Fiverr Blitz

Fiverr Blitz
Introduction
Everyone has heard of fiverr!
.
.
but few are using it for it’s true benet!
The following method which I’ll go onto explain uses verr, but uses only one kind
of service which is then transposed to another adding additional value before you
go onto sell it.

About Me
Whilst you don’t want to read about me
waing on about myself, the point I’m about to raise is key to understanding the
value of this method.

As a graphic designer by trade, I know the true worth of my work, it’s advantages,
disadvantages and where great opportunity is.

Before you’re almost turned o again by talk of a subject you may or may not be
interested or skilled within, please read on to understand what we’re going to do
to make the money roll in by employing ART.

My role is to develop graphics from SCRATCH.
All my work is original.
Whilst this is
one of my core values and I pride myself upon it, it also represents a disadvantage
since one
instance of my work is sold only to one person or company.
In short, I make one
sale.

“Art” you say!?
It’s everywhere you look.
It plays a huge part in how you are inuenced and the
decisions you make every day from buying a tin of beans to buying a t-shirt.

Art is in HUGE demand.

Despite the ever increasing popularity of e-cards, the USA boasts sales of
7.
4 BILLION CARDS per year translating to 235 cards sold per second.
ART
sells them.

In the same respect, what sells other goods is DESIGN, whether it be design of the
item itself or the art that’s printed upon it.

With this said, let me cut to the chase and get to the beef!
THE GOAL IS TO MAKE MONEY THROUGH REPLICATION & MINIMUM INITIAL
EFFORT
What we’re going to do.

We’re going to use verr.
com to hire one of many graphic designers who quite
willingly create detailed VECTOR art for a mere $5.
* It’s important that the art is
vector to allow for resizing without loss of clarity!
Many graphic designers who hold gigs might state specically that they do one
form of vector art such as character / mascot design for instance, but most are
quite willing to oer more – or something dierent.
Tried and tested!
THE KEYWORD:
REPLICATION!
We’re NOT going to buy some digital art and sell it to someone else for twice the
price in one instance and be proud of ourselves or resell some other verr gig.

Copyright permissions are yours by default (according to Fiverrs TOS) unless
copyright is ownership is stated in the gig description or oered as a gig
extra.

The is absolutely no price which can be assigned to ART other than the value
someone sees in it.
Present / apply it properly and it will will bring dividends
– even as a print.

What to do with design?
YOU can sell:
* T-shirts
* Sweatshirts
* Mugs
* Posters
* Calendars
* Fridge Magents
* Framed Picture (high earners).

.
.
to name a few.

* ASK YOUR DESIGNER FOR VECTOR FILES OR HIGH RES RASTER FILES! This is will
allow you to oer products which display the graphic in large sizes.

The following websites (which you’ve
probably already heard of) allow you to set up on online shop in a few clicks to
upload your
designs to apply to a whole array of products
including those listed above.

* Note the high earner! (our focus).

The Sites:
http://shop.
cafepress.
com/
http://www.
greetingcarduniverse.
com/BEDiczhazy
http://www.
zazzle.
com/dndartstudio
* YOU SET YOUR COMMISION.

What kind of Design? What Sells?
Above all, PARODY sells and it’s one you should maybe explore initially.

This can cover famous people and can be sold legally based upon the image being
PARODY – a caracterture for instance.

Whatever you choose, ensure there is huge demand for the topic and apply it
without treading on the toes of copyright law.

Note that a persons image which is not otherwise PARODY infringes copyright.

People want fun.
Parody is fun and it doesn’t break the law.

What’s more the verr graphic designers are very good at it!
Think if what is currently a hot topic / trend, take a look at the best sellers and
follow suit.

Concepts of your own are always a good idea too.
Who knows what you might
touch upon to sell something totally unique!
CHOOSE YOUR TREND, BUY A FIVERR GIG, UPLOAD AND SELL A FRAMED
PICTURE PRODUCT!
TARGET ONE SPECIFIC NICHE TO
ENCOURAGE MULTIPLE & REPEAT
PURCHASES.

BE KNOW AS “THAT STORE WHO SELL X”!
Stick a high price tag on the framed print (or whichever high end product you
choose).

Get an arsenal of images drawn up by our
fellows on verr.
com to present a range in your store opening up further possibility
for a sale.

The most important part of this process is thinking about WHAT’S HOT – what
things are trending, nail down some ideas and pass them onto your fiverr
designer.

Tap into the fads!
Other channels for sale.
.

We’re not limited to sticking to marketing those websites who manufacture and
send out the actual goods.

We can use them simply as a sideline.

WHERE THE REAL MONEY IS!
Your products can be presented by copying over preview images from
cafepress.
com and zazzle.
com to depict them as existing products ready to be
shipped!
The bonus of this method is, your product isn’t amidst others of the same type and
contrast of price can’t be established by a visitor.
Ebay oers opportunity to sell
for a higher price!
* LIST YOUR PRODUCT IN AUCTION FORMAT!
People fear scarcity and competition!
How to grab your product pic:
Open up your product designer page (or similar depending on which site you
choose) and press “prt scr” to take a snapshot of your screen.
This step is necessary
since some sites such as CafePress prohibit a right click > save image as.
.
.

Open your a graphics program of your choice (if you don’t have one GIMP is free)
and select edit > paste.
Grab the product images, export and upload to Ebay or
your chosen auction site.

PRT SCR
PRESS
Upload your picture
When setting up your listing, click browse and locate the prepared image of the
product.

Give the listing a good description and
introduce yourself as well as promoting your other products which will (or should)
follow! Paint yourself up to be a reliable person with knowledge for your prints.

Enter your FAD keyword in the title!
Describe what’s in the print.

Go one further
If you’re a dab hand with graphics software you can go a step further and display
the print hanging on an interior wall in your listing!
Simply Google a public domain image of a living room and combine the two
pictures similar to what’s shown below!
This is simply to give the user a virtual preview, however if you do a good job you
can pass it o as being a real photograph just like the seller who manufacture
prints and sell hundreds daily.
!
When orders come in, simply run a personal order through the manufacturers website
and state an alternative delivery address!
This merely covers only a few opportunities, though they are the key components.
The
sky is your limit and there is a legit, money making business to be had with this form of
outsourcing and aliation.

If even a shadow of a doubt creeps into your mind before you EXECUTE, think of how
many low quality garments have been sold bearing a SMILEY FACE!
DESIGN SELLS & IT’S WITHIN YOUR REACH!
Other channels for sale.
.

We’re not limited to sticking to marketing those websites who manufacture and
send out the actual goods.

We can use them simply as a sideline.

WHERE THE REAL MONEY IS!
Your products can be presented by copying over preview images from
cafepress.
com and zazzle.
com to depict them as existing products ready to be
shipped!
The bonus of this method is, your product isn’t amidst others of the same type and
contrast of price can’t be established by a visitor.
Ebay oers opportunity to sell
for a higher price!
* LIST YOUR PRODUCT IN AUCTION FORMAT!
People fear scarcity and competition!

CPA Expressway

Ezra Wyckoff
Disclaimer
I can not guarantee you will make any specific amount of money with the information
presented in this training guide. Results will vary from person to person and is heavily
influenced by the amount of effort youput forward. Any example of income associated
with this product is only to be used as a reference to what is possible with this training.
Most income references are that of myself and/or my customers and does not mean you
will see the same results. You may not copy, rewrite, edit or share this training guide
with anyone without proper permission
Welcome
Thanks for picking up CPA Expressway! I’ve been away from spotlight for a while
and haven’t launched anything in quite some time. The reason being my attention
has been laser focused on my Teespring, eCom and CPA business.
Launching courses is fun but it can get old pretty fast, so I took a break and decided
to put all my focus on my business for a while. And it has seriously paid off. I
worked on a ton of new theories and ideas for techniques to make money with the
big 3, Teespring, CPA and eCom.
I think I’ve done a really good job managing my time to be able to work on all 3 of
these business at the same time and I want to share with you one particular method
that has been one of my long running, consistent go-to methods.
Now, trust me, you might be shocked at just how simple all of this will sound, but all
YOU need to do is follow the steps EXACTLY as I suggest and watch the magic
happen. Don’t stray far away from my suggestions as they are given from tons of
experience over the past few months of doing this method.
The work involved in this method is easy, however, there will be people who fail.
Why is that? There’s ALWAYS going to be people who fail and most of the time it has
nothing to do with the product but ALL to do with what that person did with the
product. Most of the time that is NOTHING, sometimes people try it a little bit, but
certainly not enough to be able to say they gave their best effort. Most people just
aren’t cut out for this game – they quit when a campaign fails or when something
doesn’t go how they expect.
Also, a lot of times it IS because of the product. It sucks. Just a bunch of theoretical
ideas that have never actually been tested. So there’s the biggest problems – before
we move on to the actual method, let’s address them.
First of all, the following technique has been tested rigorously. The way it’s set up
right now is NO WHERE NEAR how it started. That’s how things go when you
actually test things. It almost never works out right in the beginning. The true
winners stick it out, learn from failures, test new angles and figure it out.
I admit, it took me a while to figure this method out. But after a few weeks of tuning
and tweaking and tuning and tweaking I finally started to get leads pouring in. I
learned from a ton of mistakes FOR YOU and made sure to lead you down the right
path with this course, so FOLLOW it!
And when it comes to the first problem that some people just aren’t cut out for this.
This is the closest you can get to a fool-proof method of making money with CPA
and if you are reading this that means YOU can be successful with THIS method.
BUT… if you are in the area of someone who has tried a lot of different techniques, I
just NEED you to make a commitment to this method. Just give it 3 weeks. You will
be glad you did! If you are into Teespring or eCom stuff, this is a perfect method to
simply include to your daily schedule as it flows in perfectly with what we’re
already doing.
There’s two parts of this method, part one is simply setting everything up so you
can start making money and part two is getting traffic! Remember, keep it simple
and just follow the steps. If you get stuck or need help in between steps, please
reach out and ask for help! I want a very high success rate with this course, help me
reach that goal by making a commitment to stick at this for a few weeks.
Ready to get started? Let’s go!
Part1: Setting everything up
First, we have to get the entire method set up. Once you’ve got everything set up,
you’re ready to make money – you just have to figure out how to get high quality
traffic to your page!
The very first thing you need to do is sign up for two incentive CPA networks:
http://www.cpalead.com
http://www.adworkmedia.com
These are two networks that I personally use and can vouch for as great CPA
networks for all experience levels. They are not snobby when it comes to accepting
affiliates – as long as you at least know what you’re talking about and not “faking
the funk” completely, you should have no problem being accepted.
It’s very simple to be accepted to both of these networks. I believe CPALead accepts
everyone. I’m not sure if it’s instant(it used to be) but I know they hold their door
open for all experience levels, as long as you are performing within their TOS.
Which is pretty easy to do as they have a pretty loose TOS and breaking it pretty
much means you were doing something illegal. With AdWorkMedia, they are just as
open to letting you in, but you definitely need to put the right stuff in the
application and at least know what you’re talking about when it comes to Internet
Marketing in general.
When you sign up, the most important thing for you to do is to let them know that
you plan on using mostly paid forms of traffic like PPC, PPV, Display, etc. The main
portion of this method uses free traffic but there is a section later on covering a way
to profit using PPC. Most people reading this has enough knowledge to sign up to a
CPA network with truthful answers. Most of you have experience with FB ads, let
them know this. Let them know how long you’ve been into Internet Marketing and
that you’re really interested in checking out the CPA side of things.
So, if you don’t have an account with these two networks. Go ahead and sign up for
them right now and then come back to continue.
Alright, now you’re signed up. Take some time to snoop around each site, get used
to the interface, look around the offers, etc, etc. Once you are signed up to CPALead
and AWM, you have a plethora of offers sitting there waiting for you to promote.
It’s important to be signed up with both of these networks because I use them both
in different situations. Sometimes CPALead is the best option and sometimes AWM
has the best options, you want to make sure you are using them both so you’re
grabbing all of the potential money sitting on the table for you.
Signed up? Great.
Next, you need to go grab a .com domain. You can pretty much always find a $0.99
domain coupon laying around for GoDaddy or NameCheap. Make the name
something pretty general but having something to do with contests. Take a few
minutes to come up with something that sounds decent, looks official and is short
and easy to remember. Example: RaffleBurner.com – thought of this split second
while typing, it doesn’t mean anything in particular but it is short and concise, easy
to remember and brand. And it has the “contest” ring to it with the Raffle word.
Got a domain? Great.
Alright, we needed that domain to create our offer pages. On these offer pages we
will be offering something of value to a niche audience. This “thing” has to really be
something they want. Not just something they like a little bit but something that
they want to point where they feel like they need it.
This creates a sense of desperation within your targeted audience, the more
desperate they are to own the “thing” you are hanging out as bait, the higher your
conversions will be. It’s easy to make money with this method, but it was profiting
that took me a while to understand. The main traffic we will discuss today it free
traffic(meaning NO ads) from Instagram and Twitter. We will also talk about one
paid form of traffic that works really well.
Now that you’ve got your domain ready to go, you need to get your first offer page
ready to go. Once you have your first offer page up and everything looks good,
you’re ready to start sending traffic and that’s where the money is made.
To create your offer pages, I suggest Profit Builder or a similar tool like Click
Funnels. I use Profit Builder, which I’m sure can be found with a quick Google
search. It’s simple, easy to use and does exactly what we need.
These offer pages are extremely simple. Headline, 2-column content, and a call to
action. That’s it. It’s important to keep it very simple. Your traffic will land here in
the mindset of checking out the price of your “bait”. They’ll hit this page and get
thrown into this contest funnel. At this point you have an option to capture a sale
before the customer continues, it’s totally up to them but it’s a win-win for you.
This all may sound a bit cloudy right now but it’ll all be crystal clear as you continue
reading through the course. For now, we will come back to this step.
Choose a niche
There’s a ton of ways to promote CPA – sometimes you just promote the offers
directly to an audience that isn’t any particular niche and sometimes you want to
get focused in on ONE particular niche until you have it down pat. For this method
we’re going with the latter.
Choose ANY niche that interests you AND that is profitable. Make sure it’s a decent
sized niche so that you have a big audience to advertise to. Don’t trap yourself in a
small box by going after tiny niches with this method. Use Facebook Audience
Insights to research any niches you aren’t sure about to make sure they have a nice
audience size.
This step is really self explanatory and shouldn’t be over-complicated, you’ll see
several examples later.
Got your niche? Great.
So I want to make sure you are keeping up with me and not letting the simplicity of
this method fly over your head, so I will use an example scenario to keep up with
the steps.
So, I’m John and I just signed up to CPALead and AWM.
I got accepted and I looked around at the cool members area of both networks.
I got Profit Builder so I can create my “offer pages”.
I decided on Wine as my niche.
Now I’m at this step reading about myself.

So now you want to think about the kind of offers you are going to promote here.
This part took me a while to get right. Lots of testing, lots of money down the drain
spent collecting data to find what works. Here’s the answer.
Whatever the network says is converting well.
For a long time I was direct linking to offers and trying to test which angle would
work best instead of REALLY taking advantage of the tools and technology that
returns big profits.
The real key is to use the Link Locker feature with CPALead/AWM and let them
show whatever offers are converting well. These offers will range in payout but the
real important thing is how well convert and they take this into consideration
automatically with the offers they show in the link locker. So I tried overcomplicating
it in the beginning and searching for specific offers to test one by one
and it turns out letting the Link Locker work is by far the best way to go.
So right now what you want to do is get your first link locker set up. Choose one of
your networks to start, for our example let’s roll with AWM. Setting up Link Lockers
for both is pretty much the same.
Check out these two videos on setting up your Link Locker to CONVERT:
Part 1
Part 2
Ok, got your Link Locker set up? Great.
So now we want to put this Link Locker at the end of an opt-in form. This is
NEEDED in order to properly carry out the method and keep things completely
ethical and built for the long-term.
Any autoresponder will work, I recommend Aweber or GetResponse because those
are the ones I’m familiar with and they have decent service. So all you need to do at
this step is set up a List for the niche you are on and then set up an opt-in form.
Check out this quick video covering the simple steps of setting this up.
Got your List & Link Locker set up? Great.
Now, let’s take it back to the offer page step. Now, we’ve got to get an offer page
built with a picture of your bait, a video walking your visitors through the process
and and a link to enter your contest. Fortunately, I won’t leave you with the duty of
creative a video as you can just use mine. It works, it’s been through a ton of testing
to get where it is, so why not just grab what I’m already using.
Click here to download your Walkthrough video that goes on every offer page you
set up from here on out for future niches you explore.
This video is universal to whatever bait you choose in whatever niche. Having this
video is key. We went a long time without it, testing different headlines, trying
dozens of unique angles but what we needed was a video that walks them through
the entire process beforehand, so they know what to expect.
One of the biggest hurdles of this method was trying to overcome doubt and
uncertainty. We went through a ton of testing to get to the point where we can send
cold traffic to our offer page and quickly develop a bit of trust before they even go
any further. I take a number of objections head on in the video and go with a really
straight forward approach that converts.
So you already have the video, which is one of two pieces of content needed in the
2-column landing page set-up I use for my offer pages. The only other thing needed
is a picture of your bait. So let’s talk about this bait.
The bait is something you are going to offer in return for your visitors filling out
your CPA offer. Now, this HAS to be something that passionate people of your
chosen niche really wants. Stick to items under $10. The cheaper the better but
remember what I said above. It has to be something they truly WANT. This can be a
t-shirt, phone case, necklace or a keychain to name some of the main ones I use.
I really like to do cool lower priced items around $1 – $2 most of the time because
the profit is awesome so I recommend starting with something priced below $5.
You can find some amazing deals for some reaaally cool things on AliExpress. If
you’re into eCom then I’m sure this is a website you are all too familiar with.
If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, just see what’s selling in the eCom
world, look for those hot items that are selling, and go after the virtually untapped
freebie seeker portion of that audience. You’ll get a nice amount of buyers along the
way if you put the optional buy link at the bottom btw 😉
My suggestion is to find something I listed above on AliExpress for under $5. Take
your niche to the search field and do some digging. If you’re new to AliExpress
you’ll be surprised at the amount of awesomeness you have access to for such a low
price.
So to make this visually stimulating let’s choose as an example to roll with. Here’s
an awesome wine phone case that I know converts well and it costs about $1.50.
This particular case has a ton of life in it as it’s still a fairly new concept so a lot of
Wine drinkers have yet to see this and this is something most wine lovers would
really want when they see.
So this is an example of something that definitely passes qualifications to be your
bait. Not to mention, this thing cost a buck – that makes for an awesome return.
The above picture is just fine for a picture to use as the other piece of content in the
2-column landing page set-up on your offer page. It’s like this:
SIMPLE HEADLINE
PICTURE OF BAIT | WALKTHROUGH VIDEO
CTA BUTTON
(optional: skip to buy)
The page is set up in very simple format on purpose. It controls the visitors
attention to exactly where you want them to be. The optional part at the bottom IS
recommended, you always want to leave the window open for people who want to
skip the contest and buy.
Please check out this video walking you through the setup of your offer page.
Freebie seekers are the big target here. For those current Teespring/eCom folks,
this is a great method for those shirt/items that get a good response but no sales. If
you’ve ran any Teespring campaigns you know how BIG the “freebie” seeking crowd
really is. It’s those people who comment saying they want it or wish they could get
it, the people who tag their friends and ask them to buy for them, the thousands of
people who click over to your Teespring/product page and leave after seeing a
price outside their budget.
Ask an eCom guy about how many people they see adding things to the cart and not
buying. Or ask a Teespring guy how many times they’ve had a campaign with a lot
of “I want this” comments but no sales. Even the most successful campaign ever will
have waaaaaay more add to carts than checkouts. The checkouts are the buyers and
the others fall into the category of a freebie seeker. And there’s an enormous
amount of those people in every niche.
It’s not very hard to reach these people. The good thing is… the best way to reach
them IS through free traffic techniques as opposed to paid traffic.
Before I move on, I want to bring in the John scenario again to make sure things are
clear at this point.
So yeah, I’m John, I’m now a member of CPALead and AWM. I got a domain called
RaffleBurner.com to host my offer pages. I got ProfitBuilder so I can build those
offer pages. I chose Wine as my niche. I set up my Link Locker. I created a webform
in aweber with my Link Locker as the “Thank you” page. I found some cool Wine
cases for my bait and finished setting up my offer page.
Part 2: Getting traffic
Getting traffic is really simple. Free traffic really seems to be the best route with this
method, even after me trying almost every paid traffic source known to man testing
this technique, none of them returned a greater profit than the simple FREE
methods that follow.
Our focus in Instagram and Twitter.
Create a new Instagram and a new Twitter to match your current niche. It has to be
named something that will catch your target audience attention. Example: Wine
Lovers of Instagram.
First you HAVE to build the page up a bit. You NEED social proof before anyone
even sees your page so get some posts up on your page related to your niche. On
instagram just post at least 5 – 10 cool pics/meme/ecards etc that have something
to do with your niche. On Twitter, just make a few tweets related to your niche, you
can even go to another (Wine) page on Twitter and just use a few of their tweets
where they post an interested article or photo. You can also post the same memes
and ecards that you posted on your IG on your Twitter.
Make this a quick step, don’t get caught up on something simple like this. Sit down
in one sitting and spew out some content on your IG and your Twitter so it doesn’t
look like a ghost town. Make sure you follow some people to make your profile look
natural and of course you NEED to get followers before promoting. You need these
initial followers for social proof so it doesn’t matter if they are quality followers or
not, just grab some followers using a “Get Followers” service and presto! You’re
ready to go!
Try www.followbang.com for Instagram followers. Great timing because their prices
just went down for an October blow out sale. Having this social proof is vital, people
will visit your page to determine if you’re legit or not. This is a clear cut situation, if
they go to your page and you don’t have many followers, you’re X’d out
immediately. If you have a good number of followers, you will appear more legit.
This is just how it is in today’s generation where follower count is something they
take very, very serious. For most of the general population, when they see someone
with a lot of followers, they automatically get a sense that they are important. And
when someone arrives to a page with 43 followers, they’ll take that person or
business less serious.
For this to work, you have to look good. The biggest hurdle of this method was
getting people to trust me. Getting them to trust the process enough to spend a
minute or two entering a contest that they might not win. EVERYTHING must be in
place exactly how I suggest for this to be profitable for you and one of the most
important things to have in place is to have at least a couple thousand followers on
Instagram and Twitter.
As far as Twitter follower services, they are everywhere. Really easy to find those, a
bit harder to find the IG services which is why I let you guys know where to go for
that. Just look around anywhere on Google or Fiverr for Twitter followers.
Got your followers up? Great.
Once you’ve got things looking good on your Instagram and Twitter, meaning:
– You’re following people
– You have a lot of followers
– Your profile looks professional
– You have a decent amount of social content related to your niche
…then you’re ready to get started. Think of this like setting up a Facebook fanpage.
You’ve already got a niche in mind, you choose an attractive name, you pretty up the
page a bit, choose a niche profile picture and then you’re ready to start running ads.
With Facebook it’s pretty much the same except you don’t need to build any content
or get pre-existing followers for it ads to work. It’s a MUST that you get this social
proof already going beforehand though with THIS method. Get this done quickly.
The IG service I gave you is very fast. And you can find an express seller on Fiverr
for Twitter followers.
One thing I almost forgot to mention, on Instagram, make sure you find a quick
Fiverr gig for Instagram LIKES. You NEED to have likes on the initial photos you
post up before starting. This is another important part of social proof that connects
the dots.
And…I’m John, I’m now a member of CPALead and AWM. I got a domain called
RaffleBurner.com to host my offer pages. I got ProfitBuilder so I can build those
offer pages. I chose Wine as my niche. I set up my Link Locker. I created a webform
in aweber with my Link Locker as the “Thank you” page. I found some cool Wine
cases for my bait and finished setting up my offer page. I created a Wine Lovers
page on Instagram and Twitter. I prettied them up, chose a good profile pic and put
up some good content. I got a lot of followers, my pre-existing photos on IG has
likes and my pages look professional.
At this point you are pretty much done with every aspect of setting up. If you
followed my suggestions to the TEE, you will be in the position to CONVERT like a
mad man.
What you need to do here is get a post up about your bait, leading to your offer
page. For instagram, just post a picture of the bait with a simple CTA in the
description leading them to your BIO(put your offer page link in bio). For Twitter,
just make a simple but descriptive tweet with a photo of your bait attached and PIN
it to the top of your profile.
Getting traffic to your page at this point is all about consistency and patience. You
want to start building up your pages with real followers that are laser targeted to
your niche using the almighty power of hashtags.
You need to set aside time everyday for each of these social networks to work on
your following. I suggest putting at least 15 minutes to each. The more time you
spend, the faster your following will grow but 15-20 minutes per day for each is
fine, I personally don’t work on this for much longer than that.
There are two different techniques you want to work on at the same time and that’s
building your following using hashtags and connecting with other authority pages
within your niche.
Build your following to develop a real, consistent income stream long down the line
instead only running flash in the pan campaigns. Commit to the niche you choose
for this method, this isn’t the kind of method where you hop around from niche to
niche, which is why I told you to make sure you chose a niche with a nice sized
audience and one that’s proven to be profitable.
The jumping around will come in to play when you’re testing different bait items.
Test everything you think is really cool that will get your target audience excited.
Like I said, I’ve had and am having a ton of success with keychains, necklaces,
phonecases, and shirts. Don’t stop there though, I’ve also had a lot of success with
other outside the box items you can find on AliExpress like toys or little gadgets for
an example.
Connecting with authority pages
This is 1 of 2 traffic getting techniques you need to work on during your daily CPA
Expressway time. You MUST connect with pages in your niche that already have a
decent following.
This is easy. Just search for pages in your niche using the search feature – when you
find pages, be sure to write them down somewhere in a list. As soon as you find a
page, just start liking a bunch of their pictures(IG) or retweeting and favoriting a
bunch of their tweets(Twitter). This will grab their attention.
It may not get their attention on the first day. But if you continue to show them love,
without a doubt, you will get their attention. You want to show love to your list of
pages for at least 2 or 3 days without saying a word. Within that time frame, you
should notice some of your love being returned in the form of them FOLLOWING
you back or liking some of your pictures/tweets or in the best scenario possible,
sharing your “bait” post.
During this 2 or 3 days of showing love to your list of pages, you also want to snoop
around their posts/tweets and FOLLOW the people who are liking or
retweeting/favoriting. You can also just go the pages FOLLOWERS, and start
following them from there.
After this 2 or 3 days passes, it’s time to reach out to your list. Whatever means you
have to contact them do it. For those of them who followed you back, simply send
them a Direct Message. For those who didn’t follow back, just drop a comment on
an old picture(IG) or just send them a tweet(Twitter).
I’m really not going to tell you guys EXACTLY what to say because the specifics
aren’t important and also we don’t want a thousand people sending the same
worded message over and over on IG or Twitter and letting their filters catch up.
Use your own words and simply let them know about what you’ve got going on.
You’ll be surprised how many people will respond back quickly with lots of interest.
This is a set-up that impresses a lot of these pages so they would love to offer it to
their following because it will help them look good to their fans.
And of course, money talks. Make sure to include that you are willing to do a “pay
for post” situation where you pay them a couple bucks to post your ad. 75% of
people I reach out to turn out to be interested. Depending on the size of the pages at
hand, I’m usually willing to pay anywhere around $5 – $25 per post. If it’s a really
huge page, into the hundreds of thousands or millions, I’d definitely go higher
because the return would be astronomical regardless.
This kind of traffic converts GREAT – and just like running ads, the more traffic you
send the more you will make. With the CPA Expressway method, any investment for
traffic you do make is always far smaller than every popular paid traffic source out
there.
For most niches you can find a bunch of niche related Twitter and Instagram pages,
you want to reach out to all of them. Yeah, some of them will be marketers who are
already making money from the page, that’s fine – you’ll find a some of them being
interested as well and willing to work with you. You’ll run into this scenario every
once and a while, these people are a bit more saavy and probably won’t go for the
pay for post model. When you run into this situation, just try to work with them!
Even a 50/50 will mean profit for you! You’ll reach all kinds of people who react in
different ways but NUMBERS should be your focus. Get out there start talking to
people!!
Build your following with hashtags
All the while your doing the above, you want to make sure you are building your
own following so eventually you won’t have to depend on anyone for traffic and you
have a solid, consistent income stream in a profitable niche.
As I said earlier, you want to always remain super active liking, retweeting,
favoriting, and just showing a lot of love to authority pages AND their fans. When
you see someone who’s your prime target, just shower them with some love on
their page and often times you will get a follow back. Especially on Instagram.
Using the search features on Instagram and Twitter and searching using different
hashtags related to your niche is very effective in finding those prime targets of
people who you want seeing your bait. Simply showing them love will often get love
back in the form of a follow to start, and when they see your bait, you’ll get love in
the form of CASH!
So I’d search hashtags like #winelovers, #ilovewine #ineedwine, #wineenthusiast
and anything else I can think of. Anyone posting these kind of hashtags is usually
someone I want seeing my bait.
Do the same thing here, simply go to people’s page who post these hashtags related
to your niche and show them love. You can follow some of them as well, but lean
more towards showing love because there are restrictions with how many people
you can follow per hour on Twitter and Instagram and that changes all the time.
Currently, I believe it’s around 30 for Instagram and right around the same for
Twitter.
Maintain a nice mixture between seeking out and contacting pages in your niche
and siphoning fans by snooping around their pages and by finding people through
hashtag searching and you will have a nice sized authority niche page in NO TIME,
trust me!!
Bonus: Paid traffic that works
Okay, so there’s one way to get a boost by using paid traffic but this is THE only paid
traffic source/technique that I actually make good money with and this all started
more recently. I tried my hand with Facebook for a while and spent a lot of money
without any significant return. In the end, I figured out the only way to put up a
fight with Facebook ads is to run video ads and you’ve got to make sure you’re
getting penny views.
This isn’t about FB ads though, it’s tough and I’m still doing a bunch of testing
trying to get to the point where I’m make a good return. However, there is one
traffic source that is newer and on the rise that I am just going googly eyes over and
that is Pinterest Ads.
Not talking about “buyable pins” but “promoted pins” where you actually post a pin
and promote it with ads. I don’t think this is publicly open to where you can just
walk up and open an ads account like Facebook but I think it is pretty easy to get in.
All you have to do is go to Pinterest and sign up for Promoted pins. They take a few
days to a week or more to get back to you but everyone I’ve told this to so far got
accepted pretty quickly.
Once you’re accepted you can get started by posting your first pin and promoting it!
As far as setting up ads go, it is SO simple. I love it. It’s kind of limited on features
and stuff, no crazy targeting capabilities like Facebook but that’s not needed over
here. Target broad. Broad!!
You can get a TON of engagements and clicks at a low price if you’re bait is
something that people really want, which will get people clicking through to your
website from your pin.
This is just $15 of ad spend on ONE campaign. To be clear, that’s 31k impressions
and 1.7k engagements for 15 bucks! And these are HIGH converting clicks. Of all
those engagements I had about 200 clicks to my website. I didn’t have a conversion
pixel set up so it shows 0 but I made about $70 from this $15 spend. This kind of
ROI in the CPA world is pretty much unheard of.
Here’s a quick walk-through of setting up a Pinterest ad. First you need to post a
pin, which is just a pic and a description just like any other ad.
Choose Get traffic to your website.
Click Create a new traffic campaign
Enter as many keywords related to your interest as you want. I suggest 5 – 10
keywords per ad set. These are Pinterest search terms. Head over to Pinterest and
start searching different terms for your niche and check out some of the
suggestions they give as well. Pinterest ads are just a little bit different from
Facebook ads in the way you want to approach the targeting in that you want to
always go as broad as possible.
Start each ad at a $5 daily budget with no more than 10 keywords(interests). If
more keywords remain, launch another ad at $5 for those seperate keywords. Do
this for however many keywords you can find and for however much you want to
commit to spending every day. I bump the daily budget up slowly every other day if
my ROI is positive. Simple as that.
Then, choose your location, language, device and choose a specific gender or both.
Lastly, you choose CPC bid. I suggest bidding at the top end of the suggested bid.
This traffic convert great and sometimes I even go above the suggested limit to bid
strongly and get even more traffic.
PINTEREST ADS ROCK. They are converting great for me promoting both sale items
where people have to pull out their credit card AND this CPA Expressway method
where they just have to enter a contest to win.
That’s it!
Don’t hesitate, hit the ground running and follow everything you just went through
to the TEE and just WATCH the magic unfold! Make sure you choose a profitable
niche and go hunt for some awesome bait!!!!!
Contact me any time for support: ezra@wyckmarketing.com

1$-4$ Per Subscriber

1$-4$ Per Subscriber
Get Paid 1$-4$ Per Email Subscriber
While Building Your Own List!
Introduction
I have spent many hours and days of my
life trying to figure out the best way
to help people get money online in the
simplest and non-overwhelming way
possible.
This Report is meant to be used for
complete newbies as an easy read you
immediately take action on in order to
start seeing results TODAY.
The Truth is (as hard as it was even
for me to accept when I was a newbie).
reading a report is not enough.
you have to act on it and use it in
order to reap the benefits it offers.
Although,
since you decided to take action on
getting this report… you don’t have to
worry about this at ALL.
You have already told me you are the
type of person who wants to get money
online fast and easily as possible.
Finally,
I am grateful to be able to help you
now and whenever you need me.
.
.
to start getting money into your
pockets ASAP and more importantly…the
freedom to do whatever the hell you
want to do .
Also,
if you find this report simple and
even take offense to how simple it
is…then I know I did my job properly.
BTW do me a favor,
and send me your comments,
ideas,
and complaints.
3 Step Formula Summary
Setting up your lead generation system
so that you get PAID to build your own
list is painfully easy and can be
broken down in to 3 steps:
1) Set up your own landing page
2) Apply to a CPA Network
3) Direct those who opt-in to your
landing page directly to your PPL page.
We are going to dive in to each step
into more detail and a bit of the
covert “psychology” of why this is so
effective.
STEP 1 – Set Up Your Own Landing Page
So what actually IS a landing page?
Simple…it’s a page that offers
something that your prospective
customer wants.
For your customer to get what they
want,
all they have to do is put in their
e-mail address.
Here is an example of a landing page:
On your landing page be sure to say
that their gift or free video will be
sent directly to their email.
A line that I write in all of my opt-in
pages is: **Important: Your FREE gift
will be sent instantly to your e-mail
address.
That way when those who just subscribed
get sent to your PPL offer they won’t
be confused or angry.
Now You CAN create your own landing
page using all those html codes…But You
don’t have to!
I get it.
.
.
using all those codes and stuff drove
me insane as well! I’m just a simple
guy who HATES getting overwhelmed.
As a result,
If you haven’t heard of it already,
there’s a web site called leadpages.
net,
that is PERFECT for people like us who
pretty much want the “landing page
template” stuff done for them.
This site is (for a lack of a better
term) the BEST,
as they literally give you templates
to use for virtually any particular
niche.
They also show which templates are
converting the best at the present
moment.
The templates involve lots tools to use
(timers, countdown, etc.) In additi既存のon,
Leadpages connects PERFECTLY with any
email service provider.
Not to sound like this is a pitch for
them,
but this site is honestly a well-kept
secret from 90% of marketers (I didn’t
know it for years and wasted so much
time and money creating my own personal
landing pages that barely converted!).
Check Out LeadPages
Herehttp://leadpages.net
(If you’re not sure how to set up your
leadpages account DO NOT WORRY,
If you need help with it ask me on the
free webinar)
Now,
what most people do is just set up
their landing page,
have traffic go to it,
and just try to get leads…which is
great but…they are leaving out A LOT of
money on the table!
STEP 2- Apply To a CPA Network
Once you have your landing page it is
now time to get accepted by a Pay Per
Lead (PPL) or Cost Per Action (CPA)
network.
So first what is a PPL/CPA network?
It is essentially a group of people who
will PAY you for leads.
Most of these offers offer a good
amount of money in return for each
subscriber you can get them.
Now there are A LOT of PPL/CPA networks
out there that are in most niches that
you may decide to market in…However I
put a quick list to help you get
started:
– Peerfly.com
– ABClead.com
– Adfish.com
– Adreporting.com
– AdsMarket.com
– Affiliateer.com
– Azgoogle.com
– Clickbooth.com
– Datinggold.com (Dating)
– Curadebt.com (Debt/Finance)
– Maxbounty
**Hint: Try applying to as many of
these networks in your niche as you can
….
that way you will be up and running in
no time.
**
How to get accepted into cpa networks
(especially if you’re a newbie):
The fact is a lot of CPA networks
REQUIRE you to submit an application
and A LOT of people (particularly
newbies) never get accepted.
Want to know a little secret?
A lot of CPA networks really don’t care
who comes into their network.
What they care is that:
1.
You’re human
2.
You’re willing to use their stuff for
good.
The problem is CPA networks usually
HATE newbies because they wrongly
ASSUME they are going to use their
offers incorrectly because of their
lack of experience.
So what’s the best way to solve this?
Simple: Don’t say you’re a newbie.
Now,
that doesn’t mean create fake numbers.
Just tell them all the research,
knowledge and stuff you’ve done in the
most
GENERAL sense.
For ex: say “I’ve been involved with
bing ppc for 3 years.
(P.
S THEY LOVE people who have used ppc.
)”
This doesn’t even mean you’ve done BING
PPC or have any numbers.
This could simply mean you’ve HEARD
about it.
The key is it needs to SOUND like
you’ve had experience.
The funny thing is this isn’t unethical
at all because you’re not bringing up
random numbers or getting too specific.
If they ask for a phone conversation:
If they ask for a phone conversation.
.
.
do not be afraid.
They just want to make sure you’re
human and not some spam bot.
Just have a prepared script of what
you’ve done (exactly in the same
“general” way that SOUNDS like you have
experience as we discussed above).
They also might ask what particular
niche you are in,
and what traffic source you use.
Regardless,
as long as you don’t burp or cry
during the phone call you should be
fine.
Step 3- Direct Those Who Opt-in to your
PPL Page
Now that you got accepted to a network,
look around and try to find the best
offer that fits with your niche.
That way they are much more likely to
fill out their email address on your
PPL offer.
Example: You are in that dating niche
and your initial landing page tells men
how they can get a date from Match.
com.
From there send them to a PPL offer
that gives them tips/tricks on how to
do well on the actual date.
Do not send them to a PPL offer about
cleaning their fish bowl as that is
totally unrelated… making it less
likely that they will put in their
email address.
So how do you send them to your PPL
after they opt-in? Simple just go to
your auto responder service and put the
thank you page to your PPL URL just as
pictured below:
(We’re Using Aweber Here)
After doing this the person that just
opted in to your list will be directly
taken to your PPL offer,
which will make you money every time
they fill it out.
So Why Is This So Effective?
This works so effectively because after
a person took the initial “leap of
faith” to put in their email address
into your landing page,
they are MUCH more likely to take this
second “leap” again for the PPL offer.
So,
if your subscriber cost is .
30 and your PPL offer pays you 1.
30 per lead…do you know what that means?
It means that this PPL offer will not
only pay for your traffic costs…but
generate you a PROFIT!
Just by copy and pasting this simple
url you get cash wired straight into
your pocket.
The crazy part is that with these
subscribers on your list you can then
start selling them products and start
even making MORE money.
BUT HOW DO I GET TRAFFIC TO OPT IN TO
MY LANDING PAGE?
Do Not Worry.
Here Are my Three Favorite Landing
Page/Squeeze Page Tweaks That Can
Skyrocket Your Opt In Rate! (Landing
Page and Squeeze Page Are The Same
Thing BTW.
)
3 Major Landing Page Tweaks That Will
Boost Your Opt In So You Can Get Leads
To See Your Offers!
1.
Short squeeze pages- Short squeeze
pages with clean straight to the point
title and text such as This
(I got this template from LeadPages)
Are MUCH better than long drawn out
landing pages with info and pic’s
everywhere.
The fact is NO one likes doing work.
Sodon’t make it harder for them,
by adding a bunch of pic’s and words
everywhere,
and getting them overwhelmed.
2.
Use the “secret code” of your niche –
What are power words? Words or terms
that your target market constantly uses.
For ex: In Internet Marketing,
LIST BUILDING is a power word because
NO ONE else besides internet marketers
would use that term.
This really helps your target market
feel like you understand them.
To find these power words look through
your niches forums and products your
niche buys.
Look for words or “secret code
language” that are CONSISTENTLY used.
3.
Use “Attention: etc….
” As the main above headline- Using the
word “ATTENTION” really is the best way
to call out your buyer target market.
For ex:
You see what I mean? After doing
thorough research on the forums,
I figured out that my target market
for this particular
offer is “basketball players under 6
feet.
” This title CALLS them out directly
and weeds out everyone Else.
Conclusion
That’s All Fellow Marketers!
I showed you 3 steps that will get you
paid while building your list!
Now you can literally build your list
for free or even a PROFIT before even
sending your first email!
The crazy thing is that by doing this
you can then send them additional
offers to help you get more money.
Thank you again for taking your time
and business seriously in reading this
report
If you found this report useful or
useless,
Thank You!

Bing Ads For Beginners

Bing Ads For Beginners
Report
Hey, thank you so much for entering your email and before we get started I want to introduce myself.
My name is Michael Bashi and I am the founder of TheTrafficMaverick.com.
And I am one of if not the only site in the world that teaches marketers like yourself, beginners and experts, how to harness the full potential of the internet, to drive traffic effectively from multiple sources back to your online business, whether it is a website, blog, fan page, whatever it might be.
And just so you know how big, I have actually coached over 12,000 marketers like yourself, how to get traffic to their online businesses and turning that traffic into paying customers.
And today, I want to show you the exact same thing I showed all of them, which is how to use Bing Ads, to expand your business. Getting more leads, and sales, using Bing Ads.
You see where most marketers go wrong online, is they are always seeking what they “think” is the cheapest way to drive traffic online without realizing that it is costing their business, and destroying their online sales.
What marketers usually do is they try to go with services that you found all over the search engines that promise you something like 10,000 visitors for $20 or something like that.
What marketers don’t understand is that they are driving fake, bot traffic to their websites where it is not even real humans visiting your website at all.
Or, it is usually traffic from NON-English speaking countries like India, China, Russia, etc…
Now no one tells you this but how do you expect to make any money online if the traffic you are receiving is traffic from either NON-English speaking countries, or fake traffic ??
And then you wonder why you are not making money. See, PPC search engines like Google and Bing, are not stupid to charge you $0.50, or even $1.00 per click.
Bing Ads For
Beginners Report
Because they know this is how much it costs to drive real, human targeted traffic of buyers, from countries who speak the same language you do and are actually interested in buying what you are selling.
And if you know how to master it, then traffic would cost you nothing because think about it. If you have a killer PPC campaign, that made you $10 every time you spent $5 on ads, wouldn’t you be profitable ? This is a 100% ROI. And if this is the case, wouldn’t you spend as many $5 bills as possible since everytime you spend $5, you’re making $10 ?
With that being said, I am going to show you how to use the power of Bing ads to harness traffic back to your website that converts into leads and sales.
Now I am going to assume you already have a website of some sort. And maybe you tried advertising this website on Bing or maybe not. But I am going to show you exactly what Bing looks for in order for you to get:
 High Quality Score
 High Ad Relevance to your website
 High Click-Through-Rates (CTR), Which results in lower Cost-Per-Click (CPC)
 High Converting Leads, and Converting Those Leads Into Buying Customers.
Let’s Start from the top:
1. You need content. Bing will ban your website right away if your website has very little content. Bing likes for you to have clear, and to the point content that directly correlates to your keywords that you are bidding on. With Bing, relevance is always key.
So here is the format that I had discovered works the best with Bing Ads:
Bing Ads For
Beginners Report
Bing Ads For
Beginners Report
As you can see from the layout, you got your headline at the top.
Then some text opening up the dialogue of conversation which is an introduction to my headline.
Then I got a video, which is optional but I have found through various testing that a video in between content converts a lot higher because most people like to watch the video then read your content and some like to read and watch. So this way you are serving both of your audience.
Then I have 1-2 more paragraphs talking about what I am offering them on the next page if they optin.
This is a biggie. You always want to have a optin landing page first. You never ever want to sell something on the front end for various reasons. You always want to capture the lead and then sell them something. You will have some people who will buy right away, and others who you get them to buy later through email follow-up series. Now this is not an email marketing course nor a copywriting course, but I am sure you get my point.
And as usual, I always have my optin form at the end where after they optin, I send them to whatever content I promised them which is exactly like what I did with you here.
Another important factor to get a high quality score on Bing is you need to have a privacy policy page and a contact us page on your landing page that you will advertise on Bing.
Bing wants a safe and secure environment. And if they are going to send over to you their traffic, they want to know that you are keeping their audience safe and secure. So make sure you have those 2 pages available before setting up your campaign on Bing.
There is much more detail that goes into it but these few key points WILL get you started on the right path.
Bing Ads For
Beginners Report
Now let’s move over to setting up your campaign on BING.
First, you need a BING Ads account, if you do not have one, Go to ads.bing.com and create one by clicking on the signup now button. Go through the sign up process and create yourself an account. It is FREE to join by the way.
if you already have one then just login to your account which should bring you right to your dashboard.
First, you would want to click on the “Create Campaign” tab.
Bing Ads For
Beginners Report
This is where you setup your general settings on the campaign level.
Bing Ads For
Beginners Report
 Enter a campaign name. This is a name only you will see to be able to identify the campaign you are running for your own personal reasons. For the sake of this video, let’s call it “Test Campaign”
 Enter your time zone, if you do not know your time zone you can always Google it. Or Bing it I should say.
 Enter a campaign budget. OK, I believe that if you are testing, A Good test budget should be anywhere between $50-$100 per day. Now let me be honest with you. You are not going to spend this much money anyways. This is the thing about Bing. It takes a while to deplete your budget especially for a new campaign, they will not give you lots of traffic until you have proven your
Bing Ads For
Beginners Report
campaign’s relevancy first which takes time. But when you set a higher budget, you are basically telling Bing to be FREE and send you as much traffic as they can without worry which is a good sign on your part.
 For language, I will assume it is English so set it to that.
 Locations. I usually only target Canada and USA. I personally feel that Canadians and Americans are buyers. Others will tell you to target all English speaking countries but in my opinion, you would be targeting a huge broad market. I suggest you only target USA and CANADA.
 For Advanced Location options – Select “Show ads to people in your target location” This means that your ads will only show up to people in Canada and USA. So if someone from the UK went to Bing.com and searched for your keyword, they will NOT see your ad because they are neither from Canada nor USA and this is how you want it setup. You want to keep your traffic super targeted. Remember, you are not trying to target everyone, you are only targeting those who you know will buy from you, because really, the rest do not matter.
Now it is time to create your Ad
 Again, this is not a copywriting course but let me give you some pointers.
 You want to have an attention grabbing headline. At the same time. It is best to include your keyword that you are bidding for in your ad’s headline. So if you can
Bing Ads For
Beginners Report
create an attention grabbing headline using one of the keywords you are going to bid on, then go for it, if not, then just type the entire keyword for the headline. This ensures relevancy between your keywords and your ads, and you also need to make sure that your ad is relevant to what you are offering on your landing page, this way, the three are relevant and connected to each other and by three, I am talking about the keyword to the ad, and the ad to the landing page. This is how you ensure to get high quality scores and high Click-Through-Rate (CTR)
 Now the body of your ad should include and talks about benefits. NOT FEATURES, but BENEFITS. Here is an example of a feature. The example of my business I am using in this scenario, I am selling an affiliate marketing program.
1. So a feature would be: Get 3 affiliate marketing training videos.
you see; getting 3 videos is a feature, and not something they will benefit from.
2. A Benefit is: Free training videos reveal how you can build a successful affiliate business in 3 days. Now that is a benefit.
When you break it down, it tells the visitor that they are getting a video that will show them how to build a successful affiliate business in 3 days.
I hope you see and understand the difference.
 For my ad, for my headline, I am going to use one of the keywords which is “Affiliate Marketing”
 For my body, I will say: Free video that reveals how to profit from affiliate marketing within 24 hours.
 Now choosing your keywords. Look, people try to make a fuss about this and make it sound like there is a science behind choosing keywords. Really there isn’t and this is simple especially with Bing.
 All you have to do is choose the keywords that directly match what you are advertising. Also make sure to not stuff your campaign with keywords. You want
Bing Ads For
Beginners Report
to use a maximum 5-7 keywords. And do not choose long tail keywords either. Choose short keywords that gets lots of traffic.
Choosing Keywords
of course make sure you are choosing “Keywords” for Bid type option.
Another thing I want you to know is that when you are bidding on keywords, you have the option to bid on broad match, phrase match, and exact match.
Bing Ads For
Beginners Report
Me personally through various testing, I always went with phrase match. Phrase match always gets you nice amount of traffic while keeping your traffic targeted attracting the right people to your offer.
in order to choose phrase match keywords, when you type your keywords in, include the keywords between apostrophes.
“affiliate marketing”
“affiliate programs”
“affiliate program”
“clickbank” (I know this is not directly relevant but all affiliate marketers use ClickBank. So you can include keywords like this but you have to be careful if you do and make sure it is extremely relevant).
Bing Ads For
Beginners Report
As you can see, I have only chosen 4 keywords and this is plenty and more than enough. Yes I did say 5-7 keywords but this is not engraved in stone, if you have less keywords that is fine, you can always add more later down the road.
Now you want to click on “Add” Keywords
OK, the bid that Bing suggests to be on the first page is way OFF and does not at all make sense, in my opinion, they need to fix this so do not go by it. Instead, I want you to click on the drop down menu and select “Ad group bid” which we will setup next.
Bing Ads For
Beginners Report
Click on save
Once you click the save button, now you get to see your Bids, targeting, and advanced options steps that we need to setup.
Bing Ads For
Beginners Report
Let me explain something to you here. There are 3 ways to get traffic from Bing under the Ad distribution feature. I know I am skipping some steps but we will get back to them, not to worry.
1. Search Network: Where your ads will show up only directly under Bing’s own operated search network which includes: Bing search engine, Yahoo search engine, and MSN search engine. This is my ultimate favorite choice and is what I always use.
2. Search partner network: This includes smaller search engines that are part of the Bing network that get smaller volume of searches, but because there is so many of them, you can get a fair number of traffic. This choice I do not recommend unless you are advanced because with this source of traffic, you will get lots of bot and fake traffic and you have to monitor your campaign and weed them out slowly. I honestly do not even use this
Bing Ads For
Beginners Report
traffic source because I find it very less targeted and not worth my time especially when beginning a brand new campaign.
3. Content Network: This method of traffic is having your ads placed on websites like Huffington post, CNN, and many other high traffic and low traffic websites where your ads is placed beside relevant articles and content relating to your Ad. I like this method, but I never use it when I first start a campaign and even when I do use i; I always start a brand new campaign only targeting the content network. This way I get to keep my traffic sources separate which results in better targeting for my ads and I do not have to make Bing split my budget between the 2 traffic sources.
So if you were to ask me which option I would choose, I would tell you to choose the search network ONLY. And this would be the “Bing and Yahoo! search (owned and operated) only” while de-selecting everything else.
When you deselect everything, you will notice that back at the top where you set your bids, that the content network bid fades away because you are no longer using it. And you only need to enter a bid amount for the search network.
Bing Ads For
Beginners Report
Now to keep this brief, I always start my bids at $0.99 and work my way from there.
Bing Ads For
Beginners Report
I see the pulse I receive from this bid and I adjust accordingly. And when I do raise my bids up or down, I always keep it in the $0.05 cents margin. So never increase or decrease your bid by a lot. Keep it very low and subtle so you don’t shock your campaign.
TIP: With Bing ads, you have to be patient. When you setup a campaign, you need to allow it about 48 hours to get the flow going. And everytime you make a change to your campaign, and that is any kind of change, also allow it about 24 hours to get the flow going again. What I am saying is that allow Bing a fair amount of time to produce results for you and don’t be too quick to judge or modify your campaign, in other words, let the campaign breathe before you start modifying it.
As for everything else, keep it all the same, you don’t have to touch anything else. Click on Save and you’re ready to go. Your campaign is all setup with all the right and winning choices. Good job !!!
Bing Ads For
Beginners Report
I really hope you enjoyed this report and as easy as the entire process might sound, you would be surprised at how many people do not follow those simple steps to success with Bing Ads. I hope you took me up on my offer and got yourself the mini Bing Ads course I have prepared for you. If not, you can still grab it if you like on this secret page I still have up for you by following the link below:
Grab The Bing Ads For Beginners Training Here
Cheers to your success !!
Your Friend;
Michael Bashi
Click To Verify Bing Accreditation Seal

YouTube Ultimate

YouTube Ultimate

Table of Contents
Obligatory Earnings Disclaimer
Table of Contents
Introduction
Making Money on YouTube the Smart Way
YouTube Marketing Is Different From Traditional Search Engine Marketing
Not Every Type of Content is Suitable for YouTube
YouTube Videos Must Contain Quality Original Content
The Method
How to Monetize the Videos
Promoting Affiliate Offers
Displaying Ads With AdSense.
Choosing the Correct Monetization Method
What You Need.
Computer.
Software
YouTube Account
And… That’s It!
Step-by-Step Method
Picking a Topic and Finding Relevant Quotes .
Finding Images
Finding Music
Creating the Quote Pictures
Creating the Video
Uploading the Video to YouTube
FAQ
How long does it take to create a quotes video? .
How many videos can I upload per day?

Can I lose my YouTube account?
I live in X, can I use this method?
Appendix A: YouTube Monetization Issues
Appendix B: You Don’t Have an Adsense Account
Note

Introduction
First off, let me thank you for purchasing this e-book and wish you great success on
your path to building a profitable online business based on YouTube marketing.
Making money on YouTube can be challenging, especially if you have zero experience
on the online video streaming platform, but, when done right, it can be extremely
profitable.
If you have any questions, remarks or suggestions, feel free to reach me at
Making Money on YouTube the
Smart Way
In this chapter, I will guide you through the treacherous waters of YouTube marketing
and introduce the basic concepts of my method.
YouTube Marketing Is Different From Traditional Search Engine Marketing
In the past, many Internet marketers tried their luck at YouTube and failed miserably
– I know because I was one of them. The reason many IM enthusiasts fail at YouTube is
because they apply the same methods to the online video streaming platform than
they do to regular Google search results.
By doing so, they forget to take one crucial thing into consideration: the user’s intent.
Let me take an example. A couple of years ago, I started playing around with YouTube
and decided to start uploading my own videos. For my first upload, I settled on
promoting an affiliate offer from a Web hosting company. I wrote a script, hired a
couple of actors and even shot and edited the video using professional equipment. I
named the video “You won’t believe that amazing 90% discount at XXX Web Hosting!”
and waited for the visitors to flock to my new video and click on the affiliate link I
had pasted in the description box.
The results of that experiment? 528 views in 12 months and about $20 in affiliate
commissions for a video that had cost me at least ten times that to make.
And I am not alone here: many Internet marketers – even very successful ones – have
failed miserably when trying to promote offers on YouTube, causing them to dismiss
YouTube entirely with a casual “No one makes money on YouTube unless you’re a
YouTuber.”
As I mentioned earlier, the problem with my video was not its quality, but rather the
fact that I had not taken into consideration the average YouTube user’s intent.
Not Every Type of Content is Suitable for YouTube
When people go to Google to search for something, they do so for a multitude of
reasons, from buying something to learning about a specific topic, finding hotel
reviews or discount coupons, meeting people… The list is endless.
On the other hand, when people go to YouTube, they only do so to either get
entertained or to learn something. Any video that does not fall squarely into either
one of these two categories is doomed to fail.
Now, let’s go back to my original video. Why did it fail? Well, it failed simply because
no one ever goes to YouTube to type “web hosting discount” in the search box.
People do so on Google, not on YouTube.
At this point, you may think: “Hey, wait a minute there, Nick! When I go to Google, I
get YouTube results in my search results and they always rank high! So, even if no
one ever found my “Get the Best Mortgage in Toronto” video on YouTube, people
would still find it when they search for “best mortgage Toronto” on Google!”
Short answer: nope. Google is quite good at finding out the user’s intent based on the
keywords or phrases she entered and will only return YouTube videos on the first page
of the SERPs if it thinks the user is looking specifically for video content or for
instructional/entertainment-type content.
YouTube Videos Must Contain Quality Original Content
Over the years, many Internet marketers have come up with ways to try to “game”
YouTube by uploading quickly-made videos created with Animoto or by re-uploading
videos that have a “Creative Commons” tag. Some have even published WSOs
promoting those same methods to unsuspecting Warriors.
The fact is, YouTube users should never be underestimated. They – very quickly –
upvote content that they enjoy or click the Dislike button on videos that are poorlymade
or videos that they have already seen on other channels. In short: you can’t
“game” YouTube. Your only option if you want to make it big on YouTube is to give
the site’s users what they want: original, quality content.
Unfortunately, creating original quality content is not easy. Sure, there are YouTubers
out there who got famous and are now making millions thanks to their videos but,
let’s face it, not everyone has the personality, looks or sense of humor required to
make it big thanks to their personality alone.
Unless you have great on-screen presence and a ton of confidence to boot, your
chances of making it big on YouTube while appearing on screen or doing voice-overs is
close to nil.
Which brings me to my method.
By using the method I am about to outline, you will be able to create original, quality
content that people actually want to watch on YouTube without having to appear on
screen or in voice-overs.
The Method
Based on what we just discussed, your videos should fulfill three criteria:
– They should be original.
– They should feature entertaining or informative content that people actually
want to watch.
– They should contain quality content.
In addition, to avoid losing your account due to copyright takedowns, your videos
should only contain legal content.
Finally, to make the method scalable, your videos should be easy to produce. Ideally,
you should be able to make several videos per day with minimum hassle.
The method I am going to outline right now does fulfill those five criteria, therefore
allowing you to create hundreds of hours of popular content for YouTube.
But, what is this method about? Well, it’s about quotes.
Quotes?
Yes, quotes.
Rather than spending a couple of paragraphs trying to explain what a “quotes video”
is, I am going to ask you to go watch the following three videos right now. Don’t
worry, they’re less than 5 minutes long and it won’t take too much of your valuable
time.
Quotes About Life Lessons (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uaj1vzaeXMU)
Love Quotes and Sayings (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ke_XUU7rJA)
Once a Wise Man Said (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bGVFTbvQQs)
Done? Alright.
As you’ve just seen, quotes videos, typically, are slideshows of images featuring
quotes on a specific topic with music playing in the background.
By using license-free images and music along with anonymous quotes or quotes from
religious figures or famous people – which cannot be copyrighted –, you can create an
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endless number of quotes videos, each targeting a specific issue or interest, from
loneliness to depression, love, friendship, school, the Bible or even, if you feel so
inclined, certain types of afflictions.
As we will see in the next section, this makes monetizing such videos really easy by
only attracting highly-targeted viewers.
In addition, quotes videos can be made quickly, using either free software or
programs that are already installed on your computer. You won’t have to spend a
dime to make them. Time-wise, it usually takes me about 30 minutes to make a full 3-
minute video, which means that you could easily make 10 videos per day, or even
more!
How to Monetize the Videos
You can make money off quotes videos by using one of two distinct methods:
promoting affiliate offers or displaying video ads using AdSense, Google’s ad platform.
Promoting Affiliate Offers
As I mentioned in the previous section, creating quotes videos lets you attract a
highly-targeted audience.
Let’s consider, for example, a video titled “Quotes About Break-Ups.” Just by looking
at the title, I can safely guess that the audience for that particular video is going to
be mostly people who recently experienced a break-up and are looking to get over it.
In addition, because quotes videos are more popular among women than men, I know
that the audience is going to be overwhelmingly male.
In other words, I now have a captive audience of women who just broke up with their
boyfriends or fiancés. Wouldn’t that particular audience love to hear about a
downloadable guide on how to find the perfect man, or sign up for a free trial on a
cool dating site? Of course, they would love it!
For such a video, I would personally look at available offers on ClickBank or other
affiliate platforms and search for dating-related offers, especially offers targeting
women rather than men. I would then copy the affiliate link and place it in the
description box of the video, along with a few words enticing viewers to click on it.
Actually, this is exactly what I did a while back. The click-through rate to the affiliate
offer for that particular vid was over 15%, which is insane. All of that because of the
highly-targeted audience quotes videos attract.
Displaying Ads With AdSense
As an alternative to using affiliate offers, you can opt to display ads on your videos by
ticking the “Enable Monetization” check box when uploading a new video.
Please note that doing so is only possible in select countries and if you already have
an approved AdSense account. In Appendix A and Appendix B, located at the end of
this e-book, I outline how to circumvent the country limitation and how to get an
AdSense account approved fast by following a few simple steps.
Once you have enabled monetization on the video, Google will start displaying video
ads before your video or small banner ads at its bottom. You will be paid a
percentage of the ad revenue generated by those banners and video ads.
Choosing the Correct Monetization Method
Personally, I have had far better results using affiliate offers than I’ve had using
AdSense. The only downside to adding affiliate offers to videos is that finding the
right offer, signing up for it and pasting the link can be time-consuming if you’re
uploading several videos a day.
However, I personally find that the financial rewards far outweigh that little bit of
extra effort.
What I would strongly encourage you not to do, however, is to use both at the same
time. Because Google is good at what they do, they will usually present the same type
of offers in their ads than the ones you are pitching in the description box. Given the
fact that affiliate offers let you earn more money, the last thing you want is for
someone who was looking exactly for the type of offer you were promoting to click on
a Google ad instead.
My final advice: pick a method and tinker it until you achieve maximum commissions.
What You Need
Computer
Obviously, for this method, you need a computer. Because the steps outlined in the
next chapter rely on Windows Movie Maker, a free program from Microsoft, your
computer should ideally run under Windows 7, Windows 8 or 8.1, or Windows 10. If
your computer is running under MacOS X, Linux or older versions of Windows, you will
not be able to run Windows Movie Maker. There are, however, other free alternatives
out there for your operating system.
You don’t need an extremely fast computer to follow this method. Any computer –
laptop or desktop – released within the last five or six years should be able to output
the videos we’re going to create.
Software
As I mentioned earlier, for this method we are going to use Windows Movie Maker. In
addition, you will need a graphics editor to create the images containing the quotes.
While you can obviously create great pictures with a paid program such as Photoshop,
you can achieve very similar results with a free program such as Paint.net (not to be
confused with the dreadful Paint program built into Windows) or GIMP, which are both
available under a wide variety of operating systems.
YouTube Account
Since you are going to upload videos to YouTube, you obviously need a YouTube
account. Both brand new and aged accounts are perfectly suitable for this method. If
you already have a YouTube account, you may want to create a new channel
dedicated to your quotes videos. You can find more information about creating a
YouTube channel over here:
https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/1646861?hl=en
And… That’s It!
See? I wasn’t lying when I said you could create videos without spending a dime! 😉
Step-by-Step Method
Picking a Topic and Finding Relevant Quotes
Your first step when it comes to creating a quotes video is to find its topic, the “X” in
“Quotes About X”. Fortunately, doing so is not that hard as any topic is suitable for a
quotes video, as far as it somewhat resonates on an emotional level. For example,
“Quotes About Having a New Baby Girl” would make for an excellent quotes video,
while “Quotes About Choosing a Shower Curtain” would not.
Of course, your choice of topic may sometimes be influenced by other factors. If you
plan to reach a specific audience to your video – for example, if you plan on
promoting a specific affiliate offer – you may want to select a topic that is likely to
attract the people you’re looking for, for example by choosing “Quotes About Love
Over the Age of 60” to promote an offer for a senior citizen dating site.
Very broad topics are all probably saturated by now, so you may want to aim for
something slightly more specific. For example, while “Quotes About Depression” is
too broad, “Quotes About Teenage Depression” hits the sweet spot between being
specific enough to avoid getting buried under hundreds of similar videos and still
finding a sizeable audience.
There are several tools that can help you get ideas for new topics. First off, there is
of course YouTube itself. Look at other quotes videos and see how you could slightly
tweak their titles to create a new topic. Then there is the good old Google Keyword
Tool, which can provide you with a bunch of fresh ideas. Finally – and this is my
favorite one – you can just sit down with a piece of paper and a pen and try to list any
issue, feeling or situation you or your loved ones have experienced in the past. Once
you are down listing them, discard the ones that are unsuitable for a quotes video and
use the remaining ideas to come up with topics.
Note: If you feel so inclined, religious quotes (quotes from religious books such as the
Bible or the Quran, or quotes from famous religious figures such as Abraham or
Buddha, for example) are also extremely video-worthy. While such videos may
attract a slightly less-targeted audience than regular videos, they can still provide
you with a sizeable amount of traffic.
Once you have found a suitable topic, go to BrainyQuote, QuoteGarden or even just
Google and use those sites’ search engines to look for quotes related to the topic you
selected.
Make a list in Notepad of 15-20 quotes.

Warning: Regular quotes – as in words spoken by someone famous – cannot be
copyrighted and are therefore free to use. While film quotes are somewhat of a gray
area in terms of copyright, song lyrics are copyrighted and cannot be reproduced
without permission. In other words, stay away from lyrics.
Finding Images
While you can technically place your quotes on a black background, I personally find it
more eye-pleasing to have quotes placed against an inspiring or beautiful picture.
To avoid having to find new images for each video you make, I suggest you only
download pictures of landscapes or natural locations, such as a beach, a meadow,
etc… The reason behind choosing those types of pictures is that a landscape picture,
for example, can be used for any type of quotes video, regardless of its topic. On the
other hand, a picture of a man holding a woman’s hand is only suitable for topics that
are somewhat related to romance.
Of course, you can’t just grab any picture off the Internet, as most images are
copyrighted. Fortunately, Google Images comes with a handy feature that lets you
find pictures you can legally modify and use in your own projects.
Go to Google Images and enter a search term in the box. For example, “sunset.”
Click the Search Tools link.
15 | P a g e
Open the Usage Rights menu and select Labeled for Reuse With Modification.
All of the pictures displayed in the search results are now pictures you can legally use
in your project.
Download about 20 photos featuring varied landscapes, celestial elements or locations
and save them in a new folder on your hard drive.
Note:
– For optimum results, download photos that are, at the very least, 1024 pixels
by 728.
– Flickr, a Yahoo website, also contains a vast collection of rights-free images.
Finding Music
YouTube is an audiovisual platform. Viewers typically expect videos to come with
some sort of an audio track, and quotes videos are no exception.
You can find rights-free music by using YouTube’s new music library. This library
contains hundreds of music tracks that you can freely use in your projects.
One thing you should keep in mind before downloading a track is that the length of
the music track you download is critical as it is going to determine the time each of
your quotes is going to stay on screen. For example, if you have a video with 20
quotes and a 2-minute audio track, each quote is going to stay on screen for 6 seconds
(120 seconds divided by 20). Optimally, to allow viewers to properly read the quotes
displayed in your video, each quote should stay on screen for at least 8 to 10 seconds.
For a video containing 20 quotes, it means that your audio track should ideally be
between 2 minutes and 40 seconds (160 seconds, or 8 seconds * 20) and 3 minutes and
20 seconds (200 seconds or 10 * 20).
16 | P a g e
Now, let’s start downloading some songs.
First, head on over to YouTube’s Audio Library and make sure Free Music is selected
at the top.
Enter a keyword in the search box. In this example, I chose “Romantic.”
Click the arrow icon to preview a track and, once you have found that suits your
video, click the downward-pointing arrow icon to download it in the MP3 format.
Tip:
If an icon is displayed in the Attribution column next to the track is selected, it
means you must credit the author of the song in your video’s description. Copy the
attribution text and paste it in Notepad. Don’t forget to add that text to the
description when uploading your video.
Creating the Quote Pictures
Launch your favorite graphics editor, open the images you previously saved and type
or paste the quotes onto them, one image per quote.
Tip:
– Do not use Paint for this step, as it is dreadful. If you have a Creative Suite
subscription, use Photoshop. Otherwise, download either Paint.net or GIMP,
two free graphics editors.
– Play around with the font, font color and the Drop Shadow effect to ensure
viewers can properly read the quote.
Example:
Once you have placed all of your quotes onto background images, proceed to the next
step where we will create the video.

Creating the Video
To create the video, we are going to use Windows Movie Maker, a program from
Microsoft that is part of the Windows Live Essentials suite. If you haven’t done so
already, download Live Essentials from Microsoft’s website and install the program.
Tip:
– Windows Movie Maker is only available for Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and 10. If you are
still running Windows XP, consider upgrading your operating system or using a
commercial video editing application such as Camtasia.
– Mac owners can create slideshow videos by using iMovie.
Let’s get started.
Launch Windows Movie Maker and click the Add Videos and Photos icon in the Home
toolbar.
Select all of the quote images you previously created to import them into your
project.
Next, click the music note icon above Add Music and use the file browser to select
the MP3 music file you downloaded earlier.
19 | P a g e
Open the Project toolbar and click the Fit to Music icon to sync the slideshow with
the music.
Preview your video by clicking the Space key on your keyboard and, if you are happy
with the results, export the movie by opening the File menu, clicking on Save Movie
and selecting For Computer or For High-Resolution Display. Name the file and click
Save.
Tip:
The For Computer setting generates a file that is roughly 40MB per minute of screen
time, while the For High-Resolution Display generates a file that is over 300MB per
minute. While the HD option may offer better quality, I personally stay away from it
as the prospect of uploading a 600MB file to YouTube is not particularly appealing.
Uploading the Video to YouTube
To upload your movie file to YouTube, go to the Upload page on the YouTube website,
click the Select Files to Upload icon and select the movie file Windows Movie Maker
just created.
While your file is uploading, enter your video’s title – which should contain the word
“Quotes” – and a description containing, if needed a link to your affiliate offer. If you
prefer to enable AdSense, open the Monetization tab and tick the check box next to
Monetize With Ads instead.
Congratulations, you just finished creating and uploading your first quotes video!
FAQ
How long does it take to create a quotes video?
Personally, it takes me less than 30 minutes to create one from scratch. If I choose to
reuse content I already have, such as photos or music, it’s even less than that.
How many videos can I upload per day?
As many as you want!
Can I lose my YouTube account?
No, everything outlined in this tutorial is not only perfectly legal, it also fully
complies with YouTube’s terms of service.
I live in X, can I use this method?
Yes, you can use this method regardless of where you live!

