Shatter Writer’s Block in 250 Words

writer's blockWriter’s block makes copywriting the bane of many entrepreneurs’ existence. If you find yourself freezing at the keyboard, especially under the pressure of a looming deadline, try my favorite technique: Crafting a five-part, 250-word executive summary about the project.

I organize my executive summaries around Gary Bencivenga’s Persuasion Formula:

  • Have an urgent problem.
  • Make a unique promise.
  • Use unquestionable proof.
  • Offer a user-friendly proposition.

When writing your executive summary, start by asking, “What is the urgent problem?” Write down what you know about your prospects’ pet peeves, pains, predicaments, joys, admirations, and hopes. These details will build rapport and help prospects grasp that you understand their situation.

Next is the solution. Explain what is possible for your prospects so they can visualize how things will be once their problems are solved.

The third question to answer is, “Why are they stuck?” Explain to your readers why they are stuck with their problem and have not yet found a good enough solution. [Read more…]

Spy Your Way to Better Marketing Copy

spying on competitorsIt’s often said that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Savvy copywriters know that it’s also the way to bigger and better marketing results.

Specifically, I’m talking about spying on your competitors and using what they write to strengthen your own copy.

But a very important point here: Don’t make spying the very first thing you do when copywriting.

Many copywriters spy first. Then they draft their benefits, identify frequently asked questions, brainstorm how customers are likely to consume their product or service, and do other research and writing.

I deliberately do not do this. I spy before I draft a full sales letter and before I post my copy to a web page. But I write several chunks of copy first, including my frequently asked questions, a consumption matrix, and benefits.

Here’s why: If you go through the effort of writing the rough drafts of these pieces of copy on your own, you’ll [Read more…]

3 Steps to Amplify Desire with Bonus Gifts

AIDA — Attention, Interest, Desire, Action — is a classic formula for copywriting success. For most copywriters, the first two steps of grabbing attention and generating interest are relatively easy when compared to motivating prospects to take action. Bonus gifts are a tried-and-true way to amplify prospects’ desire to the point that action is irresistible.

bonus gifts with purchaseHere is the three-part formula for success with bonus gifts:

  • Tell prospects that the bonuses are free with their purchase.
  • Describe the bonuses and present the items as a list. Incorporate graphics of your bonus gifts whenever possible.
  • Finally, tell prospects the value of each item – and of the total bonus gift package.

To see an example in action, go to and then click the anchor tab at the top of the page titled “Bonus Gifts” to see the bonus gifts and how they are presented.

I also included a link just below the bullets at the top of the page that says, “So if you’re ready to start, please proceed to the next web page where I reveal the $51,740 in free bonus gifts and return each year at no cost claiming your Free Alumni status for life!” This stimulates visitors’ desire to [Read more…]

Upsell Your Way to Bigger Revenue and Profits

upsell | do you want fries with that?The fastest, easiest way to grow your business is to increase the dollar value of a transaction. That’s why I recommend crafting an upsell for every offer you make to your customers.

An “upsell” is simply selling a customer more products in a single transaction. A classic example is fast-food restaurant employees asking “Do you want fries with that?” when customers order a burger. When you upsell, there is no additional cost to acquire the customer, so you generate higher profits.

For greatest success, the upsell should be relevant to your core offer. Look at upsells as a way to deliver more value. When you deliver more value to the customer, you generate more income for yourself.

For example, if you’re selling a teleseminar for $29, a proven upsell is to offer the audio transcripts for $10 more. If the content is good, most students will [Read more…]

Use a Consumption Matrix for More Effective Copy

Seasoned copywriters know that if prospects can envision or experience themselves using the product or service being promoted, it becomes much more emotionally compelling for them to buy. An easy way to get into your prospect’s world is to use a consumption matrix.

consumption matrix | business travelerA consumption matrix is a grid that answers when your product or service is being consumed, how it is being consumed, and why it is being consumed. (This is why we call customers consumers.)

Imagine a grid with three columns. The first column says, “When?” The second column says, “Why?” And the third column says, “How?”

Each row is a point of consumption – a situation where customers could conceivably consume your product. A point of consumption is in front of your computer. A point of consumption is in the car if you have an information product. A point of consumption could be on a plane if you have a laptop. [Read more…]

Choosing the Right Type of Benefits

dangling carrot benefitsExplaining the benefits of your product or service is a copywriting fundamental. But one of the biggest copywriting mistakes people make is not categorizing their benefits.

There are two categories of benefits: “moving away” and “moving toward.” They appeal to two different types of prospects.

Some people are more attracted to benefits that promise to move them toward pleasure, like dangling a carrot in front a donkey. Others are motivated by “sticks” — that is, they want to move away from pain.

It’s important to know which type of benefits to stress in your marketing copy, because you want to do everything in your power to tip the scales in your favor to get someone to say “yes” or at least give you a “shy” yes. You are responsible for knowing who you are writing to.

Start by writing a comprehensive list of [Read more…]

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…]