Hire a copywriter or write it yourself?

Posted April 11th, 2014 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Copywriting

According to top copywriter John Carlton, when it comes to hiring a freelance copywriter, you have decided that either your own copywriting skills are not up to the task, or you should hire a pro because it will save you time and get better results, assuming you can afford it.

“There’s a cost to everything, which includes both the dollars involved, and your time and invested energy, all balanced against the odds of success,” says John.

“If you save time doing certain things yourself, and the results are abysmal, how much have you really saved?” John sensibly asks. “Or, if you write a check that makes your hand shake to a top copywriter who produces something that opens the wealth spigot on your head, how much did that writer ‘cost’ you?”

Lose The Jargon

Posted March 7th, 2014 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Copywriting

Stop using all the same buzzwords as your competitors like “fully leverage”, “fully optimize”, “most comprehensive”, “drives maximum efficiency”, “seamlessly integrated”, “mission-critical”, “innovative” etc.

Think about explaining your product or service to your 80-year-old grandma, and then use those same words in your marketing. Does she know what “fully leverage big data” means? Probably not. Reduce the noise around your core value proposition and make it simple and clear what your one special thing is without using jargon as a communications crutch.

Source: Brian Ladyman, Today@TargetMarketing, 2/5/14

In what is probably a foolish waste of time, I occasionally get suckered into disagreements with “creative” type copywriters on a LinkedIn discussion group.

I know I shouldn’t get embroiled, but I cannot let some of their blatantly ignorant commentary on marketing pass.

I was shocked recently by a comment from NH, a UK copywriter who takes pride in the fact that he is an “above the line (ATL)” copywriter.

ATL refers to creative advertising for big ad agencies producing brand advertising for major consumer accounts.

NH, who once worked for Ogilvy when Ogilvy was still there, expressed what I consider at best disregard and at worst contempt for the great sage of advertising.

He recounted that, how when you joined Ogilvy back then, you were given two things: a map of the building and a copy of Ogilvy on Advertising.

“Only one was useful to us,” said NH—and it was the map.

He continued: “You don’t understand, Bob. No one above the line cares tuppence. The old master’s insights are now just part of the fabric of advertising. No one needs to go back to the source.”

Hmmm. If Ogilvy’s insights are now “part of the fabric of advertising,” then how do you explain all the bad advertising today that violates his rules?

I posted my reply as follows:

“For a copywriter to say that a map of the building had more value to him than Ogilvy on Advertising is to publicly admit that he is a fraud and an ignoramus. How do you sleep at night?

“For a working copywriter to say that he has no use for Ogilvy on Advertising is like a doctor saying Gray’s Anatomy is of no value to him.”

I relate this incident because it illustrates a major complaint of mine: people in marketing (or in any other field) who practice without thorough and careful study of the important literature in the field.

I think it was insurance billionaire A.L. Williams who once said, “Everything you need to know is contained in books.”

Today, we expand books to include online information sources, but the basic idea is sound: you will gain much quicker and greater mastery of any field of knowledge or skill if you study the instructional writings of its best practitioners.

At copywriting seminars, I like to ask the attendees how many of them have read “Scientific Advertising” by Claude Hopkins, a book Ogilvy said anyone who wants to succeed in advertising should read seven times.

In an average group of 100, one or two people—if that—will raise their hand. And increasingly these days, no one does.

My old friend, the late, great mail order guru Jerry Buchanan, complained publicly that people would order his how-to manuals, and then, when they called him to ask questions, it became obvious that they never even read the books they’d bought from him.

Jerry would tell them: “You are starving to death with a loaf of bread under each arm.”

Too many marketers, young and old, struggle with problems and challenges that have already been asked and answered in how-to publications available to them with a few mouse clicks.

To help you solve this problem, here is an article I wrote for DM News on 10 classic marketing books I think every marketer should read.

Don’t write to tell me, “Bob, these are all old marketing books. Don’t you read any more contemporary marketing books?”

Yes, I do, and here are a few of those I also recommend.

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”.

GR, a freelance writer and marketing ignoramus, decided, in spite of her lack of knowledge, to deliver a mini-lecture on marketing writing on an online discussion group.