Appendix A: YouTube
Monetization Issues
NOTE: The information in both Appendixes only apply if you plan on displaying ads on
your videos, NOT if you simply want to link to an affiliate offer.
If you live in a Western country, in Japan or in Australia (along with a few other
countries), you’re in luck because video monetization is available on your regional
YouTube website. You just need to enable it via your Video Manager.
However, if you happen to live in a country where monetization is not available, you
will see a message telling you that monetization is not available in your country if you
try to do so.
Fortunately, there is a workaround.
Go to your channel’s homepage and click on the “Edit” pencil icon that is at the
bottom-right of your channel’s cover photo. From the menu that pops up, select
“Channel settings.”
There, change your channel’s country to a Western country (France, Germany, United
Kingdom, etc…) and save your new settings.
It is important to note that this setting only affects your channel. Your Google
account, as well as your Adsense account’s country will not be modified.
You should now, however, be able to enable monetization in your Video Manager.
Appendix B: You Don’t Have an
Adsense Account
Getting an Adsense account approved can be tough. It used to be really easy until, a
few years ago, Google realized that spammers had started abusing the system. So,
now, you need to go through a rigorous application process just to get your account
approved.
Fortunately, you can do it in just one week.
One quick note, though: Unless you happen to already have a YouTube channel with
many high-quality, original videos, do not try to apply to Adsense by using your
YouTube channel.
If you already have a website with plenty of original content, you’re in luck. Go to the
Adsense homepage, submit your application and wait about an hour. After an hour, go
back to the homepage, create an ad code, place it anywhere on your website and
wait about three days for the Adsense bot to crawl your website. If the bot thinks
your website is suitable for Adsense, you will get an email telling you that your
account is officially approved.
If you don’t have a website yet, here is a quick, simple and tested method that works:
1. Sign up for a webhosting account at Hostgator. In my opinion, they’re the best
webhosting company out there (and they’re pretty cheap).
2. Order a domain name.
3. Log in to cPanel and use the QuickInstall feature to install WordPress.
4. Create 15 posts on your new blog with a minimum word count of 500.
5. Apply to Adsense with your new blog.
As a quick tip, do not create a technology or cooking-related blog, as those sites
rarely get approved by Adsense. Personally, I have found that travel-related blogs are
the easiest one to get approved with.
By the way, the 500-word blog posts do not need to be mind-blowingly good. As long
as they’re on-topic and written in decent English, you should be fine.
If you don’t like writing, you could even order those blog posts on Fiverr. Just make
sure to pick sellers who sell quality articles, not spun content.
Good luck!

Note
If you enjoyed this method, please take the time to post a review on the Warrior
Forum to help your fellow warriors make an informed decision when it comes to
purchasing it.
Thanks!

Warriors Autoblogging Guide

Warriors Autoblogging Guide

2
3. Introduction
4. Setup Your WordPress Blog
5. Create a Subdomain
8. Install WordPress Tutorial
13. Install WordPress Theme
15. Auto-Blogging Machine
16. Introducing IFTTT
17. Install IFTTT Bridge
19. Configure IFTTT Bridge
20. Syndicate Feeds to WordPress
34. Ping Your Blog Posts
35. Stop Link Juice Links
36. Post Expirator Plugin
37. Newsletter Subscription Popup
38. Conclusion
39. Want more?

3
Imagine having a WordPress blog that is updated daily with fresh blog posts on autopilot. –

And then everyday a list of subscribers is updated when a new blog post is made.
In this guide we are going to setup an autoblogging system on WordPress that will offer a way for people to subscribe to the blog. – At zero-cost to maintain.
Email marketing and list building without the headaches and costs!
This strategy guide offers you the ability to choose not to install the autoblogging system and to only use the blog email subscription features to update a list of subscribers each time that you create a new WordPress blog post. – Your choice.
Get your gear and let’s get started! –
If you choose to accept this mission you will need the following:
WordPress Blog
IFTTT Account
Gmail Account
Feedburner Account
Should you choose to accept this mission the whole process should take the average person 1-2 hours to setup.

4
*If you already have WordPress installed you can skip these steps and proceed to page 15 to setup the auto-blogging machine.
To use the extended features within WordPress you need to setup a self-hosted WordPress blog. WordPress self-hosted blogs offer the ability to add plugins and custom themes.
We recommend that you purchase GoDaddy cPanel hosting because GoDaddy cPanel hosting is fast, the price is right and their customer service is top-notch. Additionally, their cPanel hosting makes it really easy for you to create multiple sub-domains, multiple email accounts and many other powerful features. http://GoDaddy.com
Note: When purchasing GoDaddy’s cPanel hosting make sure that you purchase the plan that allows you to host unlimited domains if you are looking to create multiple website/blogs.

5
For this demonstration we are going to setup a self-hosted WordPress blog on a GoDaddy cPanel hosting account using a sub-domain.
Once you have purchased GoDaddy’s unlimited cPanel hosting navigate to cPanel. The domain to your cPanel should look something like this:
Example: www.social-ops.com/cpanel
Login to cpanel using your login credentials.
Note: If at anytime you need help you can call GoDaddy directly and they will answer all of your questions. Their customer service is top-notch! (480)505-8877

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Once logged in to cPanel scroll down and click on the “Subdomains” option.

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Select which domain that the subdomain will be created on and give the blog a name.
That’s all there is to creating a subdomain using cPanel! It’s that easy. Now lets install WordPress on your new subdomain. (Continue to next page)

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From within cPanel click the “Home” tab at the top of the page. From the home page scroll down and click on the “WordPress blog” option.

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The next page is where you will install WordPress on your subdomain. Click on “Install this application” on the top right hand side of the page.

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You will then be brought to the page that you will configure the WordPress installation options. Leave the directory option blank.
…scroll down to continue filling out the installation options

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For the most part the default options can be left as they are. Set the WordPress user name and password. Once everything is filled out click “Install” at the bottom of the page.

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Your new sub-domain blog is now installed.
Now it’s time to login to the WordPress dashboard and to install a WordPress theme. (Continue to the next page)

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Login to your sub-domain blog by navigation to the WordPress admin page. Example: http://social-ops.com/wp-admin

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Once inside install and activate the theme of your choice from within your
WordPress dashboard. You can choose to upload your own theme that you have purchased or use one of the free themes in the WordPress theme directory.
Check out TemplateMonster’s premium themes. – Their customer support is great and their themes are top-of-the-line.

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And now for the good stuff. – Turn WordPress into an autoblogging machine!
The following instructions will show you how to keep your blog updated with the content from your favorite blogs. This setup will keep an otherwise unmaintained blog updated with fresh content.
The Social-Ops team has setup an example blog that utilizes this strategy. Seen here:
http://blog.social-ops.com

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First things first, you have to go to IFTTT (If That Than This) and sign up for a free account. http://ifttt.com
IFTTT is a free feed syndication service which will give you the ability to update your WordPress blog with the feeds of other blogs, social updates, etc. *Some people even choose to use the feeds from other peoples YouTube accounts, Twitter and elsewhere.

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Now that you have signed up for IFTTT you have to install the IFTTT Bridge plugin on WordPress in order to connect IFTTT to your blog. The IFTTT Bridge plugin can be installed within the WordPress plugin directory or by downloading the plugin from here. https://wordpress.org/plugins/ifttt-bridge

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Install the IFTTT Bridge plugin like you normally would install plugins through the WordPress dashboard.

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Next, configure IFTTT Bridge. Be sure that you have entered your WordPress admin and user name into the required fields.
Press “Save Changes”. The IFTTT Bridge is all set to go. Now let’s syndicate some feeds to your WordPress blog.

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Login to IFTTT. Once you have logged in click on “My Recipes” and then click on “Create a Recipe”. (See image below)

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On the next page that pops up click on the word “This”.
After you click on the word “This” more options will pop down. (See next page)

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This is where you will choose what action that you want IFTTT to take. In this case we want IFTTT to grab a feed to syndicate to WordPress so click on the RSS feed option.

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After you click on the RSS feed icon another drop down with a couple of options will appear. This is where you will choose what will trigger the RSS feed. In this instance we are going to choose the “New feed item” option.

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After you select the trigger options from the last page yet another dropdown will appear. Within this drop down you will insert the RSS feed that you would like IFTTT to syndicate.
Note: Before inserting the feed into IFTTT check to make sure that you have chosen a working feed. You can throw the feed into your browser to see if it is indeed a working feed. (For an example see the next page)

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Most blogs offer an RSS feed. To see if the blog that you interested in has an RSS feed simply place the word “feed” after the blogs url. Here is an example of what a working feed looks like in your browser: www.social-ops.com/feed
Okay, now back to configuring IFTTT….

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Now that you have found a working feed and have inserted it into IFTTT you will be brought to yet another dropdown. In this next dropdown click on the word “That”.

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The next dropdown that appears is the action channel. This is where you will choose what action that you would like IFTTT to take every time that the feed is updated by the blog owners. Scroll down to the bottom and click on the WordPress icon.

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The next dropdown that appears is where you will connect your WordPress blog to IFTTT. Click on the “Connect” button. Once you click on the connect button a popup will appear. Within this popup you will configure IFTTT to syndicate to your WordPress blog. Paste in the URL, username and password for your WordPress blog.

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Click “Done” and the popup will automatically close. – Then, click “Connect”.

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Yet another options page will appear. On this page click “Continue to next step”.
Note: You only have to configure your WordPress blog once to connect to IFTTT. Every time after that you will just have to create a new recipe and configure your new feed to syndicate to your WordPress blog.
The IFTTT Bridge plugin is now connected.
After you click the Continue to the next step button you will be brought to another page. On this page you will choose what action that you would like IFTTT to take every time that the feed is updated.
In this instance we will choose the “Create a post” option.

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The next page that pops up is where you will configure what information will be used in the blog post.

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The default settings for the title can remain as they are. We recommend pasting the following code into the body portion of the action fields:
{{EntryContent}}<br><br>
Read the full article here: {{EntryUrl}}<br><br>
If you will be using FeedBurners newsletter options (as described on page #37) then it is recommended that you place your businesses name, address and other contact information within the body to look like this:
{{EntryContent}}<br><br>
Read the full article here: {{EntryUrl}}<br><br>
Business Name<br><br>
1 Business Address<br><br>
2 Business Address<br><br>
Business Phone<br><br>
Important: Modifying the code to include your business name and address information will help the emails that FeedBurner sends to have higher in-boxing rates.
Within the action fields option you can also choose the category and tags options. It’s up to your personal preference how you want to configure these options.
Once everything is filled out press the “Create Action” button .

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The last page that comes up is where you will finalize the process. Press the create recipe button.
That’s it! You are now automatically syndicating feeds to your WordPress blog from another blog. – Every time that the blog updates your blog will update too!
You can syndicate as many feeds that you wish to your WordPress blog. – So have at it!

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To insure that your blog post gets indexed by the search engines before the original blog post does we recommend installing the free Pingler plugin. The Pingler plugin can be downloaded here: https://wordpress.org/plugins/pingler-v10

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With this auto-blogging system you will now be losing a lot of link juice (links pointing out of your blog). To stop losing link juice you can install the “No Follow All External Links” plugin: https://wordpress.org/plugins/nofollow-all-external-links

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Don’t want to overload your server with 1000’s of old blog posts? Install the free “Post Expirator” plugin. This plugin will delete posts after a set amount of time.
https://wordpress.org/support/view/plugin-reviews/post-expirator

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Are you looking for a no-cost method to offer website visitors to subscribe to your blog? Install Elegant Subscription Popup. This free plugin will pop up after a few seconds after a web visitor has arrived at your blog and will offer a way for people to subscribe to your blog. https://wordpress.org/plugins/elegant-subscription-popup/
In order for Elegant Subscription Popup to work you have to first activate the email subscription options within FeedBurner. Sign up with FeedBurner using your Gmail account: http://feedburner.google.com
For more extended strategies on how maximize the effectiveness of FeedBurner look for our other strategy guide: “Email Inboxer”.

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The strategies in this guide are not an end-all solution to your blogging needs.
For best results it is suggested to use these strategies on blogs that currently have very little activity – to keep them fresh. For your more important blogs manually creating content the old fashioned way will return the best results.
Many people choose to create blogs using this system to keep their blogs updated with the latest industry news for their subscribers. – A powerful auto-blogging and newsletter system!

Tube CPA Profits 2.0

Tube CPA Profits 2.0

Table of Contents
Module 1 – JOINING CONTENT LOCKING NETWORKS…………………………………………………………………….. 1
What is Content Locking CPA………………………….………..……………1
Why Content Locking ………………..……………………………….…………4
Joining Content Locking Network ….……………………………………..5
Module 2- CREATING CONTENT/FILE & LOCKED DOCUMENT………………………………………..…………….………..…….………….8
Niche Choosing ……………………………………………..……………………..8
Download ebook and Files ….…………………………………..………….11
Upload Files ………………………………………………………………………..14
Module 3 – PROMOTING FILES WITH YOUTUBE – CREATING VIDEO, UPLOADING & KEYWORD RESEARCH ……………………….……………………………………………………………… 25
Video Creating & Uploading ………………….………………….……….25
Keyword Research …………………………….……………………………….31
Video Uploading …………………………………..……….………..…………36
Using Annotation and Cards ……………………………….………………42
Redirect Link – Using WordPress Plugin …………….…….…49
Module 4 – VIDEO BOOKMARKING, INDEXING & EMBEDING …………………………………………………………………………………………………. 56
Bookmarking & Indexing …………………………….…………..……… 56
Embed Video To Blogs & Other Web Properties ……….…….. 59
Module 5 – VIDEO RANKING, VIEW COUNT & TRAFFIC DRIVING ……………………………………………………………………………………60
View Count & Traffic Driving …………………….……………………. 60
Using DreamCash for Checking Youtube Video Ranking
& View Count …………………………………………………………………. 63
Module 6 – Scaling Up …………………………………………………….. 66
Scale Up …………………………………………….……………..……………..66
Final Words ………………………………………………………………….. 66
Free and (Semi)-automated Tools and Resources ………………….. 67
Terms and Conditions
LEGAL NOTICE
No part of this publication may be, including but not limited to, reproduced, in any form or medium, stored in a data retrieval system or transmitted by or through any means, without prior written permission from the publisher.
The information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication. The opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice.
The publisher disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of such information.
The publisher assumes no liability for errors, omissions, or inadequacies in the information contained herein or from the interpretations thereof.
The publisher specifically disclaims any liability from the use or application of the information contained herein or from the interpretations thereof.
Success in any business is result of hard work, time, effort and a variety of other factors.
No expressed or implied guarantees of income or spill over are made by reading this work, or by joining and/or purchasing any program(s) recommended within this work. Individual results may vary.
Foreword
Hello! And thank you for following us on the “Tube CPA Profit 2.0” by me and on behalf of my partners Ali Muhammad .
Today, CPA marketing is widely and popularly used in order to earn fast cash or a steady income through various online business opportunities and marketing platform including video marketing.
By 2017, video will account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic, according to Cisco. Video-on-demand traffic alone will have almost trebled.
And the good news is YouTube has just surpassed Facebook for the #2 spot of the “most visited” sites on Alexa at this month of September 2015.
Video is the future of content marketing. Not only are videos much easier to create than long-winded articles, they’re also consumed with a higher retention rate.
If you fail to tap into these hot trends, you‟ll be leaving tons of money on the table. And that‟s why, the purpose of this guide is to help you tap into this amazing phenomenon and grow your business around it.
To ease your worries, I have put together a manual which will help you figure out an effective way and strategies to monetised the traffic to your CPA content locking offers to help you out there.
It is a simple guide to help you understand what exactly you are getting into and how to help you with marketing your CPA content locking offer using Youtube with different free to use websites and tools.
So, if you are ready to begin, let us start from the basics and take you to where you would like to end up! 
Module 1
JOINING CONTENT LOCKING NETWORKS
What is Content Locking CPA
Content Locking is a type of incentivized CPA (Cost Per Action).
Basically through content locking CPA network, you can upload mostly anything you want (no porn, child abuse or wifi hack) and then you promote your content or files online.
Your locked content can be in the form of ebook, software, document, video, etc. and even your web content or links.
The catch is that the person that want to view or download your content/file, will have to complete a small survey or offer or to download and install a promotional software, in order to get access to it.
Usually the content will be unblocked immediately and will be blocked again after few minutes or few days depend on the setting or the lockers from each different networks. The user’s IP address will be use to determine the number of time he has accessed to the links or files and such the permission for him to gain access them. Copyright © Tube CPA Profit 2.0. All Rights Reserved. 1
The amount you get per survey completed differs from survey to survey and it is between $0.11 to $20.
And the surveys differ from country to country. The bottom thing is that the more views/downloads you generate, the more money you make.
Here are some examples of content locking survey which visitors need to complete in order to access the web content, files, links, etc.:–
Copyright © Tube CPA Profit 2.0. All Rights Reserved. 2
So where should we promote content locking CPA?
Well, there are more methods to promote your files: torrents method, youtube method, facebook method, blog/site method.
Here we use Youtube method ONLY because it is the most effective way to promote this type of CPA.
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Why Content Locking
While the easiest way to profit from CPA is by promoting email/zip submits and content locking CPA, email submits have more disadvantages than content locking CPA, although some content locking CPAs do require to submit an email address but the publishers are willing to paid out because the main purpose of the survey carried out by them is to collect data for their marketing purposes.
Below are some of the disadvantages of promoting “Email Submit”:–
1) Email/zip submits have a high scrub rate (CPA networks generally “charge back” any action credits to your account due to fraudulent leads, bogus/duplicate information, etc.) due to the increased fraud rate. Most of the ’email submit’ offers do not convert by just submitting an email address, the publisher only make a paid out after the user completed an PAID offer on one or more of the pages after the landing page, therefore, if you’re getting started with CPA, it would be better to avoid them especially the one which promote “freebie” and “gift card”.
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2) Super cheap traffic/clicks will be needed if you want to make email submit profitable.
3) Visitors will be bombarded with spammy emails daily if you are promoting this type of email submit offers, this is worst when you promote this to your own lists, your lists unsubscribe rate will increase tremendously.
Joining Content Locking Network
There are hundreds of CPA networks which have the offers of content locking and some of them are pure 100% content locking networks. If you haven’t join any CPA network before, I will recommend you to join at least one of the following networks which I will guide you through 2 of them and show you how to set up a profitable CPA business.
These are the 4 networks which I highly recommend you to join:–
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1)
AdscendMedia (https://adscendmedia.com/)
2)
CPALead
(Instant Approval)
(https://www.cpalead.com/)
3)
DreamCash
(Instant Approval)
(http://dreamcash.org/)
4)
Fileice
(http://fileice.net/)
***Important Note:– While you can see from the above, although there are two networks which provide instant approval, you are still require to have a website/blog which are running by yourself in order to get into these networks easier.
I recommend you to register a domain (You should choose a domain name related to your niche) and get a website hosted if you haven’t done so, this is NECESSARY as you must host your own files in some
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of the locking content networks, furthermore, you CANNOT get your Youtube Annotation link and WordPress redirect plug-in works without your own website.
And having your own website has the advantages of using one of the approaches of keyword research and embed your video to others web properties. I will show you all of these later in this guide.
Anyway I will use Adscent Media and DreamCash as example for walkthrough the processes in the next modules. So please don’t worry, at this point you just need to join at least TWO of the above networks to maximise your profit. I will explain this later on.
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Module 2
CREATING CONTENT/FILE &
LOCK DOCUMENT
NICHE CHOOSING
Bear in mind that when choosing a niche you must always consider the most profitable one but you cannot avoid measuring their competitiveness as well.
Here are the top 5 most profitable niches for 2015 which you can choose to make your ebook and then the content of your video: —
1. Wealth
– Making money
– Managing money
– Keeping money
– Investing
– Real estate
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2. Health & Wellness
– feeling better (fitness, more energy, etc.)
– Health prevention and cures (stop smoking, rid of acne, etc.)
– Aging
– Dieting and losing weight
– Healthy eating (nutrition, natural health, organic living)
– Stress reduction
3. Love & Relationships
– Dating
– Marriage
– Parenting
– Family
– Intimacy
– Conflict resolution
4. Personal Development
– Leadership development
– Self Esteem
– Motivation
– Career development
– Life coaching – Spirituality 9
5. Hobbies
– Tennis
– Guitar and other instruments
– Scuba diving
– Mountain biking
– Scrapbooking
– Golf
– Dogs
I recommend you to choose ONLY ONE of the above niches at this point, when you can master the method in this guide then only you can use multiple niches AT THE SAME TIME to scale up your profit.
I will choose the niche of “Personal Development/Self-help” for an example in this guide as this is also a highly profitable niche (The U.S. self-improvement market was worth an estimated $11.17 billion in 2011 and it has been forecast 5.5% average yearly gains from 2010-2014) but less competitive compared to the first three niches.
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DOWNLOAD EBOOK & FILES
After you have chosen your niche, now it’s time to prepare the ebook for visitors to download once they are interested in the content that you provide.
Of course you can compile your unique ebook/files if you have some knowledge of the subject of the niche. But you can also download some free or paid PLR (Private Label Right) or MRR (Master Resell Right) products.
You can easily search for many of these in the internet but I recommend this one site which offers tons of high quality PLR ebooks/files for download:–
https://www.tradebit.com/
I will use this for an example.
First, no need to think about any subject which under the “Personal Development” niche, you just need to search ANY PLR/MRR product about one subject RELATED to personal development which you think your audiences may interested in. 11
**NOTE: Make sure the file that you’re going to download has “Giveaway Rights Included”, if you are unsure please contact the product owner for clarification.
For example, if you’ve searched a PLR MP3 titled “Meditation for Wealth”, just download or purchase it, only then you have an idea to create a video related to this subject matter, not the other way round to create the video first! So the later you will come out an idea of the video title maybe “How To Use Meditation To Reduce Stressing About Money?”
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Therefore, in the video content you may talk a bit about meditation for money and then ask your visitors to download the MP3 file if they are willing to know more about the subject. Do you get the idea now? 
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UPLOAD FILES/EBOOKS
Before upload the file that you obtained, it is advised that if you can split the ebook, video or audio into 2 parts to become two separated files of Part 1 and 2.
Doing this you will need any free PDF software for ebook which you can search in the internet.
For video and audio files, I recommend you to use Techsmith’s Camtasia Studio which has an awesome splitting feature build-in.
If unfortunately you cannot do this, you can just simply search and download another file which has a similar or related content with your first file.
The reason to have two separated files is because we are going to upload these to two different networks to maximise our profit. That’s why I advised you to join at least 2 networks in early of this guide.
So after splitting the file into 2 parts, just zipped it with another text file (I use Notepad here) with a link for Part 2 or related content file for your visitor to download. And again, of course the file was locked! 14
Zip the above 2 files into 1 Zipped file.
Done! And your zipped file is ready for uploading!
Here, the steps by steps uploading files to Adscend Media and DreamCash Networks:
For Adscend Media:
Step 1—– In main page, clicks the Content Locking button. 15
Step 2—– In the drop-down menu, choose “Adlock Vault”.
Step 3—– In the next page, clicks “Create Vault”.
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Step 4—– In next page, fill in your Profile Name.
Step 5—– Fill in your Header Text or use default text.
Step 6—– Uncheck all offers except “Surveys” under “Included Offers”.
Step 7—– Check the term under “Free Access”.
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Step 8—– Under “Customize Landing Page”,
select you preferable theme.
Step 9—– Clicks “Preview”.
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Step 10—– Clicks “Save Changes” in the preview.
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Step 11—– Browse your file for uploading.
Step 12—– Clicks “Save Tags” after the file has been uploaded.
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Step 13—– In next page, clicks “Get URL”.
Step 14—– Now you got the link of your file. Save it anywhere to your computer.
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For DreamCash:
Step 1—– Clicks “File Lockers” in the left menu.
Step 2—– Select “File Lockers Creator”.
Step 3—– Fill in your file locker name.
Step 4—– Put in your download link. (In this case you must have your own hosted website account.)
After Step 4, just clicks the “Next” button at the right bottom:–
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Step 5—– Check “I Agree The Terms Above” and clicks “Create File Locker” in the next page.
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Step 6—– In next page, clicks “Option” and “Get Link”.
Step 7—– Four File Locker URL links will be displayed, save all the 4 links to your computer. You can use anyone of them later. That’s all!
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Module 3
PROMOTING FILES WITH YOUTUBE – CREATING VIDEO, UPLOADING & KEYWORD RESEARCH
VIDEO CREATING AND UPLOADING
You can produce your video simply using Slide Show with some free or paid tools, but what I advise is that using real people for demonstration in the video is the most effective way to attract view in Youtube.
I’m not going to discuss making video using variety of tools because you can simply find many tutorials in the internet. If you would like to spend more time to learn about other tools and editors, please see the Free Resources section.
What I’m gonna to discuss here are only 2 approaches for creating a quality video.
First one is by capturing yourself through Youtube feature if you are comfortable for speaking in front of camera. The second approach is by hiring some experts for the video demonstration.
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***General Considerations before Creating Video (Important):
You video should not be longer than an average song clip, preferably below 4 minutes, (in order not to lose viewers’ attention). Make it simple, with clear messages and call to action.
I’m using ONLY 2 KINDS of videos which are easier to get view and traffic:
1) Instruction-Demonstration-How To
These videos are usually longer and more detailed. Google love them and they are often rank higher and included on Google top pages.
If you make a short video it is a good idea to start with questions related to the problem followed by the main benefit points (“How To” solve the problem and answers to the questions) and finally a clear call to action (click on the link below, for example) (I will show you how to use annotation and cards to build link within the video later).
2) Testimonials
These videos are usually used in addition to your main marketing video and represent live recording of a person who is using or have used the product. 26
Therefore this approach can only be done by someone other than yourself. The fastest approach is to hire someone to give you a positive testimonial after giving him the product for a review.
Okay, here are the 2 approaches:
Approach No.1
● Log in to your Youtube account (If you don’t have an account, just register one, it’s a simple process!).
● Create a new channel.
● Click “Upload” button at the top right.
● Click the “Record” button under “Webcam Capture”.
● Start speaking about your subject matter and at the end just request users to click on the link for some free stuffs.
● Just select “UNLISTED”.
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Approach No.2
● Head over to Fiverr.com
● Search for “Video Testimonial” or “Video Voice Over”
● Find and pay at least 3 persons who have a high reputation and ask for creating a videos testimonial respectively.
● Preferably different people like hot chick, kids, elderly person, etc. for the video testimonial.
● Select for your preferable Gender, Age Range, voice style, etc.
● Provide voice script no longer than 1 minute.
● Once the videos are ready, create a new channel in your Youtube account.
● Upload to Youtube and select “UNLISTED” for the video.
**Very Important: Create and name a new channel differently every time you upload a video, this is to prevent your video being flagged by your competitor and hence your account will be terminated if you have 3 videos in a channel been stroked within 6 months. So upload 1 video to 1 channel is a safer way. You will need a Google Plus account as well to create multiple channels. You can read the instruction here:

How To Create Multiple YouTube Channels Under One Account


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To summarize this section: Whether you are surprised or not, making videos is the easiest part. But what I highly recommend is to use the approach No. 2 in order to get fast and effective result as Youtube users like quality videos with professional presentation.
KEYWORD RESEARCH
This is probably the most important step in your ranking strategy.
General considerations:
Try to identify keywords with at least 1,000 searches per month and with less than 50,000 competitor pages for the “Phrase” option. If you go after these types of keywords it will greatly increase the chances to get your video on the first page of Google.
I would also like to address here the approach of finding so-called video retainer keywords. The idea is to type keyword candidates into Google and see if there are videos on pages 1-3 of the Google results. If videos are there then you are likely to rank your video on one of the first Google pages too. Conversely, if there are no videos then you should avoid such keywords.
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Taking into account my own experience and the fact that Google’s algorithm always changes, my opinion is that it is often not the case. Therefore, while I agree that this is a valuable strategy I personally do not make it as one of the most important considerations.
Tip: Keywords starting with “How To” are very good candidates for ranking videos on Google.
Google Keyword Planner Research:
1) Approach No.1 (With your own website)
You should know what you are offering and have a general idea of the main keywords. If you have absolutely no idea what the main keywords are but at least have a website of the niche that your video is related to, you could do the following:
→ Go to Google Keyword Planner (https://adwords.google.com/KeywordPlanner )(Free Adwords Tool, no need to open an account, just use the feature in its first page only) enter your website address there. The tool will give you a set of relevant keywords what it thinks that site is about. Copy 15-20 most relevant keywords to your Notepad.
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Below is an example of internet marketing niche keywords found:
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→ Now you have a set of keywords searched in Google. Sort them by relevancy.
2) Approach No.2 (Without your own website)
→ Copy your niche’s main keyword AND the title of your video.
→ Copy also your keywords in Google keyword Planner if you were able to use approach No.1, search and sort by relevancy.
→ Go to YouTube, paste them one by one and see what your competition is.
→ If you see videos with the exact keyword match in the title and hundreds of thousands views it will be hard to rank.
→ If there are videos with a lot of views (more than 30K views) but NO EXACT MATCH in the title – it is a candidate.
→ Based on these criteria choose your best keyword.
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Note: If you are willing to spend money, such paid/free trial programs as Market Samurai will make these steps much easier – http://www.marketsamurai.com
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VIDEO UPLOADING
By now you have your video uploaded and primary keyword ready. Login to your Youtube account, under “Video” click “Video Manager”. Select your desired video and click on “Edit”.
Under “Basic Info” there are 4 subjects to take note:
Title
Each word in the title should start with a capital letter. The title should start (or at least include) with your primary keyword.
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Criteria to be considered to optimise your title:
– Primary keyword
– Catchy title
– Asking a question
– Using power keywords such as discover, reveal, amazing, instant etc.
Tip: Use “How To” again in your title.
Description
Description should start with your link.
If you do not have your own website and have a long affiliate link, you should use URL shortening services like bit.ly. It shortens and cloaks the ugly looking link and, what is important, provides tracking data. But this make possible for your video been stroked by Youtube review team.
If you do have your own website with WordPress installed, I will discuss a free plugin which can shorten your CPA network’s link. This is a safer way to make your link.
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**Important – Your link should be followed by the primary keyword. Primary keyword is the beginning of your description body text. If you start your description text on the next line below the link, please keep in mind that the collapsed version of description can cover the text.
Therefore, if you want the viewers to read your text, start it on the same line as the link.
Description criteria:
– Start with the link
– Include your primary keyword in the beginning
– Depending on the text length and keyword density, consider having your primary keyword in the middle and in the end of the text body
– Consider linking to an authority site in your description
**Important Tips:
1. In your video description, add the following links:
a. Your website
b. The link to the video (yes, the same video you are editing)
c. Add a link to a related video on your channel. (known as silo link building)
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Tags
The importance of tags is underestimated. Often, marketers simply do not bother to do research and optimize them. Some consider adding many tags as spamming YouTube. However, what you will find is that you can easily rank for them, sometimes even higher than for your primary keyword. Therefore, the more tags you add the better.
You should include here your primary keyword and its variations as well as the product author’s name. Separate tags either by comma or include each tag (one tag could consist of several words) in quotes.
If you have several videos for the same niche or product and want them to appear together in the related videos column, you should have your special tag(s) for all of them. Other tags could be different for each video to spread out your chances of ranking for different keywords.
For example, if your video title is “Meditation For Wealth” by Jones Lo, it comes from a website Examplewebsite.com, and you have several Youtube Channels, consider all your videos to include the following group of special tags:
Meditation, wealth, Examplewebsite.com, Jones Lo & the “Channel Names”.
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Criteria for tags:
– Primary keyword
– Primary keyword variations
– Youtube Channel Name **Important
– Author’s name
– your website address
– Special keywords (the same for different videos in the same niche/product)
– The more tags the better
Here is the screenshot of my 4 videos which appears together in the related videos column when users search for one of my videos. This was the outcome using the technique above:
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Important Note: One interesting technique to generate/hijack traffic is the following. Find your competitor with lots of traffic/views. Copy his/her tags (and title); add them to your tags. Whenever his/her video is watched your clip will be in the related videos column.
Video Thumbnail
Tip: If your content allows, insert a good looking woman image around those points.
Under “Advanced Setting”, there are some crucial settings:
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Comments
Consider setting it to “Allow all comments with approval only”.
Syndication – Everywhere, make this video available on mobile phones and TV.
Category
If you want targeted visitors – then choose the corresponding category. If your video is general and you want more traffic use common sense. For example, Entertainment, Music, Film and Animation would have more traffic than Science. Many niche free stuffs answer “how to” questions and correspondingly should go to How To & Style.
View Ratings – Yes, allow users to view rating.
Distribution Option – Allow Embedding, external sites may embed and play this video.
USING ANNOTATION AND CARDS
Annotations
** Very Important – This is a MUST HAVE and effective feature!
42
This is a great feature for profiting from CPA which people can click to your link within the video. You can use it in many ways: to direct viewers to what you want them to do, call to action, watermark the clip etc. But what is important is that annotations are text and could be crawled by Google. Use it to add at least your primary keyword.
One approach to add keywords is to minimize the text size and the time your annotation is displayed.
You can also make your text clickable to link to another YouTube video, playlist or channel.
Keep in mind though that those links are only internal for YouTube website properties. If you want to make a clickable overlay to an external link, example your own website link- use this method below:
Note: This is the most important part of monetising your video, without this, user will simply watch your video without getting through your locked content and download your file.
First, click on your profile logo at the top right:
43
And then “Setting”,
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Click “Playback” under “ACCOUNT SETTING”, check “Show annotations and in-video notifications” & “Always show captions”.
After that go to “Creator Studio” and clicks “Status and features” under “CHANNEL”.
You can see your status of “External Annotations” is inactive. You need to verify your account to activate it.
Just clicks the “Verify” button.
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In step 1, select your country, “Text me the verification code”, enter your phone number and submit.
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In step 2, enter your verification code received from your phone. Your Youtube account is now verified!
Next step is to add your associated website. Go to “Creator Studio” again and clicks “Advanced” under “CHANNEL”.
47
Enter your website URL and clicks “Add”.
Your status is pending now, clicks “verify” to get a code and then paste it to your website main page and upload to your server. See video tutorial here:
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Go back to your Youtube account and clicks the “Refresh” button, now your channel is associated with your website!
Redirect Link – Using WordPress Plugin
Okay now you have your associated website activated, we should go to your WordPress website to create a safe re-direct link which is going to integrate to your Youtube video.
Note: A direct link to CPA offer/download file is impossible to integrate into the annotation and card since Youtube only allow associated website, i.e. your website link. Therefore using this re-direct plugin is a must!
First search a wordpress plugin in your WordPress panel under “Add New Plugin”, type: Simple Link Cloaker https://wordpress.org/plugins/simple-link-cloaker/
Install it and go to “Setting”, click “Simple Link Cloaker”.
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Add the “Name”, “Slug” and the URL where you want the user to be redirected to. Select “301” for Redirection Type.
Clicks “Add” and you have created your redirect link as below:
50
Now go to your Youtube Channel Video Edit Page and click “Cards” at the top:
Enter the details of your card:
Save it and clicks “ADD card”. 51
Create and enter your link to your associated website. That’s all! 52
Next is to create your annotation. Now click “Annotation” at the top:
Select “Note”:
Under “Note” type some “Call to Action” texts to ask users to click on. Clicks “Associated Website” under “Video” drop-down menu, and paste your download link here!
53
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Done! You have created your “Caption” or “Card” and “Annotation”. You now have a video with two in-video clickable links redirect to your CPA content locking offer that look like below:
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Module 4
VIDEO BOOKMARKING, INDEXING & EMBEDING
BOOKMARKING & INDEXING
While there are many ways to index and bookmark a YouTube video, I will only focus on 3 easy, quick and (semi)-automated resources.
1) After you uploaded your video, go to bulkping.com (Free Mass Ping WebSite)
Make a RSS feed (RSS Feed Generator Creator)
Submit your RSS feed (Free RSS Submit online, make sure to validate it).
It submits your link to 27 RSS directories and helps quickly index your video.
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Optional: Use “Fast Index Free Backlinks” feature. It submits your URL to about 2500 statistical sites. While, as of today, only about 300 of them work and Google does not seem to count many of them, it helps. Also, keep in mind it takes more than 60 minutes to complete the task.
Share your video to social profile:
2) Go to onlywire.com
Sign up for a free account. Download the program. Create social accounts (optional: hire somebody on fiverr.com for $5 to create accounts for you).
Onlywire automatically submits your URL to more than 50 bookmarking sites. Allowed limit for a free account is 300 submissions per month. While less than fifty work and you have to enter 4-5 captchas manually it is free and automatic.
If you use more than 300 submissions in less than 30 days your account will be suspended. You will create a new free account.
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3) Go to socialmonkee.com (Paid Service)
Create an account. Get 25 unique inbound links every single day. Download and install socialmonkee Firefox plugin. Social Monkee allows spintax. You can submit up to 125 sites with drip-feed feature.
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EMBED VIDEO TO BLOGS & OTHER WEB PROPERTIES
Video sitemap is a way to help search engine discover your videos and index them accordingly. It also allows you to link one video to a specific post/page
You can embed your video to your WordPress blogs and other web properties. Make video and submit them to Google using the following 2 Free WordPress plugins:

Youtube Video Sitemap generator

WP Video SEO


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Module 5
VIEW COUNT & TRAFFIC DRIVING
If you did proper keyword research and video page optimization, by now you should see your video on the first page of YouTube (and hopefully Google) for your primary keyword or for one of the tags. You should also start to see some organic views.
The number of views help people click on your video, and the more clicks/views you have the higher your ranking. The higher your rankings the more views you get. Together with increasing number of social bookmarks it is sort of a snowball effect.
To help with your view count, there are free view exchange programs. There are many of them. The main idea is that you automatically watch videos of the network members and earn credits. In turn, you submit your video’s URL and get views from other participants.
Among those programs, in my opinion, the best one is :
http://www.ytmonster.net/
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You can earn credits by watching, liking, subscribing, commenting other users videos and channels, and then you can spend these credits on getting views, likes, comments, subscribers for your own videos and channels.
http://vagex.com/
It is a view exchange site which will expose any video you add to thousands of members in order to increase the view count
You do not only get views but subscribers, favorites, likes and comments too. It does not violate YouTube TOS, randomized, and you get everything in correct proportions: the number of comments is smaller than likes, likes smaller than favorites etc.
If you want fast view and rank high in Youtube and have some money to invest, I highly recommend these two cheap and effective video ranking services:
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http://www.ytview.com/
Get your 1K views for $1.00

BuyViews 3.0


Quality and fast views
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Next steps
After exchanging or buying views for a few days, go to your Youtube video statistic and check for its view count. If your view count has reached at least 1000, make your video “Public”.
By making your video to public now, you should see your video will be ranked highly easier and stay longer in the first few pages.
USING DREAMCASH FOR CHECKING YOUTUBE VIDEO RANKING & VIEW COUNT
You can use the tool that integrated with DreamCash to keep track of your positions in Youtube’s search results.
Go to your DreamCash main page, at the left menu, clicks “Youtube Videos Monitor” under “Youtube Tools” to add your video and keyword.
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Then go to “Youtube Rankings” to view your ranking and view count detail, you can even check whether you gained or lost positions.
This is one of my video which ranked in #38 within 2 days using the method in this guide:
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And this is one of my CPA content locking earning, though I’ve spend total of $9.99 for purchasing ebook/files and buying views, and still have a net profit of $ 14.86 in 2 days, an average of $7 plus per day. If you’ve purchased 5 videos from Fiverr which I’ve recommended, your cost of $25 will be covered by the profit within 4 days, starting day 6 or 7 onwards is your net profit  :
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Module 6
Scaling Up
SCALE UP
Make more videos and channels and start making videos of different niches after you have mastered these skills in this guide. I’m sure you will get result sooner if you do it consistently and progressively.
FINAL WORD
In conclusion, I would like to say that obviously there are better ways, tools and methods to make money with CPA content locking, I hope this report provides enough free/paid and (semi)-automated tools and resources for you to get started and quickly get your videos ranked on YouTube and make a killing in CPA content locking. The only thing left is to take action!
Good Luck! 
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Free and (Semi)-automated Tools and Resources
Screencast-O-Matic
Screencast-O-Matic is the original online screen recorder for one-click recording from your browser on Windows, Mac, or Linux with no install for FREE!
http://www.screencast-o-matic.com/
30 Video Editing Software And Online Tools
http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/video-editing-30-free-tools-and-web-services-to-get-things-done/
29 Top Video Submission Sites + 5 Free Video Creation Tools and More
http://getinternetmarketingstrategies.com/2010/08/29-top-video-submission-sites-5-free-video-creation-tools-and-more/
Best Free Video Editors
http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-video-editor.htm
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Best Free Video Editing Software for Mac
http://www.alifesoft.com/blog/2011/2/20110211128316.html
Free Firefox social bookmark-related extensions:
Shareaholic
ShareThis
Video Bookmarks
AddThis
Delicious Post
Google Bookmarks for Firefox
Instaright – social bookmarks (Instapaper)
682016

Simple Business Formula

Simple Business Formula
1
Table of Contents:
Chapter 1: The Key to Business
Chapter 2: How to Find a Niche In a Few Minutes
Chapter 3: Quick Product Creation
Chapter 4: How to Write an Unstoppable Sales Copy
Chapter 5: Driving Massive Amounts of Traffic
Chapter 6: The Money Explosion (For the More Daring

Marketers)
Chapter 7: The Squeeze Page Method
Disclaimer: This guide is not intended to make any promises of income. Results are based on many
factors. Like any business plan, results will vary.

2
Intro:
I can personally guarantee that this course is something you have never seen before, I do not care
how many other online, IM, email marketing, or other business courses you have bought over the
years!
Nobody teaches the information to the simplicity and effectiveness that you will see here. Here, I
teach how to build a business QUICK and SUSTAINABLY, and yes, those two things can go hand in hand.
DISCLAIMER: You will see external links to some recourses and websites I suggest to help you along
the way. I am in no way affiliated with any of the websites or companies and none of the links
possesses any affiliate links nor will I profit from you clicking or purchasing from any of the
links.
Just as a quick intro, I’ve been a business strategist, economist, and organizational leader for
many years and I started when I was very young.
I have actually had other professionals tell me to never teach the material to the degree that I
do. They’ve also told me to never reveal my traffic strategies and resources here due to the insane
simplicity of this business. However, there are too many people getting scammed out there and
that’s not the type of world I want to live in.
This is not a get rich quick thing. This is a build a business that creates value and gives you a
sense of self-purpose while making a lot of money. Is it possible to follow your
3
passion and make a lot of money? Of course it is! I am going to teach you how.
Mark Cuban once said to never get into a business that you are not passionate about. I could not
agree more!
I truly hope this course will help those who read it and allow people to take action to make some
progress in their business and in their life.
4

Chapter 1: The Key To Business
So what is the key to business?
Some people say it the numbers, profits, costumers… all of those are partially right.
The overall encompassing key to business is SIMPLICITY! If you guessed it good for you, you’re
already ahead of the game.
“If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself” -Albert Einstein
I don’t care if you’re company is General Motors or Average Joe’s Blog site, your business model
will only succeed in the short and long run if it is simple. With that said, let us go over the
principle elements that you are going to need for your business:
1). A great sales copy
2). A relevant and amazing offer
3). A great product
4). High-quality traffic
Now these things are the easiest things in the world to get. If any of these things have given you
trouble in your business before, do not fear, I am going to shatter all of your problems in this
course. In addition, If your business includes any more facets or moving parts than these 4
elements, then I would

5
recommend removing them from your business as you will not need them!
Knowing your business is about knowing your numbers. I.E how many clicks you’re getting, your
conversion rates, the value per customer, EPC (We’ll talk a lot about this), as well as various
other important metrics.
This is part of the reason why we must keep our business simple. If our business is too
complicated, there is no way are going to be able to properly track these numbers.
A recent study shows that over 83% of online marketers don’t keep track of any of their metrics.
Don’t be part of that percentage. Imagine the advantage you will have when you keep your business
simple and you know these numbers.
Here is what we are about to get into with this course:
1). How to do niche research in just a few minutes (If you’re not in the IM niche or if don’t
already have your own niche)
2). How to create a product in just a few more minutes
3). Why you only need a one-page simple website or in some cases no website at all.
4). How to get other to drive your all the traffic you need for free
5). How to get more money to your business than your ever thought possible
6
First,I will show you how to find an insanely profitable niche in just a few minutes

7
Chapter 2: How to Find A Niche In A Few
Minutes (For non-IM niche people)
The internet is full of great and profitable niches besides the IM niche (I know, hard to believe).
This section is meant for people who want to branch away from the IM niche and explore something
that they have a passion for,
you are going to be blown away on how fast you can conduct this niche research.
Many marketers teach that Niche research needs to take hours and hours and can only be done my
Harvard grads.
These are just tactics to scare you to buy something or to discourage you from becoming their
competition.
We will start this research at ClickBank. www.clickbank.com
And no, this business plan does not involve selling any ClickBank products, we will only be using
it for pure research. Click Bank is great for research because it shows us what is selling and not
selling. It shows us what we can scale and not scale. The beautiful thing is that all the numbers
we need for our research are available with just a few clicks of the mouse. We are going to start
at the ClickBank Marketplace. You do not need an account do to this! The Marketplace is located at
the top right side of their homepage…. I’m sure you can find this so I won’t show a screen shot
of this.

8
Next, click on advanced search:

Have you done that?…. Sweet!
Now what we are going to do is find a product that is selling well. There are tens of thousands of
products on ClickBank and many of them fail to make even one sale. We want to stay clear away from
those products as we know that they do not convert.
We sort out the product we want to look at by examining the gravity of products. Gravity
essentially tells us how well affiliates are able to sell the product.
Typically, the higher the gravity, the better overall the product converts and even though there
can be several reasons that

9
play into this number, we know that at least there is a market for what the product is selling.
I like to look at products that affiliates can sell at least something over 5 times a week. Type in
5.99 in the “Show items with gravity” box and make sure the drop down option says “Higher than”.

These are the products we want to start with. Pretty easy? I
think so.
Now, if you go ahead and hit “Search” with what we just did, you are probably going to get over a
thousand or so products that have this amount of gravity.

10
What does this mean? This means that niche that all of those products are in are potential niches
for you. You cannot go completely wrong with any of these niches, but I will show you how to weed
through these thousand or so options. This way of research is also good because it gives us very
specific niches. For example, instead of finding out that the internet marketing niche converts
well, we may find that the video software niche or graphic creation niche are the best converters.
Remember, this business is designed to be implemented quick and researching over a thousand
products and seeing what is exactly best for you isn’t exactly quick.
If you do not care what niche you dive into or one niche doesn’t exactly peak your interest over
another one, I recommend going through the products and start looking with the products that seem
to stand out as having exceptionally high gravity numbers.
As you start looking at what these products sell, do not look only at the general niche, but look
at the specific thing that the product is selling to get a more targeted idea about what consumers
in the niche are demanding.
Now, what I want you to do is type some keywords back into the advanced search engine we were at
earlier. Type in something that you passionate about or your find interesting while keeping the
same gravity number as earlier. Refer back to the Mark Cuban quote if you need to. Make this niche
11
something that you are passionate about or something you find interesting.
I typed in “Music”, but you can type in something even more specific if you want.
Even with something as broad as Music I now only have 42 results I need to sniff through. That’s a
lot easier than sniffing through over a thousand, I think you’d agree on that.
I see a lot of products on how to play guitar with excellent gravity. If I was interested in this
niche I would now know that this something I could possibly enter.
Now that you have found something you like, dig a littler deeper into the products.
As an example, I see a music production software product that is selling very well and is coming
with a big commission.
What does this tell me? It means that this is an In-Demand market and people are willing to pay the
big bucks in it.
You could then have an idea for a business that is centered around how to produce music properly or
get good sounds from a recording and make a product centered around those two things.
There is really no limit you can take this.
Another niche I highly recommend (if no other niches interest you) is the health niche. The health
industry is a massive
$600 billion dollar industry and it is always growing. There is

12
room for you in this niche, no matter what other gurus will tell you.
Here is a list of common diseases that you can jump right into.
http://www.ranker.com/list/list-of-common-diseases-most-
common-illnesses/diseases-and-medications-info
Some will be more practical than others as you will be able to tell.
Now, here is when a lot of marketers tell you that you need to be worried about competition and
that you need to do more keyword research and all this stuff to make sure you’ve found a suitable
niche.
Feel free to hop over to the Google Keyword Planner if you’d like to see some competition and add
cost figures, but it not necessary.
The methods I will show you later in this ebook will show you why do not need to worry about this
stuff.
Now that you have done your research and you have some ideas flowing in your head, I am going to
show you how to create a product in less time than you ever thought possible.
13
Chapter 3: Quick Product Creation
Doing affiliate marketing is great for some people, but to truly have a kick-butt business and
build a sense or reputation and purpose that humans desire, you are going to want to have your own
products.
Now, having your own products is different than making your own products.
However, eventually you are going to naturally want to create your own products as it will be fun
and profitable.
For now, I am going to show you how you can have someone else create a product for you for cheap
without you having to do any of the content research.
www.idplr.com is a good place to go do some market research on good product creation ideas. This is
a site where you can get products and sell them as your own.
We will not be doing that!
This will mainly only work if you are in the IM niche or a related business niche.
Instead, we will be using them as a template for our own products.
We do not want to brand these products as our own and sell them directly. Although this is legal,
these products usually are
14
not filled with much quality content. Instead, we want to use them as an outline to our own
product.
For example, you will probably be able to download a PLR
product about email marketing.
Look and the table of contents of this ebook or report or whatever it is. Use this table of
contents as a template to expand on. Essentially, this product did the brainstorming for you.
You can change the format around and make it your own. Go through the information and expand on the
information as you like and research some of the information that you are not familiar with.
Another good option in Amazon.com. We all know what
Amazon is!
Take your niche selection and find the best selling books on the topic that you chose. You can do
this for any niche. Click on the product page then click on the book and more often than not you
will able to preview the table of contents.
You can then use this table of contents as your template for creating your product.
Once you have gathered your information, you can either make this into an ebook or a video course.
Whichever fits your style.
Even though you are currently reading an ebook made by me, I personally recommend making video
courses as your progress in your business. You can sell these at higher prices
15
and people enjoy them much more….(but I know you are loving this ebook so far!). If you really
want to deliver value, you can create a video course as well as an ebook to go along with it so
they have the option.

Remember how I said this process is supposed be quick? Here is how we are going to make it quick.
Once you have gathered your outline and have some information in mind, we are going to give this to
someone else to create the product for us.
I like to use www.elance.com
This is a website where we can hire people for cheap to create our product for us. We just hand
them the outline we

16
found from Amazon or the PLR product with whatever else we want to include and they will draft the
product for us.
Many writers on this site will even do the research for you once you given them the outline.
Some writers will be better than others, but truthfully, I have never really worked with a poor
writer from this site. Make sure they are experienced and read some of the reviews left on their
profile as well as their delivery time and reliability. I have found many good writers for very
reasonable prices. After you receive the book back, you can always make changes and expand on the
content as you seem fit.
Is that pretty easy? I think so!
The nice thing about this site is that they have a wide array of people you can choose from to
create your product. Some are better than others and some will be more expensive than others, but
you will be surprised on how cheap you can get a quality product made!
Let us go over some more characteristics that we want to look for in the person we hire.
1). They need to fluent in English (obviously) but they do not necessarily need to be from the US,
Canada, or the UK. In fact, some of the best free lance writers I’ve worked with have not been from
these countries.
2). Need to have extensive experience and willing to write to your style.
17
3). Need to have outstanding feedback.
You really should not settle for anyone that does not meet any of these standards.
Let me show you an example of someone we may or may not be willing to hire. This is a guy that
popped up when I typed “ebook writer” in the search bar.
I see someone named Michael here. He has a strong passion for writing and has been doing it for a
long time. We are
willing to adapt to meet new projects which means he is probably willing to adapt to yours.

He has a rate of $22/hour which may be a little higher than we want. We can certainly find a good
candidate that would be cheaper than him but remember that this product does not have to be long.
If you wanted, you could instruct if him to
only work on your project for 2 hours if that’s all you wanted to pay. And, of course, you could
always find someone cheaper.

18
Go through the options of people to hire to find out who suits your needs best.
After that, you can sit back and wait for them to deliver the product that you are going to sell.
This process can also be done with other freelancing sites such as Odesk and freelancer.com
Odesk is essentially the same process as we used with elance.
Freelancer is a little different and will probably be a little more expensive, but the types of
products that you can get made are amazing.
Here, you post the job you want to be done and people compete for your job. You will need to sign
up for the site which is not free and you will need to pay the product creator, so this may not be
the site to start out with if your budget is low.
Once you get your product made from your outsourcer, you can feel free to go through it and edit
anything you want. Make it more your own.
Like I mentioned earlier, eventually you are going to want to create your own products as they will
start to roll off like it is nothing.
They are fun and exciting to make! Let us go on to the next step.
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Chapter 4: Creating An Unstoppable
Sales Copy
Believe it or not this is going be the most important part of our business. The sales copy makes or
breaks the business.
It is the truth that most people cannot sell a life jacket to a drowning man as sad as it is today.
If you chose to write your sales copy yourself there are a few things you should know to get
conversions, conversions, conversions.
Rule #1 is to keep it simple! Remember how I was talking about not having too many moving parts?
The same goes for this.
Check out this site: https://www.dropbox.com/s/
mxxstbmgobyhxp5/CheatSheet.pdf?dl=0
It will help you create a simple yet effective sales copy without paying $300+ for someone else to
do it. You can tweak it however you feel fit.
Skip the fancy graphics for now. If you are writing an ebook, the only graphic you need is a mere
cover for your ebook. www.fiverr.com will get you a great looking graphic for just $5. If you are
familiar with photoshop or some other PSD software like it, that will work too.
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I am not an expert copywriter nor do I have to be. People underestimate the art of simple sales
writing.
When writing your sales copy, if you chose to do it yourself, remember that you are not selling
your product, your service, your value, or anything else that you can ever give them.
You are selling a better version of themselves. Paint a picture in their mind about how much better
their life, business, and/ or both will be when they buy your product. This is a powerful
psychological sales technique that will guarantee massive conversions. Show them why they will love
you for allowing them to buy your product.
Once you have this idea that you are essentially selling a better version of themselves to them,
writing your sales copy is going be easy and the words will just flow out the tips of
your finger. Use this technique in conjunction with the outline I
provided or you can just go off on your own.
The more practice your have writing sales copy, the better you will be at it, just like anything
else. But it is possible to score big on your first try.
When writing your sales copy, there is a certain format that I like to stick. Follow this format,
and you will come off like a professional copywriter. Obviously
Remember, keep things simple!!!
The highest converting headlines are almost always in this format: How to [this] in [this amount of
time].
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I learned that trick from John Carlton, one of the best copywriters this world as ever seen. It has
worked wonders for me and it can work wonders for you too!
That’s it! Your headline does not need to be more complicated than that.
If you decide to outsource your sales copy, you can always return to the elance or Odesk as we used
before.
If you really want some massive conversions and want the best sales copy money can buy. Look no
further than copyordie.com. I am in no way affiliated with these guys, but they have proven to be
the best sales copywriters out there. These guys are not cheap however, but they will be able to
convert any product you are selling.
22
Chapter 5: Driving Massive Amounts of
Traffic to your Offer
Now that we have the product and sales copy all ready to go. The only thing left to do now is get
massive amounts of traffic to your product and I think you are going to be surprised how easy it
is.
For this part, you are going to need a simple website. There are many WordPress themes that I have
found to work very well for sales page conversions. Optimize Press, Profits Theme, and Profits
Builder all work extremely well.
The best overall theme for the amount of money is Profits Builder. For just one payment, you can
create as many websites and sales pages as you want the customization is easier than you can
imagine.
If you want, you can go back to our outsourcing websites and have someone design the website for
you.
In addition, I recommend BlueHost to people who do not have hosting yet. They’re prices are
reasonable and their costumer service is top notch and is accessible 24/7.
So how are we going to get massive amounts of traffic to our site? We are going to use the only way
where we can get huge amounts of highly targeted traffic for free and get paid while it happens.
If you haven’t guessed it by now we are going to use affiliates to get our traffic.

23
There are a few ways we are going to do this. First, I know you are all familiar with the Warrior
Forum because you bought this product from that forum but have you ever heard of Warrior+? Note:
this method will only work if you are in the IM niche. I will talk about other niches a little
farther down. Warrior+ is an affiliate platform that allows vendors to submit their products and
have affiliates promote the products. The platform does all the technical work so we do not have
to! Pretty nice isn’t it?
We are going to sign up for a free vendors account. Warrior+
has two different payment options.
The first is free to sign up and Warrior+ takes a small percentage of each sale you make. This is
their premium membership and you will get the most features and benefits with this option.
The second is you pay a flat fee for an account and you keep all of the sales but certain features
are disabled.
I recommend you go the first option, especially when you are just starting out.
So the first step is to sign up for a vendor account.
If you chose not make a website, Warrior+ will host your sales copy for you. I recommend however
that you create your own website however as affiliates will be more attracted to your offer and
conversions will be higher.
24
The process for linking your product to their affiliate platform is very straight forward. Just
follow their instructions and you should have no trouble.
Once we have linked our offer up with Warrior+, affiliates are going to jump to our offer like
flies because of our amazing sales copy, our quality product, and our eye-catching website.
Just by listing our product on Warrior Plus, affiliates are going to be begging us to allow them to
promote our products.
This where were we really want to make sure our sales copy is solid and our website stunning (if we
have one). If we have these two things, this is going to generate high EPC (earnings per click) for
our affiliates because we will have high conversion rates. EPC is what affiliates mainly look at
when deciding what products to promote.
So how many affiliates do we need? Sometimes all we need to is 1 or 2 really good affiliates to
make us a lot of money. As these affiliates promote our products, we are making money while
building a mailing list at the same time. There is nothing to lose here!
The next place we are going to want to list our product is on JV Zoo. JV Zoo is another very
popular affiliate platform like Warrior+, but you can use JV Zoo in a wide variety of niches. You
will need your own website for JV Zoo as they do not host sales pages. Again, because of our killer
sales copy and website, affiliates are going to be begging to promote our products for us.
25
This section really reinforces why our sales copy needs to be strong. The name of the game is EPC.
We need to be able to manufacture high EPCs and be able to track these number. The affiliate
platforms will allow us to track these numbers.
Once we have this in place, we do not need to worry about any other traffic method. This method is
by far more effective than any method I have ever worked with before. I no longer mess around with
solo ads or PPC campaigns or any of that other stuff.
Your business will be more successful when you have affiliates driving you your traffic and
building your list for you.
For both IM and other niches, the most effective paid method for getting massive high-quality
traffic is Facebook ads. If you do Facebook ads properly, the ROI can be in the hundreds of
percentages. The most effective way we can utilize Facebook ads is retargeting.
What is retargeting? Retargeting is essentially showing adds to the same targeted people over and
over again. If you do retargeting, your ROI can be in the thousands of percentage points.
A person who sees your ad up to 4 times is much more likely to buy your product. As they see your
add several times, they are getting more conditioned to your product and they will be sold on it.
This method almost never fails so I would encourage you to give Facebook ads and retargeting a try!
26
One thing I want to note is the idea behind product launches and build up. The truth is, I don’t do
any of that stuff and you don’t either. Just get your product out there and on those platforms for
affiliates to see! You do not need to mess around with fancy launches right now!
Maybe one day when you create your $5,000 video series or software you can do a big fancy product
launch build up thing. But for now, just keep it simple.
WSOs:
Warrior Special Offers is a great way to get your product in front of the eyes of literally
thousands of hungry buyers for a very cheap price.
When crafting your WSO, there is no need (again) for fancy graphics and designs. Heck, you don’t
even need any graphics.
If you are creating a quick WSO and didn’t use the sales copy formate or outsource your sales copy,
this is the format you should use:
-Bold Headline (red)
-sub-headline (black)
-Another Bold Headline (red)
-another sub-headline (black)
-Testimonials when you get them
-Buy button

27
-From the desk of [your name] (and add a picture of yourself if you got one)
-Part 1 of your sales copy in short paragraphs
-Bullet points with benefits
-Part 2
-What you do or do not need for your product to work
-Part 3
-More testimonials
-Buy button
Of course, there are variations to this format that also work, but I know this format works and it
has worked for many WSO vendors. Essentially, use your kick ass sales copy that you have with a few
variations.
Don’t be fooled by the many fancy sales pages you might see on WSOs. Many of the most successful
WSOs are very, very simple.
Make your font big but not too big. Make sure you bold and underline what you feel necessary in
your sales copy.
28
Chapter 6: The Money Explosion (for the most daring marketers only)
Ok, so we have now learned the core roots of our business. However, I want to share with you
something that could make your business more successful than you ever imagined.
To be honest, some of you may already know the concept behind what I am about to share, and some
might think I am crazy for suggesting this, but this method has produced lots of money for lots of
marketers.
The is the 100% methods. What does this mean? This means give your affiliates 100% commission on
every sale they make for you.
Why do you ask? It’s easy. Incentives!
Just imagine if you have a kick ass sales copy, a kick ass product, and a kick ass website that
converts like crazy (if you follow my instruction you will have all of these things) and you offer
100% commissions on each sale!
A number of affiliates you will get wanting to promote your product will be endless. You will start
building a different type of relationship with your affiliates than you would have before.
They are going to like you, cherish you, and jump on every opportunity to promote your products.
So what is the point of this? Where do we make the money?

29
Remember that every sale we make, we capture the email address of the person who bought our
product. I know you’ve heard the phrase “the money is in the list” about 100000 times.
Well, it is.
I guarantee you will 100% certainty that the value of each email address you acquire is going to be
much more than whatever the price of the product that you are selling is.
Now that you know how to build quality products, you can promote your new products as well as your
affiliate offers, webinars, and whatever more tools you have to your email list.
The power in this amazing and I know it might be hard to grasp right now.
This is a method that is probably best practiced after you have some successful product launches
and your have made some money on the front end first. However, this 100% method
could completely change your business one day.
Some marketers even offer over 100% commissions because they know the value of each email they
collect. Imagine the incentive for affiliates in that!
Let’s talk more about how we can maximize profits. So we are now giving affiliates 100% commissions
on sales. No
problem.

30
Say we create a complimentary product or up-sell to add to our sales funnel. This is a product that
compliments the product we just sold and usually comes with a higher price tag. If you create an
ebook, a good up-sell may be a video course explaining the concepts described in the ebook.
Keep the price of your front end product low, somewhere between $10-$20 is usually a good range.
You don’t want to make the price too low because this gives the impression that your product is not
top quality. This is same all throughout business.
You can then sell your up-sell at really any point above $25. If your up-sell is a good compliment,
conversions will be very high and you might even see more revenue coming through this up-sell than
the front end product.
Remmeber: The best time to sell to a costumer again is right after they just bought from you. They
are all excited to dive into your product, they will be thrilled to grab something that will only
help them along the process.
Many marketers will even add a second up-sell at a higher price point. You could literally set up a
Facebook fan page and create your own coaching program through this fan page. You don’t even need
your own website!
You can charge people to join this Facebook group and continue to interact and help your costumers.
This will allow you to build better relationships and super-start your reputation.
31
So now let’s go over how we are going to break up the affiliate commissions.
Commissions Breakdown
Front End Product: 100% Up-sell 1: 50%
Up-sell 2: 50%
You can vary this as you like, but remember it is more valuable to acquire a buyer, not a sale. You
want to please affiliates as much as possible.
By adding these up-sells, they are much more likely to promote for you because their earnings per
transaction now have the potential to be much higher.
32
Chapter 7: The Squeeze Page Method
This section is meant mainly for people that are not in the IM
niche or do not want to build a website.
Ok, so this can either be a supplement or a complete re working of the business model. This is a
very simple but powerful funnel method that most marketers overlook but one which many are making a
killing off of.
For this, all you need is a very simple one-page website and an email auto-responder.
Here, our product is no longer going to be a product. It is
going to be a freebie (something we give away for free). If you want to sell the product that you
have already created, just make another one using the methods we described earlier
just knowing that you are going to give it away for free.
We are going to create a very simple squeeze page. The best squeeze page creation software I’ve
used, once again, are Optimized Press, Lead Pages, and Profit Builder.
Your squeeze page should have a plain white background with just a headline sub-headline that
serves as an explanation of what you are giving away.
Need a headline idea? Instead of doing your own research, just use the research that companies paid
thousands and thousands of dollars to get.
33
Find a magazine, either online or in print that pertains to your niche and take one of their
headlines. They have done all kinds of market research to see which headlines hit triggers to
people in that niche which makes it the perfect headline to
use because you know it will convert.
Many marketers have seen 60-80% conversions with this method which is unheard of in this industry.
Imagine getting this kind of conversions while your competition is probably getting under 10%.
Once people opt-in to your squeeze page, you now have their email to do whatever you want with it.
As a general note, even though this is not really an email marketing course, do not email more than
once a day and do not try to sell anything in the first couple of days.
Provide value and content first and remind them why they signed up for your list (except for the
freebie).
34
CONCLUSION:
This is the information you need to know to build a 6-figure business. Once you start putting this
stuff into action, you will see that it is truly quite simple.
The best advice I can give you is not let this information sit in your brain. You need to apply
information and get your feet wet! The best way you can learn in this online business world is by
experience.
If you make some mistakes or your first product doesn’t do as good as you wanted it to, that’s
okay! Tweak and learn from your errors and make some adjustments.
Have fun applying this information!
If you have any questions or for support you can email me at redrockmarketinggroup@gmail.com
-Nate

35

Presentation Profits 2.0

Presentation Profits 2.0
Income Disclaimer

This guide contains business strategies, marketing methods and other business advice that,regardless of my own results and experience, may not produce the same results (or any results) for

you. I make absolutely no guarantee, expressed or implied that by following the advice below you
will make any money or improve current profits, as there are several factors and variables that
come into play regarding any given business. Primarily, results will depend on the nature of
the product or business model, the conditions of the marketplace, the experience of the individual,
and situations and elements that are beyond your control.

As with any business endeavor, you assume all risk related to investment and money based on your
own discretion and at your own potential expense.
Liability Disclaimer
By reading this guide, you assume all risks associated with using the advice given below, with a
full understanding that you, solely, are responsible for anything that may occur as a result of
putting this information into action in any way, and regardless of your interpretation of the
advice.

You further agree that our company cannot be held responsible in any way for the success or failure
of your business as a result of the information presented in this book. It is your responsibility
to conduct your own due diligence regarding the safe and successful operation of your business if
you intend to apply any of our information in any way to your business operations.
Terms of Use

You are given a non-transferable, “personal use” license to this guide. You cannot distribute it or
share it with other individuals.

Also, there are no resale rights or private label rights granted when purchasing this guide. In
other words, it’s for your own personal use only.

Table of Contents

Introduction
……………………………………………………………………………………….
…………………….. 4 The Old Way of Doing Webinars
…………………………………………………………………………….. 5 The New
Way of Presenting So Your Content Is Not Boring ……………………………….. 8 The Image
Trigger Strategy
…………………………………………………………………………………. 11
Where To Find Images
……………………………………………………………………………………….
…. 14 Using Bullets: The New Way
………………………………………………………………………………… 17
Preparing For Your Presentation
……………………………………………………………………….. 20 An Even
Faster Way of Doing Your Presentation ………………………………………………. 25
What If You Don’t Have PowerPoint?
…………………………………………………………………. 27 PowerPoint Slide
Sizes
……………………………………………………………………………………….
… 30 Where To Get Ideas (Sources for Slides)
……………………………………………………………. 32 Outsourcing The Work
……………………………………………………………………………………….
… 34 Doing Presentations For Other People (Business Opportunity) …………………….. 37
Conclusion
……………………………………………………………………………………….
……………………… 38

Introduction

Hi There. I’m Debbie Drum and I am excited to share this information with you as it is much needed
in our marketing community!
I think it’s important to discuss “The Why” behind a product. We came up with the idea for this
product because there are so many
marketers who are boring the tears out of their webinar attendants
and we need to stop this once and for all.
There is certainly an old way of doing webinars and there’s a NEW way – a way that makes your
presentation more interesting, a way that makes it even easier for you to present and it even
decreases your preparation and practice time! How awesome does that sound?
I have been using this new webinar method for a while now and have seen fantastic results both in
the way I am presenting and my audience reactions to the new style presentation!
In this report I am going to show you how to make your presentations less boring, make them easier
to create and present and as a result, have your audience loving and getting the most out of what
you are teaching!
One more thing before we start…please read this entire report the whole way through before you
begin. You shouldn’t skip anything! I don’t just write to write – I write everything for a purpose
and each step is just as important as the next J
Let me get started by showing you the old, boring way of doing webinars.

The Old Way of Doing Webinars

Have you ever been to a webinar where the presenter had slides they put together like they just
didn’t care? The font is all messed up and it’s just plain ugly and boring?
This is more of an example of the wrong way of doing webinars, much less the “old way”.
Putting care into your presentations is #1 not hard to do, and #2 more than half of what you need
to have a successful webinar where
people thoroughly enjoy your presentation and get the most out of it. So what am I calling the “old
webinar style”?
It Looks Like This:

The Best Ways To Get Noticed

Build your own audience first!!
The magical power of Facebook allows you to legally steal audiences from these Celebrities
When you are somewhat established,then
you can approach other authors.
Think about the scenario and see how it plays out…..

How Is Instagram Different?
() Instagram encourages your customers to connect with you on a more personallevel as compared
to other Internet Marketing strategies

の This means your posts should be more personal
η Example:behind the scenes’ pictures and videos of your company,you can include virtual
tours,how-to videos,
company staff pictures and even bloopers,images of your products,and more.
η Your goal on Instagram is to build close relationships with your audience,and interact with them
on a whole new level
than any other social media platform

r…._’I”r”’” ……”L……守口1 L l… ..・争目・I l…l t..t..”、…l_.._司 も明
Do you see how ugly, boring, confusing and convoluted this slide above is?
This is a horrible slide and it’s also the typical way I used to do all my presentations.
Basically, the slide would appear and I would talk the talking points of each bullet. Not brain
surgery.
From the webinar attendee’s point of view it’s not the best learning environment and slides like
this don’t keep people engaged because you are just reading off the slides. Sure you can add more
speaking points than what you have on the page but it could get boring and repetitive.
I found a better way…

The New Way of Presenting So Your Content Is Not Boring

As shown above, simply reading text on the screen can put your audience to sleep. When all that
text is on the screen, they are likely to read the text and not listen to you…and that’s a huge
problem.
So what is the other alternative?
Imagery Plus Simple Text.
Take a look at some of these examples:
Now, instead of having all this boring plain text on the screen with boring bullets until the cows
come home, you have a beautiful descriptive image and you are now able to tell a story and the
images will prompt you on what you need to say for that slide.
This will cause you to have less preparation time when it comes to practicing and memorizing what
you have to say for your presentation.
It’s quite amazing how this works and how your brain works.

