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Confessions of a Six-Figure Copywriter

“What am I missing?”

That’s the big question, isn’t it?

Many online marketers – bloggers included – spend months, even years building dynamite products, perfecting sales messages and building “million dollar Rolodexes”…

…then burn through cash on paid advertising, SEO tactics and whole platters of marketing “courses” which promise the “Four Hour Work Week” in seven minutes or less.

This is all well and fine. But it’s completely worthless unless you have…

A DYNAMITE piece of sales copy!

Now to understand how powerful sales copy is, let’s look at two very, very different groups, which we’ll affectionately refer to as the “Hunters” and the “Gatherers”.

“Hunters” go out and directly engage the market with their products. They spend vast amounts of time testing ideas and products to see what works. And – I don’t need to tell you this – they spend barrels of cash on “top-gun” copywriters.

Why? Because they know… no matter how fantastic their product is… without a powerful sales message they’re product launch will sputter along like a broken-down Peugeot.

That’s why top copywriters like Kevin Rogers and Vin Montello can charge up to $20,000 for a single sales letter.

Which leads us to an all-important question:

How on EARTH do these guys close sales like Alec Baldwin in GlenGarry GlenRoss?

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Every once in awhile some new “marketing course” promises these types of results. But ask yourself: how many actually deliver?

My guess: not many.

Which is why, dear reader, I wrote this post.

You see, I believe the majority of writers online – especially bloggers – are stuck in the “Gatherer” mentality. Rather than use hard-hitting sales copy to grab market share, they put out great content and expect others to gather it up for them.

Sorry folks, but this ain’t “Field of Dreams”… just because you built it, don’t mean they’ll come.

So the very first thing to understand is:

Great Products Need Great Advertising

And by “advertising” I mean sales copy, brochures, blog posts… anything that conveys your brand. And course, your advertising should highlight your product/service in the best possible light.

In other words, you need to “sell the sizzle AND the steak”.

  • Selling “the sizzle”: hitting your prospects emotionally.
  • Selling “the steak”: hitting your prospects logically.

As we both know, people buy with their emotions, then justify with logic.

Here’s some real-life examples:

“This four-bedroom house is outside my price range, but the extra rooms will be great when we have kids.”

The person in this example wants a bigger, nicer home. Period. Even if they can’t afford it.

So what they do is… convince themselves with a logical argument (e.g. “future-kids need space, too!)

And that’s just one example.

Sports cars, bigger-than-necessary homes and the latest/biggest/best gizmos on the market are all emotional purchases.

Even chocolate is an impulse buy (instant gratification).

That’s why you need to sell emotionally (the “sizzle”) and back it up logically (“the steak”).

For example:

“Not only will your friends envy your new convertible, you’ll be spending less money on gas than their eco-terrorist SUVs”.

See how we painted an emotional benefit (the envy of friends) with a logical justification (“spend less on gas”). Ask yourself: who wouldn’t want to be admired, get what they want and save money, all at the same time?

Here’s another sure-fire method to improve response rates…

Position either yourself or your product as the hero. In either case, the reader has to someone to root for.

Perhaps the oldest story in sales is “The Accidental Expert”. This is where you – or the “character” in the sales letter – struggles with common problems in the market, before stumbling onto a “secret” method for success.

For example, this could work for a weight-loss program:

I tried everything… diet plans, boot-camp workouts, “miracle” pills, you name it. But nothing, and I mean nothing worked until one day – completely by accident – I stumbled on a little-known food that burns fat while you sleep..

In this example, the character is a hero who discovers a solution the “experts” missed out on.

Alternatively, the product could be the hero:

I tried everything… diet plans, boot-camp workouts, “miracle” pills, you name it. But nothing, and I mean nothing worked until I tried ___________. And let me tell you, the results were amazing. It literally burned fat while I slept, trimmed inches off my waist and left me feeling younger and healthier than I’ve been in decades!

In either case, the “hero” adds a human element to the sales process. Prospects will relate with the pain points (in this case, being overweight) and – without them knowing it – become emotionally involved. And once that happens, it’s a hop, skip and jump to…

Closing the Sale With Logical Phrases

Your prospects greed-glands are up. They’ve smelt the sizzle and want the steak. But the problem is, they need to be reassured with logic.

The following are logical phrases:

  • Experts agree… (authority)
  • If you suffer from hair loss, then… (the classic if/then statement helps qualify prospects in their own mind)
  • Studies have shown that… (authority and social proof)
  • It’s obvious that… (conclusion)
  • You’ll receive ______ and _______ if and only if you order now… (specifies terms to the offer and increases urgency)
  • You can continue to feel tired and stressed out… or you can start feeling young and healthy starting today… (“or” separates their current problems with your solution)

Many of these logical terms also act as transitional statements, which are designed to move your prospect closer to the sale.

Ask yourself: which of these would you rather read?

1. This weight loss program is great. It helps you lose weight within your first week. It helps you feel younger and lead a healthier lifestyle. You don’t need to exercise to see results.

or…

2. This weight loss program is great. Not only will you lose weight within your first week, you’ll also feel younger and lead a happier lifestyle plus – and here’s the best part – you don’t even need exercise to see results!

Now, they both say the same thing, but the use of transitions add power to the sentences. It literally drags your eyeballs across the sentence by adding anticipation into each sentence. (Note: here’s a bunch of transitions to get you started…)

For example, phrases like “Not only…” “plus…” and “you’ll also…” tell the reader there is still more to come. And in doing so, you’ve increased the perceived value of your product tenfold.

But that’s not all ;)

Because you can…

Close more sales today with this one simple technique.

They’re called “power words”. And they work like GANGBUSTERS.

You see, certain words and phrases pack more punch than others. Phrases like “new”, “breakthrough” and “revolutionary” are all words which catch the eye.

And if you write copy, you’re in the business of catching eyeballs.

Now, I could beat this topic to death, but instead you can access my own coveted list of “power words” here. Next time you’re writing copy, try to include these phrases where applicable. Trust me, they work.

So there you have it. With a few simple tweaks you can dramatically improve your response rates. Hit me up in the comments with your own hard-hitting tips.

About the Author: Adam Costa is a copywriter responsible for sales letters which generate over $300,000 a year in sales. He is the author of Business In A Backpack, which explains how to run an online business while traveling the world.

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  • http://www.directresponse.net David Polykoff

    I believe asking rhetorical questions is a strong transition tip.
    Why are they affective?
    They engage the reader, if only for a second, to make them want to know the answer. So they keep reading.

    These power words are great

  • Chris

    What if you just don’t want to learn how to write sales letters? Want to be hired?

  • Ryan Eagle

    This is a great post, i may refer it to some of my salespeople. 

  • http://adwello.com Adwello

    Awesome post and great video Ian – I LOVE that concept “engage the market” I’ll take something quality from this, thanks :)

  • Fidel1344

    thanks for sharing dude. I also enjoyed “cashvertising”, it has some good material about how to make your copywriting more effective….