Miracles, by Definition (Copywriting Tip #9)

Quick Copywriting Tip #9: Better Products Make for Better Copy.

These days, when people ask for advice about how to “fix” their sales copy, the first question I usually ask is…

Does anyone actually want to buy this?

Sounds like a jerk question. Some people are offended when I ask it. I’m not trying to be a jerk. But this is THE question.

If people don’t already want the product or the result it produces, there isn’t much point in talking about the copy. There has to be at least a modicum of desire.

Example from my city (Bourbonnais, IL): How does a funeral home sell complimentary bus trips? What copy changes could make this appealing?

copywriting tip offers

Last year, there was a client I really wanted to work with. At some point during our conversation, I told the president of the company “I can’t work miracles on demand. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’ve got the wrong guy.”

Miracles, by definition, cannot be produced on demand. There are a few copywriters who come close.

Good products — products targeted at specific needs — need fewer miracles. They make copy better almost by default.

If your product doesn’t meet the market where it’s at...if no one signs up for the complimentary funeral parlor bus trip… don’t automatically blame the copy.

Find out what people want and make that. Give your copywriter something to work with.

According to Gary Bencivenga, this is the 9-word secret so powerful that it has built more fortunes than any other principle in marketing: A gifted product is mightier than a gifted pen.

Have a productive day!

P.S. Any creative ideas about how to sell those bus trips??? ūüôā

Check out all 13 Quick Copywriting Tips.


One Rarely-Used Strategy to Get Your Copy “Over the Top” (Copywriting Tip #8)

copywriting tip

Quick Copywriting Tip #8: Sequences Beat Single Shots.

In the climax of the old movie Over the Top, Lincoln Hawk (a role for which Sylvester Stallone was nominated Worst Actor in 1988) faces off with Bull Hurley in the championship round of an arm wrestling tournament.

Hawk is the underdog, both in the competition and in life. He needs to the prize money and he desperately wants to prove he’s not a loser to his son’s grandfather.

And he does win in the end…and all is right with the world. Suddenly, his family life is happy and his trucking business is on the fast track.

Here’s the thing. There’s only one reason Hawk even had a shot to become the champ: it was a double elimination tournament. “Lose twice and you’re out,” as the announcer said repeatedly.

After losing to John Grizzly in an earlier round, Hawk kept going and going, all the way to ultimate victory.

Two tips for today:

1) Avoid watching Over the Top at all costs. I’ve spoiled the ending for you anyway!

2) You have the ability to set up the rules of your marketing “tournament.” One-and-done messages are totally unnecessary.

Design sequences to take multiple attempts at winning him over.

Each message can build on the previous one, making your case more compelling each time…painting a clearer picture of the reality, severity and immediacy of the problem you solve…and stacking benefit on benefit to make the choice obvious.

To a surprising degree, you get to make the rules. Set yourself up to win.

Don’t settle for single elimination.

Have a productive day!

P.S. I’m kidding about how terrible Over the Top is. But I’m not kidding about Stallone’s nomination for Worst Actor.


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The Cover Said “Read This or Die” (Copywriting Tip #7)

Quick Copywriting Tip #7: Clarity is Critical.

Entrepreneurs often spend their energy building a “better mousetrap” and promoting it as such.

The most effective persuasion, though, starts by building bigger mice (to borrow a line from Breakthrough Advertising).


Your reader may already see the symptoms, but it’s up to you to make sure he knows what those symptoms mean.

It is important to understand the details about your product/service/solution. It’s usually more important for him to have¬† clear understanding of the reality, severity and immediacy of the problem he’s facing — and a clear picture of what’s at stake if he ignores you or procrastinates too long.

copywriting tip clarity rutz

Beneath the headline of the Jim Rutz’s “Read This or Die” promotion, you learn that “Today you have a 95 percent chance of eventually dying for which there is already a known cure somewhere on the planet.” If that statistic is anywhere near accurate, don’t you almost HAVE to read more?

There is no question what’s at stake. If you don’t heed the warning, you know exactly what’s going to happen. No alternative interpretations are possible.

Rutz then takes 52 pages to prove his point, build trust and offer a no-brainer solution.

