One of the world’s best copywriters, Justin Ford, once told me…
“Listen kid, the number one skill any successful business person has to have is the ability to sell through the written word.”
That was back when I was first introduced to copywriting. I’ll get to that story, but first it is critical to understand that copywriting is the #1 skill for anyone who wants to run a successful online business.
The written word draws people in. It opens up their imagination. It brings out emotion. It makes it possible for the consumer to relate to the salesperson. And that’s what it’s all about—relating.
Copywriting isn’t only about persuading or selling, it’s about relating.
Just think about it. When running an online business, there is no face-to-face with the customers. There is no brick and mortar store for them to walk into. There is no walking up to their door and knocking on it. There is no talking to customers in order to connect with them. Making a connection with online customers must be done through the written word.
But here’s the incredible thing about copywriting. It doesn’t take a genius wordsmith to write effective copy. We don’t have to be Shakespeare. Just do what great copywriters do:
- Think like the readers.
- Find good copy and model it.
- Master the art of creating visual images through the written word.
- Stimulate the imagination with the use of words.
This is even simpler than it looks!
I have developed a 5-Step Copywriting System that formulizes copywriting. This system will help anyone MASTER the art of copywriting.
But before we get into that 5-step system, let me tell the story of how I found copywriting. It all started when I was in high school and my English teacher said to me, “You don’t have what it takes to succeed as a writer.”
My Copywriting Story
My teacher actually said that to me! And because of those words, I stayed as far away from writing as I could. After all, if she didn’t think I could do it, who was I to think I could?
I never took writing seriously. But the biggest problem I had with writing wasn’t what my teacher had said. It was that I didn’t understand the point of writing. It wasn’t something that seemed valuable to me so I didn’t think it was worth my time and effort.
However, I was studying medicine and that just wasn’t working for me. I was an entrepreneur at heart. So, I switched from medicine to business and started in sales. I loved selling and earning money. But I worked long hours. I needed something that would allow me to be my own boss and provide me with a solid income.
That’s when I turned to Google.
And I discovered digital publishing. I found out I could help others and make a HUGE income. I met people. I worked hard. I learned everything I could about the digital publishing industry. And I produced my own information product.
It was on this journey that I realized I needed to know how to write.
I was determined. I worked for six months to get my first product off the ground. And it failed miserably.
Then a friend introduced me to Justin Ford, one of the best copywriters in the world and someone who has become my mentor and good friend. Justin took me under his wing. He was the first person to tell me that I had potential as a writer.
He was the one who taught me that writing is the #1 skill of successful online marketers.
I started working for Justin and he took me to a workshop where I met Michael Masterson. Michael is arguably THE best copywriter on the planet. He also happened to be Justin’s brother. At this workshop, I learned the following:
- Successful writing is creating a clear message with meaning and substance.
- Be passionate about what the writing is about and the actual process of writing will flow brilliantly.
- There is no need to be a great writer to perfect the written word.
- There is a noticeable and apparent contrast between writing words and choosing words.
- Great copywriters are word choosers, not necessarily word writers.
Since then, I have worked hard to hone my copywriting skills and it has paid off. From a teenager, whose English teacher saw no promise of a future in writing, I have used writing to make more than $100 million over the last 13 years.
And anyone can learn how to copywrite like a pro. In fact, those who become copywriters unfailingly want to write their own copy because it’s fun and rewarding. This is great because outsourcing copywriting is not easy…
The Problems with Outsourcing Copywriting
Sure, there are copywriters for hire. But for those who are new to Internet marketing and online business, this is not the best option. Here’s why…
Most people starting out have little if any money to invest in their business. When hiring a copywriter that is inexpensive, the result will most likely be poor quality. Inexpensive writers are untrained and/or inexperienced.
Unfortunately, the copywriters that have the skill and experience to produce the desired copy are EXPENSIVE. When launching an online business, it is difficult to afford a copywriter who can produce good copy.
This is why it is so important for online marketers to develop their own copywriting skills!
Those who can write their own copy have full control over the quality of that copy—and it costs nothing except a little time.
However, it is critical to understand that copywriting is NOT the same thing as writing content.
Copywriting vs. Content Writing
When writing content, the goal is to teach, educate and give people information they can use to better their lives in some way.
This is NOT the goal when writing copy.
