Bruce Wedding, “The Copywriting Maniac”, has created Internet advertising that has sold over $1,000,000 worth of products, and spent countless hours tracking and tweaking the results.
Here, as short and sweet as I can make it, are a few things I have learned.
1. The most important factor. I have learned the effect of advertising on your sales depends on this factor more than any other: Do you have a market with a problem to solve and cash in hand, for your product you can reach?
If you do not have this, forget it. No sales copy in the world can sell without a hungry market.
Do NOT make the mistake of thinking you will create a market.
You will not.
Are there similar products on the market? Are there websites, message boards, and blogs about your market? Does your market have money to spend on your product? Are you able to effectively place your advertising in front of this market?
If you answered yes to each one of those questions, your product has a decent chance of selling successfully. If you answered no, go back to the drawing board.
Find a hungry market.
2. Properly Position Your Product. I have learned the effect of advertising on your sales depends on this decision more than any other: How should you position your product?
Should you position your software as a tool or a “list-builder”?
Should you position your weight loss product as a diet plan or a way to build “6-Pack Abs”?
The results of your campaign depend less on how I write your sales copy than on how your product is positioned. This question should be answered before one line of copy is written.
Do your research. Look before you leap.
3. What is your USP? If you followed the first point and picked a product that is actively being purchased, (which you must do) you have to show the market what makes your product special. What is your Unique Selling Proposition?
A USP can be just about anything. It may be price (high or low), quality, speed, more features, unique feature(s), service, guarantee… the options are unlimited.
But, you must have a USP because if you don’t, what reason does the market have to buy from you?
And your sales copy must drive the USP home so you stand out from the competition. If someone asks you, “Why should I buy from you?”, you should be able to answer that question in one sentence.
Start working on your one-sentence USP.
4. Have a Marketing Plan. The old saying, “Build a better mouse trap and the world will beat a path to your door” is unadulteraed BS. If you don’t have a marketing plan, the grass around your door will grow so deep the market will never find it.
You have to take it to them and lay it right in front of them. And, a sales letter is not a marketing plan.
A marketing plan answers the question, “How do I get my product in front of the target audience?” The answer could be any or all of the following:
If you don’t have a marketing plan, you don’t have a business.
5. Have a Realistic Budget. Yes, it is true the entry costs in an Internet business are much lower than a “brick and mortar” business, but there are significant costs to do it right.
Depending on your skills, expertise and available time, you should expect to pay for one or more of the following:
If you have a 2 digit balance in your checking account and plan on launching an Internet business, you are in for a shocking reality check. I’m not saying it’s not possible, but it is highly unlikely.
Spend the money to do it right and you will reap the rewards.
6. Provide a Quality Product. Gary Bencivenga, one of the greatest direct response copywriters that ever lived said, “A gifted product is more powerful than a gifted pen”.
Do you want to be a one-hit wonder or build a lasting business that provides products that make people’s lives better? It really is in everyone’s best interest that the product or service you provide is top notch.
And guess what? It’s a lot easier to sell.
Make quality, job #1.
7. Have a Back End Product. This is probably the biggest mistake I see beginners make, not having a back end product. Ideally, you should have several levels of back end products.
You will NEVER get rich selling a $47 e-book.
You may start with a $47 information product. Before that sale closes, offer to upgrade them to a $147 product and if they don’t take that, offer them a “middle of the road” product for $97.
As you build your customer base and your relationship with them, via email, offer them a $497 product and it may culminate in a $2497 or more premier package.
But, this is how you run a business, on the net or off.
Start developing a line of products.
8. Get Your Advertising Read. People are slammed with advertising, no matter which way they turn. We all develop a natural defense mechanism which filters the advertising that is vying for our attention.
Your advertising has to pierce the defenses to be able to have a chance. In my experience, the best way to do that is with a 2-pronged approach. And I will tell you, I have trouble getting marketers to use this technique because they are afraid to be different. But, here it is…
First, make your advertising look less like advertising.
How do you do this? Look at what everyone else is doing and make yours look different. Consider advertorial or story-telling copy.
Second, offer them a bribe just for reading the letter.
The easiest way to do this is put rock solid content right in the letter — give him something he can use — something he can take away for nothing.