Is your marketing message THIS clear? Do you address the problems your potential client is facing THIS plainly? Are you willing to be bold enough to tell the whole truth?

Naturally, most businesses don’t deal with life-and-death situations. But every business does solve a problem or relieve some kind of pain. You can still spell out reality, severity and immediacy of the issue, as well as the consequences of inaction in vivid detail.

We’re not in the business of scaring people. But it’s our responsibility to warn people about difficulties we can help them avoid.

Read all 13 Quick Copywriting Tips.


The Supreme Marketing Advantage (Copywriting Tip #6)

Copywriting Tip 6 Trust

Quick Copywriting Tip #6: Trust is EVERYTHING.

I got a bunch of hate mail a few weeks ago. Actually, the Vice President of one of my clients got hate mail…because of something I wrote.

Here’s one of the notes:


The sales reps were upset that they had to deal with a barrage of emails like these.

The VP, whose name was on the offending message, had mixed feelings. Sales were through the roof (relative to the norm)…on a product that’s somewhat difficult to sell. But “potential buyers” were upset with him.

As I said to the Mr. Vice President, “The people who complain are probably never going to become paying customers anyway. This kind of reaction is how you know you’re doing it right!

Direct response involves forcing people to pick a side and being willing to lose some people along the way — if you’re doing it right.

“I’m glad I didn’t get involved with you…”

Let’s focus for a moment on the angry, all caps email I shared above.

The final line brings a crucial issue to light: you need to get good at gaining people’s TRUST.

This guy suspected that he couldn’t trust my client – and the marketing message that pushed him over the edge proved (in his mind) his suspicion was correct.

We all face this obstacle. But we don’t always use trust as an opportunity.

In the copy I wrote, my client came across more as a salesperson (which he is) than an expert or leader (which is is). And it’s hard to trust salespeople.

Everything in the message was true. Honesty isn’t enough to make people trust you. It’s just the beginning!

Earning the kind of trust that makes it easy (or at least easier) for prospects to become clients takes work.

Pillars of Proof

At a conference in Denver earlier this month, Patrick Bove, Senior Copywriter at Stansberry Research described 5 Pillars of Proof you should be using to defeat skepticism and win trust from your should-be clients. Here’s a very quick overview from a mind-blowing session:

Financial Copywriter Patrick Bove Stansberry

Proof of Character

  • Who are you? Why should I believe you?
  • What’s your track record? What achievements can verify your expertise?

Proof of Story

  • How do I know you’re not making this stuff up?
  • Are there 3rd party sources that verify the point you’re making?

Proof of Catalyst

  • Why is your story important to me NOW

Proof of Product

  • Demonstration: Don’t just tell me about your product. Show me it works.
  • Who does it work for and when? Who is it not right for?

Social Proof

  • Testimonials, case studies, etc.

Notice how testimonials are great, but they’re just not enough to convince people anymore. If you want to make trust your supreme marketing advantage, you’ll have to go much further.

The good news is, your competitors aren’t doing any of this. Once you start implementing these ideas, you’ll probably be light-years ahead.


Check out the other 13 Quick Copywriting Tips here.


I swore I wouldn’t talk about Trump… (Copywriting Tip #5)

Quick Copywriting Tip #5: In most cases, you can get away with infuriating 95% of your list/audience in an effort to win over the 5% who are your best buyers and referrers.

Donald Trump is 24 karat gold.

For comedians, journalists, content creators and lovers of funny memes, anyway. Maybe not so much for the American people, or citizens of the world at large.

Marketers and entrepreneurs can learn quite a bit from him, too. Far more than we have time to discuss here.

As the subject line states, I’ve avoided writing about The Donald, but for this Quick Copywriting Tip, I can’t think of a better illustration.

As of 1 hour ago, 60.4% of Americans dislike/despise Trump, according to data aggregated from 171 polls. Just 2 weeks ago, his unfavorable rating was as high as 67.8%.

These are historically BAD numbers for presidential nominees.¬†(Hillary Clinton’s numbers are not much better.)

And yet, he’s amassed the most primary votes of any Republican ever. Voters are taking action. And it’s not because Trump’s trying to appeal to the masses.

