How To Become A Copywriter (Part 5 – Research And USPs)

Research is a form of information gathering, where you’re examining the market in which your client’s product is to be sold, and the target audience.

You might not get all this information from your clients, so it may involve jumping onto Google and spending some time investigating the competition, and studying the target audience.

You see, as a copywriter, you might not be doing the work of promoting the product, but you still need to know what the competition is, and what they’re up to, because…

One of the questions a potential customer might ask (either directly, or in their mind) is, “Why should I buy THIS product instead of X, Y or Z?” (where X, Y and Z are competing products).

If your sales copy can’t successfully answer that question, then your clients may lose the sale to X, Y or Z.

This is why copywriters emphasize “unique selling propositions” (USPs) where possible. These are basically reasons why they should use YOUR client’s product, instead of a competitor. They are the ideas that stand your client’s product out from the crowd.

For example, in my report Write To More Money I advise writing services and freelance writers to set themselves apart by losing glib statements like “high quality writing” and “professional” – every writer says these things – and to really “sell the difference” as I call it; and also craft some genuine USPs, such as:

“We will craft your blog posts so they hook people in the moment they start reading, and won’t let them go until they’ve subscribed to your blog.”

Now THAT’S a writing service I’d consider using! “High quality” and “professional” say nothing to me, because I already expect those things (and besides, even poor quality writers make those claims of quality and professionalism).

So you first of all need to know what the competition are offering, and what are their USPs. How do they pitch their products? What offers, if any, do they run?

If you can come up with something you know your clients can deliver, that can essentially set them apart as different, unique or better in the marketplace, then you’re helping them to potentially get more sales, and to pre-empt the “Why should I use you instead of…?” objection.

Get Into The Minds Of The Target Audience

The other thing you need to research is the target audience. Who are they? Why might they buy? What are their hopes, dreams and fears? What problems and challenges do they face, that might lead them to consider buying the product?

Remember, as we discussed in Part 2, not all reasons for buying are obvious, or expressed out loud. People don’t usually buy $50,000 cars JUST to get from A to B.

You need to know their “hot spots” as it were. For example, you might find your target audience are particularly concerned about SECURITY. If you know this, you can convey in your copy the idea of the security and peace of mind your product will give them. Perhaps you could incorporate stories, testimonials and case studies which demonstrate the security and peace of mind that was felt after owning the product.

The other reason to know and understand the target audience is so you can “speak their language”, as it were. (See “Men Or Women – Who Writes Better Copy?“).

So a good copywriter needs to have a “Researcher” hat hanging in their wardrobe, so they can figure out an “angle” to make the client’s product stand out from the crowd, and also so they can really understand and get into the mind of their potential customers, to really hit those “hot spots” in the sales copy.

In Part 6, we’re going to look at the Attention Grabber and Interest Holder “hats” a good copywriter needs to have. So make sure you’ve signed up to this blog, either by RSS feed or by email, so you don’t miss out on a single post.

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How To Become A Copywriter (Part 4 – Information Gathering)

As a copywriter, information is like vitamins. Just as a lack of vitamins in your body could make you weak and ill, a lack of information could make your sales copy weak, or your clients unhappy.

You need to know as much as you can about the product, and about the people who might buy it; and also about what your client wants and expects from you. You need to have a good “Information Gathering” hat.

(In this article, I’m going to assume you’re writing to sell a product – but most of this will also be true for services, or for achieving some other goal such as more sign-ups to a newsletter.)

Being an Information Gatherer involves asking the right questions of your clients to gather the information you need, and of communicating effectively.

Here is what you’ll need to know in advance from your clients, before you can write any copy for them:

  • What do they want to achieve – i.e. sales, sign-ups, leads, or just publicity – as a result of your services?
  • Who is their target audience? What types of people are most likely to buy it?
  • What is the product? What does it do for the customer? Why would they need or want it?
  • How are your clients planning to promote and sell the product?

It’s up to you how you gather this information, as long as you have it before you start writing the copy. Many copywriters have a form on their website which asks for some or all of this information, along with an offer of a free quote or consultation.

Of course, you can and probably should continue to gather information from your clients along the way, not only about the product and target audience, but also about what they want and expect as clients. This will maximize your chance of them being happy with the end result.