GR wrote: “In today’s market, stay away from advertising. Advertising doesn’t work. Copywriting is finished. If you want to sell, you must write content, not advertising. Consumers respond to content. They hate advertising.”

Here’s the problem with GR’s thinking in a nutshell: it isn’t true.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. Content marketing works. I know—I’ve been using it aggressively and almost continuously since 1980.

Content marketing has a lot of benefits. Mainly, it helps convince the prospect that you are an expert in your industry and that you know what you are talking about. And people like to buy from experts.

However, content is piss poor at closing sales and getting the order. And that’s where copywriting shines.

The reason is that, at its lowest level, content is merely that—content. Information.

And you are not in business to write and give away free information. You are in business to make sales and profits.

Copy, by comparison, is deliberately constructed—using some very sophisticated techniques and formulas—to persuade a total stranger to give you money in exchange for your product or service.

One of those many formulas that copywriters master through long years of study and practice is the 5-step Motivating Sequence.

Content writers, have you heard of it? Can you name all 5 steps in the correct order? If not, I guarantee your writing does not sell nearly as well as it could.

Here is an article I wrote about it years ago for DM News.

Why do many young writers sing the praises of content marketing today while looking down on copywriting?

My theory—and yes, I know this is going to offend some of my readers big time—is that content marketing is EASIER than copywriting…by far.

When it comes to writing content—say, for instance, a good speech—there is a degree of skill and intelligence required, but not a lot of technique.

By comparison, writing a winning long-copy sales letter, one that raises conversion rates vs. the control by 25% to 50%, there is a huge amount of know-how, experience, and tricks of the trade needed to pull it off.

As a result, there are more content writers out there than you can shake a stick at.

While they vary in skill and quality, safe to say it’s relatively easy to find a freelance writer who can churn out acceptable content.

Copywriters are another story…

Yes, there are also today, thanks to AWAI and others promoting copywriting as a business opportunity, more copywriters out there than you can shake a stick at.

But with copywriting, the number in the first tier … those who write copy well enough to command top-dollar fees and repeat assignments from major league direct marketers … is a far smaller, select, and more manageable group.

On average, by my rough calculation, a good copywriter can earn 5 to 10 times higher annual wages than a good content writer.

There is a reason for this: great copy is a valuable commodity. It is rarer than great content writing with a much higher ROI.

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”.

The worst thing about freelance copywriting (or any other type of writing) is this: You write a brilliant piece that you are absolutely in love with. You submit it to your client or editor. And the client call or e-mails – and to your utter amazement says, “I hate this. It stinks.”

How can you prevent this unpleasant event and ensure your clients’ satisfaction? Here are a few ideas that work:

1. Listen and capture.

Often when you ask the client about his business or product, he will articulate its benefits in a clear and powerful way. Write down what he says, and incorporate the best of this verbiage in your copy. Not only is it accurate, but when the client reads it, he’ll be pleased with how you put things (because it accurately reflects how he thinks of the product).

2. Create a pre-approved sentence library.

Especially when dealing with a complex or technical subject, after reviewing the source material, write a bunch of sentences that express your understanding of the technology, function, and features as best you can.

Submit these sentences—no more than 6 to 7 or so—to the client and ask him to review. Incorporate any changes. Now, you have a library of pre-approved sentences you can use in your copy.

Few things upset clients more than the unpleasant surprise of reading a first-draft filled with errors, because it puts the fear into them that you do not understand the product. Using a library of pre-approved sentences eliminates surprises of this nature.

3. Submit 3-5 headlines.

Come up with 3 to 5 headlines—the strongest you can. Instead of picking one and submitting your first draft with it, show the headlines to the client early and let him pick. That way, when he gets your first draft, he is already comfortable with the headline, which is the first thing he sees.

4. Submit the lead early.

As with the headlines, write a 100 to 500-word lead or two, submit them to the client for review and comment, and then make any changes. Again, now when he gets the first draft, you are ensured of no surprises, at least on page one.

5. Use the John Steinbeck writing method.

John Steinbeck said that when you are writing, you must treat it as the most important thing in the world, even when you know it is not. This helps you take the job seriously and do your best on everything you write.