Everyone has an opinion about him. According to the polls I mentioned, only 2.6% of people are undecided about him.

Amazingly 3.1% of people are undecided about President Obama because they “haven’t heard enough” to rate him. After over 7 years in office — and a bazillion news stories about him.

What does all this mean for you?

Your customers aren’t looking for people who can “kinda-maybe” solve their problems. They don’t want their¬†lives to be 2% better. They want total transformation ‚Äď or as close to it as they can get.

They want to start winning. Or win more “yuge” victories.

“… there is one thing you can count on: your family, friends, customers, clients and even everyone you have yet to meet will have these needs met by someone. The only question is, will it be by you?” ~ Blair Warren ¬†(accents mine)

You can’t control who is in the market for what you sell and who isn’t. It’s your job to be the clear-cut choice for a specific¬†someone. That may mean offending someone else in the process.

copywriting tip - attract or repel

That’s cool. Those people are not your ideal customers. There’s a good chance they’d never give you any money anyway.

Watering yourself and your message down to avoid ruffling their feathers means…well, it means that you’re watered down. And that will have an adverse effect on those people who love who you are and what you stand for.

Attract people or repel them. Just don’t be boring! You can’t bore people into buying.

So stand boldly for something — and don’t be scared to be (appropriately) loud about it.

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Preaching to the Almost Pitch-Perfect Choir (Copywriting Tip # 4)

copywriting tip - preach to the choir

Quick Copywriting Tip #4: Whenever possible, write to people who are already at least half-convinced.

One of the hardest things in the world to do is convince someone they’re wrong. That their opinions are wrong, the way they’ve been doing something is wrong, etc.

We’re all naturally resistant to change (inertia) — ¬†and we usually don’t like anyone telling us to change course.

In many cases, that’s what we’re doing: telling people they’re wrong and we can “fix” them.

We may be asking someone to change

  • from inaction to action — get off the fence, like we talked about in Tip #3
  • from one course of action to another
  • brands or providers
  • his¬†thinking
  • his¬†habits

Change is hard. So why, when your business/profitability are on the line, are you asking people change?

Perhaps you should start “preaching to the converted” instead.

A good writer is more likely to buy writing resources than a bad one, even though he needs it much less.

A dedicated marathoner (like the guy we talked about in Tip #2) is much more likely to invest in fitness stuff than a couch potato dedicated to Game of Thrones and his Playstation.

I know you mean well. But keep in mind that changing the world (or just one person’s mind!) usually takes a lot more work than helping your “choir” make progress towards its goals.

Ideal clients are not necessarily the people who need what you offer the most. They’re the ones who KNOW they need it and/or want it badly and are willing and able to pay for it.

Share your message with those people. Become a visible expert where they congregate. And continue growing your own audience (mailing list) of people who don’t need convincing.

It’ll save you a lot of energy and headache — and probably make you a lot more money.

Check out all 13 Quick Copywriting Tips.


Email Copywriting Masterclass Tonight

Email Copywriting

I wanted to let you know¬†about the a free Email Copywriting Masterclass I’m giving with Conrad Deas, one of the most creative, engaging and prolific writers I know.

Conrad and I will be on Facebook Live TONIGHT (June 22) at 8:00pm Eastern, barring any unforeseen technical difficulties.

We’ll be coming to you¬†live from the Hilton Chicago Indian Lakes Resort, where Conrad is speaking at Hal Elrod’s Miracle Morning Mastery event.

You must request access to the Email Copywriting Clique FB group in order to see it live and participate.

During the broadcast, we will reveal:

  Рspecific ways to generate tons of great ideas

  Р5 proven psychological principles guaranteed to get and keep your readers attention 

  Рpainful mistakes many people make that suck the life out of their emails andsabotage their customer relationships

  Рbattle-tested formulas we use to construct compelling emails more easily than you may think possible, and

  Рour best tips for getting readers to take action after reading your emails.

We’re going to try to answer viewer¬†questions, too. But you have to be live during the broadcast!

Again, request to join the Email Copywriting Clique on Facebook to get access.

