Tips for writing book ads that sell

Posted January 5th, 2015 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Copywriting

1970s book marketing whiz Steve West said that you should never show a picture of the book in an ad selling the book, and if you do, sales drop off 50%. He also said to avoid using the word “book” in the copy. Instead say material, guide, manual, program, or course. He reported that editorial style ads, today known as native ads, get 5 or 6 times the response of ads that look like advertisements.

Source: Towers Club USA Newsletter

Does Hype In Copy Work? by Bob Bly

Posted January 2nd, 2015 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Copywriting

“I know that as copywriters we are taught to hype the product, but I don’t want to go overboard. I feel there must be a middle ground somewhere, but I’m struggling to find it.”

This is an extremely difficult question to answer, and I hesitate to tackle it. But let me try…

First, there is no such thing as hype-free copy. Copy, unlike a magazine or newspaper article, is not objective. You are selling a product. Therefore, your copy is not even-handed; you are always hyping the advantages of your product, making it look better than competing products even if they are in fact pretty much the same.

A newspaper reporter, by comparison, has no vested interest in proving a point either way. His role is to be objective. As copywriters, we are not objective; we are advocates for our product, just as a lawyer is an advocate for his client. Both lawyers and copywriters want their clients to win!

Second, the degree of hype depends on the product category. Some products have to be sold and sold hard. Three that come to mind are nutritional supplements, stock market newsletters, and educational programs in small business and entrepreneurship, e.g., how to get rich on eBay. There is a ton of competition in all three fields. They do not sell themselves; they have to be sold.

Third, there are must-have products and nice-to-have products. For me, size EEE shoes are must-have, because regular size doesn’t fit. A Lexus is a nice-to-have product; a Prius will get you there just as quickly and reliably.

Fourth, the market. Business opportunity seekers, for instance, are used to hype and in fact expect, even relish it: they like positive promises that motivate them to succeed. Engineers (I am one) respond negatively to hype and want copy that is accurate, clear, and highly technical, though the product benefits must stand out.

Can you overdo hype? Yes, as in this site.

However, when in doubt, err on the side of a little too much hype rather than being too dull, laid back, and conservative, or as TP describes it, writing “in a boring, drab manner”. David Ogilvy famously said, “You cannot bore the consumer into buying your product.”

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

Gordon Graham, who has written over 200 whitepapers for clients, advises copywriters to follow their chosen part of the copywriting field.

“I study at least one or two whitepapers every day,” says Gordon. “That means I look at 500 examples of the documents I specialize in every year. Doing any less would be foolish.”

In the pre-Internet days I told direct response copywriters to open, read, and study every piece of direct mail they received. Doing so was better than getting an MBA in direct marketing. I still do it today.

The Reviews Say It All…

Posted December 4th, 2014 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Copywriting

If you haven’t grabbed Reed Floren’s “How to Write Sales Letters That Sell” yet, then be sure to read these reviews…

“If you are looking for a shortcut to writing high converting sales copy you need to pickup How To Write Salesletters That Sell today.” – Mark Lareau

“Regardless of the niche, online or offline, the information included is truly priceless and a ‘must have’ for internet marketers!” – “Wacky Gal” Kathe Lucas

“This is information that any serious marketer must have in his or her arsenal of copywriting tools and information.” – Bob Bates

“Overall, this is an awesome product that I highly recommend to anyone that would like to write a killer sales letter. I have bought several of Reed’s products and they are all outstanding.” – Niles Miller

“I would say to anyone reading this and thinking of buying ‘How To Write Sales Letters That SELL’. BUY IT NOW you will be impressed.” – bigfunkydave

“I love the fact that it contains two proven sales letter templates that you can fill in and be confident they will convert. It’s a real time-saver to not have to take tedious notes. Reed generously includes video, transcripts, a mind map, checklists, slides, a webinar and offers a 15-minute one-on-one consultation.” – Wanda W

“Reed Floren, One of the Most Dedicated and Honest Internet Marketers I Know of, has Done it AGAIN!

In this One Hour Plus long in-depth presentation Reed Reveals one Golden Nugget After Another and as if that wasn’t enough he even hands you not one, but TWO, Top-Grade Fill-in-the-Blanks Sales Letters that you can use to Boost Your Conversions through the Roof…” – Martin Sand

“Not only does he go over everything in detail but he provides a cheat sheet and templates to help you get started. To anyone that struggles with writing sales copy this course is a must have and a no-brainer considering the value your receive.” – Rick Roberts (aka RedHat39),

“Reed is the man that’ll teach you how to do this effectively with his years of training at your call…a proven professional that’ll teach you the tactics, skills, tricks and tips that years of ‘trial-and-error’ has developed him into a real sales copy pro!” – Nile Vincent