6. Use the Bill Bonner writing method.

Bill Bonner, founder of publishing giant Agora, told copywriter JF that you must believe in what you are selling—at least while you are writing the promotion. If you don’t believe and think the product is hooey, turn down the project. This is why I just turned down a potentially lucrative assignment to promote a course on how to make good business decisions based on astrology.

7. Do not be a prima donna.

When the client makes changes, don’t pout or grumble, even if you disagree with them. For instance, in a copy review last week, the client removed a phrase I thought was really strong—a reference to the Dire Straits song “Money for nothing.” I loved it. But I did not argue.

Copywriter Cam Foote always said he considered his first draft a recommendation – and after that, he would acquiesce pleasantly. David Ogilvy said, “Fight over your queen; let the pawns go.”

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 just got around to reading the 9/16/13 issue of BtoB magazine (now folded into Ad Age), which featured a special supplement in which supposedly top B2B ad agencies showcased their print advertising and web work.

I was blown away…but not in a good way.

Just look at a random sampling of their awful headlines:



Wake Up

Make What Matters

The Legend Continues

Bring It

It’s Tougher Than the Leading Competition

The Hear Yourself Think Space

Work Will Never Be the Same

Nobody Said You Couldn’t Have It All

Outta Here

Connect With Investors on a Different Scale

If I handed in copy with these headlines, my clients would summarily reject it. And possibly have me shot.

Yet these headlines are from ad agencies handling big-name accounts including American Express, WebMD, Teledyne Controls, Honeywell, Corning, and dozens more.

A few things that make most of the ads I saw suck:

>> Weak headlines that state no specific benefit and no UPS.

>> Ads with no headlines.

>> Headlines that were a single word or a made-up word and therefore said next to nothing.

>> Impossible-to-read body copy in tiny type, wide paragraphs, and printed against a color background instead of white.

>> Weak offers or no offers.

>> No incentive to act now.

You’d think any good copywriter would be a godsend to these agencies.

But I fear not: I believe they are incapable of either writing or recognizing good copy.

It’s a crying shame.

David Ogilvy, John Caples, and Claude Hopkins are turning over in their graves.

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”.

How To Get More Sales, Fewer Refunds by Bob Bly

Posted December 18th, 2013 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Copywriting

Subscriber DN, whom we heard from last week, asked yet another interesting question: “Bob, I’ve purchased information products from you, and found your information to be sound, but nowhere near as good as your sales letter makes it out to be.”

Talk about a back-handed compliment…

She continues, “I am sure your refund rates would reduce if you avoid the hype, clever copy, and amplification in your sales letters…but so would your sales. You can’t have it both ways. So what say you?”

DN raises an extremely important point that I have struggled with daily in my 34 years as a professional copywriter, namely, balancing the promise of benefits in the sales copy with the delivery of those benefits by the product.

A common piece of advice to marketers is to under-promise and over-deliver.

The idea is that customers are happy when they get what they paid for but are ecstatically happy when they get MORE than they thought they had any right to expect for their money.

My friend, ace Internet marketer Fred Gleeck, has a rule of thumb: the product should be so good that if the customer had paid 10X the price, he would still be happy and not ask for a refund.

That ratio is sensible in theory, but difficult to achieve in practice.

For instance, one of my copywriting heroes, GB, sold a $5,000 copywriting boot camp to his list—an amazing feat in today’s troubled economic times.

As good as it no doubt was, I am not sure the attendees would have felt they got their money’s worth if they had paid $50,000 each. Or that he would have gotten any registrations at that price.

So here are the rules I follow as a copywriter and an information marketer when writing my sales letters and creating my products:

1. Write the strongest sales copy possible within the limitations of being ethical and truthful.

Remember, you must convince the reader that your product can solve their problem…and do so more ably than competing products.

Your competitors are pulling out all the stops in their copy. So yours can’t be meek and mild.

2. When in doubt, it is in fact better to under-promise and over-deliver. The customer should feel that she has gotten more than her money’s worth.


3. Do not deliberately set the bar so low in your copy that you write bland, ultra-safe promotions. When you do so, you won’t make sales.

4. If you feel compelled to write low-key copy as an apology for a mediocre product, you should instead write the strongest copy you can and then improve your product so it will delight anyone who buys in response to that copy.

