Copywriting Examples Formulas and Strategies
WHAT YOU’LL LEARN
What You Must Do Before You Begin Writing Copy
The Importance of Story
Formulas and Strategies
How Visuals Can Make Your Pages Pop
Video Sales Letters
How to Overcome Their Objections
The Risk in Hiring Somebody Else to Write Your Copy
Copywriting is probably one of the most important skills that you can learn. It’s really powerful. It’s a very learnable skill. It’s not something that you either have or don’t have. It comes down to understanding human psychology and influence. You’ve got to come up with the ways to frame things that are in your audience’s best interest. Of course, some people have better natural instincts for it.
Before You Start Writing
Get inside the Mind of your Reader
Let’s say we’re sitting here and we’ve got our product and idea. Before we even write anything, we’ve got to understand what’s going on in our marketplace.
If you come from your marketplace, you’ll have an easier time with this. But if you’ve decided that you want to tackle a marketplace, you’ve got to get a little bit deeper in the research.
We’ve got to understand is what’s going on in our customers’ heads. What do they really want? What are they really, really fearful of? What keeps them up at night?
You have to go deeper than the surface level. That will come either from conversation or reading discussion forums. Reading a lot of forums is an interesting way of getting some market insight or research. The ones that let you be anonymous can be especially valuable because then you see all sorts of crazy stuff on there.
Scope Out the Competition
You also want to figure out where your direct competitors are. That helps you find the gap in the marketplace, where your product or service is going to fit in. I’ll even make a matrix of the competitors’ headlines, offers, guarantees, hooks, and – especially – their pricing.
You want to do some competitive intelligence to see who is spending money and running the marketplace. What are the keywords? Who comes up for the Google Adwords? Whoever comes up is spending money and making the marketplace work. You want to go through your competitors funnels and see what they’ve got. Then use that as potential material. I would use a tool like SpyFu.
Most people are able to figure out their direct competition. But then what’s the comparable? If I’m a yacht charter company, a villa rental is a comparable service. My customer could be spending their money on a villa rental instead of my yacht charter. So, I’m not just competing with the other yacht companies.
Craft a Story
Start thinking about the story behind the product or the service – like how it was developed, who did it when, and why. There’s usually a big selling point inside of that creation story that you just have to dig out and find. Copywriting examples Formulas
Then I would start writing down the objections that people may have to start using your product or service. Some objections are standard: “That’s too much money,” “Why should I start going on this right now?” and so forth. Copywriting examples Formulas
You really need to bring up the objections when you’re writing your pieces. If you try to just sweep it underneath the rug, it’s not going to work. People are automatically thinking about the objections or the catches. What’s the, “Gotcha?”
Brainstorm a Hook
You really need to have a big idea or a big hook to stand out.
There’s so much competition out there in every marketplace right now. There are too many me-too products and services. So the big idea becomes a shortcut for people to figure out if they want to buy from you.
How to Get a Hook
So, I’ve got five formulas that are pretty easy, that people can think about and use.
Give them the Fish
Formula number one for creating a big idea is to give them the fish. There’s a saying that if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; if you teach a man how to fish, you feed him for life.
But people want the fish handed to them, especially today. So, the more push-buttonsimple you can make it, while maintaining integrity, the better it is.
That’s why you’ll see things like site builders that really are push-button simple. WordPress has become the go-to platform because it’s kind of the fish. It’s gotten rid of a lot of the difficulties of content management for people.
Another example is the Instant Sales Letter: you fill in a few blanks and a sales letter pops out on the other side that you can use for just about anything.
Make your promise specific. Generic promises are too easy to make. I critique a lot of copy and that’s one of my most common critiques.
There’s a famous product that sold millions and millions of copies, called “8 Minute Abs” and they made a fortune with that hook, because it was that specific and easy.
Numbers are a good way. Instead of “Make Money from Home,” I would say, “Why don’t we do a product that’s 28 ways for moms to make an extra $327 dollars a month with a digital camera?” That’s a lot more specific – maybe too specific.
I also like going in the opposite direction from your competition.
When I got started with my very first Underground Seminar about eight years ago, the marketplace was pretty saturated with other Internet marketing events. So I decided, “Hey the thing to do is to be different. Instead of having the exact same speakers that almost everyone else does, I’m going to do it completely different and feature unknown speakers who are really making it in the real world. And I’m going to make it an experiential theme (a spy theme).”
That’s really worked well. Underground has been a really huge event and it’s sold out for pretty much the last seven years now, going on eight. That’s a perfect example of going the opposite direction.
A good book on the subject is Different by a Harvard professor, Youngme Moon.
One of the big things is taking what your difference is and exaggerating it. A lot of companies look at their competitors and they say, “They’ve got this feature, this feature, this feature, and this feature.” So they start adding all those features and then they get lost in the shuffle with all of the other competitors. Basically, they end up with a mediocre product.