“Having had a bit of copywriting experience, I really liked the way that Reed laid this out and most importantly, is illustrating the course with his own experience, with a sales letter that made him a lot of money. A lot of guys out there may talk copywriting, and they use textbook examples, but here Reed is using real-world examples of his own to teach the course. That is very valuable and inspiring. You want to learn from a guy that walks the walk and talks the talk.” – Jeff Gilbert

“Reed starts off with a bang in this video, right out of the gate he goes into what I will call, “the anatomy of a great sales letter.” – Willie Robertson

“For anyone that would like to get an inside look at the simple tricks to creating great copy that sells then I highly recommend picking up Reeds product while it’s here.” – JohnZ

The other day a client, JM, suggested that, instead of my usual flat fee for copywriting, he would compensate me based on performance. Specifically, I would get a royalty based on sales.

He explained, “If you are paid based on results, wouldn’t you be incentivized to work harder and do a better job?”

I told JM the fallacy in his thinking: It implies that, for clients not paying a performance-based bonus, I do sub-par work.

“And that’s ridiculous,” I told him. The truth is: I write the absolute best piece of copy I can on every job I get, whether the fee is flat or royalty-based, high or low.

Why do I pull out all stops on every copywriting assignment I get, regardless of method or amount of compensation? For 3 reasons.

First, to do otherwise would be irresponsible, unethical, and, in my opinion, cheating the client.

Second, the better the copy I write, the more repeat business and referrals I get. And it helps build my reputation.

Third, when my copy performs well in the marketplace, clients give me great testimonials and speak well of me to their colleagues, many of whom also need copy written.

Yes, I know a few writers who say they are only happy if they are getting a royalty based on sales or another performance metric.

The flat fees I charge are not outrageously high, but they are not cheap either. So I feel well compensated working for the fees I earn. I may not be getting rich, but I earn a comfortable living.

Here is the primary situation in which I think a royalty makes sense: the client will be testing and tweaking the promotion on an ongoing basis, and they want me available to help with this.

That tweaking and ongoing testing is not covered in the flat fee I charged to write the copy.

So the client would have to pay more money for additional copywriting they require.

Except, if the promotion is paying me a royalty, I have an incentive to tinker and tweak—split testing headlines, leads, offers, visuals, form placement, etc.—for no fee, since the royalty compensates me for doing the extra work.

But in most instances, a flat fee is the best deal for the client and fair to both of us.

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

I have earned hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties over the years on books I have authored for publishers and copy I have written for clients.

Yet I advise you to be wary of most copywriting clients who offer to pay you a percentage of sales instead of a flat fee.

Here’s why…

To begin with, you never heard of 99% of the clients who offer you such a royalty arrangement. So you have no way of knowing whether they will keep their promise.

If they don’t, what can you do? They won’t open their books or shopping carts to you. And it’s easy enough for them to cook those books and tell you no royalty is due.

The clients I DO write for on a royalty basis are mostly large direct marketers that routinely pay royalties to their copywriters. Some of the top copywriters in the country write for them.

Because paying royalties is a regular thing for these companies, they have the systems in place to accurately track both sales and royalty payments. And they have reputations in the field that warrant your trust in them.

Often a small company I never heard of will say to me, “We would rather not pay you a fee up front, but we’ll pay you a percentage of the sales your copy generates.”

When I turn them down, they become belligerent: “What, don’t you believe that your copy works?” they ask arrogantly.

I have several answers for them. The major one: “I already have more than enough clients lined up happy to pay my regular fees. What’s my incentive to work for you for no money?”

I also explain that for me to work for no fee up front would make me in essence an investor in their company, until I am paid in royalties—and I am a freelance copywriter, not an investor.

One small direct marketer offered me a cash bonus if the direct mail package I wrote for him became his new control. Sure enough, my package beat the control by 50%.

But when I asked him where the bonus check was, he replied: “Oh, I won’t make your package the new control until it beats mine in a few more tests”, not understanding that beating the control automatically makes the test mailing the new control. And so I didn’t get my bonus for months.

A mistake small clients make in trying to hire a copywriter is to offer a royalty instead of an up-front fee, not understanding that the large direct marketers—the serious players—offer an up-front fee PLUS a royalty.

And the big players do not reduce the up-front fee with the lure of a royalty. They pay my regular fee along with the royalty.

You may ask why a company would pay a writer’s normal fee and then offer them a royalty on top of that.

Some do it because they think it gives the writer an incentive to do an extra good job. But I always do the best job I can on every project I take on, no matter what the fee.

The real reason for a marketer to pay a royalty on top of the writer’s regular flat fee is, as my client RJ told me, to “buy a share of the writer’s mind”.

When a copywriter gets a royalty, he has a financial incentive to make sure his promotion continues to run, which it will only do if it continues to outperform other promotions for that product the client is testing.