My copywriting teacher at NYU, the late Milt Pierce, told us that he was hired to write a direct mail package to sell a book written by a famous interior decorator.

When the marketing director got Milt’s draft, she gasped: “This is great copy but this isn’t what’s in the book,” she objected.

“It should be,” Milt countered. He says the publisher made the author rewrite the book to deliver on all the promises made in the copy.

5. There is a rule of thumb that refund rates on infoproducts should be less than 10% and ideally 5% or less. Our refund rate a few years ago was around 2%.

Now, selling those same products, the refund rate is 5.2% for the year to date. The most common reason for the refund request by far: “This product has a copyright date of 2010 or earlier and therefore I think it is out of date.” They are wrong, of course, but you can’t fight city hall, which is why we are in a massive program of updating our core infoproducts.

Some argue that a zero refund rate is bad, because it means your copy was so mild, it did not make enough strong promises. I understand the logic of this theory, though I would not object to a zero refund rate.

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”.

1. Fear
2. Greed
3. Guilt
4. Anger
5. Exclusivity
6. Salvation
7. Flattery

Source: Denny Hatch, “The Secrets of Emotional, Hot-Button Copywriting,” Direct Marketing IQ, p. 8

Ultimate Copywriting Workshop

If you are hoping, wishing, wondering how this year will be different, the answer is it won’t…unless you master the one single critical skill that equals financial freedom!

I’m talking about copywriting…

You see, there’s nothing else you can learn that gives you the confidence to create more sales, more profits and more of just anything you ever want…simply using a pen or your keyboard.

Thanks to this vital expertise, many copywriters enjoy REPEATED career success as if they have a secret formula in their hands (which is true). And the best part is you can actually learn how to write copy that sells. You don’t need be some creative genius or literary talent (trust me, I’m neither).

But you definitely need to learn from the best in this industry. Yanik Silver has recorded his brand new Ultimate “at home” Copywriting Workshop course from his $4k/person ‘live’ event.

First off, the physical package used to be massive, thank goodness he only offers the digital version now. I’m talking over 30 lbs. 3 huge 3-ring binders, 12 DVDs, and a pile of CDs and extras. I’d estimate at least 1400 written pages of material.

But it’s not just bulk. He’s actually made my life easy because now whenever I want to sit down and write a kick-butt e-mail, ad or sales letter, I can just navigate right to the section I need. Everything is searchable so you can quickly and easily find swipe files for any sales copy you need. It feels like cheating!

He has put examples of every single thing you’d need for your Internet business—e-mails, pops, endorsements, websites, headlines, guarantees, PPC ads, etc.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll probably keep repeating it forever, that the greatest skill I’ve ever learned is how to write words that sell. Fact is, you truly are just one good ad, sales letter or website away from a fortune.

And this is without a doubt, the most comprehensive resource I’ve ever seen on Internet copywriting. You deserve access to this material, from the comforts of your home, for a fraction of what others previously paid to attend his workshop in person!

3 ways to add specific urgency to your copy

Posted November 14th, 2013 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Copywriting

1. Establish a hard deadline. Specifics are always more convincing. Example: Midnight, Monday, November 25, 2013.

2. Put your deadline in the subject line or make it part of your outer envelope teaser; e.g. “3 days ’til Thanksgiving—SAVE 35% NOW!”

3. Don’t be shy about where you place the deadline or how many times you repeat it. You never know where a scanner’s eye will land first.

Source: Pat Friesen, Today@TargetMarketing, 10/17/13

Stop Writing Sales Letters The Hard Way!

Posted November 14th, 2013 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Copywriting

“In Only 2 1/2 Minutes You Can Quickly and Easily Create A Sales Letter, Email or Website Guaranteed To Sell Your Product Or Service…Without Writing!”

How much is one good sales letter worth to your business?

Suppose you could sit down, write a simple letter or e-mail to your prospects and customers, mail it and then have your phone start ringing off the hook (or put up a site that instantly has your right prospects and customers eager to do business with you).

