games that she'll lose you) - Clemens
          VL
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    • Originally Posted by Reflection Marketing View Post

      Another great place to swipe from is Amazon.com...
      And don't forget Jay Abraham's Amazon swiping tactic here:
      Signature
      Marketing is not a battle of products. It is a battle of perceptions.
      - Jack Trout
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      • Profile picture of the author paul wolfe
        Originally Posted by Joe Ditzel View Post

        And don't forget Jay Abraham's Amazon swiping tactic here:
        Jay Abraham School of Copywriting

        Joe

        Never seen that video before - but am aware of the 'using Amazon for titles/sub head/reviews etc' tactic. Didnt realize it came originally from Jay...do you know what conference/seminar this was from? I'd be interested in finding out more.

        And thanks for posting.


        Paul
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        • Originally Posted by paul wolfe View Post

          Joe

          Never seen that video before - but am aware of the 'using Amazon for titles/sub head/reviews etc' tactic. Didnt realize it came originally from Jay...do you know what conference/seminar this was from? I'd be interested in finding out more.

          And thanks for posting.


          Paul
          Sorry, I have no idea. Someone here may know.
          As an aside, here are some more JA vids from Dex here at WF:
          FREE Training: The 7 Billion Dollar Man - Jay Abraham
          Signature
          Marketing is not a battle of products. It is a battle of perceptions.
          - Jack Trout
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  • Profile picture of the author YasirYar
    Great idea! Although this is not something new or be called reverse engineering. But this is a great way for a newbie to start his copy writing venture.
    Signature

    >>>Get your websites ACTUALLY ranked by checking these out: Quantum SEO Labs, Home Page Link Building & SERP Ability. Want to get rid of negative listings? Check out Reputation Enhancer.

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  • Profile picture of the author queen bee
    Great post :-)
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  • Profile picture of the author RickDuris
    Good ideas, Max5ty.

    Here's a provocative article on COSMO headlines as they relate to personality temperaments:

    The Hidden Key to Cosmo Headlines: Sex and the City? | Copyblogger

    Here's a few back issues of headlines to get you going:

    http://rickduris.com/Cosmo_Headlines.pdf

    - Rick Duris
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    • Profile picture of the author Doceye
      Wait a dang second. Maxie is Marcus? So his real name is Marcus Maxie?

      Back when I was working as a sad clown with Ringling Bros. there was a guy who worked the big top as a lion tamer who went by the same name. Actually his full name was Marcus Maxie Whip Siegfried.

      Can't be the same guy, can it? I do remember he dug women's magazines a lot. Used to fight over the latest issue with the midgets and bearded lady when it arrived.

      Doc
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  • Profile picture of the author Mark Pescetti
    You know Marcus, I enjoy your posts...but I think sometimes they're just a revelation of someone who has just started out in copywriting. ;-)
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  • Profile picture of the author i am brad
    Nice post with great examples of taking great headlines and adapting it to your own. Great idea with creating bullet points also as those aren't always easy to think up.
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  • Profile picture of the author RickDuris
    I knew I had more.

    Here's about a thousand COSMO headlines:

    http://rickduris.com/SWIPECOSMO.pdf

    - Rick Duris
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  • Profile picture of the author EaglePiServ
    I also use Readers Digest - you can buy tons of back issues on ebay for pennies. I just rip out the first few pages (front page and story index) and paste them in my swipe folder. Some of their headlines can be re-written 3 or 4 different ways.
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    • Profile picture of the author daniel71l
      hi,

      I tried to implement this technique, but I got distracted reading the cosmopolitan headlines.

      My take is quite different, as the headlines promises engage short term relationship
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  • Profile picture of the author racso316
    Great post Max. Thanks for the thorough explanation.
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