How To Pre-Empt “Conflicts Of Expertise”

Incidentally, sometimes what amounts almost to a “conflict of expertise” might arise, where your client wants something you know is likely to harm their sales process.

The best way of tackling this is to PRE-EMPT IT. I like to educate clients in advance.

For example, someone recently approached me asking for help and ideas for promoting her writing service.

Her site was very nice and professional looking, but it made the same mistake a lot of writing sites make, in that it didn’t really “sell the difference” as I call it. As a potential customer, it told me essentially the same thing as every other writing site, that their writing was “high quality”, “professional” and so on.

Now, I wanted to help, and I had plenty of suggestions I could share with her, but some of them might not be fully appreciated unless she also understood where I was coming from, as it were.

So I asked her first of all to read my latest report, Write To More Money, which would show her all the ways she could “sell the difference” with her writing service.

After she’d read it, I’d be happy to help, because only then would she understand where I was coming from with my ideas and suggestions – and I promised her it would help her earn more from her writing service, or I’d give her the money back.

So a great technique for getting better clients (or clients who are more aligned with your thinking) is to EDUCATE YOUR CLIENTS IN ADVANCE.

For example, in your pre-sales material (such as blog posts, forum posts, articles, videos, free or paid PDF reports) educate them to your way of thinking. Show and demonstrate WHY your way of doing things will help them. This will help you get better clients who are on your “wavelength”, so to speak.

Remember, even though you’re the expert, in some areas your clients might feel they know better. Maybe they do, but if you really believe your way is better, it’s going to make your life so much easier if you’ve helped them to see and understand WHY it is, in advance.

In Part 5 of this series, we’ll look at the Researcher “hat” and find out what that means. If you missed the previous parts, you can read them here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

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How To Become A Copywriter (Part 3 – Shoewalking)

Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase about “walking a mile in another person’s shoes”. What that means is to step into somebody else’s shoes as it were, and experience their journey… to imagine what they’re thinking, to feel what they’re feeling, and to really understand where they’re coming from.

In the real world, we call that empathy. I call it Shoewalking, because as a copywriter, I like to rename things and give them my own spin, to hook you in and have you wondering to yourself, “What’s a Shoewalker?” Besides, being a “Shoewalker” is much more memorable than being “someone with empathy”, don’t you think?

Empathy is not quite the same as sympathy. If they’re sad, sympathy is about feeling sorry FOR them. Empathy is about feeling sorry WITH them.

Neither is empathy about making glib statements like, “I understand” or “I feel your pain”. It’s about actually sharing their pain, their sorrow, their joy… or whatever other emotion they’re feeling. It’s about truly understanding them, and demonstrating that you understand them.

Now, why is empathy important for a copywriter? It’s because, as human beings, we tend to buy from people we like and trust, who seem to really “get” us, and who seem to be similar to us. Empathy also leads to RAPPORT, and when we have rapport with someone, we are much more likely to follow their lead or do something they ask us to do.

So as a copywriter, it’s important for you, at the very least, to convey empathy to your readers. Your readers need to feel like you really do know them and understand where they’re coming from. If you’re solving a problem, or relieving their pain, you need to really feel their pain and truly know what it’s like to have it.

How do you do that? It’s easier than you might think. Put yourself in their shoes, imagine being them for a while, and imagine what it would be like having their problem, feeling what they’re feeling, and experiencing what they’re experiencing. If you can’t do that, read accounts of people with that problem, and visualize yourself in place of that person, feeling their feelings and experiencing what they experience. In other words, be a Shoewalker.

As well as being a handy skill to have in everyday life, demonstrating empathy is a vital copywriting skill. It enables you to CONNECT with your readers on a deeper level. You’ve demonstrated your authority in their world, and you’ve gained rapport with them.

And here’s the thing about rapport. Once you have it with someone, that person is much more likely to follow your lead, or suggestions. When you’ve demonstrated your authority in their world, they are much more likely to trust the solutions you offer.

So as a copywriter, you need to demonstrate empathy. You need to be a Shoewalker. Only when you truly understand the journey they’ve already been on, can you lead and direct them to the end of the journey, which is the product you’re selling.

In Part 4 of this series, we’re going to examine the Researcher, and Information Gatherer “hats” that a good copywriter needs to wear, and the subtle difference between the two. (If you missed the previous parts of this series, you can read them here: Part 1, Part 2.)

