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Copywriting Secrets Checklist

by Bryan Winters

Do your sales messages contain these critical elements? If not you're throwing money down the drain!

I originally wrote the letter below to myself, as my own personalize reference to writing killer sales letters and ad copy...For that reason the writing is a little rough around the edges, as this info was never intended to be seen by the public!

I could easily package this information as a special report in PDF format and sell it for $27 a pop but this time it's "on me" =)

These tips have helped me create a 6-figure home business 'empire' starting from scratch, and I'm confident they'll go a long way in helping you do the same—IF you practice and apply them. There is nothing more important to your online success than mastering the skill of writing effective ad copy!

Oh, and please, please don't think you have to be a naturally good writer in order to craft winning sales letters. The fact is, you can be a relatively BAD writer and still easily learn how to create killer sales letters!

"Priority Number One"

CAPTURE VISITOR INFO:

In some manner, prompt (compel) your visitors (prospective customers) to "opt-in" to your newsletter or mailing list. Offer a free multi-part *training course* (autoresponder powered) as a bonus for signing up to your free newsletter. The training course should be interesting and educational, but of course, you can insert tasteful 'plugs' to your main offer throughout the course. These follow ups provide *critical* repeat exposure, since most prospects will NOT order on their first visit to your site. Do this with your own site AS WELL AS for affiliate sites you're promoting. Always get the prospective customer on your list first!

You must build TRUST, and a relationship with your prospective customers...Offering a free training course, and an informative newsletter is an excellent way to accomplish this. Offer them value for *nothing in return*, and it will come back to you tenfold.

"Key Principles of a Powerful Sales Message"

USE THE AIDA FORMULA:

This is the 'basic' formula for successful sales letters. AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. Grab the reader's attention with a strong headline. Gain their interest, perhaps with an exciting and educational story. Build desire using end-result benefits and action verbs. Get the reader to take action by asking for the order!

BUILD CREDIBILITY IN EVERY WAY POSSIBLE:

Testimonials, proof of income if applicable, show name/address/phone number/email address, use a current date script where applicable (such as on web pages).

TELL THE READER WHAT'S IN IT FOR THEM:

Each line of your ad copy should in some way tell the prospective customer "what's in it for them" (in terms of benefits).

EACH SENTENCE SHOULD DRAW THE READER TO THE NEXT:

The objective with your headline is to get the reader to read the first line (the 'hook') of your sales letter. The objective of the hook is to get them to read the next sentence/paragraph, so on and so forth. Each line should compel the reader to continue on.

TELL, DON'T SELL:

"Make friends" with the reader by educating them. Don't try to push the product on them. The more you try to "sell", the more the prospective customer resists.

ONE ON ONE:

Always write to the reader as if you're talking to them one on one (imagine you're talking to a friend). Use the word "you" liberally and avoid the word "I" unless it supports the benefits you're offering.

USE THE "I DO IT FOR YOU" APPROACH:

Whenever possible, talk about how *easy* it is to use your product. Rather than putting the emphasis on teaching (ie, "I will teach you how to...), put the emphasis on "I do it or we do it for you", or "we've taken care of all the hard work for you" etc.

USE FACTS:

'Sprinkle' the sales letter with facts and stats to build credibility.

BE SPECIFIC:

It's better to say "lose up to 14 pounds in 2 weeks" rather than "lose a ton of weight". Don't use generalities—use specifics. But on that note, be sure your specific claims are within the boundaries of the FTC and other governing bodies—using complete honesty is your best form of protection.

USE EMPATHY:

The "I've been in your shoes approach" is incredibly powerful. Relate to the reader, tell them what you've been through. Let them know you *understand* their wants and needs as you then go on to offer the solution to those wants and needs.

USE CURIOSITY:

This is one of the most powerful elements in copywriting. Build a curiosity in the reader. Leave some questions unanswered—leave them with a burning desire to *take action* so they can satisfy their curiosity. Apply such words as 'secret' and 'reveal' to help build curiosity.