The Image Trigger Strategy

The more stories and examples you use in your webinars and presentations, the better your
presentations will be and the more information your audience will retain and understand. This is
why examples and stories are very powerful.
The old way of doing presentations, I used to leave myself visual cues to tell a story I wanted to
tell or show an example.
Here’s what it looked like: [show a slide plus a picture]
This was fine to do. However now this is what I do:
In this example, I am telling a story about how people always look at what other people are doing
to dictate what they should do. Instead of having a boring slide with all talking points about
that, I simply have this picture of a horse with blinders on and it immediately triggers the story
I want to tell for my example. Do you see the power of this and why it works so well?
It is really fun playing around with this when you do it this way. Here’s another example:
You know how they say a picture is worth 1000 words? This is the epitome of that saying.
People can relate more to pictures than they ever will with a plain bulleted list on the slide.
Do you see how this example (especially the stress one) elicits emotion? Aren’t there days when you
feel like this lady in the picture? Where you just feel buried and you can’t dig yourself out? It’s
amazing how relatable this picture is!
These are the kind of presentation slides you want to strive to have.

1)First, they help your viewers because the images give
them something that will stick in their minds, which will make your presentation more memorable to
them. That’s powerful.
2)Secondly, it will be more helpful for you because instead of remembering text on the screen, you
are looking at an image and instantly being reminded of what you want to talk about on that slide.
When you relate something to a story or an image, it helps with remembering what you want to say.
That’s powerful too!
3)Lastly, these presentations will take you less time to create because if’s not writing anything.
You are simply taking an image and you are adding text to a slide. Hint: The text is usually
another small
cue for you to remember your talking point for that slide.
The main thing you want to really get right is matching your images with what you are talking
about. This is super crucial. Let’s look at some places we can easily get awesome images.
Note: The goal is to have only 1 to 2 places we get images. We don’t want to spend hours looking
for images. You can also outsource this part but you will need to teach your outsourcer what kind
of pictures to look for.

Where To Find Images

As said above, we don’t want it to take all day to find images for our slides.
I only have 2-3 sources where I find my images and that’s IT! The images are the most important
part of this entire process because remember, images elicit emotion and we want our presentations
to be meaningful and we want our audience to retain what we teach them. Images place a huge part in
this process.
Source 1: Dollar Photo Club – http://dollarphotoclub.com
Dollar Photo Club is great! You can pay as little as $10 per month for
10 images and if you don’t use all 10, they roll over which is great!
The only “negative” part about Dollar Photo Club is that your downloads expire so be sure to
download your images and save them to a folder on your computer where you will be able to easily
find them again.
Source 2: Deposit Photos – http://debdrum.com/deposit
Deposit Photos gives you a bit more options when it comes to downloading images per day. If you
have A LOT of images you need to use on an on-going basis, you will want to choose a higher monthly
plan (like $99 per month) and beautiful downloaded images come out to be about $0.33 cents a piece.
Source 3: Pixabay – http://pixabay.com
Pixabay has all images in the public domain which means 2 things: they are FREE and they don’t need
to be credited. You can freely use these images everywhere and anywhere because they don’t have a
copyright.
You can find some nice gems on pixabay, HOWEVER; don’t use this for everything because many times
they don’t have the best options for every keyword.
Another thing to be careful with Pixabay is you need to understand their entire existence is to
entice people to click on the paid images surrounding the free images. This is how the site makes
money. They have stock photos that are much nicer than the free photos so you
can really see what you are missing by not paying for images. Don’t fall for it because all the
images are Shutterstock photos, which can be on the expensive side.
That’s it. Don’t let the finding of the images slow you down because you are searching for images
on 100 different sites. Keep it to 2-3 sites and you should be fine.
Finally, you can outsource this entire process and just explain to your outsourcer what kind of
image you want (the image should match the main idea you are going after on the slide and the image
should fill the entire slide).
Note: If the image does not fit the slide, don’t stretch the image and make it look distorted. What
you want to do is make the background color of the slide something that matches or complements the
color of the image.
Look at this one again:
Simple right click on the slide and change the background color to whatever you want it to be.

Using Bullets: The New Way

I know what you are thinking at this point…
You still want to use bullets in your slides right?
The good news is you can still use bullets, but in a better and different way.
Here’s the old way of using bullets:
Here’s the new way of doing bullets:

Insert Text Here
F内同日開; t…. ‘)()’1 c: t…… ・f f t..t..; 日日間穐 ,、円穐
The great part about this is that we’ve included 50 Done For You
Templates inside Presentation 2.0 Profits!
You can now use these inside of your presentations to make them much better and much more enjoyable
for your viewers.
Do you see the power behind this? When you pair images with just a little blurb of text, it makes
the entire experience more memorable for the people watching the presentation. People will be able
to easily absorb the information you are presenting to them.
With less text on the slide, people will be able to grasp the main point better and also listen to
you as you speak.
It’s a much better approach than cramming a ton of words on the screen.

Preparing For Your Presentation

With the new way of presenting, there is WAY LESS preparation time needed for your presentation.
If you’re putting the presentation together yourself, there will be way less preparation time to
rehearse your presentation because as you are putting together your slides, in essence, you are
getting a good idea of what you want to say for each slide. You are essentially practicing.
However, if you have someone else putting together your presentation like an outsourcer, then you
will have a bit more work ahead of you because you have to go through it and make sure you know
what you want to say for each slide.
Just by having the image on the slide will help you drastically remember your talking points. We
are visual creatures.
If I flashed this picture to you for 2 seconds:
And I asked you to speak for 2 minutes about the importance of a stop sign; you would easily be
able to do that.
However if I flashed you a slide that had a whole bunch of text on it about the importance of stop
signs, you would have to read through all the text to get your talking points, which would be
trickier.
During a presentation, especially when you are presenting live, you have a lot of balls up in the
air. You’ve got to get the technology to work correctly, your slides and the sound, you’ve got
audience questions you’ve got to look after, and you are on center stage! It is VERY HARD to switch
to a screen that is just filled with text that you have to read through first to get your talking
points. You do not want to be in that situation at all!
There’s a lot of times where you put together a presentation with a thought in mind for a bullet
and when it comes to presenting it live, you have no idea what it means…have you ever been there?
Yeah, that’s uncomfortable!
Here are some recommendations to help you during your presentation so that you don’t need to
memorize the order of the slides.
First, having a dual monitor or multiple computers helps.
This way, on one screen you can have your Go To Webinar running and on the other screen you can
have a copy of your presentation on your other monitor so you can see your next slides to come and
you can see notes.
Utilize the notes section of the slides over here:
If you don’t have PowerPoint on both computers, that’s not a problem at all. What you need to do is
head over to Google Docs which is free, and upload your PowerPoint onto Google Docs Slides and you
will be able to see your PowerPoint on your other monitor. Don’t worry if the text and pictures get
jumbled a little bit, you are not using it to
present, you are just using that for your notes and to see what slides are next to come.
Also, it is not necessary you have a dual monitor, you can simply have 2 computers on your desk and
this entire process will work the same way.
If a duel monitor is not an option, print out your slides to the Handouts
(3 slides per page) option. It should look something like this:
In the notes section for each slide – you can bullet out what you want to talk about.
Doing either suggestion above will help you enormously so you can see the slides that are coming up
next. You can also cheat a little bit by having brief talking points for your slides on your other
monitor or on your notes (this can even be on an ipad or phone).
Notice when you do it like this, your preparation time gets less and less. This doesn’t mean you
don’t need to prepare and if you feel the need to prepare more, then by all mean, prepare more! If
you are an expert at your topic, the only time consuming aspect of this entire process is actually
putting together your presentation.
Now, let’s talk about an even faster way of putting together your presentation.

An Even Faster Way of Doing Your Presentation

Hopefully I’ve convinced you enough by now that making your presentations with more images than
text on the screen is the better way to go for you as the presenter, and more importantly for your
audience as the people who should get the most out of what you are teaching.
This report isn’t really on the content of your webinars, but this entire process will work whether
you are doing a teaching webinar or a sales webinar where you are selling something at the end. The
best selling webinars have a lot of teaching in them, and that’s why this works so well!
Now that that’s out of the way, I am going to tell what you need to do before you even open a
PowerPoint document.
Open up a Word Document or Google Doc or Text Doc. Heck you can even open up the note taking app on
your phone. I don’t care how
you do it…but you need to do this first.
Next – go ahead and write down your outline of talking points you want to have for your
presentation.
This is what my outline looked like for this report:
Pretty messy / down and dirty right? That’s OK though!
By doing it this way, putting together and writing this report was very easy. I just sat down to
write because I had a guide to follow.
If you don’t do an outline, it is going to take you double maybe even triple the time to put your
presentation together.
I know this from experience.
My next tip will work if you are not completely pressed for time. What I like to do is start this
process a week or more before my presentation. After I have my entire outline, I break up the
amount of slides I need and then do a little bit per day. It’s easier making 5-7 slides per day
then it is doing 30 in one sitting.
The process of breaking it up will allow you to have more dedicated time per slide and your brain
will process the information better so by the time you are ready to take a look at the entire
thing, you are very familiar with the material for your overall presentation.
It works really well that way.
If, of course, you are pressed for time, be sure to start prepping about a week in advance so you
have more time to dedicate to the overall project.

What If You Don’t Have PowerPoint?

Microsoft PowerPoint is a great tool to have in your business. Microsoft products in general are
great.
I don’t buy the software anymore when I get a new computer. I subscribe to Office 365 and pay a
yearly fee to use the latest and greatest version of the entire office suite. You can use this on
either your Mac or PC.
Here are some solutions if you don’t have Microsoft.
1)Google Slides – Google slides is a great option. Going
back as little as 1 year ago, it wasn’t the best solution because it was very buggy. It has gotten
a lot better.
To access Google Slides, head over to your Google Drive, Press
NEW and right there you can create a PowerPoint document.
What’s great about this tool is that you can export your document as a .ppt doc and open that in
powerpoint later on. You can also import
.ppt files as well. It’s a great tool and a great alternative!
2)Open Office Impress – OOI is a full suite of all products like MS Office. Some folks claim they
even like it better than MS PowerPoint.

3)Web-based Slide Options – This is the last
recommendation if you don’t have MS PowerPoint, but honestly, I don’t like this option and it’s
really a last resort. It is pricey and not as flexible as the other options I recommended above.
These web-based options can include:
* Haiku deck
* Slide Rocket
* Pow Toon
You can read some of the reviews here: http://www.customshow.com/best-powerpoint-alternatives-
presentation-programs/
Finally, you can always use Keynote on a Mac…but I am not a huge fan. It will do the trick if you
don’t want to use any of these options above.

PowerPoint Slide Sizes

We are going to be getting a little technical here but don’t be scared.
There are 2 sizes for your PowerPoint slides. There’s one size for videos you are filming (on
screen) and there’s another size for Live Webinar Presentations.
Video Slide Size
When you are filming a video, the ideal video size is 1280×720. That’s not a perfect square. If you
have slides that are a perfect square in a video that’s not a perfect square, it looks horrible
with black spaces on each side.
What you want to do is follow the exact steps in this video here:

This video shows you to format your slide size. It’s excellent.
Go To Webinar Slide Size
For the Go To Webinar Slides, you will want the default size of
PowerPoint. It’s usually a perfect square. This is the ideal size for the live sessions.
So, yes both video sizes are different and it makes it kind of a pain. Be sure that when you are
switching from one to the other you change the images because when you change the powerpoint slide
size, it’s going to distort the images. It’s all in the video right here:

Where To Get Ideas (Sources for Slides)

We just discussed the new way of doing images for slides. The next question is how to get inspired
for this next level of your presentations?
Here’s the strategy:
Find slides that you would want to use for your presentations and save their location.
Next – show the slides to your designer and have him / her recreate the slide. You can also simply
try to replicate the slide on your own.
Here are some resources you can use to find slides.
https://blog.slideshare.net/2015/05/05/redefining-your-bullet-points- turning-boring-into-visual/
http://iconion.com/posts/free-icons-download-y.html
http://blog.visme.co/welcome-to-the-new-visme-improved-user-
experience-better-templates/
https://blog.slideshare.net/2015/04/27/cinemagraphs-the-newest-
presentation-feature-to-make-you-stand-out/
http://presentationpanda.com/uncategorized/10-clever-tricks-for- adding-text-to-images/

PowerPoint Tutorial For A Torn Paper Effect

91 Awesome Headline Formulas To Make Your Presentations Instantly Attractive

https://creativemarket.com/Abso1ut/121541-Old-Movie-Titles
https://nutsandboltsspeedtraining.com/how-to-create-transparent-
pictures-in-powerpoint/
https://blog.slideshare.net/2014/12/17/the-must-see-slideshares-of-
2014/
http://www.slideshare.net/lific/level-up-your-presentation-design-by-
orsnemes?ref=http://blog.slideshare.net/2014/07/25/weekend-
reading-presentations-on-making-killer-presentations/
Outsourcing The Work

Everything we have talked about so far in this report is outsourceable, meaning you can hire
someone to put the slides together for you.
The only problem that might occur if you have someone else put the slides together for you is you
may have additional prep time because the practice of putting the slides together yourself is a
means of actually you practicing the presentation. By doing the work yourself, you will be
essentially practicing for the presentation. If you are not doing the work, you will have to look
over the work and get a sense of what’s going on and what you want to talk about.
Even the practice of finding the right images will give you a good idea of what you want to talk
about for each slide and you will remember it more if you go through the motions.
I don’t want to talk you out of outsourcing the job because it is very possible to save time and
have the work done for you, just know there will be some more prep time if you outsource.
Are we cool with this? Make sure you don’t move on until you really grasp this.
When we are talking about outsourcing when it comes to putting together these presentations, you
don’t have to hire a fancy graphic designer and pay a ton of money.
What you are looking for is more of a person who can read, understand and interpret your language.
For instance, you would show them text or slides that look like this:
Your instructions would be for them to convert this into a slide with a beautiful and relevant
picture and some descriptive text.
You can give them some examples.
This would be a great example:
This is a great example of taking one bullet point and making it’s own slide so you can take some
time to talk about this bullet point without breezing through it as just words on a slide.
One could go many ways with this example, but this is just one of many ideas you can give the
person who would be doing this job for you.
This individual would need to make a connection with the words you want to say and the images that
would need to be paired with them.
It’s really easy. It’s not brain surgery. It’s not going to be a position that you will have to
shell out big bucks for.

Doing Presentations For Other People (Business Opportunity)

The idea of doing presentations like this for presenters who desperately need this new style of
presentations is a great service.
This service is different from the outsourcer chapter above because now you are not some $17 per
hour (or less) person who does this…you are putting together entire presentations for the
presenters and that means taking it a bit further than just matching pictures to text.
This is a very valuable position for a presenter because they will not have to give you guidance
and you will be doing a very important job for them.
We have 2 services we offer at http://webinarvalet.com
The first is the $197 a month service where not only do you get the valet webinar service (we do
everything for you, webinar invite, sign up page, follow up and webinar hosting) PLUS you get
monthly content on how to get better conversions for your webinars, monthly presentation graphics
packets, and amazing content.
The second service is a complete Done For You Presentation. If you are interested in us doing your
entire presentation for you and giving you guidance on how to present, what order to say things in,
etc, please contact our support desk at help@debbiedrum.com

Conclusion

Now it’s your turn. Stop doing the old, boring, and plain Jane presentations. It’s time to spruce
up your presentations not only for your benefit but for the benefit of the folks taking the time
out of their day to listen to you.
I promise you this…if you’re presentations are great in this new style, people will start to
notice. They will compliment you on your amazing presentation skills.
This style goes way beyond pretty pictures on a slide. It’s much more than that. You will soon be
separated and become more respected as a presenter. This will change everything.
So, no more talking…Go ahead and take action.
All the best, Debbie Drum http://debbiedrum.com
Click Here For xxxxxx

Great Leads

Table of Contents
Introduction
An Amazingly Powerful Strategy for Direct Response Success
1
The Rule of One — One Big Idea
2
The Simple Question That Can Double Your Success
3
Direct or Indirect?
4
The Easiest Type of Sales Lead You’ll Ever Write — Or Your Money Back
5
Double Your Sales With This Next Kind of Lead
6
Still Can’t Find Your Hook? Try This Time-Tested Solution
7
The Magic of the Velvet Pouch
8
You Won’t Read This Anywhere Else But Here: The Proclamation Lead
9
The Tale of the $2 Billion Sales Letter
10
How to Make This System Work for You
Great Leads
The Six Easiest Ways to Start Any Sales Message
Michael Masterson & John Forde
Published by:
American Writers & Artists Inc.
245 NE 4th Avenue, Suite 102
Delray Beach, FL 33483
Phone: 561-278-5557
Fax: 561-278-5929
Website: www.awaionline.com
© 2011 Michael Masterson and John Forde. All rights reserved.
Protected by copyright laws of the United States and international treaties.
No part of this publication in whole or in part may be copied, duplicated, reproduced, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or
mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the express written permission from
the publisher.
Copyright and other intellectual property laws protect these materials and any unauthorized reproduction or retransmission will constitute an
infringement of copyright law.
Federal law provides severe civil and criminal penalties for the unauthorized reproduction, distribution, or exhibition of copyrighted materials.
Penalties for criminal and statutory copyright infringement are set forth at 18 U.S.C. § 2319.
ISBN-13: 978-0-9821500-3-0
ISBN-10: 0-9821500-3-2
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
To our fathers — Francis P. Ford and George S. Forde, Jr. — who taught us to
make that first step count.
Acknowledgements
No book becomes a reality through the work of just the authors. This is particularly true with Great
Leads: The Six Easiest Ways to Start Any Sales Message . We gratefully acknowledge the inspiration and
help of the following people. This book would never have been published without you.
Katie Yeakle and the entire AWAI team were a constant resource for ideas and assistance. Thank you
for always being there for us.
Many thanks to the people responsible for the “heavy lifting” of getting this from concept into print:
Will Newman, Lorie Drozdenko, Jill Perri, and Nan Hughes for editing, designing, and critiquing.
Thank you to all the copywriters whose work we studied and drew upon. There were literally
hundreds, so we can’t thank you personally. But, that doesn’t lessen our gratitude for your contribution.
Thank you to the historic giants on whose shoulders we stand: marketers and copywriters like Eugene
Schwartz, Claude Hopkins, Max Sackheim, John Caples, and David Ogilvy. They were our early
inspirations for this book, as well as for our careers.
And finally, special thanks to Bill Bonner for his early and continued guidance in both of our careers.
And, for giving us the final push to turn this book into a reality.
Introduction
An Amazingly Powerful Strategy for Direct Response Success
If you are a copywriter intent on improving your skills, don’t read this book … Memorize it.
This book reveals in detail a very powerful strategy for writing breakthrough copy. It will change the
way you think about sales copy. It will change the way you write sales copy. It will make you a far more
skilled — and successful — copywriter.
And, it does this by giving you a tool you can use to beat “controls” by a factor of two-to-ten.
Learn this strategy and you will never have to worry about writing a dud. All your promotions will
perform extremely well because your prospects will read them with a high level of interest and
excitement.
Although just a few years old, this strategy is already responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars
in sales for the businesses we consult with. And, promotions using this strategy are getting even better
profits as we learn more about how it works and how to employ it.
What you are about to learn is entirely new. Although we have been studying the craft of copywriting
for a combined 60 years, the idea behind this strategy was hatched in 2007, tested with our clients
between then and 2010, and is only now being made available to the public.
If you learn this strategy — and it can easily be learned — you can expect certain immediate benefits:
You will start producing stronger, more compelling copy
The results of your efforts will improve and your clients (or employer) will notice
The demand for your writing will skyrocket
As a result, you will earn more money — perhaps multiples of what you are earning now
If that weren’t enough, you will also:
Waste almost no time figuring out how to “begin” your sales copy
Write virtually every ad or promotion with confidence knowing that your copy will work
You should be able to read this book in a single day. It will be an exciting first read because you will
be discovering new ideas that boost the quality and effectiveness of your copy.
By this time tomorrow, you will be able to put some of the techniques to work. But, we recommend
you reread the book several times during the next few weeks. With each reading, new secrets will be
opened up for you.
This strategy becomes more powerful as you become more adept at using it. In the hands of a Master
Copywriter, it becomes a “magic wand,” doubling and tripling the power of your copy every time you use
it.
In the next few years, dozens of self-styled copywriting gurus will be teaching this strategy as if it
were their own. This has already happened with other copywriting techniques we’ve introduced to the
industry. There is no reason why it won’t happen again.
By keeping this book as a personal resource, you won’t have to worry about forgetting any of the
details. Everything you need to understand this strategy and put it into action is contained in the following
pages. And, since it is coming from two of the three people who invented and refined it, you are getting it
undiluted straight from the source.
How Did We Come Up With This Crazy Idea?
When we were new to copywriting, we read everything we could find on the subject and attended
dozens of seminars. Most of the experts back then had a similar pedagogical approach. They taught the
craft of copywriting by providing their students with dozens or even hundreds of rules. Rules such as:
Always write in the second person.
Never have a headline that is more than seven words.
Use red or black headlines but never blue or green.
Always give away a premium.
Always provide a money-back guarantee.
Fill your copy with proven power words such as “now” and “free.”
These rules often were accompanied by statistical “proof” of their effectiveness. One guru in
particular would astound his audience with rules and statistics like the following:
Using an envelope teaser will increase response rates by 25%.
Positioning an information product as a “club” will boost returns by 37%.
Manila envelopes jack up response rates by 15%.
And so on … ad nauseum.
We were always suspicious of that sort of advice. If copywriting could be learned by following a set
of static rules, then it would be easy to learn and there would be thousands of super-successful
copywriters out there happily plying their trade.
But, in fact, there were very few super-successful copywriters.
When we looked carefully at our own successes and failures, we decided that the problem with rules
and techniques was that they tend to be true only in very specific cases. For every rule that applied to one
situation, there was a different situation to which it did not apply.
We found it was more effective to teach the big things — the rhetorical ideas that are eternal and
profound and universal. It is the big ideas — not the little ones — that create breakthrough copy.
So, instead of using rules and secrets to teach our group of up-and-coming copywriters one year, we
had them study dozens of the great sales letters of the past. Then, we told them the underlying secrets
behind the successful promotions.
Soon after this experiment, we incorporated what we knew in a new copywriting program we
introduced to American Writers & Artists Inc. (AWAI).
Since 1997, that program has been refined and improved at least a half-dozen times. We have been
part of the process to improve it. It is now, we believe, the very best program for learning copywriting of
its kind.
And, our most recent refinement is the strategy laid out in this book.
What Most Copywriting Teachers Won’t Teach You
This is a book about one small part of the advertisement — the few hundred words, what copywriters
call the lead.
The lead was not much talked about when we were learning the copywriting game. Back then, Master
Copywriters talked about features, benefits, proof, claims, and other elements of copy, but not the
structure of the direct response advertisement: that every well-formed sales letter has a beginning, a
middle, and an end.
Of the three, the beginning (or lead) is the most important. It is the first thing the prospect reads and the
one chance you have of persuading him emotionally. If you don’t do that in the lead, you will lose him,
regardless of what you do later on.
Pareto’s Law — How it Works in Direct Marketing
You’ve heard of Pareto’s Law. Loosely defined, it says that 80% of the value of any business or
endeavor comes from only 20% of its matter.
You may have noticed, for example, that 80% of the profitable sales of your business are generated by
20% of your customers. Likewise, 80% of the successful advertising campaigns you conduct are
generated by 20% of the copywriters who work for you.
At the level of advertising, Pareto’s Law also holds true. About 80% of the emotional impact of any
piece of advertising copy will be determined by the first 20% of the copy.
That brings us back to the proposition stated previously: when it comes to writing breakthrough
copy, the lead is, by far, the most important part.
We have been making this point to direct marketers and copywriters for many years now. In the
beginning, the idea was greeted with skepticism. “How is it possible that a few hundred words could
have such an impact?” the Doubting Thomases asked.
And so, we proved it to them by testing two otherwise-identical sales letters that had two distinctly
different leads. And overwhelmingly, one would significantly outperform the other. One might get, for
example, a response rate of one-half of one percent. The other would respond at double or triple that.
Nothing else would be changed. Just the leads. It was the leads that made such a profound difference.
Eventually the disbelievers were converted.
Nowadays, most marketing experts and copywriting coaches accept the importance of the lead. They
have seen the tests. They can’t dispute the facts.
If this proposition is new to you and you’re unsure of its truth, consider what these renowned,
successful copywriters have to say about the power of the lead …
“You can create a brilliant offer for a product or service everybody wants. But, unless the lead is
a ‘grabber,’ you won’t be competitive. Shortened attention spans and increased skepticism have
added new rules for an effective lead.”
— Herschell Gordon Lewis
“The headline gets attention. The lead either forges an instant connection with the reader — or
the package fails.”
— Bob Bly
“The headline and lead are 80% of the package. If you don’t have those, you have nothing. And,
the rest is journeyman writing.
“That is what separates the great writers from the ordinary. Ordinary writers write ordinary
leads. Great writers think of intriguing and powerful ideas …
“It is the hook that makes a great package — if you involve them there, your chances of success
improve incalculably. The more you involve, the more you succeed.”
— Don Mahoney
“30 seconds — that’s how long I’ve got to grab my prospect and get him hooked with my lead.
So, never save the ‘good stuff’ for later in the copy — it may never get read!”
— Carline Anglade-Cole
“The lead is important because it not only makes the promise, but determines the role you’ll be
playing in your presentation of the opportunity … and kind of ‘relationship’ you’ll have with the
reader for those next 10 or so minutes. And, that’s something that will have a very positive (or
negative) impact on the success of any package.”
— Paul Hollingshead
“In my experience, the lead is about 75% of the work. Finding a really compelling idea … and
figuring out how to express it in a unique and compelling way (in two pages of copy) is by far the
most important part of any package. The rest of your promotion can be very formulaic … because
you’ve already done the most difficult and important work in the lead.”
— Mike Palmer
Why the Lead is So Damn Important
Are you with us? Good. Let’s spend a few minutes discussing why exactly the lead is so important.
Direct response advertising copy is different from brand advertising. Its purpose is to produce an
immediate, positive action. To create that response, you need to do more than catch the reader’s attention.
You need to do more than entertain him. You need to do more than leave him with a positive impression
of the product.
With direct response advertising, you need to provoke action. And to do that, you must accomplish
two important objectives:
1. You must move the prospect emotionally.
2. You must persuade him intellectually.
Both jobs are equally important. But, to write breakthrough ads or promotions, you must do the
emotional persuasion first.
Experienced copywriters discovered this truth and were using it to write the great classics of the past.
Consider this famous advertisement from 1926 that ran for 40 years:
Max Sackheim — the author of this much-imitated ad — could have started out by giving statistics (if
any existed) about how much mistakes in English reduced a businessman’s earning power.
But, he didn’t. Instead, he appealed to the emotion of insecurity.
You can see this appeal to emotion at work in a much more recent advertisement, this one by
Bottomline.
This lead plays on one of the most powerful (and frequently, poorly-used) emotions in persuasive
arguments: Fear. There’s nothing subtle about this approach. The prospect reads it, and the fears this
headline and the subsequent lead arouse force him to keep reading.
But, print ads are not the only ones that use emotional hooks to grab the prospective buyer’s attention.
We are sure you are familiar with this much-quoted ad. Before reading on, you provide the words:
Of course, this is the “I’ve fallen and can’t get up” ad by LifeCall. It ran for about a year in 1989 to
1990. But its imagery, catchphrase, and play on fear were so strong that it is still quoted over 20 years
later.
This seems to be the way the brain works: when it comes to making most decisions, we begin by
generating an emotional preference and only then subject that preference to logical debate.
Another way of saying that is that first we find ourselves wanting to buy a product and then begin the
rationalization process of deciding if we should.
_________________________
The mind is slave to the heart.”
— Mahatma Gandhi
_________________________
The reason this is true has everything to do with the way the brain processes information and makes
decisions.
Studies reported in the journal Nature Neuroscience , for example, have pinpointed the parts of the
brain that are most active when someone is thinking about buying something: The limbic system, the
amygdala, and the posterior cingulated cortex.
These are the emotional parts of your brain.
The UCLA Brain Research Institute said this about the prospect’s brain and how best to talk to it:
“Corporate America, meanwhile, is hoping brain scanning can help sales. The big question for
neuroeconomics is, ‘How does the human brain make decisions like which car to buy or what to
have for lunch,’ says Antonio Rangel, director of the neuroeconomics lab at Stanford. Research
is showing that the limbic system, which governs emotions, often overrides the logical areas of
the brain, suggesting that the ‘rational actor’ theory of economics misses deeper sources of
motivation rooted in unconscious feelings and interpersonal dynamics. Instead of aiming at
consumers’ logical decision-making processes, companies could perhaps appeal to the fuzzier
side of how people feel about themselves and others around them.”
But, persuading someone doesn’t have to feel like brain surgery. All it really means is that as
copywriters, we must recognize our first job is to win over the prospect’s heart. Once we do that, then the
rest of our job — winning over his mind — is relatively easy.
Time is a big factor in this. The customer doesn’t have time to read every promotion that comes his
way. He will give each a few minutes or seconds depending on how good the copy is. If he becomes
bored or confused or doubtful, he will stop reading and move on to the next thing in his reading pile.
Those precious few moments are all you have to persuade him emotionally. In such a short space of
time, you don’t have time to put forth a rational argument. And even if you could, you would lose the
chance to capture his heart.
In a typical long-form direct response advertisement (whether it’s a sales letter, a space ad, a
television spot, or a telemarketing script), you have just 100 to 600 words to incite an emotional
response. Those 100 to 600 words constitute the lead. And that is why the lead is so important.
We once worked with a very successful direct marketer who was famous for his ability to predict very
quickly how well advertising copy would work. He never spent more than two minutes reading the copy.
He’d read the lead word-for-word and then quickly scan the rest of the copy.
It might have been he who taught us the importance of the lead. Or, perhaps we inferred it from
watching him do his thing. But, when we began to concentrate on the leads, we found that we, too, could
predict the success of promotions with a fair amount of accuracy.
We could read the lead and ask, “Does this lead get me excited? Does it make me want to continue
reading with a high level of anticipation?”
If the lead accomplished these tasks, then we felt with a high degree of confidence that the promotion
would work.
As we said, most copywriting experts today recognize the critical role the lead has on the success of
the ad. But until now, there has never been a book that took a scientific approach to analyzing great leads
and demonstrating the principles that made them work so well.
In the chapters that follow, we will walk you through our strategy. To put it to work for you, we will
teach you a few important strategies:
The importance of the lead (You have just learned that.)
A unifying principle called the Rule of One that immediately will make all your writing stronger and
more effective
The difference between a direct and an indirect lead
Gene Schwartz’s concept of reader familiarity
The six archetypal lead types
The rules for each of these six types
That is how this book is arranged. There are 10 chapters, one each explaining these concepts in detail
and with plenty of examples.
The strategy you’re about to learn will easily put an extra million dollars in your pocket over the
lifespan of your career. More likely, if you are an active, full-time copywriter, the value will be many
times that.
How this can happen is quite simple. This strategy makes you write compelling copy more effectively
— without relying on numerous and often contradictory “rules.”
Your prospect will feel a stronger, more real bond with you and with your writing. And, your efforts
to “sell him” will fade into the background so that he concentrates on your words and ideas and not on
having to fork over money.
This strategy allows you to write effective, compelling copy more quickly with far fewer false starts
and time-wasting restarts. Because you understand this strategy, you’ll know how best to approach your
reader. And, you’ll know what approaches to avoid that will not work as effectively with him.
You’ll notice how much more effortlessly your writing seems to flow. So will your client or employer.
Most importantly, the reader will enjoy an easy, unlabored flow of words that lead him inevitably to the
action you want him to take.
When you put our simple strategy to work for you, you’ll write every advertisement or promotion
confidently, knowing that it will work.
Put it all together and this means more work for you, finished faster, garnering more success. And,
more money coming to you — multiples of what you’re earning now while expending a lot less labor.
Here’s how Master Copywriter David Deutsch characterizes why you want to be writing great leads:
“A good lead may intrigue, build curiosity, create anticipation, open the reader’s mind, build trust,
create a bond, and in a myriad of ways lay the groundwork for (and magnify the effectiveness of) the
persuasion to follow.
“A great one — ‘If the list on which I found your name … ’ ‘The American Express Card is not for
everyone … ’ ‘You look out your window … ’ — can in itself elevate the reader to an entirely
different level of susceptibility to our enticements.”
The book you’re holding represents a tiny investment compared to what you stand to earn using this
strategy. All you have to do now — to turn that tiny benefit into a financial windfall — is to read on and
pay attention to what you are reading … and then to put it into action.
But that’s easy, as you’ll see as you continue reading …
1
The Rule of One — One Big Idea
________________________________
“There is a certain majesty in simplicity which is far above all the quaintness of
wit.”
— Alexander Pope
________________________________
One of the biggest lessons I ever learned about writing leads came very late — in fact, more than
twenty years after I wrote my first piece of copy.
It happened about a year after I began writing Early to Rise (ETR). I was looking over the issues I had
written that year, and noting which ones the readers rated the highest. Without exception, those that
achieved the highest scores presented a single idea.
I realized readers didn’t want to hear everything I had to say about a topic every time I fired up my
computer. They were looking for a single, useful suggestion or idea that could make them more successful.
That was one of those “a-ha!” experiences for me.
As a reader, the stories and essays I liked best tackled one subject, however narrow, and did so
effectively and deeply. As a writer, I had a sense that my readers should feel this way, too. But, it wasn’t
until I looked at the ETR results that I recognized the power of a narrow focus in writing.
I thought about some of the books I admired the most. Most of them had that narrow focus. Many of
them centered on a single idea.
What Color Is Your Parachute? by Richard Bolles — Finding a life-changing new job that you love.
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell — How trends develop and fortunes are made from them.
Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins — A philosophy that advertising’s purpose is to sell, not
entertain or win creative awards — and how to apply this philosophy to create winning ads.
How to Become CEO by Jeffrey J. Fox — How to become a great employee and, eventually, take over
the business.
Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey — The behaviors you need to adopt in your
professional and personal life to become successful.
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie — How to use personal power to
achieve success.
My next thought was to see if this same phenomenon applied to advertising copy. I pulled out my box
of “best promotions of all time” and went through them. Not all of them were on a single topic, but many
of them began by hitting one idea strongly.
It seemed like I was on to something. When we had our first company-wide meeting for publishers in
France, I presented this as one of several dozen “secrets to publishing success.”
Bill Bonner, who was there, reminded me that he had been telling me about the Rule of One for many
years. He learned it, he said, from the great advertising guru David Ogilvy. Ogilvy called it “the Big
Idea.” The concept was that every great promotion has, at its core, a single, powerful idea.
Here are Ogilvy’s exact words on the crucial importance of the Big Idea:
“Big Ideas. Unless your advertising is built on a Big Idea, it will pass like a ship in the night. It
takes a Big Idea to jolt the consumer out of his indifference — to make him notice your
advertising, remember it, and take action. Big Ideas are usually simple ideas. Said Charles
Kettering, the great General Motors inventor: ‘This problem, when solved, will be simple.’ Big,
simple ideas are not easy to come by. They require genius — and midnight oil. A truly big one
can be continued for 20 years — like our eye patch for Hathaway shirts.”
And, my co-author John Forde said that he, too, has used the Big Idea to write some of his best
promotions.
The next year, I invited two of Agora’s most successful writers to make presentations at the annual
meeting. One gave a very impressive speech about the 12 rules he follows when he writes copy. The
other copywriter — Steve Sjuggerud — talked about only one thing: The importance of clarity in writing.
Both presentations were terrific. But, it was Steve’s speech that people were talking about afterwards.
And, it was Steve’s idea that became institutionalized at Agora that year.
At the same time, John told us he was rereading the classic 1941 book, “How to Write a Good
Advertisement” by Victor Schwab, the man Advertising Age called the “greatest mail-order copywriter of
all time.”
In that book, Schwab lists what he called the “Top 100 Headlines” of his time. John found that in that
list, 91 were driven by single ideas.
Yet, even the remaining 9 not clearly based on a single idea still had an implied strong, single idea that
bound the whole thing together.
Take a look. And remember, this is the list of headlines that DON’T appear at first to fit the singleidea
theme we’re talking about …
“Five Familiar Skin Troubles — Which Do You Want to Overcome?”
“Have You These Symptoms of Nerve Exhaustion?”
“161 New Ways to a Man’s Heart — In This Fascinating Book for Cooks”
“Do You Do Any of These Ten Embarrassing Things?”
“Six Types of Investors — Which Group Are You In?”
“The Crimes We Commit Against Our Stomachs”
“Little Leaks That Keep Men Poor”
“67 Reasons Why It Would Have Paid You to Answer Our Ad a Few Months Ago”
“Free Book — Tells You 12 Secrets of Better Lawn Care”
“Notice,” John said in a Copywriter’s Roundtable article discussing the Rule of One, “that even
though they don’t, each clearly points toward a single, over-arching theme.”
Now, take a look at some of the other 91 “best headlines” of Schwab’s time. Note how instantly clear
and engaging these “Big Ideas” are.
“The Secret of Making People Like You”
“Is the Life of a Child Worth $1 to You?”
“To Men Who Want to Quit Work Someday”
“Are You Ever Tongue-Tied at a Party?”
“How a New Discovery Made a Plain Girl Beautiful”
“Who Else Wants a Screen Star Figure?”
“You Can Laugh at Money Worries — If You Follow This Simple Plan”
“When Doctors Feel Rotten This is What They Do”
“How I Improved My Memory in One Evening”
“Discover the Fortune That Lies Hidden In Your Salary”
“How I Made a Fortune with a ‘Fool Idea’”
“Have You a ‘Worry’ Stock?”
John pointed out that starting off in the headline with just one, simple idea has two major benefits:
It makes the copy stronger
It makes writing the rest of the sales letter easier
“Finding the core idea,” John added, “of course, is the hard part. It has to be precise, not scattershot.
You have to know your audience and know them well. Or, you risk missing your target completely.”
At ETR, we made this concept a “rule” of writing — the Rule of One. The mandate was very clear.
Our contributors should write about one thing at a time. One good idea, clearly and convincingly
presented, was better than a dozen so-so ideas strung together.
That rule made a difference. When we obeyed it, our essays were stronger. When we ignored it, they
were not as powerful as they could have been.
Although this was clearly a copywriting principle that was extremely powerful, I found that I
sometimes ignored it. If I had six good reasons for this, or 12 techniques for that, I couldn’t stop myself
from including them all. The results were always disappointing.
Why did I break this golden rule? I’m not entirely sure. I think sometimes I was afraid readers would
think, “Is that all he has to say on the subject?” I was, in other words, too cowardly and conceited to stick
to my rule — even though I knew it would help me.
_________________________
Non-Writing Applications of the Rule of One
The Rule of One can also be applied to your daily workday goals. Before you go into a
meeting, think about what one thing you’d like to accomplish from it. Make that one thing
your priority and hammer away at it during the meeting. You’ll be amazed at how often
you will end up leaving the meeting with your goal accomplished.
You can also use the Rule of One at business lunches, meetings, and even parties.
Challenge yourself: “Who is the one best person I can network with?” and “What is the
one best thing I can say to that person to capture his interest?”
Spend some time today looking at work you’ve done — ads you’ve written, products
you’ve created, goals you’ve set. How could you make them stronger by applying the Rule
of One?
_________________________
Here is an example of the Rule of One as applied to a short advertorial, taken from an ETR message:
Subject Line: The Easiest Product to Sell Online
Dear Early to Riser,
Would you be interested in investing $175 to make $20,727?
That’s exactly what Bob Bly just accomplished!
See how he did it below … and how easily you could do the same.
MaryEllen Tribby
ETR Publisher
_______________________
Dear Friend,
There’s no product easier to create or sell online …
… than a simple, straightforward instructional or how-to e-book.
Why are e-books the perfect information product to sell on the Internet?
• 100% profit margin.
• No printing costs.
• No inventory to store.
• Quick and easy to update.
• No shipping costs or delays.
• Higher perceived value than regular books.
• Quick, simple, and inexpensive to produce.
My very first e-book has generated $20,727 in sales (so far).
My total investment in producing it: just $175.
Now, I want to show you how to make huge profits creating and selling simple e-books — in my new
e-book “Writing E-Books for Fun & Profit.”
Normally my e-books sell for anywhere from $29 to $79, and later this year, “Writing E-Books for
Fun & Profit” will sell for $59.
However, to make it affordable for you to get started in e-book publishing, I’m letting you have
“Writing E-Books for Fun & Profit” for only $19 today — a savings of $40 off the cover price!
For more information … or to order on a risk-free 90-day trial basis … just click here now.
Sincerely,
Bob Bly
P.S. But, I urge you to hurry. This special $40 discount is for a limited time only. And once it
expires, it may never be repeated again.
_______________________
Let me explain how the Rule of One operates here.
In the lift letter (signed by MaryEllen Tribby), Bob asks a question and then tells a tiny little story. The
question is an inverted promise. The story — a single-sentence story, mind you — validates the promise.
The sales letter follows. This, too, is a beautifully simple piece of copy. It leads with a statement. The
statement expresses an idea. The idea suggests a promise: the easiest way to make money on the Internet
is to market e-books.
That statement is then supported by a number of bulleted “facts.” Then, Bob validates the statement by
mentioning his own experience.
The reader is already sold. Bob makes the sale irresistible with a strong, one-time-only offer.
Short, sweet, and simple.
The Rule of One is not only one big, central idea. It’s a fully engaging piece of copy with five
necessary elements. Using Bob’s example:
One good idea: “There’s no product easier to create or sell online than a simple, straightforward
instructional or how-to e-book.”
One core emotion: “It is simple! I bet I can do it!”
One captivating story: Told brilliantly in 17 words: “Would you be interested in investing $175 to
make $20,727? That’s exactly what Bob Bly just accomplished!”
One single, desirable benefit: “Now, I want to show you how to make huge profits creating and
selling simple e-books … ”
One inevitable response: The only way to get this book for $19 is to “click here now.”
To create blockbuster promotions time-after-time, you must understand the difference between good
copy and great copy. The Rule of One is the driving force behind great copy.
Veteran advertising consultant James Loftus, who has worked with Anheuser-Busch, Holiday Inn, and
McDonald’s, among many other clients, agrees with this concept:
“Also keep in mind that the more points you try to cover, the less effective each point, and therefore
your ad, will be. An effective ad will actually have only one central focus, even if you discuss it
from two or three perspectives. If your points are too diverse, they compete with each other, and
end up pulling the reader’s attention in separate directions.”
Think for a moment about a few modern ads and ad taglines you remember. Those that stick with you
follow the Rule of One:
Coca Cola: “The pause that refreshes”®
OR
“Always Cool.”®
But not “The pause that refreshes and always cool.”
McDonald’s: “You deserve a break today”®
OR
“i’m lovin’ it”®
Not “You deserve a break today, and you’re lovin’ it.”
You run across numerous other examples of top companies following this rule in their most successful
ads:
“We try harder”
[Avis]
“Think Different”
[Apple Computer]
“Pork, the other white meat”
[National Pork Board]
“Quality is job one”
[Ford Motor Company]
“Milk, it does a body good”
[National Dairy Council]
These are more than taglines. The commercials they embellished — when produced by ad execs who
understood this rule — used one strong idea to drive the ads.
Porter Stansberry (founder of Stansberry & Associates Investment Research) recently wrote a memo
explaining the great success he and Mike Palmer had with two blockbuster promotions. Both
advertisements brought in millions of dollars within days of posting them. I won’t tell you all the secrets
Porter revealed in his memo (Porter and Mike would kill me if I did) but I’ll tell you this: Each of the
blockbuster promotions highlighted one dominant investing idea — not several.
The challenge is to find one good idea that the reader can grasp immediately, Porter said. And then,
stick to it.
But, most marketers and copywriters are not up to this challenge. Instead of sticking to the Rule of
One, they conjure up lists of features and benefits and create ads that mention as many of them as possible.
The thinking behind this approach goes something like this: “I wonder which of these benefits will really
push the buttons I want? Hmmm. I don’t know. I guess what I’ll do is throw them all in the promotion.
That way if one doesn’t work, another one will.”
This is what I call the “tossed salad” approach to advertising copy. Throw everything on the counter
into a big wooden bowl, marinate with some connecting sentences, and toss. It’s a standard recipe for Blevel
copywriters. But, it’s not the way to win any blue ribbons in the competitive kitchen of breakthrough
advertising.
The little advertisement Bob wrote had that simplicity. E-books are easy was the idea. E-books are
easy to make and easy to sell. The reader hears it. He gets it. He believes it.
So, the idea has to be strong. Yet, it also has to be easy to understand. And easy to believe. That last
part — being easy to believe — is key.
The examples in this book follow this cardinal rule of copywriting: The Rule of One. As a general
rule, leads that follow the Rule of One are stronger because they do not have the emotional power
dissipated by copy that goes in different directions.
But, the Rule of One does not mean you can’t have a story and a secret and an emotionally-compelling
fact in the same lead.
It means that the lead is strongest that promotes one compelling idea by supporting that idea with all
the appropriate techniques … stories, predictions, statements, promises, and so on … but all unified by
that single idea and by a single emotion that drives the sale.
For example, Porter’s Railway package — There’s a Railroad Across America — was both a Story
and a Secret Lead. And, it had other elements in it as well. But, there was a single idea — that we are
living in a time of change as great as the height of the Industrial Revolution. If you read this letter, you
have a chance of becoming as rich as those great oil and railway barons. One compelling idea and one
powerful emotion. The package worked because all the other competing ideas and emotions were
eliminated.
To reiterate the most important points:
Lead your advertisement with one, and only one, powerful idea
Make sure that the idea creates an emotion, a single emotion, which will compel the reader to respond
Support that idea with one engaging story or compelling fact
Direct the reader to one, and only one, action
What is a great advertising idea? That could be the subject of another book. But, in short, a great idea
is:
Big (enough to stir interest)
Easy to understand
Immediately convincing
Clearly useful (to the reader)
Anybody who cares about marketing — and everybody in business should — needs to understand this
core principle. Spend five or ten minutes now studying Bob Bly’s little ad and understanding how it is
working.
Put the Rule of One to work for you in all your communications, especially in your promotions and
their leads. You’ll be amazed at how much stronger — and successful — your copy will be.
2
The Simple Question That Can Double Your Success
_______________________________
“The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think.”
— Edwin Schlossberg
_______________________________
Ask a simple question, the next time — and every time — you start a piece of promotional copy, and
you could see double or better the results you otherwise might get.
In fact, answer this same question and you’ll immediately find it a lot easier to make many of the same
decisions most marketers and business owners find challenging.
For instance, you’ll have a much better idea which products will sell best to your target audience.
You’ll also have a much better idea of the lead types, as detailed in this book, that will work best with
that audience, too. Only certain ones fit at certain times. And, by asking this question, you’ll know how to
decide among them.
You’ll even have a fair idea, once you ask this question, which words will work best in your headline,
what the opening line of your sales piece should say, even a few ideas about the layout and design.
And, what question is that?
Seasoned marketers might think it’s “What am I selling?” or “Who is my customer?” And, in both
cases, they wouldn’t be far off.
But, the real question too many marketers never stop to ask is this one: “What does your customer
already know?”
What does he know, for instance, about who you are? What does he know about your product and the
research behind it? What does he know about himself, his own problems, and the other possible solutions
available?
Why does any of this matter?
It matters because it completely changes the way you’ll approach and talk to your customer. And, it’s
this question of how you approach him that’s so different.
In this book, we’re going to ask you to begin with exactly this premise: Everything your prospect
knows before you begin your sales pitch will determine not just what you’ll say, but how you’ll say it,
when you open the conversation between seller and buyer.
More specifically, what your reader knows will help you decide which of the following six lead types
will work best. It’s that simple.
We call this key premise the concept of “customer awareness.” And, we’re not the first. It was the
late, great copywriting legend Gene Schwartz who first wrote about this idea, in his classic book
Breakthrough Advertising.
If you can get your hands on a copy — we’ve seen it sell “new” for as much as $800 on Amazon.com
— you should. It’s worth every penny, just to get his brilliant and full treatment of the idea.
But, for our purposes here, you won’t need to go so deep.
Let’s just start by taking a look at how Gene himself put it:
“If [your prospect] is aware of your product and realizes it can satisfy his desire, your headline
starts with your product. If he is not aware of your product, but only of the desire itself, your
headline starts with the desire. If he is not yet aware of what he really seeks, but is concerned
only with the general problem, your headline starts with that problem and crystallizes it into a
specific need.”
In other words, even when you’re selling the same product to everybody, the people you approach will
respond only to one kind of ad — depending on how aware they are of who you are, what you’re selling,
and why you’re selling it.
Schwartz even broke out what he called the “Five Levels of Awareness.” We’ve laid them out for you
here, in a kind of “awareness line,” running from most to least aware:
Gene Schwartz’s Groundbreaking “Five Levels of Customer Awareness”
So, how do you use this concept when making a marketing or copywriting decision?
First, you ask the simple question we have already mentioned: What does your customer already
know? In other words, if you had to plot your prospect on the “awareness line” we diagramed, where
would he land?
If your customer has already bought something from you before and loves your brand, then he’s going
to fall on the “most aware” end of the scale.
If he’s never bought or heard of your product, but suspects there’s something out there like what you
sell but he doesn’t know about your product specifically, then you might say he’s “solution-aware.”
On the other hand, if he only knows the frustration of the problem he’s trying to solve, he’s better
described as “problem-aware.” If he’s not even that much in tune, and carries only a general angst that
you’ll need to channel, he falls into the category Schwartz labeled “unaware.”
As you’ll see in the upcoming chapters, some leads will work extremely well to “most aware”
customers but would most likely bomb to an “unaware” audience. The reverse is also true. Leads that can
give you blockbuster success with “unaware” audiences would fall flat with customers that already know
you and your products well.
How do you discover where to put your target customer on that “awareness line”? Simply by drilling
down with even more questions, as a detective might.
For instance, you might ask yourself how new your product is to the marketplace? If it’s very new,
obviously customer awareness levels will be low. But then, you might also ask, is there anything else out
there just like it? In which case, your target customer isn’t completely “unaware” — they already have a
frame of reference.
Again, the simple key is that you understand this general concept. Simply put, knowing how aware
your prospect is will change the conversation. And, it will especially change those first key moments of
the conversation, which in advertising we call the headline and the lead.
Just to make sure you’re clear on how awareness levels can impact your message, let’s just spend a
few minutes looking at each of the levels on Gene’s five-level scale …
1. The Most Aware
Your prospect knows your product, and only needs to know “the deal.”
In a lot of ways, this is your dream customer. They know what they want. They know you offer it. And,
at this stage, all that’s left is making the deal.
You’ll hear lots of talk these days about the importance of building a lasting relationship with
customers. And even more, about how the Internet and email marketing have made that even easier.
And, this is why.
The “most aware” customer can be a very active, even assertive kind of customer. This is where
you’ll find your repeat buyers. These are the people who feel loyal to your brand, who shake your hand,
and who send you “fan” emails. In the best case, these are the customers who even recommend your
product to friends.
Apple, for instance, has what some — especially hardcore Microsoft customers — call “fanboys.”
They’re so devout, they’ll track rumor websites to find out about new product releases. Then, they’ll
camp outside the retail stores to be among the first to buy.
Apple has famously built an avid fan base. Their “most aware” customers have often camped out overnight to be first in line for new
products. ©Quintin Doroquez
The benefit of selling to highly aware customers? You can often reach them with something as simple as a straightforward offer, such
as this one for the iPad.
No doubt, you also know someone who refuses to drive anything but a Chrysler, Ford, or Mercedes.
Or, someone who buys tickets, T-shirts, and CDs of a favorite band or goes crazy over anything that has
the logo of a favorite sports team. Even something as simple as Colgate, Crest, or Aquafresh toothpaste
can build this level of loyalty in a crowd.
Selling at this level of awareness is easy.
Your target customers know you. They know what you do. There’s no education required. Because for
them, your product is more than a product. It’s a point of contact with someone they now trust and feel
emotionally connected to. More often than not, to this crowd, all you’ll need to do is offer them something
new and they’ll buy.
Why?
Because not only are they already passionate in the niche where your product resides, but they’ve
already answered many of their own questions. They’re already emotionally ready to make a decision.
And, almost all you’ll need to do is give them the opportunity to buy.
The first lead we’ll show you, featured in Chapter 4, can work great for this kind of highly-aware
customer. What’s more, it’s among the easiest to write, once you’ve decided exactly what you’re selling
and whom you’re selling to.
To figure out if you’re selling to a “most aware” customer, you’re going to look immediately at
whatever kind of mailing list or slice of the market that’s most available to you. For instance, in a
company that markets often by direct response, they’ll have a “house list.” And on that list, they might also
have what are called “multi-buyers.”
These are the customers who bought before and who came back again for more. Most direct response
marketers place high value on this list simply because, as “most aware” customers, they’re much easier to
sell. Most of the work has already been done, long before your copy comes along.
Keep in mind, in today’s over-exposed, media-dense world, you might sometimes run into customers
who seem too aware. These are the jaded ones, who have been hit too many times by similar pitches,
have tried products like yours that have let them down, or who have just reached a self-imposed limit on
how much they’re willing to spend.
In those special cases, they’re not only “most aware” of who you are and what you offer, but also
they’ve already made up their minds. And, you’ll find it very difficult to change those opinions, even if
they’re not exactly right about what they think.
However, it’s not impossible, as you’ll see with the special lead types we’ll talk about later, starting
with Chapter 4. But, before you jump ahead, let’s continue with Schwartz’s other levels of customer
awareness, as they might apply to the marketing situation you find yourself in right now.
2. Product-Aware
Your prospect knows what you sell, but isn’t sure it’s right for him.
Even for products that have fans, you’re also going to find buyers sitting on the fence. And, that’s
mostly what you’ll see at this second level. These are the prospects that just aren’t sure what you’re
selling is right for them.
Do they know the name of your product? Yes. Do they know the benefits you claim? It’s pretty likely.
But, making up their minds whether to buy, that’s a different story.
First, you’ll need to win their trust. And, because they’re not completely decided, they’re skittish. So,
you’ll have to make sure you don’t scare them away.
You’ll find these kinds of prospects reading other customers’ reviews on Amazon.com and poring
over copies of Consumer Reports. Even though they’re close to a purchase, they crave reassurance. They
want and need to know you sell not only what they need, but that they can trust your claims about what
your product or service can do.
Of course, that means you’ll need to work that much harder to convince them. The good news is that
with this kind of “product-aware” customer, at least part of the seller-buyer relationship has already
begun.
That’s why “product-aware” customers are often easier to win over. Because you still won’t need to
do much here to educate the customer about what you’re doing. Most of your work will focus on proving
you’re able to do what you say you’ll do.
Of course, every sale works to build buyer trust. But, with this kind of prospect, trust building
becomes especially important. It’s what you’ll want to do as soon as possible in your copy. The lead type
you’ll read about in Chapter 5 will show you how that’s done.
Once you move beyond these first two higher levels of customer awareness, selling gets a little
tougher. And, this is where good copywriters start to earn their money. Why? Because it’s here that
resistance spikes higher and you’ll need to work harder to make that first connection.
Let us show you what we mean …
3. Solution-Aware
Your prospect knows the result he wants, but not that your product provides it.
Picture yourself craving a midnight snack. You’re standing in the glow of the open refrigerator. You
feel the hunger pangs. And, you know there’s food in the house. But, you’re just not sure what you want.
That’s not so far off from being “solution-aware.”
At this third level of Schwartz’s Awareness Scale, the prospect knows that somewhere out there,
somebody has a solution to his problem. He might even know vaguely where to look. Beyond that, he’s
not so sure where to look next.
A prospect in this category needs a little extra education before he’s ready to compare his options.
When he comes to you, this third-level customer has only an outcome in mind.
To make the sale, you show him you’re able to help him reach that outcome. But, before you can do
that, you’ll first need to convince him you understand what he wants and needs.
An ad like this goes beyond the simple offer, with more claims and proof, to sell to a slightly “less aware” prospect.
At least two of the kinds of lead types we’ll show you — in Chapters 5 and 6 — will help you do this,
as you’ll see.
And then, we start to move into the customer awareness levels where making a solid connection gets
much tougher and much more important. So, why target these buyers?
Because it’s in these last two categories where you’re going to find the customers that help businesses
grow.
4. Problem-Aware
Your prospect senses he has a problem, but doesn’t know there’s a solution.
A “solution-aware” customer has hope. But, a “problem-aware” customer has only worry. They know
something’s not working, but they don’t know yet there’s a way to fix it.
Notice how this ad taps the emotions attached to the problem of “stiff joints” and “discomfort” before it actually reveals anything
about the product.
The key with this customer is to show you “feel their pain.” Not just that you know they have a
problem, but that you know the frustration, desperation, or even fear and anger it causes. We call this the
“point of maximum anxiety.” Once you identify it, you’ll find an open avenue for making an emotional
connection.
This kind of copy says loud and clear “I sympathize,” before it even tries to begin to name benefits or
mention products. Many classic ads fall into this category.
In Chapter 6, you’ll see specific examples. Plus, you’ll see how to connect with the key selling
emotions that make this special kind of lead work. And in Chapter 7, you’ll discover a lead type which
can also be very effective for prospects keenly aware of what ails them.
And finally, there’s the toughest and yet potentially most rewarding of the customer awareness levels,
and the last in Schwartz’s five-level breakdown …
5. Completely Unaware
No knowledge of anything except, perhaps, his own identity or opinion.
Of the customers you’ll target, none is tougher to win over than the completely “unaware” prospect.
Not only do they not know who you are, they don’t know your product. They don’t even know products
like yours exist. Nor do they know they have a specific problem worth solving.
So, why bother?
Because it’s here that you’ll find the completely new markets a growing business needs. This is where
you’ll find new places to resell your entire product line. It’s also where you might get lots of ideas for
new products.
It’s in this market where smart marketers make their fortunes.
Of course, it’s also here that the pros compete. The secret sounds simple. Here, you’ll need a lead that
grabs readers without letting on the least detail of what it is you’re trying to do.
To make this work, you’ll need finesse.
To see how it’s done, take a look at the examples in Chapters 8 and 9. In the first of these, you’ll
discover the Proclamation Lead. In the second, you’ll read about what we call the Story Lead.
These two lead types are designed to give you an entry point for a sales message that’s hard for your
prospect to see coming, let alone classify.
Why? Because winning the attention of your most “unaware” customers can be especially difficult, as
they have no reason to trust or even listen to your message. Come on too strong with a pitch or product
mention, and you could chase them away.
On the other hand, once you’ve won their attention and moved past that initial resistance, their lack of
awareness can make them more receptive to an offer which is, to them, unique in a very real way.
One famous example that we’ll look at more closely is one you might know from The Wall Street
Journal. It could have opened with an invitation to subscribe to the world’s most famous financial journal
at a discount.
It could have shown how past headlines broke stories about dangers in the markets or giant
opportunities that readers might otherwise have missed.
Instead, it began …
Dear Reader,
On a beautiful late spring afternoon, twenty-five years ago, two young men graduated from the same
college.
They were very much alike, these two young men. Both had been better than average students, both
were personable, and both — as young college graduates are — were filled with ambitious dreams
for the future.
Recently, these men returned to their college for their 25th reunion.
They were still very much alike. Both were happily married. Both had three children. And both, it
turned out, had gone to work for the same Midwestern manufacturing company after graduation, and
were still there.
But, there was one difference.
One of the men was manager of a small department of that company. The other was president …
Where, in that engaging story, is the newspaper mentioned? It’s nowhere to be found. And, the
subscription offer? Just as absent.
Yet, as you’ll read in Chapter 9, this powerful and very indirect opening was the start of one of the
most successful direct response letters of all time. So much, that the “tale of two young men” story is a
much-copied and still successful model today.
But, before you move ahead for more on these and other examples, find out in the next chapter why
each of our specific six lead types tends to work better in some situations where they might fail in others.
_________________________
Summary: Why “Awareness” Matters
Knowing what your prospect knows in advance of a sales pitch is just as important as
knowing who he is or what he wants. Advertising great Gene Schwartz broke it down into
an “Awareness Scale,” ranging from the “most aware” to the “least aware,” as follows:
_________________________
3
Direct or Indirect?
______________________________
“That’s right — it filets, it chops, it dices and slices. It never stops. It lasts a lifetime,
mows your lawn, and it picks up the kids from school … It plays a mean rhythm. It makes
excuses for lipstick on your collar. And it’s only a dollar, only a dollar, only a dollar.”
— Tom Waits
_______________________________
At a cocktail party, how do you start a conversation?
With an old friend, you might pick up right where you left off. With a total stranger, you might first
look for ways to “break the ice.”
Socially, this insight comes naturally. What you might not realize, though, is that in marketing — and
especially in crafting powerful leads for sales letters — the same instinct can apply.
For instance, take a look at this envelope:
This was for an invitation the Cooking Club of America sent to “serious cooks only.”
Even on the envelope, you know immediately what the letter inside is about. This is not for bachelors
who can’t boil eggs. Or college students with take-out shops on speed dial.
This is for “foodies” who love the kitchen, crack spines on cookbooks, and who enjoy talking and
thinking about the gadgets and secrets that can make them better at their craft.
Inside, you find a letter with this offer stamped right at the top …
Then the lead begins …
“Dear Fellow Food Lover,
“Would you mind very much if I sent you a free cookware set to use in your kitchen? How about
a free bread machine? A free selection of spices? A free set of utensils? … ”
It goes on to explain that you can test — and keep — free kitchen gadgets every month, just by joining
the Cooking Club of America.
The club has other benefits, too, of course — a recipe directory, equipment deals and discounts,
member contests, member forums and events, a members-only magazine. But, true to the Rule of One
principle discussed in Chapter 1, they focused on the one benefit that testing proved an immediate draw.
And, because they were targeting already passionate and informed cooks, the copywriter saw no need
to “warm up” or educate the readers. The offer invitation alone was enough. The letter was a huge
success.
Lots of sales letters take exactly this same kind of head on or “direct” approach.
You might recognize some of these famous headlines:
“Don’t Pay a Penny For This Book Until it Doubles Your Power to Learn”
“Weird New Sonic Lure Catches Fish Like Crazy … ”
“We’re Looking For People Who Like to Draw”
“At Last, Instant Beauty!”
“FREE — The Book That Has Helped Thousands to Get Slim and Stay Slim”
But, it would be a mistake to think that direct offers are the only way to sell, or even the best way in
all situations. Take this Gene Schwartz classic, which first appeared as a full-page space ad in Barron’s