If response starts to fade, the writer getting an ongoing royalty is motivated to offer tweaks and recommendations to the client at no extra cost as a way of ensuring that those royalty checks keep coming.

Without that bonus incentive, the copywriter has no motivation to think about how to prolong the effectiveness of his winning promotion, and so doesn’t.

When you get a royalty check and statement every 3 to 6 months, you know how well your copy is performing. When you do not, you are in the dark, and often have no idea whether your promotion is a winner.

I recently got an e-mail from an old client telling me he is still using the ad I wrote for him 10 years ago. If he had not e-mailed to tell me, I would have no idea. Another told me he built a successful business based on the strength of one letter I wrote for them. Again, I had no idea, because it was a flat fee he had paid me years ago.

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

Gary Halbert

A saying goes that he who projects a tough exterior usually has a soft, cuddly interior. Perhaps it goes to show there are people who know the master copywriter well enough to create this cute caricature :)

I’m taking a little time out to write about a legend I hardly know. As far as this small-fry marketer living halfway round the world is concerned, my initial impression is that Gary seems to be a pioneer of “offensive copywriting”. I’m not sure what his usual choice of 4-letter words are but from what I’ve heard, he writes in a “I got nothing to lose. Show me all your bets” tone, and true enough, he endorsed The Rich Jerk’s copywriting because he identified with it. In fact, there’s something about Jo Han Mok’s copywriting that makes me suspect they contain shades of Gary’s style. On the few occasion I met Jo ‘live’ I should have asked if he learned directly from Gary. Maybe next time…

Gary died in his sleep on Easter Sunday. The tributes are pouring in:

“I have been learning from Gary since I was 15 years old and was blessed to call him MY FRIEND. Gary was one of the greatest marketers in the history of mankind. And that is not an understatement.”

John Reese

“You know Eric, Gary had the best copywriting skills I’ve ever seen. ;) Wish I could do one tenth of what he could do in his writing.”


“That man provided me with some of the best material I have ever seen for copy. He was a legend and will truly be missed. Marketers, if you have any sense of desire for improvement in what you do, you’ll make the effort to see what this man accomplished in his lifetime. And what the legacy he left behind can do for you.”

Omar Khafagy

“Even before anyone had dial-up, Gary was a highly praised direct response marketer. I will honor his memory by reading a marketing manual I had purchased from him long before the phrase Internet Marketing was conceived.”


“Sad news…had the pleasure of meeting him and getting a copywriting critique…the man was flat out brilliant. His swipe file is one of my prized possessions. A true legend in marketing.”

Dr. Mike Woo-Ming

…Just a few taken from this Warrior thread.

You MUST study The Gary Halbert Letter. Gary is so generous with his content for his newsletter archive. You will understand more than his ‘offence’ trademark, it is his business experience, humor and personal confidence that pervades his language. Just read “Canine Testicles” and laugh out loud. It’s one episode in a series concerning a “water filter” ad so please make it a point to cover what it’s all about.

Susanna Hutcheson uploaded one of Gary’s famous ads, a weight loss ad.

Although I hardly know the man, I have seen him quoted in other sales pages and his testimonies for other products. If you have learned directly from Gary, please feel free to put down some great lessons and insights you have gained, or simply pay tribute to him. I like to find out for myself how I can be a little more hard-edged in my writing without putting all of you off, keke.

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Dear Friend,

How does someone like Lorrie Morgan-Ferrero of Red Hot Copy get Dan Kennedy, John Carlton, Mike Fortin, Sylvie Charrier, Perry Marshall, Alexandria Brown and Harlan Kilstein to agree to be part of a f*r*e*e teleseminar series on copywriting that doesn’t even promote them?

Kind of suspicious sounding, wouldn’t you agree? Usually it would take something pretty enticing to get such brilliant marketing minds to share their knowledge with NOTHING in it for THEM. So it got me thinking. Was it money? Fame? Or something else.

“I did not do anything improper,” claims Lorrie Morgan-Ferrero. “Yes, these are some of the smartest people on the planet and some of the wealthiest. They are only a part of my f*r*e*e teleseminar series because I ASKED them to be! You have to understand, this is an opportunity for these giants to give back. I’m deeply honored they are participating.”

Well, I guess it doesn’t much matter how she was able to round up this talent. The fact is the information they are sharing is available to YOU now for f*r*e*e.

Click here for more information.

This week she interviews Alex Mandossian about the power of testimonials in copywriting and the legendary Dan Kennedy himself.

A lot of the interviews have already taken place. I apologize for not letting you know sooner but I just found out myself. When you register here, you can get access to the past interviews too.


P.S. As you probably already know, copywriting is the single most expensive business skill to outsource…and the one directly responsible for making the most money in your business. Listen in on what these masters have to say.

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