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How To Become A Copywriter (Part 2 – Skills And Psychology)

In Part 1 of this series, I defined what I meant by a “copywriter” (in this series, it’s someone who writes sales and marketing material); and I explained why you can become a good copywriter relatively quickly, with the right skills.

One of the natural requirements for being a good copywriter is to be a good writer. If you can write well, you’re part of the way there – although there are big differences between writing, and copy writing, as you’ll see throughout this series.

(If you’re not so good at writing, then improve as fast as you can by reading, practicing and getting feedback on your writing.)

I believe most things in life come down to having a set of skills. For example, the ability to write well is made up of several skills which includes:

  • Being able to spell.
  • Being able to use grammar and punctuation.
  • Being able to communicate clearly.
  • Being able to entertain.

That list isn’t complete by any means, but hopefully you can see how lots of smaller skills make up the bigger skill of “writing well”.

The same is true of copywriting. It comes down to having a series of skills, which I call “hats”. I listed them in Part 1, but let’s look at the list again:

A Psychologist
A Shoewalker
A Researcher
An Information Gatherer
An Attention Grabber
An Interest Holder
A Feature Converter
A Desire Magician
A Salesperson

So what do each of these mean? Let’s take a closer look at the first of the copywriter’s “hats”:

The “Psychologist” Hat

Good copywriters needs to understand what motivates humans to do the things they do, especially when it comes to buying. In short, they need to understand buying psychology.

An example I love to give is that of buying cars. Why do we buy cars? First of all, because they get us from A to B, usually quicker and more flexibly than, say, public transport.

So we might buy a car because of convenience, speed and flexibility. The benefits are: they can save us time, make our life easier, and in some cases might save us money.

However, are those the only reasons we buy cars? Not necessarily.

For example, some people buy $500 cars, and some buy $50,000 cars. Why doesn’t a person buying the $50,000 car buy the $500 car instead? They would likely save themselves a fortune!

Well, it’s true there may be some clear benefits of buying the more expensive car – perhaps it comes with a warranty (for peace of mind), and is less likely to break down (making life easier).

However, some of our reasons for buying things might be more emotional, and more driven by our core desires. For example, when it comes to cars (especially more expensive ones), these deeper desires might be:

  • The desire to look good to members of the opposite sex.
  • The feeling of power, freedom, or luxury.
  • To own a money and status symbol.

Now, it’s important to realize here that these deeper desires and feelings may well be UNSPOKEN. People don’t usually walk into car showrooms and go, “I’m looking for a car that will make me look like a stud, give me the feeling of power, and that will project an image of money and status to others.”

So part of the skill of being a copywriter is to know and understand the unspoken deeper desires of our audience, and to carefully appeal to those things, without necessarily spelling them out. (By the way, that’s another skill, being able to convey something without spelling it out.)

The very best resource I could recommend to you in this regard is Robert Cialdini’s book Influence: Science And Practice. Whether you buy it or borrow it from a library, make sure you read it at some point – this book will put you on the right track to understanding the psychology of buyers.

In Part 3 of this series, we’ll examine what I mean by a Shoewalker – another vital skill of a master copywriter. So make sure you’re subscribed to this blog and don’t miss out.

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How To Become A Copywriter (Part 1)

Copywriting can be a pretty lucrative career. Many of the top copywriters earn $10,000 or more from a single sales letter, and might receive a certain percentage of the sales or profits as well. Even if you don’t want to write for others, it’s a pretty useful skill to have if you ever develop your own products or want to sell your own services. You can even apply copywriting techniques in blog posts, articles and emails.

Have you ever thought about becoming a copywriter? If so, this series of CopySnips.com blog posts is going to explain what’s involved. What skills do you need? How can you learn those skills as quickly as possible? How do you go about getting clients? This is what we’ll explore over the next week or two.

What is a “copywriter” anyway?

First of all, let me clarify what I mean by a “copywriter”. Copy is just a fancy term for writing in the context of sales or marketing material. So a “copywriter” (at least, in this series of articles) is someone who writes with the intention of selling or marketing.

How easy is it to become a copywriter?

The top copywriters will tell you it takes years and years to become one, as if they’re trying to put you off. To some extent, I guess they are – after all, they don’t want competition!