Nowhere in the lead can you guess this is about a $5.95 book. Nor does the lead focus on the six
wealth-creation secrets found inside.
Schwartz realized that if he really wanted to highlight how this book differed from all the rest, he
would have to find a different way to lead the reader into the sales message.
So, instead of focusing on the book or the secrets, he threw the spotlight on the reader. Not just his
desire to get rich, which is common, but with the word “courage,” some deeper unspoken feelings the
reader might harbor about making money.
This ad, too, was a big hit, selling thousands of copies of the book.
These other, less direct headlines just as famous as that one include:
“She Fled the Hospital When the Doctor Said ‘Cut Her Open’”
“71-Year Old Man Has Sexual Congress 5 Times a Day”
“How a ‘Fool Stunt’ Made Me a Star Salesman”
“What Never, Ever to Eat on an Airplane … ”
“The Great Oil Hoax: What George Bush Was Told Behind Closed Doors”
In each case, the lead pulls you in with a story or a piece of news. But, claims tied directly to the
product have all but disappeared. When the headline and lead take this approach of avoiding direct
claims or reference to the product, we call it an “indirect” sales lead.
Which Approach is Better?
Which is better: a “direct” or “indirect” approach?
Here’s what award-winning copywriter Don Hauptman, who you might remember for the famous
headline “Speak Spanish Like a Diplomat,” wrote in a memo way back in 1979:
“I have come to the conclusion that some of the strongest copy is not of the traditional hard-sell
variety, with superlatives, benefits, and how-to. A more seductive, indirect, oblique approach
strikes me as being the wave of the future.”
Meanwhile, equally successful copywriter and author Bob Bly says, “The majority of my heads and
leads are direct, as a result of my long years in Business-to-Business … where virtually every headline
and lead is direct.”
Then, there’s copywriter Clayton Makepeace, possibly the highest-earning U.S. copywriter. Says
Clayton: “Do direct benefit headlines still work? Hell, yes! I use them all the time … but in many markets
and for many products, they’re working less well than they once did — so ‘A’-level writers have evolved
other ways to seize prospects’ attention … ”
Or, you could ask highly-successful copywriter Lee Euler his opinion about direct or indirect leads.
Lee is famous for some of the most successful indirect sales letters in the financial newsletter industry —
including The Plague of the Black Debt you’ll see highlighted in Chapter 8. Lee’s opinion:
“Pure news or curiosity, with no clear connection to the customer’s concerns, can be very
dangerous … if you have to choose, choose the [direct] benefit approach. You’re almost always
better off with a headline that offers a strong benefit that addresses a deep need of the customer.”
Bill Bonner launched his own publishing empire with the indirect International Living classic lead
shown here.
Bill has his own opinion about indirect leads. “I like indirect leads because they have to appeal
straight to the heart. Copy always has to aim that way, of course, but indirect copy forces you to do it. The
risks are higher, but so are the rewards.”
With copywriting giants like these leaning both ways, you can guess that both “direct” and “indirect”
can work extremely well. The trick is deciding which to use and when.
The Role Awareness Plays
In the last chapter, we saw how much the awareness level of your customer can vary. Your customer
can be “most aware” of who you are and what you’re selling or at least of the problems you can help him
solve. Or, he can be completely “unaware” of much of anything having to do with what you’re trying to
sell him, his problems, or the solutions to them.
By far the easiest way to figure out if you should come at a sales lead idea head on or sidle up to it
indirectly, is to figure out where your prospect falls on this scale of awareness.
The more aware he is, usually the more direct sales lead works best.
The less aware, the more indirect you’re going to want to go.
It’s not a perfect indicator, but it’s pretty close.
On the “awareness line” we showed you in Chapter 2, it might look like this:
How Aware Your Customer Is Helps Decide How Direct You Should Be
Of course, there are other ways to explain why you might want to use one kind of approach or the
other. For instance, you’ll hear that directly stating the benefit or getting right to your offer in the lead
works best when …
You’re selling a product that’s easy to understand.
You can make a promise that’s very large and easily accepted.
You’ve got an exceptionally good deal or guarantee to offer.
Your customer knows and trusts you and deals with you often.
You’ve made a product improvement your market was already waiting for.
Each is a case when awareness and acceptance levels are already high. So, buyers are more receptive
to the sale right away.
Here’s an example of a direct lead that did very well. The product, TurboTax, is already well-known
tax software.
What could be more familiar, at least to this product’s target audience, than the pain of preparing and
paying taxes?
This copy doesn’t need to dredge up those emotions. Because the customer is already there and, most
likely, on the brink of a purchase. He may even know TurboTax by name.
The relationship is already in place. So instead, this copywriter can cut right to the chase with
something much more direct. He can jump right to the irresistible offer.
As you can see, writing direct ads can be easier than writing indirect ads, simply because you don’t
have to work as hard to educate or seduce a prospect before you reveal that you’re looking to make a
sale. When you’re working with a “most aware” prospect, a straightforward direct lead can be extremely
powerful.
On the other hand, you’ll also find times when a purely direct approach comes on too strong or makes
it too easy for a target customer to assume he’s not interested, even before he actually knows what you’re
selling.
This happens more often when …
Your customer trusts you less as a resource than you imagine.
Your customer just doesn’t trust the scope of your claims.
Your customer doesn’t believe a solution to his problem is possible.
Your customer doesn’t even know there’s a problem worth solving.
Your claims all sound too much like everybody else’s.
The less your customer knows about you, what you’re selling, or his own needs, the less effective a
direct lead is likely to be. For instance, he might not know what sets your product apart from similar ones.
He might not understand what makes you credible. Or, he might not even be aware of the problems you’re
promising to solve at all.
In each case, a lead that’s too direct risks forcing assumptions or ignoring obstacles that will get in the
way of making your sale. So, you’ll want instead to close that awareness gap before you try to reveal the
details of whatever you’re offering.
_________________________
Copywriter and publisher William Bonner, who’s also a history buff, often compares this
lead-writing lesson to the history of wars and military strategy.
Empires like to fight direct wars, coming on strong with full force, says Bill. And, that
works a lot of the time. But, when you’re outflanked and outmatched, going in headfirst
can be suicide.
Some of the greatest military “upsets” in history — when the barbarians took Rome, when
American revolutionaries turned back British redcoats, even when the Vietcong repelled
the West — tie their victories to “end around” tactics and sneak attacks. In short, they win
by being more indirect.
Of course, nobody recommends you wage war on customers. But, you are waging war on
their skepticism, along with the many demands on your customer’s time, and the years of
built-up resistance they might have to advertising or new ideas in general.
_________________________
When you’re working with a less aware or skeptical customer, the great power of an indirect lead is it
can open — or re-open — the door on that relationship before the customer has the chance to get confused
or sock your offer away in a pigeon-hole of “heard that, done that before.”
You might want to try one of the more indirect kinds of leads when …
You’re writing to a customer who knows little or nothing about you.
You’re selling something that needs explanation.
You’ve got a jaded customer with a lot of skepticism to overcome.
Your product has a timely news connection too big to ignore.
You’re ready to reinvent or elevate your product or the idea behind it.
For instance, here’s a promotion that successfully uses an indirect approach …
Obviously, the subject here is health.
It’s clear the subject here is health. But beyond that, does anything here immediately give away what
kind of health product might be offered? Not quite.
Rather, the lead and headline combination promise to entertain and inform all by themselves, enough to
make reading the sales piece almost irresistible to even the most skeptical or disconnected reader.
Another benefit of the indirect lead is that part of what makes it work is not just the emotional
connection it makes on the spot, but the way it actively involves the reader in making that connection.
Direct leads deliver an idea to a customer that he’s ready to accept. Indirect leads, on the other hand,
give the customer extra emotional momentum and reaffirming proof to help him finish forming the
conclusions he’s only just started to make. Conclusions that will, hopefully, energize his imagination
enough that he’ll soon be ready to buy.
This might help explain why, when an indirect lead works — and it can take a lot more work to find
one that will — it can work extremely well. Because to write a good indirect lead, you have to work that
much harder to get inside your prospect’s head and figure him out. In some cases, you might even need to
get to know him better than he knows himself.
Master Copywriter Clayton Makepeace calls what we’re referring to as indirect leads as “dominant
emotion” leads. Says Clayton:
“Every time I get a new control, I go to work cranking out up to six cover tests for each roll-out,
each one trying a different type of lead. Sometimes, my benefit heads win. Other times, my
dominant emotion leads win. Recently, I’m finding in heads-up A/B splits, dominant emotion
leads are winning more often. And looking back over the 34 years I’ve been doing this, the fact
is, most of my biggest controls (packages that mailed 20 to 30 million pieces per year) have had
dominant emotion leads.”
Again, as powerful as they can be, you do have risks to consider when testing indirect leads. For
instance …
You might accidentally use an indirect lead when you don’t need to.
You might pick a lead that’s too indirect to connect back to your product.
You risk being too subtle by taking your time to get to the product.
You risk boring your customer by taking too long to get to the product.
You risk getting distracted by writing something “interesting” but not relevant.
Many humor-based “brand advertising” ads, for instance, take such an indirect approach to selling that
the prospect never figures out what’s for sale. But, rarely is being clever or coy in sales copy the same as
being successfully indirect.
When trying to decide whether you should try the “direct“or “indirect” approach, you should start by
figuring out where your target reader falls on the Awareness Scale.
More aware and already engaged customers tend to respond better to direct leads.
Less aware or skeptical customers tend to respond better to indirect leads.
Of course, in advertising everything remains to be tested and nothing is a hard-and-fast rule. But
generally speaking, that’s how we’ve seen the chips fall.
Of course, just like there are shades of customer awareness, there are also shades of directness and
indirectness. Which is why there are different types of direct and indirect leads. In this book, we’ve
identified the six major categories of these lead types we see most often. We’ll spend the rest of this book
showing you how to make each of these six lead types work best for you.
Six Types of Direct and Indirect Leads
Here’s a quick introduction to the lead types we’ll cover:
The Offer Lead: This is a direct appeal that goes straight to deal. Offer Leads almost always mention
the product, the price, discounts, premiums, guarantees, and other related “deal” elements very early in
the lead, if not in the headline. An “Invitation” type of lead that opens by asking a prospect to become a
member or try a product is a more subtle variation on the classic Offer Lead.
The Promise Lead: This might be the most common type of lead that you’ll see. It’s only slightly less
direct than the Offer Lead, in that the product usually isn’t mentioned as early. But, it still opens with your
product’s best and biggest claim. In a classic “Promise” ad, the big promise is your headline, your first
line, and often your last line, too.
The Problem-Solution Lead: This is the classic “hot button” approach, where you delay any talk of
the product at first and instead lead off by identifying your prospect’s biggest, most emotionally-charged,
and relevant issue. Promises related to the product immediately follow.
The Big Secret Lead: The “tease” of hard-to-come-by knowledge, formula, or ‘system’ leads the
promo. The secret can either be a solution or hidden problem or, as in many financial promos, a ‘system’
for getting consistently good results. Usually, you get the best mileage when ordering the product reveals
the secret.
The Proclamation Lead: Decidedly indirect, a Proclamation Lead seeks to jar the “unaware” reader
out of his seat. Maybe with a factoid that’s just incredible, maybe with a shocking future forecast or
prediction, or maybe with a bold statement. The goal is to disarm the prospect for just long enough to
work your way back to the product and your pitch.
The Story Lead: This may be not only the most indirect way to open a sales letter, but also one of the
most consistently powerful. Everyone loves a story. What’s more, stories can engage readers who don’t
know you or the product well or who might flinch at a more direct, unbelievable claim. Testimonials,
guru bios, historical proof, or track record — all yield Story Leads. Just make sure to tell the story
quickly and keep it in context of the bigger promise/core idea of the promotion.
True to what you read in Chapter 1 about the Rule of One, all of these lead types still work best when
focused on one unifying Big Idea. All of them will also need, sooner rather than later, to work their way
back to big product claims and benefits. And ultimately, all need to get back to the product itself and the
offer.
You’ll find that some of these leads work better when you can talk to your prospect more directly.
Others work best when you take a more indirect approach.
And, in some cases — Story Leads, for example — you’ll find you can make the lead type work either
directly or indirectly. It will depend on who you’re writing to, what they know, and what kind of product
you’re writing for.
We’ll show you this with specific examples in the chapters that follow. But roughly plotted on the
Awareness Scale we’ve used so far, here’s how it might break down …
You may find sales leads that defy definition exclusively as any one of these types. Certainly of the
millions of sales letters mailed or posted online, copywriters have tried thousands of ‘new’ approaches.
But, when we studied the most memorable and imitated “Hall-of-Fame” classics and million-dollar
mailings, we found they almost entirely fell into one of these six categories that we’ll define and discuss
in detail in the pages ahead.
4
The Easiest Type of Sales Lead You’ll Ever Write — Or Your Money
Back
______________________
“What marketers sell is hope.”
— Seth Godin
______________________
If this first lead type we’ll look at isn’t the easiest you’ll ever write, with the most return per ounce of
effort … we’ll see to it you get back every penny you paid for this book.
Sound like a good deal? To us, it does.
Because what we’ve just done — promising you that the Offer Lead is the simplest you’ll find in this
book — is a safe bet. In the right situation, an Offer Lead can practically write itself.
In fact, here’s what our old friend Gene Schwartz says …
“Here, the copywriter is nothing more than the merchandise manager’s phrasemaker. The price is
the most important part of his headline. There is nothing creative about his job and he should
receive the lowest possible scale of pay.”
But, hang on.
Are Offer Leads Really That Simple?
In most cases, yes — Offer Leads can be that simple.
In some cases, they can get a little more sophisticated.
To understand why, first you’ve got to understand what we mean by “offers” themselves. The offer is
how you close every single sales letter you’ll ever write. There is no such thing as a sales letter without
an offer that lays out the details of what’s for sale and what the prospect gets in return.
The difference here is usually the offer only shows up close to the end of the copy. And, the product
might not get mentioned until sometime after the lead as well.
But with an Offer Lead, you’re lifting the curtain on your offer right up front.
We talked about the “directness” of a sales letter. You can measure how direct a letter is by how
quickly it gets to mentioning the product and — even more so — the details of the deal. This is what
makes Offer Leads the most direct of all the lead types you’ll discover in this book.
This is also why Schwartz and others often think of Offer Leads as the easiest to write. Because when
you’ve got a very good deal … going out to a very receptive audience … it can be almost impossible to
screw up a good Offer Lead.
That said, even something as innately appealing as a good deal can be made even more effective in the
hands of a good copywriter. You only need to look at some of the great Offer Leads written by Schwartz
himself for examples. Take a look at this headline from an ad Schwartz wrote to sell an educational
product for the Univox Institute …
Guaranteed To Improve Your Child’s School Marks — or you pay nothing!
The Fabulous New Teaching Machine Automated Speed Learning Method
Is there any question here that you’re about to be “sold?” Not at all. We know in the first instant that
it’s about a product, in this case some sort of “teaching machine.” We know that in just moments from
reading these words, someone will ask us for money. And, we know, also, that it’s attached to some sort
of guarantee.
Yet, despite the often-repeated cliché that nobody likes to be “sold,” this ad brought in millions of
dollars from new and returning customers. No wonder Schwartz used a similar approach in an ad he
wrote to sell a book called How to Double Your Power to Learn. His headline for this one began …
Don’t Pay A Penny For This Book Till It Doubles Your Power to Learn!
Here at last is your chance to make such an overwhelming difference in your child’s performance in
school — in as little as five short minutes of your time everyday — that the teacher may actually call
you up to see what happened!
Let me explain …
Again, the offer is instant. His first four words reveal that you’ll be asked for money — by
guaranteeing you’ll get it back if you’re not satisfied — and yet, this ad went on to sell over 600,000
copies of the book.
The formula comes back again in this headline …
“Don’t Pay One Penny Till This Course Turns You Into A Human Computer!”
And, in this one …
“Don’t Pay One Penny Till This Course Turns Your Mind Into A Mental Magnet”
Notice the twist. In each case, the offer detail isn’t price but guarantee. And in each case, he’s also
shored up the offer with a very powerful promise. This is something you’ll see often in Offer Leads.
Take a look at a few more examples and you’ll see what we mean …
“Give me five days and I can give you a magnetic personality … let me prove it — free”
“You must win at least $7,500 with my 13 points or they’re yours free”
“Free for a month … a full head of hair in only 32 seconds a day”
“Pick the brains of a millionaire for $10”
“Free to brides — two dollars to others”
“I guarantee (with my own money) that you will shoot your lowest score ever on your next round of
golf”
As you can see, each headline leads explicitly to some kind of offer. But in each example, simply by
hinting at the guarantee, these copywriters elevated the impact beyond a simple price-driven “good deal.”
They’ve opened the door to make a claim, and in most of these cases, an irresistible one.
Of course, adding guarantees or promises to an Offer Lead just scratches the surface of what you can
do with this type of sales letter opening. What else can you test?
You’ll see some examples in just a moment.
You’ll also notice as you read, even when we’re working with very different products and very
different deals, most successful Offer Leads still share a similar formula. It goes something like this …
1Im. mediately focus on the most emotionally-compelling detail of your offer
2U. nderscore the most valuable benefit of that deal
3E.l aborate on that same deal-benefit in the lead that follows
4A. t some point, include a compelling “reason why” you’re offering that deal
Each of these four steps in the Offer Lead formula is important. But, we want to draw your attention
here to that last part of the formula, the “reason why,” because it’s the element many copywriters
overlook.
The “reason why” could be almost anything, depending on what you’re selling and the context in which
you’re selling it. Maybe supplies are short. Maybe the price offer has a deadline. Maybe there’s a news
event that’s coming or has already happened that makes your offer an imperative.
But, in each case, you must offer your prospect something to answer the question that’s inevitable, in
response to an offer that sounds too good to be true: “Okay, that sounds great … but what’s the catch?”
A good “reason why” can help diffuse that last bit of resistance. It can be a device to heighten the
urgency of your offer. And, it can even be something that shows your prospect you share his concerns or
agenda.
There can, in fact, be a catch attached to an Offer Lead. And if there is, you should mention it.
Either reveal it or hint at it early and make sure you explain the catch sometime before you ask for the
final sale. Why?
First, because it’s better business not to try to “put one over” on your prospect. But also, because the
“catch” can or should always be something that’s also a net positive for the deal.
For instance, the “catch” of a gift-driven offer might be the purchase of a valuable product that’s even
better than the gift itself. Or, the “catch” might be a limit on how many customers you’ll accept, who
you’ll accept, how many items you’ll sell, or how long the offer is going to last.
In each case, what’s most important in an effective Offer Lead is that the prospect feels immediately
that the benefit he’s about to get is both valuable and a “steal” by comparison to what he would normally
be willing to pay.
Again, that value could be connected to the quality of what you’re offering, the promise of what it will
do for the reader, or even the availability of what’s on offer.
And, what makes it a “steal” might be a low price or a discount — often that’s the case — but it
doesn’t have to be. Sometimes emphasizing a higher or more elite price is what will get you the sale.
Many luxury brands charge more simply because some prospects being able to afford the higher price is
part of the appeal.
The following email ad from Thompson Cigars illustrates this first kind of “value” offer and does it
very simply and directly. If you’re a cigar smoker, you know what they’re promising you immediately: a
highly-regarded brand of cigars at an uncommonly good price. And, just to make sure that point isn’t
missed, the copywriter does all the math to show you that this is a really good deal.
And, here’s the twist that makes this ad different from all the other cigar ads. To sweeten the deal, the
copy also throws in a $20 Gift Card for Omaha Steaks. This is what you call a “dissolving bonus” — a
gift that adds so much extra value, it melts away remaining resistance. No doubt a good steak likely holds
plenty of appeal for your typical stogie-smoker.
Here is another example of a clear, direct Offer Lead from Littleton Coin:
Like the cigar ad, the offer is instant and explicit. The prospect is told exactly what he’ll get (all 56
commemorative quarters). His savings are made clear (67%) and he’s also teased with a “free gift” — or
resistance-resolving bonus — of 4 uncirculated Lincoln pennies.
Are all Offer Leads this explicit? Not necessarily. Consider, for example, a special sub-type of Offer
Lead called the “Invitation” offer. Invitations work especially well when you have something that’s
anticipated or exclusive on offer. Take a look at this next example, from an investing and wealth
protection society called The Oxford Club …
Immediately, you notice that it’s much less forthcoming about the details of the deal. But, because it
looks and feels like an invitation, there’s no question for the prospect that some tempting carrot is about to
be dangled.
When explaining how this special kind of “exclusivity” offer works, we like the example of a high-end
restaurant or big city nightclub. If you’ve ever taken a ride through Manhattan or Miami after hours, you
don’t have to travel far to see clubs with the aspiring “in” crowd lined up for entry.
Almost invariably in front of these clubs, you see a bouncer or that icon of exclusivity, the ominous red
“Velvet Rope.” Nobody gets past the rope without a nod from the gatekeeper.
But, as much as that rope keeps people out, it also draws people in. Something, they reason, must be
really great on the other side of that door.
Invitation offers often capitalize on that deep desire to feel included. Of course, they’re only valid
when what you’re offering really does hold some kind of exclusive value. Not every product does.
Products with a long tradition of quality, clubs and societies, and luxury items, can work especially well
with an invitation-style pitch.
When Should You Use an Offer Lead?
Of course, not every product works every time with an Offer Lead either.
To help you decide, follow the guideline we set earlier: More aware customers often respond to
direct leads and less aware customers often respond better to indirect leads.
Since the Offer Lead is the most direct lead type you’ll come across, you will mostly want to use it for
products that are easy to explain and for prospects who already know something about you, about what
you’re selling, and even about the market value of what’s for sale.
Why? Because your “most aware” customers are those whose trust you’ve already won. Or, at least,
they are those that already know very well what they want. And, if you’re offering it, they’re the ones who
are already prepared to buy. They are emotionally open to hearing what you have for sale.
In that kind of situation, that’s why seasoned copywriters and marketers agree that it’s pretty tough to
screw up an Offer Lead. In fact, the more aware and open the customer, the simpler that up-front offer can
usually be.
We say “usually” because there’s a special caveat. Occasionally, you can run into situations where a
high-level awareness is a net negative. For instance, think of someone on a car lot or the other end of a
phone conversation with an insurance salesman.
In those examples, awareness levels might be very high. So might the need for the product and even the
desire to buy. But so, too, might be the level of skepticism, thanks to too many similar offers and too many
broken sales promises.
In that case, a simple Offer Lead is suicide. Instead, you’ll need to move more toward the indirect side
of the scale, so you can buy the time to build up trust levels all over again.
What to Test in Offer Leads
What’s the best detail to test in an Offer Lead?
“Most aware” prospects will respond just fine if you lead with something about the price — a
discount, a last-chance deal before a price hike, a countdown price deal.
Slightly less aware prospects, even though they’re almost ready to be sold, might need a little extra to
get them over that hump of indecision. For instance, a free or almost-free trial offer, extra gift premiums,
or an extra-strong guarantee.
When you’re looking for ideas, just keep this in mind: Anything you can test in a regular offer at the
end of a sales letter, you can test in an Offer Lead.
There’s something else special about Offer Leads.
You’ve seen that this lead type often blends not just the offer detail but also a promise in the headline.
In most cases, you’ll find blending two or more lead types violates the Rule of One principle we covered
in Chapter 1.
But, for a handful of lead types — Offer Leads and Promise Leads especially — you can combine
with other lead types to get an even stronger impact. This is because elements like offers and promises
are indispensable in every kind of package. So, rather than adding what isn’t there, you’re simply bringing
it forward.
Here’s a famous example from The Economist …
____________
May I send you 3 FREE Issues of what may be the most influential (as well as
selectively distributed) newsweekly in the world?
Dear Colleague,
Every Monday morning, a rather unusual publication arrives at the desks of a select circle of
individuals in positions of power and influence.
The readers of this discreetly (one is almost tempted to say reluctantly) publicized newsweekly
include presidents (of countries, banks, universities, and Fortune 500 companies), ranking executives
(in business, government, and industry) and prominent thinkers (in law, science, economics, and
military strategy).
Now, it may not surprise you to learn that the average personal income of North American
subscribers to this singular periodical exceeds $144,800 per annum. However, it may surprise you to
discover that despite the enormous clout and affluence of its world renowned readers … only a
relative handful of Americans are aware of the existence of this exclusive publication, much less the
intelligence it provides.
But now, with this letter, you are cordially invited to join the extremely select circle of men and
women who wouldn’t think of beginning each business week without the incomparable insight of and
reporting of … The Economist.
Enclosed you will find a non-transferable order card. Return it to me and I will send you three
absorbing issues of The Economist to read at my expense. These three issues will be yours to keep
free whether or not you decide to become a subscriber …
____________
Again you see it’s an offer right away.
It slaps down those details in the headline.
Then, it continues by stressing how exclusive their “club” of subscribers happens to be, a hallmark of
the special “Invitation” type of Offer Lead we talked about earlier.
Would opening with an offer have worked here without the recognition and credibility The Economist
has spent years building ahead of this? Probably not.
How likely is it that this letter landed in the hands of the “relative handful of Americans who are
aware of the existence of this exclusive publication … ?” Very.
Otherwise, the three-free issue offer might have gone over like free ice cream in winter.
Here’s one more.
____________
Dear Sir,
This letter is going to be short and to the point. We don’t want to make a big thing of it. Not yet anyway.
We’d like to invite you to take advantage of what we call our “no-strings” membership.
This offer extends our typically generous introduction to you: choose any 4 books for $1 each.
But it omits the usual obligation to buy four more books. You don’t even have to buy one more book.
In other words, you can join Book-of-the-Month Club, take your welcoming package of 4 books (saving
up to $100 or more), and never buy another thing from us.
It’s an experiment for us. Will this attract the kind of reader who will appreciate our other Club benefits
as well as the introductory offer?
It’s an experiment for you. A way to try us without tying yourself down to a commitment.
So enjoy all the Club benefits you wish. Just as if you were a committed member. We’ve put it all in
writing. Take any books for $1 each, plus shipping and handling, with no obligation to buy anything else.
The rest is up to you.
I can’t imagine a bigger bargain for the reader. Can you?
Sincerely,
James Mercer,
President
P.S. This offer isn’t available to everyone. It isn’t transferable. But, if you decide to join and become a
member of the Club, we can understand why you might want to share the news of your “no-strings”
membership with a special friend or two. In that event, ask them to write me and mention your name.
____________
This “Book-of-the-Month Club” mailing was a huge success. The only other elements in the envelope
were a folded lift note and a reply card. Yet, this promotion was so successful, it is one of the many offerdriven
pieces collected and featured by Dennison Hatch in his book, “Million Dollar Mailings … ”
What Else Do You Need to Know About Offer Leads?
Most of what you need to know about writing Offer Leads, you already understand if you know how to
write regular offers because both share a lot of the same tricks and techniques.
Here’s a quick rundown, though, of some key ideas …
Endorsements can give a big boost. Remember, an offer-based pitch is something you use with your
“most aware” customers — that is, they trust you to cut to the details of the deal because they already
know what they feel they need to know about you. Your name means something to them. In that sense, if
you know you’re sending something to a list that’s already warm to you or some person connected with
you … use that to your advantage. That might mean making the signature under the sales letter come from
the person they know and trust most. It could mean showing the face of that most-trusted person next to the
headline. It might even mean putting that person’s name in the product title.
Know your goal. Offer Leads that give away irresistible “FREE” gifts will get subscribers who sign
up just for the gift. That might be fine for a low-priced product, where they still might stick around for
more. But, it might not be so fine for a high-priced product, where the incentive to cancel and keep the
premium is greater. If you need cash now, an easy-payment offer might not be something you’ll want to
test. But, if you want lots of new orders, this might be just the ticket. What you want out of your target
audience can change what deal detail you feature up front in your Offer Lead.
Mirror and Test. The offer that’s usually at the end of a sales letter and the Offer Lead you’ll put up
front share details, but you’ll also want them to share similar language, hit the same hot buttons, and share
rationale behind the special deal. Likewise, just like you would test different details in the close of a
sales letter, you can test those same details in your Offer Lead.
If you can, stay short. One of the key reasons you go to a direct Offer Lead is because the customer
you’re writing to is already mostly sold on you or whatever you’re offering. This means you can often cut
a lot of the warm-up and copy-coddling that happens in less direct sales pieces. Most of what you’ll write
in a sales package with an Offer Lead, outside of what the deal is and how to take advantage of it, is proof
that the offer has value.
When in doubt, do the math. If you’re leading with a special price break, some kind of guaranteed
result, or anything you can express as a percentage … try doing the math for your reader. If your Offer
Lead compares your product cost to someone else’s, show the savings in terms of a dollar amount. Often,
that math is aimed at showing you’re about to give more to the reader than you’ll expect to get in
exchange.
Find clever ways to price. Offer Leads often focus on price, but not always on a simple discount or
“FREE” trial deal. For instance, say you’ve got a half-off discount to use in your lead. It might work
better if you keep the nominal price high but give them a “2-for-1” deal. Or, you could try a trade-in offer
or say you’ll cover the entire cost of shipping. Try introductory or limited-time pricing. Or, you might
even want to try a “$1 trial offer,” where you get their credit card information with a nominal $1 charge
and then say something like, “If after a 30-day trial, you like our widgets, you don’t need to do anything.
We’ll just debit you for the full amount … ”
Test time limits. Ready-to-order customers can feel even more ready to buy if they know the special
deal you’re offering won’t last forever. Try testing a countdown deadline of either time or quantity in your
Offer Lead. If your sales letter is online, set up a live “countdown” timer that shows how much (or how
little) time is left on the deal.
Make it easy. Just like you would never want a prospect to get confused over how to fill out your
order form or whom to call to get started, a good Offer Lead hits the reader with at least a short sentence
or paragraph that hints at how easy it will be to take advantage of the deal (e.g., “And this is easy to do —
just take the ‘Send-no-money Invitation’ card you’ll find in the envelope, fill it out telling me which gifts
you’d like and where to send your first issue, and drop it in the postage-prepaid envelope I’ve provided.
It’s that simple. But, you’ll want to make sure you do this quickly. And, here’s why … ”).
Provide a parachute. Even though you’ll most often use Offer Leads with “already sold” buyers who
have at least a partial if not full emotional commitment to your deal, you’ll still have a better chance of
getting them to respond if you can reverse some or all of the risk early in the lead. Possibly even in the
headline. (e.g., “Don’t pay a penny until this book … ” or “You risk nothing unless this new strategy … ”
and so on). The Offer Leads that do this aggressively — where you pay later for a free trial now, are
called “soft offers.”
Test highlighting the guarantee. We recently saw a “No Matter What” warranty on a site selling
Eagle Creek luggage. “If your luggage is ever damaged (even by the airlines) we’ll repair or replace it
free — no matter what.” That’s bold. And, to someone already searching for luggage, it could be a
clincher that makes the sale. If you’re in a situation where an Offer Lead might work, and you’ve got a
great guarantee, consider pulling it up front to feature in the headline.
_________________________
A Warning about “FREE”
Featuring something “FREE” is common in Offer Leads, but it might not always be the
best or strongest way for you to go. Why?
When your gift or set of giveaways feels almost as valuable as the product you’re selling,
it’s rarely a problem.
Prospects are likely to sign on for the bonuses, but they’re also likely to stick around and
try what they’ve paid for, too, because they can rationalize that they’ve gotten their
money’s worth already.
However, when you’re selling something with a much higher perceived value, throwing in
lots of freebies can actually work against you. Why?
Because it can make the paid product you’re offering look like it’s not worth as much as
you claim it is.
“FREE” is a powerful word. But like jokes, funny ties, and wine — context is everything
when it comes to deciding whether it’s something worth featuring in your deal.
_________________________
5
Double Your Sales With This Next Kind of Lead
____________________________
“Be neither too remote nor too familiar.”
— Prince Charles
____________________________
“Cash If You Die, Cash If You Don’t”
According to our friend Drayton Bird — who has written copy for Ford, American Express, and
Proctor & Gamble — that headline was one of the most successful ever written in the insurance industry.
And, we believe it.
“Your safest opening,” says Drayton, “ … is your prime benefit and offer … an instant statement,
instantly comprehensible.” Despite a career going back to 1957, Drayton’s not the first to say so.
For instance, in 1904, a Canadian Mounted Policeman named John E. Kennedy marched into the office
of Albert Lasker, a young partner in one of Chicago’s biggest ad agencies, and told him more or less the
same thing.
Their meeting started at six o’clock in the evening and they talked about nothing but this ad technique
until 3 a.m. Kennedy had spent long, snowy nights studying ads and had come up with a theory he called
“Reason-Why Advertising.”
To find the real reason why customers buy was to find the emotional core of the promise your ad
needed to make. Said Kennedy in a book by the same title, “To strike the responsive chord with the reader
… is to multiply the selling power of every reason-why given.”
Up until then, most ads appeared in newspapers and were written as news. Products were announced.
They were explained. But, Kennedy and Lasker began to change all that.
They first tested their promise-driven “reason-why” ads with a washer company. Within four months,
the ads were so successful, the company increased its budget with Lasker’s advertising agency from
$15,000 per year to $30,000 — per month.
Kennedy went on to earn the highest salary paid to any copywriter in the industry. And, Lasker went on
to build what would be the world’s most successful ad agency at the time.
If you’ve ever eaten a bowl of Quaker Puffed Rice, washed your dishes with Palmolive, brushed your
teeth with Pepsodent, or taken a ride in an Oldsmobile, you’ve seen success built with the help of
promise-driven advertising.
Ad giant David Ogilvy went on to say, nearly 80 years later, that with the help of this one technique,
“Albert Lasker made more money than anyone in the history of the advertising business.” With Kennedy’s
inspiration and his own version of the Promise Lead, Lasker went on to be called “the father of modern
advertising.”
When you consider the trillions of dollars Lasker’s title represents, that’s no small feat. It’s no wonder
Ogilvy himself took pains to teach the same technique in an ad he wrote for prospective ad agency clients:
The headline, “How to Create Advertising That Sells” was itself a tempting, straightforward promise
for Ogilvy & Mather’s future clients. But, the lead puts it just as plain with this powerful nugget:
“It pays to promise a benefit which is unique and competitive, and the product must deliver the
benefit you promise. Most advertising promises nothing. It is doomed to fail in the marketplace …
Headlines that promise to benefit sell more than those that don’t.”
Our friend and fellow copywriter, Clayton Makepeace, put it even more bluntly in a recent message to
readers of his Total Package blog:
“The only reason any rational human being ever purchases anything is to derive a benefit from
it! That means … any scrap of sales copy that fails to clearly, dramatically, emphatically,
credibly, and repeatedly present the benefits a product will deliver is destined to fail
miserably.”
In other words, if you have any hope of getting your reader by the lapels and making him listen to your
message, you first have to give him a reason why. And, that reason is bound up in a promise he cannot
resist.
These days, you won’t find many ads of any type — at least not successful ones — that lack a promise
of some kind, either stated outright or implied. And, almost always right there in the lead or, just as often,
in the headline.
That includes every one of the six types of sales copy leads in this book. So why, you might ask, use a
chapter to single out Promise Leads for special focus?
When Pure Promise Leads Work Best
Because, as often as there are times when a prospect needs a more subtle approach, there are also
times when a simple, direct promise really is best. And again, you’ll find it’s always tied up with how
“aware” and ready your customer is to hear about what you’re selling.
This can be easy to test. Since almost every kind of lead type will include some kind of promise, often
all you need to do is remove the extra elements to unearth the pure promise hidden underneath.
Take, for instance, a hypothetical offer headline for a tooth-whitening product, as you might have
expected to see in our previous chapter. It might read:
A Hollywood smile in 3 days … or your money back
The promise is clear. Use this product and flashbulbs will soon glint off your pearly whites. By adding
the offer line “… or your money back,” however, this becomes a clear sales pitch. An offer. The lead that
follows will quickly get to the heart of the deal and the credibility bound up in that guarantee.
No doubt, if you’re already out there looking for a good deal on exactly this kind of product, an ad that
starts off with that kind of bang would likely get your attention.
But, suppose you’re talking to someone who’s interested, but not quite sure yet that the product can
deliver. For this kind of prospect, the promise is tempting. Yet, revealing the offer out of the gate might
come on too strong.
In that case, it may need to be that you’ll want to develop anticipation with just the promise first. You
might even do it without mentioning the product at all …
A Hollywood smile in 3 days
A lead that would follow just the pure promise alone could sound very different from the lead
following an offer headline. How so? Instead of talking up the deal, it might repeat the promise another
way or dive into proof.
____________
You’ve seen them on the red carpet, I’m sure — the tuxes and gowns, the makeup and jewelry — but
what do they all have in common? Yep.
Pearly, shining smiles full of straight, white teeth.
Now you can get the same flashy grin, and you don’t need $50,000 worth of caps and a high-ticket
Hollywood dentist to make it happen.
This wasn’t even possible, just a year ago.
But, it is now.
Let me show you why …
____________
Of course, opening with a pure Promise Lead like this one has gotten a little harder recently. The
reasons for this are almost directly tied to the Promise Lead’s unique success in the past. In short, more
and more prospects today have become “hyper-aware.”
That is, they’ve been hit so often with so many similar promises from a flood of so many similar
products — thanks to the Internet and other always-on sources of advertising — that prospects have gone
the other way and shut down to many promises.
As much as they still want their needs met by the products they buy, they have more walls raised
against marketing messages. And, the one that’s become most familiar to those “hyper-aware” prospects
is an ad that busts into the room making a big claim or promise.
Still, you have at least two key reasons to master the Promise Lead.
First, because you need to identify and write strong promises to create any other kind of successful
lead. And second, because there are times when a simple, direct, pure Promise Lead opening will not
only work, but will prove the single best way for a marketer to get his foot in the door.
The decision is almost this simple: Promise Leads work best with “mostly aware” prospects who are
almost ready to buy.
What to Promise
“Advertising works best,” says Drayton Bird again, “if you promise people something they want, not
— as many imagine — if you are clever, original, or shocking.”
It’s not hard to see that the core promise in any ad is like a statement of intention. If I read this, says
your reader, what do I get in return? You, in your promise-driven copy, answer that question. But, it’s
also clear they’ll only stick around if they like your answer.
So, what’s the most relevant promise you can make to your prospect?
We know ads can and have promised all kinds of things: To make you thin or bulk you up. To make
you stronger, younger, fitter, and faster. To teach you to do something you’ve always wanted to do. Or, to
make something easier than you ever thought it could be. Be more attractive. Be rich. Save money. Drive
a better car, own a bigger house, look more beautiful or more handsome, dress sharp, have a happy
marriage.
Here are just a couple of headlines from classic Promise ads …
Instant Relaxation!
Build Your Memory In 4 Short Weeks —
So Powerfully Your Family Won’t Believe It
What made these ads work, when they did?
It’s easy to guess the products these could sell. But, when a lead starts this way, it’s not the promise
derived from the product that’s done the selling. Instead, it’s the emotional promise you can see barely
hidden behind the words.
For instance, “Instant Relaxation!” promised more than just peace and quiet. It was a reward that
acknowledged a well-earned rest. And, the promise of a “powerful memory” gets elevated to the respect,
love, and admiration you’ll get for having such an impressive skill.
The richer part of the promises you’ll make is the part that pulls the strings from behind the curtain.
Friendship and status among your peers. Confidence and freedom from worry. Inclusion. Safety and
security. Even just the feeling of association to people you admire and respect.
The bottom line is that the most effective part of Promise Leads — and, in fact, the promises you’ll use
in all six of the lead types in this book — is that what your product will do for customers is only as
important, or maybe less so, as how you’ll make them feel about themselves while using it. Or, even more
importantly, how they’ll be seen by others while using it.
You’ll recognize the headline of this following ad:
This, of course, is the same title used on one of the most successful self-help books ever sold. And,
this was the ad that sold it, much better than anyone imagined possible.
The original publisher had printed only 5,000 copies for the first run.
The author, after all, was only an ex-farm-boy salesman named Dale Carnegie, who had hawked
everything from bacon and soap to Packard cars, before moving to New York to become — of all things
— an actor. He only started teaching his course after the acting career failed to pan out. And, it took
Carnegie 15 years of compiled class notes to pull his textbook together.
Yet, it caught on with readers.
And, when a copy landed on the desk of copywriting legend Victor Schwab, he was smart enough to
know that the best promise he could use to sell it was the one already on the book’s cover, “ How to Win
Friends and Influence People.”
Underneath the headline, Schwab’s Promise Lead began …
John D. Rockefeller, Sr., some years ago said: “The ability to deal with people is as purchasable a
commodity as sugar or coffee. And, I will pay more for that ability than for any other under the sun.”
Wouldn’t you suppose that every college in the land would conduct practical, common sense courses
to develop this “highest-priced ability under the sun?”
To our knowledge, none did.
How to develop that ability is the subject of Dale Carnegie’s amazing new book …
For extra punch, Schwab included some promise-laden chapter titles, straight out of the original book.
Some of those titles read like textbook Promise headlines, for example:
Six Ways to Make People Like You Instantly
Do This and You’ll be Welcome Anywhere
A Simple Way to Make a Good First Impression
Twelve Ways to Win People to Your Way of Thinking
How to Interest People
How to Get Cooperation
An Easy Way to Become a Good Conversationalist
Letters that Produce Miraculous Results
How to Spur Men on to Success
Any one of these might have worked as the main headline for the ad. And, some were tested. Over the
years that followed, Schwab’s ad and others went on to sell over 15 million copies.
Where Good Promise Leads Get Started
When writing a Promise Lead, where should you start?
The default for most marketers is to study the product and just figure out what it does best. After all,
we’ve all heard the lesson about “features” versus “benefits.” First, you make a list of the product’s best
features, then you translate those into what they will do for the customer.
Simple.
This is a lesson you may have heard connected with one of the most successful product pitches in
history. Forrest E. Mars grew up in a candymaker’s house. And, with some big shoes to fill. His father’s
home business grew to invent and sell some of the world’s most famous candy bars including Snickers,
Mars Bars, and Milky Way.
But, Forrest’s father didn’t want to expand the business and Forrest, fresh home from Yale University,
did. So, he sold his share in the business back to Dad and moved to Europe. That’s where he took up with
other candymakers.
It’s also where he first spotted the breakthrough that would help change the chocolate business, the
course of World War II, and millions of kids’ birthday parties — and indirectly, the advertising industry.
It was a tiny pellet of chocolate, wrapped in a candy shell, found in the field kits of soldiers fighting
the Spanish Civil War. The chocolate gave them quick energy, the shell kept it from melting under harsh
conditions.
We know it now, of course, as the M&M.
Forrest took it back to the States and patented his own formula for the candy in 1941. Within a year,
the U.S. was committed to World War II. And not long after, M&Ms made their way into soldiers’ field
rations. When the soldiers came home, the candies were a hit with the general public.
But, sales were about to get even bigger.
Forrest realized that television — making its way into the mainstream at that time — was the next
place he wanted to go to sell M&Ms. He hired a copywriter named Rosser Reeves to do it. It turned out
to be another groundbreaking move.
Reeves was already a success at the time. He was both copy chief and vice president of his agency in
New York. But, when he sat down with Forrest Mars to talk candy, he listened and took notes like a firstyear
copywriter.
“He was the one who said it,” claimed Reeves in the version we’ve heard told. “He told me the whole
history and then I pressed him and he said, ‘Well, the thing is, they only melt in your mouth, but they don’t
melt in your hands.’”
That was all Reeves needed.
Within four years, Mars was selling one million pounds of M&Ms per week. M&Ms have since gone
on Space Shuttle flights with astronauts. They’ve been the official candy of the Olympics. And, according
to Business Week, they’re the bestselling candy in the world.
Mars died at age 95 in 1999, with a $4 billion fortune. And, his candy company takes in over $20
billion per year with 30,000 employees worldwide.
It’s no accident that Reeves went on to his own kind of fame. And, not just because Reeves happens to
be the real-life model for the character of Don Draper on the TV series Mad Men.
You might know him even better, after all, as the father of what every copy cub and professional
advertiser memorizes as the “Unique Selling Proposition” or “USP.”
To Find the Promise, Find the USP
When Reeves first wrote about the USP in his book Reality in Advertising, he was writing down the
formula you can use to write any effective Promise Lead.
Reeves’ formula had three parts.
The first part for Reeves meant starting with the product. But, only if that product was actually good
enough to almost sell itself. As a preacher’s son, Reeves was fundamentally honest and felt all advertising
should be, too. The product must be able to do what you’ll say it can do.
But, an even better reason for starting with the product is the second part of Reeves’ formula. What the
product does, and by default will claim to do, has to be original. That is, the best products do something
the competitor’s won’t or can’t. That’s key because the USP — the promise you’ll make — has to sound
and feel different from everything your prospect has heard before, too.
Then, there’s the final part of Reeves’ formula. This is the one most forgotten, but it’s impossible to
overlook if you’ve got any hope of coming up with a powerful promise. Every promise must target your
prospect’s core desire. That is, they have to already want what you’re promising.
This is worth repeating.
Reeves believed, and so did Eugene Schwartz, and so do we, that you cannot create desire in a
customer. You can only awaken what’s already there. This is especially true in a pure Promise Lead,
where you have nothing but the claim pulling all the weight. The more tightly you can target those core
desires, the more likely your ad will work.
It’s that simple.
Can a Claim Be Too Big?
We’re sure you’ve heard British writer Samuel Johnson’s advice, who famously said, “Promise, large
promise, is the soul of advertisement.”
And, when Johnson and his friends were about to auction off a brewery, he went on to warn them, “We
are not here to sell off a parcel of vats and boilers; but to offer the potentiality of wealth beyond the
dreams of avarice.”
A good promise, in other words, is a big one.
And, Promise Leads should promise to change lives.
But, is that always true? No, not necessarily. Because you can run a few risks by committing to bigger
and bigger advertising promises. One risk, even Johnson went on to write about, saying “Advertisements
are now so numerous that they are very negligently perused, and it has therefore become necessary to gain
attention by magnificence of promises, and by eloquence sometimes sublime and sometimes pathetic.”
That was in 1759.
Imagine what he would say today.
A second risk is that oversized promises, especially in today’s crowded market, can be so large that
they become unbelievable. As copywriter Clayton Makepeace recently warned:
“Simply shout[ing] benefits are not working as well as they used to, because yours is the
gazillionth ‘benefit’ head your prospect has seen today … your benefit [lead] screams, ‘I WANT
TO SELL YOU SOMETHING!’ … [and] increasingly skeptical prospects think, ‘Yeah, RIGHT!’”
Of course, you still need some kind of claim to sell. Which is why even the most indirect lead types
you’ll find in this book still lead up to a promise of some kind.
So, what to do when a promise seems too large?
One way to derail the skeptics is to just acknowledge the reason for their skepticism before they have
a chance to. For instance, by turning the giant claim into a question:
Can You Really Grow $500 Into $8.4 Million?
The risk, of course, is that you still can’t deliver on a promise that large. Or, that you’ll disappoint the
prospect when they realize it was just a hook to get him reading.
Another option, obviously, is to scale back to a promise until it’s surprisingly small. For instance, we
remember a great and simple Promise Lead that did just that, in the midst of a sea of cliché “Get Rich
Quick” ads. The headline read:
Get Rich Slow
Who on earth wants to get rich “slow?” Maybe nobody. But, you can see how it still promises
something desirable while actually fitting neatly into the prospect’s comfort zone.
Here’s another interesting example of a scaled-down promise working better than a big one, from
career copywriter Dick Paetzke.
It seems that Sears had hired a team to help them sell their “Diehard” car battery on TV. To show how
the battery could hold up in rough weather, the team lined up 10 cars in front of TV cameras on a cold icy
night.
They shut off all the engines, linked all 10 cars to one Diehard battery, and then had 10 drivers start all
the cars up at the same time. It was an amazing performance from a great product. But, there was one
problem: Viewers didn’t believe it.
The team shot the commercial again, but with only three or four cars. Everything else in the
demonstration was the same. This time the commercial was a smash hit. By scaling the promise back just
enough, the claim was suddenly believable.
How do you know how to make a promise that’s just right?
First, you have to know what’s been promised before. That’s your mark to beat. You also have to
know what your prospect expects, so you don’t under-promise.
You need to make promises you know you can prove. All copywriting claims, but Promise Leads
especially, demand airtight credibility. That can be testimonials or anecdotes, clear metaphors, case
studies, charts, and powerful statistics. Whatever it takes to make even your biggest claim a clear
possibility.
And finally, you need to know how much what you’re selling can meet or beat those expectations, too.
Promise Leads that over-sell a product — even successfully — only set that product up to fail faster, once
it under-delivers.
The Bottom Line
When you’re targeting an eager and ready-to-buy customer, try an Offer Lead. When you’re selling to
someone farther removed, or to a skeptic, try one of the other leads you’ll find in here. The more distant,
the later you should look in these pages.
But, when you’re targeting a prospect that’s just barely sitting on the fence, almost ready to buy but just
waiting for that extra nudge, a simple, direct Promise Lead can be an excellent tool.
What’s more, make no mistake, no matter which approach you take, Johnson was right: Promises are
the soul of good ads. Make strong ones, where you can.
Just remember, far more important than the size of the promise in your lead is how original and
relevant it is to your target customer.
The promises that work best are the promises that your prospect doesn’t hear anybody else making …
at a time when he really wished someone would.
Of course, that means doing more research and staying on top of the competition. It means finding new
ways to say simple things. And, it means knowing your prospect’s secret desires, maybe better than he
knows them himself.
But, it’s the only way.
_________________________
Promise Leads …
Should start with the product’s biggest benefit.
Should hit the targeted promise right away.
Must connect the core benefit to the prospect’s core desire.
Should sound as new and original as possible.
Should be bold but still believable.
Must follow with even bigger proof.
Often focus on speed, size, or quality of results.
Usually won’t work to skeptics or highly “unaware” prospects
Can work very well with “on the fence” prospects.
_________________________
6
Still Can’t Find Your Hook? Try This Time-Tested Solution
____________________________
“When you advertise fire-extinguishers, open with the fire.”
— David Ogilvy
____________________________
What keeps your customer up at night?
In countless seminars and training sessions with new copywriters, it’s a question we’ve both repeated
often. And, one we hope you’ve answered, too, no matter what it is you’re hoping to sell.
Because once you identify that one big worry, you could have the makings of a blockbuster pitch in the
form of this next lead type, the Problem-Solution Lead.
This lead type is a “go-to” classic when it comes to starting sales copy. You’ll find plenty of examples
in ad archives from every era, including plenty included in this chapter.
You can also find lots of Problem-Solution Leads in an industry where we’ve both done a lot of
consulting — financial publishing.
When we’ve asked that question in the financial publishing business, our prospects shared a similar
profile. Most are men in their mid-50s to 60s with some money to invest. Some have set aside a lot
already; some, not so much.
But, even in their differences, their worries are often similar.
In the big picture, they often worry about the mess politicians have made of the economy. They worry
about countries fighting over oil, gas, food, and other resources. And, they worry about market scandals
and corruption that might cheat them out of savings.
More locally, they worry about keeping up with bills in retirement after paychecks stop rolling in.
They worry about shrinking bank accounts and the impact of inflation.
They worry about the crushing impact of taxes, about making dumb mistakes with money, about having
less than the Jones’ next door, or about missing out on a big opportunity.
Maybe most of all, they worry about running out of money before they run out of life.
All the ads we helped clients create targeted the most pressing of these worries.
Not all of those ads used Problem-Solution Leads, but in certain cases, you can get your biggest results
by directly naming and promising to fix those problems.
Getting Less Direct
With our first two types, Offer Leads and Promise Leads, you’ve seen how aware, ready customers
can respond best to a really direct approach. They’re so in tune with what you’re selling — or at least
what they want — that you don’t need much to gain their trust or attention.
But, when the worry outpaces everything else in the prospect’s mind, this is where you start needing an
interest-grabber that’s less direct. Consider, for instance, the “solution-aware” and “problem-aware”
prospects we mentioned earlier in this book.
In both cases, you have a customer who knows at least that there’s a situation they want to improve.
They may even suspect that, somewhere out there, there’s a way to improve it.
But, with both prospect types, you’re starting to see a gap in what they know about themselves and
what they know about your product. This is a small gap you’ll need to cross before you can start to make a
sale.
And, a good Problem-Solution Lead might help you do it.
Why start there?
As you move away from customers who are “most aware,” your lead types shift to less direct because
— before you can make a sale — you need that much more time to build trust.
Problem-Solution Leads are a little harder to write than Promise Leads or Offer Leads because you
first must take a moment to show empathy. Think about it. In personal conversation, what’s one of the
ways we show a person that we’re listening?
To paraphrase a President, it’s “I feel your pain.”
While a certain prospect might not know about your specific product, or even know that a product like yours exists, he might
desperately feel his problem. Just identifying it is a way to win trust by saying, “I feel your pain … ” which then opens the door to
you continuing, “ … and I have a solution.”
When someone sees that you understand their concerns, that helps open doors. What’s more, hearing
those concerns echoed can also make your target reader more willing to believe you might also be
someone capable of finding a meaningful solution. This can begin a relationship between customer and
seller where one didn’t exist before.
So, what’s the full formula for an effective Problem-Solution Lead? Sometimes it can seem as simple
as identifying the problem and offering the product that answers it. But, the reality usually has a few more
layers. It goes something like this …
1T.a rget those worries that keep customers up at night.
2M. ake sure they’re worries that carry deep emotional weight.
3Y.o u have to stir those emotions first, to prove you feel your prospect’s pain.
4Y.o u don’t want to linger on the problem too long before offering hope.
5Y.o u must offer hope of a relevant solution at some point in the pitch.
But, you ask, isn’t it a mistake to “go negative” when you’re trying to put somebody in an optimistic,
buying mood? And, even if it does work, isn’t it just plain wrong to make a sale by stirring up bad
feelings and capitalizing on people’s fears?
Reasonable questions.
After all, you don’t want to come across like a health insurance salesman pitching products at his high
school reunion, or a lawyer handing out business cards in the hospital cardiac unit. That said, there are
times when the Problem-Solution approach to selling is not only right; it’s what your customers will
prefer.
How so?
When It’s Right To “Go Negative”
Have you ever tried to cheer someone up — a friend, a family member, or a spouse — only to have
them turn on you and start making a case for their right to feel bad?
It’s a pretty common experience. Some studies even show that “up” messages directed at someone
who’s already feeling “down” can actually make them feel worse.
Why is that?
At least in part, it’s because negative emotions that have an unwelcome way of washing over you —
fear, pain, anger, frustration, shame, desperation, and more — can be isolating. It’s easy to feel like
you’re the only one in the world who really “gets” how wrong things feel.
This is why someone who is upset or depressed by something can actually bond better with somebody
else that sees what’s going on and can commiserate. Simply acknowledging the problem gives it
legitimacy. It can also help open up your long-suffering prospect to looking for solutions. The fact that you
understand what’s wrong can help make you seem like a more credible source for solutions, too.
Which problems to focus on first?
Obviously, that has a lot to do with what you’re selling. More importantly, it has a lot to do with
whom you’re selling to. Because the most relevant worry clearly originates with the prospect, not the
product. You might find that easy to accept, which puts you ahead of product-focused marketers. But,
identifying what those worries are might still prove tougher than you think.
See, it’s easy to imagine the practical, superficial problems most people share: pounds they want to
lose, stained teeth and wrinkles, a nasty smoking habit worth quitting, pain that lingers, low savings, low
income, or bad job prospects, sleepless nights, a nasty cold, undisciplined children — all of them and
more, obvious obstacles to the good life.
But, behind these run even deeper feelings, including some even your prospect would find challenging
to name. We refer to these as the “core emotions.” And, in Problem-Solution Leads, you’ll consistently
get more bang for your buck if you can tap these subconscious feelings first.
From the solution side of the equation, Master Copywriter Clayton Makepeace does a good job
identifying these when he writes about what he calls “emotional relief benefits.”
“[This is the promise that] erases your prospect’s fears and frustrations. It eases his feelings of
guilt, shame, self-doubt, and feelings of inadequacy. It soothes nerves and ends shyness and
embarrassment. It prevents future humiliation. It delivers blessed relief from loneliness,
sadness, or depression. It protects them from future feelings of regret.”
You can only identify these deeper target emotions in one way, and that’s by spending time “talking” to
ideal prospects for whatever you’re selling. Do it by speaking with them directly. Read their letters and
emails to customer service; even ask if you can sit in on their calls.
Find out which blogs and magazines they read, which podcasts they listen to, and which conventions
they go to. Read their posts on online forums. Meet them where you can and get them talking. Record what
they’re saying — if you can get their permission and don’t think it will change the way they respond.
People with worries often can’t help talking. Listen for the patterns, especially those things they don’t
realize they’re saying and repeating. It’s those deeper problems you’re setting out to solve.
The key to Problem-Solution ads is often that the problem you’re fixing is connected to a lot of deeper feelings, not just surface
issues. Identifying the unspoken worry can be far more powerful than promising to fix a spoken one.
How Long to Linger?
Once you accept the idea that problem-based selling can work with problem-focused prospects, you
run into your next question. How long should you focus on the worry in your lead before you start teasing
with a solution?
First, as we said, you need to make sure you’re targeting the right problem and offering the right
solution. As an example, maybe you know the story of Kleenex® Brand tissues.
Depending on whom you ask, the paper company Kimberly-Clark got stuck with warehouses full of
“cellucotton,” a filter product they made for gas masks at the end of World War I.
With the war over, they needed to find another market. They tried out a couple of ideas until someone
hit on Kleenex® Brand “facial tissues,” a disposable replacement for towels that women back then used to
remove cold cream.
And, they sold it that way, too.
In 1925, a magazine ad showed up in the Ladies Home Journal promising “no more dingy cold-cream
towels” and showed celebrities demonstrating how they used the tissues. For the next five years, Kleenex®
was sold as “the new secret of keeping a pretty skin as used by famous movie stars.”
In some of those ads, a small box suggested Kleenex® tissues might work as disposable handkerchiefs,
too. Other ads also tested alternative uses for Kleenex®, everything from spare coffee filters to cleanup
towels.
But, it was Kimberly-Clark’s head researcher, who suffered chronic hay fever, who pushed Kimberly-
Clark’s top copywriter to rewrite the ads with the disposable handkerchief lead up front.
“Don’t Put a Cold In Your Pocket ,” said the ads. Instead of putting a dirty cloth tissue back in your
pocket, “It’s ‘Kleenex® Tissue Time’.”
And, it was those campaigns, along with other Problem-Solution promises like “No more sore noses
— use gentle Kleenex®!” that helped create a $1.6 billion brand.
Problem-Solution pitches have been a staple for copywriters since the early days of advertising. For instance, Kimberly-Clark’s ad
department tried a lot of different ways to sell their now-famous tissues before they settled on these Problem-Solution ads that
targeted cold and hay fever sufferers.
Of course, you don’t need much copy to sell cold tissues.
But notice, in Problem-Solution pitches that target both big and small, you’ll get your biggest impact
when you can first sum up the core worry in as instant a phrase as possible.
Think of the problem you target as the cover on a blockbuster novel or the opening shot in a movie. On
the one hand, you want your prospect to linger over it long enough to commit to your message that
follows. On the other hand, you know you’ve got to stir an emotion before the prospect’s head kicks in
and reminds him about his to-do list for the rest of the day.
So, how long do you linger on the problem in your copy, assuming you’ve identified the biggest
worry? For exactly as long as it takes to win that commitment to read on.
For simple products that solve simple worries, it might happen as early as right there in your headline.
For something more complex, you might have to hold off just a little bit longer.
Understandably, we know that’s an unsatisfactory and abstract answer. But, it should become clearer
as we look at some samples, like the ones you’ll find here:
“If This, Then That”
The classic “If-then” approach to writing a Problem-Solution Lead might be the most common you’ll
come across, both now and in the advertising archives.
Take this classic 1950s ad for Geritol …
If you’re feeling run down, then this will pick you up. The phrase “tired blood” isn’t a medical term.
Geritol’s makers — or copywriters — cooked it up to characterize how it feels to come out of a cold or
the flu.
Just reading it almost wears you down. It also makes the promise you’ll “feel stronger fast” that much
more life-changing. It’s such a direct and simple proposition, you can see some Offer Lead creeping in:
“within 7 days — or money back!”
Just to see how an ad for a similar product did it, here’s another classic Problem-Solution pitch from
around the same era. It uses nearly the same formula, only instead of “If this, then that” it’s “For Relief
from this, try that” …
The emotional pull of the problem is all in the mention of the “misery” and the image, with arrows
pointing to the blocked areas of an appropriately-miserable man. You can see that the power of the
solution is also tied up in the specific details of a “3-Layer Tablet” that “Helps Drain All 8 Sinus
Cavities.”
“Inversions”
Gene Schwartz was a big fan of what he called “Negative Promise” leads. We might call them
“Inversion” or “Solution-Problem” leads, because what they do is flip the formula around and promise a
way to get yourself out of a situation before highlighting the problem itself.
This is also something you can see in ads going way back. For instance, there’s a yellowed old
newspaper ad for Pond’s Vanishing Cream that shows a drawing of a woman bather who’s barely
showing any skin, aside a headline and lead copy that reads …
“Get all the benefits of Summer sunshine but avoid the discomforts.”
“You will find that your skin will not blister and burn half as readily if you protect it before exposing
it. Apply Pond’s Extract Vanishing Cream and … it will [also] soften dried, scorched skin and keep it
from peeling, leaving you a rich, beautiful tan … ”
It’s a foregone conclusion with claims that set out to solve a problem before you even have it. Here’s
another old-school example, from a Solution-Problem headline for a property ad:
“How to Do Wonders With a Little Land!”
It ran against a more conventional Problem-Solution Lead, under the headline “A Little Land — a Lot
of Living” and beat it by 40%. And, it beat a flat-out — if abstract — Promise Lead that ran under the
headline, “Two Acres and Security,” by a crushing 75% margin.
“Identification”
Of course, you’re not just writing to the problem, but to the person who has the problem and feels
strongly about it.
So, it’s no wonder some of the most successful Problem-Solution Leads are written to make the reader
feel identified by their troubles or even directly responsible for them.
For instance …
“Advice to Wives Whose Husbands Don’t Save Money — By a Wife”
“To People Who Want to Write — But Can’t Get Started”
“For the Woman Who is Older Than She Looks”
This last one ran against a headline that was all solution, no problem, “For the Woman Who Looks
Younger Than She Is” and outperformed it by a big margin. Why?
Most likely because the latter targets a woman who doesn’t feel like she needs a change, where the
former is all about an emotion the prospect would love to rid herself of — frustration with looking older
than she should.
“The Question”
You’ll find many successful Problem-Solution ads phrased as challenging questions.
Here are a couple of examples you might recognize …
“Are You Ever Tongue-Tied at a Party?”
“Do You Do Any of These Ten Embarrassing Things?”
And, of course this one from great Madison Avenue copywriter Maxwell Sackheim:
“Do You Make These Mistakes in English?”
Sackheim tried other ads, including a simple Promise Lead under the headline, “15 Minutes a Day
Gives You a Wonderful Command of Language, ” and a Secret Lead under the headline, “His New
Invention Finds and Corrects Your Mistakes in English.”
But, we agree with ad archivist Lawrence Bernstein of infomarketingblog.com, who points out that one
of the keys that makes this ad work is the word “these” in this headline. Plus, the fact that it targets the
deeper emotions in a way the other leads don’t: the shame and embarrassment connected to the mundane
subject of grammar.
Questions also work in Problem-Solution Leads because they jump-start the mental conversation with
your prospect. Once well-targeted customers answer “Yes” to what you’re asking, it’s that much tougher
for them to quit reading.
Asking a question about a problem with an inevitable “Yes” answer from the right prospect is a strong way to jump-start a
conversation with your customer.
“Instruction”
If you have a problem that’s a little more complex to address, another technique that can work is to
invent a name for the problem that characterizes it quickly.
We’re sure you’ve seen at least some of these famous examples:
“Have You a ‘Worry’ Stock?”
“Is Your Home Picture-Poor?”
“How Much Is ‘Worker Tension’ Costing Your Company?”
All of these headlines are also questions but with the added twist and intrigue of a term your prospect
hasn’t heard before. The key is that the term, even though it’s new, instantly makes sense of the negative
situation (a lot like the phrase “tired blood” in the earlier Geritol ad).
Of course, creating a new term means that somewhere the lead will have to explain what it means. In
this way, these kinds of ads are also usually “instructional.” They teach the customer something about the
negative situation, even as they promise to free him from it. Here’s another example but without the
invented term:
“Five Familiar Skin Troubles — Which Do You Want to Overcome?”
In 10 words, the headline promises to teach the prospect something about “five familiar skin troubles,”
nearly assumes he’ll have at least one of them — the “which” here is like the “these” in the famous
Sackheim headline we looked at earlier — and teases hope for a solution.
Could an ad that simply asked “Do You Suffer One of These Five Familiar Skin Troubles?” have
worked? It certainly seems worth testing. And in either case, the rest of the lead would have continued as
this one did — educating the prospect on the problem he was about to solve.
Here’s another Problem-Solution Lead example, though this time without depending on any invented
terms in the headline. It was also written by Max Sackheim:
Obviously, it riffs on the idea of “Seven Deadly Sins.” He’s created what feels like a definitive list of
big mistakes you really don’t want to make. Really, it’s just a way to make common advertising mistakes
feel more memorable.
Just like with David Ogilvy’s “How to Create Advertising That Sells” ad from Chapter 5, Sackheim’s
future clients feel like they would learn something, just by reading the ad alone.
Of course, deciding whether to use one of these approaches to the Problem-Solution formula hinges on
the idea that you’re writing to prospects who know what they’d like to change.
The pulling power isn’t in educating the reader about a problem. It’s more in the idea that his or her
troubles are heard and understood.
Once the reader feels that you’ve heard him, that you understand his problems, and his need for a
solution, then he’ll be ready to listen to your solutions to those problems — solutions that come through
your product.
7
The Magic of the Velvet Pouch
_______________________
“Life is 95% anticipation.”
— Gloria Swanson
_______________________
In this chapter, you will discover a technique that has recently become the dominant lead type in the
information publishing industry.
In the past five years alone, it has been responsible for more than a billion dollars worth of sales.
We know of one copywriter who used this lead type for a health package. It worked so well that he
was offered a six-figure contract as a senior copywriter.
We know another group of copywriters who used this technique last year to create more than $40
million worth of sales for their publisher and gave themselves all very substantial bonuses.
We have used this technique to our own advantage many times in recent years. In fact, it is one of the
two most powerful lead techniques working today.
It won’t take you weeks to develop this technique. You will probably pick it up fairly quickly because
it is something that you already know how to do.
Let me tell you a story about the velvet pouch.
Almost forty years ago, I got a job selling pots and pans to flight attendants in Queens, New York, near
LaGuardia Airport.
I was trained for this job by a master. His name was Harry. He had been selling products door-to-door
for thirty of his forty-five years at the time. I was working part-time, as I was in my senior year of college.
Harry didn’t think much of formal education. “Why do you want to waste your time reading a bunch of
dusty old books?” he’d ask me. “Everything you need to know about life you can learn by knocking on
doors.”
Harry was wrong about that, but he knew an awful lot about salesmanship. Many of the secrets of
marketing I’ve discovered since then were based on the fundamentals of selling that Harry taught me.
One of the most important of these fundamentals Harry called the velvet pouch.
After gaining admittance to the apartment, Harry would start his pitch about the quality of our
cookware, taking out the pots and pans individually from his case. But, they were each encased in plush,
royal blue velvet pouches. As Harry described the features and benefits of the cookware, he would gently
massage the pots, first from outside over the velvet pouches, and then by slipping his hands inside them
but still keeping them hidden from the prospect.
“Just keep your eye on the customer,” he told me. “In the beginning they’ll be looking at you. But as
you go on, you’ll notice that they will shift their focus to the pots and pans. That let’s you know they are
getting interested. Keep hitting them with the benefits while they stare at what you’re doing. And never,
ever take the pots out until you know they have the prospects’ full attention.”
It was a visual gimmick that had great power. Harry closed almost a hundred percent of the prospects
he got to look at those velvet pouches. The more he fondled them from without and from within, the more
intrigued they seemed. When he finally withdrew the gleaming pot, you could see their eyes widen.
Sometimes they literally oohed and aahed.
I didn’t fully understand what was happening at the time, but now I realize what Harry was doing. He
was creating emotional tension by talking about the benefits of the product without showing it. The
prospect’s instinctive desire to discover what was in the velvet pouch played in Harry’s favor. The
longer he could get the prospect mesmerized by the hidden product, the greater the chance he would close.
The same psychological principal is what makes the technique we will be examining in this chapter so
powerful.
It taps into a very basic human instinct that can’t be resisted. That’s why, when used properly, it has
such power.
As I said, this secret has become more commonplace in recent years. Before then, most direct
marketers relied on the other, more traditional techniques we’ve been talking about: Offers, Promises,
Problem-Solution Leads, and occasionally Story Leads.
The first time I used this technique was about ten years ago.
Working with a junior copywriter, we launched a new financial publication using it. That sales letter
was a runaway blockbuster. It generated tens of millions of dollars of sales and turned that junior
copywriter into a multimillionaire. Seeing that success, about a dozen other copywriters adapted that
same lead type for their promotions and the result was massive and undeniable. Together, they accounted
for more than a billion dollars in sales in the following four years.
Nowadays, this lead type is the preferred one for selling not just information products but natural
supplements, body building systems, marketing programs, stock market systems, and diets — just to name
a few.
It is a simple technique, but it has rules that must be followed. If you learn these rules and use them
consistently, you will see the amazing power this lead type can give your copy.
Would you like to know what this technique is?
It is the “secret” — starting your sales presentation off by teasing the prospect with a secret.
Harry created a sort of secret when he put the pots and pans in velvet pouches. The prospect, seeing
them enclosed in such nice, soft cases, couldn’t help but imagine what they looked like. The more Harry
talked about their many useful and valuable qualities, the more they wanted to see them. By withholding
the “reveal” until he had finished his pitch, he achieved the goal of all leads — he had emotionally