Whether you’re a copywriter an entrepreneur who wants to connect better with your customers (and sell more stuff, without being pushy, greasy or sleazy), you’re not going to want to miss this.

Hope to see you tonight!



Desperate Times, Desperate Measures (Copywriting Tip #3)

copywriting tips

Quick Copywriting Tip #3: Force your reader to “pick a side.” Don’t allow him to sit comfortably on the fence.

They say “desperate times call for desperate measures.”

“They” are wrong. Desperate measures are always called for. More accurately, they’re almost always necessary.

Why? Because most of your should-be customers, the ones who desperately need your product or service, are sitting on the fence. I guarantee it.

A small percentage of prospects will buy with minimal effort on your part. Most of them take more work. It’s your job to lead them into making the smartest decision.

You can’t lead them anywhere while they’re sitting up there, can you? You’re going to have to push/pull them down.

Here’s an example you’re probably familiar with: Proactiv Solution. If you’ve seen the TV commercials, magazine inserts, online banner ads and who knows what else, you know they use every tool in the shed to make you choose:

  • up-close before and after photos that remind you of the pain you feel and offer relief
  • celebrity spokespeople to grab your attention and win your trust
  • clinical research for credibility
  • showing up in your face every day, in as many places as possible
  • storytelling which push emotional hot buttons like embarrassment, guilt, and even the shakiness of your romantic life (see below)

Proactiv emotional copywriting tip

Your message should repeatedly attempt to force your audience to pick a side.

Struggle with the problem, or choose the solution.”

Does Proactiv play dirty? Maybe. But they believe their cause is a righteous one. They believe they’re improving people’s lives — and providing jobs in the process.

The cost is too high to be soft-spoken.

Check out all 13 Quick Copywriting Tips


Bumper Sticker Revelations (Copywriting Tip #2)

Quick Copywriting Tip #2: Speak to just one person. Copy should be a one-on-one conversation.

Bumper stickers aren’t just clever jokes designed to entertain or infuriate other drivers. They are tiny (and sometimes not so tiny) glimpses into the car owner’s inner world.

A few square inches can reveal profound insights into who that person thinks about himself and his place in the world. You can learn something about the priorities, values and worldview of the person who stuck the sticker.

Here’s a fun, mind-expanding exercise you should try: pay attention to the bumper stickers you see. Try to deduce what the messages tell you about the drivers.

A simple example that comes immediately to mind is the “26.2” sticker.

26.2 Bumper Sticker copywriting

In four characters (the coded language of an insider), that person identifies himself as a proud marathoner.

Now, here’s a clever spin-off on that theme: the “0.0” sticker. Makes me laugh every time.

bumper sticker marketing

These two parties see themselves differently and move through the world differently ‚Äď in at least a couple areas. They probably respond differently to messages about exercise, diet, etc.

As a marketer, you have to figure out which bumper sticker your ideal customer has on his car.

There’s a big difference between distance runners and couch potatoes. Decide which one you’re going to serve and speak to him…in his language.

Check out all 13 Quick Copywriting Tips.


Focus on One Thing (Copywriting Tip #1)

copywriting tip 1 thing

Quick Copywriting Tip #1: Talk about one thing. The tighter the focus, the better.

It’s almost never a good idea for your website, email or sales page to look like a Kmart newspaper insert. Even if you sell 20 different items, studies have shown that a sales brochure showcasing a retailer’s single most popular item can outproduce a catalog containing everything the retailer sells.

As you may know, I write almost exclusively for the financial sector these days. Time after time, split-run test I’ve worked on show that highlighting¬†one stock, event or investing idea converts better than anything else we’re doing.

This truth translates to every industry I can think of.

Online, you have the ability to create an endless number of pages. You can send as many emails as you want over time. Don’t give in to the feeling you need to cram everything you could possibly say into a single message.

It’s much simpler for a reader/viewer to understand and remember one thing.

It’s much easier for you to create deep emotion and engrossing vision around one thing.

You can drill deeper, uncover more juicy details and valuable benefits if you concentrate on one thing.

Don’t waste that opportunity by flitting superficially from topic to topic.

Check out all 13 Quick Copywriting Tips.