When writing copy, the key is to relate to the audience and have them relate to the copywriter. The goal is to pump them up, get them excited and convince them they need to click.
Think of copywriting vs. content in the following ways:
- Sizzle vs. Steak
- What vs. How
- Many Loops (open loops) vs. 1 Loop (closes loops)
- The responsibility to keep their attention vs. Their responsibility to keep their attention
- Convincing/Influencing vs. Teaching
I’ll get into what each of these means below. But first, let’s talk about where copywriting comes from…
Direct Marketing Is Dead
Remember the days of direct marketing, when we’d open the mail or pick up the phone and receive marketing material straight from the company and buying products straight from the company. There was no middleman.
Methods of direct marketing included:
- Direct mail
- Voicemail marketing
- Insert media
Direct marketing can be effective. That’s why it has hung on and is still used today. But it isn’t a viable option for most business people. Direct marketing is expensive and it takes a lot of time and energy to do it right. A direct marketing campaign can last for months and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Requirements of direct marketing include:
- Choosing a product to market
- Conducting a national search to determine the best ways to reach the target audience
- Investing in copywriting and sales messaging
- Creating sales material and investing in editing and printing
- Mailing the marketing material the old-fashioned way
- Waiting, waiting, and more waiting
If, after all of this, the results weren’t favorable, it would be time to go back to square one and start all over again. There was no way to make changes to the marketing material once it was sent out. The whole campaign simply had to be redone.
But perhaps the biggest disadvantage of direct marketing was the fact that there was no interaction with the consumer. It was a one-way street of communication. With Internet marketing that has changed because it has paved the way for…
Interactive marketing is just as it sounds—the consumer can interact with the seller directly. They can communicate with each other, rather than the seller sending out the material and hoping it reaches the consumer.
There are different forms of online marketing, including:
- The written sales letter (WSL)
- The video sales letter (VSL)
- The webinar
Target consumers can read or listen to the copy and respond directly. It is possible and easy to reach them on a personal level and stimulate emotions. They can click on links and they can ask questions. This allows the seller to build a relationship with them. And this is all so easy!
The power of the Internet allows anyone to set up advertising in minutes and write far more targeted copy that will reach the right people the first time. Plus, it is easy to make changes to the advertising while a campaign is live. Internet marketing is cheaper, easier, and more effective. And it offers a world-wide reach!
But to be successful at Internet marketing, it is important to develop great copywriting skills. And I have developed a surefire system to write effective copy.
Let’s take a look at my 5-Step Copywriting System…
5 Steps of Great Copywriting
My 5-step system for great copywriting will work no matter what type of copy is being written. Anyone who follows this formula will be able to write great copy every time. The 5 steps are:
- The Story
- The Content
- The Transition
- The Pitch
Each step builds on the previous steps to create a narrative that delivers a strong message. The consumer will be guided to the next phase in the sales funnel. Mastery of these five steps will allow anyone to take their Internet marketing to a whole new level.
Step 1. Introduction
The introduction is the most important part of any copy.
Let’s repeat that.
The introduction is the most important part of any copy.
The introduction must draw the reader in. If it fails to do this, none of the other copy matters.
The goal of the introduction is to capture the attention of the reader. Here are a couple of key tips I use to accomplish this:
Sell the Sizzle, Not the Steak
When copywriting, sell the sizzle. But do NOT sell the steak.
The sizzle is the “what.” The steak is the “how.” In copywriting, NEVER tell them the how—only the what. The “what” is what the product or offer can do for them.
Give them a convincing enough “what” and they will want to know the “how” enough to buy.
To give them a convincing “what,” make a BIG promise. And don’t generalize. This promise needs to knock it out of the park by using the next key tip…
It isn’t good enough to say, “Learn how to burn fat and lose weight.”
It isn’t even good enough to say, “Learn how to shed 20 pounds by burning fat.”
Instead, say, “Spending 20 minutes and raising the heart rate to 120 bpm in the morning leads to a 200% increase in fat burning throughout the day.”
The key is to focus on numbers and be as specific as possible. Use these specific details to build a vivid pictorial representation of what is being provided. And speak to the prospects as if they are a friend.
When people know why they are giving up a few minutes of their time, they will do it.
And once they are hooked, tell them a story…
Step 2. The Story
Connection and trust.