Imagine…one letter (or e-mail) could bring you tons of hot leads and new customers, get them to keep buying over and over again, reactivate ‘lost’ customers, and even provide you with a constant stream of referrals. So anytime you need more business, you simply turn the tap on…it’s like having the goose that lays the golden egg.

Sounds too good to be true?

Well, it isn’t if you have the right tools. You see, dollar-for-dollar, nothing provides a better return on investment than a proven sales letter or a persuasive website and it doesn’t matter what product or service you sell.

Think about it. A sales letter is the most powerful employee you could ever hire. It will relentlessly go out and deliver your message perfectly, every time. It will never call in sick. It will never complain. And it will never quit on you.

Simply put, a powerful sales letter (online or offline) is like having a little automatic, money-making robot working for you, tirelessly…day and night.

But Creating That Winning Sales Letter Is The Hard Part…

It could take you years and can cost you a small fortune to figure out just the right combinations that make some sales letters work while others fall flat on their face.

But instead of knocking yourself out trying to come up with just the right sales letter, you can now have an entire collection of hard-hitting, profit-generating sales letters for your business, ready at your beck and call.

To find out all the details, click here.

I love this resource and I think you will too!

I’m excited to share this with you “The Robert Collier Letter Book“.

This is a lovingly recreated and brand new, digital reproduction of the book that many top marketers & copywriters have lauded as “the most important book on copywriting ever written”.

This reproduction is from the almost impossible-to-find 3rd edition print copy released in 1931 & includes 140+ examples of successful salesletters written by Collier himself.

A must for any aspiring copywriter, author and marketing Pro’s digital bookshelf (this is probably the most comprehensive “TRUE SECRETS” guide to writing responsive copy ever).

Robert Collier’s Letter Book helped shape the entire marketing and advertising industry as we know it today…

If you want to discover what really makes people ‘tick’ (and buy) then this all-time classic book is something I know you’ll treasure.

Learn Copywriting Faster Than Ever Before

Posted October 16th, 2013 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Copywriting

Witness The Birth Of The Copywriter’s Brain

This new tool presents the best collection of masterful copywriting tips, techniques and other key concepts, in a way that’s so clear, that using it virtually ‘burns’ the mindset of great copywriters into your head!

Unlike most tools and programs that just sink you deep into overwhelm with pages & pages or hours and hours of content, the ‘Copywriter’s Brain’ is a clear, concise, and tremendously powerful ONE-PAGE document!

* Yes, it’s a one-page document. *

And while that may seem counter-intuitive, the level of EXTREME simplicity is actually what makes this so spine-tingling brilliant!

Does anything you’ve seen before do this?

** A Combination Of The Greatest Copywriting Minds In A Single Source…

The Copywriter’s Brain combines the best ideas from the best copywriters on the planet into a sort of copywriting ‘super-brain’ (with all the redundant ideas removed and non-essential fluff eliminated).

- All that’s left is nothing but pure gold!

** Instantly See The BIG Picture

The Copywriter’s Brain instantly gives you a full ‘birds-eye’ overview on the dark art of copywriting in a single glance.

- Experiencing it for the first time is like consuming a gushing fire hose of knowledge and understanding!

** Burn It Into Your Brain

The Copywriter’s Brain not only contains valuable info, but it wraps it in a logical structure using colours, and graphics (proven memory aids) to burn all that copywriting goodness into your brain.

If you want to write better copy, tweak your pages and sell more stuff then you need this incredible tool for your online business right now!

In the heydays of Madison Avenue, a great premium was placed on “creativity” in advertising. Now it rapidly becomes irrelevant.

To many practitioners back then, this largely meant coming up with ad campaigns that were fun and entertaining.

This type of creative advertising has been glorified on TV shows including The Crazy Ones and Mad Men.

Of course, there were numerous exceptions. The late, great David Ogilvy said, “If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative.”

Today, many practitioners of brand advertising value creativity highly. Some seem to value it above all else.

In direct marketing, we often take a different approach: we study what has been working lately.

Then we either model our promotions after those that work or at least apply some of the ideas and techniques.

Example: CC, a superstar copywriter, had written a promotion for a vision supplement with the headline, “Why bilberry and leutin don’t work.”