persuaded them that they wanted it before they even saw what it looked like.
Agora founder and legendary copywriter Bill Bonner has this to say about the power of the secret:
The Secret Lead really connects to a deep instinct in people to feel that there are secrets to things;
that the things that you know and are obvious to everybody don’t give you any edge. What
everybody knows is what everybody knows and once you know what everybody knows, you’re just
like everybody else.
If you want to get an edge, you need to know something that everybody doesn’t know and those
things tend to be secrets. You look at people who are very rich, for example, and you say, “What’s
his secret?” Or, you look at somebody who is 60-years-old with beautiful skin and perfect body and
perfect hair and you say, “Oh, what’s her secret?”
We feel there must be secrets to these things because they’re not obvious. So, part of us wants to
know. We don’t believe these things are random. We don’t believe the world works in a random
way; it’s just by accident that people get that way. We believe there must be a secret. So, if you
reveal the secret, you already have a lot of people who want to listen to you.
Let’s see how this works in the following copy.
Closed to New Investors for the Last 6 Years — Now Open Again …
The “Chaffee Royalty Program” That Turned Every $1 Into $50
Now, let me ask you: What is a Chaffee Royalty Program? Do you know?
No? Well, don’t feel bad. You aren’t supposed to know. The copywriter made it up!
He invented the phrase because he didn’t want the prospect to know exactly what he was talking about.
He wanted to get the reader excited before he told him what it was.
We used to call this process neologizing — giving some key concept a new name in order to spark
interest.
Let’s continue reading this lead a while and see how long the copy goes before the term is explained.
This is the literary equivalent of the velvet pouch.
The copywriter who wrote this was trying to get his prospect to ask, “What is this Chaffee Royalty
Program?” To find out, he must read on. “I’ll give this another minute or so,” he thinks — unconsciously.
And, that is as much time as the copywriter needs to set the hook deeper.
So, that is the first thing to notice here: this velvet-pouch trick that holds the reader’s attention. But,
that is not all the copywriter has done. The headline continues:
In 2002, the same royalty “paycheck program” that paid out $50 for every $1 invested …
decided to shut the door to new “members.”
In 2008, that door is open again … and it just got easier than ever to “make money while
you sleep” …
But the door will slam shut again right at Midnight on Wednesday, May 28, so
you’d better collect your own “Chaffee Royalties” right NOW …
Now, what’s the copywriter doing?
He is sinking the hook deeper by attaching a specific claim to it: that the Chaffee Royalty Program paid
out 50-to-1 in 2002. And then, he pushes the hook in deeper. For some reason, in 2008 (the year this
promotion was written), the same opportunity has been opened up again for a short period of time.
The reader thinks, “Hmm. This is interesting. This Chafee Royalty Program, whatever it is, produced a
huge return six years ago. And now, this advertisement is telling me, it might do the same thing again. I
should read on.”
So, he reads on.
Dear Reader,
Doing nothing while collecting royalties has to be one of the best — and easiest — ways to get rich.
“I like the idea of ‘doing nothing while collecting royalties,’” the reader thinks. He reads on.
For instance, David Sengstack does nothing and collects royalty paychecks of $2 million per year …
just because his dad was smart enough to buy the commercial rights to a song you’ve sung a hundred
times, “Happy Birthday to You.”
Michael Jackson does nothing and collects royalties every time a Beatles song plays on the radio (he
bought the rights years ago). But, Paul McCartney — now a billionaire — does nothing and collects
even more on the 3,000 song rights from other artists that he owns.
Paul Newman made plenty acting. But, licensing his name piles up even more donations for his
favorite charities — over $200 million so far — from royalties on the Newman’s Own food line.
Even boxer George Foreman does better doing nothing than he did fighting in the ring, thanks to the
$137 million royalty checks he gets for lending his name to a grill.
No wonder the world’s richest investor calls collecting royalties the best business in the world. It’s
literally one of the easiest ways to do nothing and “make money while you sleep.”
“All these rich guys are somehow involved in this Chafee Royalty Program,” the reader thinks.
“Maybe it’s legitimate.”
What might shock you is that there actually IS a way for anybody to tap into a pool of growing
royalties … wealth that piles up by itself … that, ultimately, could be worth more than the entire
Beatles catalog, all the commercial rights to “Happy Birthday,” and the total value of the top 25
most expensive works of art in the world … combined.
And, you can set it up in less than five minutes.
“Hmm. This is pretty interesting. I can get in on this in less than five minutes?”
I call it the “Chaffee Royalty Program,” after a former schoolteacher and wealthy American
millionaire, Jerome B. Chaffee. Just like people who make a living collecting royalty checks, you
don’t need to do anything once you’ve tapped into the program.
You just sit back and watch the money pile up.
The prospect has now read a page-and-a-half of copy. He is intrigued — no, more than intrigued. And
yet, he still doesn’t know what the Chaffee Royalty Program is.
He knows that some of the most famous people in the world including Paul McCartney and George
Foreman are involved in it. He knows, too, that the richest investor in the world thinks its hot stuff. The
hook is getting deeper.
So, he reads on.
8 Americans Who Just Cashed in on “Chaffee Royalties”
Even though I’m almost positive you’ve never heard of “Chaffee Royalties,” some of America’s
wealthiest families have — though by another name. In fact, it’s a secret that’s made more than a few
Americans exceedingly rich.
• Robert Friedland made millions of dollars when his “Chaffee Royalty” holdings jumped in value
from $4 to $167 in just two years.
• George Hearst borrowed the $3,000 he used to buy his way into “Chaffee Royalties” in Nevada.
Within months, his stake had grown to $91,000 — money he used to buy even more royalty rights,
which ultimately launched his empire.
• Jim Fair, a former Illinois farmer, got so rich with his “Chaffee Royalties,” he was able to hand his
daughter a $1 million check as a wedding present.
• William O’Brien earned enough from his “Chaffee Royalties” to make him one of the 100 richest
Americans of all time.
• Former California carpenter John Mackay scraped together $500 to buy his first share in a “Chaffee
Royalty Program.” He made enough to build a mansion surrounded by 70 acres of land and formal
gardens for his son.
• E.J. “Lucky” Baldwin parked his last $800 in “Chaffee Royalties” while living in Virginia City,
Nev. By the time he was through, he’d piled up royalty wealth worth over $5 million.
• James Flood, who came to the U.S. with next to nothing, got so rich on “Chaffee Royalties” he was
able to build a beautiful sandstone home on top of San Francisco’s famous Nob Hill. It’s still there
today.
• Then there’s Stanley Dempsey. A lawyer who quit law and put his money into “Chaffee Royalty”
contracts now makes his living collecting on 23 different streams of royalty income. Forbes even
featured Dempsey and called his fortune “virtual gold,” since he barely has to do or run anything to
keep the money rolling in.
Now, the hook is deeply buried in his gut. “All these regular folks are taking advantage of it,” he
thinks. “Why can’t I?”
And, the copywriter has an answer for him:
But, there’s no reason you can’t collect anytime you like.
In fact, now that these “Chaffee Royalty Programs” trade directly on the stock exchange, you can get
in anytime you like. And with the right timing, you can get in at a very good price. And then, start
seeing gains from “Chaffee Royalties” immediately.
This is the situation we’re in right now.
Which is why I’m writing you today. See in 2002, one of the most impressive Chafee Royalty
opportunities of all time closed its doors to new funds, just after delivering a 50-to-1 payoff for its
earliest members.
And for reasons I’ll share, the timing now is better than ever.
What’s more, today, there’s more than one way to lock into “Chaffee Royalties.” And one of those
options, according to research that took me nine months to pull together, could pay out even better
than what was once the most profitable “Chaffee Royalty” opportunity of all time.
We’ll get to those details.
But first, let’s start at the beginning …
The reader’s interest is peaking now because he is being told that the opportunity won’t last very long.
He has to take action soon.
Finally, he gets his answer. Or, begins to get it …
The “Chaffee Royalty Program” That Changed America
Jerome B. Chaffee didn’t make enough as a schoolteacher. So, he took a job as a sales clerk in a dry
goods store. Then he took that money and started a dry goods store of his own.
When that wasn’t enough, he packed his bags and went to Colorado in 1860.
See, Colorado then — as right now — was mineral rich. And, even though Chaffee knew next to
nothing about mining, he saw the possibilities. And, started snapping up the “royalty rights” on as
many gold and silver claims as he could afford.
I won’t take you through the rest of the letter. I will tell you it was very, very successful. It generated
thousands of subscriptions and millions of dollars. And, the reason it was successful is the subject of this
chapter.
Introducing the Secret Lead
Next to the Story Lead, the Secret Lead is the most universal and useful. It can be used to sell just
about any sort of proprietary product or service.
We have used and seen the Secret Lead used to sell everything — from investment newsletters to
kitchen knives.
The purpose of a Secret Lead is the same as any lead: to get the reader to keep reading until the prime
benefits and Unique Selling Proposition of the product are fully presented.
The mechanism is the secret. It is presented in the headline and not revealed until after the prospect
has read everything the copywriter wants him to read.
To understand how powerful this is, let’s look at the Secret headline again:
Closed to New Investors for the Last 6 Years — Now Open Again …
The “Chaffee Royalty Program” That Turned Every $1 Into $50
Now, compare that to the following:
Closed to New Investors for the Last 6 Years — Now Open Again …
A Dividend Strategy That Turned Every $1 Into $50
This, as you can see, is considerably less intriguing.
The prospect for this promotion, an avid investment newsletter reader, has seen hundreds of stock
schemes in his time. He is skeptical of them. Yet, he is still looking.
The copywriter who wrote the “Chaffee Royalty Program” letter knew that. So, he wanted to do
something that would hold his reader’s attention for a few minutes. If he could only keep him reading long
enough to explain the product’s Unique Selling Proposition, he would have a chance to make the sale. So,
he created a hook: an intriguing name for an investment service that specializes in natural resources
stocks.
A good Secret Lead, in the hands of a clever copywriter, can compel the casual reader to read a dozen
or more pages of copy before the secret is revealed. In this case, the second version of the same headline
might have stopped the reader cold.
Now, let’s get back to the copy we have just read. We’ve shown you the technique of the velvet pouch
and how the copywriter used it while he was making three promises:
1T.h at this secret has the power to turn a single dollar into fifty
2T.h at the prospect can learn the secret in five minutes
3T.h at he can sit back and benefit from it like rich people who collect royalty checks without doing
anything
All three promises are strong. The first one promises significant profits — the kind of profits that can
make a person wealthy. The second one promises ease of understanding and implementation. Making a
solution easy is always a very good thing to do. The third promise appeals to everyone who has ever
dreamed of owning a money tree — which is just about any person who is likely to read this promotion.
In fact, most of the 300 to 400 words that comprise this lead are devoted to illustrating this promise.
Beginning with a man who collects $2 million a year from royalties on Happy Birthday to celebrity
check-cashers like Michael Jackson, Paul Newman, and George Foreman. And then, moving to eight
bulleted examples of others who got rich or are getting rich cashing in royalty checks.
Royalty checks? Well, not exactly. These aren’t royalties in the way that Michael Jackson’s estate
collects royalties when Beatles records are bought or played. They are stock returns and dividends — an
altogether different thing.
Dividend stocks are rather ordinary in the investment world. They definitely don’t have the sex appeal
that something called The Chaffee Royalty Program would.
And that is why the copywriter began with Newman and Foreman and Jackson and then switched to the
others. He wanted to take full advantage of the emotional impact of royalty checks. It’s a bit of a
conceptual bait and switch — letting attributes of one thing carry over into another.
At both Agora and AWAI, we call this type of secret transubstantiation. This means we turn
something ordinary (like water or mining stock returns) into something special (like wine or advertising
royalty checks). It’s another useful technique that is often used by Master Copywriters when crafting
Secret Leads.
Read the lead again. See how the copywriter engages the prospect by providing teasing details that
seem like they are revealing the secret, but never quite do. The prospect’s initial interest is merely to find
out what the Chaffee Royalty Program is. But sentence by sentence, the copywriter makes the secret more
appealing. Before the copywriter reveals that the program is a dividend investment strategy, the prospect
has decided he wants to get in on this investing opportunity. By now, he is willing to read the entire sales
letter to find out more.
In this case, the reader discovers the full secret before he buys the product. But, in many promotional
packages that use the Secret Lead, the nature of the secret is never revealed. To find out, the prospect must
buy the product.
Let’s take a look at another Secret Lead. This, too, is for an investment newsletter promotion.
Texas Company Tapping $2.8 Trillion Oil Reserve… Under the Eiffel Tower
Some company in Texas has struck oil. In Paris! And under the Eiffel Tower!
“That’s pretty amazing,” the reader thinks. “I didn’t know there was any oil beneath the Eiffel Tower!”
So, he reads on:
Tiny company from Dallas preparing to extract 40 billion barrels of crude oil from
beneath Paris, France …
Discovery big enough to fuel U.S. demand for 5.2 years, according to Energy Information
Administration …
Estimates show 4,620% gains for investors who get in now … before this oil comes to
market …
The first word he reads, “tiny,” helps him understand why hasn’t heard about this before. It is a tiny
company. But, it’s from Dallas. “This can’t be a hoax,” he thinks. “The writer is telling me that the
company is located in Dallas. It must be real.”
Most investors these days are skeptical. And, the best prospects are the most skeptical because they
have read and responded to more offers than most. They are aware, if only unconsciously, that they are
reading an advertisement. They are looking for clues that this particular advertisement is factually based.
The copywriter knows that, so he is handing out teasing little details as the lead progresses.
The prospect reads on to discover more specifics:
The size of the oil find is 40 billion barrels.
That is big enough to supply America’s fuel needs for more than five years.
Someone has estimated that this discovery could produce investment returns of more than 4,000%.
Once again, the copywriter is sinking in the hook by providing teasing details that reveal more
information about the secret without giving it away. And, some of those details are indirect promises.
(That he can possibly make 4,000% on his money once he finds out what this stock is.)
The reader continues:
Dear Reader,
It could be the richest oil deposit in Western Europe.
But, very few even know of its existence … yet.
Even leading oilmen in the U.S. have no idea.
Because … well … who ever thought of looking for oil beneath the Eiffel Tower?
In just four simple sentences, the copywriter has explained away an objection that must surely come
into the reader’s mind. If this discovery is so big, why haven’t I read about it?
He reads on:
Indeed, while Parisians sip coffee and nibble croissants in Montmarte … as tourists stroll through the
Louvre, and walk along the Left Bank … there’s an ocean of sweet crude oil bubbling directly
beneath their feet.
The copywriter creates a picture of the promise. This is effective because it excites the reader’s
imagination and reduces his skepticism at the same time.
He can practically see all those billions of barrels of oil floating in an underground sea beneath Paris.
He reads on:
The French Oil Ministry has confirmed more than 40 billion barrels.
It’s enough to fuel total U.S. oil demand for 5.2 years, according to the Energy Information
Administration.
Enough to fill more than 2.54 million Olympic-sized swimming pools …
And 27 times more oil than ExxonMobil produces annually …
The reader discovers that the French Oil Ministry has confirmed the finding. This is sounding more
credible. The reader’s skepticism is further diminished.
He continues:
Perhaps most amazingly, the rights to every drop of this oil now belong to one little company from
Dallas, Texas!
When it brings this mother lode to market later this year, the company will multiply its oil inventory
5,632-fold.
No wonder Goldman Sachs and Barclays are quietly building positions in the stock before the big
event.
“Goldman Sachs and Barclays?” the reader thinks. “Those are well-known names. If they are investing
in it, it must be the real thing!”
He keeps reading:
And, no wonder they’re keeping this news to themselves — not telling a single one of their retail
clients.
“Gee,” the reader thinks. “I’m glad I’m reading this. I’m going to find out what Goldman Sachs’ retail
clients don’t even know!”
Over the next few minutes, you’ll discover all the details of this opportunity.
And, you’ll learn how you could turn a small speculation of $5,000 into $231,000 starting just a few
weeks from today.
But, you must act right now.
Let’s get right to the details …
The copywriter knows that the hook is in deep. So, he makes a promise now, that he will reveal “the
details” of this opportunity in just a few minutes. He also promises to tell them how they can profit from
the information. And, he asks them to keep reading to find out more details. And, they will.
Let’s look at one more investment newsletter lead, this one from Stansberry & Associates:
The Only Investment Legally Obligated to Pay You 181% Gains By June 15, 2009
It’s not a stock, option, or gov’t bond … But this unusual investment has crushed the S&P 500 by
543% since 2001, according to a recent Dow Jones report.
By now, you’re beginning to see how this is working. The copywriter has created a Unique Selling
Proposition with the phrase “only investment legally obligated to pay you 181% gains by June 15, 2009.”
The investment isn’t named. So, the prospect reads on to find out what it is.
Dear S&A Subscriber,
What if I told you there’s an investment that could pay you 181% gains over the next 12 months …
And that this money is SECURED by a legal contract …
Would you be interested?
Well, how about if I told that your 181% gain is required BY LAW to be delivered on this EXACT
date: June 15, 2009.
The copywriter has done nothing but repeat the claims made in the headline, a very common and
successful pattern with Secret Leads. Restate what is said in the headline and you make it seem more
credible.
And, that in addition to a 181% gain, you’d also be legally entitled to collect 3 interest payments
over that same period, bringing your total return to 227% …
… Turning every $10,000 invested into $32,700, with almost 100% certainty.
Still interested?
Well, before I go any further, I should warn you: After reading this, you may never want to buy
stocks, EVER again.
That’s because this unique opportunity has nothing to do with the stock market … government bonds
… mutual funds … or options.
Instead, it’s something we call a “Secured Investment Contract.”
So, you see what is happening here: The copywriter neologizes. He’s come up with a clever phrase to
introduce the Unique Selling Proposition. If he gave it its conventional name, it would seem mundane.
What are “Secured Investment Contracts” exactly?
In short, these Contracts offer you a way to collect gains that are potentially as big as the fastest
moving stocks. The big difference is, your gains are secured by a legal agreement.
Even better … you’ll know, months ahead of time, exactly when and how much you should be paid.
Let me show you how it works …
It seems like the copywriter has just explained the term, but in fact he’s revealed nothing more than he
had already. Yet, because the copywriter posed the question the reader has been asking (What is a
Secured Investment Contract?) and provides a summary in different words, the reader feels that progress
is being made.
So, the prospect continues reading. In doing so, he gets his curiosity further aroused by techniques
you’ve already seen.
The copywriter strengthens his case by providing teasing details. He tells the reader that Secured
Investment Contracts are offered by U.S. corporations. And, they are somehow more “secure” than shares
of stock.
He then gives an “example” of a specific trade that adds no new clue to solve the puzzle. But, it is
more information.
The copywriter wants there to be no question of how valuable the secret is, so he does the math for the
reader — a $10,000 investment returning 227% would be worth $32,700.
And, he continues adding specific evidence to the copy including a list of dates secured payments
were made.
Here is a core secret about writing Secret Leads: Specificity is absolutely required to overcome the
skepticism that secrets automatically evoke.
Not Just for Financial Promotions
As Bill Bonner said, “The Secret Lead really connects to a deep instinct in people to feel that there are
secrets to things.”
Since secrets instinctually inhabit all aspects of our lives, Secret Leads have been used successfully in
different direct marketing niches, not just financial.
So, let’s take a look at how Secret Leads can work in two other examples, the first from the selfimprovement/
self-actualization niche in the following promotion from Learning Strategies Corporation.
In this promo, the prospect is probably familiar with the word “dowsing” — the practice of searching
for water or valuable minerals using a dowsing rod. But here, it’s used in a much different context, raising
the question “What’s that?”
What exactly is “Diamond Dowsing”? The envelope hints at it being a way to discover ancient secrets
and modern solutions. But, no more information than that is available. The fact that it’s tied up with
someone named Marie Diamond doesn’t diminish the intrigue. Is it dowsing for diamonds? Is it dowsing
with diamonds? What exactly is it?
Without using the word “secret,” this phrase (a neologism like we’ve seen before) is exactly that: A
secret that might deeply affect the prospect’s life. The secret aspect of the promo is reinforced as soon as
the prospect begins reading the letter:
How you can use “dowsing” to take anything you’re doing to radically higher levels
… making money, exercising, playing, working, sleeping, meditating, even
PhotoReading … you name it!
Dear Friend,
I used to think dowsing was just for finding water, until our Feng Shui Master Marie Diamond gave
me a spectacular demonstration that changed my mind.
You see, many people assume that the problems they have in their lives are caused by something
they’re doing. Marie showed me this might not be the case at all.
If you have issues or struggles that just won’t go away, it might not be your fault but
actually your home or office that is attracting them.
These issues could be the result of “geopathic stress,” “interference lines,” or “negative energy
vortexes.” I’ll talk about these later — right now you merely need to know that you can easily learn
how to use dowsing to find and resolve these problem areas.
Marie showed us jaw-dropping demonstrations
In the summer of 2005, Marie Diamond, Paul Scheele, and I met up for a week in Aspen, Colorado.
Marie brought brass L-shaped dowsing rods and began demonstrating how to use them within
seconds of meeting up with her.
First, she used the dowsing rods (divining rods) to show us energy lines that thread the Earth and in
one way or another affect all living things. I was surprised at how the dowsing rods opened when
Marie approached these stress lines.
Sleeping on these energy lines can create nightmares, sleeplessness, and even illness.
In this first page of an 8-page letter, the reader is given a lot of “facts” — ideas like geopathic stress,
interference lines, and the like. The copywriter has also started talking very specifically about proof —
“jaw-dropping demonstrations” — that dowsing can solve problems.
The copy continues like this throughout the next 7 pages. But, the real secret of “dowsing” is never
revealed. It’s teased and danced around in a way that the reader feels she’s getting some real, substantial
information.
But, the secret is kept cleverly hidden in the words and phrases.
If an energy line goes through your garden, it can even retard the growth of plants or make them
susceptible to disease and drought.
Remember, Marie Diamond knows how energy works not only because she is a Feng Shui
Master and has worked with Dowsing Masters the world over for years but because she
sees energy.
You see, she has a rare gift: She can actually see energy flow, much like how you and I can see water
flow in a river. This ability makes what she says infinitely credible and valuable.
You cannot expect the prospect to believe everything you say — especially about a secret as mystical
as this one — simply because you say it. So, the copywriter provides “proof.”
Marie then showed us positive and negative energy vortexes. She told the story of one of her clients
who owned a failing retail store. Marie used the dowsing rods to uncover a negative vortex right on
the cash register. Marie neutralized it, and immediately the business began to thrive. She said, “It was
as if the vortex repelled customers.”
Diamond Dowsing and The Secret
We were in Aspen that summer for a meeting of the Transformational Leadership Council. Another
phenomenon was born there, too. Rhonda Byrne showed up with a film crew and a wild idea about a
movie called The Secret. As a matter of fact, much of The Secret was filmed right there during the
meeting. That’s how Marie Diamond got into the film herself.
The readers of this promotion have at least heard about the movie The Secret. In all likelihood,
they’ve seen it more than once. So, the copywriter ties that movie’s credibility back to Marie Diamond
and her secret.
Much of our Transformational Leadership Council meetings involve members presenting miniworkshops
so we can learn each other’s specialties. The first day’s events in Aspen were awkward
and uncharacteristically boring.
That evening, Marie whipped out her dowsing rods and walked over the exact spot where the
presenters had stood — and the rods began spinning wildly in a counterclockwise direction. This
indicated a negative energy vortex.
When Marie neutralized the energy, the rods quit spinning. For the remaining few days, the
presentations were more engaging than ever! (I wonder how much of the great energy in The Secret
came from Marie’s dowsing.)
I found an “Energy Vortex” in my own home!
So, the actual secret isn’t really about Diamond Dowsing. It’s about how to neutralize negative energy.
But, that subtle shift came about unnoticed. The reader doesn’t care at this point. She just wants to know
how to use Marie Diamond’s gifts to improve her life.
And, we don’t learn until much later that the way to do it is by learning from Marie directly — in a
special DVD course.
We see this same formula followed in the following promotion from Rodale Press for a book about
“Square Foot Gardening.” Notice how this lead actually combines two different lead types very
successfully: a Secret Lead and a Promise Lead.
The promise here is direct and clearly stated: you will have “Your Most Bountiful Garden … Ever!”
But, this bounty is going to come from just a few square feet. And, that’s where the secret comes in. The
fascination with how that will happen is what really brings the prospect into the letter.
On this envelope, there is nothing to give a hint at what this technique is except that “You’ll love the
ease and results of this proven gardening technique.” As you begin reading the body copy, the promise
remains strong and the secret remains hidden. But, as with the previous examples, the copywriter feigns
revealing the secret.
Dear Fellow Gardener,
Grow the same bounty of tomatoes, peppers, and beans in one tiny 4 x 4 foot space as you’d get in a
20-foot row? Yes!
Make one packet of lettuce seeds last 5 to 6 years instead of planting all 1,950 of them in one season?
Yes!
Grow bigger, longer-lasting tomatoes and lettuce in winter? Yes!
Garden with less work, less weeding. Less watering? Yes!
What’s the secret?
It’s a technique called “Square Foot Gardening,” I couldn’t wait to try it — and now I can’t wait to
share it with you! Put down the hoe. Hang up your hose! Join hundreds of gardeners who’ve learned
the secrets of SQUARE FOOT GARDENING . . . yours FREE for 21 days.
The copywriter hasn’t revealed anything substantial about the secret is except that it is a secret and that
the reader can learn about it for free. (The 21-days barely comes into the reader’s consciousness at this
point).
The copywriter answers the question in the first subhead “What’s the secret?” with his next subhead.
Only he doesn’t really answer it at all.
An easier, more foolproof way to garden — anywhere
The revealed secret — an easier, more foolproof way — is a dodge, a way of presenting the big
promise clothed as the “secret.”
The copywriter then gives a bit more to further sharpen the prospect’s interest.
Traditional methods like rows, tilling, and irrigation were all designed for farmers … and tractors.
But now, with SQUARE FOOT GARDENING, you can grow all your favorites in your garden with
a lot less work.
The copywriter seems closer to revealing the secret by telling what it isn’t . You’ve seen this
previously in the “Secured Investment Contract” promo: “That’s because this unique opportunity has
nothing to do with the stock market … government bonds … mutual funds … or options.”
By telling the prospect what the secret is not, you have him feeling he is closer to finding out what it is.
The Square Foot Garden promotion goes on to follow a similar structure to the others we’ve
examined. And, what is that hidden, “secret” structure?
What Patterns Can You Observe in Secrets Lead?
Since we first began to think about leads in this way, we have created and/or edited thousands of them.
What we have found is that the most successful have certain commonalities:
1. The secret is intriguing and beneficial
2. It is introduced in the headline
3. It is not disclosed during the lead
4. As the letter progresses, more clues are given
Not every successful Secret Lead has this precise pattern, but we have found that most successful ones
do.
It’s because this pattern is so common that we recommend the following “rules” for writing Secret
Leads.
1. The Secret is Intriguing and Beneficial.
Let’s take a look at the first example headline again.
Closed to New Investors for the Last 6 Years — Now Open Again …
The “Chaffee Royalty Program” That Turned Every $1 Into $50
We have already discussed in some detail how the copywriter used neologism to create intrigue. But
notice, too, the super-head: Closed to New Investors for the Last 6 Years — Now Open Again. That
certainly adds to the intrigue. It also, by the way, creates a sense of urgency. So, it is intriguing.
Is it beneficial? Indeed. It is a program that “turned every dollar into fifty.” For an investor, that’s
about as relevant as can be.
Any good secret will attract the reader’s attention and distract him from the fact that he is reading an
ad. But, if you don’t connect the secret to a major benefit of the product right away, then you will make it
that much harder to complete in the second part of the package (after the lead).
When you tie the benefit to the secret, you tip your copywriting hand, so to speak. You indicate to the
reader that you are selling him. It is not overt but it is certainly more direct than the Story Lead.
But, even though the prospect knows that he is being sold, he can’t keep his conscious mind on that
because is he so intrigued by the secret.
Now, let’s look at the third headline we studied:
The Only Investment Legally Obligated to Pay You 181% Gains By June 15, 2009
It’s not a stock, option, or gov’t bond … But this unusual investment has crushed
the S&P 500 by 543% since 2001, according to a recent Dow Jones report.
Again, you can see that it is both intriguing and beneficial.
The intrigue is achieved by two things: the “legally obligated” concept and the fact that it’s not a stock,
option, or government bond …
The benefit is provided in the promise of 181% and the fact that it “crushed the S&P 500 by 543%
since 2001.”
In the Diamond Dowsing example, the intrigue comes from using the word “dowsing” in a way the
prospect hasn’t seen before. And the benefit? Taking virtually everything in your life to “radically higher
levels.”
And finally, the Square Foot Garden copy … The big promise, splashed across the envelope is a
grabber for any serious (and not-so-serious) gardener:
Your Most Bountiful Garden … Ever
That’s the benefit, and the intrigue comes from being able to do it in “a few square feet of any soil … ”
2. It is Introduced in the Headline.
With virtually all of the Secret Leads we have studied, the secrets were introduced immediately, in the
headlines.
There is a very good reason for that. Of all the lead types, none is as instantly engaging as the Secret
Lead.
Who can resist the temptation to see what is under the velvet pouch? The impulse to discover “the
secret” is buried deep in the human brain.
Like stories, secrets are universal. They exist and play a role in just about every aspect of culture,
from sports to cooking to espionage — even to copywriting!
We are all prone to believe that those who excel at certain things have secrets that make them better.
We want to discover those secrets so we can enjoy their success.
In fact, good copywriters use the power of the velvet pouch in all sorts of ways and in every possible
place in their advertisements. They are used to introduce products, to explain systems and track records,
to introduce premiums, and so on.
And, as you have already seen, they can also be used in conjunction with other types of leads to keep
the reader engaged.
If you take a look at almost any Story Lead, for example, you will see that a secret is usually
introduced either within the lead or just afterwards. By introducing the secret in the story, the copywriter
is able to hold the reader’s interest.
3. The Secret is Not Disclosed in the Lead.
Without a doubt, the most common mistake beginners make when constructing Secret Leads is to
disclose the secret too soon.
Consider the effect on the reader if the copywriter had followed the Chafee Royalty Program headline
with this:
Dear Reader,
The Chaffee Royalty Program describes a system for investing in dividend stocks that we
believe is amazing, etc.
The reader’s curiosity is satisfied in the first sentence. If the reader believes dividend stocks are
boring (as many investment readers do), he will read no further. The power of the secret created by
neologizing dividend stocks into royalty programs is gone. The number of readers who continue to read
drops dramatically … as does the response rate (and the copywriter’s reputation).
If this mistake weren’t so common, we wouldn’t even mention it here. But, for whatever reason, many
copywriters feel compelled to reveal their secrets. Perhaps they feel it is too cruel to tease the reader for
very long. Perhaps they are looking for the pleasure one gets from disclosing secrets.
Whatever the reason, it is a mistake to reveal it during the lead. Remember, the purpose of the lead is
to persuade the reader emotionally. To do that, you have to maintain the reader’s full attention until you
have shown him all the benefits. That takes some number of words — 100 to 600 depending on the
product. Those 100 to 600 words constitute the lead. Thus, the rule: Don’t disclose the secret in the lead.
In fact, many Secret Lead advertisements never reveal the secret at all. Instead, they promise the
revelation in a premium. As the copy progresses, the secret becomes more intriguing. The prospect reads
on only to discover that he must buy the product to learn the secret and that the revelation will come
alongside the product.
4. As the Letter Progresses, More Clues Are Given.
We have spent some time in reviewing these examples to see how the copywriter maintains his
reader’s interest by providing clues to the secret as the copy goes on.
In the Chaffee Royalty Program, for example, the prospect knows from the headline that this is an
opportunity to make fifty times his money and that this opportunity, closed for the past six years, has just
been opened up again.
Even in the subhead, it appears that the reader is given more clues. He finds out, for example that:
In 2002, the same royalty “paycheck program” that paid out $50 for every $1 invested was closed new
“members.”
In 2008, that door is open again … and it just got easier than ever to “make money while you sleep” …
The door will slam shut again right at Midnight on Wednesday, May 28.
In fact, the prospect has already been told this in substance in the headline. The extra details (the more
precise dating) give the reader the feeling that he is learning more, but he is not.
As the copy continues, he is given the names of some celebrities who have “used” the program.
Michael Jackson and Paul Newman come into play. This again gives the reader the feeling that he is being
given more clues, but in fact, he is no closer to guessing the secret then he was after reading the headline.
Later he is given some relevant details. He learns, for example, that “Chaffee Royalty Programs” trade
directly on the stock exchange and that he can get in anytime he likes.
You can see this use of “clues” in all the copy we’ve reviewed. These sorts of clues give the prospect
the feeling that he is getting closer to discovering the secret. The copywriter knows he won’t, but he
continues to put down these clues like bread crumbs leading him forward through the sales copy.
How Do You Create the Secret?
There are two ways to create a secret headline. The first is to find a secret already in the product. The
second way is to take one of its benefits and neologize or transubstantiate it into a secret — that is, to take
something familiar and rename it and reposition it so it seems new and secret.
Let’s say you were asked to write copy about a natural supplement with eight ingredients. You might
decide to lead with the one that was relatively unknown. By focusing the copy on that unusual ingredient
the prospect hasn’t heard of before, you intrigue him. And at the same time, you solve the problem of his
thinking, “Oh, I’ve tried that before. It doesn’t work for me.”
In taking this first approach, make a list of all the qualities, characteristics, and components of the
product and ask yourself which, if any of these, is not well-known. Then, decide if the benefit provided by
an unusual or unfamiliar quality, characteristic, or component is enough to drive the lead. If it is, you have
a good secret to start your promotion with.
When the qualities and characteristics of the product are all well-known, then you can “reinvent” the
product by giving it a new name (neologizing or transubstantiating). You have seen five examples of how
that is done in this chapter.
These are the basic rules for writing strong Secret Leads. Find something about the product that your
customer doesn’t know (or describe something he does know in a new way). Then, tease the prospect
with that unusual aspect starting from the headline. Continue to provide teasing “clues” along the way, but
be sure that you do not disclose the secret until the prospect is emotionally ready to buy the product.
The Secret Lead is relatively easy to master. It is a simple tool … but a powerful one. Adding it to
your repertoire will greatly increase your power as a copywriter. If you follow the rules!
8
You Won’t Read This Anywhere Else But Here: The Proclamation
Lead
________________________
“Boldness be my friend.”
— William Shakespeare
________________________
As far as we know, no one else has ever categorized this kind of lead.
And yet, not only could you find it extremely powerful in the right instance, but there are many
examples of the Proclamation Lead both in advertising and in persuasive editorial literature. In fact, they
are a very common way to begin a rhetorical speech.
When we first discussed the idea of making Proclamation Leads their own special category, we had
different ideas about what to call them. “Emotionally-compelling sentences” was the term we originally
discussed. But, then we debated whether all leads are emotionally compelling and whether that might
confuse readers.
We also tossed around the terms “declarations” and “pronouncements.” We finally settled on
“proclamations” because we felt the word connoted the energy inherent in these emotionally-compelling
statements.
Whatever you call them, they are a type of lead distinct from the other five covered in this book. They
are first and foremost assertions — sometimes they are statements of fact, other times they are statements
of opinion, and still other times they are statements about what might be true now or in the future.
But in all cases, they startle, intrigue, and tempt. This is where they get their great power.
So, if you are looking for a definition for a Proclamation Lead, here is one that will do:
A well-constructed Proclamation Lead begins with an emotionally-compelling statement,
usually in the form of the headline. And then, in the copy that follows, the reader is given
information that demonstrates the validity of the implicit promise made.
One of the things we’ve been talking about in this book is the concept of directness and indirectness.
We have made the point that some lead types — Offer Leads, Promise Leads, and Invitation-type — are
direct in the sense that the reader is very much aware he is reading sales copy. Indirect leads — stories
and secrets — distract the reader from that recognition. Done well, the reader temporarily forgets he is
reading an advertisement and gives the same attention and suspension of disbelief that he would give to a
novel or movie.
The Proclamation Lead, though very simple, is primarily indirect. It is indirect because it distracts the
reader from the sale by forcing him to pay attention to the point suggested by the proclamation, without
revealing exactly how it will lead to the essential claims of the actual sale.
Good Proclamation Leads read like newspaper stories — tabloid newspapers sometimes, but
newspaper stories nonetheless. The target reader’s rational brain might realize he is reading a sales pitch,
but his emotional brain is so taken by the secret and the story that he suspends disbelief and reads on with
eager anticipation.
And that, as you already know, is the secret of effective indirect leads. They “borrow” the emotional
framework of other communication forms — stories and secrets to name two — and use that to “sell” the
reader emotionally before the sales pitch becomes obvious and direct.
Because Proclamation Leads are primarily indirect, you’ll find they share a lot of similarities with
good secret-driven, story, and other indirect leads. Here are some ways in which they’re similar:
Because it’s more indirect, the Proclamation Lead gets a lot of its strength from taking the reader by
complete surprise. It must be relevant, but it has to be something almost pushing the envelope of the
incredible. The reason for this is that ordinary statements are too easy to pass over. To get the
reader to pay attention to your Proclamation Lead, you must hook him with the remarkable.
Like the Secret Lead, the skillful copywriter will not reveal the product’s USP until he has finished
proving the proclamation. The proclamation itself is very strong and irresistible. The goal is raising
curiosity in an intense and relevant way. What he wants first is proof that justifies his curiosity, and
only then will he search for a link to the promises also made or implied in the lead.
Like the Story Lead, the Proclamation Lead must be concise and engaging. This is why you’ll often
find Proclamation Leads “proven” using anecdotes or detailed stories — because these can help
you vividly show the proclamation describes something real in just a few words.
Like all good leads, the more specific you can be with your proclamation usually the better. There’s no
better shortcut to real credibility than specific detail. And likewise, as with all the leads in this
book, the Proclamation Lead must lead ultimately to some kind of big claim or promise that’s
relevant to the reader.
Let’s take a look at the lead in one of the most successful sales letters ever written so you can see how
these rules apply. The following example is “report-a-log” promotion that sold a health product …
Useful, arresting, and on-point: What you see is the cover to a “report-a-log,” a sales piece in the
form of a paperback book. The first phrase — Read This Or Die — is obviously a title. But, it is not like
many titles the reader might have read before. We can think of only one: Abbie Hoffman’s 1970
bestselling counter-culture manifesto, Steal This Book.
This statement is meant to arrest the reader’s attention. It certainly does that. Imagine seeing it on a
bookstand. Then, imagine reading the subhead and learning that you have a 95% chance of dying from a
curable disease.
Do you think you would be startled? Do you think you would be incredulous? Of course you would.
And, the copywriter who wrote this headline was very much aware of that.
But, the job of a good Proclamation Lead is not just to startle, but also to excite and to tempt. And this
headline accomplishes both those important goals by a few simple words: “for which there is already a
known cure somewhere on the planet.” This gets the reader thinking, “Gee, if this statement (about having
a 95% chance of dying from a curable disease) is really true, I better find out more about this.”
The target reader (someone who buys information about health) is compelled to read on. He is reading
for a specific purpose — to find out if the claims made on the cover are valid. And, if they are, to
discover something about the “known cures.”
Here is the next page of copy:
An Announcement from Mountain Home Publishing, Publisher of Alternatives
After 6,000 years of recorded human history, we are finally able to issue this statement:
The worldwide medical community has found solutions for all of the primary diseases and
disorders of our time.
Until now, the healing arts have always lagged behind the onslaught of plagues and chronic illness.
But as of today, at the start of the 7th millennium, we at last have remedies, successful treatments, or
outright cures for every one of the leading maladies of our modern world.
What’s interesting here is that the copy continues with another proclamation: That after 6,000 years,
the medical community has remedies for every known disease. This is effective because it repeats the
emotional work that was done on the cover. The text, the reader realizes, is not backing away from the
claim made on the cover. If anything, they are repeating it more strongly.
Let’s read on:
This does not mean, of course, that every known disease will quickly vanish from the face of the
earth. But, it does mean that some segment of the medical community in some nation now has an
answer — or the answer — to virtually every common health problem.
Actually, this claim could have been made 15 years ago. But, it would have required stretching the
definition of “the medical community” to include a lot of practitioners of traditional folk medicine.
Today, however, research laboratories have put many thousands of folk remedies under their
microscopes, and hundreds of long-treasured ethnic remedies have been refined, polished up, and
upgraded from “ancient lore” to “scientific fact.”
Do you see what the copywriter is doing here? He’s dealing with possible objections the target reader
might have (“Is this based on science?”) while sticking strongly to the startling claim made on the front
page. He knows that the success of this lead will depend on the reader feeling like he is learning
something useful and new to him. It gets him excited. He wants it to be true!
Let’s read on:
The Journal of Alternatives exists to bring together all these newly-discovered treatment
modalities and deliver them to you — in formats that enable you (or your patients) to use
them very easily.
We are a network of 150,000 rugged individualists, a highly educated and sophisticated society of
health experts and perpetual students. About one-fourth of us are doctors and other health
professionals.
Now the reader is introduced to the product — the Journal of Alternatives, which he finds has
150,000 members. This extra bit of detail makes him feel more comfortable.
Let’s continue reading.
The purpose of this bulletin is to cordially invite you to become one of us. Please see our invitation
on the last page.
Now, this is interesting. The copywriter is extending an invitation to the reader. The invitation is a
direct technique. The reader knows now that he is being sold something, but the invitation format makes it
feel personal and exclusive.
This is, as you have already learned, a very common practice in writing leads. You might begin
strongly with one type of lead (in this case, a proclamation) but once the emotional hook is set in, you can
use more direct leads to move your reader along.
Increasing detail: Jim Rutz, the copywriter who wrote this masterpiece, hints that the reader will
learn more about saving himself from dying right from the beginning. But, as he continues through the
copy, he provides increasing details about the nature of the remarkable, scientifically-proven cures.
As we’ve said, Proclamation Leads typically have an implicit promise. “Read This Or Die!” — an
imperative — implies that the reader will be able to avoid some terrible, life-threatening calamity if he
reads on.
Proclamation Leads are used most often for selling consumer-based products, usually to prospects that
aren’t aware of the product. But, that’s not always the case.
Let’s take a look at another very successful Proclamation Lead taken from the Business-to-Business
niche where the prospects — doctors in this case — are very aware of the product:
The copy that jumps out at you — “Warning: Your 1995 PDR is Obsolete” — is a declarative
statement.
You may not know what a PDR is, but the prospects who received this promotion did. The PDR is the
Physicians’ Desk Reference. It is one of the first books interns buy and is a consistent part of all
physicians’ libraries.
If you were a health professional, you would be very concerned to hear the book you’ve been using to
make diagnoses is obsolete. It would arrest your attention. It would cause you to worry. And, it would
cause you to think that maybe you should replace the one you have with the newer version. The newer,
updated PDR is the promise.
Can you see how much work has been done so far? In about 50 words of envelope copy, Master
Copywriter Bob Bly grabbed attention, scared the prospect, and then gave him a solution for the problem
he may not have known he had!
That’s the efficiency of a Proclamation Lead.
Later in this letter, Bly did something so clever we had to show it to you. Take a look at this sticker
that he included:
Talk about ratcheting up the core emotion!
In this clever bit of copy, Bly has transformed “outdated” into something that seems downright
dangerous. This is the kind of cleverness that can arise when you have figured out a strong Proclamation
Lead.
In selling political, environmental, health, and financial ideas, Master Copywriters often turn to a
special form of a proclamation — the prediction — to achieve the desired emotional effects.
Here’s one that ran in the late summer of 1999. The product was a monthly subscription newsletter
from the famous Dr. Robert Atkins.
This title copy — “Why Most 20th Century Medicine Will Soon Become Extinct” — is certainly
arresting. The reader is surprised by it. How could an entire century of medical knowledge suddenly
become extinct?
The reader wants to know the answer. He reads the subhead and finds out that a “maverick doctor is
reporting amazing success treating cancer, arthritis, heart disease, and other ‘untreatable’ diseases.”
And, the specificity of “maverick” and the diseases mentioned gives the lead just enough detail to
make the reader believe that the book might contain some very interesting and useful information.
That same subhead is also an implied promise: That the reader will discover new, presumably 21st
century remedies that might make him healthier and help him avoid deadly diseases.
Beneath the subhead, there are bullets that indicate particular benefits the reader will derive from
opening the book and reading through it.
Let’s look at another example of a Proclamation Lead that also hinges on a prediction.
This one appeared in the summer of 2006, when many people worried whether real estate prices,
stocks, and the world economy had hit a peak.
One European economist, Dr. Kurt Richebacher, offered sophisticated research that proved this was
the case.
But, his argument was complex and the copywriter knew he had to find a way to simplify it. The lead
you see here was his solution.
It begins with a super head in a flag: “Countdown to Crisis!”
That sets the tone and piques the reader’s interest. Then, the main headline predicts “Three Shocking
Events will wipe out millions of American investors.” And, it will happen by a specific date: December
31, 2006.
Linking a predicted event to a specific date is a proven technique for increasing credibility. The
reader wonders, “What three events could have such a great impact by the end of the year?” In asking that
question, the reader has already half-accepted the veracity of the prediction. He is on a hunt now to find
out what these events could be and how the writer knows they will take place by December 31st.
The copy that follows the headline lets the reader know that this prediction is coming from someone
credible: “one of the world’s most famous market analysts.” And, a moment later, he discovers that this
same authority has just made two recommendations that will protect him from this predicted set of
disasters.
As we said about Proclamation Leads in general, in a prediction-based lead, once an emotionallycompelling
statement (in the form of a prediction) has hooked the reader, the copy can then start using
some of the techniques that work in other types of leads.
For instance, in this example, you can also see the pull of a secret (actually five secrets: three events
and two recommendations) and a large promise. The pull being that these recommendations will protect
the reader.
A story element then follows: “One of the smartest and richest investors I know says he will not buy
any stocks or gold or bonds this year.” The reader is very drawn in at this point. He feels compelled to
continue reading until he’s found out just what these events are and what sort of unusual investments will
save him.
Here’s another Proclamation Lead, also in the form of a prediction …
In the early 1990s, the U.S. had just emerged from a banking crisis. We had just fought a costly war.
And, our government had launched into a spending spree. People were worried and this promotion — in
the form of a small “bookalog” — capitalized on that fear.
As you can see, it begins with a single, massive prediction: That there was going to be a depression.
And, that depression was caused by debt, something people were talking about then (just as they are
now).
The cover copy is not precisely a declarative statement, but it is close enough. It asserts a prediction,
identifies a problem, and then offers the solution to that problem.
Again, this is a very efficient way to stir up emotions: in this case, fear and hope.
Notice how it was done: through a metaphor. The copywriter, Lee Euler, decided to compare a stock
market crash (which might have seemed a bit abstract) to something that they could visualize more easily:
a plague.
The Table of Contents deepened the boldness of the prediction, with chapter teasers that fleshed out
the seriousness of the threats and identified solutions.
This promotion mailed over seven million times and brought in over 170,000 orders. And, the
bookalog format became a much-copied industry standard.
More recently, another Master Copywriter, Mike Palmer (with whom Michael Masterson has also
written a book about copywriting), wrote a similar promotion using another big prediction: the end of
America.
So far, this promotion has already brought in 200,000 subscribers and may well bring in 300,000 more
before it loses steam. If so, it will be the single most successful promotion selling an investment
newsletter and perhaps the second most successful promotion in investment publishing history, after The
Wall Street Journal’s famous “tale of two young men” Story Lead.
Okay, you’ve had a chance to study Proclamation Leads that use both strong declarative statements and
predictions. And, we’ve talked about the other elements of successful Proclamation Leads. Now, let’s
review some “rules” …
Rule # 1: Make the Proclamation Bold, Not Reasonable
To be effective, Proclamation Leads must be big and bold. They must not only grab attention, but also
stir up thoughts and excite emotions. Take a look at all the examples in this chapter. One thing they all
have in common: They are all big and bold and most of them are contrary to the point of being startling.
You won’t break any marketing records by writing sensible Proclamation Leads. Being sensible is not
your job. Not, at least, in the lead.
Rule # 2: Make a Promise
To be effective, all leads must make or at least imply a promise. And, the Proclamation Lead is no
exception, even though its’ approach is that much more indirect. In the Read This Or Die promo, the
promise is that the reader could find a cure inside for a disease that conventional medicine has yet to
overcome. The reader himself immediately inverts the message to be, “If I read this, I won’t die.”
This is typical for most Proclamation Leads to only hint at solutions. If the promise isn’t implicit in the
headline, you’ll find it somewhere in the subhead. Even the rest of the lead will spend the bulk of the time
expanding on the proclamation first and only hinting at the solution.
Remember, however, that you’ll eventually have to make the promise of the sales pitch much more
concrete. This begins when the reader is emotionally committed to reading the copy and intensifies as you
work your way through the proof. You’ll want to repeat the promise in different ways and make it more
concrete as you move along, giving the reader a chance to imagine enjoying the benefit.
Rule # 3: The Subject Must Be Relevant
Even though Proclamation Leads gain a lot of impact by saying something unexpected, they still must
be relevant in the sense that they must address something the prospect cares about. They also must be
relevant in the sense that the promise must be something the prospect desires.
Rule # 4: Return to the Proclamation at the Close
Be sure to go back and underscore the main theme of the proclamation in any sales premiums you offer
and in the wording of the guarantee. You can even connect the guarantee to the proclamation: “If you’re
not happy with the product or what I’m telling you simply doesn’t play out the way I’ve described, you
can send in for a full refund … ”
One Last Secret
Proclamation Leads, more than any other lead, depend on efficiency for their success. Usually all the
power is contained in a single declarative sentence. Since it is just one sentence, you might think that
Proclamation Leads would be easy to write. In fact, they can’t really be written at all. They have to be
found.
Great Proclamation Leads almost always come from research. The cures discussed in Read This Or
Die or the Three Shocking Events were not conjured up out of thin air. They came after weeks of research
— poring over reams of documents and medical reports. There were many impressive studies cited in the
promos, several of which contributed to the headline and lead ideas. Even though it’s the bold headline
that strikes the reader first, you can tell that it wouldn’t have been possible without the research that
preceded it.
Likewise with the example of The Plague of the Black Debt. At the time it was written, the growing
U.S. national debt was already a major concern. But, simply saying that wasn’t enough. So, Lee Euler dug
deep into his research until he found the proof that substantiated the proclamation. In his case, it was a
series of three charts that showed mounting debt could lead to a financial breakdown.
And that was how he began the lead copy that followed the headline, with an opening chapter to his
promotional bookalog that he titled “Three Little Charts and the Truth.” The rest of the lead went on to
show how dangerous this debt could be, before hinting that there were ways for investors to protect
themselves.
You’ll see this over and over again with this kind of lead especially. The trick is to stay alert for
“amazing” facts as you are doing your reading. When you find something that strikes you as remarkable,
write it down, and go back to it later. It might just be the fact you need to create a great Proclamation
Lead.
9
The Tale of the $2 Billion Sales Letter
___________________________
“Those who tell the stories rule the world.”
— Plato
___________________________
It was in the winter of 1983. I was in the library. If I could get my hands on it, I’d meet my deadline
and my reputation would be saved.
Legendary copywriter Don Hauptman had mentioned it to me in passing.
“It is one of the most successful sales letters ever written,” he said. “But it had a lead that was very
unconventional at the time.”
He assumed I was familiar with it. If I’d had more confidence, I would have admitted I’d never heard
about it. But I pretended I had, and he gave me a brief history of its success.
When Don told me about this letter — written by Martin Conroy — it had been a control for six years
— quite an accomplishment for any piece of copywriting. But, it went on to hold that honor for a total of
28 years and generated an estimated 2 BILLION dollars in revenue.
I made a mental note to find and study it. If Don Hauptman was recommending it, I knew it was
something worthy of my attention. But, those were the pre-Internet days and I had no easy way to locate it.
So, I forgot about it until almost two years later. I was on a deadline and stuck on the lead. I’d tried a
half-dozen but none of them were good enough to show my boss. I had followed my first great success
with a clunker. If the next one wasn’t good, he would write that first one off as beginner’s luck. But, if I
hit another home run with this one, I would be on the fast track. I could feel it.
Don had told me enough about the headline to know it was the model I needed. So, I called up the few
copywriters I knew, but they had no copies. They, too, had heard about it, but none could tell me where to
find it.
Then, my wife suggested I try the Library of Congress. “If it was such a big thing, I’m sure somebody
wrote about it. There’s got to be a book or magazine article that has it.” It was my only hope. My deadline
was fast approaching. So, I drove through a near hurricane to get there and arrived less than an hour
before closing.
I spent the first half-hour looking through the periodical index. But, I found nothing. A voice came over
the sound system warning that the library would be closed soon. Despite my stubborn inclination never to
ask anybody for anything, I walked up to the lady at the reference desk and begged her to help me. For
twenty minutes, she dug but could find nothing either. Then, just as the final warning to leave was called,
she located it. She helped me make a quick copy and, wanting to kiss her, I thanked her profusely and
hurried home.
It was just what I needed. The first example of a Story Lead I had ever seen.
Before reading it, I thought all sales letters should begin with a promise or an offer or an invitation.
My first big success — the one that got my boss to wonder if I might “have it,” was an invitation letter.
But the next one, a promise offer, didn’t do so well. Just looking at this famous ad, I could see it had the
power that my package needed.
Take another look at this lead. It is a very short story about two people who start out their careers with
equal prospects, but then meet 25 years later at a reunion. One of them is very successful and the other is
not. The reader wants to know what happened. That is the hook.
As you can see, there is a promise embedded in this little story. If the reader finds out how this one
young man became so successful, he can apply that strategy to his own life and enjoy success, too.
Story Leads always contain a promise. But, they are much less direct than promise offers. The reader
may know that he is reading an advertisement, but if the story is well-told, he soon forgets about that and
gets emotionally involved in the story itself.
In this chapter, we are going to talk about Story Leads, which I contend are perhaps the most powerful
type of lead. And, I will explain why. And then, I will show you how a good Story Lead is constructed.
Let’s begin by taking a look at an ad that predated The Wall Street Journal ad by 51 years. I’m talking
about the most famous ad of all. Here it is:
Let’s break this down and see what’s going on:
They laughed when I sat down at the piano …
But when I started to play!
This headline instantly conveys all the key elements of a successful ad:
One strong idea
One desirable benefit
One driving emotion
One inevitable solution
In just 15 words, copywriting legend John Caples tells a powerful story. You can see someone
approaching a piano in a crowded room — perhaps it’s a dinner party. You can see the look of disbelief
on people’s faces as he nears it. When he pulls back his cuffs, a twitter of laughter starts. Before his
fingers touch the ivories, there is a chorus of abusive cackling.
How can you not feel sorry for this guy? Surely you have experienced, sometime in your life, a similar
moment of embarrassing derision. (Who hasn’t?)
Imagining this situation, you feel his need for approval and revenge — two of the deepest and
strongest human desires.
Now comes the second line — “But when I started to play!”
You can see the shock and disbelief on the faces of those who were laughing. Our hero has begun
playing, and the music is flowing like wine. Men grow pale with admiration and jealousy. Women glow
in appreciation.
And then the thought hits you: “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could play the piano?”
Based on Caples’ headline alone, the reader of this ad is already half-persuaded to sign up for the
course it is selling. This is an astonishing amount of work to get done with 15 simple words.
What’s going on here?
I said this about the Rule of One, “Write about only one thing at a time. Because one good idea, clearly
and convincingly presented, is better than a dozen so-so ideas strung together.”
Caples’ headline is a beautiful example of that. Had he taken the salad bowl approach — so popular
with the whippersnappers who write copy today — it might have read as follows:
Now You Can Learn to Play the Piano Quickly and Easily!
After years of research, musicologist discovers the world’s most efficient method for teaching the
piano.
Using this unique new program, you can master the piano in less than a year!
You will amaze your friends and neighbors! Some may even be shocked at how well you can play!
Plus, you can earn extra income on the weekends!
This headline doesn’t have nearly the force of the original because it has too much going on. Too many
unnecessary details, too many unrelated emotions, and too many damn words!
Another reason Caples’ headline is so strong is because, as I pointed out, it tells a story. Of all the
ways to get your readers emotionally involved in your copy, nothing works better and more consistently
than the Story Lead.
Story Leads are not as common as Promise or Offer Leads, but if you look at the greatest ads in
history, they are surprisingly common. In the early 2000s, Raphael Marketing compiled a list of 101 of the
best print advertising headlines ever written. As a group, these ads sold hundreds of millions of dollars’
worth of products and services. (That would be tens of billions of dollars today.)
While most of the actual ads are “lost to history,” a quick examination shows that a good 35% of the
headlines are story-based. There’s a good reason that number is so high.
Stories are a very primal way of communicating. Long before the printing press was invented, human
beings used stories to convey important cultural lessons to their offspring. All the ancient pre-literate
societies had stories — stories of how the world was formed and how they became the chosen people.
The Iliad and the Odyssey and Beowulf were stories that inspired and educated their respective
cultures. Some of those stories contained non-narrative elements (lists, commandments, etc.), but these
were all wrapped in stories.
What is the Bible — Old Testament and New — if not a collection of stories?
Why are stories so much a part of all cultures? The main reason is that they can convey information in
a way that is easy to remember. They can convey both a quantity of information and a quality of
information that other forms of communication cannot.
There are schools of thinking that argue that our brains are wired to respond to stories. It may be that
stories are in and of themselves more compelling.
Now with these points in mind, let’s look at another extremely successful ad with a Story Lead.
The Man in the Hathaway Shirt
Have you seen The Most Interesting Man in the World?
I’m referring to the TV commercials for Dos Equis beer. They star a rugged-looking, silver-haired
man who is always surrounded by beautiful women.
In one version of the commercial, he arm-wrestles a Third World General and releases a grizzly bear
from a trap. In another, the narrator relates that even his enemies list him as their emergency contact and
that the police often question him just because they find him interesting.
If you are a student of advertising, you know this is a knockoff of David Ogilvy’s famous ad campaign:
The Man in the Hathaway Shirt.
In brief: It was 1951. Ellerton Jette, a shirtmaker from Waterville, Maine, wanted to grow his little
business into a national brand, but he didn’t have much money. He had heard about the advertising
prowess of David Ogilvy. So, he booked a meeting with him.
“I have an advertising budget of only $30,000,” he told Ogilvy. “And I know that’s much less than you
normally work with. But, I believe you can make me into a big client of yours if you take on the job.”
If he’d stopped there, Ogilvy would have thrown him out of the office. But then he said something that
sold the great salesman.
He said, “If you do take on the job, Mr. Ogilvy, I promise you this. No matter how big my company
gets, I will never fire you. And, I will never change a word of your copy.”
There is a big lesson here. So, let’s stop for a moment and talk about it.
What Ellerton Jette did was a little bit of genius. In two short sentences, he changed the mind of one of
the most powerful men in the world of advertising. At the same moment, he made himself a very rich man.
Jette’s $30,000 budget might have put $3,000 in Ogilvy’s pocket. Though it was a paltry sum then and
a mere pittance now, at least it was something. But, what really clinched the deal were the two promises
Jette made.
Going into the meeting, Jette knew he had one chance to forge a relationship with Ogilvy. He somehow
understood that Ogilvy, as successful as he was, had two big problems. He worried that his biggest
clients would walk away from him. And, he hated it when his clients screwed with his copy. So, instead
of thinking only of his own goals, Jette took the time to figure out how he could offer Ogilvy something
that would be of immense value to him.
When Jette made his two promises, Ogilvy realized that he was talking to a businessman who would
eventually become a partner. He could see that Jette was a man of good faith who would let Ogilvy be in
charge of his marketing. And, that he would reward Ogilvy with a lifetime of loyalty.
Now, let’s get back to the story of the Hathaway shirt ad …
After accepting Jette’s offer, Ogilvy spent days doing in-depth research on Jette’s client base. He
came up with dozens of ideas. The one he settled on was a campaign built around the image of a
distinguished man in a romantic location dressed in a Hathaway shirt. He selected a model that looked
like William Faulkner and booked the first photo shoot.
On the way to the shoot, he passed a five-and-ten cent store where he bought a few cheap eye patches.
At the shoot, he asked the model to wear an eye patch for a few shots.
The moment he saw the photos with the eye patch, he knew.
The Man in the Hathaway Shirt campaign was an instant success. The ads were carried in papers
around the country, and were mentioned editorially in Time, Life, and Fortune.
Before long, hosts of imitators appeared. Other companies ran ads featuring eye patches on babies,
dogs … even cows. A cartoon in The New Yorker shows three men looking into the display window of a
shirt store. In the second panel, they’re coming out of the store, with eye patches on.
Ogilvy got the idea for the patch, he said, from a photo of Ambassador Lewis Douglas, who had
injured his eye while fishing in England. But, he got the idea itself — the idea of this aristocratic man
with a romantic life — from the James Thurber story “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” (Actually,
Kenneth Roman pointed out in The King of Madison Avenue, it could have been from the secret life of
David Ogilvy. As a young executive, Ogilvy was prone to wearing capes and bow ties while everyone
else was in grey flannel suits.)
Of course, it wasn’t just the eye patch that made the ads work. It was the combination of the model, the
situation he was in, and the copy itself.
And the copy was brilliant. Here’s the first line of the first ad:
“The melancholy disciples of Thorstein Veblen would have despised this shirt.”
Most readers of the ad had no idea who Thorstein Veblen was. But, they got the idea. Veblen was
some sort of snobby aristocratic. By posing a handsome, silver-haired model with an eye patch in a
Hathaway shirt and putting that line underneath the photo, Ogilvy struck a chord in the American
imagination. We all hate aristocrats, but we’d like to be one.
There was another brilliant thing about the ad. Putting the model in a romantic location gave the pitch a
fictional element. It had “story appeal,” as Ogilvy put it.
Ogilvy said he discovered the concept of story appeal in a book by Harold Rudolph, a former ad
agency research director. This was the first time, Roman says in his book, “that shirt advertising focused
as much on the man wearing the shirt as on the shirt itself.”
And now, back to The Most Interesting Man in the World …
I am a fan of these Dos Equis commercials. I like them because they are a salute to David Ogilvy and
because they successfully replicate the key elements in Ogilvy’s ads for the Hathaway shirt. They have the
handsome, silver-haired model. They have the eye patch. And, they have the anti-aristocrat touch. (The
product is beer, after all.)
They also have the romance and the story. Each new edition of the commercial is another episode in
this most interesting man’s life.
They fall short only in one respect. They don’t do a great job of equating the product with the concept.
When I remember a Dos Equis ad, I remember the actor’s face. I remember the pretty girls in the
background. I’m aware that he is a man that women find irresistible. And, that when he drinks, he drinks
… Wait a minute. What does he drink?
There’s the rub.
We find out that The Most Interesting Man in the World drinks Dos Equis. But, he could just as well
drink Pabst Blue Ribbon. The creative people behind this very good ad campaign get a big demerit for
that. Ogilvy, on the other hand, put the product’s name in the headline. The fact that his man was wearing a
Hathaway shirt was integral to the story.
Grabbing the prospect’s attention with an entertaining story or idea or photo is essential for any sort of
advertising campaign. But, you have to do more than that. You have to sell the product. And to do that, you
must link the initial sentiment created in the headline with the final emotion needed to close the sale at the
end. (But, beware. This does not mean you should put the name of the product in your headline and lead.
This is often a mistake to do.)
In AWAI’s Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting, I call this “The Golden Thread.” It’s
pretty simple. The product is at one end of the thread. The prospect’s heart is at the other end. Every
element of the copy must be connected to the product as well as to the prospect. And, the connection must
be taut. If the thread goes slack, even for a second, you lose the sale.
The Power of a Story
Of the six archetypal lead types discussed in this book, there is none more powerful than the story.
Stories work because they allow the listener/reader to experience some event in a very visceral way.
You hear a story about a shirtmaker who dreams of creating a national brand. You identify with him and
his challenge. You feel his frustration. You comprehend the audacity of his goal. And, then you live
through — in your imagination — his efforts and his eventual success.
Before you have even finished the story, you have internalized some basic ideas. These ideas “feel”
compelling to you because you “lived” through them. They are not simply statements you have been asked
to accept.
Every Master Copywriter understands the fundamental ambivalence of the prospect: He wants to buy,
but he doesn’t want to be sold.
When you employ a direct lead such as an Offer or Invitation, Promise, or Problem-Solution, the
prospect recognizes you are trying to sell him something. Since he doesn’t want to be sold, he will
emotionally resist the sale, even as he feels it tugging at his heartstrings.
With indirect leads, the prospect is not so aware of the selling. When he reads a Secret Lead, he’s
compelled to read on because he wants to discover the secret. The same is true with the compelling
statement or prediction of the Proclamation Lead. And it is true, most of all, with the Story Lead.
If the story is told well, the prospect forgets — almost immediately — that he’s reading an
advertisement. And thus he forgets, at least for the moment, that he is being sold. His emotions are tied up
in the story itself. There is a problem and he wants to know how it will be resolved. He will read it with
the same emotional openness he has when he reads a novel or watches a movie. His “advertising”
defenses are down. Way down. This is a huge advantage for the copywriter.
As John Forde has to say about it:
“I can think of a lot of people who balk at big promises. I can think of plenty more who couldn’t
care less about a bulleted list of shocking statistics. But, I can’t think of a single person who can
resist a good story. Can you? “Everybody loves a good story.
“As a way to communicate, nothing feels more natural.
“So, doesn’t it make sense that when someone says, ‘Let me tell you a story …’ you perk up and
listen?
“There’s no better way to melt resistance. Of course, if you don’t tell the story well, you can still
lose the reader. And, telling the right stories well isn’t always easy.
“But get it right, and a Story Lead lets you sneak into the psyche sideways, like no other lead can,
delivering anecdotal proof and promises … and a setup for the rest of your pitch … long before the
reader even realizes what you’re doing.”
Caples’ piano ad was an instant hit, selling thousands of correspondence courses. Many call it the
most successful ad of the 20th century.
And, the structure of his classic headline has been “borrowed” time and again by other copywriters.
You may have seen these (thanks to Don Hauptman for these examples):
They grinned when the waiter spoke to me in French …
But their laughter changed to amazement at my reply.
They laughed when I sent away for free color film …
But now my friends are all sending away, too.
They laughed when I sat down at the computer —
But when I started to use it!
So, what can the modern marketer/copywriter learn about headline writing from Caples’ classic
example?
First, the Rule of One: One strong idea/emotion/benefit is better than half a dozen mediocre ones.
Second, the power of the story: There is no stronger way to engage your prospect than with a simple
story.
Third, that adhering to the “rules” of good storytelling will produce the greatest effect. That means
beginning in the middle with a conflict — expressed or implicit — that affects a protagonist the
reader can identify with. And, offering an emotionally-satisfying solution.
You don’t have to use Caples’ words. Just borrow the deeper structure of his headline:
The hero, an ordinary person like your prospect, attempts to do something extraordinary.
People doubt him.
He proves them wrong.
There are countless ways to apply this structure.
If you are selling an investment advisory, for example, you could tell a story about the secret behind
how all the wealthiest families in Europe made their fortunes. Like Mike Palmer did in his control
promotion for True Wealth.
Dear Reader,
Many of the world’s wealthiest families have used this “secret currency” for generations to grow
dynasties.
Let me show you just one example …
Mayer Amschel Rothschild used his knowledge of this investment to launch the largest family
fortune the world has ever seen.
Mayer was born in Germany in the middle of the 18th century, and was raised in Frankfurt’s ghetto,
where the average house held 15 people.
When the boy was 11, a smallpox epidemic swept through the ghetto. It killed both of his parents.
This tragedy set up young Mayer to learn the greatest secret of his life.
Or, if you are selling cigars, you could create a story about the perils and excitement of finding the best
tobacco.
15 Rivers to Cross … and only 7 bridges
Here’s how we were able to bring you …
THE GRANADA
In spite of bandits, jaguars, baby dinosaurs, and high water … at a price that will make a happy bandit
out of YOU!
I used to think that the only way to have a real adventure was to be an astronaut or something. But that
was before my recent trip to the Hidden Valley in Honduras, where the alluvial soil is six feet deep
and everybody and his brother carries a six-shooter for bandit insurance.
Maybe you thought I just sit around writing letters to my good customers and wrapping cigar boxes to
take to the Post Office. Not so. You don’t get the best tobacco settin’ at home on your resources. And
believe me, you don’t always find the comforts of home elsewhere.
Sometimes I wonder why I’m in this business at all — and why I go an over Hell’s half-acre to
insure my supply of good tobacco. Yet if I didn’t go right down to the tobacco farms and check the
crops for myself, I’d never be able to offer you the cigars I do. And I certainly would never have
found the priceless bales of wrapper I brought back from my last trip to Central America.
Or, if you’re trying to get your prospect to donate money to provide shelter for homeless teens, few
leads are as powerful as a well-told story such as this Covenant House appeal …
I’m writing to you from our shelter tonight …
Dear Friends,
I’m writing to you from our shelter tonight. From the corner, I can see James, just 16, sleeping on a
fresh cot we set up in the chapel. Covenant House is full. Every bed is taken. I don’t always know
how we make room for all these kids, but by the grace of God, tonight we found a way again.
James came to us tonight, exhausted, his eyelids barely able to stay open. He’d been trying to sleep
near the restaurant dumpsters, in the bus station, on park benches. He’d rested his head on tables at
24-hour donut shops, under the fluorescent lights, desperate for a safe, quiet place to sleep.
We set up the cot, put on fresh linens, and gave him a new blanket. He was asleep before his head hit
the pillow.
James is safe tonight because of people like you who care about kids.
I will end this essay by saying this: You have just read about half a dozen of the most powerful
marketing secrets I know. If you put this essay down and forget about it, you will be making a terrible
mistake. Read it at least half a dozen times and think about it. If it doesn’t make you a multimillionaire,
I’ll eat my shirt. Hathaway, of course.
Is that really the end?
Not quite, I forgot to tell you the ending of the story I began with. I used The Wall Street Journal ad to
create a story of my own. I was selling a product called Executive Productivity. It was a newsletter that
told executives how to — well, you know — be more productive.
The prior control used a very direct headline: How to Double Your Productivity or something like
that. My lead was very different. I wrote a story about my own experience coming to work with my boss. I
had taken a job as executive editor of his publications but I simply wasn’t up to the job. I was too young