In reality, becoming a TOP copywriter probably will take you years – because, like anything else in life, becoming excellent at something takes practice. After all, nothing can teach you to become a concert pianist overnight. Also, building up a solid name and reputation takes time (although this part certainly doesn’t need to take years).

However, I believe you can become a GOOD copywriter relatively quickly, and so I’ll show you in this series what skills you need, and how to get started; and I’ll point you in the right direction whenever possible.

What skills do you need?

To be a copywriter, you need to wear other “hats” as I call them. These are the “hats” you need:

A Psychologist
A Shoewalker
A Researcher
An Information Gatherer
An Attention Grabber
An Interest Holder
A Feature Converter
A Desire Magician
A Salesperson

I’ll explain these “hats” as we go along in this series, so make sure you’ve signed up to this blog’s RSS feed, so you don’t miss the remainder of the series – and don’t forget, I post copywriting tips on a regular basis, so you’ll want to keep reading beyond this series. In tomorrow’s post, I’ll explain the Psychologist hat. (You can now read that here.)

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Men Or Women – Who Writes Better Copy?

Do men and women use language differently?

Do men and women use language differently?

Do men and women use language differently? I believe they do, and in this article I’m going to show you some of the differences, explain why this is vitally important for you to know – and then finally, I’ll tell you which gender is better at writing copy!

For example, this is what I wrote in my latest report:

In my own studies, I noticed that many male copywriters tended to use more aggressive, competitive language [in their sales copy] – they like to “slash”, “slay” and “stomp” the competition.

By contrast, female copywriters tended to use less aggressive language, and more connective, helping language – especially when they are appealing to a mainly female audience.

(Write To More Money: How To Ask For – And Get – More Money For Your Writing)

Or consider the publishing company Mills & Boon, which specializes in romance novels for a mainly female audience. According to an article in the British newspaper The Guardian, some 200 million Mills & Boon novels are sold every year – far more than Harry Potter!

All of the Mills & Boon staff writers are female, except for Roger Sanderson, “a gruff former rugby player Yorkshireman writing under the pseudonym Gill”.

The BBC News website wrote a fascinating article (Can a man really write a Mills & Boon?) on this subject. They interviewed academic author Jay Dixon, who had written a study in her book “The Romantic Fiction Of Mills & Boon”, and had read some 3,000 titles herself.

She was able to read some of the unsolicited manuscripts sent in to Mills & Boon, and noticed many differences between the male and female writers, such as the heroine looking in the mirror and admiring herself, “something a woman would never do as she would only see her flaws,” she suggests. Or the male authors tending to go into more details about how something works than women.

By contrast, Roger [Gill] Sanderson seems to have mastered the skill of writing romantic fiction for women. Says Jay Dixon: “I can find nothing in Roger’s romances that would alert even an experienced reader to the fact that he is a man… Roger is one of the few men who does have the knack.”

Now, what does this have to do with you as a writer or copywriter? Well, if you’re writing for someone else (like a client) and you’re using their voice and appealing to their audience… if their audience is mainly male or female, then you need to understand those differences!

Unfortunately for you, I can’t go into all the differences here, but I wanted you to become aware that differences exist. Often, just being aware of something is enough for you to pay attention to how people use language.

It’s why books like “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” are hot sellers. Nobody is really from Mars or Venus, but sometimes it appears that way because both sides are using language in a slightly different way. More often than not it’s a communication problem – and part of communication is the way we use our language!

Of course, this is true not just between men and women, but with every group of people. Whether it’s artists, poets, tech geeks, New Agers, Christians, athiests, men or women… each group uses language a little differently.

One technique I use if I want to write in the way a particular group speaks to each other, is I’ll spend time reading forum posts and blog posts written mainly to members of that group – and I’ll pay careful attention to how they speak to one another. Remember, the differences are often very subtle – but they are important enough that it can make the difference between Mars and Venus!

Of course, hopefully by now you realize that my post title was designed to be a little provocative. I don’t personally believe one gender writes better than the other… that’s like asking whether red or blue is better… but I do believe men and women use language a little differently.

And as copywriters, we need to pay attention to those subtle differences… because if we’re writing for a client, we need to make sure our writing connects with their audience!

