Consistency 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:
- Made a clear promise.
- Delivered proof with “reasons why.” That is why he was called the “reason-why” copywriter.
- Gave a call to action.
This type of copywriting is often used online. Most television commercials also use this formula. “Lose 10 pounds in 10 days. Millions of Americans nationwide have used it.” Then, you see a bunch of testimonials – your reason-why proof. Then, you see a call to action, which is an 800 number or website address.
The Dale Carnegie formula was made famous with the first ad written by copywriter Vic Schwab to promote Carnegie’s book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” The headline was the book title. Then the ad proceeded to:
- Tell a memorable story
- Give a call to action
- Talk about the benefits that are being gained from that story
Let’s look at an example of each style.
Here is the John E. Kennedy model with the Acme Diet example. “Lose 10 pounds in 10 days. You can eat like a pig and drink like a fish. Thousands of Americans nationwide have proven that the Acme Diet works over and over again.”
Then, you’d provide a bunch of testimonials, followed by a call to action of “Call 1-800-123-4567.”
Now, here is the same diet sold with the Dale Carnegie Formula for copywriting. You would start with a story like, “I felt like I was 15 pounds overweight. I felt a little uncomfortable bending down to tie my shoe. In fact, I felt a little uncomfortable sitting in a theater seat.
“It was getting to the point where I was getting embarrassed to be seen in public by my friends because I looked overweight. My chin was doubling, but then, I found the Acme Super Diet.
“If you call 1-800-123-4567, you will lose up to 10 pounds in 10 days. You can eat like a pig and drink like a fish. It’s guaranteed. Millions of Americans have proven this. So, call now.”
See the difference? You tell a story, give a call to action and give the benefits that are gained by calling that number, by writing in or by clicking — depending on where you are marketing.
One is the traditional formula — the promise, proof and call to action. The other is the storytelling formula — a story, call to action and benefits gained.
These two formulas mark the difference between good copy and great copy. If you start mixing the two, then you become inconsistent. Rather than training your customers to take action like Pavlov trained his dogs to salivate upon hearing a bell, you simply confuse them, losing sales and even relationships.
What has your experience been with these two copywriting styles? Share your thoughts and comments below! ~ Alex
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