That is it. That is what story is all about. Establishing connection and trust.
People have told stories for thousands of years. It is ingrained in humanity. It is a part of every culture. And EVERYONE understands and can relate to a story.
Here is something that is critical to remember. People don’t buy products. They really don’t. They might end up with an item at the end of the day, but what they are really buying is the what is behind the product – the brand OR the person.
Using lots of visual language to tell a story will help people remember what they hear. The story will establish common ground between the copywriter and the consumer.
But perhaps the most important thing about story is that it brings out emotion. People make buying decisions based on emotion. The more a story can tap into the prospect’s emotion, the better the chance they will buy.
What is the best way to establish trust and connection?
Be Robin, NOT Batman!
The consumer must see the product or offer as the hero of the story. The copywriter must NOT be made to be the hero, but must appear to be on the same level as the consumer.
The copywriter must write what is honest and truthful. They must show the reader that they have the ability to relate to what the consumer is going through, whether that is failure, the 9-5 job, or the struggle to pay the bills.
Let’s go back to that introduction we wrote, “Spending 20 minutes and raising the heart rate to 120 bpm in the morning leads to a 200% increase in fat burning throughout the day.”
This could easily be followed with a story of how the copywriter struggled to lose weight. This requires vulnerability on the part of the copywriter. For example:
I have struggled to lose that extra fat for years. One diet after another, until they became a blur along the weight loss highway. Sure, I’d lose weight. Sometimes a lot of weight. But it always came back with a little extra padding.
I had given up. I had resigned myself to the fact that I was going to be fat forever! That’s when I discovered this amazing weight loss method. I was hesitant at first. I knew it would be the same as all the others. But something tickled the back of my brain and I realized I had nothing to lose.
It turned out it wasn’t the same as all the others.
I was able to start losing weight and the weight stayed off. I literally burned 200% more body fat each and every day using this method. I shed 10 pounds in the first three weeks. And now I want to share this amazing method with as many people as possible.
Use plenty of detail to paint a picture the reader can see in their mind’s eye. Make the description vivid and place it in a familiar environment. Then the reader will easily be able to imagine themselves in the same scenario.
Once an emotional connection and trust have been established, it’s time to move onto the next step…
Step 3. The Content
At this point, the consumer is pumped, excited, and ready to know more. They are hungry. This is the time to take them over the top.
It is vital to understand the importance of the content. Most people think the sale is made with the pitch, but this is not the case. By the time the pitch comes, the consumer has already made the decision to buy or not to buy.
The sale is made within the content.
Why? Because the content is where credibility is established. The goal of the copywriter is to prove there is no match for the product or system they are selling.
To accomplish this, the content must:
People want value. They want to know that the product is new, unique, and amazing. They want to learn things they never knew. They need to know the product will impact their lives and provide positive results.
Answer The Question “Why?”
The content must answer the simple question “Why?”
“Why this product? Why this system?”
After all, there are plenty of other products out there that are the same, right? It doesn’t matter that the copywriter knows it is the best product. The consumer has to be convinced this is the best product.
At the same time, the consumer can learn the “What,” but not the “How.” Going back to the fat-burning example, the headline reads “Spending 20 minutes and raising the heart rate to 120 bpm in the morning leads to a 200% increase in fat burning throughout the day.”
The key here is to prove it. Offer evidence, statistics, and maybe some odd details. These are great teasers. But NEVER mention any specific foods or exercises. Never mention HOW the heart rate is raised.
Create an Aha Moment
The aha moment is so important. This is the moment when the prospect learns something that makes them do a double-take. It makes them say, “No way! I didn’t know that!” it is new information that blows them away.
Deliver Content in a Linear Fashion
This is how the human mind works. It thinks in a linear fashion. And that means it likes lists. Lists keep people focused. So, deliver content in the form of lists and diagrams. People won’t just start reading—they will finish reading because they need that closure.
This creates open loops
When content is delivered in a linear fashion, one piece of content follows another. This is much like how one episode of a TV show follows another. And what happens when we watch an episode of our favorite TV show? We are left wanting another, and another.
This is the concept known as the cliffhanger. And it’s why we binge-watch TV.
When content is delivered in a linear fashion, the reader gets so excited by what they are reading, they can’t wait to get to the next point.
Stating that it’s possible to increase fat burning by 200% a day will pique their interest. They will want to know how.