So now I’ve had my say, it’s your turn. Do you think there is a difference between the way men and women write? Do you think one way is better than the other? Do you have any examples of this in real life or in writing? Let’s turn this into a fun and interesting discussion! Please use the comments section below.

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In my own research I’ve found that there are differences. For example, as part of my own research I compared 10 sales letters which I knew to be written by men, with 10 which I knew were written by women… and I could see some very clear differences when selling their own products or services.

In my own studies, I noticed that many male copywriters tended to use more aggressive, competitive language – they like to “slash”, “slay” and “stomp” the competition.

By contrast, female copywriters tended to use less aggressive language, and more connective, helping language – especially when they are appealing to a mainly female audience.

Short Copy – How To Sell In 50 Words Or Less

Does a bear actually poop in the woods?

That’s the question Firebox.com ask you (although using stronger language than me) before attempting to sell you a portable box that allows you to do just that – poop in the woods.

Am I trying to sell you one? Not at all… I happened to stumble on this site a while back when I was looking for camping equipment, and I thought the item was pretty cool. Like a moth to a lightbulb, I quickly found myself drawn into the rest of the site, to browse some of their other amusing and ingenious solutions to life’s little problems.

And then, after suppressing my desire to buy half of their store, I looked at it from a copywriting perspective.

This site has got short copy down to a fine art.

I recommend you take a look, just to see how they use punchy and often amusing short copy to sell their products. Let’s take an example of the “Cash Stash Keychain”:

an example of short sales copy from firebox.com

an example of short sales copy from firebox.com

I should point out that the site is based in the UK, so some of the language is for a British audience (i.e. a “tenner” is a £10 note, which is equivalent to about $16).

Each item has a picture, which often tells part (or all) of the story. Then there’s the item headline in red, which usually sums up the item (you may be able to work out what a “Cash Stash Keychain” is, just from its name), followed by a subheadline in grey, usually giving the item’s biggest benefit in a playful way (“Ideal for holding emergency folding”).

Then there’s the copy, of no more than about 50 words, going into more detail, with a “More…” link if the visitor wants more details.

Notice how they emphasize the quality (“keyring-friendly waterproof capsule… crafted from aircraft grade aluminium”), while at the same time painting a picture in the reader’s mind of its uses and benefits (“what better place to stash notes than inside…”).

I challenge you to browse their site and not to say, “I want one of those!” to at least one of their items!

I think that’s what makes it work so well. Everyone, at one time or another in their life, has probably found themselves needing emergency cash (“Cash Stash Keychain”), or wanted to wear a blanket and read a book at the same time (“The Slanket”), or wished they were able to take the kitchen sink camping with them (“The Kitchen Sink”).

Their site is designed to hook you in to browsing more of their innovative products, and when you see something that amuses you or gives you that “Aha!” moment, you’ll find yourself even more hooked by the copy.

So if you find yourself needing inspiration on writing short copy, and being able to build interest and desire in under 50 words, then go browse the pages of Firebox.com for which, stupidly, I am not an affiliate. (If you really want to thank me, buy me a “Lazy Days Hammock”!)

Just be aware that I am not responsible for any crazy gadgets you end up buying for yourself. I sent you over there for research purposes!

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Copy Length, The Golden Rule

Last time on this blog I gave you the exact formula you should use for the length of your sales copy. In addition, you should always keep the following golden rule in mind:

People will read any amount of words on a web page, as long as it is interesting to them.

The moment it’s no longer INTERESTING to them is the moment you lose them and their money.

Notice it’s not just interesting… but interesting to them. It’s not about what you find interesting.

Have you ever been to a party or at a bar, and the person you’re talking with just goes on and on about stuff you have no interest in? You want to get away, but maybe politeness prevents you from doing so.

On the Internet, your visitors have no such restraints. Bore them, and they’re gone.

So here’s how to keep them interested:

Be relevant. For every paragraph you write, every story you tell, every bullet point you create, imagine yourself as the reader, and ask yourself… “So what? How is this relevant to me?” Make it relevant, or leave it out.

For example, it’s great to tell your visitors a bit about yourself. That builds trust, which is good. It shows they’re dealing with a human being. So it’s relevant.

But your potential clients probably don’t give two hoots about what you had for breakfast that day, or the beauty of your home state. It’s probably not relevant to them.