USE THE WORD 'FREE':

The word 'free' is still the most powerful word in advertising—use it's power to your advantage! Your sales letter could be presented as a "100% free report" as long as it is useful and informative, and educates the reader (and is not solely a sales pitch).

DIFFERENTIATE OR DIE:

Integrate a USP (Unique Selling Proposition) into your letter. Tell how and why your offer is *different* from any other. Separate yourself from the crowd. Stand out! Explain how the prospect won't find "anything like this...anywhere else". Try to reinforce the USP throughout the letter. I like to imagine myself at a state fair or sports stadium, surrounded by other people with similar offers—what can I do to stand out? The solution to that scenario is then integrated into my sales message.

THE PEER-PRESSURE APPROACH:

Most people *naturally* follow the crowd, so this technique involves creating the "herd mentality". To further create a sense of heightened demand and urgency, use the "don't be one of the few to miss out on this incredible offer" approach. Or "don't let your competition leave you in the dust". A sense of "peer pressure" almost. I don't use this one much in my letters (it's my personal preference), but I've seen some instances where this can be *incredibly* powerful if applied correctly.

WRITE THE TYPE OF SALES LETTER THAT WOULD GET YOU TO TAKE ACTION:

This principle applies to *every* aspect of your business: Your product, your ad copy, your customer service, etc: Offer your prospective/customers the same product, ad copy, customer service, etc. that YOU would want as your own customer! You, your wants, and your desires are not unlike that of millions of others. So present the type offer that you would want—that you would purchase—and you cannot easily go wrong.

KEEP A "SWIPE FILE" AND USE IT *AS* YOU WRITE YOUR SALES LETTERS:

Keep a notebook full of "million dollar sales letters" (successful/proven sales letters) and use them for ideas as you write your sales messages. If you're brainstorming for a good headline, page through your swipe file to spark ideas. Obviously you can't copy the work of other people, but you can emulate the *principles* behind effective copywriting.

"The Elements of a Killer Sales Letter"

USE AN "ULTIMATE BENEFIT" HEADLINE:

You have about 5 seconds to grab the attention of your reader. Your headline accounts for 80% of the success of your letter for this reason. If your headline doesn't interest the reader they will move on immediately. So: Your headline should reflect the ultimate benefit (or two) of your offer.

USE AN IF-THEN "HOOK" TO OPEN UP YOUR LETTER:

For example, If you're interested in "Firing your Boss" and ditching your pay-check to pay-check lifestyle, then listen up!...

And/or...

THE BEST HOOK IS OFTEN A STORY:

Consider drawing the reader into your letter with an interesting story that supports the benefits of your offer, a story that educates the reader as well. What would you rather read—a hyped up sales pitch or an interesting, informative story?!

ESTABLISH YOURSELF AS THE EXPERT:

Establish yourself or your company as the expert on your topic of business. If you're selling Internet marketing, you need to build credibility and show the reader that you're an Internet marketing expert. I like to do this early on in the letter, to give the reader a chance to get to know me.

USE BULLET POINTS LIBERALLY:

Your bullet points are like "mini headlines"—with each bullet point highlighting a different benefit of your offer.

USE ACTION VERBS:

Use action verbs throughout your letter, particularly in your bullet points (i.e. 'Generate').

WHEN IT COMES TO BENEFITS, FOCUS ON THE END RESULT:

As you list benefits, focus on the "end result" benefit. You're not selling jewelry, you're selling 'recognition' and status. You're not selling the ability to make money—you're selling a lifestyle, freedom, vacations, etc.

LIST AS MANY BENEFITS AS POSSIBLE:

You never know what benefit could trigger the sale. For this reason, list as many benefits as you can possibly think of. Leave no benefit out. The more benefits you have, the more potential customers.

