The #1 Question people ask me
Whether I’m sitting in a room full of sales professionals, marketers, at church, or a class full of students, I am inevitably asked the same question about copywriting.
It makes sense though, considering, whenever you are writing, you’re really trying to achieve the same thing - an engaged audience.
The question I get, in some form, is…
How do I start?
Putting pen to paper is probably the most difficult hurdle to overcome for any sort of writer. The fear of not having the right words to say is a challenge, especially when your livelihood depends on it.
Let’s start here…
Think about a sales letter. What are we told, as copywriters, is the most part of our sales letter?
The Headline (or the subject line in case of an email).
We put so much emphasis on the headline, that it becomes an enormous hurdle to overcome when creating our sales letter. After all, if the headline stinks, who’s going to read the rest of the letter?
We may as well not even continue.
The headline is crucial to a successful sales letter, but it’s our own brains that are the problem.
Yes, we read and process from left to right, top to bottom.
And our cognitive bias is to create a sales letter in the same fashion.
But that is absolutely the wrong way to build your sales letter.
Putting together a sales letter is like building a house. You have to start with the foundation and go up, not from the top down.
Ok, so, before you can even pour the foundation, you have to do the prep work. You ahve to dig the hole.
Digging the hole is your research. You have to dig deep and pull out everything you can about your audience, or your foundation is going to be weak and lack the ability to support your house.
Now. Here's the next part that people get wrong all the time.
Your foundation is your core offer. But your offer is NOT your product.
Your offer is the promise of the after state your audience can achieve with the help of your product.
It’s important to know the difference between the two because building on the product may get you a moderately successful sales letter, but the latter will allow you to build an incredible sales letter.
I like to start with the story, the framework of the house, if you will. The story is what engages the audience and illustrates for them what their after state could be. Much like the framing of a house gives you the idea of what the house will be, the story is engaging enough to build the framework, but more is still needed to complete the house.
Running your wiring, duct work, and your plumbing gives you conveniences you expect out of a house. These are your bullets, your features, and your benefits.
Now, you need to protect your reader from the nasty elements of the dangerous world outside. Your guarantees and social proof are your insulation and siding. These build barriers from the outside world, that before state when your audience is in need.
The roof is your CTA. It’s supported by the rest of your offer and without the rest of the letter, it wouldn’t have anything to hold it up. It’s the highest point of your sales letter.
The finishing touches, the flooring, the paint, the trim work - these are your post script. They finish off the letter and polish it. Here you hit all the high points and drive the point home why your reader loves what they’ve seen and want to make this home.
But you probably realize at this point, we haven’t even addressed the headline yet.
Your headline is the front door.
It’s the first thing your reader is going to interact with and they have the choice, right then, to open the door or walk away.
This is when some young jackass asks me what the garage is. And for a long time, I didn’t have a good answer.
Now I tell them, the garage is the up-sell, and the 50% off Corvette in the garage is the big offer.
Normally I see a few laughs and a lot of smiling faces, but more importantly, the concept makes more sense.
Our brains want to create a sales letter just like we are going to read it - as though creation and delivery are happening together in real time.
But building a great sales letter involves breaking it down into its pieces and constructing it from the ground up.
When you break it down, it makes the creation process much easier and the entry point to put pen to paper presents itself to the writer.
Before Moving On
The importance of planning cannot be overstated.
Knowing your audience and who you’re writing for is crucial to the success of a copywriter. The better the information, the more solid the foundation, the better the sales copy.
This is true for any type of marketing, any type of project at all!
If you ever get really stuck, just start writing about anything. It’s better to spend time putting words down that are never going to be used in your sales copy than staring aimlessly into the abyss of your blank page.
Forget about trying to find shortcuts and do the work.