Be fascinating. We love to be fascinated by people, by facts and figures, by secrets revealed, by unusual situations. What would fascinate your audience? Be fascinating, but remember to also be relevant.

For example, here’s a fascinating fact every copywriter should know…

Up to 80% of the things we say when we are out with friends are in the form of STORIES. When we talk to friends, we most often use story form. They may be simple stories, “He said..”, “she said…”, “I couldn’t believe what he did next…” – but they are still stories.

How is this relevant? Because…

Be entertaining. People love to be entertained, so if you can entertain them at the same time, even better!

This is why we communicate to our friends in stories so much of the time. We like to share the events of our life in forms that we know will entertain others.

How many times have you met up with a friend, and one of the first things they said was… “You won’t believe what just happened to me…”

They’re about to tell you a story, to entertain you. In the context of friendships, the story is usually relevant because it’s about sharing, bonding, entertaining which enhances the friendship.

With a sales letter, you don’t usually have the luxury of friendship – so you can entertain with stories, as long as they are also relevant, and fascinating!

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At Last, Here’s The Definitive Formula For The Length Of Your Sales Copy!

Find out what this has to do with sales copy...

Find out what this has to do with sales copy...

How long should your sales copy be? That’s the eternal copywriting question that never seems to go away. So… finally… I can reveal the definitive answer to you!

No more guessing, no more wondering if it’s too long or too short. At last, you can sleep easier… knowing that you have this secret copywriting formula.

So here it is (drum roll please)…

Your sales copy should be as long as a bridge.

That’s right, a bridge.

Now, at this point you’re probably looking at me funny. Or with a clenched fist. So let me swiftly explain.

What’s the purpose of a bridge? It’s to allow traffic (pedestrians or vehicles or both) to cross a gap. And the length of the bridge is ultimately determined by the size of the gap to be crossed, isn’t it?

So, for example, when it was first built in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was the largest suspension bridge in the world because it had to cross the East River between Manhatten and Brooklyn in New York – a nearly 6,000 foot “gap”.

If they’d made it, say… just 1% shorter (i.e. 60 feet shorter), then cars would drop off the end and into the East River – which wouldn’t make a very good bridge, in my humble opinion.

So just to drive it home again… it’s length was determined by the size of the “gap” which traffic had to cross. Are you beginning to see how this applies to your web visitors?

If not, let me get specific.

Your sales copy is like a bridge. It is designed to take your visitor from one place to another, across a “gap”.

I’d like you to consider the “gap” in terms of where a new visitor is “at” when they first start reading your copy (i.e. skepticism, mild curiosity, indifference), compared with where you want them to be by the time they’ve finished reading (i.e. in a wanton state of drooling desire for your offer, where they cannot find their credit card quick enough).

Can you see why the bridge metaphor is beginning to appear really useful?

The job of your sales copy is to bridge that gap. Now, before I drag out out this bridge metaphor to death, let me spell out some of the things that will determine the size of this “gap” and hence the length of your copy…

How pre-sold they are. If you’ve been blogging or emailing about the product for a while, or if your affiliates have done a good job of selling the benefits of your product in advance (which is basically “preselling”), your visitors may already be in a buying mood… in which case, your sales copy may end up being more like an usher which just points them to the order button and says, “This is what you’re looking for.”

Trust and credibility. If the visitor already knows you, has done business with you, and trusts you, then the gap is going to be smaller than if they’ve never heard of you. In other words, your copy will need to be longer for those who have never heard of you – because you’ll need to establish trust and credibility first.

Skepticism. A new visitor who has not heard of you may be skeptical of your claims, while a repeat customer may be more willing to believe you if you’ve previously delivered on your promises. So your copy may need to overcome the initial skepticism of new potential clients.

Desire. It’s true, sometimes we see something and just instantly know that we want it. However, for many visitors to your site, all they may have is a mild interest in what you have to say… a vague curiosity. Your copy needs to turn that into wanton, drooling desire.

Questions and objections. Your copy needs to tackle, confront and mud-wrestle as many of the questions as your visitors may ask, and all the objections they could potentially raise.

Price. All other things being equal, you’re probably going to need to do a bit more “selling” with a $700 product than a $7 product. For many, $7 is a fairly small amount of money, while $700 may require much more thought and consideration.

So there you have it.