9. It is a “No Go” Without Proof Elements. Gary Halbert said there are 3 reasons people do not buy your product.
If you are following along, you have #1 taken care of because you already chose a market with a problem, right? #2 is partially covered by proper positioning and developing a good USP. We’ll talk more about the actual offer later.
You get them to believe you with “proof elements”. The most common proof element is a testimonial, but that only scratches the surface. Your copy must reek of proof elements from top to bottom.
Some great proof elements are:
Don’t even think of moving ahead without the necessary and compelling proof elements. You cannot make them believe with copy alone.
The more proof elements you have, the more product you sell.
10. Long Copy Sells. I see it all the time — people asking the age old question, “Does long copy still sell?”, “Do people really read all that?”. The short answer is, yes, long copy sells like gang busters. It has sold for longer than any of us have been alive and it continues to this day.
The mistake people make is an easy one.
They forget they are fisherman and not fish. Being a Texan, I love chicken fried steak, but you will not ever see me baiting a hook with it when I go offshore fishing. Why? Because fish do not eat chicken fried steak.
The job of long copy is more than to sell your product to those with a problem to solve. It is to quickly disqualify those people that do not have the problem. The ones asking if anyone reads the copy were just reading an advertisement which they are not the market for.
Remember, the more you tell, the more you sell.
11. You Have 8 Seconds To Get Their Attention. John Caples, in “Tested Advertising Methods”, stated 5X more people will read your headline than the rest of your copy.
If you get the headline wrong, your advertisement is dead in the water.
Novices treat this one sentence much too lightly. Do not make the same mistake. Expert copywriters will write 20, 50 or even 100 headlines. In fact, Brian Keith Voiles, who charges $37,500 + a percentage for a sales letter, says he will write 200 to 300.
Devote the time and effort to your headline.
12. The Only Job of the Headline. If you ask 10 people what the job of the headline is you’ll get 10 different answers. They may say it’s to get the readers attention. Or state the most important benefit. Some will say the headline is to qualify your prospect.
They are all right, to some degree. But it is not the answer I like.
I like simple solutions, so here is the job of the headline…
The headline’s only job is to make them read the next line.
If it does that, it has gotten their attention, let them know it may solve their problem and qualified them. If they do not read the next line, nothing else matters.
Keep this in mind when writing headlines.
13. What Headlines Work Today? There are more opinions about headlines than there are fishn in the ocean. The place to look to find a headline that works is your target audience.
You have to know them. Empathize with them. Put yourself in their place so you can enter the conversation they have in their head about the problem you are trying to solve.
One of my favorite tests for headlines is Clayton Makepeace’s “Forehead Slap Test”. Would your prospect, sit up in bed and speak your headline while slapping his forehead? If not, you can do better.
I prefer shorter headlines than you see in most Internet marketing sales copy. I don’t like rules, but try to keep it under 17 words if you can.
Ok, so when I write headlines, I write about 100 of them taking many different approaches until I find something I feel will resonates with my prospect. I’ll write How-To, News, Question, Dominant-Emotion, Story, Primary & Multi-Benefit headlines.
What I stay away from are curiousity headlines.
I also want the headline to tell a complete story, but nothing more. John Carlton says your headline should be such that, if you take one word away, it doesn’t make sense.
Remember 2 things: Get in your prospects head and write a LOT of headlines.
14. What goes in the deck copy? The deck copy is what you say between the headline and the greeting, in your sales letter. I have had success making the deck copy build upon the interest and attention I got with the headline.
I like to do this by using 3-5 bullet points that “fully-dimensionalize” your product’s main benefits. The first bullet expands on any benefit mentioned in the headline and the other bullets cover additional benefits.
The deck copy is so critical I often spend 4-8 hours writing it.
You can make mistakes deeper in your letter and get away with it, but at this stage of the game, your prospect is not emotionally involved enough and can easily be distracted.
Fill your deck copy with compelling benefits.
15. What’s In a Name? A lot. If you are writing a letter, you need a salutation. Do not take this lightly and do not use “Dear Friend” unless you absolutely have nothing better.
The salutation does more than just greet the reader; it qualifies them. If you start your letter off with “Dear Future Barbwire Stretcher” and the reader has no interest in barbwire stretching, you just got rid of someone that wasn’t going to buy anyway.