It’s better to stand on a few key features and really extend them.
Repurpose Proven Successes
Another way of creating a hook is by applying a proven idea in a new way.
With traditional time shares, you can rent an apartment or a condo. But then people took that time share concept and applied it for private jets, yachts, luxury second homes, exotic cars, and that became a new hook. So, you can look around and see what is out there already and apply it to a different marketplace.
One of my mentors is Dan Kennedy. He had a product called Magnetic Marketing that he sold for years and years. My buddy John Alanis created a hook all around that for dating, which is Women Approach You – the same thing, Magnetic Marketing is business comes to you, for John it was women approach you. Copywriting examples Formulas
Be First in the Market
Being first in the market gives you prominent positioning. Get in your own first place position. It gives you an opportunity to create prominent positioning.
A really good example is Five Hour Energy. Red Bull was pretty dominant in the energy drink market place and there were a whole bunch of other competitors that were trying to come in, like Rockstar. So, Five Hour Energy decided to essentially create their own category. It’s a little shot bottle. Copywriting examples Formulas
Templates help because they’re a way to shortcut the writing process. So, I have bins and bins of letters downstairs. I don’t use them as often anymore. I’ve kind of internalized a lot of it.
But, I still break out a swipe file for a couple things. I literally created a swipe file for myself of headlines, openings, closes, P.S.’s, guarantees, power words, and copy transitions (ways to stitch together different paragraphs).
I typically start with headlines. They help establish the structure for everything else.
If I’m going to take a serious pass at a letter. I will write about 75 to 100 headlines. That might sound a little crazy, but it’s something that is well worth it.
Typically the first ten or twenty headlines will be pretty easy. I’ll think, “I’ve got it. I’ve got what’s going to be a great headline.” But you’ve got to push yourself beyond that, because all of the really good stuff that helps create a deep, emotional connection really comes from numbers 50 onward.
Then you start combining them together and making different things happen. That’s where the good stuff happens.
If you just want to have a simple structure that always works, here’s an almost no-fail one: provide a problem, agitate that problem (turn that knife a little bit deeper), and then provide the solution.
That’s a real simple one. Now, you can get more complex:
Start off with a benefit, headline, sub-head that elaborates on the benefit, initial story (talking about how this was created), some authority block (anything about your reputation or why I should listen to you), and then an introduction of the product or solution, followed by testimonial or any sort of proof elements (a couple of those), then followed by a heightening of desire, an “apples to oranges” price comparison, and then some sort of deadline or penalty for not taking action right now.
o, that’s a good structure right there. That’s a more elaborate one, but a pretty good one that you can fit into most things. There may be a bonus or additional things that help them out. It’s all about pumping up the visitor’s impression that, “Wow, I’m really going to get something great here.” Copywriting examples Formulas
“Apples to Oranges” Price Comparison
When you’re making the pricing comparison, try to make it an unfair advantage for you, in some way. That way the pricing seems like a complete no-brainer.
I did a fitness product once a few years back and we sold it for I think $29.95. It was an ebook that I think was called Get Fit While You Sit. Basically, it’s about how to do exercises while you’re in front of your computer or watching TV. It’s pretty good.
With a fitness product, it’s not like I can say you’re going to make $1000 tomorrow. There’s not a monetary return on your investment. So, you’ve got to have a different way of combining that solution for them.
So we never compared the price to another workout video or even another book or anything like that. We compared it to the cost of going to the gym or the cost of getting personal instruction from Jeff, the trainer, who charges $50 an hour.
This is a big deal. My letters are a lot like stories. That’s a pretty important psychological hot button that you want to use in a lot of your copy, if you can.
Stories are super-engaging, even in sales copy. Think about when you’re listening to a speaker. They’ll talk about concepts, but you love it when they say, “Let me tell you a story about this.” Then it becomes even more engaging. Copywriting examples Formulas
Stories really sell, since ancient times and even today. I have two kids and they still want that bedtime story. That’s the way we disseminate and share information. But people tend to neglect their story. So you want to ask yourself, “What is my creation story? How did I come up with this thing?” People want to know that.
How long should a sales letter be? It needs to be long enough to make the sale. They’re not intentionally long. At least, the ones that are good aren’t.
I need to present my entire and full argument to them. So, that requires a full-on presentation and typically a lot of space.
On that longer formula that I rattled off earlier, I probably missed one or two elements. There was no objection recovery there, so that’s another element that we do. That could even be a separate little piece that says, “By now you might have some questions.”