Your shiny new formula for determining the length of your copy. It should be as long as a bridge.

If your visitors know you, trust you, buy everything that you put out because they’re “fans”, and have been warmed up through repeated discussion of your product in blog posts and emails… then you could probably put up a headline, a few juicy paragraphs and a nice fat “Buy This” button along with a 100% Money Back Guarantee, and you’ll probably make sales…

… not necessarily the most sales, but hopefully you “get” what I’m saying. The “gap” for this group of buyers was tiny, so you could “get away with” a tiny bridge (which by now I’m working on the assumption you get that the bridge is a metaphor for your sales copy… right?)

However, if you have visitors who’ve never heard of you, who are skeptical of your claim to “increase their fungolas by 2,167.8% over the next 28 hours”, who don’t care that you have 28 years “fungola” expertise, and who only have a mild interest in “fungola increase”… then how on earth do you intend to overcome all of that with a headline, a few paragraphs, a “Buy This” button and a 100% Money Back Guarantee?

And that’s the reason a lot of the sales letters you see are long. They’ve got a wide “gap” to bridge.

The bottom line is this: your sales copy must “bridge the gap”, and take your visitor from where they are at the beginning (whether that’s skepticism, curiosity or whatever) to where you want them to be (i.e. a paying customer).

If you see a copywriting expert using shorter copy (yes, it does happen!), then you’ll probably find they’ve already built the trust, desire and so on elsewhere. Their copy is for the people who are just about ready to buy.

So there you have it. My secret formula. Your sales copy should be as long as a bridge… which is as long as the gap it spans.

Next time someone engages you in debate about how long your copy should be, tell them that. (Actually, it might be better to point them to this post first!)

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Do You Use These Ultimate Copywriting Hooks?

“On a sunny, warm day in August, 1996 I kneeled over the grave of P.T. Barnum and had one of the most remarkable experiences of my life.”

This was the opening of an article I recently read, written by Joe Vitale. The opening intrigued me. What he was doing here was creating anticipation. I was curious to know what this “most remarkable” experience was, and so I kept reading.

Previously on this blog we talked about creating anticipation in terms of telling them what you’re about to tell them… delay the telling… and then telling them. You can do this when you’re sharing stories and experiences as well.

Consider a few more examples…

  • “Little did I know that the incredible, magical experience would change my life forever…”
    .
  • “Yet what happened that day was nothing compared to the shocking events that would take place a few days later…”
    .
  • “I didn’t realize at the time, but things were about to get ten times worse…”

One of the “ultimate” ways of using this technique is to start with the outcome of the story, and what it did for you (in terms that will benefit and interest the reader)… and then explain how you got there.

For example, this was the headline and first few paragraphs of Frank Kern’s sales letter for his $1,997 Mass Control product, and notice how many times he creates anticipation for what is to come:

They Call It Mass Control.

This Money-Getting System Has Been PROVEN Four Times In A Row, Bringing In OVER $23.8 MILLION Dollars… In Just Under 24 Hours

Here’s The True Story Of What Really Happened, How This Proven System Works, And How You Can Put It To Work For YOU.

Dear Friend,

You’re about to go deep inside the sometimes twisted world of the biggest launches in Internet Marketing History.

And listen, this is the real storythe true story that only I call tell you, because I’m the guy that made it all happen.

WARNING: This story gets ugly. Things get hairy and people get weird when millions of dollars start flying in…

First, he tells the outcome of the story in the headline (all the time relating it to how “you”, the reader, can “put it to work”), and then he creates anticipation by making promises about the story: “you’re about to go deep inside…”

In fact, he spends the entire first 3 pages of the sales letter just creating anticipation for the story! (I analyzed the entire sales letter in my Guru Report #2, which I’m keeping available for a short time).

So the “take home” lesson from this and the previous handful of blog posts is: create anticipation in everything you write – because the more you have them anticipating what’s to come, the more you have them “hooked”. (Use this on a blog in combination with my Arabian Nights technique, and you’ll have them subscribed, too!)

In the next blog post I’m finally going to reveal to you The Definitive Formula For The Length Of Your Sales Copy. Yes, there is one… I promise! It will be the post to end all long copy vs short copy debates. So if you don’t want to suffer the sinking feeling of having missed out, you’ll get yourself subscribed to my blog.

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