and inexperienced. Most of the writers I was editing were twice my age and better writers than I.
I knew that to do a good job I would have to work 24 hours a day. I had a wife and two small babies.
How could I get the productivity I needed from myself? I had no idea until I came across an old book at a
secondhand store …
You get the picture. How did my sales letter work? It tripled the response rate of the control and
became an unbeatable control for more than five years. Most importantly, it made my boss believe in me
… which later resulted in my becoming his partner.
And, it all began by learning how to tell a story.
10
How to Make This System Work for You
___________________________
“Play by the rules, but be ferocious.”
— Phil Knight
___________________________
Since we first started putting together this system of lead archetypes, we’ve seen it implemented by
our own colleagues.
How well has it worked for them?
If their real-world results are any indication — and we’re convinced they are — it’s worked out pretty
well.
Copywriter Angela Salerno, for example, had a chance to test two of the six lead types you’ve read
about in this book. Not just for the same product, but on the same marketing promotion. And, with an
unusual and impressive result.
The product was an investment research service that identified momentum-driven stock trades.
It was a natural, Angela figured, for the kind of Offer Lead type you read about in Chapter 4.
After all, not only did potential subscribers know the trading pro behind the service well, he had an
excellent track record. And, the deal available to subscribers couldn’t be beat. So, Angela went with
something very direct.
This was her simple headline:
Why We’re Giving You 12 FREE Months of Alexander Green’s Momentum Alert
In just the past year, this red-hot service has generated a mind-boggling 3,183% gains.
But according to Alex, that’s nothing compared to the next 12 months. And if you respond today, you
can access this research at no charge. No strings attached. Read on for details …
It did well enough. Sales topped $1 million. But, here’s where this got interesting. When it came time
to update the promotion, a new format was making it possible to reach a much wider audience with the
same offer.
Angela realized not all of the new prospects would know the editor or have reason to trust him yet as a
resource. So, she revised the same copy into a less direct Problem-Solution Lead, like those you saw in
Chapter 6.
She also moved the offer and mention of the product deeper into her copy and focused instead on the
“horrible mistake most investors are making right now” by overlooking these momentum-based trends.
The result?
The new approach combined with the new format turned what was already a million-dollar sales letter
into a $3 million letter. Says Angela, “It was by far our bestselling product of the year.”
Karen Reddel, who heads up a nutritional supplement company we work with closely, tells a similar
tale.
One of Karen’s products was a heart-healthy supplement that offered a basket of benefits — including
healthier blood pressure, better cholesterol levels, a stronger immune system, and healthy overall
circulation — that might appeal to her customers.
If you remember Chapter 1, you already know that according to the principle of the Rule of One, you
can usually get better results by focusing on one big benefit rather than a collection of small ones.
However, Karen points out, the multiple-benefits of the supplement were a key part of the story.
“There’s more to heart health,” the sales letter pointed out, “than cholesterol alone.”
So, the first thing Karen did was fit the multiple benefits of her product into a single, simple message.
Here’s how it read:
Karen ran an identical headline on the carrier envelope. The rest of the lead stressed this same core
idea, that you could “replace every other pill on your shelf” with this one versatile supplement. It was a
clear and simple big Promise Lead like those you’ve already seen in Chapter 5 of this book.
As a test, Karen also ran another version. “The test was a bit muddier,” says Karen, “more of an ‘idea
lead’ if I had to call it something.” We might call it more of a Proclamation Lead, like those you saw in
Chapter 8.
Instead of focusing on the supplement benefits, its headline and sub-headline copy read: “The medical
mainstream may buy into the ‘cholesterol myth,’ but I know … a lifetime of heart health does not begin and
end with cholesterol alone. Keep reading to discover the full story … plus an easy way to help keep
your ticker ticking starting today.”
Like other Proclamation Leads, it was bold. And, it might make you curious.
But, we might also agree that it was “muddy.” The test version had to work too hard to close the open
“cholesterol myth” question and then connect it to the multiple benefits of the supplement Karen and her
team were trying to sell. What’s more, they knew that supplement readers are often very aware. They
know roughly what they’re looking for and often respond best to more direct offers and promises.
That proved to be the case here, too. The straight Promise Lead out-pulled the test by a 50% margin.
Naturally, you never know until you test. But, says Karen, once you know how aware your readers are,
you can make a pretty good guess. “We learned a long time ago that big promises work to our file and so
most of our tests have been straight big promise versus big promise or problem-solution versus problemsolution.”
Not long after we first came up with the six lead archetypes for this book, financial copywriter Aaron
Gentzler started work on sales copy for a service that researched fast-moving but little-known
opportunities in technology stocks.
His lead mixed some of the types you’ve seen in this book — as some letters sometimes do — but if
we could fit it into any one category, it might be closest to a cleverly-nuanced version of the Problem-
Solution Lead samples you saw in Chapter 6.
Particularly, Aaron focused on something he already knew had strong emotional pull for the audience
he was targeting, the fear of missed opportunity. Here’s how Aaron’s lead began …
Your Great-Grandfather Saw The Railroad Come to Town,But Did He Profit From It?
Your Grandfather Watched The First Model T’s Roll Down the Street. Did He Get Rich?
Your Father’s Generation Witnessed the Rise of Computers. How Much Did He Make On Them?
The Next Massive Wealth Creation Starts NOW. Here’s how YOU Could Give Millions to Your
Family’s Next 3 Generations.
The World Will Learn of What Could Be A Historic Breakthrough on Nov. 19 — and You Can Get
in Before the News Breaks …
His letter went on to compare the potential opportunity he was touting to the big wealth-creating events
of the 20th century. We call this technique transubstantiation, where you add richness to an idea by
elevating the context.
Big, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities are more than just a chance to do well with your money, his copy
reasoned; they’re a chance to “build a generations-wide stream of wealth for you and your family.”
And then, of course, he went on to prove that the “next great advance” really could be large enough to
see these kinds of destiny-altering gains. It was a big promise and needed some big proof. By adding the
date — November 19 — he showed the promise was even more real. And, he also increased the urgency.
It worked.
In the first week, Aaron’s Problem-Solution pitch took in $500,000 in new sales. And, those results
kept on piling up over the weeks that followed. Since then, he says he’s been able to go back to the same
formula successfully over and over again.
Copywriter Colm O’Dwyer also claims big success with our six-lead system. One of his most recent
projects was a sales letter for a small cap stock research letter. “Small caps” are generally inexpensive,
off-radar stocks without many shareholders.
Many of the big companies you know today started out as small cap stocks or even what the market
calls “micro-caps.” Those who follow them like them because they have the potential to move quickly
and, historically, they tend to beat bigger stocks.
That can make them an easy sell.
But Colm had a challenge. The letter’s publisher already had a very strong sales letter that had mailed
successfully for years. Colm knew he’d have to do something special to beat it.
Says Colm, “Looking at your six lead types, I knew that for the best chance at success, I should use a
Story, Proclamation, or Secret Lead. But, finding a good, original story can be hard work and this product
just didn’t fit a Proclamation Lead, so I decided to use a Secret Lead.”
You’ll remember, from Chapter 7, that Secret Leads work best when they promise to unlock a mystery
that offers a big benefit to the reader. But, they also tend to withhold the most valuable piece of
information until after the prospect has agreed to buy.
“After I had my direction,” says Colm, “I simply studied other secret-driven sales letters working right
now, selling a similar product. Taking the best ideas from each … and adding a few ideas of my own … I
was able to write a blockbuster package.”
Colm’s letter went ahead and revealed the kinds of investments the product would follow. What it
withheld was the details of the special process used to pick long strings of winning plays. Colm’s
headline featured a “Secret $200 Retirement Blueprint.” And, his letter went on to promise readers a
“step-by-step” approach that could turn even a small amount of money — say $200 — into a much bigger
cash pile, by rolling gains from one trade into another.
In the end, says Colm, “It was the most successful sales letter I’ve ever written. It not only thumped a
long-standing control, but it’s still generating a lot of royalties for me. It also happens to be the easiest
sales letter I’ve ever written, too.”
So far, Colm’s “blueprint” has brought in over 55,000 new customers.
Master Copywriter Mike Palmer also has countless sales letter breakthroughs under his belt. But, as
we mentioned in Chapter 8, one of the biggest by far has to be the Proclamation Lead he recently wrote
for another of our publishing colleagues. The product was a newsletter that had taken up a strong and
pessimistic position on where the U.S. is headed, given its soaring national debt.
Here’s the online space ad that lead to the video link:
For the promotion itself, Mike took advantage of the video format and had his design team craft it in
the same style of a “red band” movie trailer. This underscored the controversy of the message, made it
feel even more urgent, and no doubt piqued the curiosity of viewers. This is what you would have seen
after clicking the link:
Because it was such a bold prediction, Mike spent the first few moments establishing credibility. He
quickly gave the background of the analyst behind the prediction that would follow; another, bigger
breakdown of the U.S. financial system and even some social and political structures that depend on it;
and then dug into the deep and dramatic forecast.
Said the letter …
“I reference our success and experience with Wall Street’s latest crisis because we believe there is
an even bigger crisis lurking — something that will shake the very foundation of America.
“That is why I’ve spent a significant amount of time and money in the past few months preparing this
letter.
“In short, I want to talk about a specific event that will take place in America’s very near future …
which could actually bring our country and our way of life to a grinding halt … ”
Bold words. And, of course, the Proclamation Leads that work need to hit on the right emotions at the
right time, as you saw in our earlier samples. When this particular promotion was released, worries about
rising U.S. debt ran especially deep (as of this writing, they still do). And that helped this message touch a
nerve with target readers.
In the first three months after this mailed, it brought in over 200,000 new subscribers. Sales topped
$10.5 million, making it one of the bestselling sales letters in the industry. Certainly it’s made a fortune
for Mike and cemented what’s already been a stellar career.
Publisher Mike Ward and copywriter Jim Amrhein also wrote to us with a big Proclamation Lead
success. They were also selling a financial research service, but for an analyst with an incredible backstory.
Not only was their editor a top oil expert, but he used to work as a spy for the State Department.
His list of industry contacts alone was almost unbelievable.
Here’s what they finally came up with …
Just 50 People Control 90% of the World’s Energy Markets
…And They All Have Me on Speed Dial …
I’m helping these Big Dogs set up three global energy “super shifts” right now — here’s how you could
play them for up to 2,505% gains in 13 months
Dear Reader,
Forget Blue Chips … microchips … biotech … gourmet coffee chains … smartphones … iPads …
iPods … and i-Don’t-know-whats …
The biggest money in this world will ALWAYS be made by those who know how to play the energy
markets.
The problem is that 99.9% of media pundits, market analysts, money managers, and investment
advisors will never be able to help you win at this game.
That’s because, unlike me, THEY don’t have access to the small “Inner Circle” of power-players
who control 90% of the world’s energy.
So, they’re always late getting into the real, fast-moving money plays that only a handful of people in
the world can see coming.
I’m one of these people. And in this letter, I’ll prove it to you …
You can see that the bold statement, about an inner circle of “50 people” controlling most of the
world’s energy market, isn’t really a promise outright, though it’s certainly implied. And, the rest of the
copy had to go on to prove that not only did this “Inner Circle” exist, but that they really do have a
connection to the analyst behind the service.
Says Mike, “It was very challenging … [because we wanted to feature his credentials] in a way that’s
credible, without bragging. We did about three rewrites. At one point, I just said, ‘Why don’t we just say
that 20 or so people control 90% of the energy market, and our guy knows them all.’ That was all Jim
needed. He just ran with it and created the ‘speed dial’ thing and when we saw, everyone on the staff just
went: ‘Oh, yeah.’ It was immediately cool and arresting.” The target readers thought so, too.
This promotion, as of this writing, has racked up around $6 million in sales in four months.
Copywriter Jennifer Stevens writes regularly for travel products. Story Leads, says Jen, are a staple in
the travel industry, because they let you capture the romance of travel in a way the other lead types can’t.
She sent us this example. Notice how the story starts in the sub-headline copy and carries into the lead …
What if You Had a Simple Blueprint to Take You from Where You Are Now … to
Your Perfect Place Overseas?
It took our editors, Dan and Suzan, a full decade to uncover the best secrets to the good life abroad …
But now you can do it easily. With their step-by-step blueprint, you save money … avoid the pitfalls …
and find your perfect “sweet spot” overseas fast …
So you can start living better (and for less), right away …
Dear International Living Reader,
They started out in Ecuador … tried on three places in Mexico for size … moved to Panama … did a
stint in Nicaragua … went back to Mexico … and now they’re spending part of the year in Ecuador
again …
They’ve rented … renovated … traveled with pets … learned a new language … had teeth fixed …
been operated on … bought homes … sold homes … rented homes out …
For the last decade, our editors Dan Prescher and Suzan Haskins have capitalized on many of the best
opportunities on the planet …
They’ve saved tens of thousands of dollars in day-to-day expenses … but live much better than they
ever did back in Omaha, Nebraska. (And no more snow to shovel, either.)
Today they have a gorgeous colonial home in Merida, Mexico — a city full of sunlight and music.
And when it gets too hot there, they decamp to their penthouse apartment in Ecuador’s highlands, in a
place where the air is clear and crisp all year round.
If they were still Stateside, they’d be living in a middle-class neighborhood, working 50-plus hours a
week, driving in the ice, saving up for the day when they could — hopefully — retire.
Instead, for the past ten years, they’ve been enjoying life. Traveling lots. Living well. Free from the
money pressures and stress of life in the States, there’s time to relax, enjoy themselves, appreciate
the comforts …
The letter goes on to tell you how they did it, mistakes they made, and what they wish they’d known up
front. The copy even includes a tempting photo of Dan and Suzan’s gorgeous courtyard pool at their
affordable home in Mexico. Notice how the letter doesn’t just make a promise, but demonstrates it with
the narrative.
That’s the strength of the Story Lead.
Says Jen, they almost didn’t go this way. “Here we had this ‘retire overseas kit’ that should sell but
just never did. So, we reinvented it. We added videos and sliced up content to put into little reports.
Then, we tried selling it as ‘90 days to your new life overseas.’ That didn’t work either. So, then I redid
the lead again to position the kit as Dan and Suzan’s blueprint for their new overseas life — and that
worked great.” In just five days, this sales letter brought in $75,636 in new sales and it continues to work.
Why This Is Really All You Need
One of the challenges we faced in writing this book was finding perfect examples for our six lead
types. Why was it difficult? Because much current advertising is a mix of one, two, or more of these true
“archetypes” rather than any one in particular. And, our desire was to use examples that were as “pure” to
one type as possible, to make the message that much easier to get across.
In fact, maybe you noticed, just to make our message clear, we wrote each of these chapters about a
lead type so they would start with the kind of lead in question. So, even there, we took pains to show you
— rather than just tell you — how to best open with each kind of lead.
In the end, what we can tell you is this: Between us, we have looked at hundreds of successful
packages over the years. Easily over 80% of the winners do indeed lead predominantly with one of these
six pure lead types, if not a blend of two or more similar types.
Does this mixing dilute the effectiveness of the lead or counter what we said early in this book about
the Rule of One? It can. But in the best leads, the effectiveness is maintained as long as the copywriter
uses the different tools to stick to one core message.
Bottom line: When in doubt, stick to the six pure types you’ve learned here. Enjoy the success
understanding each will bring. Then, when you’ve mastered each lead type and you’ve isolated a single
sales message to focus on, you can slowly branch out to hybrid lead types.
But, do just what you’ve seen here, and you’ll already find yourself leagues ahead of other persuasive
writers. You’ll find your advertising leads are much stronger, more successful, and more profitable for
both you and your clients.
What’s more, here’s a bonus: Apply these same lead-writing rules throughout the rest of your
persuasive copy and you’ll see huge benefits there, too. Use the Rule of One, for instance, to focus your
sales messages. Use the idea of message directness to make sure you’re speaking the right way to the right
kind of customer, right through to your offer reply page.
And so on.
You’ll find you write stronger offers, make more irresistible promises, identify more relevant
solutions for your buyers, tease better opportunities, tell stronger and more persuasive stories, and more.
Of course, there’s only one way for you to be sure that we’re right about this final claim. And, that’s to
try what we’re suggesting for yourself. Once you do, we’re sure you’ll agree.
Table of Contents
Introduction
An Amazingly Powerful Strategy for Direct Response Success
1
The Rule of One — One Big Idea
2
The Simple Question That Can Double Your Success
3
Direct or Indirect?
4
The Easiest Type of Sales Lead You’ll Ever Write — Or Your Money Back
5
Double Your Sales With This Next Kind of Lead
6
Still Can’t Find Your Hook? Try This Time-Tested Solution
7
The Magic of the Velvet Pouch
8
You Won’t Read This Anywhere Else But Here: The Proclamation Lead
9
The Tale of the $2 Billion Sales Letter
10
How to Make This System Work for You
Great Leads
The Six Easiest Ways to Start Any Sales Message
Michael Masterson & John Forde
Published by:
American Writers & Artists Inc.
245 NE 4th Avenue, Suite 102
Delray Beach, FL 33483
Phone: 561-278-5557
Fax: 561-278-5929
Website: www.awaionline.com
© 2011 Michael Masterson and John Forde. All rights reserved.
Protected by copyright laws of the United States and international treaties.
No part of this publication in whole or in part may be copied, duplicated, reproduced, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or
mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the express written permission from
the publisher.
Copyright and other intellectual property laws protect these materials and any unauthorized reproduction or retransmission will constitute an
infringement of copyright law.
Federal law provides severe civil and criminal penalties for the unauthorized reproduction, distribution, or exhibition of copyrighted materials.
Penalties for criminal and statutory copyright infringement are set forth at 18 U.S.C. § 2319.
ISBN-13: 978-0-9821500-3-0
ISBN-10: 0-9821500-3-2
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
To our fathers — Francis P. Ford and George S. Forde, Jr. — who taught us to
make that first step count.
Acknowledgements
No book becomes a reality through the work of just the authors. This is particularly true with Great
Leads: The Six Easiest Ways to Start Any Sales Message . We gratefully acknowledge the inspiration and
help of the following people. This book would never have been published without you.
Katie Yeakle and the entire AWAI team were a constant resource for ideas and assistance. Thank you
for always being there for us.
Many thanks to the people responsible for the “heavy lifting” of getting this from concept into print:
Will Newman, Lorie Drozdenko, Jill Perri, and Nan Hughes for editing, designing, and critiquing.
Thank you to all the copywriters whose work we studied and drew upon. There were literally
hundreds, so we can’t thank you personally. But, that doesn’t lessen our gratitude for your contribution.
Thank you to the historic giants on whose shoulders we stand: marketers and copywriters like Eugene
Schwartz, Claude Hopkins, Max Sackheim, John Caples, and David Ogilvy. They were our early
inspirations for this book, as well as for our careers.
And finally, special thanks to Bill Bonner for his early and continued guidance in both of our careers.
And, for giving us the final push to turn this book into a reality.
Introduction
An Amazingly Powerful Strategy for Direct Response Success
If you are a copywriter intent on improving your skills, don’t read this book … Memorize it.
This book reveals in detail a very powerful strategy for writing breakthrough copy. It will change the
way you think about sales copy. It will change the way you write sales copy. It will make you a far more
skilled — and successful — copywriter.
And, it does this by giving you a tool you can use to beat “controls” by a factor of two-to-ten.
Learn this strategy and you will never have to worry about writing a dud. All your promotions will
perform extremely well because your prospects will read them with a high level of interest and
excitement.
Although just a few years old, this strategy is already responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars
in sales for the businesses we consult with. And, promotions using this strategy are getting even better
profits as we learn more about how it works and how to employ it.
What you are about to learn is entirely new. Although we have been studying the craft of copywriting
for a combined 60 years, the idea behind this strategy was hatched in 2007, tested with our clients
between then and 2010, and is only now being made available to the public.
If you learn this strategy — and it can easily be learned — you can expect certain immediate benefits:
You will start producing stronger, more compelling copy
The results of your efforts will improve and your clients (or employer) will notice
The demand for your writing will skyrocket
As a result, you will earn more money — perhaps multiples of what you are earning now
If that weren’t enough, you will also:
Waste almost no time figuring out how to “begin” your sales copy
Write virtually every ad or promotion with confidence knowing that your copy will work
You should be able to read this book in a single day. It will be an exciting first read because you will
be discovering new ideas that boost the quality and effectiveness of your copy.
By this time tomorrow, you will be able to put some of the techniques to work. But, we recommend
you reread the book several times during the next few weeks. With each reading, new secrets will be
opened up for you.
This strategy becomes more powerful as you become more adept at using it. In the hands of a Master
Copywriter, it becomes a “magic wand,” doubling and tripling the power of your copy every time you use
it.
In the next few years, dozens of self-styled copywriting gurus will be teaching this strategy as if it
were their own. This has already happened with other copywriting techniques we’ve introduced to the
industry. There is no reason why it won’t happen again.
By keeping this book as a personal resource, you won’t have to worry about forgetting any of the
details. Everything you need to understand this strategy and put it into action is contained in the following
pages. And, since it is coming from two of the three people who invented and refined it, you are getting it
undiluted straight from the source.
How Did We Come Up With This Crazy Idea?
When we were new to copywriting, we read everything we could find on the subject and attended
dozens of seminars. Most of the experts back then had a similar pedagogical approach. They taught the
craft of copywriting by providing their students with dozens or even hundreds of rules. Rules such as:
Always write in the second person.
Never have a headline that is more than seven words.
Use red or black headlines but never blue or green.
Always give away a premium.
Always provide a money-back guarantee.
Fill your copy with proven power words such as “now” and “free.”
These rules often were accompanied by statistical “proof” of their effectiveness. One guru in
particular would astound his audience with rules and statistics like the following:
Using an envelope teaser will increase response rates by 25%.
Positioning an information product as a “club” will boost returns by 37%.
Manila envelopes jack up response rates by 15%.
And so on … ad nauseum.
We were always suspicious of that sort of advice. If copywriting could be learned by following a set
of static rules, then it would be easy to learn and there would be thousands of super-successful
copywriters out there happily plying their trade.
But, in fact, there were very few super-successful copywriters.
When we looked carefully at our own successes and failures, we decided that the problem with rules
and techniques was that they tend to be true only in very specific cases. For every rule that applied to one
situation, there was a different situation to which it did not apply.
We found it was more effective to teach the big things — the rhetorical ideas that are eternal and
profound and universal. It is the big ideas — not the little ones — that create breakthrough copy.
So, instead of using rules and secrets to teach our group of up-and-coming copywriters one year, we
had them study dozens of the great sales letters of the past. Then, we told them the underlying secrets
behind the successful
Table of Contents
Introduction
An Amazingly Powerful Strategy for Direct Response Success
1
The Rule of One — One Big Idea
2
The Simple Question That Can Double Your Success
3
Direct or Indirect?
4
The Easiest Type of Sales Lead You’ll Ever Write — Or Your Money Back
5
Double Your Sales With This Next Kind of Lead
6
Still Can’t Find Your Hook? Try This Time-Tested Solution
7
The Magic of the Velvet Pouch
8
You Won’t Read This Anywhere Else But Here: The Proclamation Lead
9
The Tale of the $2 Billion Sales Letter
10
How to Make This System Work for You
Great Leads
The Six Easiest Ways to Start Any Sales Message
Michael Masterson & John Forde
Published by:
American Writers & Artists Inc.
245 NE 4th Avenue, Suite 102
Delray Beach, FL 33483
Phone: 561-278-5557
Fax: 561-278-5929
Website: www.awaionline.com
© 2011 Michael Masterson and John Forde. All rights reserved.
Protected by copyright laws of the United States and international treaties.
No part of this publication in whole or in part may be copied, duplicated, reproduced, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or
mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the express written permission from
the publisher.
Copyright and other intellectual property laws protect these materials and any unauthorized reproduction or retransmission will constitute an
infringement of copyright law.
Federal law provides severe civil and criminal penalties for the unauthorized reproduction, distribution, or exhibition of copyrighted materials.
Penalties for criminal and statutory copyright infringement are set forth at 18 U.S.C. § 2319.
ISBN-13: 978-0-9821500-3-0
ISBN-10: 0-9821500-3-2
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
To our fathers — Francis P. Ford and George S. Forde, Jr. — who taught us to
make that first step count.
Acknowledgements
No book becomes a reality through the work of just the authors. This is particularly true with Great
Leads: The Six Easiest Ways to Start Any Sales Message . We gratefully acknowledge the inspiration and
help of the following people. This book would never have been published without you.
Katie Yeakle and the entire AWAI team were a constant resource for ideas and assistance. Thank you
for always being there for us.
Many thanks to the people responsible for the “heavy lifting” of getting this from concept into print:
Will Newman, Lorie Drozdenko, Jill Perri, and Nan Hughes for editing, designing, and critiquing.
Thank you to all the copywriters whose work we studied and drew upon. There were literally
hundreds, so we can’t thank you personally. But, that doesn’t lessen our gratitude for your contribution.
Thank you to the historic giants on whose shoulders we stand: marketers and copywriters like Eugene
Schwartz, Claude Hopkins, Max Sackheim, John Caples, and David Ogilvy. They were our early
inspirations for this book, as well as for our careers.
And finally, special thanks to Bill Bonner for his early and continued guidance in both of our careers.
And, for giving us the final push to turn this book into a reality.
Introduction
An Amazingly Powerful Strategy for Direct Response Success
If you are a copywriter intent on improving your skills, don’t read this book … Memorize it.
This book reveals in detail a very powerful strategy for writing breakthrough copy. It will change the
way you think about sales copy. It will change the way you write sales copy. It will make you a far more
skilled — and successful — copywriter.
And, it does this by giving you a tool you can use to beat “controls” by a factor of two-to-ten.
Learn this strategy and you will never have to worry about writing a dud. All your promotions will
perform extremely well because your prospects will read them with a high level of interest and
excitement.
Although just a few years old, this strategy is already responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars
in sales for the businesses we consult with. And, promotions using this strategy are getting even better
profits as we learn more about how it works and how to employ it.
What you are about to learn is entirely new. Although we have been studying the craft of copywriting
for a combined 60 years, the idea behind this strategy was hatched in 2007, tested with our clients
between then and 2010, and is only now being made available to the public.
If you learn this strategy — and it can easily be learned — you can expect certain immediate benefits:
You will start producing stronger, more compelling copy
The results of your efforts will improve and your clients (or employer) will notice
The demand for your writing will skyrocket
As a result, you will earn more money — perhaps multiples of what you are earning now
If that weren’t enough, you will also:
Waste almost no time figuring out how to “begin” your sales copy
Write virtually every ad or promotion with confidence knowing that your copy will work
You should be able to read this book in a single day. It will be an exciting first read because you will
be discovering new ideas that boost the quality and effectiveness of your copy.
By this time tomorrow, you will be able to put some of the techniques to work. But, we recommend
you reread the book several times during the next few weeks. With each reading, new secrets will be
opened up for you.
This strategy becomes more powerful as you become more adept at using it. In the hands of a Master
Copywriter, it becomes a “magic wand,” doubling and tripling the power of your copy every time you use
it.
In the next few years, dozens of self-styled copywriting gurus will be teaching this strategy as if it
were their own. This has already happened with other copywriting techniques we’ve introduced to the
industry. There is no reason why it won’t happen again.
By keeping this book as a personal resource, you won’t have to worry about forgetting any of the
details. Everything you need to understand this strategy and put it into action is contained in the following
pages. And, since it is coming from two of the three people who invented and refined it, you are getting it
undiluted straight from the source.
How Did We Come Up With This Crazy Idea?
When we were new to copywriting, we read everything we could find on the subject and attended
dozens of seminars. Most of the experts back then had a similar pedagogical approach. They taught the
craft of copywriting by providing their students with dozens or even hundreds of rules. Rules such as:
Always write in the second person.
Never have a headline that is more than seven words.
Use red or black headlines but never blue or green.
Always give away a premium.
Always provide a money-back guarantee.
Fill your copy with proven power words such as “now” and “free.”
These rules often were accompanied by statistical “proof” of their effectiveness. One guru in
particular would astound his audience with rules and statistics like the following:
Using an envelope teaser will increase response rates by 25%.
Positioning an information product as a “club” will boost returns by 37%.
Manila envelopes jack up response rates by 15%.
And so on … ad nauseum.
We were always suspicious of that sort of advice. If copywriting could be learned by following a set
of static rules, then it would be easy to learn and there would be thousands of super-successful
copywriters out there happily plying their trade.
But, in fact, there were very few super-successful copywriters.
When we looked carefully at our own successes and failures, we decided that the problem with rules
and techniques was that they tend to be true only in very specific cases. For every rule that applied to one
situation, there was a different situation to which it did not apply.
We found it was more effective to teach the big things — the rhetorical ideas that are eternal and
profound and universal. It is the big ideas — not the little ones — that create breakthrough copy.
So, instead of using rules and secrets to teach our group of up-and-coming copywriters one year, we
had them study dozens of the great sales letters of the past. Then, we told them the underlying secrets
behind the successful promotions.
Soon after this experiment, we incorporated what we knew in a new copywriting program we
introduced to American Writers & Artists Inc. (AWAI).
Since 1997, that program has been refined and improved at least a half-dozen times. We have been
part of the process to improve it. It is now, we believe, the very best program for learning copywriting of
its kind.
And, our most recent refinement is the strategy laid out in this book.
What Most Copywriting Teachers Won’t Teach You
This is a book about one small part of the advertisement — the few hundred words, what copywriters
call the lead.
The lead was not much talked about when we were learning the copywriting game. Back then, Master
Copywriters talked about features, benefits, proof, claims, and other elements of copy, but not the
structure of the direct response advertisement: that every well-formed sales letter has a beginning, a
middle, and an end.
Of the three, the beginning (or lead) is the most important. It is the first thing the prospect reads and the
one chance you have of persuading him emotionally. If you don’t do that in the lead, you will lose him,
regardless of what you do later on.
Pareto’s Law — How it Works in Direct Marketing
You’ve heard of Pareto’s Law. Loosely defined, it says that 80% of the value of any business or
endeavor comes from only 20% of its matter.
You may have noticed, for example, that 80% of the profitable sales of your business are generated by
20% of your customers. Likewise, 80% of the successful advertising campaigns you conduct are
generated by 20% of the copywriters who work for you.
At the level of advertising, Pareto’s Law also holds true. About 80% of the emotional impact of any
piece of advertising copy will be determined by the first 20% of the copy.
That brings us back to the proposition stated previously: when it comes to writing breakthrough
copy, the lead is, by far, the most important part.
We have been making this point to direct marketers and copywriters for many years now. In the
beginning, the idea was greeted with skepticism. “How is it possible that a few hundred words could
have such an impact?” the Doubting Thomases asked.
And so, we proved it to them by testing two otherwise-identical sales letters that had two distinctly
different leads. And overwhelmingly, one would significantly outperform the other. One might get, for
example, a response rate of one-half of one percent. The other would respond at double or triple that.
Nothing else would be changed. Just the leads. It was the leads that made such a profound difference.
Eventually the disbelievers were converted.
Nowadays, most marketing experts and copywriting coaches accept the importance of the lead. They
have seen the tests. They can’t dispute the facts.
If this proposition is new to you and you’re unsure of its truth, consider what these renowned,
successful copywriters have to say about the power of the lead …
“You can create a brilliant offer for a product or service everybody wants. But, unless the lead is
a ‘grabber,’ you won’t be competitive. Shortened attention spans and increased skepticism have
added new rules for an effective lead.”
— Herschell Gordon Lewis
“The headline gets attention. The lead either forges an instant connection with the reader — or
the package fails.”
— Bob Bly
“The headline and lead are 80% of the package. If you don’t have those, you have nothing. And,
the rest is journeyman writing.
“That is what separates the great writers from the ordinary. Ordinary writers write ordinary
leads. Great writers think of intriguing and powerful ideas …
“It is the hook that makes a great package — if you involve them there, your chances of success
improve incalculably. The more you involve, the more you succeed.”
— Don Mahoney
“30 seconds — that’s how long I’ve got to grab my prospect and get him hooked with my lead.
So, never save the ‘good stuff’ for later in the copy — it may never get read!”
— Carline Anglade-Cole
“The lead is important because it not only makes the promise, but determines the role you’ll be
playing in your presentation of the opportunity … and kind of ‘relationship’ you’ll have with the
reader for those next 10 or so minutes. And, that’s something that will have a very positive (or
negative) impact on the success of any package.”
— Paul Hollingshead
“In my experience, the lead is about 75% of the work. Finding a really compelling idea … and
figuring out how to express it in a unique and compelling way (in two pages of copy) is by far the
most important part of any package. The rest of your promotion can be very formulaic … because
you’ve already done the most difficult and important work in the lead.”
— Mike Palmer
Why the Lead is So Damn Important
Are you with us? Good. Let’s spend a few minutes discussing why exactly the lead is so important.
Direct response advertising copy is different from brand advertising. Its purpose is to produce an
immediate, positive action. To create that response, you need to do more than catch the reader’s attention.
You need to do more than entertain him. You need to do more than leave him with a positive impression
of the product.
With direct response advertising, you need to provoke action. And to do that, you must accomplish
two important objectives:
1. You must move the prospect emotionally.
2. You must persuade him intellectually.
Both jobs are equally important. But, to write breakthrough ads or promotions, you must do the
emotional persuasion first.
Experienced copywriters discovered this truth and were using it to write the great classics of the past.
Consider this famous advertisement from 1926 that ran for 40 years:
Max Sackheim — the author of this much-imitated ad — could have started out by giving statistics (if
any existed) about how much mistakes in English reduced a businessman’s earning power.
But, he didn’t. Instead, he appealed to the emotion of insecurity.
You can see this appeal to emotion at work in a much more recent advertisement, this one by
Bottomline.
This lead plays on one of the most powerful (and frequently, poorly-used) emotions in persuasive
arguments: Fear. There’s nothing subtle about this approach. The prospect reads it, and the fears this
headline and the subsequent lead arouse force him to keep reading.
But, print ads are not the only ones that use emotional hooks to grab the prospective buyer’s attention.
We are sure you are familiar with this much-quoted ad. Before reading on, you provide the words:
Of course, this is the “I’ve fallen and can’t get up” ad by LifeCall. It ran for about a year in 1989 to
1990. But its imagery, catchphrase, and play on fear were so strong that it is still quoted over 20 years
later.
This seems to be the way the brain works: when it comes to making most decisions, we begin by
generating an emotional preference and only then subject that preference to logical debate.
Another way of saying that is that first we find ourselves wanting to buy a product and then begin the
rationalization process of deciding if we should.
_________________________
The mind is slave to the heart.”
— Mahatma Gandhi
_________________________
The reason this is true has everything to do with the way the brain processes information and makes
decisions.
Studies reported in the journal Nature Neuroscience , for example, have pinpointed the parts of the
brain that are most active when someone is thinking about buying something: The limbic system, the
amygdala, and the posterior cingulated cortex.
These are the emotional parts of your brain.
The UCLA Brain Research Institute said this about the prospect’s brain and how best to talk to it:
“Corporate America, meanwhile, is hoping brain scanning can help sales. The big question for
neuroeconomics is, ‘How does the human brain make decisions like which car to buy or what to
have for lunch,’ says Antonio Rangel, director of the neuroeconomics lab at Stanford. Research
is showing that the limbic system, which governs emotions, often overrides the logical areas of
the brain, suggesting that the ‘rational actor’ theory of economics misses deeper sources of
motivation rooted in unconscious feelings and interpersonal dynamics. Instead of aiming at
consumers’ logical decision-making processes, companies could perhaps appeal to the fuzzier
side of how people feel about themselves and others around them.”
But, persuading someone doesn’t have to feel like brain surgery. All it really means is that as
copywriters, we must recognize our first job is to win over the prospect’s heart. Once we do that, then the
rest of our job — winning over his mind — is relatively easy.
Time is a big factor in this. The customer doesn’t have time to read every promotion that comes his
way. He will give each a few minutes or seconds depending on how good the copy is. If he becomes
bored or confused or doubtful, he will stop reading and move on to the next thing in his reading pile.
Those precious few moments are all you have to persuade him emotionally. In such a short space of
time, you don’t have time to put forth a rational argument. And even if you could, you would lose the
chance to capture his heart.
In a typical long-form direct response advertisement (whether it’s a sales letter, a space ad, a
television spot, or a telemarketing script), you have just 100 to 600 words to incite an emotional
response. Those 100 to 600 words constitute the lead. And that is why the lead is so important.
We once worked with a very successful direct marketer who was famous for his ability to predict very
quickly how well advertising copy would work. He never spent more than two minutes reading the copy.
He’d read the lead word-for-word and then quickly scan the rest of the copy.
It might have been he who taught us the importance of the lead. Or, perhaps we inferred it from
watching him do his thing. But, when we began to concentrate on the leads, we found that we, too, could
predict the success of promotions with a fair amount of accuracy.
We could read the lead and ask, “Does this lead get me excited? Does it make me want to continue
reading with a high level of anticipation?”
If the lead accomplished these tasks, then we felt with a high degree of confidence that the promotion
would work.
As we said, most copywriting experts today recognize the critical role the lead has on the success of
the ad. But until now, there has never been a book that took a scientific approach to analyzing great leads
and demonstrating the principles that made them work so well.
In the chapters that follow, we will walk you through our strategy. To put it to work for you, we will
teach you a few important strategies:
The importance of the lead (You have just learned that.)
A unifying principle called the Rule of One that immediately will make all your writing stronger and
more effective
The difference between a direct and an indirect lead
Gene Schwartz’s concept of reader familiarity
The six archetypal lead types
The rules for each of these six types
That is how this book is arranged. There are 10 chapters, one each explaining these concepts in detail
and with plenty of examples.
The strategy you’re about to learn will easily put an extra million dollars in your pocket over the
lifespan of your career. More likely, if you are an active, full-time copywriter, the value will be many
times that.
How this can happen is quite simple. This strategy makes you write compelling copy more effectively
— without relying on numerous and often contradictory “rules.”
Your prospect will feel a stronger, more real bond with you and with your writing. And, your efforts
to “sell him” will fade into the background so that he concentrates on your words and ideas and not on
having to fork over money.
This strategy allows you to write effective, compelling copy more quickly with far fewer false starts
and time-wasting restarts. Because you understand this strategy, you’ll know how best to approach your
reader. And, you’ll know what approaches to avoid that will not work as effectively with him.
You’ll notice how much more effortlessly your writing seems to flow. So will your client or employer.
Most importantly, the reader will enjoy an easy, unlabored flow of words that lead him inevitably to the
action you want him to take.
When you put our simple strategy to work for you, you’ll write every advertisement or promotion
confidently, knowing that it will work.
Put it all together and this means more work for you, finished faster, garnering more success. And,
more money coming to you — multiples of what you’re earning now while expending a lot less labor.
Here’s how Master Copywriter David Deutsch characterizes why you want to be writing great leads:
“A good lead may intrigue, build curiosity, create anticipation, open the reader’s mind, build trust,
create a bond, and in a myriad of ways lay the groundwork for (and magnify the effectiveness of) the
persuasion to follow.
“A great one — ‘If the list on which I found your name … ’ ‘The American Express Card is not for
everyone … ’ ‘You look out your window … ’ — can in itself elevate the reader to an entirely
different level of susceptibility to our enticements.”
The book you’re holding represents a tiny investment compared to what you stand to earn using this
strategy. All you have to do now — to turn that tiny benefit into a financial windfall — is to read on and
pay attention to what you are reading … and then to put it into action.
But that’s easy, as you’ll see as you continue reading …
1
The Rule of One — One Big Idea
________________________________
“There is a certain majesty in simplicity which is far above all the quaintness of
wit.”
— Alexander Pope
________________________________
One of the biggest lessons I ever learned about writing leads came very late — in fact, more than
twenty years after I wrote my first piece of copy.
It happened about a year after I began writing Early to Rise (ETR). I was looking over the issues I had
written that year, and noting which ones the readers rated the highest. Without exception, those that
achieved the highest scores presented a single idea.
I realized readers didn’t want to hear everything I had to say about a topic every time I fired up my
computer. They were looking for a single, useful suggestion or idea that could make them more successful.
That was one of those “a-ha!” experiences for me.
As a reader, the stories and essays I liked best tackled one subject, however narrow, and did so
effectively and deeply. As a writer, I had a sense that my readers should feel this way, too. But, it wasn’t
until I looked at the ETR results that I recognized the power of a narrow focus in writing.
I thought about some of the books I admired the most. Most of them had that narrow focus. Many of
them centered on a single idea.
What Color Is Your Parachute? by Richard Bolles — Finding a life-changing new job that you love.
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell — How trends develop and fortunes are made from them.
Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins — A philosophy that advertising’s purpose is to sell, not
entertain or win creative awards — and how to apply this philosophy to create winning ads.
How to Become CEO by Jeffrey J. Fox — How to become a great employee and, eventually, take over
the business.
Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey — The behaviors you need to adopt in your
professional and personal life to become successful.
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie — How to use personal power to
achieve success.
My next thought was to see if this same phenomenon applied to advertising copy. I pulled out my box
of “best promotions of all time” and went through them. Not all of them were on a single topic, but many
of them began by hitting one idea strongly.
It seemed like I was on to something. When we had our first company-wide meeting for publishers in
France, I presented this as one of several dozen “secrets to publishing success.”
Bill Bonner, who was there, reminded me that he had been telling me about the Rule of One for many
years. He learned it, he said, from the great advertising guru David Ogilvy. Ogilvy called it “the Big
Idea.” The concept was that every great promotion has, at its core, a single, powerful idea.
Here are Ogilvy’s exact words on the crucial importance of the Big Idea:
“Big Ideas. Unless your advertising is built on a Big Idea, it will pass like a ship in the night. It
takes a Big Idea to jolt the consumer out of his indifference — to make him notice your
advertising, remember it, and take action. Big Ideas are usually simple ideas. Said Charles
Kettering, the great General Motors inventor: ‘This problem, when solved, will be simple.’ Big,
simple ideas are not easy to come by. They require genius — and midnight oil. A truly big one
can be continued for 20 years — like our eye patch for Hathaway shirts.”
And, my co-author John Forde said that he, too, has used the Big Idea to write some of his best
promotions.
The next year, I invited two of Agora’s most successful writers to make presentations at the annual
meeting. One gave a very impressive speech about the 12 rules he follows when he writes copy. The
other copywriter — Steve Sjuggerud — talked about only one thing: The importance of clarity in writing.
Both presentations were terrific. But, it was Steve’s speech that people were talking about afterwards.
And, it was Steve’s idea that became institutionalized at Agora that year.
At the same time, John told us he was rereading the classic 1941 book, “How to Write a Good
Advertisement” by Victor Schwab, the man Advertising Age called the “greatest mail-order copywriter of
all time.”
In that book, Schwab lists what he called the “Top 100 Headlines” of his time. John found that in that
list, 91 were driven by single ideas.
Yet, even the remaining 9 not clearly based on a single idea still had an implied strong, single idea that
bound the whole thing together.
Take a look. And remember, this is the list of headlines that DON’T appear at first to fit the singleidea
theme we’re talking about …
“Five Familiar Skin Troubles — Which Do You Want to Overcome?”
“Have You These Symptoms of Nerve Exhaustion?”
“161 New Ways to a Man’s Heart — In This Fascinating Book for Cooks”
“Do You Do Any of These Ten Embarrassing Things?”
“Six Types of Investors — Which Group Are You In?”
“The Crimes We Commit Against Our Stomachs”
“Little Leaks That Keep Men Poor”
“67 Reasons Why It Would Have Paid You to Answer Our Ad a Few Months Ago”
“Free Book — Tells You 12 Secrets of Better Lawn Care”
“Notice,” John said in a Copywriter’s Roundtable article discussing the Rule of One, “that even
though they don’t, each clearly points toward a single, over-arching theme.”
Now, take a look at some of the other 91 “best headlines” of Schwab’s time. Note how instantly clear
and engaging these “Big Ideas” are.
“The Secret of Making People Like You”
“Is the Life of a Child Worth $1 to You?”
“To Men Who Want to Quit Work Someday”
“Are You Ever Tongue-Tied at a Party?”
“How a New Discovery Made a Plain Girl Beautiful”
“Who Else Wants a Screen Star Figure?”
“You Can Laugh at Money Worries — If You Follow This Simple Plan”
“When Doctors Feel Rotten This is What They Do”
“How I Improved My Memory in One Evening”
“Discover the Fortune That Lies Hidden In Your Salary”
“How I Made a Fortune with a ‘Fool Idea’”
“Have You a ‘Worry’ Stock?”
John pointed out that starting off in the headline with just one, simple idea has two major benefits:
It makes the copy stronger
It makes writing the rest of the sales letter easier
“Finding the core idea,” John added, “of course, is the hard part. It has to be precise, not scattershot.
You have to know your audience and know them well. Or, you risk missing your target completely.”
At ETR, we made this concept a “rule” of writing — the Rule of One. The mandate was very clear.
Our contributors should write about one thing at a time. One good idea, clearly and convincingly
presented, was better than a dozen so-so ideas strung together.
That rule made a difference. When we obeyed it, our essays were stronger. When we ignored it, they
were not as powerful as they could have been.
Although this was clearly a copywriting principle that was extremely powerful, I found that I
sometimes ignored it. If I had six good reasons for this, or 12 techniques for that, I couldn’t stop myself
from including them all. The results were always disappointing.
Why did I break this golden rule? I’m not entirely sure. I think sometimes I was afraid readers would
think, “Is that all he has to say on the subject?” I was, in other words, too cowardly and conceited to stick
to my rule — even though I knew it would help me.
_________________________
Non-Writing Applications of the Rule of One
The Rule of One can also be applied to your daily workday goals. Before you go into a
meeting, think about what one thing you’d like to accomplish from it. Make that one thing
your priority and hammer away at it during the meeting. You’ll be amazed at how often
you will end up leaving the meeting with your goal accomplished.
You can also use the Rule of One at business lunches, meetings, and even parties.
Challenge yourself: “Who is the one best person I can network with?” and “What is the
one best thing I can say to that person to capture his interest?”
Spend some time today looking at work you’ve done — ads you’ve written, products
you’ve created, goals you’ve set. How could you make them stronger by applying the Rule
of One?
_________________________
Here is an example of the Rule of One as applied to a short advertorial, taken from an ETR message:
Subject Line: The Easiest Product to Sell Online
Dear Early to Riser,
Would you be interested in investing $175 to make $20,727?
That’s exactly what Bob Bly just accomplished!
See how he did it below … and how easily you could do the same.
MaryEllen Tribby
ETR Publisher
_______________________
Dear Friend,
There’s no product easier to create or sell online …
… than a simple, straightforward instructional or how-to e-book.
Why are e-books the perfect information product to sell on the Internet?
• 100% profit margin.
• No printing costs.
• No inventory to store.
• Quick and easy to update.
• No shipping costs or delays.
• Higher perceived value than regular books.
• Quick, simple, and inexpensive to produce.
My very first e-book has generated $20,727 in sales (so far).
My total investment in producing it: just $175.
Now, I want to show you how to make huge profits creating and selling simple e-books — in my new
e-book “Writing E-Books for Fun & Profit.”
Normally my e-books sell for anywhere from $29 to $79, and later this year, “Writing E-Books for
Fun & Profit” will sell for $59.
However, to make it affordable for you to get started in e-book publishing, I’m letting you have
“Writing E-Books for Fun & Profit” for only $19 today — a savings of $40 off the cover price!
For more information … or to order on a risk-free 90-day trial basis … just click here now.
Sincerely,
Bob Bly
P.S. But, I urge you to hurry. This special $40 discount is for a limited time only. And once it
expires, it may never be repeated again.
_______________________
Let me explain how the Rule of One operates here.
In the lift letter (signed by MaryEllen Tribby), Bob asks a question and then tells a tiny little story. The
question is an inverted promise. The story — a single-sentence story, mind you — validates the promise.
The sales letter follows. This, too, is a beautifully simple piece of copy. It leads with a statement. The
statement expresses an idea. The idea suggests a promise: the easiest way to make money on the Internet
is to market e-books.
That statement is then supported by a number of bulleted “facts.” Then, Bob validates the statement by
mentioning his own experience.
The reader is already sold. Bob makes the sale irresistible with a strong, one-time-only offer.
Short, sweet, and simple.
The Rule of One is not only one big, central idea. It’s a fully engaging piece of copy with five
necessary elements. Using Bob’s example:
One good idea: “There’s no product easier to create or sell online than a simple, straightforward
instructional or how-to e-book.”
One core emotion: “It is simple! I bet I can do it!”
One captivating story: Told brilliantly in 17 words: “Would you be interested in investing $175 to
make $20,727? That’s exactly what Bob Bly just accomplished!”
One single, desirable benefit: “Now, I want to show you how to make huge profits creating and
selling simple e-books … ”
One inevitable response: The only way to get this book for $19 is to “click here now.”
To create blockbuster promotions time-after-time, you must understand the difference between good
copy and great copy. The Rule of One is the driving force behind great copy.
Veteran advertising consultant James Loftus, who has worked with Anheuser-Busch, Holiday Inn, and
McDonald’s, among many other clients, agrees with this concept:
“Also keep in mind that the more points you try to cover, the less effective each point, and therefore
your ad, will be. An effective ad will actually have only one central focus, even if you discuss it
from two or three perspectives. If your points are too diverse, they compete with each other, and
end up pulling the reader’s attention in separate directions.”
Think for a moment about a few modern ads and ad taglines you remember. Those that stick with you
follow the Rule of One:
Coca Cola: “The pause that refreshes”®
OR
“Always Cool.”®
But not “The pause that refreshes and always cool.”
McDonald’s: “You deserve a break today”®
OR
“i’m lovin’ it”®
Not “You deserve a break today, and you’re lovin’ it.”
You run across numerous other examples of top companies following this rule in their most successful
ads:
“We try harder”
[Avis]
“Think Different”
[Apple Computer]
“Pork, the other white meat”
[National Pork Board]
“Quality is job one”
[Ford Motor Company]
“Milk, it does a body good”
[National Dairy Council]
These are more than taglines. The commercials they embellished — when produced by ad execs who
understood this rule — used one strong idea to drive the ads.
Porter Stansberry (founder of Stansberry & Associates Investment Research) recently wrote a memo
explaining the great success he and Mike Palmer had with two blockbuster promotions. Both
advertisements brought in millions of dollars within days of posting them. I won’t tell you all the secrets
Porter revealed in his memo (Porter and Mike would kill me if I did) but I’ll tell you this: Each of the
blockbuster promotions highlighted one dominant investing idea — not several.
The challenge is to find one good idea that the reader can grasp immediately, Porter said. And then,
stick to it.
But, most marketers and copywriters are not up to this challenge. Instead of sticking to the Rule of
One, they conjure up lists of features and benefits and create ads that mention as many of them as possible.
The thinking behind this approach goes something like this: “I wonder which of these benefits will really
push the buttons I want? Hmmm. I don’t know. I guess what I’ll do is throw them all in the promotion.
That way if one doesn’t work, another one will.”
This is what I call the “tossed salad” approach to advertising copy. Throw everything on the counter
into a big wooden bowl, marinate with some connecting sentences, and toss. It’s a standard recipe for Blevel
copywriters. But, it’s not the way to win any blue ribbons in the competitive kitchen of breakthrough
advertising.
The little advertisement Bob wrote had that simplicity. E-books are easy was the idea. E-books are
easy to make and easy to sell. The reader hears it. He gets it. He believes it.
So, the idea has to be strong. Yet, it also has to be easy to understand. And easy to believe. That last
part — being easy to believe — is key.
The examples in this book follow this cardinal rule of copywriting: The Rule of One. As a general
rule, leads that follow the Rule of One are stronger because they do not have the emotional power
dissipated by copy that goes in different directions.
But, the Rule of One does not mean you can’t have a story and a secret and an emotionally-compelling
fact in the same lead.
It means that the lead is strongest that promotes one compelling idea by supporting that idea with all
the appropriate techniques … stories, predictions, statements, promises, and so on … but all unified by
that single idea and by a single emotion that drives the sale.
For example, Porter’s Railway package — There’s a Railroad Across America — was both a Story
and a Secret Lead. And, it had other elements in it as well. But, there was a single idea — that we are
living in a time of change as great as the height of the Industrial Revolution. If you read this letter, you
have a chance of becoming as rich as those great oil and railway barons. One compelling idea and one
powerful emotion. The package worked because all the other competing ideas and emotions were
eliminated.
To reiterate the most important points:
Lead your advertisement with one, and only one, powerful idea
Make sure that the idea creates an emotion, a single emotion, which will compel the reader to respond
Support that idea with one engaging story or compelling fact
Direct the reader to one, and only one, action
What is a great advertising idea? That could be the subject of another book. But, in short, a great idea
is:
Big (enough to stir interest)
Easy to understand
Immediately convincing
Clearly useful (to the reader)
Anybody who cares about marketing — and everybody in business should — needs to understand this
core principle. Spend five or ten minutes now studying Bob Bly’s little ad and understanding how it is
working.
Put the Rule of One to work for you in all your communications, especially in your promotions and
their leads. You’ll be amazed at how much stronger — and successful — your copy will be.
2
The Simple Question That Can Double Your Success
_______________________________
“The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think.”
— Edwin Schlossberg
_______________________________
Ask a simple question, the next time — and every time — you start a piece of promotional copy, and
you could see double or better the results you otherwise might get.
In fact, answer this same question and you’ll immediately find it a lot easier to make many of the same
decisions most marketers and business owners find challenging.
For instance, you’ll have a much better idea which products will sell best to your target audience.
You’ll also have a much better idea of the lead types, as detailed in this book, that will work best with
that audience, too. Only certain ones fit at certain times. And, by asking this question, you’ll know how to
decide among them.
You’ll even have a fair idea, once you ask this question, which words will work best in your headline,
what the opening line of your sales piece should say, even a few ideas about the layout and design.
And, what question is that?
Seasoned marketers might think it’s “What am I selling?” or “Who is my customer?” And, in both
cases, they wouldn’t be far off.
But, the real question too many marketers never stop to ask is this one: “What does your customer
already know?”
What does he know, for instance, about who you are? What does he know about your product and the
research behind it? What does he know about himself, his own problems, and the other possible solutions
available?
Why does any of this matter?
It matters because it completely changes the way you’ll approach and talk to your customer. And, it’s
this question of how you approach him that’s so different.
In this book, we’re going to ask you to begin with exactly this premise: Everything your prospect
knows before you begin your sales pitch will determine not just what you’ll say, but how you’ll say it,
when you open the conversation between seller and buyer.
More specifically, what your reader knows will help you decide which of the following six lead types
will work best. It’s that simple.
We call this key premise the concept of “customer awareness.” And, we’re not the first. It was the
late, great copywriting legend Gene Schwartz who first wrote about this idea, in his classic book
Breakthrough Advertising.
If you can get your hands on a copy — we’ve seen it sell “new” for as much as $800 on Amazon.com
— you should. It’s worth every penny, just to get his brilliant and full treatment of the idea.
But, for our purposes here, you won’t need to go so deep.
Let’s just start by taking a look at how Gene himself put it:
“If [your prospect] is aware of your product and realizes it can satisfy his desire, your headline
starts with your product. If he is not aware of your product, but only of the desire itself, your
headline starts with the desire. If he is not yet aware of what he really seeks, but is concerned
only with the general problem, your headline starts with that problem and crystallizes it into a
specific need.”
In other words, even when you’re selling the same product to everybody, the people you approach will
respond only to one kind of ad — depending on how aware they are of who you are, what you’re selling,
and why you’re selling it.
Schwartz even broke out what he called the “Five Levels of Awareness.” We’ve laid them out for you
here, in a kind of “awareness line,” running from most to least aware:
Gene Schwartz’s Groundbreaking “Five Levels of Customer Awareness”
So, how do you use this concept when making a marketing or copywriting decision?
First, you ask the simple question we have already mentioned: What does your customer already
know? In other words, if you had to plot your prospect on the “awareness line” we diagramed, where
would he land?
If your customer has already bought something from you before and loves your brand, then he’s going
to fall on the “most aware” end of the scale.
If he’s never bought or heard of your product, but suspects there’s something out there like what you
sell but he doesn’t know about your product specifically, then you might say he’s “solution-aware.”
On the other hand, if he only knows the frustration of the problem he’s trying to solve, he’s better
described as “problem-aware.” If he’s not even that much in tune, and carries only a general angst that
you’ll need to channel, he falls into the category Schwartz labeled “unaware.”
As you’ll see in the upcoming chapters, some leads will work extremely well to “most aware”
customers but would most likely bomb to an “unaware” audience. The reverse is also true. Leads that can
give you blockbuster success with “unaware” audiences would fall flat with customers that already know
you and your products well.
How do you discover where to put your target customer on that “awareness line”? Simply by drilling
down with even more questions, as a detective might.
For instance, you might ask yourself how new your product is to the marketplace? If it’s very new,
obviously customer awareness levels will be low. But then, you might also ask, is there anything else out
there just like it? In which case, your target customer isn’t completely “unaware” — they already have a
frame of reference.
Again, the simple key is that you understand this general concept. Simply put, knowing how aware
your prospect is will change the conversation. And, it will especially change those first key moments of
the conversation, which in advertising we call the headline and the lead.
Just to make sure you’re clear on how awareness levels can impact your message, let’s just spend a
few minutes looking at each of the levels on Gene’s five-level scale …
1. The Most Aware
Your prospect knows your product, and only needs to know “the deal.”
In a lot of ways, this is your dream customer. They know what they want. They know you offer it. And,
at this stage, all that’s left is making the deal.
You’ll hear lots of talk these days about the importance of building a lasting relationship with
customers. And even more, about how the Internet and email marketing have made that even easier.
And, this is why.
The “most aware” customer can be a very active, even assertive kind of customer. This is where
you’ll find your repeat buyers. These are the people who feel loyal to your brand, who shake your hand,
and who send you “fan” emails. In the best case, these are the customers who even recommend your
product to friends.
Apple, for instance, has what some — especially hardcore Microsoft customers — call “fanboys.”
They’re so devout, they’ll track rumor websites to find out about new product releases. Then, they’ll
camp outside the retail stores to be among the first to buy.
Apple has famously built an avid fan base. Their “most aware” customers have often camped out overnight to be first in line for new
products. ©Quintin Doroquez
The benefit of selling to highly aware customers? You can often reach them with something as simple as a straightforward offer, such
as this one for the iPad.
No doubt, you also know someone who refuses to drive anything but a Chrysler, Ford, or Mercedes.
Or, someone who buys tickets, T-shirts, and CDs of a favorite band or goes crazy over anything that has
the logo of a favorite sports team. Even something as simple as Colgate, Crest, or Aquafresh toothpaste
can build this level of loyalty in a crowd.
Selling at this level of awareness is easy.
Your target customers know you. They know what you do. There’s no education required. Because for
them, your product is more than a product. It’s a point of contact with someone they now trust and feel
emotionally connected to. More often than not, to this crowd, all you’ll need to do is offer them something
new and they’ll buy.
Why?
Because not only are they already passionate in the niche where your product resides, but they’ve
already answered many of their own questions. They’re already emotionally ready to make a decision.
And, almost all you’ll need to do is give them the opportunity to buy.
The first lead we’ll show you, featured in Chapter 4, can work great for this kind of highly-aware
customer. What’s more, it’s among the easiest to write, once you’ve decided exactly what you’re selling
and whom you’re selling to.
To figure out if you’re selling to a “most aware” customer, you’re going to look immediately at
whatever kind of mailing list or slice of the market that’s most available to you. For instance, in a
company that markets often by direct response, they’ll have a “house list.” And on that list, they might also
have what are called “multi-buyers.”
These are the customers who bought before and who came back again for more. Most direct response
marketers place high value on this list simply because, as “most aware” customers, they’re much easier to
sell. Most of the work has already been done, long before your copy comes along.
Keep in mind, in today’s over-exposed, media-dense world, you might sometimes run into customers
who seem too aware. These are the jaded ones, who have been hit too many times by similar pitches,
have tried products like yours that have let them down, or who have just reached a self-imposed limit on
how much they’re willing to spend.
In those special cases, they’re not only “most aware” of who you are and what you offer, but also
they’ve already made up their minds. And, you’ll find it very difficult to change those opinions, even if
they’re not exactly right about what they think.
However, it’s not impossible, as you’ll see with the special lead types we’ll talk about later, starting
with Chapter 4. But, before you jump ahead, let’s continue with Schwartz’s other levels of customer
awareness, as they might apply to the marketing situation you find yourself in right now.
2. Product-Aware
Your prospect knows what you sell, but isn’t sure it’s right for him.
Even for products that have fans, you’re also going to find buyers sitting on the fence. And, that’s
mostly what you’ll see at this second level. These are the prospects that just aren’t sure what you’re
selling is right for them.
Do they know the name of your product? Yes. Do they know the benefits you claim? It’s pretty likely.
But, making up their minds whether to buy, that’s a different story.
First, you’ll need to win their trust. And, because they’re not completely decided, they’re skittish. So,
you’ll have to make sure you don’t scare them away.
You’ll find these kinds of prospects reading other customers’ reviews on Amazon.com and poring
over copies of Consumer Reports. Even though they’re close to a purchase, they crave reassurance. They
want and need to know you sell not only what they need, but that they can trust your claims about what
your product or service can do.
Of course, that means you’ll need to work that much harder to convince them. The good news is that
with this kind of “product-aware” customer, at least part of the seller-buyer relationship has already
begun.
That’s why “product-aware” customers are often easier to win over. Because you still won’t need to
do much here to educate the customer about what you’re doing. Most of your work will focus on proving
you’re able to do what you say you’ll do.
Of course, every sale works to build buyer trust. But, with this kind of prospect, trust building
becomes especially important. It’s what you’ll want to do as soon as possible in your copy. The lead type
you’ll read about in Chapter 5 will show you how that’s done.
Once you move beyond these first two higher levels of customer awareness, selling gets a little
tougher. And, this is where good copywriters start to earn their money. Why? Because it’s here that
resistance spikes higher and you’ll need to work harder to make that first connection.
Let us show you what we mean …
3. Solution-Aware
Your prospect knows the result he wants, but not that your product provides it.
Picture yourself craving a midnight snack. You’re standing in the glow of the open refrigerator. You
feel the hunger pangs. And, you know there’s food in the house. But, you’re just not sure what you want.
That’s not so far off from being “solution-aware.”
At this third level of Schwartz’s Awareness Scale, the prospect knows that somewhere out there,
somebody has a solution to his problem. He might even know vaguely where to look. Beyond that, he’s
not so sure where to look next.
A prospect in this category needs a little extra education before he’s ready to compare his options.
When he comes to you, this third-level customer has only an outcome in mind.
To make the sale, you show him you’re able to help him reach that outcome. But, before you can do
that, you’ll first need to convince him you understand what he wants and needs.
An ad like this goes beyond the simple offer, with more claims and proof, to sell to a slightly “less aware” prospect.
At least two of the kinds of lead types we’ll show you — in Chapters 5 and 6 — will help you do this,
as you’ll see.
And then, we start to move into the customer awareness levels where making a solid connection gets
much tougher and much more important. So, why target these buyers?
Because it’s in these last two categories where you’re going to find the customers that help businesses
grow.
4. Problem-Aware
Your prospect senses he has a problem, but doesn’t know there’s a solution.
A “solution-aware” customer has hope. But, a “problem-aware” customer has only worry. They know
something’s not working, but they don’t know yet there’s a way to fix it.
Notice how this ad taps the emotions attached to the problem of “stiff joints” and “discomfort” before it actually reveals anything
about the product.
The key with this customer is to show you “feel their pain.” Not just that you know they have a
problem, but that you know the frustration, desperation, or even fear and anger it causes. We call this the
“point of maximum anxiety.” Once you identify it, you’ll find an open avenue for making an emotional
connection.
This kind of copy says loud and clear “I sympathize,” before it even tries to begin to name benefits or
mention products. Many classic ads fall into this category.
In Chapter 6, you’ll see specific examples. Plus, you’ll see how to connect with the key selling
emotions that make this special kind of lead work. And in Chapter 7, you’ll discover a lead type which
can also be very effective for prospects keenly aware of what ails them.
And finally, there’s the toughest and yet potentially most rewarding of the customer awareness levels,
and the last in Schwartz’s five-level breakdown …
5. Completely Unaware
No knowledge of anything except, perhaps, his own identity or opinion.
Of the customers you’ll target, none is tougher to win over than the completely “unaware” prospect.
Not only do they not know who you are, they don’t know your product. They don’t even know products
like yours exist. Nor do they know they have a specific problem worth solving.
So, why bother?
Because it’s here that you’ll find the completely new markets a growing business needs. This is where
you’ll find new places to resell your entire product line. It’s also where you might get lots of ideas for
new products.
It’s in this market where smart marketers make their fortunes.
Of course, it’s also here that the pros compete. The secret sounds simple. Here, you’ll need a lead that
grabs readers without letting on the least detail of what it is you’re trying to do.
To make this work, you’ll need finesse.
To see how it’s done, take a look at the examples in Chapters 8 and 9. In the first of these, you’ll
discover the Proclamation Lead. In the second, you’ll read about what we call the Story Lead.
These two lead types are designed to give you an entry point for a sales message that’s hard for your
prospect to see coming, let alone classify.
Why? Because winning the attention of your most “unaware” customers can be especially difficult, as
they have no reason to trust or even listen to your message. Come on too strong with a pitch or product
mention, and you could chase them away.
On the other hand, once you’ve won their attention and moved past that initial resistance, their lack of
awareness can make them more receptive to an offer which is, to them, unique in a very real way.
One famous example that we’ll look at more closely is one you might know from The Wall Street
Journal. It could have opened with an invitation to subscribe to the world’s most famous financial journal
at a discount.
It could have shown how past headlines broke stories about dangers in the markets or giant
opportunities that readers might otherwise have missed.
Instead, it began …
Dear Reader,
On a beautiful late spring afternoon, twenty-five years ago, two young men graduated from the same
college.
They were very much alike, these two young men. Both had been better than average students, both
were personable, and both — as young college graduates are — were filled with ambitious dreams
for the future.
Recently, these men returned to their college for their 25th reunion.
They were still very much alike. Both were happily married. Both had three children. And both, it
turned out, had gone to work for the same Midwestern manufacturing company after graduation, and
were still there.
But, there was one difference.
One of the men was manager of a small department of that company. The other was president …
Where, in that engaging story, is the newspaper mentioned? It’s nowhere to be found. And, the
subscription offer? Just as absent.
Yet, as you’ll read in Chapter 9, this powerful and very indirect opening was the start of one of the
most successful direct response letters of all time. So much, that the “tale of two young men” story is a
much-copied and still successful model today.
But, before you move ahead for more on these and other examples, find out in the next chapter why
each of our specific six lead types tends to work better in some situations where they might fail in others.
_________________________
Summary: Why “Awareness” Matters
Knowing what your prospect knows in advance of a sales pitch is just as important as
knowing who he is or what he wants. Advertising great Gene Schwartz broke it down into
an “Awareness Scale,” ranging from the “most aware” to the “least aware,” as follows:
_________________________
3
Direct or Indirect?
______________________________
“That’s right — it filets, it chops, it dices and slices. It never stops. It lasts a lifetime,
mows your lawn, and it picks up the kids from school … It plays a mean rhythm. It makes
excuses for lipstick on your collar. And it’s only a dollar, only a dollar, only a dollar.”
— Tom Waits
_______________________________
At a cocktail party, how do you start a conversation?
With an old friend, you might pick up right where you left off. With a total stranger, you might first
look for ways to “break the ice.”
Socially, this insight comes naturally. What you might not realize, though, is that in marketing — and
especially in crafting powerful leads for sales letters — the same instinct can apply.
For instance, take a look at this envelope:
This was for an invitation the Cooking Club of America sent to “serious cooks only.”
Even on the envelope, you know immediately what the letter inside is about. This is not for bachelors
who can’t boil eggs. Or college students with take-out shops on speed dial.
This is for “foodies” who love the kitchen, crack spines on cookbooks, and who enjoy talking and
thinking about the gadgets and secrets that can make them better at their craft.
Inside, you find a letter with this offer stamped right at the top …
Then the lead begins …
“Dear Fellow Food Lover,
“Would you mind very much if I sent you a free cookware set to use in your kitchen? How about
a free bread machine? A free selection of spices? A free set of utensils? … ”
It goes on to explain that you can test — and keep — free kitchen gadgets every month, just by joining
the Cooking Club of America.
The club has other benefits, too, of course — a recipe directory, equipment deals and discounts,
member contests, member forums and events, a members-only magazine. But, true to the Rule of One
principle discussed in Chapter 1, they focused on the one benefit that testing proved an immediate draw.
And, because they were targeting already passionate and informed cooks, the copywriter saw no need
to “warm up” or educate the readers. The offer invitation alone was enough. The letter was a huge
success.
Lots of sales letters take exactly this same kind of head on or “direct” approach.
You might recognize some of these famous headlines:
“Don’t Pay a Penny For This Book Until it Doubles Your Power to Learn”
“Weird New Sonic Lure Catches Fish Like Crazy … ”
“We’re Looking For People Who Like to Draw”
“At Last, Instant Beauty!”
“FREE — The Book That Has Helped Thousands to Get Slim and Stay Slim”
But, it would be a mistake to think that direct offers are the only way to sell, or even the best way in
all situations. Take this Gene Schwartz classic, which first appeared as a full-page space ad in Barron’s

