Archives for May 2012

The 4-Part Persuasion Formula for Better Copywriting

persuasion formula for copywritingIf you want to be more persuasive with your copywriting, there is a 4-part persuasion formula I want to share with you. I learned this formula from one of the world’s greatest copywriters, Gary Bencivenga, who is a mentor, client and dear friend.

Part One: Urgent Problem

If there is no problem, there is nothing to talk about because you can’t offer a solution. Make sure it’s an urgent problem, because urgency makes people more motivated to find a solution.

For example, one offer I used to make when speaking at conferences was an 8-month mentoring program. I would start by talking about the problem of overwhelm.

I’d say, “Listen, I’ll bet you are overwhelmed with too much to do. That’s why I’m [Read more…]

5 Keys for Profitable Online Copywriting

Although the principles of good copywriting remain the same no matter what you’re writing, there are 5 elements that make online copy different – and more powerful – than offline copy. Leverage these elements to write more profitable online copy.

5 keys for profitable online copywritingCopywriting Element #1: Color

Color is effective because it has eye gravity. That is, it attracts eyeballs.

Even better, color is free online. Whether you want to change the background on your website or the color of your headline, in most cases, it won’t cost you a dime. Your webmaster, even at $50 an hour, can do it in 10 minutes. With a direct mail piece, however, it would cost you hundreds, even thousands, of dollars.

Copywriting Element #2: Movement

In guerrilla warfare, if you look at a field and suddenly see movement, your eyeballs are attracted to the movement. You can make this work for you online, too. Using things like [Read more…]

Build Consistency with Your Copywriting Style

copywriting typewriterConsistency is one of the most important principles for effective copywriting. One of the fastest and easiest ways to develop consistency is to ensure you’re using the same copywriting style throughout your marketing piece.

There are two style of copy: the John E. Kennedy formula and what I’ve coined the Dale Carnegie formula.

John E. Kennedy was the world’s first “reason-why” copywriter at the turn of the 20th century. (He is not to be confused with Dan Kennedy, who is alive and is one of the greatest copywriters living right now.) A 24-year old Canadian Mountie, John E. Kennedy was the first millionaire copywriter.

Kennedy did three things in his copywriting:

  1. Made a clear promise.
  2. Delivered proof with “reasons why.” That is why he was called the “reason-why” copywriter.
  3. Gave a call to action.

This type of copywriting is often used [Read more…]

A Template for World-Class Testimonials

Testimonials are one of the most important elements of persuasive copywriting. But not all testimonials are created equal.

satisfaction surveyGood testimonials are descriptive and specific. Rather than saying, “This product is great,” they offer specifics about the individual giving the testimonial has benefited.

One of the best ways to get world-class testimonials to use in your copywriting is what I call the “Before-After-After” template. Here’s what it looks like: Before the experience, immediately after the experience, and several years later. The second “after” is what really adds punch to the testimonial.

Let’s take the example of someone who’s just attended a seminar. Interviewing the individual on video, you ask, “Okay, before this experience, what was life like? After this experience, what’s life going to be like? Finally, three years from now, what do you think your life will be like as a result of attending this workshop today?”

Another way to use this technique is to [Read more…]

FAQs: The Key to Fast, Easy and Effective Copywriting

Want to write better marketing copy … and practically eliminate writer’s block? Write your Frequently Asked Questions first.

According to legendary copywriter Robert Collier, the secret to successful copywriting is “Always enter the conversation already taking place in the customer’s mind.” FAQs are like taking a shortcut into the heads of your website visitors and prospective customers.

FAQsWhen copywriting, many people think first about the benefits or headlines. This puts the pressure on you as the copywriter to figure out what will connect most with your audience.

But if you know what your prospects’ questions, challenges or barriers, and/or problems are before you start writing – as you will when you start with FAQs – you’ll gain valuable insights into how to write the rest of your marketing copy.

A good FAQ list will mirror the conversation in your first-time [Read more…]

Leverage the Principle of Recommendation

comment buttonThe most powerful persuasion tool is the principle of recommendation. It’s a principle that all entrepreneurs should incorporate into their marketing, because we’re in the midst of what’s been called the Recommendation Age.