Following this by saying they only need to increase their heart rate for 20 minutes each morning get the reader even more excited. HOW? They want to know. How do they increase their heart rate to make this happen?
Turn Testimonials Into Content
The last piece of the content puzzle is the testimonial. We are used to seeing a brochure or website with standard, boring testimonials given some space on the sidelines. But testimonials are far more effective when they are turned into actual content.
Consumers are much smarter today than they were even just a few years ago. They know when they are being sold to. And they know that is what a testimonial is used for. To sell to them. When they see a traditional testimonial, their guard will go up immediately.
So, instead of saying, “Jennifer tried this incredible fat-burning system and lost 35 pounds. She feels better than she has felt in years.”
What if this testimonial was worked into the content like this:
One key to burning more fat is timing. I want to introduce Jennifer. She was working hard to burn fat and lose weight. She weighed 180 pounds and found it difficult. But she always worked out in the evenings.
Well, six months ago, Jennifer found this system. She started out slow and the first thing she changed was the time of day she worked out. Jennifer didn’t change her workout routine, but she started working out in the morning.
And look at what happened.
In just six weeks, Jennifer lost 10 pounds an inch off her waistline. This is precisely why this system was created. To harness the natural ability of the body to burn fat and shed excess weight. Jennifer is the perfect example.
And once she fully embraced the system, she went on to lose even more weight and is down to a size 8!
Essentially, the testimonial is turned into a story. A relatable story that connects with the reader and brings out emotion. And this story reaches into the subconscious mind of the reader. The subconscious mind is the decision-maker.
And once the subconscious mind is convinced to buy, it will work to convince the conscious mind to take action.
This brings us to the next step…
Step 4. The Transition
At this point a friendly, trusting relationship has been developed between the copywriter and the consumer. Now it is time to shift gears.
The transition is super short. The role of the transition is to justify and rationalize charging money for the product.
There must be a strong and convincing reason why the product is being offered. The copywriter needs to talk about the struggles and sacrifices made to create the offer and bring it to the consumer.
Convince the consumer bringing this product to them is a mission. This is something BIG. People need this and it will change their lives.
This is the very strong “WHY?” and it is time to lay it all out on the table. The sale has now become a mission.
And this makes the copywriter the HERO. It’s the only time the copywriter gets to be the hero. Take advantage of it. Enjoy it. Show the consumer that this is something no one else has access to.
Then get the consumer’s permission to pitch them. This is the interactive part of interactive marketing. Let the consumer have the choice to interact with the copywriter. This is so powerful.
Just be up front and say, “I don’t want to waste anyone’s time. Those who are interested, who are serious, would it be okay if I present the details of this amazing system and make it available now?”
This works! Almost everyone still there says yes and they are EXCITED!
Then move on to…
Step 5. The Pitch
This is NOT where the sale happens.
The sale happened back in the content. That was when the reader was given an aha moment. In fact, everything that has come before this moment has set up the pitch.
The pitch convinces people that the value provided is greater than the price.
To accomplish this, answer the question “What’s in it for me?” That’s what people want to know.
And all that is needed is one STRONG reason why they should immediately buy the product. That’s all it takes.
Give them an offer that is completely irresistible. Make them think they are taking advantage of the seller. Build value and this will happen automatically.
With the fat-burning system, it can be as simple as saying, “I have tried all the other systems out there. It almost bankrupted me. They cost twice as much as this one and they don’t deliver the same results. And I’m not sure how long I can offer this system at this amazing price.”
Once the pitch has been effectively delivered, shut up! It is all too common for the salesperson to keep talking when the prospect is ready to buy. Test the copy, observe the data, and know when enough is enough.
Copywriting Is the Key to Online Marketing Success
When running an online business, there is no face-to-face. There is no other way to reach the consumer than through copywriting. Regardless of the form in which that copywriting is delivered, it must be solid.
Here’s a refresher on the 5 Steps of Great Copywriting:
- The Story
- The Content
- The Transition
- The Pitch
This 5-Step Copywriting System is proven to work. I have made millions of dollars in sales using it. And my students have also experienced incredible success.
And this week on Success Weekly, we will delve more deeply into the art of copywriting and how it can help any Internet marketer succeed.
Sign up for Success Weekly and learn how to take copywriting to the next level.
See you there.