I creatively copied that headline for a promotion I was writing for trading software: “Why most trading systems don’t work…and never will.” That promotion tripled the sales of the control.

That’s what we direct marketers call “creative plagiarism”. I did not steal CC’s headline. I adapted the formula for a different product.

Why does using the tried and true frequently trump creativity?

Most advertising doesn’t work. JH, a top fundraising copywriter, said only one in ten promotions he wrote was a runaway winner…but that more than made up for the other nine.

So the chances of your ‘creative’ ad working are maybe one in ten.

On the other hand, if you model your promotion after successful ones, the odds of success increase geometrically.

Of course we hope that we can hit on a big idea that is original and therefore blows the doors off the competition.

But if that doesn’t come about, creatively plagiarizing proven winners reduces the odds of your writing a promotion which bombs.

Early in my career, I had several Madison Avenue ad agencies as clients.

Back in the day, Madison Avenue ad executives were accused by clients—rightly so, in some cases—of pushing the creative envelope to win awards, which they seemed more focused on than the bottom line.

It was easy for the ad agencies to be so bold, some reasoned, because they weren’t risking their own money on running the creative ads.

If sales went up, they credited their brilliant advertising. If they fell, the ad guys blamed it on the product or the market.

Example: Ad agency Crispin Bogusky gained the respect of Madison Avenue “creatives” with their edgy Burger King marketing including the Subservient Chicken online promotion.

Between 2003—the year before Burger King hired Crispin as agency of record—and 2008, Burger King’s share of the burger-chain market fell from 15.6% to 14.2% while McDonald’s share rose from 43.6% to 46.8%.

During those years, McDonald’s has posted average annual sales growth of 6.3% compared with BK’s 2.9% gain during that period.

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”.

Get more response to free content offers.

Posted September 10th, 2013 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Copywriting

You can dramatically increase response to free content offers for lead generation by showing an image of the front cover of the white paper, e-book, report, or CD you are giving away in your e-mail or landing page. In an HTML e-mail, place the image to the right of the headline.

In a direct mail package, show the cover on the reply element. In a print ad, show a picture of your offer in the bottom right corner of the page. On a landing page, place the image in the upper half of the screen.

Add more or larger “secure offer” icons, e.g. not just “VeriSign” but “McAfee Secure” and “BBB” and a whopping big, well-designed “100% Satisfaction Guarantee” icon to your web pages. Aim for at least 5 icons per reply page.

Test placement of these trust logos. Some research says that the single best place isn’t at the top of the page or at the bottom, but rather right under or next to the “Place Your Order” button.

Source: The Copywriter’s Roundtable, 8/6/13.

How to get ready to write your copy

Posted August 10th, 2013 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Copywriting

Copywriter Henneke Duistermaat suggests taking these 4 steps before you start writing your copy:

1. Create a full list of features and specifications

2. Translate each feature into a benefit for your ideal reader

3. Consider the problems you help avoid

4. Write down the objections to buying from you and decide how you can address them

This is Copywriting 101 and I was doing it over 30 years ago, but many modern marketers today seem to skip these important fundamentals.

Source: Copy Blogger, 6/28/13

Is content marketing—the marketing methodology that entails disseminating free special reports, white papers, e-books, blog posts, and other useful content to potential customers—overrated?

Sales expert Robert Minskoff seems to think so. He says, “Go ahead and blog, tweet, and post. But be very aware that there is still a large segment of the buying population that places very little importance on that type of content.”

So what does work in getting the order? “Selling is a human interaction,” Robert says. “Be human.”

I am the first to stand up and say content marketing—which in the good old days, we simply called “free information offers”—can work well.

As early as the 1930s, John Caples offered free booklets in his print ads. I have been an active practitioner of content marketing since the early 1980s.

But content marketing has its limits.

Offering free content is great for generating inquiries—people love to get free stuff.

It also educates the consumer on how to buy your type of product.

For instance, say you offer a free report “7 Things to Look for When Hiring a Roofer.”

Naturally, your roofing service precisely meets all 7 requirements spelled out in the report.

So after reading the report, homeowners will be more likely to hire you than your competitors who do not closely match the requirements you listed.

However, if all you do is give away free content, you are not going to close many sales.