*DEMONSTRATE* THE END RESULT:

Appeal to ALL the senses you can—site, taste, touch, sound, hearing. *Paint a picture* for the prospect, of the end result promised by your offer (i.e. "Just imagine, you're at the beach relaxing, sipping a margarita, and meanwhile your automated online business is making you money, etc."). This can be done before, within, or following your list of bullets/benefits.

REDUCE RISK IN EVERY WAY POSSIBLE:

Once of the best ways to reduce risk is to offer a free trial or sample. Such as a 30-day free trial. If this is not possible, *minimally* offer a no-questions-asked money-back guarantee or even "double your money back" guarantee if the customer can provide evidence that your offer did not fulfill its promise.

JUSTIFY YOUR LOW PRICE:

Create as much value as possible—create a perceived value much higher than your asking price—and then, present the "bargain" price. People love getting a good deal, so give it to them! But in doing so, you must justify how or why you're able to offer this reduced price (to further support the value that you're offering).

OFFER BONUSES:

Offer complimentary bonuses on top of your main product. You can use bonuses to both to increase the perceived value of your overall offer and, as an option, in conjunction with your "limited time offer" (see next point).

CREATE A LIMITED TIME OFFER:

Create, in some manner, a limited time offer so that the prospect *must act now* in order to ensure they receive your offer as presented (ie before the price goes up, or before the bonus offers expire).

ALWAYS ASK FOR THE ORDER:

When you reach the point where you're ready for the prospect to make a decision, ask them for the order (ie, click here to order now!).

ALWAYS INCLUDE A P.S. STATEMENT:

The P.S. could reiterate your ultimate benefit, your guarantee, your limited time offer, all of the above, or another benefit not disclosed in the body of your letter. Studies have shown that the P.S. is the most-often read part of a sales letter, second only to the headline.

TELL THE READER EXACTLY WHAT TO EXPECT FOLLOWING THEIR ORDER:

Don't leave any mystery as to how the prospect will receive their order. Tell them exactly when and how their product will be received, in what form, etc. Also make sure to tell the prospect their order is secure (applicable to online sales letter).

OFFER INSTANT ACCESS IF POSSIBLE:

These days, more than ever, people are looking for *instant gratification*. So deliver the product as soon as possible—instantly, if possible. Instant delivery is very easy to accomplish for those selling digital products such as e-books and software over the web.

TIP: If you're not sure in what order to put the above elements (I listed them in the general order that I typically follow), just look at another successful sales letter (ex. instantsalesletters.com or netprofitsondemand.com) and use the same layout. Each sales letter is a little different, but the overall flow should be about the same (obviously, you're not going to ask for the order right up front, and the bonuses typically come after the main offer, etc.).

"The Golden Rules of Successful Marketing"

HELP OTHERS:

Remember that in any business, the focus should be to help others. The level of help you offer to others will in large part determine your level of success. Obviously, this doesn't mean giving everyone the shirt off your back for free. You're in business to make money! But you can focus on helping others by providing excellent customer service; by offering outstanding value; by offering the solutions to their problems, and so forth. Find a need or want, and fill it to the best of your ability!

NEVER STOP TESTING:

A great marketer knows that a sales message is never really 'done'. You should always run tests to ensure that your sales letter/offer performs to your expectations before "rolling out" with it on a wide scale. Run inexpensive marketing tests to prove the offer generates sufficient results, and only then should you roll out. But even after this point, you should continue to test your sales message to try and improve upon it. But, in tweaking your ad copy, remember to change only one thing at a time, so you know what changes have produced the results (whether positive or negative results).

"Summary"

It's not likely that you'll be able to "squeeze" all of the elements above into one letter, but do your best to get as many as you can. And also note there are some of them (such as a guarantee) that MUST be included in every letter. Common sense dictates which elements I'm referring to.

Bryan Winters is the architect of the free list building website, 5iphon Hardcore, that gets you 5 *more* subscribers for every ONE you bring in.

 

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