Nowhere in the lead can you guess this is about a $5.95 book. Nor does the lead focus on the six
wealth-creation secrets found inside.
Schwartz realized that if he really wanted to highlight how this book differed from all the rest, he
would have to find a different way to lead the reader into the sales message.
So, instead of focusing on the book or the secrets, he threw the spotlight on the reader. Not just his
desire to get rich, which is common, but with the word “courage,” some deeper unspoken feelings the
reader might harbor about making money.
This ad, too, was a big hit, selling thousands of copies of the book.
These other, less direct headlines just as famous as that one include:
“She Fled the Hospital When the Doctor Said ‘Cut Her Open’”
“71-Year Old Man Has Sexual Congress 5 Times a Day”
“How a ‘Fool Stunt’ Made Me a Star Salesman”
“What Never, Ever to Eat on an Airplane … ”
“The Great Oil Hoax: What George Bush Was Told Behind Closed Doors”
In each case, the lead pulls you in with a story or a piece of news. But, claims tied directly to the
product have all but disappeared. When the headline and lead take this approach of avoiding direct
claims or reference to the product, we call it an “indirect” sales lead.
Which Approach is Better?
Which is better: a “direct” or “indirect” approach?
Here’s what award-winning copywriter Don Hauptman, who you might remember for the famous
headline “Speak Spanish Like a Diplomat,” wrote in a memo way back in 1979:
“I have come to the conclusion that some of the strongest copy is not of the traditional hard-sell
variety, with superlatives, benefits, and how-to. A more seductive, indirect, oblique approach
strikes me as being the wave of the future.”
Meanwhile, equally successful copywriter and author Bob Bly says, “The majority of my heads and
leads are direct, as a result of my long years in Business-to-Business … where virtually every headline
and lead is direct.”
Then, there’s copywriter Clayton Makepeace, possibly the highest-earning U.S. copywriter. Says
Clayton: “Do direct benefit headlines still work? Hell, yes! I use them all the time … but in many markets
and for many products, they’re working less well than they once did — so ‘A’-level writers have evolved
other ways to seize prospects’ attention … ”
Or, you could ask highly-successful copywriter Lee Euler his opinion about direct or indirect leads.
Lee is famous for some of the most successful indirect sales letters in the financial newsletter industry —
including The Plague of the Black Debt you’ll see highlighted in Chapter 8. Lee’s opinion:
“Pure news or curiosity, with no clear connection to the customer’s concerns, can be very
dangerous … if you have to choose, choose the [direct] benefit approach. You’re almost always
better off with a headline that offers a strong benefit that addresses a deep need of the customer.”
Bill Bonner launched his own publishing empire with the indirect International Living classic lead
shown here.
Bill has his own opinion about indirect leads. “I like indirect leads because they have to appeal
straight to the heart. Copy always has to aim that way, of course, but indirect copy forces you to do it. The
risks are higher, but so are the rewards.”
With copywriting giants like these leaning both ways, you can guess that both “direct” and “indirect”
can work extremely well. The trick is deciding which to use and when.
The Role Awareness Plays
In the last chapter, we saw how much the awareness level of your customer can vary. Your customer
can be “most aware” of who you are and what you’re selling or at least of the problems you can help him
solve. Or, he can be completely “unaware” of much of anything having to do with what you’re trying to
sell him, his problems, or the solutions to them.
By far the easiest way to figure out if you should come at a sales lead idea head on or sidle up to it
indirectly, is to figure out where your prospect falls on this scale of awareness.
The more aware he is, usually the more direct sales lead works best.
The less aware, the more indirect you’re going to want to go.
It’s not a perfect indicator, but it’s pretty close.
On the “awareness line” we showed you in Chapter 2, it might look like this:
How Aware Your Customer Is Helps Decide How Direct You Should Be
Of course, there are other ways to explain why you might want to use one kind of approach or the
other. For instance, you’ll hear that directly stating the benefit or getting right to your offer in the lead
works best when …
You’re selling a product that’s easy to understand.
You can make a promise that’s very large and easily accepted.
You’ve got an exceptionally good deal or guarantee to offer.
Your customer knows and trusts you and deals with you often.
You’ve made a product improvement your market was already waiting for.
Each is a case when awareness and acceptance levels are already high. So, buyers are more receptive
to the sale right away.
Here’s an example of a direct lead that did very well. The product, TurboTax, is already well-known
tax software.
What could be more familiar, at least to this product’s target audience, than the pain of preparing and
paying taxes?
This copy doesn’t need to dredge up those emotions. Because the customer is already there and, most
likely, on the brink of a purchase. He may even know TurboTax by name.
The relationship is already in place. So instead, this copywriter can cut right to the chase with
something much more direct. He can jump right to the irresistible offer.
As you can see, writing direct ads can be easier than writing indirect ads, simply because you don’t
have to work as hard to educate or seduce a prospect before you reveal that you’re looking to make a
sale. When you’re working with a “most aware” prospect, a straightforward direct lead can be extremely
powerful.
On the other hand, you’ll also find times when a purely direct approach comes on too strong or makes
it too easy for a target customer to assume he’s not interested, even before he actually knows what you’re
selling.
This happens more often when …
Your customer trusts you less as a resource than you imagine.
Your customer just doesn’t trust the scope of your claims.
Your customer doesn’t believe a solution to his problem is possible.
Your customer doesn’t even know there’s a problem worth solving.
Your claims all sound too much like everybody else’s.
The less your customer knows about you, what you’re selling, or his own needs, the less effective a
direct lead is likely to be. For instance, he might not know what sets your product apart from similar ones.
He might not understand what makes you credible. Or, he might not even be aware of the problems you’re
promising to solve at all.
In each case, a lead that’s too direct risks forcing assumptions or ignoring obstacles that will get in the
way of making your sale. So, you’ll want instead to close that awareness gap before you try to reveal the
details of whatever you’re offering.
_________________________
Copywriter and publisher William Bonner, who’s also a history buff, often compares this
lead-writing lesson to the history of wars and military strategy.
Empires like to fight direct wars, coming on strong with full force, says Bill. And, that
works a lot of the time. But, when you’re outflanked and outmatched, going in headfirst
can be suicide.
Some of the greatest military “upsets” in history — when the barbarians took Rome, when
American revolutionaries turned back British redcoats, even when the Vietcong repelled
the West — tie their victories to “end around” tactics and sneak attacks. In short, they win
by being more indirect.
Of course, nobody recommends you wage war on customers. But, you are waging war on
their skepticism, along with the many demands on your customer’s time, and the years of
built-up resistance they might have to advertising or new ideas in general.
_________________________
When you’re working with a less aware or skeptical customer, the great power of an indirect lead is it
can open — or re-open — the door on that relationship before the customer has the chance to get confused
or sock your offer away in a pigeon-hole of “heard that, done that before.”
You might want to try one of the more indirect kinds of leads when …
You’re writing to a customer who knows little or nothing about you.
You’re selling something that needs explanation.
You’ve got a jaded customer with a lot of skepticism to overcome.
Your product has a timely news connection too big to ignore.
You’re ready to reinvent or elevate your product or the idea behind it.
For instance, here’s a promotion that successfully uses an indirect approach …
Obviously, the subject here is health.
It’s clear the subject here is health. But beyond that, does anything here immediately give away what
kind of health product might be offered? Not quite.
Rather, the lead and headline combination promise to entertain and inform all by themselves, enough to
make reading the sales piece almost irresistible to even the most skeptical or disconnected reader.
Another benefit of the indirect lead is that part of what makes it work is not just the emotional
connection it makes on the spot, but the way it actively involves the reader in making that connection.
Direct leads deliver an idea to a customer that he’s ready to accept. Indirect leads, on the other hand,
give the customer extra emotional momentum and reaffirming proof to help him finish forming the
conclusions he’s only just started to make. Conclusions that will, hopefully, energize his imagination
enough that he’ll soon be ready to buy.
This might help explain why, when an indirect lead works — and it can take a lot more work to find
one that will — it can work extremely well. Because to write a good indirect lead, you have to work that
much harder to get inside your prospect’s head and figure him out. In some cases, you might even need to
get to know him better than he knows himself.
Master Copywriter Clayton Makepeace calls what we’re referring to as indirect leads as “dominant
emotion” leads. Says Clayton:
“Every time I get a new control, I go to work cranking out up to six cover tests for each roll-out,
each one trying a different type of lead. Sometimes, my benefit heads win. Other times, my
dominant emotion leads win. Recently, I’m finding in heads-up A/B splits, dominant emotion
leads are winning more often. And looking back over the 34 years I’ve been doing this, the fact
is, most of my biggest controls (packages that mailed 20 to 30 million pieces per year) have had
dominant emotion leads.”
Again, as powerful as they can be, you do have risks to consider when testing indirect leads. For
instance …
You might accidentally use an indirect lead when you don’t need to.
You might pick a lead that’s too indirect to connect back to your product.
You risk being too subtle by taking your time to get to the product.
You risk boring your customer by taking too long to get to the product.
You risk getting distracted by writing something “interesting” but not relevant.
Many humor-based “brand advertising” ads, for instance, take such an indirect approach to selling that
the prospect never figures out what’s for sale. But, rarely is being clever or coy in sales copy the same as
being successfully indirect.
When trying to decide whether you should try the “direct“or “indirect” approach, you should start by
figuring out where your target reader falls on the Awareness Scale.
More aware and already engaged customers tend to respond better to direct leads.
Less aware or skeptical customers tend to respond better to indirect leads.
Of course, in advertising everything remains to be tested and nothing is a hard-and-fast rule. But
generally speaking, that’s how we’ve seen the chips fall.
Of course, just like there are shades of customer awareness, there are also shades of directness and
indirectness. Which is why there are different types of direct and indirect leads. In this book, we’ve
identified the six major categories of these lead types we see most often. We’ll spend the rest of this book
showing you how to make each of these six lead types work best for you.
Six Types of Direct and Indirect Leads
Here’s a quick introduction to the lead types we’ll cover:
The Offer Lead: This is a direct appeal that goes straight to deal. Offer Leads almost always mention
the product, the price, discounts, premiums, guarantees, and other related “deal” elements very early in
the lead, if not in the headline. An “Invitation” type of lead that opens by asking a prospect to become a
member or try a product is a more subtle variation on the classic Offer Lead.
The Promise Lead: This might be the most common type of lead that you’ll see. It’s only slightly less
direct than the Offer Lead, in that the product usually isn’t mentioned as early. But, it still opens with your
product’s best and biggest claim. In a classic “Promise” ad, the big promise is your headline, your first
line, and often your last line, too.
The Problem-Solution Lead: This is the classic “hot button” approach, where you delay any talk of
the product at first and instead lead off by identifying your prospect’s biggest, most emotionally-charged,
and relevant issue. Promises related to the product immediately follow.
The Big Secret Lead: The “tease” of hard-to-come-by knowledge, formula, or ‘system’ leads the
promo. The secret can either be a solution or hidden problem or, as in many financial promos, a ‘system’
for getting consistently good results. Usually, you get the best mileage when ordering the product reveals
the secret.
The Proclamation Lead: Decidedly indirect, a Proclamation Lead seeks to jar the “unaware” reader
out of his seat. Maybe with a factoid that’s just incredible, maybe with a shocking future forecast or
prediction, or maybe with a bold statement. The goal is to disarm the prospect for just long enough to
work your way back to the product and your pitch.
The Story Lead: This may be not only the most indirect way to open a sales letter, but also one of the
most consistently powerful. Everyone loves a story. What’s more, stories can engage readers who don’t
know you or the product well or who might flinch at a more direct, unbelievable claim. Testimonials,
guru bios, historical proof, or track record — all yield Story Leads. Just make sure to tell the story
quickly and keep it in context of the bigger promise/core idea of the promotion.
True to what you read in Chapter 1 about the Rule of One, all of these lead types still work best when
focused on one unifying Big Idea. All of them will also need, sooner rather than later, to work their way
back to big product claims and benefits. And ultimately, all need to get back to the product itself and the
offer.
You’ll find that some of these leads work better when you can talk to your prospect more directly.
Others work best when you take a more indirect approach.
And, in some cases — Story Leads, for example — you’ll find you can make the lead type work either
directly or indirectly. It will depend on who you’re writing to, what they know, and what kind of product
you’re writing for.
We’ll show you this with specific examples in the chapters that follow. But roughly plotted on the
Awareness Scale we’ve used so far, here’s how it might break down …
You may find sales leads that defy definition exclusively as any one of these types. Certainly of the
millions of sales letters mailed or posted online, copywriters have tried thousands of ‘new’ approaches.
But, when we studied the most memorable and imitated “Hall-of-Fame” classics and million-dollar
mailings, we found they almost entirely fell into one of these six categories that we’ll define and discuss
in detail in the pages ahead.
4
The Easiest Type of Sales Lead You’ll Ever Write — Or Your Money
Back
______________________
“What marketers sell is hope.”
— Seth Godin
______________________
If this first lead type we’ll look at isn’t the easiest you’ll ever write, with the most return per ounce of
effort … we’ll see to it you get back every penny you paid for this book.
Sound like a good deal? To us, it does.
Because what we’ve just done — promising you that the Offer Lead is the simplest you’ll find in this
book — is a safe bet. In the right situation, an Offer Lead can practically write itself.
In fact, here’s what our old friend Gene Schwartz says …
“Here, the copywriter is nothing more than the merchandise manager’s phrasemaker. The price is
the most important part of his headline. There is nothing creative about his job and he should
receive the lowest possible scale of pay.”
But, hang on.
Are Offer Leads Really That Simple?
In most cases, yes — Offer Leads can be that simple.
In some cases, they can get a little more sophisticated.
To understand why, first you’ve got to understand what we mean by “offers” themselves. The offer is
how you close every single sales letter you’ll ever write. There is no such thing as a sales letter without
an offer that lays out the details of what’s for sale and what the prospect gets in return.
The difference here is usually the offer only shows up close to the end of the copy. And, the product
might not get mentioned until sometime after the lead as well.
But with an Offer Lead, you’re lifting the curtain on your offer right up front.
We talked about the “directness” of a sales letter. You can measure how direct a letter is by how
quickly it gets to mentioning the product and — even more so — the details of the deal. This is what
makes Offer Leads the most direct of all the lead types you’ll discover in this book.
This is also why Schwartz and others often think of Offer Leads as the easiest to write. Because when
you’ve got a very good deal … going out to a very receptive audience … it can be almost impossible to
screw up a good Offer Lead.
That said, even something as innately appealing as a good deal can be made even more effective in the
hands of a good copywriter. You only need to look at some of the great Offer Leads written by Schwartz
himself for examples. Take a look at this headline from an ad Schwartz wrote to sell an educational
product for the Univox Institute …
Guaranteed To Improve Your Child’s School Marks — or you pay nothing!
The Fabulous New Teaching Machine Automated Speed Learning Method
Is there any question here that you’re about to be “sold?” Not at all. We know in the first instant that
it’s about a product, in this case some sort of “teaching machine.” We know that in just moments from
reading these words, someone will ask us for money. And, we know, also, that it’s attached to some sort
of guarantee.
Yet, despite the often-repeated cliché that nobody likes to be “sold,” this ad brought in millions of
dollars from new and returning customers. No wonder Schwartz used a similar approach in an ad he
wrote to sell a book called How to Double Your Power to Learn. His headline for this one began …
Don’t Pay A Penny For This Book Till It Doubles Your Power to Learn!
Here at last is your chance to make such an overwhelming difference in your child’s performance in
school — in as little as five short minutes of your time everyday — that the teacher may actually call
you up to see what happened!
Let me explain …
Again, the offer is instant. His first four words reveal that you’ll be asked for money — by
guaranteeing you’ll get it back if you’re not satisfied — and yet, this ad went on to sell over 600,000
copies of the book.
The formula comes back again in this headline …
“Don’t Pay One Penny Till This Course Turns You Into A Human Computer!”
And, in this one …
“Don’t Pay One Penny Till This Course Turns Your Mind Into A Mental Magnet”
Notice the twist. In each case, the offer detail isn’t price but guarantee. And in each case, he’s also
shored up the offer with a very powerful promise. This is something you’ll see often in Offer Leads.
Take a look at a few more examples and you’ll see what we mean …
“Give me five days and I can give you a magnetic personality … let me prove it — free”
“You must win at least $7,500 with my 13 points or they’re yours free”
“Free for a month … a full head of hair in only 32 seconds a day”
“Pick the brains of a millionaire for $10”
“Free to brides — two dollars to others”
“I guarantee (with my own money) that you will shoot your lowest score ever on your next round of
golf”
As you can see, each headline leads explicitly to some kind of offer. But in each example, simply by
hinting at the guarantee, these copywriters elevated the impact beyond a simple price-driven “good deal.”
They’ve opened the door to make a claim, and in most of these cases, an irresistible one.
Of course, adding guarantees or promises to an Offer Lead just scratches the surface of what you can
do with this type of sales letter opening. What else can you test?
You’ll see some examples in just a moment.
You’ll also notice as you read, even when we’re working with very different products and very
different deals, most successful Offer Leads still share a similar formula. It goes something like this …
1Im. mediately focus on the most emotionally-compelling detail of your offer
2U. nderscore the most valuable benefit of that deal
3E.l aborate on that same deal-benefit in the lead that follows
4A. t some point, include a compelling “reason why” you’re offering that deal
Each of these four steps in the Offer Lead formula is important. But, we want to draw your attention
here to that last part of the formula, the “reason why,” because it’s the element many copywriters
overlook.
The “reason why” could be almost anything, depending on what you’re selling and the context in which
you’re selling it. Maybe supplies are short. Maybe the price offer has a deadline. Maybe there’s a news
event that’s coming or has already happened that makes your offer an imperative.
But, in each case, you must offer your prospect something to answer the question that’s inevitable, in
response to an offer that sounds too good to be true: “Okay, that sounds great … but what’s the catch?”
A good “reason why” can help diffuse that last bit of resistance. It can be a device to heighten the
urgency of your offer. And, it can even be something that shows your prospect you share his concerns or
agenda.
There can, in fact, be a catch attached to an Offer Lead. And if there is, you should mention it.
Either reveal it or hint at it early and make sure you explain the catch sometime before you ask for the
final sale. Why?
First, because it’s better business not to try to “put one over” on your prospect. But also, because the
“catch” can or should always be something that’s also a net positive for the deal.
For instance, the “catch” of a gift-driven offer might be the purchase of a valuable product that’s even
better than the gift itself. Or, the “catch” might be a limit on how many customers you’ll accept, who
you’ll accept, how many items you’ll sell, or how long the offer is going to last.
In each case, what’s most important in an effective Offer Lead is that the prospect feels immediately
that the benefit he’s about to get is both valuable and a “steal” by comparison to what he would normally
be willing to pay.
Again, that value could be connected to the quality of what you’re offering, the promise of what it will
do for the reader, or even the availability of what’s on offer.
And, what makes it a “steal” might be a low price or a discount — often that’s the case — but it
doesn’t have to be. Sometimes emphasizing a higher or more elite price is what will get you the sale.
Many luxury brands charge more simply because some prospects being able to afford the higher price is
part of the appeal.
The following email ad from Thompson Cigars illustrates this first kind of “value” offer and does it
very simply and directly. If you’re a cigar smoker, you know what they’re promising you immediately: a
highly-regarded brand of cigars at an uncommonly good price. And, just to make sure that point isn’t
missed, the copywriter does all the math to show you that this is a really good deal.
And, here’s the twist that makes this ad different from all the other cigar ads. To sweeten the deal, the
copy also throws in a $20 Gift Card for Omaha Steaks. This is what you call a “dissolving bonus” — a
gift that adds so much extra value, it melts away remaining resistance. No doubt a good steak likely holds
plenty of appeal for your typical stogie-smoker.
Here is another example of a clear, direct Offer Lead from Littleton Coin:
Like the cigar ad, the offer is instant and explicit. The prospect is told exactly what he’ll get (all 56
commemorative quarters). His savings are made clear (67%) and he’s also teased with a “free gift” — or
resistance-resolving bonus — of 4 uncirculated Lincoln pennies.
Are all Offer Leads this explicit? Not necessarily. Consider, for example, a special sub-type of Offer
Lead called the “Invitation” offer. Invitations work especially well when you have something that’s
anticipated or exclusive on offer. Take a look at this next example, from an investing and wealth
protection society called The Oxford Club …
Immediately, you notice that it’s much less forthcoming about the details of the deal. But, because it
looks and feels like an invitation, there’s no question for the prospect that some tempting carrot is about to
be dangled.
When explaining how this special kind of “exclusivity” offer works, we like the example of a high-end
restaurant or big city nightclub. If you’ve ever taken a ride through Manhattan or Miami after hours, you
don’t have to travel far to see clubs with the aspiring “in” crowd lined up for entry.
Almost invariably in front of these clubs, you see a bouncer or that icon of exclusivity, the ominous red
“Velvet Rope.” Nobody gets past the rope without a nod from the gatekeeper.
But, as much as that rope keeps people out, it also draws people in. Something, they reason, must be
really great on the other side of that door.
Invitation offers often capitalize on that deep desire to feel included. Of course, they’re only valid
when what you’re offering really does hold some kind of exclusive value. Not every product does.
Products with a long tradition of quality, clubs and societies, and luxury items, can work especially well
with an invitation-style pitch.
When Should You Use an Offer Lead?
Of course, not every product works every time with an Offer Lead either.
To help you decide, follow the guideline we set earlier: More aware customers often respond to
direct leads and less aware customers often respond better to indirect leads.
Since the Offer Lead is the most direct lead type you’ll come across, you will mostly want to use it for
products that are easy to explain and for prospects who already know something about you, about what
you’re selling, and even about the market value of what’s for sale.
Why? Because your “most aware” customers are those whose trust you’ve already won. Or, at least,
they are those that already know very well what they want. And, if you’re offering it, they’re the ones who
are already prepared to buy. They are emotionally open to hearing what you have for sale.
In that kind of situation, that’s why seasoned copywriters and marketers agree that it’s pretty tough to
screw up an Offer Lead. In fact, the more aware and open the customer, the simpler that up-front offer can
usually be.
We say “usually” because there’s a special caveat. Occasionally, you can run into situations where a
high-level awareness is a net negative. For instance, think of someone on a car lot or the other end of a
phone conversation with an insurance salesman.
In those examples, awareness levels might be very high. So might the need for the product and even the
desire to buy. But so, too, might be the level of skepticism, thanks to too many similar offers and too many
broken sales promises.
In that case, a simple Offer Lead is suicide. Instead, you’ll need to move more toward the indirect side
of the scale, so you can buy the time to build up trust levels all over again.
What to Test in Offer Leads
What’s the best detail to test in an Offer Lead?
“Most aware” prospects will respond just fine if you lead with something about the price — a
discount, a last-chance deal before a price hike, a countdown price deal.
Slightly less aware prospects, even though they’re almost ready to be sold, might need a little extra to
get them over that hump of indecision. For instance, a free or almost-free trial offer, extra gift premiums,
or an extra-strong guarantee.
When you’re looking for ideas, just keep this in mind: Anything you can test in a regular offer at the
end of a sales letter, you can test in an Offer Lead.
There’s something else special about Offer Leads.
You’ve seen that this lead type often blends not just the offer detail but also a promise in the headline.
In most cases, you’ll find blending two or more lead types violates the Rule of One principle we covered
in Chapter 1.
But, for a handful of lead types — Offer Leads and Promise Leads especially — you can combine
with other lead types to get an even stronger impact. This is because elements like offers and promises
are indispensable in every kind of package. So, rather than adding what isn’t there, you’re simply bringing
it forward.
Here’s a famous example from The Economist …
____________
May I send you 3 FREE Issues of what may be the most influential (as well as
selectively distributed) newsweekly in the world?
Dear Colleague,
Every Monday morning, a rather unusual publication arrives at the desks of a select circle of
individuals in positions of power and influence.
The readers of this discreetly (one is almost tempted to say reluctantly) publicized newsweekly
include presidents (of countries, banks, universities, and Fortune 500 companies), ranking executives
(in business, government, and industry) and prominent thinkers (in law, science, economics, and
military strategy).
Now, it may not surprise you to learn that the average personal income of North American
subscribers to this singular periodical exceeds $144,800 per annum. However, it may surprise you to
discover that despite the enormous clout and affluence of its world renowned readers … only a
relative handful of Americans are aware of the existence of this exclusive publication, much less the
intelligence it provides.
But now, with this letter, you are cordially invited to join the extremely select circle of men and
women who wouldn’t think of beginning each business week without the incomparable insight of and
reporting of … The Economist.
Enclosed you will find a non-transferable order card. Return it to me and I will send you three
absorbing issues of The Economist to read at my expense. These three issues will be yours to keep
free whether or not you decide to become a subscriber …
____________
Again you see it’s an offer right away.
It slaps down those details in the headline.
Then, it continues by stressing how exclusive their “club” of subscribers happens to be, a hallmark of
the special “Invitation” type of Offer Lead we talked about earlier.
Would opening with an offer have worked here without the recognition and credibility The Economist
has spent years building ahead of this? Probably not.
How likely is it that this letter landed in the hands of the “relative handful of Americans who are
aware of the existence of this exclusive publication … ?” Very.
Otherwise, the three-free issue offer might have gone over like free ice cream in winter.
Here’s one more.
____________
Dear Sir,
This letter is going to be short and to the point. We don’t want to make a big thing of it. Not yet anyway.
We’d like to invite you to take advantage of what we call our “no-strings” membership.
This offer extends our typically generous introduction to you: choose any 4 books for $1 each.
But it omits the usual obligation to buy four more books. You don’t even have to buy one more book.
In other words, you can join Book-of-the-Month Club, take your welcoming package of 4 books (saving
up to $100 or more), and never buy another thing from us.
It’s an experiment for us. Will this attract the kind of reader who will appreciate our other Club benefits
as well as the introductory offer?
It’s an experiment for you. A way to try us without tying yourself down to a commitment.
So enjoy all the Club benefits you wish. Just as if you were a committed member. We’ve put it all in
writing. Take any books for $1 each, plus shipping and handling, with no obligation to buy anything else.
The rest is up to you.
I can’t imagine a bigger bargain for the reader. Can you?
Sincerely,
James Mercer,
President
P.S. This offer isn’t available to everyone. It isn’t transferable. But, if you decide to join and become a
member of the Club, we can understand why you might want to share the news of your “no-strings”
membership with a special friend or two. In that event, ask them to write me and mention your name.
____________
This “Book-of-the-Month Club” mailing was a huge success. The only other elements in the envelope
were a folded lift note and a reply card. Yet, this promotion was so successful, it is one of the many offerdriven
pieces collected and featured by Dennison Hatch in his book, “Million Dollar Mailings … ”
What Else Do You Need to Know About Offer Leads?
Most of what you need to know about writing Offer Leads, you already understand if you know how to
write regular offers because both share a lot of the same tricks and techniques.
Here’s a quick rundown, though, of some key ideas …
Endorsements can give a big boost. Remember, an offer-based pitch is something you use with your
“most aware” customers — that is, they trust you to cut to the details of the deal because they already
know what they feel they need to know about you. Your name means something to them. In that sense, if
you know you’re sending something to a list that’s already warm to you or some person connected with
you … use that to your advantage. That might mean making the signature under the sales letter come from
the person they know and trust most. It could mean showing the face of that most-trusted person next to the
headline. It might even mean putting that person’s name in the product title.
Know your goal. Offer Leads that give away irresistible “FREE” gifts will get subscribers who sign
up just for the gift. That might be fine for a low-priced product, where they still might stick around for
more. But, it might not be so fine for a high-priced product, where the incentive to cancel and keep the
premium is greater. If you need cash now, an easy-payment offer might not be something you’ll want to
test. But, if you want lots of new orders, this might be just the ticket. What you want out of your target
audience can change what deal detail you feature up front in your Offer Lead.
Mirror and Test. The offer that’s usually at the end of a sales letter and the Offer Lead you’ll put up
front share details, but you’ll also want them to share similar language, hit the same hot buttons, and share
rationale behind the special deal. Likewise, just like you would test different details in the close of a
sales letter, you can test those same details in your Offer Lead.
If you can, stay short. One of the key reasons you go to a direct Offer Lead is because the customer
you’re writing to is already mostly sold on you or whatever you’re offering. This means you can often cut
a lot of the warm-up and copy-coddling that happens in less direct sales pieces. Most of what you’ll write
in a sales package with an Offer Lead, outside of what the deal is and how to take advantage of it, is proof
that the offer has value.
When in doubt, do the math. If you’re leading with a special price break, some kind of guaranteed
result, or anything you can express as a percentage … try doing the math for your reader. If your Offer
Lead compares your product cost to someone else’s, show the savings in terms of a dollar amount. Often,
that math is aimed at showing you’re about to give more to the reader than you’ll expect to get in
exchange.
Find clever ways to price. Offer Leads often focus on price, but not always on a simple discount or
“FREE” trial deal. For instance, say you’ve got a half-off discount to use in your lead. It might work
better if you keep the nominal price high but give them a “2-for-1” deal. Or, you could try a trade-in offer
or say you’ll cover the entire cost of shipping. Try introductory or limited-time pricing. Or, you might
even want to try a “$1 trial offer,” where you get their credit card information with a nominal $1 charge
and then say something like, “If after a 30-day trial, you like our widgets, you don’t need to do anything.
We’ll just debit you for the full amount … ”
Test time limits. Ready-to-order customers can feel even more ready to buy if they know the special
deal you’re offering won’t last forever. Try testing a countdown deadline of either time or quantity in your
Offer Lead. If your sales letter is online, set up a live “countdown” timer that shows how much (or how
little) time is left on the deal.
Make it easy. Just like you would never want a prospect to get confused over how to fill out your
order form or whom to call to get started, a good Offer Lead hits the reader with at least a short sentence
or paragraph that hints at how easy it will be to take advantage of the deal (e.g., “And this is easy to do —
just take the ‘Send-no-money Invitation’ card you’ll find in the envelope, fill it out telling me which gifts
you’d like and where to send your first issue, and drop it in the postage-prepaid envelope I’ve provided.
It’s that simple. But, you’ll want to make sure you do this quickly. And, here’s why … ”).
Provide a parachute. Even though you’ll most often use Offer Leads with “already sold” buyers who
have at least a partial if not full emotional commitment to your deal, you’ll still have a better chance of
getting them to respond if you can reverse some or all of the risk early in the lead. Possibly even in the
headline. (e.g., “Don’t pay a penny until this book … ” or “You risk nothing unless this new strategy … ”
and so on). The Offer Leads that do this aggressively — where you pay later for a free trial now, are
called “soft offers.”
Test highlighting the guarantee. We recently saw a “No Matter What” warranty on a site selling
Eagle Creek luggage. “If your luggage is ever damaged (even by the airlines) we’ll repair or replace it
free — no matter what.” That’s bold. And, to someone already searching for luggage, it could be a
clincher that makes the sale. If you’re in a situation where an Offer Lead might work, and you’ve got a
great guarantee, consider pulling it up front to feature in the headline.
_________________________
A Warning about “FREE”
Featuring something “FREE” is common in Offer Leads, but it might not always be the
best or strongest way for you to go. Why?
When your gift or set of giveaways feels almost as valuable as the product you’re selling,
it’s rarely a problem.
Prospects are likely to sign on for the bonuses, but they’re also likely to stick around and
try what they’ve paid for, too, because they can rationalize that they’ve gotten their
money’s worth already.
However, when you’re selling something with a much higher perceived value, throwing in
lots of freebies can actually work against you. Why?
Because it can make the paid product you’re offering look like it’s not worth as much as
you claim it is.
“FREE” is a powerful word. But like jokes, funny ties, and wine — context is everything
when it comes to deciding whether it’s something worth featuring in your deal.
_________________________
5
Double Your Sales With This Next Kind of Lead
____________________________
“Be neither too remote nor too familiar.”
— Prince Charles
____________________________
“Cash If You Die, Cash If You Don’t”
According to our friend Drayton Bird — who has written copy for Ford, American Express, and
Proctor & Gamble — that headline was one of the most successful ever written in the insurance industry.
And, we believe it.
“Your safest opening,” says Drayton, “ … is your prime benefit and offer … an instant statement,
instantly comprehensible.” Despite a career going back to 1957, Drayton’s not the first to say so.
For instance, in 1904, a Canadian Mounted Policeman named John E. Kennedy marched into the office
of Albert Lasker, a young partner in one of Chicago’s biggest ad agencies, and told him more or less the
same thing.
Their meeting started at six o’clock in the evening and they talked about nothing but this ad technique
until 3 a.m. Kennedy had spent long, snowy nights studying ads and had come up with a theory he called
“Reason-Why Advertising.”
To find the real reason why customers buy was to find the emotional core of the promise your ad
needed to make. Said Kennedy in a book by the same title, “To strike the responsive chord with the reader
… is to multiply the selling power of every reason-why given.”
Up until then, most ads appeared in newspapers and were written as news. Products were announced.
They were explained. But, Kennedy and Lasker began to change all that.
They first tested their promise-driven “reason-why” ads with a washer company. Within four months,
the ads were so successful, the company increased its budget with Lasker’s advertising agency from
$15,000 per year to $30,000 — per month.
Kennedy went on to earn the highest salary paid to any copywriter in the industry. And, Lasker went on
to build what would be the world’s most successful ad agency at the time.
If you’ve ever eaten a bowl of Quaker Puffed Rice, washed your dishes with Palmolive, brushed your
teeth with Pepsodent, or taken a ride in an Oldsmobile, you’ve seen success built with the help of
promise-driven advertising.
Ad giant David Ogilvy went on to say, nearly 80 years later, that with the help of this one technique,
“Albert Lasker made more money than anyone in the history of the advertising business.” With Kennedy’s
inspiration and his own version of the Promise Lead, Lasker went on to be called “the father of modern
advertising.”
When you consider the trillions of dollars Lasker’s title represents, that’s no small feat. It’s no wonder
Ogilvy himself took pains to teach the same technique in an ad he wrote for prospective ad agency clients:
The headline, “How to Create Advertising That Sells” was itself a tempting, straightforward promise
for Ogilvy & Mather’s future clients. But, the lead puts it just as plain with this powerful nugget:
“It pays to promise a benefit which is unique and competitive, and the product must deliver the
benefit you promise. Most advertising promises nothing. It is doomed to fail in the marketplace …
Headlines that promise to benefit sell more than those that don’t.”
Our friend and fellow copywriter, Clayton Makepeace, put it even more bluntly in a recent message to
readers of his Total Package blog:
“The only reason any rational human being ever purchases anything is to derive a benefit from
it! That means … any scrap of sales copy that fails to clearly, dramatically, emphatically,
credibly, and repeatedly present the benefits a product will deliver is destined to fail
miserably.”
In other words, if you have any hope of getting your reader by the lapels and making him listen to your
message, you first have to give him a reason why. And, that reason is bound up in a promise he cannot
resist.
These days, you won’t find many ads of any type — at least not successful ones — that lack a promise
of some kind, either stated outright or implied. And, almost always right there in the lead or, just as often,
in the headline.
That includes every one of the six types of sales copy leads in this book. So why, you might ask, use a
chapter to single out Promise Leads for special focus?
When Pure Promise Leads Work Best
Because, as often as there are times when a prospect needs a more subtle approach, there are also
times when a simple, direct promise really is best. And again, you’ll find it’s always tied up with how
“aware” and ready your customer is to hear about what you’re selling.
This can be easy to test. Since almost every kind of lead type will include some kind of promise, often
all you need to do is remove the extra elements to unearth the pure promise hidden underneath.
Take, for instance, a hypothetical offer headline for a tooth-whitening product, as you might have
expected to see in our previous chapter. It might read:
A Hollywood smile in 3 days … or your money back
The promise is clear. Use this product and flashbulbs will soon glint off your pearly whites. By adding
the offer line “… or your money back,” however, this becomes a clear sales pitch. An offer. The lead that
follows will quickly get to the heart of the deal and the credibility bound up in that guarantee.
No doubt, if you’re already out there looking for a good deal on exactly this kind of product, an ad that
starts off with that kind of bang would likely get your attention.
But, suppose you’re talking to someone who’s interested, but not quite sure yet that the product can
deliver. For this kind of prospect, the promise is tempting. Yet, revealing the offer out of the gate might
come on too strong.
In that case, it may need to be that you’ll want to develop anticipation with just the promise first. You
might even do it without mentioning the product at all …
A Hollywood smile in 3 days
A lead that would follow just the pure promise alone could sound very different from the lead
following an offer headline. How so? Instead of talking up the deal, it might repeat the promise another
way or dive into proof.
____________
You’ve seen them on the red carpet, I’m sure — the tuxes and gowns, the makeup and jewelry — but
what do they all have in common? Yep.
Pearly, shining smiles full of straight, white teeth.
Now you can get the same flashy grin, and you don’t need $50,000 worth of caps and a high-ticket
Hollywood dentist to make it happen.
This wasn’t even possible, just a year ago.
But, it is now.
Let me show you why …
____________
Of course, opening with a pure Promise Lead like this one has gotten a little harder recently. The
reasons for this are almost directly tied to the Promise Lead’s unique success in the past. In short, more
and more prospects today have become “hyper-aware.”
That is, they’ve been hit so often with so many similar promises from a flood of so many similar
products — thanks to the Internet and other always-on sources of advertising — that prospects have gone
the other way and shut down to many promises.
As much as they still want their needs met by the products they buy, they have more walls raised
against marketing messages. And, the one that’s become most familiar to those “hyper-aware” prospects
is an ad that busts into the room making a big claim or promise.
Still, you have at least two key reasons to master the Promise Lead.
First, because you need to identify and write strong promises to create any other kind of successful
lead. And second, because there are times when a simple, direct, pure Promise Lead opening will not
only work, but will prove the single best way for a marketer to get his foot in the door.
The decision is almost this simple: Promise Leads work best with “mostly aware” prospects who are
almost ready to buy.
What to Promise
“Advertising works best,” says Drayton Bird again, “if you promise people something they want, not
— as many imagine — if you are clever, original, or shocking.”
It’s not hard to see that the core promise in any ad is like a statement of intention. If I read this, says
your reader, what do I get in return? You, in your promise-driven copy, answer that question. But, it’s
also clear they’ll only stick around if they like your answer.
So, what’s the most relevant promise you can make to your prospect?
We know ads can and have promised all kinds of things: To make you thin or bulk you up. To make
you stronger, younger, fitter, and faster. To teach you to do something you’ve always wanted to do. Or, to
make something easier than you ever thought it could be. Be more attractive. Be rich. Save money. Drive
a better car, own a bigger house, look more beautiful or more handsome, dress sharp, have a happy
marriage.
Here are just a couple of headlines from classic Promise ads …
Instant Relaxation!
Build Your Memory In 4 Short Weeks —
So Powerfully Your Family Won’t Believe It
What made these ads work, when they did?
It’s easy to guess the products these could sell. But, when a lead starts this way, it’s not the promise
derived from the product that’s done the selling. Instead, it’s the emotional promise you can see barely
hidden behind the words.
For instance, “Instant Relaxation!” promised more than just peace and quiet. It was a reward that
acknowledged a well-earned rest. And, the promise of a “powerful memory” gets elevated to the respect,
love, and admiration you’ll get for having such an impressive skill.
The richer part of the promises you’ll make is the part that pulls the strings from behind the curtain.
Friendship and status among your peers. Confidence and freedom from worry. Inclusion. Safety and
security. Even just the feeling of association to people you admire and respect.
The bottom line is that the most effective part of Promise Leads — and, in fact, the promises you’ll use
in all six of the lead types in this book — is that what your product will do for customers is only as
important, or maybe less so, as how you’ll make them feel about themselves while using it. Or, even more
importantly, how they’ll be seen by others while using it.
You’ll recognize the headline of this following ad:
This, of course, is the same title used on one of the most successful self-help books ever sold. And,
this was the ad that sold it, much better than anyone imagined possible.
The original publisher had printed only 5,000 copies for the first run.
The author, after all, was only an ex-farm-boy salesman named Dale Carnegie, who had hawked
everything from bacon and soap to Packard cars, before moving to New York to become — of all things
— an actor. He only started teaching his course after the acting career failed to pan out. And, it took
Carnegie 15 years of compiled class notes to pull his textbook together.
Yet, it caught on with readers.
And, when a copy landed on the desk of copywriting legend Victor Schwab, he was smart enough to
know that the best promise he could use to sell it was the one already on the book’s cover, “ How to Win
Friends and Influence People.”
Underneath the headline, Schwab’s Promise Lead began …
John D. Rockefeller, Sr., some years ago said: “The ability to deal with people is as purchasable a
commodity as sugar or coffee. And, I will pay more for that ability than for any other under the sun.”
Wouldn’t you suppose that every college in the land would conduct practical, common sense courses
to develop this “highest-priced ability under the sun?”
To our knowledge, none did.
How to develop that ability is the subject of Dale Carnegie’s amazing new book …
For extra punch, Schwab included some promise-laden chapter titles, straight out of the original book.
Some of those titles read like textbook Promise headlines, for example:
Six Ways to Make People Like You Instantly
Do This and You’ll be Welcome Anywhere
A Simple Way to Make a Good First Impression
Twelve Ways to Win People to Your Way of Thinking
How to Interest People
How to Get Cooperation
An Easy Way to Become a Good Conversationalist
Letters that Produce Miraculous Results
How to Spur Men on to Success
Any one of these might have worked as the main headline for the ad. And, some were tested. Over the
years that followed, Schwab’s ad and others went on to sell over 15 million copies.
Where Good Promise Leads Get Started
When writing a Promise Lead, where should you start?
The default for most marketers is to study the product and just figure out what it does best. After all,
we’ve all heard the lesson about “features” versus “benefits.” First, you make a list of the product’s best
features, then you translate those into what they will do for the customer.
Simple.
This is a lesson you may have heard connected with one of the most successful product pitches in
history. Forrest E. Mars grew up in a candymaker’s house. And, with some big shoes to fill. His father’s
home business grew to invent and sell some of the world’s most famous candy bars including Snickers,
Mars Bars, and Milky Way.
But, Forrest’s father didn’t want to expand the business and Forrest, fresh home from Yale University,
did. So, he sold his share in the business back to Dad and moved to Europe. That’s where he took up with
other candymakers.
It’s also where he first spotted the breakthrough that would help change the chocolate business, the
course of World War II, and millions of kids’ birthday parties — and indirectly, the advertising industry.
It was a tiny pellet of chocolate, wrapped in a candy shell, found in the field kits of soldiers fighting
the Spanish Civil War. The chocolate gave them quick energy, the shell kept it from melting under harsh
conditions.
We know it now, of course, as the M&M.
Forrest took it back to the States and patented his own formula for the candy in 1941. Within a year,
the U.S. was committed to World War II. And not long after, M&Ms made their way into soldiers’ field
rations. When the soldiers came home, the candies were a hit with the general public.
But, sales were about to get even bigger.
Forrest realized that television — making its way into the mainstream at that time — was the next
place he wanted to go to sell M&Ms. He hired a copywriter named Rosser Reeves to do it. It turned out
to be another groundbreaking move.
Reeves was already a success at the time. He was both copy chief and vice president of his agency in
New York. But, when he sat down with Forrest Mars to talk candy, he listened and took notes like a firstyear
copywriter.
“He was the one who said it,” claimed Reeves in the version we’ve heard told. “He told me the whole
history and then I pressed him and he said, ‘Well, the thing is, they only melt in your mouth, but they don’t
melt in your hands.’”
That was all Reeves needed.
Within four years, Mars was selling one million pounds of M&Ms per week. M&Ms have since gone
on Space Shuttle flights with astronauts. They’ve been the official candy of the Olympics. And, according
to Business Week, they’re the bestselling candy in the world.
Mars died at age 95 in 1999, with a $4 billion fortune. And, his candy company takes in over $20
billion per year with 30,000 employees worldwide.
It’s no accident that Reeves went on to his own kind of fame. And, not just because Reeves happens to
be the real-life model for the character of Don Draper on the TV series Mad Men.
You might know him even better, after all, as the father of what every copy cub and professional
advertiser memorizes as the “Unique Selling Proposition” or “USP.”
To Find the Promise, Find the USP
When Reeves first wrote about the USP in his book Reality in Advertising, he was writing down the
formula you can use to write any effective Promise Lead.
Reeves’ formula had three parts.
The first part for Reeves meant starting with the product. But, only if that product was actually good
enough to almost sell itself. As a preacher’s son, Reeves was fundamentally honest and felt all advertising
should be, too. The product must be able to do what you’ll say it can do.
But, an even better reason for starting with the product is the second part of Reeves’ formula. What the
product does, and by default will claim to do, has to be original. That is, the best products do something
the competitor’s won’t or can’t. That’s key because the USP — the promise you’ll make — has to sound
and feel different from everything your prospect has heard before, too.
Then, there’s the final part of Reeves’ formula. This is the one most forgotten, but it’s impossible to
overlook if you’ve got any hope of coming up with a powerful promise. Every promise must target your
prospect’s core desire. That is, they have to already want what you’re promising.
This is worth repeating.
Reeves believed, and so did Eugene Schwartz, and so do we, that you cannot create desire in a
customer. You can only awaken what’s already there. This is especially true in a pure Promise Lead,
where you have nothing but the claim pulling all the weight. The more tightly you can target those core
desires, the more likely your ad will work.
It’s that simple.
Can a Claim Be Too Big?
We’re sure you’ve heard British writer Samuel Johnson’s advice, who famously said, “Promise, large
promise, is the soul of advertisement.”
And, when Johnson and his friends were about to auction off a brewery, he went on to warn them, “We
are not here to sell off a parcel of vats and boilers; but to offer the potentiality of wealth beyond the
dreams of avarice.”
A good promise, in other words, is a big one.
And, Promise Leads should promise to change lives.
But, is that always true? No, not necessarily. Because you can run a few risks by committing to bigger
and bigger advertising promises. One risk, even Johnson went on to write about, saying “Advertisements
are now so numerous that they are very negligently perused, and it has therefore become necessary to gain
attention by magnificence of promises, and by eloquence sometimes sublime and sometimes pathetic.”
That was in 1759.
Imagine what he would say today.
A second risk is that oversized promises, especially in today’s crowded market, can be so large that
they become unbelievable. As copywriter Clayton Makepeace recently warned:
“Simply shout[ing] benefits are not working as well as they used to, because yours is the
gazillionth ‘benefit’ head your prospect has seen today … your benefit [lead] screams, ‘I WANT
TO SELL YOU SOMETHING!’ … [and] increasingly skeptical prospects think, ‘Yeah, RIGHT!’”
Of course, you still need some kind of claim to sell. Which is why even the most indirect lead types
you’ll find in this book still lead up to a promise of some kind.
So, what to do when a promise seems too large?
One way to derail the skeptics is to just acknowledge the reason for their skepticism before they have
a chance to. For instance, by turning the giant claim into a question:
Can You Really Grow $500 Into $8.4 Million?
The risk, of course, is that you still can’t deliver on a promise that large. Or, that you’ll disappoint the
prospect when they realize it was just a hook to get him reading.
Another option, obviously, is to scale back to a promise until it’s surprisingly small. For instance, we
remember a great and simple Promise Lead that did just that, in the midst of a sea of cliché “Get Rich
Quick” ads. The headline read:
Get Rich Slow
Who on earth wants to get rich “slow?” Maybe nobody. But, you can see how it still promises
something desirable while actually fitting neatly into the prospect’s comfort zone.
Here’s another interesting example of a scaled-down promise working better than a big one, from
career copywriter Dick Paetzke.
It seems that Sears had hired a team to help them sell their “Diehard” car battery on TV. To show how
the battery could hold up in rough weather, the team lined up 10 cars in front of TV cameras on a cold icy
night.
They shut off all the engines, linked all 10 cars to one Diehard battery, and then had 10 drivers start all
the cars up at the same time. It was an amazing performance from a great product. But, there was one
problem: Viewers didn’t believe it.
The team shot the commercial again, but with only three or four cars. Everything else in the
demonstration was the same. This time the commercial was a smash hit. By scaling the promise back just
enough, the claim was suddenly believable.
How do you know how to make a promise that’s just right?
First, you have to know what’s been promised before. That’s your mark to beat. You also have to
know what your prospect expects, so you don’t under-promise.
You need to make promises you know you can prove. All copywriting claims, but Promise Leads
especially, demand airtight credibility. That can be testimonials or anecdotes, clear metaphors, case
studies, charts, and powerful statistics. Whatever it takes to make even your biggest claim a clear
possibility.
And finally, you need to know how much what you’re selling can meet or beat those expectations, too.
Promise Leads that over-sell a product — even successfully — only set that product up to fail faster, once
it under-delivers.
The Bottom Line
When you’re targeting an eager and ready-to-buy customer, try an Offer Lead. When you’re selling to
someone farther removed, or to a skeptic, try one of the other leads you’ll find in here. The more distant,
the later you should look in these pages.
But, when you’re targeting a prospect that’s just barely sitting on the fence, almost ready to buy but just
waiting for that extra nudge, a simple, direct Promise Lead can be an excellent tool.
What’s more, make no mistake, no matter which approach you take, Johnson was right: Promises are
the soul of good ads. Make strong ones, where you can.
Just remember, far more important than the size of the promise in your lead is how original and
relevant it is to your target customer.
The promises that work best are the promises that your prospect doesn’t hear anybody else making …
at a time when he really wished someone would.
Of course, that means doing more research and staying on top of the competition. It means finding new
ways to say simple things. And, it means knowing your prospect’s secret desires, maybe better than he
knows them himself.
But, it’s the only way.
_________________________
Promise Leads …
Should start with the product’s biggest benefit.
Should hit the targeted promise right away.
Must connect the core benefit to the prospect’s core desire.
Should sound as new and original as possible.
Should be bold but still believable.
Must follow with even bigger proof.
Often focus on speed, size, or quality of results.
Usually won’t work to skeptics or highly “unaware” prospects
Can work very well with “on the fence” prospects.
_________________________
6
Still Can’t Find Your Hook? Try This Time-Tested Solution
____________________________
“When you advertise fire-extinguishers, open with the fire.”
— David Ogilvy
____________________________
What keeps your customer up at night?
In countless seminars and training sessions with new copywriters, it’s a question we’ve both repeated
often. And, one we hope you’ve answered, too, no matter what it is you’re hoping to sell.
Because once you identify that one big worry, you could have the makings of a blockbuster pitch in the
form of this next lead type, the Problem-Solution Lead.
This lead type is a “go-to” classic when it comes to starting sales copy. You’ll find plenty of examples
in ad archives from every era, including plenty included in this chapter.
You can also find lots of Problem-Solution Leads in an industry where we’ve both done a lot of
consulting — financial publishing.
When we’ve asked that question in the financial publishing business, our prospects shared a similar
profile. Most are men in their mid-50s to 60s with some money to invest. Some have set aside a lot
already; some, not so much.
But, even in their differences, their worries are often similar.
In the big picture, they often worry about the mess politicians have made of the economy. They worry
about countries fighting over oil, gas, food, and other resources. And, they worry about market scandals
and corruption that might cheat them out of savings.
More locally, they worry about keeping up with bills in retirement after paychecks stop rolling in.
They worry about shrinking bank accounts and the impact of inflation.
They worry about the crushing impact of taxes, about making dumb mistakes with money, about having
less than the Jones’ next door, or about missing out on a big opportunity.
Maybe most of all, they worry about running out of money before they run out of life.
All the ads we helped clients create targeted the most pressing of these worries.
Not all of those ads used Problem-Solution Leads, but in certain cases, you can get your biggest results
by directly naming and promising to fix those problems.
Getting Less Direct
With our first two types, Offer Leads and Promise Leads, you’ve seen how aware, ready customers
can respond best to a really direct approach. They’re so in tune with what you’re selling — or at least
what they want — that you don’t need much to gain their trust or attention.
But, when the worry outpaces everything else in the prospect’s mind, this is where you start needing an
interest-grabber that’s less direct. Consider, for instance, the “solution-aware” and “problem-aware”
prospects we mentioned earlier in this book.
In both cases, you have a customer who knows at least that there’s a situation they want to improve.
They may even suspect that, somewhere out there, there’s a way to improve it.
But, with both prospect types, you’re starting to see a gap in what they know about themselves and
what they know about your product. This is a small gap you’ll need to cross before you can start to make a
sale.
And, a good Problem-Solution Lead might help you do it.
Why start there?
As you move away from customers who are “most aware,” your lead types shift to less direct because
— before you can make a sale — you need that much more time to build trust.
Problem-Solution Leads are a little harder to write than Promise Leads or Offer Leads because you
first must take a moment to show empathy. Think about it. In personal conversation, what’s one of the
ways we show a person that we’re listening?
To paraphrase a President, it’s “I feel your pain.”
While a certain prospect might not know about your specific product, or even know that a product like yours exists, he might
desperately feel his problem. Just identifying it is a way to win trust by saying, “I feel your pain … ” which then opens the door to
you continuing, “ … and I have a solution.”
When someone sees that you understand their concerns, that helps open doors. What’s more, hearing
those concerns echoed can also make your target reader more willing to believe you might also be
someone capable of finding a meaningful solution. This can begin a relationship between customer and
seller where one didn’t exist before.
So, what’s the full formula for an effective Problem-Solution Lead? Sometimes it can seem as simple
as identifying the problem and offering the product that answers it. But, the reality usually has a few more
layers. It goes something like this …
1T.a rget those worries that keep customers up at night.
2M. ake sure they’re worries that carry deep emotional weight.
3Y.o u have to stir those emotions first, to prove you feel your prospect’s pain.
4Y.o u don’t want to linger on the problem too long before offering hope.
5Y.o u must offer hope of a relevant solution at some point in the pitch.
But, you ask, isn’t it a mistake to “go negative” when you’re trying to put somebody in an optimistic,
buying mood? And, even if it does work, isn’t it just plain wrong to make a sale by stirring up bad
feelings and capitalizing on people’s fears?
Reasonable questions.
After all, you don’t want to come across like a health insurance salesman pitching products at his high
school reunion, or a lawyer handing out business cards in the hospital cardiac unit. That said, there are
times when the Problem-Solution approach to selling is not only right; it’s what your customers will
prefer.
How so?
When It’s Right To “Go Negative”
Have you ever tried to cheer someone up — a friend, a family member, or a spouse — only to have
them turn on you and start making a case for their right to feel bad?
It’s a pretty common experience. Some studies even show that “up” messages directed at someone
who’s already feeling “down” can actually make them feel worse.
Why is that?
At least in part, it’s because negative emotions that have an unwelcome way of washing over you —
fear, pain, anger, frustration, shame, desperation, and more — can be isolating. It’s easy to feel like
you’re the only one in the world who really “gets” how wrong things feel.
This is why someone who is upset or depressed by something can actually bond better with somebody
else that sees what’s going on and can commiserate. Simply acknowledging the problem gives it
legitimacy. It can also help open up your long-suffering prospect to looking for solutions. The fact that you
understand what’s wrong can help make you seem like a more credible source for solutions, too.
Which problems to focus on first?
Obviously, that has a lot to do with what you’re selling. More importantly, it has a lot to do with
whom you’re selling to. Because the most relevant worry clearly originates with the prospect, not the
product. You might find that easy to accept, which puts you ahead of product-focused marketers. But,
identifying what those worries are might still prove tougher than you think.
See, it’s easy to imagine the practical, superficial problems most people share: pounds they want to
lose, stained teeth and wrinkles, a nasty smoking habit worth quitting, pain that lingers, low savings, low
income, or bad job prospects, sleepless nights, a nasty cold, undisciplined children — all of them and
more, obvious obstacles to the good life.
But, behind these run even deeper feelings, including some even your prospect would find challenging
to name. We refer to these as the “core emotions.” And, in Problem-Solution Leads, you’ll consistently
get more bang for your buck if you can tap these subconscious feelings first.
From the solution side of the equation, Master Copywriter Clayton Makepeace does a good job
identifying these when he writes about what he calls “emotional relief benefits.”
“[This is the promise that] erases your prospect’s fears and frustrations. It eases his feelings of
guilt, shame, self-doubt, and feelings of inadequacy. It soothes nerves and ends shyness and
embarrassment. It prevents future humiliation. It delivers blessed relief from loneliness,
sadness, or depression. It protects them from future feelings of regret.”
You can only identify these deeper target emotions in one way, and that’s by spending time “talking” to
ideal prospects for whatever you’re selling. Do it by speaking with them directly. Read their letters and
emails to customer service; even ask if you can sit in on their calls.
Find out which blogs and magazines they read, which podcasts they listen to, and which conventions
they go to. Read their posts on online forums. Meet them where you can and get them talking. Record what
they’re saying — if you can get their permission and don’t think it will change the way they respond.
People with worries often can’t help talking. Listen for the patterns, especially those things they don’t
realize they’re saying and repeating. It’s those deeper problems you’re setting out to solve.
The key to Problem-Solution ads is often that the problem you’re fixing is connected to a lot of deeper feelings, not just surface
issues. Identifying the unspoken worry can be far more powerful than promising to fix a spoken one.
How Long to Linger?
Once you accept the idea that problem-based selling can work with problem-focused prospects, you
run into your next question. How long should you focus on the worry in your lead before you start teasing
with a solution?
First, as we said, you need to make sure you’re targeting the right problem and offering the right
solution. As an example, maybe you know the story of Kleenex® Brand tissues.
Depending on whom you ask, the paper company Kimberly-Clark got stuck with warehouses full of
“cellucotton,” a filter product they made for gas masks at the end of World War I.
With the war over, they needed to find another market. They tried out a couple of ideas until someone
hit on Kleenex® Brand “facial tissues,” a disposable replacement for towels that women back then used to
remove cold cream.
And, they sold it that way, too.
In 1925, a magazine ad showed up in the Ladies Home Journal promising “no more dingy cold-cream
towels” and showed celebrities demonstrating how they used the tissues. For the next five years, Kleenex®
was sold as “the new secret of keeping a pretty skin as used by famous movie stars.”
In some of those ads, a small box suggested Kleenex® tissues might work as disposable handkerchiefs,
too. Other ads also tested alternative uses for Kleenex®, everything from spare coffee filters to cleanup
towels.
But, it was Kimberly-Clark’s head researcher, who suffered chronic hay fever, who pushed Kimberly-
Clark’s top copywriter to rewrite the ads with the disposable handkerchief lead up front.
“Don’t Put a Cold In Your Pocket ,” said the ads. Instead of putting a dirty cloth tissue back in your
pocket, “It’s ‘Kleenex® Tissue Time’.”
And, it was those campaigns, along with other Problem-Solution promises like “No more sore noses
— use gentle Kleenex®!” that helped create a $1.6 billion brand.
Problem-Solution pitches have been a staple for copywriters since the early days of advertising. For instance, Kimberly-Clark’s ad
department tried a lot of different ways to sell their now-famous tissues before they settled on these Problem-Solution ads that
targeted cold and hay fever sufferers.
Of course, you don’t need much copy to sell cold tissues.
But notice, in Problem-Solution pitches that target both big and small, you’ll get your biggest impact
when you can first sum up the core worry in as instant a phrase as possible.
Think of the problem you target as the cover on a blockbuster novel or the opening shot in a movie. On
the one hand, you want your prospect to linger over it long enough to commit to your message that
follows. On the other hand, you know you’ve got to stir an emotion before the prospect’s head kicks in
and reminds him about his to-do list for the rest of the day.
So, how long do you linger on the problem in your copy, assuming you’ve identified the biggest
worry? For exactly as long as it takes to win that commitment to read on.
For simple products that solve simple worries, it might happen as early as right there in your headline.
For something more complex, you might have to hold off just a little bit longer.
Understandably, we know that’s an unsatisfactory and abstract answer. But, it should become clearer
as we look at some samples, like the ones you’ll find here:
“If This, Then That”
The classic “If-then” approach to writing a Problem-Solution Lead might be the most common you’ll
come across, both now and in the advertising archives.
Take this classic 1950s ad for Geritol …
If you’re feeling run down, then this will pick you up. The phrase “tired blood” isn’t a medical term.
Geritol’s makers — or copywriters — cooked it up to characterize how it feels to come out of a cold or
the flu.
Just reading it almost wears you down. It also makes the promise you’ll “feel stronger fast” that much
more life-changing. It’s such a direct and simple proposition, you can see some Offer Lead creeping in:
“within 7 days — or money back!”
Just to see how an ad for a similar product did it, here’s another classic Problem-Solution pitch from
around the same era. It uses nearly the same formula, only instead of “If this, then that” it’s “For Relief
from this, try that” …
The emotional pull of the problem is all in the mention of the “misery” and the image, with arrows
pointing to the blocked areas of an appropriately-miserable man. You can see that the power of the
solution is also tied up in the specific details of a “3-Layer Tablet” that “Helps Drain All 8 Sinus
Cavities.”
“Inversions”
Gene Schwartz was a big fan of what he called “Negative Promise” leads. We might call them
“Inversion” or “Solution-Problem” leads, because what they do is flip the formula around and promise a
way to get yourself out of a situation before highlighting the problem itself.
This is also something you can see in ads going way back. For instance, there’s a yellowed old
newspaper ad for Pond’s Vanishing Cream that shows a drawing of a woman bather who’s barely
showing any skin, aside a headline and lead copy that reads …
“Get all the benefits of Summer sunshine but avoid the discomforts.”
“You will find that your skin will not blister and burn half as readily if you protect it before exposing
it. Apply Pond’s Extract Vanishing Cream and … it will [also] soften dried, scorched skin and keep it
from peeling, leaving you a rich, beautiful tan … ”
It’s a foregone conclusion with claims that set out to solve a problem before you even have it. Here’s
another old-school example, from a Solution-Problem headline for a property ad:
“How to Do Wonders With a Little Land!”
It ran against a more conventional Problem-Solution Lead, under the headline “A Little Land — a Lot
of Living” and beat it by 40%. And, it beat a flat-out — if abstract — Promise Lead that ran under the
headline, “Two Acres and Security,” by a crushing 75% margin.
“Identification”
Of course, you’re not just writing to the problem, but to the person who has the problem and feels
strongly about it.
So, it’s no wonder some of the most successful Problem-Solution Leads are written to make the reader
feel identified by their troubles or even directly responsible for them.
For instance …
“Advice to Wives Whose Husbands Don’t Save Money — By a Wife”
“To People Who Want to Write — But Can’t Get Started”
“For the Woman Who is Older Than She Looks”
This last one ran against a headline that was all solution, no problem, “For the Woman Who Looks
Younger Than She Is” and outperformed it by a big margin. Why?
Most likely because the latter targets a woman who doesn’t feel like she needs a change, where the
former is all about an emotion the prospect would love to rid herself of — frustration with looking older
than she should.
“The Question”
You’ll find many successful Problem-Solution ads phrased as challenging questions.
Here are a couple of examples you might recognize …
“Are You Ever Tongue-Tied at a Party?”
“Do You Do Any of These Ten Embarrassing Things?”
And, of course this one from great Madison Avenue copywriter Maxwell Sackheim:
“Do You Make These Mistakes in English?”
Sackheim tried other ads, including a simple Promise Lead under the headline, “15 Minutes a Day
Gives You a Wonderful Command of Language, ” and a Secret Lead under the headline, “His New
Invention Finds and Corrects Your Mistakes in English.”
But, we agree with ad archivist Lawrence Bernstein of infomarketingblog.com, who points out that one
of the keys that makes this ad work is the word “these” in this headline. Plus, the fact that it targets the
deeper emotions in a way the other leads don’t: the shame and embarrassment connected to the mundane
subject of grammar.
Questions also work in Problem-Solution Leads because they jump-start the mental conversation with
your prospect. Once well-targeted customers answer “Yes” to what you’re asking, it’s that much tougher
for them to quit reading.
Asking a question about a problem with an inevitable “Yes” answer from the right prospect is a strong way to jump-start a
conversation with your customer.
“Instruction”
If you have a problem that’s a little more complex to address, another technique that can work is to
invent a name for the problem that characterizes it quickly.
We’re sure you’ve seen at least some of these famous examples:
“Have You a ‘Worry’ Stock?”
“Is Your Home Picture-Poor?”
“How Much Is ‘Worker Tension’ Costing Your Company?”
All of these headlines are also questions but with the added twist and intrigue of a term your prospect
hasn’t heard before. The key is that the term, even though it’s new, instantly makes sense of the negative
situation (a lot like the phrase “tired blood” in the earlier Geritol ad).
Of course, creating a new term means that somewhere the lead will have to explain what it means. In
this way, these kinds of ads are also usually “instructional.” They teach the customer something about the
negative situation, even as they promise to free him from it. Here’s another example but without the
invented term:
“Five Familiar Skin Troubles — Which Do You Want to Overcome?”
In 10 words, the headline promises to teach the prospect something about “five familiar skin troubles,”
nearly assumes he’ll have at least one of them — the “which” here is like the “these” in the famous
Sackheim headline we looked at earlier — and teases hope for a solution.
Could an ad that simply asked “Do You Suffer One of These Five Familiar Skin Troubles?” have
worked? It certainly seems worth testing. And in either case, the rest of the lead would have continued as
this one did — educating the prospect on the problem he was about to solve.
Here’s another Problem-Solution Lead example, though this time without depending on any invented
terms in the headline. It was also written by Max Sackheim:
Obviously, it riffs on the idea of “Seven Deadly Sins.” He’s created what feels like a definitive list of
big mistakes you really don’t want to make. Really, it’s just a way to make common advertising mistakes
feel more memorable.
Just like with David Ogilvy’s “How to Create Advertising That Sells” ad from Chapter 5, Sackheim’s
future clients feel like they would learn something, just by reading the ad alone.
Of course, deciding whether to use one of these approaches to the Problem-Solution formula hinges on
the idea that you’re writing to prospects who know what they’d like to change.
The pulling power isn’t in educating the reader about a problem. It’s more in the idea that his or her
troubles are heard and understood.
Once the reader feels that you’ve heard him, that you understand his problems, and his need for a
solution, then he’ll be ready to listen to your solutions to those problems — solutions that come through
your product.
7
The Magic of the Velvet Pouch
_______________________
“Life is 95% anticipation.”
— Gloria Swanson
_______________________
In this chapter, you will discover a technique that has recently become the dominant lead type in the
information publishing industry.
In the past five years alone, it has been responsible for more than a billion dollars worth of sales.
We know of one copywriter who used this lead type for a health package. It worked so well that he
was offered a six-figure contract as a senior copywriter.
We know another group of copywriters who used this technique last year to create more than $40
million worth of sales for their publisher and gave themselves all very substantial bonuses.
We have used this technique to our own advantage many times in recent years. In fact, it is one of the
two most powerful lead techniques working today.
It won’t take you weeks to develop this technique. You will probably pick it up fairly quickly because
it is something that you already know how to do.
Let me tell you a story about the velvet pouch.
Almost forty years ago, I got a job selling pots and pans to flight attendants in Queens, New York, near
LaGuardia Airport.
I was trained for this job by a master. His name was Harry. He had been selling products door-to-door
for thirty of his forty-five years at the time. I was working part-time, as I was in my senior year of college.
Harry didn’t think much of formal education. “Why do you want to waste your time reading a bunch of
dusty old books?” he’d ask me. “Everything you need to know about life you can learn by knocking on
doors.”
Harry was wrong about that, but he knew an awful lot about salesmanship. Many of the secrets of
marketing I’ve discovered since then were based on the fundamentals of selling that Harry taught me.
One of the most important of these fundamentals Harry called the velvet pouch.
After gaining admittance to the apartment, Harry would start his pitch about the quality of our
cookware, taking out the pots and pans individually from his case. But, they were each encased in plush,
royal blue velvet pouches. As Harry described the features and benefits of the cookware, he would gently
massage the pots, first from outside over the velvet pouches, and then by slipping his hands inside them
but still keeping them hidden from the prospect.
“Just keep your eye on the customer,” he told me. “In the beginning they’ll be looking at you. But as
you go on, you’ll notice that they will shift their focus to the pots and pans. That let’s you know they are
getting interested. Keep hitting them with the benefits while they stare at what you’re doing. And never,
ever take the pots out until you know they have the prospects’ full attention.”
It was a visual gimmick that had great power. Harry closed almost a hundred percent of the prospects
he got to look at those velvet pouches. The more he fondled them from without and from within, the more
intrigued they seemed. When he finally withdrew the gleaming pot, you could see their eyes widen.
Sometimes they literally oohed and aahed.
I didn’t fully understand what was happening at the time, but now I realize what Harry was doing. He
was creating emotional tension by talking about the benefits of the product without showing it. The
prospect’s instinctive desire to discover what was in the velvet pouch played in Harry’s favor. The
longer he could get the prospect mesmerized by the hidden product, the greater the chance he would close.
The same psychological principal is what makes the technique we will be examining in this chapter so
powerful.
It taps into a very basic human instinct that can’t be resisted. That’s why, when used properly, it has
such power.
As I said, this secret has become more commonplace in recent years. Before then, most direct
marketers relied on the other, more traditional techniques we’ve been talking about: Offers, Promises,
Problem-Solution Leads, and occasionally Story Leads.
The first time I used this technique was about ten years ago.
Working with a junior copywriter, we launched a new financial publication using it. That sales letter
was a runaway blockbuster. It generated tens of millions of dollars of sales and turned that junior
copywriter into a multimillionaire. Seeing that success, about a dozen other copywriters adapted that
same lead type for their promotions and the result was massive and undeniable. Together, they accounted
for more than a billion dollars in sales in the following four years.
Nowadays, this lead type is the preferred one for selling not just information products but natural
supplements, body building systems, marketing programs, stock market systems, and diets — just to name
a few.
It is a simple technique, but it has rules that must be followed. If you learn these rules and use them
consistently, you will see the amazing power this lead type can give your copy.
Would you like to know what this technique is?
It is the “secret” — starting your sales presentation off by teasing the prospect with a secret.
Harry created a sort of secret when he put the pots and pans in velvet pouches. The prospect, seeing
them enclosed in such nice, soft cases, couldn’t help but imagine what they looked like. The more Harry
talked about their many useful and valuable qualities, the more they wanted to see them. By withholding
the “reveal” until he had finished his pitch, he achieved the goal of all leads — he had emotionally
persuaded them that they wanted it before they even saw what it looked like.
Agora founder and legendary copywriter Bill Bonner has this to say about the power of the secret:
The Secret Lead really connects to a deep instinct in people to feel that there are secrets to things;
that the things that you know and are obvious to everybody don’t give you any edge. What
everybody knows is what everybody knows and once you know what everybody knows, you’re just
like everybody else.
If you want to get an edge, you need to know something that everybody doesn’t know and those
things tend to be secrets. You look at people who are very rich, for example, and you say, “What’s
his secret?” Or, you look at somebody who is 60-years-old with beautiful skin and perfect body and
perfect hair and you say, “Oh, what’s her secret?”
We feel there must be secrets to these things because they’re not obvious. So, part of us wants to
know. We don’t believe these things are random. We don’t believe the world works in a random
way; it’s just by accident that people get that way. We believe there must be a secret. So, if you
reveal the secret, you already have a lot of people who want to listen to you.
Let’s see how this works in the following copy.
Closed to New Investors for the Last 6 Years — Now Open Again …
The “Chaffee Royalty Program” That Turned Every $1 Into $50
Now, let me ask you: What is a Chaffee Royalty Program? Do you know?
No? Well, don’t feel bad. You aren’t supposed to know. The copywriter made it up!
He invented the phrase because he didn’t want the prospect to know exactly what he was talking about.
He wanted to get the reader excited before he told him what it was.
We used to call this process neologizing — giving some key concept a new name in order to spark
interest.
Let’s continue reading this lead a while and see how long the copy goes before the term is explained.
This is the literary equivalent of the velvet pouch.
The copywriter who wrote this was trying to get his prospect to ask, “What is this Chaffee Royalty
Program?” To find out, he must read on. “I’ll give this another minute or so,” he thinks — unconsciously.
And, that is as much time as the copywriter needs to set the hook deeper.
So, that is the first thing to notice here: this velvet-pouch trick that holds the reader’s attention. But,
that is not all the copywriter has done. The headline continues:
In 2002, the same royalty “paycheck program” that paid out $50 for every $1 invested …
decided to shut the door to new “members.”
In 2008, that door is open again … and it just got easier than ever to “make money while
you sleep” …
But the door will slam shut again right at Midnight on Wednesday, May 28, so
you’d better collect your own “Chaffee Royalties” right NOW …
Now, what’s the copywriter doing?
He is sinking the hook deeper by attaching a specific claim to it: that the Chaffee Royalty Program paid
out 50-to-1 in 2002. And then, he pushes the hook in deeper. For some reason, in 2008 (the year this
promotion was written), the same opportunity has been opened up again for a short period of time.
The reader thinks, “Hmm. This is interesting. This Chafee Royalty Program, whatever it is, produced a
huge return six years ago. And now, this advertisement is telling me, it might do the same thing again. I
should read on.”
So, he reads on.
Dear Reader,
Doing nothing while collecting royalties has to be one of the best — and easiest — ways to get rich.
“I like the idea of ‘doing nothing while collecting royalties,’” the reader thinks. He reads on.
For instance, David Sengstack does nothing and collects royalty paychecks of $2 million per year …
just because his dad was smart enough to buy the commercial rights to a song you’ve sung a hundred
times, “Happy Birthday to You.”
Michael Jackson does nothing and collects royalties every time a Beatles song plays on the radio (he
bought the rights years ago). But, Paul McCartney — now a billionaire — does nothing and collects
even more on the 3,000 song rights from other artists that he owns.
Paul Newman made plenty acting. But, licensing his name piles up even more donations for his
favorite charities — over $200 million so far — from royalties on the Newman’s Own food line.
Even boxer George Foreman does better doing nothing than he did fighting in the ring, thanks to the
$137 million royalty checks he gets for lending his name to a grill.
No wonder the world’s richest investor calls collecting royalties the best business in the world. It’s
literally one of the easiest ways to do nothing and “make money while you sleep.”
“All these rich guys are somehow involved in this Chafee Royalty Program,” the reader thinks.
“Maybe it’s legitimate.”
What might shock you is that there actually IS a way for anybody to tap into a pool of growing
royalties … wealth that piles up by itself … that, ultimately, could be worth more than the entire
Beatles catalog, all the commercial rights to “Happy Birthday,” and the total value of the top 25