The principle of recommendation is not the same as the principle of referral. Recommendations are more active. You’re not just referring; you’re putting your reputation on the line by recommending it.

If you look at the Internet and you go to Amazon.com, what are you allowed to do? You’re allowed to rate a book. When you go to You Tube, what are you allowed to do? You’re allowed to rate a video. When you go to Ted.com, you’re allowed to rate a speech. When you go on social networks, you’re really rating each other just in your commentary.

When writing marketing copy, this means that the new call to action is not Order Now, Buy Now, or Opt-In Now. The new call to action that you want to use is getting people to comment and share.

By getting people to comment and share, you get them to [Read more…]

When to Innovate

Just the other day, I was listening to a recording of a speech by Joe Sugarman* and Joe said, “One good path to success is to learn all the proven rules and meticulously follow them. Another path is to occasionally break all the rules, because breakthroughs come only from breaking rules.”

Dan Kennedy Renegade MillionaireResonates with me … as you know, I wrote a whole book based on breaking rules.

On one hand, I’m cautious about innovation; pioneers usually come home full of arrows; it’s often costly and time consuming…and I am always much more interested in “what works” than a new idea.

However, as Joe said, OCCASIONALLY, or I might say, at carefully chosen time, you have no alternative but to be the pioneer in order to move forward and in order to [Read more…]

Pavlovian Principles for Copywriting

When asked how to distinguish persuasive web copy, I have a two-word answer: Behavior modification.

Pavlov's dogBehavior modification is what powerful and persuasive words do. They modify behavior. In fact, that’s how I define good marketing.

The person who taught me the importance of behavior modification in marketing is the late Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov, who made behavior modification history in the late 1890’s.

In his revolutionary experiment, Pavlov put a slab of meat in front of dogs. As the dogs started salivating, he rang a bell. Over time, the dogs became conditioned to salivate whenever they heard the bell – whether or not meat was present. Their nervous systems had associated the bell with red meat.

What does red meat have to do with writing copy? Simply put… [Read more…]

Want Greater Influence? Smuggle Donkeys

Do you want prospects to take action more quickly? The fastest, easiest and most reliable way to influence your audience to take immediate action is to be transparent in your marketing.

transparency and donkey smugglingWhether you’re writing a sales letter, a video script, an email or even meeting a prospect in person, nothing is as persuasive as the truth. People can sense the truth. And when you’re not telling the truth, they can sense that, too.

Master salespeople are magicians of persuasion. They’re transparent. They tell on themselves. They show you exactly what they’re doing, but it’s so natural, so organic, and so seamless that you often don’t notice.

When teaching my students about this elusive aspect of truth, I like to share the 13th century Turkish fable about a merchant named Nasraddin Hodja.

Hodja crossed the Turkish border every single day on his donkey, which always carried a big load of straw on its back. The border patrol knew that Hodja was smuggling somethinginto the Far East, because he was [Read more…]

How to Spot Vendors Who Are “Drivers”

Outsourcing is one of the best ways to increase your productivity as an entrepreneur. But the type of vendor you choose can make or break the gain you realize. The wrong vendors may save time in performing certain tasks, but require you to invest additional time in supervising and motivating them.

Outsource to "Driver" VendorsFor best results, I look for vendors who are “drivers.” The fastest way to describe a driver is to borrow a definition I once saw on Wikipedia for entrepreneur: “Someone who boosts productivity from a lower to a higher level.”

Here are four ways to spot a driver when evaluating vendors:

  • Drivers initiate. They self-start without extra supervision. In fact, they don’t have any supervision. They just drive. If they can’t contact you in phone or by person, they don’t get discouraged. They just keep driving.
  • Drivers don’t get discouraged if other team members – in other words, their own colleagues – fail to meet their deadlines. It doesn’t matter to them. They just keep driving.
  • Drivers report, question, and update you on their current progress, and they [Read more…]
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