Instead of just a single, long, flowing page, we’ve been experimenting with breaking it up into sections that people can click on and get more information. I’m not 100% that that’s been more effective, but aesthetically it looks a little bit better. Copywriting examples Formulas
That’s what I’ve done for the higher end stuff like the Maverick 1000. I’ll sacrifice viewer response for having a higher end look.
I have a nine phase editing process, so it’s a significant edit.
I write the full copy. Then I actually read it out loud and find all of the pieces that aren’t working right. Then I edit for copy transitions to make it flow together better. Then I edit for what I call a double readership path. That means that if I only skim through the document (if I only read the subheads, bolded and yellow-highlighted text), that I could get an idea for what the product or service is and make a sale that way.
Tips to Keep People Reading
There are readership studies that say that after 500 words, the next drop-off is at 5,000 words. So, you’ve got a pretty good amount of room there.
Headlines are Key
On the web, our reading habits are different. We’re definitely skimmers.
All those 100 headlines I write don’t go to waste. Obviously, I will use the best one for my headline and the second best one for my subhead. Then I use a lot of them for subheads throughout the sales letter. I’ll use them for opening sentences sometimes. I’ll use them for my P.S.
We add more visual elements to the letter in order to keep the reader engaged.
One of my editing phases is graphical enhancement. That could be going through and bolding certain phrases or words. It could be putting highlighter on certain things. It would be adding images and copy doodles.
Adding just a layer of visual enticement helps people to smoothly go through it. You want it to look like it’s not hard to get through, because you want to get people through those first five hundred words that we talked about.
Engaging graphics keep the visual elements interesting for people to look through. They’ll be like, “Yeah, I want to keep being engaged in this.”
You can do a fair amount with visuals right now. It depends on what the product is, but certainly you’ll see a lot of screenshots or photos on our sales pages.
One simple trick to add more readability to your photos is to add a little caption underneath. That’s the way we’ve always been taught to read.
Hire Graphic Design
It’s worth spending some money on a graphical artist to help you with it. It doesn’t cost that much now. You can get somebody off of Elance or oDesk to really give a nice look and feel to your site.
We have a graphic design team that we recommend off of UndergroundX.com. But there are a lot of people that you can use for this.
Video plays a big part in the sales process today. It’s a whole new element.
A lot of people have gone only to video. Some have gone to a hybrid of video and copy. I don’t know which way is better. I think you’ve got to test it for your market. I’ve seen different results work in different marketplaces.
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Writing Copy for Video
There’s actually not that much of a difference between video copy and conventional sales copy.
For Instant Sales Letters, I took the main elements of the copy and just turned it into a video script. That alone would be enough to get people excited and interested.
We probably could have even made that video a little bit longer. We were cheap and doing it on budget. So, we probably would have done a few more minutes and then given them a call to action to order it. Where we left instead, it was just an introduction to get them excited to read through and see what the rest of it was. Copywriting examples Formulas
If you’re not looking at the old school infomercials, you’re missing out. Those give you a really good framework for how to deliver your sales message. If you’re really serious about this, transcribe a few infomercials. Go look at the best-selling infomercials and see what they’re doing right.
It’s hard to say. I’ve seen mixed results from the people that I hang out with. Some people, it hurt their conversion. So, I think it’s up to you. You’ve got to test it and see where you are with it.
But if you’re not trying it, I think you’re missing out.
You’ve got to bring them up to the front. You can’t just sweep them underneath the rug and hope that people aren’t thinking about it.
Before I write, I might make a map of what the key pieces are, what the bonuses are, and other key elements. One of the big topics on my map is always objections.
So, I will write out the objections and then I will write below it what the counter is to that objection.
Inside the sales letter, I will typically bring up something like, “By now you might have a few questions. Here are some of the most prominent ones that we get.”
It might be in a Q&A format with the question being the objection. You might make that the biggest objection a whole subhead.
Let’s say you’re selling a money-making product. One of the biggest objections is, “Why aren’t you doing this yourself? Why are you only teaching it?”
That’s a big, big objection and you’ve got to face that. Tell people why you’re doing that and when they have a legitimate reason, then people will believe you. So, I would make that a big subhead. It would be like, “You’re probably thinking, ‘Why would I even teach this?’”
It always comes back to reason why, which is a huge psychological hot button. You should be giving people a reason why you’re doing what you’re doing and the reason why the price is what it is.
The objections will vary based on what your product is, but here are some pretty common ones:
“Too much competition.”
“I’ve seen this before. How is this different?”
“Why should I even do this right now?”
“The price is too much.”
Let’s talk about the price. We talked about that already with the apples to oranges comparison. I might throw that in, so that it looks like a real good looking return on investment proposition for them. They look at it as it’s going to be a complete nobrainer for them to get it.
Sometimes it’s even breaking it down into the absurdly simple: this costs less than one cup of coffee a day or something like that. That can be a way of breaking down the costs too much objection.