The salutation also starts stirring the imagination. If your reader has wanted to be a barbwire stretcher since she was a little girl, by addressing her a such, you get her one step closer to her dream and one step closer to a sale.
So dispense with the “Dear Friend” crap and think about who you are talking to.
16. Do Not Leave Your Headline Hanging. A mistake I see beginning and veteran copywriters make is to let the excitement created by the headline fizzle out.
Remember the headline’s job was to get them to read the next line? Well, every sentence on the letter has the same job. And if you have written a great headline, and they were driven to read the compelling deck copy and were starting to get excited…
Why in the hell would you slam on the brakes and start talking about how you got started in barbwire stretching?
Joe Sugarman talks about how copy should be a greased slide. Once the prospect starts moving, he doesn’t stop until he gets to the bottom. As I said before, you can make some mistakes once you’ve built up some excitement, but the top of the letter has got to be greased Teflon baby!
17. What is Your Hook? You do have a hook don’t you? Do you know what a hook really is? Based on critiquing and reading hundreds of sales letters, I’ll bet the answer to those questions is an emphatic, NO. If you are writing without a hook, you are walking a high wire without a net.
The hook is the unique angle you take in your letter that makes it stand out. The one thing that yanks your customer into your letter. He has no choice but to read it.
John Carlton has a great post about hooks on his blog and I suggest you read it. One of his most famous hooks is the “One-legged golfer that could out drive everyone on the course.
It may be a story element from the product, the creator of the product or something completely unrelated to the product. How will you know when you found your hook? Trust me, you’ll just know.
How do you find it? You dig it out of the ground. You research the product, the customer, the creator. Keep digging and you’ll know it when you find it. It will stick out like a diamond in a coal mine.
Proceeding without a hook is not an option.
18. Short Stories are Great… Keyword: Short. Every letter I write will have some story element in it because people love to read interesting stories. But there are things to keep in mind.
First, you are not writing a novel. A story can be a short paragraph or two. Sometimes, it is a bit more but don’t go crazy here or you’ll bore them. The job is not to entertain — the job is to sell.
Second, Remember the movie, “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” with Steve Martin and John Candy? Remember how Steve Martin screamed at John Candy, when he tells a story, “Have a point!”
Your story must be related to the product in some way. But there is something even more important. The purpose of a story is almost always, to get the reader to imagine himself in the story, feeling what the character in the story feels.
This is how you get them emotionally involved so they want the product. And one of the neat things about stories is, when written properly, the reader imagines the story in the modality that suits them best. This is why they work so well.
An emotionally committed reader is now set up for a brilliant volley of “reason-why” copy and they are as good as sold.
Try to add a story to every piece of copy you write.
Bruce has a natural gift not found in most writers today. You can truly feel it when you read his work. He’s not formulaic or a carbon copy of anything else you’ll discover online.
His is just a natural talent, with a flair for making people do what he wants. In a copy guy those are good skills to have.
I take my own copy very seriously and until I met Bruce, I would never (ever) have allowed anyone else to write for me. But, now Bruce has written copy for projects we have built together and I couldn’t be happier with the results.
If you’re lucky enough to get Bruce as your writer, especially at his insanely low rates, albeit temporary, then grab him and watch your conversions explode.”
Not only did you craft some terrific sales copy, but you were there when I had questions AFTER the launch. That was priceless, literally. My conversions shot up like a rocket from 2.3% to 4.9% like magic.
Oh… I almost forgot. How about 41% of the front – end customers taking one of my OTO’s that you wrote up? That alone made me thousands of dollars.
Other than your seasoned copy skills, your attention to communication was perfect. No email went unanswered. No phone call not returned. Everything happened in a timely considerate fashion. I really felt like you listened to what I wanted and delivered it.
Wait a second… that’s wrong… You over-delivered, big time.
I’ve got several projects on the horizon with the huge success of this promotion. You better believe it’s a no-brainer I’m coming to you for my copy needs first.
I can’t thank you enough”
I am now seeking a few select clients. If your budget for a kickass sales letter is between $3,000-5,000, complete the form below and let’s talk about how I can help you.
Otherwise, thanks for reading. I hope you learned something.
To Your Success,
Bruce Wedding aka