Content marketers need to be reminded that we are in the business of selling, not giving away free stuff.

The prospect is there not merely to be educated. You also have to sell him on why he should buy your product vs. other alternatives, including doing nothing. And that’s not content marketing. That’s copywriting.

To close the sale, at some point the prospect must receive a communication containing copy that (1) highlights your product’s unique advantages over the competition, (2) overcomes his objections, (3) proves that your product is a superior solution to his problems, and (4) convinces him you are a trusted, reliable supplier.

You may also need professional salespeople who know how to establish relationships with prospects, diagnose their needs, and convince them your company is the best equipped to meet those needs.

Not to be mean-spirited, but I think part of the reason so many marketers jumped on the content marketing bandwagon so readily is that writing content is a lot easier—and less threatening—than either writing copy that sells or selling in person.

It’s a relatively easy and pleasant task to write a short blog post or online article on a thought, idea, tip, or factoid that caught your fancy.

It’s quite another to convince a terrific prospect to retain your firm when he is objecting that your price is too high, or he thinks your competitor is just as good as you are.

That kind of situation causes your average content marketer to run for the hills, but copywriters and salespeople alike relish such selling challenges. It’s what we’re paid for.

The bottom line: content marketing is fine as far as it goes. But nothing really happens until somebody sells something.

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”.

Subscriber SS wrote to me asking: “How do I know which benefits I should emphasize in my copy?”

Specifically, she wanted to know whether to stress benefits or “ultimate benefits”.

What SS is referring to are the 4 levels of product description: features, advantages, benefits, and ultimate benefits.

Let me explain each, using as our product example an automobile tire.

>> Features are what a product is or has. So a feature of a tire might be “steel belted”.

>> Advantages are features or combinations of features your product has that others do not.

For example, if you had the only tire that was both double play and steel belted radial, that would be an advantage.

>> Benefits are what the advantages and features of a product do for the user.

The benefit of a double ply, steel-belted radial tire might be that the car handles better on wet roads and comes to a stop sooner.

>> Ultimate benefits, also called “the benefit of the benefit”, are benefits the product delivers at the highest level of value and importance.

Remember the Michelin tire commercial showing a baby sitting inside a tire?

That was showing you the ultimate benefit: Buy Michelin tires and you keep your family safe from harm.

Ultimate benefits are used just as much in business-to-business marketing as in business-to-consumer marketing.

For instance, the benefit of a new computer system might be that it saves time and reduces paperwork.

The ultimate benefit would be that you can finish your work by 5 or 6 and still get home in time to have dinner with your family.

SS asks which of these you should use. The answer is that you should use all of them—features, advantages, benefits, and ultimate benefits—to give your copy power and verisimilitude.

For instance, if you describe a benefit, showing how a feature of the product delivers that benefit makes the claim believable.

If you describe a feature that is an advantage, point out to the reader that only you offer it, and that the competition does not have it.

On the other hand, if you describe the benefits only and no features, your claims that the product can deliver those benefits will lack credibility. The consumer will wonder, “How does it do that?”

If you describe benefits, also tell the reader what ultimate benefits those benefits can deliver. You might think it’s obvious, but stating them reinforces the extra value your product delivers.

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”.

2,000 ways to sell more stuff!

Posted April 30th, 2013 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Copywriting

I’ve just spotted something cool you should have in your marketing toolbox.

Using the right words is critical when it comes to selling online, yet often the hardest thing we have to do is come up with the right ones to sell our own products…

I’ve you’ve ever sat frustrated trying to work out how to write a sales letter or watched visitors come and go without buying a bean then you know what I mean.

The solution (and one of my own secret weapons) is a “swipe file”.

This one is one of the best I’ve ever seen offered and at a tiny fraction of the price most top copywriters charge!

It’s jam-packed with over 2,000 swipes with everything you’ll ever need inside.

Whatever you’re selling or promoting online is covered and there’s MUCH more.

You can copy and paste them into your sales letters, squeeze pages, promo e-mails, blog subject lines and more.

In fact it comes with an awesome bonus package of templates too.

Don’t miss the “Ultimate Swipe” collection.

Google Analytics integration offered by Wordpress Google Analytics Plugin