most expensive works of art in the world … combined.
And, you can set it up in less than five minutes.
“Hmm. This is pretty interesting. I can get in on this in less than five minutes?”
I call it the “Chaffee Royalty Program,” after a former schoolteacher and wealthy American
millionaire, Jerome B. Chaffee. Just like people who make a living collecting royalty checks, you
don’t need to do anything once you’ve tapped into the program.
You just sit back and watch the money pile up.
The prospect has now read a page-and-a-half of copy. He is intrigued — no, more than intrigued. And
yet, he still doesn’t know what the Chaffee Royalty Program is.
He knows that some of the most famous people in the world including Paul McCartney and George
Foreman are involved in it. He knows, too, that the richest investor in the world thinks its hot stuff. The
hook is getting deeper.
So, he reads on.
8 Americans Who Just Cashed in on “Chaffee Royalties”
Even though I’m almost positive you’ve never heard of “Chaffee Royalties,” some of America’s
wealthiest families have — though by another name. In fact, it’s a secret that’s made more than a few
Americans exceedingly rich.
• Robert Friedland made millions of dollars when his “Chaffee Royalty” holdings jumped in value
from $4 to $167 in just two years.
• George Hearst borrowed the $3,000 he used to buy his way into “Chaffee Royalties” in Nevada.
Within months, his stake had grown to $91,000 — money he used to buy even more royalty rights,
which ultimately launched his empire.
• Jim Fair, a former Illinois farmer, got so rich with his “Chaffee Royalties,” he was able to hand his
daughter a $1 million check as a wedding present.
• William O’Brien earned enough from his “Chaffee Royalties” to make him one of the 100 richest
Americans of all time.
• Former California carpenter John Mackay scraped together $500 to buy his first share in a “Chaffee
Royalty Program.” He made enough to build a mansion surrounded by 70 acres of land and formal
gardens for his son.
• E.J. “Lucky” Baldwin parked his last $800 in “Chaffee Royalties” while living in Virginia City,
Nev. By the time he was through, he’d piled up royalty wealth worth over $5 million.
• James Flood, who came to the U.S. with next to nothing, got so rich on “Chaffee Royalties” he was
able to build a beautiful sandstone home on top of San Francisco’s famous Nob Hill. It’s still there
today.
• Then there’s Stanley Dempsey. A lawyer who quit law and put his money into “Chaffee Royalty”
contracts now makes his living collecting on 23 different streams of royalty income. Forbes even
featured Dempsey and called his fortune “virtual gold,” since he barely has to do or run anything to
keep the money rolling in.
Now, the hook is deeply buried in his gut. “All these regular folks are taking advantage of it,” he
thinks. “Why can’t I?”
And, the copywriter has an answer for him:
But, there’s no reason you can’t collect anytime you like.
In fact, now that these “Chaffee Royalty Programs” trade directly on the stock exchange, you can get
in anytime you like. And with the right timing, you can get in at a very good price. And then, start
seeing gains from “Chaffee Royalties” immediately.
This is the situation we’re in right now.
Which is why I’m writing you today. See in 2002, one of the most impressive Chafee Royalty
opportunities of all time closed its doors to new funds, just after delivering a 50-to-1 payoff for its
earliest members.
And for reasons I’ll share, the timing now is better than ever.
What’s more, today, there’s more than one way to lock into “Chaffee Royalties.” And one of those
options, according to research that took me nine months to pull together, could pay out even better
than what was once the most profitable “Chaffee Royalty” opportunity of all time.
We’ll get to those details.
But first, let’s start at the beginning …
The reader’s interest is peaking now because he is being told that the opportunity won’t last very long.
He has to take action soon.
Finally, he gets his answer. Or, begins to get it …
The “Chaffee Royalty Program” That Changed America
Jerome B. Chaffee didn’t make enough as a schoolteacher. So, he took a job as a sales clerk in a dry
goods store. Then he took that money and started a dry goods store of his own.
When that wasn’t enough, he packed his bags and went to Colorado in 1860.
See, Colorado then — as right now — was mineral rich. And, even though Chaffee knew next to
nothing about mining, he saw the possibilities. And, started snapping up the “royalty rights” on as
many gold and silver claims as he could afford.
I won’t take you through the rest of the letter. I will tell you it was very, very successful. It generated
thousands of subscriptions and millions of dollars. And, the reason it was successful is the subject of this
chapter.
Introducing the Secret Lead
Next to the Story Lead, the Secret Lead is the most universal and useful. It can be used to sell just
about any sort of proprietary product or service.
We have used and seen the Secret Lead used to sell everything — from investment newsletters to
kitchen knives.
The purpose of a Secret Lead is the same as any lead: to get the reader to keep reading until the prime
benefits and Unique Selling Proposition of the product are fully presented.
The mechanism is the secret. It is presented in the headline and not revealed until after the prospect
has read everything the copywriter wants him to read.
To understand how powerful this is, let’s look at the Secret headline again:
Closed to New Investors for the Last 6 Years — Now Open Again …
The “Chaffee Royalty Program” That Turned Every $1 Into $50
Now, compare that to the following:
Closed to New Investors for the Last 6 Years — Now Open Again …
A Dividend Strategy That Turned Every $1 Into $50
This, as you can see, is considerably less intriguing.
The prospect for this promotion, an avid investment newsletter reader, has seen hundreds of stock
schemes in his time. He is skeptical of them. Yet, he is still looking.
The copywriter who wrote the “Chaffee Royalty Program” letter knew that. So, he wanted to do
something that would hold his reader’s attention for a few minutes. If he could only keep him reading long
enough to explain the product’s Unique Selling Proposition, he would have a chance to make the sale. So,
he created a hook: an intriguing name for an investment service that specializes in natural resources
stocks.
A good Secret Lead, in the hands of a clever copywriter, can compel the casual reader to read a dozen
or more pages of copy before the secret is revealed. In this case, the second version of the same headline
might have stopped the reader cold.
Now, let’s get back to the copy we have just read. We’ve shown you the technique of the velvet pouch
and how the copywriter used it while he was making three promises:
1T.h at this secret has the power to turn a single dollar into fifty
2T.h at the prospect can learn the secret in five minutes
3T.h at he can sit back and benefit from it like rich people who collect royalty checks without doing
anything
All three promises are strong. The first one promises significant profits — the kind of profits that can
make a person wealthy. The second one promises ease of understanding and implementation. Making a
solution easy is always a very good thing to do. The third promise appeals to everyone who has ever
dreamed of owning a money tree — which is just about any person who is likely to read this promotion.
In fact, most of the 300 to 400 words that comprise this lead are devoted to illustrating this promise.
Beginning with a man who collects $2 million a year from royalties on Happy Birthday to celebrity
check-cashers like Michael Jackson, Paul Newman, and George Foreman. And then, moving to eight
bulleted examples of others who got rich or are getting rich cashing in royalty checks.
Royalty checks? Well, not exactly. These aren’t royalties in the way that Michael Jackson’s estate
collects royalties when Beatles records are bought or played. They are stock returns and dividends — an
altogether different thing.
Dividend stocks are rather ordinary in the investment world. They definitely don’t have the sex appeal
that something called The Chaffee Royalty Program would.
And that is why the copywriter began with Newman and Foreman and Jackson and then switched to the
others. He wanted to take full advantage of the emotional impact of royalty checks. It’s a bit of a
conceptual bait and switch — letting attributes of one thing carry over into another.
At both Agora and AWAI, we call this type of secret transubstantiation. This means we turn
something ordinary (like water or mining stock returns) into something special (like wine or advertising
royalty checks). It’s another useful technique that is often used by Master Copywriters when crafting
Secret Leads.
Read the lead again. See how the copywriter engages the prospect by providing teasing details that
seem like they are revealing the secret, but never quite do. The prospect’s initial interest is merely to find
out what the Chaffee Royalty Program is. But sentence by sentence, the copywriter makes the secret more
appealing. Before the copywriter reveals that the program is a dividend investment strategy, the prospect
has decided he wants to get in on this investing opportunity. By now, he is willing to read the entire sales
letter to find out more.
In this case, the reader discovers the full secret before he buys the product. But, in many promotional
packages that use the Secret Lead, the nature of the secret is never revealed. To find out, the prospect must
buy the product.
Let’s take a look at another Secret Lead. This, too, is for an investment newsletter promotion.
Texas Company Tapping $2.8 Trillion Oil Reserve… Under the Eiffel Tower
Some company in Texas has struck oil. In Paris! And under the Eiffel Tower!
“That’s pretty amazing,” the reader thinks. “I didn’t know there was any oil beneath the Eiffel Tower!”
So, he reads on:
Tiny company from Dallas preparing to extract 40 billion barrels of crude oil from
beneath Paris, France …
Discovery big enough to fuel U.S. demand for 5.2 years, according to Energy Information
Administration …
Estimates show 4,620% gains for investors who get in now … before this oil comes to
market …
The first word he reads, “tiny,” helps him understand why hasn’t heard about this before. It is a tiny
company. But, it’s from Dallas. “This can’t be a hoax,” he thinks. “The writer is telling me that the
company is located in Dallas. It must be real.”
Most investors these days are skeptical. And, the best prospects are the most skeptical because they
have read and responded to more offers than most. They are aware, if only unconsciously, that they are
reading an advertisement. They are looking for clues that this particular advertisement is factually based.
The copywriter knows that, so he is handing out teasing little details as the lead progresses.
The prospect reads on to discover more specifics:
The size of the oil find is 40 billion barrels.
That is big enough to supply America’s fuel needs for more than five years.
Someone has estimated that this discovery could produce investment returns of more than 4,000%.
Once again, the copywriter is sinking in the hook by providing teasing details that reveal more
information about the secret without giving it away. And, some of those details are indirect promises.
(That he can possibly make 4,000% on his money once he finds out what this stock is.)
The reader continues:
Dear Reader,
It could be the richest oil deposit in Western Europe.
But, very few even know of its existence … yet.
Even leading oilmen in the U.S. have no idea.
Because … well … who ever thought of looking for oil beneath the Eiffel Tower?
In just four simple sentences, the copywriter has explained away an objection that must surely come
into the reader’s mind. If this discovery is so big, why haven’t I read about it?
He reads on:
Indeed, while Parisians sip coffee and nibble croissants in Montmarte … as tourists stroll through the
Louvre, and walk along the Left Bank … there’s an ocean of sweet crude oil bubbling directly
beneath their feet.
The copywriter creates a picture of the promise. This is effective because it excites the reader’s
imagination and reduces his skepticism at the same time.
He can practically see all those billions of barrels of oil floating in an underground sea beneath Paris.
He reads on:
The French Oil Ministry has confirmed more than 40 billion barrels.
It’s enough to fuel total U.S. oil demand for 5.2 years, according to the Energy Information
Administration.
Enough to fill more than 2.54 million Olympic-sized swimming pools …
And 27 times more oil than ExxonMobil produces annually …
The reader discovers that the French Oil Ministry has confirmed the finding. This is sounding more
credible. The reader’s skepticism is further diminished.
He continues:
Perhaps most amazingly, the rights to every drop of this oil now belong to one little company from
Dallas, Texas!
When it brings this mother lode to market later this year, the company will multiply its oil inventory
5,632-fold.
No wonder Goldman Sachs and Barclays are quietly building positions in the stock before the big
event.
“Goldman Sachs and Barclays?” the reader thinks. “Those are well-known names. If they are investing
in it, it must be the real thing!”
He keeps reading:
And, no wonder they’re keeping this news to themselves — not telling a single one of their retail
clients.
“Gee,” the reader thinks. “I’m glad I’m reading this. I’m going to find out what Goldman Sachs’ retail
clients don’t even know!”
Over the next few minutes, you’ll discover all the details of this opportunity.
And, you’ll learn how you could turn a small speculation of $5,000 into $231,000 starting just a few
weeks from today.
But, you must act right now.
Let’s get right to the details …
The copywriter knows that the hook is in deep. So, he makes a promise now, that he will reveal “the
details” of this opportunity in just a few minutes. He also promises to tell them how they can profit from
the information. And, he asks them to keep reading to find out more details. And, they will.
Let’s look at one more investment newsletter lead, this one from Stansberry & Associates:
The Only Investment Legally Obligated to Pay You 181% Gains By June 15, 2009
It’s not a stock, option, or gov’t bond … But this unusual investment has crushed the S&P 500 by
543% since 2001, according to a recent Dow Jones report.
By now, you’re beginning to see how this is working. The copywriter has created a Unique Selling
Proposition with the phrase “only investment legally obligated to pay you 181% gains by June 15, 2009.”
The investment isn’t named. So, the prospect reads on to find out what it is.
Dear S&A Subscriber,
What if I told you there’s an investment that could pay you 181% gains over the next 12 months …
And that this money is SECURED by a legal contract …
Would you be interested?
Well, how about if I told that your 181% gain is required BY LAW to be delivered on this EXACT
date: June 15, 2009.
The copywriter has done nothing but repeat the claims made in the headline, a very common and
successful pattern with Secret Leads. Restate what is said in the headline and you make it seem more
credible.
And, that in addition to a 181% gain, you’d also be legally entitled to collect 3 interest payments
over that same period, bringing your total return to 227% …
… Turning every $10,000 invested into $32,700, with almost 100% certainty.
Still interested?
Well, before I go any further, I should warn you: After reading this, you may never want to buy
stocks, EVER again.
That’s because this unique opportunity has nothing to do with the stock market … government bonds
… mutual funds … or options.
Instead, it’s something we call a “Secured Investment Contract.”
So, you see what is happening here: The copywriter neologizes. He’s come up with a clever phrase to
introduce the Unique Selling Proposition. If he gave it its conventional name, it would seem mundane.
What are “Secured Investment Contracts” exactly?
In short, these Contracts offer you a way to collect gains that are potentially as big as the fastest
moving stocks. The big difference is, your gains are secured by a legal agreement.
Even better … you’ll know, months ahead of time, exactly when and how much you should be paid.
Let me show you how it works …
It seems like the copywriter has just explained the term, but in fact he’s revealed nothing more than he
had already. Yet, because the copywriter posed the question the reader has been asking (What is a
Secured Investment Contract?) and provides a summary in different words, the reader feels that progress
is being made.
So, the prospect continues reading. In doing so, he gets his curiosity further aroused by techniques
you’ve already seen.
The copywriter strengthens his case by providing teasing details. He tells the reader that Secured
Investment Contracts are offered by U.S. corporations. And, they are somehow more “secure” than shares
of stock.
He then gives an “example” of a specific trade that adds no new clue to solve the puzzle. But, it is
more information.
The copywriter wants there to be no question of how valuable the secret is, so he does the math for the
reader — a $10,000 investment returning 227% would be worth $32,700.
And, he continues adding specific evidence to the copy including a list of dates secured payments
were made.
Here is a core secret about writing Secret Leads: Specificity is absolutely required to overcome the
skepticism that secrets automatically evoke.
Not Just for Financial Promotions
As Bill Bonner said, “The Secret Lead really connects to a deep instinct in people to feel that there are
secrets to things.”
Since secrets instinctually inhabit all aspects of our lives, Secret Leads have been used successfully in
different direct marketing niches, not just financial.
So, let’s take a look at how Secret Leads can work in two other examples, the first from the selfimprovement/
self-actualization niche in the following promotion from Learning Strategies Corporation.
In this promo, the prospect is probably familiar with the word “dowsing” — the practice of searching
for water or valuable minerals using a dowsing rod. But here, it’s used in a much different context, raising
the question “What’s that?”
What exactly is “Diamond Dowsing”? The envelope hints at it being a way to discover ancient secrets
and modern solutions. But, no more information than that is available. The fact that it’s tied up with
someone named Marie Diamond doesn’t diminish the intrigue. Is it dowsing for diamonds? Is it dowsing
with diamonds? What exactly is it?
Without using the word “secret,” this phrase (a neologism like we’ve seen before) is exactly that: A
secret that might deeply affect the prospect’s life. The secret aspect of the promo is reinforced as soon as
the prospect begins reading the letter:
How you can use “dowsing” to take anything you’re doing to radically higher levels
… making money, exercising, playing, working, sleeping, meditating, even
PhotoReading … you name it!
Dear Friend,
I used to think dowsing was just for finding water, until our Feng Shui Master Marie Diamond gave
me a spectacular demonstration that changed my mind.
You see, many people assume that the problems they have in their lives are caused by something
they’re doing. Marie showed me this might not be the case at all.
If you have issues or struggles that just won’t go away, it might not be your fault but
actually your home or office that is attracting them.
These issues could be the result of “geopathic stress,” “interference lines,” or “negative energy
vortexes.” I’ll talk about these later — right now you merely need to know that you can easily learn
how to use dowsing to find and resolve these problem areas.
Marie showed us jaw-dropping demonstrations
In the summer of 2005, Marie Diamond, Paul Scheele, and I met up for a week in Aspen, Colorado.
Marie brought brass L-shaped dowsing rods and began demonstrating how to use them within
seconds of meeting up with her.
First, she used the dowsing rods (divining rods) to show us energy lines that thread the Earth and in
one way or another affect all living things. I was surprised at how the dowsing rods opened when
Marie approached these stress lines.
Sleeping on these energy lines can create nightmares, sleeplessness, and even illness.
In this first page of an 8-page letter, the reader is given a lot of “facts” — ideas like geopathic stress,
interference lines, and the like. The copywriter has also started talking very specifically about proof —
“jaw-dropping demonstrations” — that dowsing can solve problems.
The copy continues like this throughout the next 7 pages. But, the real secret of “dowsing” is never
revealed. It’s teased and danced around in a way that the reader feels she’s getting some real, substantial
information.
But, the secret is kept cleverly hidden in the words and phrases.
If an energy line goes through your garden, it can even retard the growth of plants or make them
susceptible to disease and drought.
Remember, Marie Diamond knows how energy works not only because she is a Feng Shui
Master and has worked with Dowsing Masters the world over for years but because she
sees energy.
You see, she has a rare gift: She can actually see energy flow, much like how you and I can see water
flow in a river. This ability makes what she says infinitely credible and valuable.
You cannot expect the prospect to believe everything you say — especially about a secret as mystical
as this one — simply because you say it. So, the copywriter provides “proof.”
Marie then showed us positive and negative energy vortexes. She told the story of one of her clients
who owned a failing retail store. Marie used the dowsing rods to uncover a negative vortex right on
the cash register. Marie neutralized it, and immediately the business began to thrive. She said, “It was
as if the vortex repelled customers.”
Diamond Dowsing and The Secret
We were in Aspen that summer for a meeting of the Transformational Leadership Council. Another
phenomenon was born there, too. Rhonda Byrne showed up with a film crew and a wild idea about a
movie called The Secret. As a matter of fact, much of The Secret was filmed right there during the
meeting. That’s how Marie Diamond got into the film herself.
The readers of this promotion have at least heard about the movie The Secret. In all likelihood,
they’ve seen it more than once. So, the copywriter ties that movie’s credibility back to Marie Diamond
and her secret.
Much of our Transformational Leadership Council meetings involve members presenting miniworkshops
so we can learn each other’s specialties. The first day’s events in Aspen were awkward
and uncharacteristically boring.
That evening, Marie whipped out her dowsing rods and walked over the exact spot where the
presenters had stood — and the rods began spinning wildly in a counterclockwise direction. This
indicated a negative energy vortex.
When Marie neutralized the energy, the rods quit spinning. For the remaining few days, the
presentations were more engaging than ever! (I wonder how much of the great energy in The Secret
came from Marie’s dowsing.)
I found an “Energy Vortex” in my own home!
So, the actual secret isn’t really about Diamond Dowsing. It’s about how to neutralize negative energy.
But, that subtle shift came about unnoticed. The reader doesn’t care at this point. She just wants to know
how to use Marie Diamond’s gifts to improve her life.
And, we don’t learn until much later that the way to do it is by learning from Marie directly — in a
special DVD course.
We see this same formula followed in the following promotion from Rodale Press for a book about
“Square Foot Gardening.” Notice how this lead actually combines two different lead types very
successfully: a Secret Lead and a Promise Lead.
The promise here is direct and clearly stated: you will have “Your Most Bountiful Garden … Ever!”
But, this bounty is going to come from just a few square feet. And, that’s where the secret comes in. The
fascination with how that will happen is what really brings the prospect into the letter.
On this envelope, there is nothing to give a hint at what this technique is except that “You’ll love the
ease and results of this proven gardening technique.” As you begin reading the body copy, the promise
remains strong and the secret remains hidden. But, as with the previous examples, the copywriter feigns
revealing the secret.
Dear Fellow Gardener,
Grow the same bounty of tomatoes, peppers, and beans in one tiny 4 x 4 foot space as you’d get in a
20-foot row? Yes!
Make one packet of lettuce seeds last 5 to 6 years instead of planting all 1,950 of them in one season?
Yes!
Grow bigger, longer-lasting tomatoes and lettuce in winter? Yes!
Garden with less work, less weeding. Less watering? Yes!
What’s the secret?
It’s a technique called “Square Foot Gardening,” I couldn’t wait to try it — and now I can’t wait to
share it with you! Put down the hoe. Hang up your hose! Join hundreds of gardeners who’ve learned
the secrets of SQUARE FOOT GARDENING . . . yours FREE for 21 days.
The copywriter hasn’t revealed anything substantial about the secret is except that it is a secret and that
the reader can learn about it for free. (The 21-days barely comes into the reader’s consciousness at this
point).
The copywriter answers the question in the first subhead “What’s the secret?” with his next subhead.
Only he doesn’t really answer it at all.
An easier, more foolproof way to garden — anywhere
The revealed secret — an easier, more foolproof way — is a dodge, a way of presenting the big
promise clothed as the “secret.”
The copywriter then gives a bit more to further sharpen the prospect’s interest.
Traditional methods like rows, tilling, and irrigation were all designed for farmers … and tractors.
But now, with SQUARE FOOT GARDENING, you can grow all your favorites in your garden with
a lot less work.
The copywriter seems closer to revealing the secret by telling what it isn’t . You’ve seen this
previously in the “Secured Investment Contract” promo: “That’s because this unique opportunity has
nothing to do with the stock market … government bonds … mutual funds … or options.”
By telling the prospect what the secret is not, you have him feeling he is closer to finding out what it is.
The Square Foot Garden promotion goes on to follow a similar structure to the others we’ve
examined. And, what is that hidden, “secret” structure?
What Patterns Can You Observe in Secrets Lead?
Since we first began to think about leads in this way, we have created and/or edited thousands of them.
What we have found is that the most successful have certain commonalities:
1. The secret is intriguing and beneficial
2. It is introduced in the headline
3. It is not disclosed during the lead
4. As the letter progresses, more clues are given
Not every successful Secret Lead has this precise pattern, but we have found that most successful ones
do.
It’s because this pattern is so common that we recommend the following “rules” for writing Secret
Leads.
1. The Secret is Intriguing and Beneficial.
Let’s take a look at the first example headline again.
Closed to New Investors for the Last 6 Years — Now Open Again …
The “Chaffee Royalty Program” That Turned Every $1 Into $50
We have already discussed in some detail how the copywriter used neologism to create intrigue. But
notice, too, the super-head: Closed to New Investors for the Last 6 Years — Now Open Again. That
certainly adds to the intrigue. It also, by the way, creates a sense of urgency. So, it is intriguing.
Is it beneficial? Indeed. It is a program that “turned every dollar into fifty.” For an investor, that’s
about as relevant as can be.
Any good secret will attract the reader’s attention and distract him from the fact that he is reading an
ad. But, if you don’t connect the secret to a major benefit of the product right away, then you will make it
that much harder to complete in the second part of the package (after the lead).
When you tie the benefit to the secret, you tip your copywriting hand, so to speak. You indicate to the
reader that you are selling him. It is not overt but it is certainly more direct than the Story Lead.
But, even though the prospect knows that he is being sold, he can’t keep his conscious mind on that
because is he so intrigued by the secret.
Now, let’s look at the third headline we studied:
The Only Investment Legally Obligated to Pay You 181% Gains By June 15, 2009
It’s not a stock, option, or gov’t bond … But this unusual investment has crushed
the S&P 500 by 543% since 2001, according to a recent Dow Jones report.
Again, you can see that it is both intriguing and beneficial.
The intrigue is achieved by two things: the “legally obligated” concept and the fact that it’s not a stock,
option, or government bond …
The benefit is provided in the promise of 181% and the fact that it “crushed the S&P 500 by 543%
since 2001.”
In the Diamond Dowsing example, the intrigue comes from using the word “dowsing” in a way the
prospect hasn’t seen before. And the benefit? Taking virtually everything in your life to “radically higher
levels.”
And finally, the Square Foot Garden copy … The big promise, splashed across the envelope is a
grabber for any serious (and not-so-serious) gardener:
Your Most Bountiful Garden … Ever
That’s the benefit, and the intrigue comes from being able to do it in “a few square feet of any soil … ”
2. It is Introduced in the Headline.
With virtually all of the Secret Leads we have studied, the secrets were introduced immediately, in the
headlines.
There is a very good reason for that. Of all the lead types, none is as instantly engaging as the Secret
Lead.
Who can resist the temptation to see what is under the velvet pouch? The impulse to discover “the
secret” is buried deep in the human brain.
Like stories, secrets are universal. They exist and play a role in just about every aspect of culture,
from sports to cooking to espionage — even to copywriting!
We are all prone to believe that those who excel at certain things have secrets that make them better.
We want to discover those secrets so we can enjoy their success.
In fact, good copywriters use the power of the velvet pouch in all sorts of ways and in every possible
place in their advertisements. They are used to introduce products, to explain systems and track records,
to introduce premiums, and so on.
And, as you have already seen, they can also be used in conjunction with other types of leads to keep
the reader engaged.
If you take a look at almost any Story Lead, for example, you will see that a secret is usually
introduced either within the lead or just afterwards. By introducing the secret in the story, the copywriter
is able to hold the reader’s interest.
3. The Secret is Not Disclosed in the Lead.
Without a doubt, the most common mistake beginners make when constructing Secret Leads is to
disclose the secret too soon.
Consider the effect on the reader if the copywriter had followed the Chafee Royalty Program headline
with this:
Dear Reader,
The Chaffee Royalty Program describes a system for investing in dividend stocks that we
believe is amazing, etc.
The reader’s curiosity is satisfied in the first sentence. If the reader believes dividend stocks are
boring (as many investment readers do), he will read no further. The power of the secret created by
neologizing dividend stocks into royalty programs is gone. The number of readers who continue to read
drops dramatically … as does the response rate (and the copywriter’s reputation).
If this mistake weren’t so common, we wouldn’t even mention it here. But, for whatever reason, many
copywriters feel compelled to reveal their secrets. Perhaps they feel it is too cruel to tease the reader for
very long. Perhaps they are looking for the pleasure one gets from disclosing secrets.
Whatever the reason, it is a mistake to reveal it during the lead. Remember, the purpose of the lead is
to persuade the reader emotionally. To do that, you have to maintain the reader’s full attention until you
have shown him all the benefits. That takes some number of words — 100 to 600 depending on the
product. Those 100 to 600 words constitute the lead. Thus, the rule: Don’t disclose the secret in the lead.
In fact, many Secret Lead advertisements never reveal the secret at all. Instead, they promise the
revelation in a premium. As the copy progresses, the secret becomes more intriguing. The prospect reads
on only to discover that he must buy the product to learn the secret and that the revelation will come
alongside the product.
4. As the Letter Progresses, More Clues Are Given.
We have spent some time in reviewing these examples to see how the copywriter maintains his
reader’s interest by providing clues to the secret as the copy goes on.
In the Chaffee Royalty Program, for example, the prospect knows from the headline that this is an
opportunity to make fifty times his money and that this opportunity, closed for the past six years, has just
been opened up again.
Even in the subhead, it appears that the reader is given more clues. He finds out, for example that:
In 2002, the same royalty “paycheck program” that paid out $50 for every $1 invested was closed new
“members.”
In 2008, that door is open again … and it just got easier than ever to “make money while you sleep” …
The door will slam shut again right at Midnight on Wednesday, May 28.
In fact, the prospect has already been told this in substance in the headline. The extra details (the more
precise dating) give the reader the feeling that he is learning more, but he is not.
As the copy continues, he is given the names of some celebrities who have “used” the program.
Michael Jackson and Paul Newman come into play. This again gives the reader the feeling that he is being
given more clues, but in fact, he is no closer to guessing the secret then he was after reading the headline.
Later he is given some relevant details. He learns, for example, that “Chaffee Royalty Programs” trade
directly on the stock exchange and that he can get in anytime he likes.
You can see this use of “clues” in all the copy we’ve reviewed. These sorts of clues give the prospect
the feeling that he is getting closer to discovering the secret. The copywriter knows he won’t, but he
continues to put down these clues like bread crumbs leading him forward through the sales copy.
How Do You Create the Secret?
There are two ways to create a secret headline. The first is to find a secret already in the product. The
second way is to take one of its benefits and neologize or transubstantiate it into a secret — that is, to take
something familiar and rename it and reposition it so it seems new and secret.
Let’s say you were asked to write copy about a natural supplement with eight ingredients. You might
decide to lead with the one that was relatively unknown. By focusing the copy on that unusual ingredient
the prospect hasn’t heard of before, you intrigue him. And at the same time, you solve the problem of his
thinking, “Oh, I’ve tried that before. It doesn’t work for me.”
In taking this first approach, make a list of all the qualities, characteristics, and components of the
product and ask yourself which, if any of these, is not well-known. Then, decide if the benefit provided by
an unusual or unfamiliar quality, characteristic, or component is enough to drive the lead. If it is, you have
a good secret to start your promotion with.
When the qualities and characteristics of the product are all well-known, then you can “reinvent” the
product by giving it a new name (neologizing or transubstantiating). You have seen five examples of how
that is done in this chapter.
These are the basic rules for writing strong Secret Leads. Find something about the product that your
customer doesn’t know (or describe something he does know in a new way). Then, tease the prospect
with that unusual aspect starting from the headline. Continue to provide teasing “clues” along the way, but
be sure that you do not disclose the secret until the prospect is emotionally ready to buy the product.
The Secret Lead is relatively easy to master. It is a simple tool … but a powerful one. Adding it to
your repertoire will greatly increase your power as a copywriter. If you follow the rules!
8
You Won’t Read This Anywhere Else But Here: The Proclamation
Lead
________________________
“Boldness be my friend.”
— William Shakespeare
________________________
As far as we know, no one else has ever categorized this kind of lead.
And yet, not only could you find it extremely powerful in the right instance, but there are many
examples of the Proclamation Lead both in advertising and in persuasive editorial literature. In fact, they
are a very common way to begin a rhetorical speech.
When we first discussed the idea of making Proclamation Leads their own special category, we had
different ideas about what to call them. “Emotionally-compelling sentences” was the term we originally
discussed. But, then we debated whether all leads are emotionally compelling and whether that might
confuse readers.
We also tossed around the terms “declarations” and “pronouncements.” We finally settled on
“proclamations” because we felt the word connoted the energy inherent in these emotionally-compelling
statements.
Whatever you call them, they are a type of lead distinct from the other five covered in this book. They
are first and foremost assertions — sometimes they are statements of fact, other times they are statements
of opinion, and still other times they are statements about what might be true now or in the future.
But in all cases, they startle, intrigue, and tempt. This is where they get their great power.
So, if you are looking for a definition for a Proclamation Lead, here is one that will do:
A well-constructed Proclamation Lead begins with an emotionally-compelling statement,
usually in the form of the headline. And then, in the copy that follows, the reader is given
information that demonstrates the validity of the implicit promise made.
One of the things we’ve been talking about in this book is the concept of directness and indirectness.
We have made the point that some lead types — Offer Leads, Promise Leads, and Invitation-type — are
direct in the sense that the reader is very much aware he is reading sales copy. Indirect leads — stories
and secrets — distract the reader from that recognition. Done well, the reader temporarily forgets he is
reading an advertisement and gives the same attention and suspension of disbelief that he would give to a
novel or movie.
The Proclamation Lead, though very simple, is primarily indirect. It is indirect because it distracts the
reader from the sale by forcing him to pay attention to the point suggested by the proclamation, without
revealing exactly how it will lead to the essential claims of the actual sale.
Good Proclamation Leads read like newspaper stories — tabloid newspapers sometimes, but
newspaper stories nonetheless. The target reader’s rational brain might realize he is reading a sales pitch,
but his emotional brain is so taken by the secret and the story that he suspends disbelief and reads on with
eager anticipation.
And that, as you already know, is the secret of effective indirect leads. They “borrow” the emotional
framework of other communication forms — stories and secrets to name two — and use that to “sell” the
reader emotionally before the sales pitch becomes obvious and direct.
Because Proclamation Leads are primarily indirect, you’ll find they share a lot of similarities with
good secret-driven, story, and other indirect leads. Here are some ways in which they’re similar:
Because it’s more indirect, the Proclamation Lead gets a lot of its strength from taking the reader by
complete surprise. It must be relevant, but it has to be something almost pushing the envelope of the
incredible. The reason for this is that ordinary statements are too easy to pass over. To get the
reader to pay attention to your Proclamation Lead, you must hook him with the remarkable.
Like the Secret Lead, the skillful copywriter will not reveal the product’s USP until he has finished
proving the proclamation. The proclamation itself is very strong and irresistible. The goal is raising
curiosity in an intense and relevant way. What he wants first is proof that justifies his curiosity, and
only then will he search for a link to the promises also made or implied in the lead.
Like the Story Lead, the Proclamation Lead must be concise and engaging. This is why you’ll often
find Proclamation Leads “proven” using anecdotes or detailed stories — because these can help
you vividly show the proclamation describes something real in just a few words.
Like all good leads, the more specific you can be with your proclamation usually the better. There’s no
better shortcut to real credibility than specific detail. And likewise, as with all the leads in this
book, the Proclamation Lead must lead ultimately to some kind of big claim or promise that’s
relevant to the reader.
Let’s take a look at the lead in one of the most successful sales letters ever written so you can see how
these rules apply. The following example is “report-a-log” promotion that sold a health product …
Useful, arresting, and on-point: What you see is the cover to a “report-a-log,” a sales piece in the
form of a paperback book. The first phrase — Read This Or Die — is obviously a title. But, it is not like
many titles the reader might have read before. We can think of only one: Abbie Hoffman’s 1970
bestselling counter-culture manifesto, Steal This Book.
This statement is meant to arrest the reader’s attention. It certainly does that. Imagine seeing it on a
bookstand. Then, imagine reading the subhead and learning that you have a 95% chance of dying from a
curable disease.
Do you think you would be startled? Do you think you would be incredulous? Of course you would.
And, the copywriter who wrote this headline was very much aware of that.
But, the job of a good Proclamation Lead is not just to startle, but also to excite and to tempt. And this
headline accomplishes both those important goals by a few simple words: “for which there is already a
known cure somewhere on the planet.” This gets the reader thinking, “Gee, if this statement (about having
a 95% chance of dying from a curable disease) is really true, I better find out more about this.”
The target reader (someone who buys information about health) is compelled to read on. He is reading
for a specific purpose — to find out if the claims made on the cover are valid. And, if they are, to
discover something about the “known cures.”
Here is the next page of copy:
An Announcement from Mountain Home Publishing, Publisher of Alternatives
After 6,000 years of recorded human history, we are finally able to issue this statement:
The worldwide medical community has found solutions for all of the primary diseases and
disorders of our time.
Until now, the healing arts have always lagged behind the onslaught of plagues and chronic illness.
But as of today, at the start of the 7th millennium, we at last have remedies, successful treatments, or
outright cures for every one of the leading maladies of our modern world.
What’s interesting here is that the copy continues with another proclamation: That after 6,000 years,
the medical community has remedies for every known disease. This is effective because it repeats the
emotional work that was done on the cover. The text, the reader realizes, is not backing away from the
claim made on the cover. If anything, they are repeating it more strongly.
Let’s read on:
This does not mean, of course, that every known disease will quickly vanish from the face of the
earth. But, it does mean that some segment of the medical community in some nation now has an
answer — or the answer — to virtually every common health problem.
Actually, this claim could have been made 15 years ago. But, it would have required stretching the
definition of “the medical community” to include a lot of practitioners of traditional folk medicine.
Today, however, research laboratories have put many thousands of folk remedies under their
microscopes, and hundreds of long-treasured ethnic remedies have been refined, polished up, and
upgraded from “ancient lore” to “scientific fact.”
Do you see what the copywriter is doing here? He’s dealing with possible objections the target reader
might have (“Is this based on science?”) while sticking strongly to the startling claim made on the front
page. He knows that the success of this lead will depend on the reader feeling like he is learning
something useful and new to him. It gets him excited. He wants it to be true!
Let’s read on:
The Journal of Alternatives exists to bring together all these newly-discovered treatment
modalities and deliver them to you — in formats that enable you (or your patients) to use
them very easily.
We are a network of 150,000 rugged individualists, a highly educated and sophisticated society of
health experts and perpetual students. About one-fourth of us are doctors and other health
professionals.
Now the reader is introduced to the product — the Journal of Alternatives, which he finds has
150,000 members. This extra bit of detail makes him feel more comfortable.
Let’s continue reading.
The purpose of this bulletin is to cordially invite you to become one of us. Please see our invitation
on the last page.
Now, this is interesting. The copywriter is extending an invitation to the reader. The invitation is a
direct technique. The reader knows now that he is being sold something, but the invitation format makes it
feel personal and exclusive.
This is, as you have already learned, a very common practice in writing leads. You might begin
strongly with one type of lead (in this case, a proclamation) but once the emotional hook is set in, you can
use more direct leads to move your reader along.
Increasing detail: Jim Rutz, the copywriter who wrote this masterpiece, hints that the reader will
learn more about saving himself from dying right from the beginning. But, as he continues through the
copy, he provides increasing details about the nature of the remarkable, scientifically-proven cures.
As we’ve said, Proclamation Leads typically have an implicit promise. “Read This Or Die!” — an
imperative — implies that the reader will be able to avoid some terrible, life-threatening calamity if he
reads on.
Proclamation Leads are used most often for selling consumer-based products, usually to prospects that
aren’t aware of the product. But, that’s not always the case.
Let’s take a look at another very successful Proclamation Lead taken from the Business-to-Business
niche where the prospects — doctors in this case — are very aware of the product:
The copy that jumps out at you — “Warning: Your 1995 PDR is Obsolete” — is a declarative
statement.
You may not know what a PDR is, but the prospects who received this promotion did. The PDR is the
Physicians’ Desk Reference. It is one of the first books interns buy and is a consistent part of all
physicians’ libraries.
If you were a health professional, you would be very concerned to hear the book you’ve been using to
make diagnoses is obsolete. It would arrest your attention. It would cause you to worry. And, it would
cause you to think that maybe you should replace the one you have with the newer version. The newer,
updated PDR is the promise.
Can you see how much work has been done so far? In about 50 words of envelope copy, Master
Copywriter Bob Bly grabbed attention, scared the prospect, and then gave him a solution for the problem
he may not have known he had!
That’s the efficiency of a Proclamation Lead.
Later in this letter, Bly did something so clever we had to show it to you. Take a look at this sticker
that he included:
Talk about ratcheting up the core emotion!
In this clever bit of copy, Bly has transformed “outdated” into something that seems downright
dangerous. This is the kind of cleverness that can arise when you have figured out a strong Proclamation
Lead.
In selling political, environmental, health, and financial ideas, Master Copywriters often turn to a
special form of a proclamation — the prediction — to achieve the desired emotional effects.
Here’s one that ran in the late summer of 1999. The product was a monthly subscription newsletter
from the famous Dr. Robert Atkins.
This title copy — “Why Most 20th Century Medicine Will Soon Become Extinct” — is certainly
arresting. The reader is surprised by it. How could an entire century of medical knowledge suddenly
become extinct?
The reader wants to know the answer. He reads the subhead and finds out that a “maverick doctor is
reporting amazing success treating cancer, arthritis, heart disease, and other ‘untreatable’ diseases.”
And, the specificity of “maverick” and the diseases mentioned gives the lead just enough detail to
make the reader believe that the book might contain some very interesting and useful information.
That same subhead is also an implied promise: That the reader will discover new, presumably 21st
century remedies that might make him healthier and help him avoid deadly diseases.
Beneath the subhead, there are bullets that indicate particular benefits the reader will derive from
opening the book and reading through it.
Let’s look at another example of a Proclamation Lead that also hinges on a prediction.
This one appeared in the summer of 2006, when many people worried whether real estate prices,
stocks, and the world economy had hit a peak.
One European economist, Dr. Kurt Richebacher, offered sophisticated research that proved this was
the case.
But, his argument was complex and the copywriter knew he had to find a way to simplify it. The lead
you see here was his solution.
It begins with a super head in a flag: “Countdown to Crisis!”
That sets the tone and piques the reader’s interest. Then, the main headline predicts “Three Shocking
Events will wipe out millions of American investors.” And, it will happen by a specific date: December
31, 2006.
Linking a predicted event to a specific date is a proven technique for increasing credibility. The
reader wonders, “What three events could have such a great impact by the end of the year?” In asking that
question, the reader has already half-accepted the veracity of the prediction. He is on a hunt now to find
out what these events could be and how the writer knows they will take place by December 31st.
The copy that follows the headline lets the reader know that this prediction is coming from someone
credible: “one of the world’s most famous market analysts.” And, a moment later, he discovers that this
same authority has just made two recommendations that will protect him from this predicted set of
disasters.
As we said about Proclamation Leads in general, in a prediction-based lead, once an emotionallycompelling
statement (in the form of a prediction) has hooked the reader, the copy can then start using
some of the techniques that work in other types of leads.
For instance, in this example, you can also see the pull of a secret (actually five secrets: three events
and two recommendations) and a large promise. The pull being that these recommendations will protect
the reader.
A story element then follows: “One of the smartest and richest investors I know says he will not buy
any stocks or gold or bonds this year.” The reader is very drawn in at this point. He feels compelled to
continue reading until he’s found out just what these events are and what sort of unusual investments will
save him.
Here’s another Proclamation Lead, also in the form of a prediction …
In the early 1990s, the U.S. had just emerged from a banking crisis. We had just fought a costly war.
And, our government had launched into a spending spree. People were worried and this promotion — in
the form of a small “bookalog” — capitalized on that fear.
As you can see, it begins with a single, massive prediction: That there was going to be a depression.
And, that depression was caused by debt, something people were talking about then (just as they are
now).
The cover copy is not precisely a declarative statement, but it is close enough. It asserts a prediction,
identifies a problem, and then offers the solution to that problem.
Again, this is a very efficient way to stir up emotions: in this case, fear and hope.
Notice how it was done: through a metaphor. The copywriter, Lee Euler, decided to compare a stock
market crash (which might have seemed a bit abstract) to something that they could visualize more easily:
a plague.
The Table of Contents deepened the boldness of the prediction, with chapter teasers that fleshed out
the seriousness of the threats and identified solutions.
This promotion mailed over seven million times and brought in over 170,000 orders. And, the
bookalog format became a much-copied industry standard.
More recently, another Master Copywriter, Mike Palmer (with whom Michael Masterson has also
written a book about copywriting), wrote a similar promotion using another big prediction: the end of
America.
So far, this promotion has already brought in 200,000 subscribers and may well bring in 300,000 more
before it loses steam. If so, it will be the single most successful promotion selling an investment
newsletter and perhaps the second most successful promotion in investment publishing history, after The
Wall Street Journal’s famous “tale of two young men” Story Lead.
Okay, you’ve had a chance to study Proclamation Leads that use both strong declarative statements and
predictions. And, we’ve talked about the other elements of successful Proclamation Leads. Now, let’s
review some “rules” …
Rule # 1: Make the Proclamation Bold, Not Reasonable
To be effective, Proclamation Leads must be big and bold. They must not only grab attention, but also
stir up thoughts and excite emotions. Take a look at all the examples in this chapter. One thing they all
have in common: They are all big and bold and most of them are contrary to the point of being startling.
You won’t break any marketing records by writing sensible Proclamation Leads. Being sensible is not
your job. Not, at least, in the lead.
Rule # 2: Make a Promise
To be effective, all leads must make or at least imply a promise. And, the Proclamation Lead is no
exception, even though its’ approach is that much more indirect. In the Read This Or Die promo, the
promise is that the reader could find a cure inside for a disease that conventional medicine has yet to
overcome. The reader himself immediately inverts the message to be, “If I read this, I won’t die.”
This is typical for most Proclamation Leads to only hint at solutions. If the promise isn’t implicit in the
headline, you’ll find it somewhere in the subhead. Even the rest of the lead will spend the bulk of the time
expanding on the proclamation first and only hinting at the solution.
Remember, however, that you’ll eventually have to make the promise of the sales pitch much more
concrete. This begins when the reader is emotionally committed to reading the copy and intensifies as you
work your way through the proof. You’ll want to repeat the promise in different ways and make it more
concrete as you move along, giving the reader a chance to imagine enjoying the benefit.
Rule # 3: The Subject Must Be Relevant
Even though Proclamation Leads gain a lot of impact by saying something unexpected, they still must
be relevant in the sense that they must address something the prospect cares about. They also must be
relevant in the sense that the promise must be something the prospect desires.
Rule # 4: Return to the Proclamation at the Close
Be sure to go back and underscore the main theme of the proclamation in any sales premiums you offer
and in the wording of the guarantee. You can even connect the guarantee to the proclamation: “If you’re
not happy with the product or what I’m telling you simply doesn’t play out the way I’ve described, you
can send in for a full refund … ”
One Last Secret
Proclamation Leads, more than any other lead, depend on efficiency for their success. Usually all the
power is contained in a single declarative sentence. Since it is just one sentence, you might think that
Proclamation Leads would be easy to write. In fact, they can’t really be written at all. They have to be
found.
Great Proclamation Leads almost always come from research. The cures discussed in Read This Or
Die or the Three Shocking Events were not conjured up out of thin air. They came after weeks of research
— poring over reams of documents and medical reports. There were many impressive studies cited in the
promos, several of which contributed to the headline and lead ideas. Even though it’s the bold headline
that strikes the reader first, you can tell that it wouldn’t have been possible without the research that
preceded it.
Likewise with the example of The Plague of the Black Debt. At the time it was written, the growing
U.S. national debt was already a major concern. But, simply saying that wasn’t enough. So, Lee Euler dug
deep into his research until he found the proof that substantiated the proclamation. In his case, it was a
series of three charts that showed mounting debt could lead to a financial breakdown.
And that was how he began the lead copy that followed the headline, with an opening chapter to his
promotional bookalog that he titled “Three Little Charts and the Truth.” The rest of the lead went on to
show how dangerous this debt could be, before hinting that there were ways for investors to protect
themselves.
You’ll see this over and over again with this kind of lead especially. The trick is to stay alert for
“amazing” facts as you are doing your reading. When you find something that strikes you as remarkable,
write it down, and go back to it later. It might just be the fact you need to create a great Proclamation
Lead.
9
The Tale of the $2 Billion Sales Letter
___________________________
“Those who tell the stories rule the world.”
— Plato
___________________________
It was in the winter of 1983. I was in the library. If I could get my hands on it, I’d meet my deadline
and my reputation would be saved.
Legendary copywriter Don Hauptman had mentioned it to me in passing.
“It is one of the most successful sales letters ever written,” he said. “But it had a lead that was very
unconventional at the time.”
He assumed I was familiar with it. If I’d had more confidence, I would have admitted I’d never heard
about it. But I pretended I had, and he gave me a brief history of its success.
When Don told me about this letter — written by Martin Conroy — it had been a control for six years
— quite an accomplishment for any piece of copywriting. But, it went on to hold that honor for a total of
28 years and generated an estimated 2 BILLION dollars in revenue.
I made a mental note to find and study it. If Don Hauptman was recommending it, I knew it was
something worthy of my attention. But, those were the pre-Internet days and I had no easy way to locate it.
So, I forgot about it until almost two years later. I was on a deadline and stuck on the lead. I’d tried a
half-dozen but none of them were good enough to show my boss. I had followed my first great success
with a clunker. If the next one wasn’t good, he would write that first one off as beginner’s luck. But, if I
hit another home run with this one, I would be on the fast track. I could feel it.
Don had told me enough about the headline to know it was the model I needed. So, I called up the few
copywriters I knew, but they had no copies. They, too, had heard about it, but none could tell me where to
find it.
Then, my wife suggested I try the Library of Congress. “If it was such a big thing, I’m sure somebody
wrote about it. There’s got to be a book or magazine article that has it.” It was my only hope. My deadline
was fast approaching. So, I drove through a near hurricane to get there and arrived less than an hour
before closing.
I spent the first half-hour looking through the periodical index. But, I found nothing. A voice came over
the sound system warning that the library would be closed soon. Despite my stubborn inclination never to
ask anybody for anything, I walked up to the lady at the reference desk and begged her to help me. For
twenty minutes, she dug but could find nothing either. Then, just as the final warning to leave was called,
she located it. She helped me make a quick copy and, wanting to kiss her, I thanked her profusely and
hurried home.
It was just what I needed. The first example of a Story Lead I had ever seen.
Before reading it, I thought all sales letters should begin with a promise or an offer or an invitation.
My first big success — the one that got my boss to wonder if I might “have it,” was an invitation letter.
But the next one, a promise offer, didn’t do so well. Just looking at this famous ad, I could see it had the
power that my package needed.
Take another look at this lead. It is a very short story about two people who start out their careers with
equal prospects, but then meet 25 years later at a reunion. One of them is very successful and the other is
not. The reader wants to know what happened. That is the hook.
As you can see, there is a promise embedded in this little story. If the reader finds out how this one
young man became so successful, he can apply that strategy to his own life and enjoy success, too.
Story Leads always contain a promise. But, they are much less direct than promise offers. The reader
may know that he is reading an advertisement, but if the story is well-told, he soon forgets about that and
gets emotionally involved in the story itself.
In this chapter, we are going to talk about Story Leads, which I contend are perhaps the most powerful
type of lead. And, I will explain why. And then, I will show you how a good Story Lead is constructed.
Let’s begin by taking a look at an ad that predated The Wall Street Journal ad by 51 years. I’m talking
about the most famous ad of all. Here it is:
Let’s break this down and see what’s going on:
They laughed when I sat down at the piano …
But when I started to play!
This headline instantly conveys all the key elements of a successful ad:
One strong idea
One desirable benefit
One driving emotion
One inevitable solution
In just 15 words, copywriting legend John Caples tells a powerful story. You can see someone
approaching a piano in a crowded room — perhaps it’s a dinner party. You can see the look of disbelief
on people’s faces as he nears it. When he pulls back his cuffs, a twitter of laughter starts. Before his
fingers touch the ivories, there is a chorus of abusive cackling.
How can you not feel sorry for this guy? Surely you have experienced, sometime in your life, a similar
moment of embarrassing derision. (Who hasn’t?)
Imagining this situation, you feel his need for approval and revenge — two of the deepest and
strongest human desires.
Now comes the second line — “But when I started to play!”
You can see the shock and disbelief on the faces of those who were laughing. Our hero has begun
playing, and the music is flowing like wine. Men grow pale with admiration and jealousy. Women glow
in appreciation.
And then the thought hits you: “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could play the piano?”
Based on Caples’ headline alone, the reader of this ad is already half-persuaded to sign up for the
course it is selling. This is an astonishing amount of work to get done with 15 simple words.
What’s going on here?
I said this about the Rule of One, “Write about only one thing at a time. Because one good idea, clearly
and convincingly presented, is better than a dozen so-so ideas strung together.”
Caples’ headline is a beautiful example of that. Had he taken the salad bowl approach — so popular
with the whippersnappers who write copy today — it might have read as follows:
Now You Can Learn to Play the Piano Quickly and Easily!
After years of research, musicologist discovers the world’s most efficient method for teaching the
piano.
Using this unique new program, you can master the piano in less than a year!
You will amaze your friends and neighbors! Some may even be shocked at how well you can play!
Plus, you can earn extra income on the weekends!
This headline doesn’t have nearly the force of the original because it has too much going on. Too many
unnecessary details, too many unrelated emotions, and too many damn words!
Another reason Caples’ headline is so strong is because, as I pointed out, it tells a story. Of all the
ways to get your readers emotionally involved in your copy, nothing works better and more consistently
than the Story Lead.
Story Leads are not as common as Promise or Offer Leads, but if you look at the greatest ads in
history, they are surprisingly common. In the early 2000s, Raphael Marketing compiled a list of 101 of the
best print advertising headlines ever written. As a group, these ads sold hundreds of millions of dollars’
worth of products and services. (That would be tens of billions of dollars today.)
While most of the actual ads are “lost to history,” a quick examination shows that a good 35% of the
headlines are story-based. There’s a good reason that number is so high.
Stories are a very primal way of communicating. Long before the printing press was invented, human
beings used stories to convey important cultural lessons to their offspring. All the ancient pre-literate
societies had stories — stories of how the world was formed and how they became the chosen people.
The Iliad and the Odyssey and Beowulf were stories that inspired and educated their respective
cultures. Some of those stories contained non-narrative elements (lists, commandments, etc.), but these
were all wrapped in stories.
What is the Bible — Old Testament and New — if not a collection of stories?
Why are stories so much a part of all cultures? The main reason is that they can convey information in
a way that is easy to remember. They can convey both a quantity of information and a quality of
information that other forms of communication cannot.
There are schools of thinking that argue that our brains are wired to respond to stories. It may be that
stories are in and of themselves more compelling.
Now with these points in mind, let’s look at another extremely successful ad with a Story Lead.
The Man in the Hathaway Shirt
Have you seen The Most Interesting Man in the World?
I’m referring to the TV commercials for Dos Equis beer. They star a rugged-looking, silver-haired
man who is always surrounded by beautiful women.
In one version of the commercial, he arm-wrestles a Third World General and releases a grizzly bear
from a trap. In another, the narrator relates that even his enemies list him as their emergency contact and
that the police often question him just because they find him interesting.
If you are a student of advertising, you know this is a knockoff of David Ogilvy’s famous ad campaign:
The Man in the Hathaway Shirt.
In brief: It was 1951. Ellerton Jette, a shirtmaker from Waterville, Maine, wanted to grow his little
business into a national brand, but he didn’t have much money. He had heard about the advertising
prowess of David Ogilvy. So, he booked a meeting with him.
“I have an advertising budget of only $30,000,” he told Ogilvy. “And I know that’s much less than you
normally work with. But, I believe you can make me into a big client of yours if you take on the job.”
If he’d stopped there, Ogilvy would have thrown him out of the office. But then he said something that
sold the great salesman.
He said, “If you do take on the job, Mr. Ogilvy, I promise you this. No matter how big my company
gets, I will never fire you. And, I will never change a word of your copy.”
There is a big lesson here. So, let’s stop for a moment and talk about it.
What Ellerton Jette did was a little bit of genius. In two short sentences, he changed the mind of one of
the most powerful men in the world of advertising. At the same moment, he made himself a very rich man.
Jette’s $30,000 budget might have put $3,000 in Ogilvy’s pocket. Though it was a paltry sum then and
a mere pittance now, at least it was something. But, what really clinched the deal were the two promises
Jette made.
Going into the meeting, Jette knew he had one chance to forge a relationship with Ogilvy. He somehow
understood that Ogilvy, as successful as he was, had two big problems. He worried that his biggest
clients would walk away from him. And, he hated it when his clients screwed with his copy. So, instead
of thinking only of his own goals, Jette took the time to figure out how he could offer Ogilvy something
that would be of immense value to him.
When Jette made his two promises, Ogilvy realized that he was talking to a businessman who would
eventually become a partner. He could see that Jette was a man of good faith who would let Ogilvy be in
charge of his marketing. And, that he would reward Ogilvy with a lifetime of loyalty.
Now, let’s get back to the story of the Hathaway shirt ad …
After accepting Jette’s offer, Ogilvy spent days doing in-depth research on Jette’s client base. He
came up with dozens of ideas. The one he settled on was a campaign built around the image of a
distinguished man in a romantic location dressed in a Hathaway shirt. He selected a model that looked
like William Faulkner and booked the first photo shoot.
On the way to the shoot, he passed a five-and-ten cent store where he bought a few cheap eye patches.
At the shoot, he asked the model to wear an eye patch for a few shots.
The moment he saw the photos with the eye patch, he knew.
The Man in the Hathaway Shirt campaign was an instant success. The ads were carried in papers
around the country, and were mentioned editorially in Time, Life, and Fortune.
Before long, hosts of imitators appeared. Other companies ran ads featuring eye patches on babies,
dogs … even cows. A cartoon in The New Yorker shows three men looking into the display window of a
shirt store. In the second panel, they’re coming out of the store, with eye patches on.
Ogilvy got the idea for the patch, he said, from a photo of Ambassador Lewis Douglas, who had
injured his eye while fishing in England. But, he got the idea itself — the idea of this aristocratic man
with a romantic life — from the James Thurber story “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” (Actually,
Kenneth Roman pointed out in The King of Madison Avenue, it could have been from the secret life of
David Ogilvy. As a young executive, Ogilvy was prone to wearing capes and bow ties while everyone
else was in grey flannel suits.)
Of course, it wasn’t just the eye patch that made the ads work. It was the combination of the model, the
situation he was in, and the copy itself.
And the copy was brilliant. Here’s the first line of the first ad:
“The melancholy disciples of Thorstein Veblen would have despised this shirt.”
Most readers of the ad had no idea who Thorstein Veblen was. But, they got the idea. Veblen was
some sort of snobby aristocratic. By posing a handsome, silver-haired model with an eye patch in a
Hathaway shirt and putting that line underneath the photo, Ogilvy struck a chord in the American
imagination. We all hate aristocrats, but we’d like to be one.
There was another brilliant thing about the ad. Putting the model in a romantic location gave the pitch a
fictional element. It had “story appeal,” as Ogilvy put it.
Ogilvy said he discovered the concept of story appeal in a book by Harold Rudolph, a former ad
agency research director. This was the first time, Roman says in his book, “that shirt advertising focused
as much on the man wearing the shirt as on the shirt itself.”
And now, back to The Most Interesting Man in the World …
I am a fan of these Dos Equis commercials. I like them because they are a salute to David Ogilvy and
because they successfully replicate the key elements in Ogilvy’s ads for the Hathaway shirt. They have the
handsome, silver-haired model. They have the eye patch. And, they have the anti-aristocrat touch. (The
product is beer, after all.)
They also have the romance and the story. Each new edition of the commercial is another episode in
this most interesting man’s life.
They fall short only in one respect. They don’t do a great job of equating the product with the concept.
When I remember a Dos Equis ad, I remember the actor’s face. I remember the pretty girls in the
background. I’m aware that he is a man that women find irresistible. And, that when he drinks, he drinks
… Wait a minute. What does he drink?
There’s the rub.
We find out that The Most Interesting Man in the World drinks Dos Equis. But, he could just as well
drink Pabst Blue Ribbon. The creative people behind this very good ad campaign get a big demerit for
that. Ogilvy, on the other hand, put the product’s name in the headline. The fact that his man was wearing a
Hathaway shirt was integral to the story.
Grabbing the prospect’s attention with an entertaining story or idea or photo is essential for any sort of
advertising campaign. But, you have to do more than that. You have to sell the product. And to do that, you
must link the initial sentiment created in the headline with the final emotion needed to close the sale at the
end. (But, beware. This does not mean you should put the name of the product in your headline and lead.
This is often a mistake to do.)
In AWAI’s Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting, I call this “The Golden Thread.” It’s
pretty simple. The product is at one end of the thread. The prospect’s heart is at the other end. Every
element of the copy must be connected to the product as well as to the prospect. And, the connection must
be taut. If the thread goes slack, even for a second, you lose the sale.
The Power of a Story
Of the six archetypal lead types discussed in this book, there is none more powerful than the story.
Stories work because they allow the listener/reader to experience some event in a very visceral way.
You hear a story about a shirtmaker who dreams of creating a national brand. You identify with him and
his challenge. You feel his frustration. You comprehend the audacity of his goal. And, then you live
through — in your imagination — his efforts and his eventual success.
Before you have even finished the story, you have internalized some basic ideas. These ideas “feel”
compelling to you because you “lived” through them. They are not simply statements you have been asked
to accept.
Every Master Copywriter understands the fundamental ambivalence of the prospect: He wants to buy,
but he doesn’t want to be sold.
When you employ a direct lead such as an Offer or Invitation, Promise, or Problem-Solution, the
prospect recognizes you are trying to sell him something. Since he doesn’t want to be sold, he will
emotionally resist the sale, even as he feels it tugging at his heartstrings.
With indirect leads, the prospect is not so aware of the selling. When he reads a Secret Lead, he’s
compelled to read on because he wants to discover the secret. The same is true with the compelling
statement or prediction of the Proclamation Lead. And it is true, most of all, with the Story Lead.
If the story is told well, the prospect forgets — almost immediately — that he’s reading an
advertisement. And thus he forgets, at least for the moment, that he is being sold. His emotions are tied up
in the story itself. There is a problem and he wants to know how it will be resolved. He will read it with
the same emotional openness he has when he reads a novel or watches a movie. His “advertising”
defenses are down. Way down. This is a huge advantage for the copywriter.
As John Forde has to say about it:
“I can think of a lot of people who balk at big promises. I can think of plenty more who couldn’t
care less about a bulleted list of shocking statistics. But, I can’t think of a single person who can
resist a good story. Can you? “Everybody loves a good story.
“As a way to communicate, nothing feels more natural.
“So, doesn’t it make sense that when someone says, ‘Let me tell you a story …’ you perk up and
listen?
“There’s no better way to melt resistance. Of course, if you don’t tell the story well, you can still
lose the reader. And, telling the right stories well isn’t always easy.
“But get it right, and a Story Lead lets you sneak into the psyche sideways, like no other lead can,
delivering anecdotal proof and promises … and a setup for the rest of your pitch … long before the
reader even realizes what you’re doing.”
Caples’ piano ad was an instant hit, selling thousands of correspondence courses. Many call it the
most successful ad of the 20th century.
And, the structure of his classic headline has been “borrowed” time and again by other copywriters.
You may have seen these (thanks to Don Hauptman for these examples):
They grinned when the waiter spoke to me in French …
But their laughter changed to amazement at my reply.
They laughed when I sent away for free color film …
But now my friends are all sending away, too.
They laughed when I sat down at the computer —
But when I started to use it!
So, what can the modern marketer/copywriter learn about headline writing from Caples’ classic
example?
First, the Rule of One: One strong idea/emotion/benefit is better than half a dozen mediocre ones.
Second, the power of the story: There is no stronger way to engage your prospect than with a simple
story.
Third, that adhering to the “rules” of good storytelling will produce the greatest effect. That means
beginning in the middle with a conflict — expressed or implicit — that affects a protagonist the
reader can identify with. And, offering an emotionally-satisfying solution.
You don’t have to use Caples’ words. Just borrow the deeper structure of his headline:
The hero, an ordinary person like your prospect, attempts to do something extraordinary.
People doubt him.
He proves them wrong.
There are countless ways to apply this structure.
If you are selling an investment advisory, for example, you could tell a story about the secret behind
how all the wealthiest families in Europe made their fortunes. Like Mike Palmer did in his control
promotion for True Wealth.
Dear Reader,
Many of the world’s wealthiest families have used this “secret currency” for generations to grow
dynasties.
Let me show you just one example …
Mayer Amschel Rothschild used his knowledge of this investment to launch the largest family
fortune the world has ever seen.
Mayer was born in Germany in the middle of the 18th century, and was raised in Frankfurt’s ghetto,
where the average house held 15 people.
When the boy was 11, a smallpox epidemic swept through the ghetto. It killed both of his parents.
This tragedy set up young Mayer to learn the greatest secret of his life.
Or, if you are selling cigars, you could create a story about the perils and excitement of finding the best
tobacco.
15 Rivers to Cross … and only 7 bridges
Here’s how we were able to bring you …
THE GRANADA
In spite of bandits, jaguars, baby dinosaurs, and high water … at a price that will make a happy bandit
out of YOU!
I used to think that the only way to have a real adventure was to be an astronaut or something. But that
was before my recent trip to the Hidden Valley in Honduras, where the alluvial soil is six feet deep
and everybody and his brother carries a six-shooter for bandit insurance.
Maybe you thought I just sit around writing letters to my good customers and wrapping cigar boxes to
take to the Post Office. Not so. You don’t get the best tobacco settin’ at home on your resources. And
believe me, you don’t always find the comforts of home elsewhere.
Sometimes I wonder why I’m in this business at all — and why I go an over Hell’s half-acre to
insure my supply of good tobacco. Yet if I didn’t go right down to the tobacco farms and check the
crops for myself, I’d never be able to offer you the cigars I do. And I certainly would never have
found the priceless bales of wrapper I brought back from my last trip to Central America.
Or, if you’re trying to get your prospect to donate money to provide shelter for homeless teens, few
leads are as powerful as a well-told story such as this Covenant House appeal …
I’m writing to you from our shelter tonight …
Dear Friends,
I’m writing to you from our shelter tonight. From the corner, I can see James, just 16, sleeping on a
fresh cot we set up in the chapel. Covenant House is full. Every bed is taken. I don’t always know
how we make room for all these kids, but by the grace of God, tonight we found a way again.
James came to us tonight, exhausted, his eyelids barely able to stay open. He’d been trying to sleep
near the restaurant dumpsters, in the bus station, on park benches. He’d rested his head on tables at
24-hour donut shops, under the fluorescent lights, desperate for a safe, quiet place to sleep.
We set up the cot, put on fresh linens, and gave him a new blanket. He was asleep before his head hit
the pillow.
James is safe tonight because of people like you who care about kids.
I will end this essay by saying this: You have just read about half a dozen of the most powerful
marketing secrets I know. If you put this essay down and forget about it, you will be making a terrible
mistake. Read it at least half a dozen times and think about it. If it doesn’t make you a multimillionaire,
I’ll eat my shirt. Hathaway, of course.
Is that really the end?
Not quite, I forgot to tell you the ending of the story I began with. I used The Wall Street Journal ad to
create a story of my own. I was selling a product called Executive Productivity. It was a newsletter that
told executives how to — well, you know — be more productive.
The prior control used a very direct headline: How to Double Your Productivity or something like
that. My lead was very different. I wrote a story about my own experience coming to work with my boss. I
had taken a job as executive editor of his publications but I simply wasn’t up to the job. I was too young
and inexperienced. Most of the writers I was editing were twice my age and better writers than I.
I knew that to do a good job I would have to work 24 hours a day. I had a wife and two small babies.
How could I get the productivity I needed from myself? I had no idea until I came across an old book at a
secondhand store …
You get the picture. How did my sales letter work? It tripled the response rate of the control and
became an unbeatable control for more than five years. Most importantly, it made my boss believe in me
… which later resulted in my becoming his partner.
And, it all began by learning how to tell a story.
10
How to Make This System Work for You
___________________________
“Play by the rules, but be ferocious.”
— Phil Knight
___________________________
Since we first started putting together this system of lead archetypes, we’ve seen it implemented by
our own colleagues.
How well has it worked for them?
If their real-world results are any indication — and we’re convinced they are — it’s worked out pretty
well.
Copywriter Angela Salerno, for example, had a chance to test two of the six lead types you’ve read
about in this book. Not just for the same product, but on the same marketing promotion. And, with an
unusual and impressive result.
The product was an investment research service that identified momentum-driven stock trades.
It was a natural, Angela figured, for the kind of Offer Lead type you read about in Chapter 4.
After all, not only did potential subscribers know the trading pro behind the service well, he had an
excellent track record. And, the deal available to subscribers couldn’t be beat. So, Angela went with
something very direct.
This was her simple headline:
Why We’re Giving You 12 FREE Months of Alexander Green’s Momentum Alert
In just the past year, this red-hot service has generated a mind-boggling 3,183% gains.
But according to Alex, that’s nothing compared to the next 12 months. And if you respond today, you
can access this research at no charge. No strings attached. Read on for details …
It did well enough. Sales topped $1 million. But, here’s where this got interesting. When it came time
to update the promotion, a new format was making it possible to reach a much wider audience with the
same offer.
Angela realized not all of the new prospects would know the editor or have reason to trust him yet as a
resource. So, she revised the same copy into a less direct Problem-Solution Lead, like those you saw in
Chapter 6.
She also moved the offer and mention of the product deeper into her copy and focused instead on the
“horrible mistake most investors are making right now” by overlooking these momentum-based trends.
The result?
The new approach combined with the new format turned what was already a million-dollar sales letter
into a $3 million letter. Says Angela, “It was by far our bestselling product of the year.”
Karen Reddel, who heads up a nutritional supplement company we work with closely, tells a similar
tale.
One of Karen’s products was a heart-healthy supplement that offered a basket of benefits — including
healthier blood pressure, better cholesterol levels, a stronger immune system, and healthy overall
circulation — that might appeal to her customers.
If you remember Chapter 1, you already know that according to the principle of the Rule of One, you
can usually get better results by focusing on one big benefit rather than a collection of small ones.
However, Karen points out, the multiple-benefits of the supplement were a key part of the story.
“There’s more to heart health,” the sales letter pointed out, “than cholesterol alone.”
So, the first thing Karen did was fit the multiple benefits of her product into a single, simple message.
Here’s how it read:
Karen ran an identical headline on the carrier envelope. The rest of the lead stressed this same core
idea, that you could “replace every other pill on your shelf” with this one versatile supplement. It was a
clear and simple big Promise Lead like those you’ve already seen in Chapter 5 of this book.
As a test, Karen also ran another version. “The test was a bit muddier,” says Karen, “more of an ‘idea
lead’ if I had to call it something.” We might call it more of a Proclamation Lead, like those you saw in
Chapter 8.
Instead of focusing on the supplement benefits, its headline and sub-headline copy read: “The medical
mainstream may buy into the ‘cholesterol myth,’ but I know … a lifetime of heart health does not begin and
end with cholesterol alone. Keep reading to discover the full story … plus an easy way to help keep
your ticker ticking starting today.”
Like other Proclamation Leads, it was bold. And, it might make you curious.
But, we might also agree that it was “muddy.” The test version had to work too hard to close the open
“cholesterol myth” question and then connect it to the multiple benefits of the supplement Karen and her
team were trying to sell. What’s more, they knew that supplement readers are often very aware. They
know roughly what they’re looking for and often respond best to more direct offers and promises.
That proved to be the case here, too. The straight Promise Lead out-pulled the test by a 50% margin.
Naturally, you never know until you test. But, says Karen, once you know how aware your readers are,
you can make a pretty good guess. “We learned a long time ago that big promises work to our file and so
most of our tests have been straight big promise versus big promise or problem-solution versus problemsolution.”
Not long after we first came up with the six lead archetypes for this book, financial copywriter Aaron
Gentzler started work on sales copy for a service that researched fast-moving but little-known
opportunities in technology stocks.
His lead mixed some of the types you’ve seen in this book — as some letters sometimes do — but if
we could fit it into any one category, it might be closest to a cleverly-nuanced version of the Problem-
Solution Lead samples you saw in Chapter 6.
Particularly, Aaron focused on something he already knew had strong emotional pull for the audience
he was targeting, the fear of missed opportunity. Here’s how Aaron’s lead began …
Your Great-Grandfather Saw The Railroad Come to Town,But Did He Profit From It?
Your Grandfather Watched The First Model T’s Roll Down the Street. Did He Get Rich?
Your Father’s Generation Witnessed the Rise of Computers. How Much Did He Make On Them?
The Next Massive Wealth Creation Starts NOW. Here’s how YOU Could Give Millions to Your
Family’s Next 3 Generations.
The World Will Learn of What Could Be A Historic Breakthrough on Nov. 19 — and You Can Get
in Before the News Breaks …
His letter went on to compare the potential opportunity he was touting to the big wealth-creating events
of the 20th century. We call this technique transubstantiation, where you add richness to an idea by
elevating the context.
Big, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities are more than just a chance to do well with your money, his copy
reasoned; they’re a chance to “build a generations-wide stream of wealth for you and your family.”
And then, of course, he went on to prove that the “next great advance” really could be large enough to
see these kinds of destiny-altering gains. It was a big promise and needed some big proof. By adding the
date — November 19 — he showed the promise was even more real. And, he also increased the urgency.
It worked.
In the first week, Aaron’s Problem-Solution pitch took in $500,000 in new sales. And, those results
kept on piling up over the weeks that followed. Since then, he says he’s been able to go back to the same
formula successfully over and over again.
Copywriter Colm O’Dwyer also claims big success with our six-lead system. One of his most recent
projects was a sales letter for a small cap stock research letter. “Small caps” are generally inexpensive,
off-radar stocks without many shareholders.
Many of the big companies you know today started out as small cap stocks or even what the market
calls “micro-caps.” Those who follow them like them because they have the potential to move quickly
and, historically, they tend to beat bigger stocks.
That can make them an easy sell.
But Colm had a challenge. The letter’s publisher already had a very strong sales letter that had mailed
successfully for years. Colm knew he’d have to do something special to beat it.
Says Colm, “Looking at your six lead types, I knew that for the best chance at success, I should use a
Story, Proclamation, or Secret Lead. But, finding a good, original story can be hard work and this product
just didn’t fit a Proclamation Lead, so I decided to use a Secret Lead.”
You’ll remember, from Chapter 7, that Secret Leads work best when they promise to unlock a mystery
that offers a big benefit to the reader. But, they also tend to withhold the most valuable piece of
information until after the prospect has agreed to buy.
“After I had my direction,” says Colm, “I simply studied other secret-driven sales letters working right
now, selling a similar product. Taking the best ideas from each … and adding a few ideas of my own … I
was able to write a blockbuster package.”
Colm’s letter went ahead and revealed the kinds of investments the product would follow. What it
withheld was the details of the special process used to pick long strings of winning plays. Colm’s
headline featured a “Secret $200 Retirement Blueprint.” And, his letter went on to promise readers a
“step-by-step” approach that could turn even a small amount of money — say $200 — into a much bigger
cash pile, by rolling gains from one trade into another.
In the end, says Colm, “It was the most successful sales letter I’ve ever written. It not only thumped a
long-standing control, but it’s still generating a lot of royalties for me. It also happens to be the easiest
sales letter I’ve ever written, too.”
So far, Colm’s “blueprint” has brought in over 55,000 new customers.
Master Copywriter Mike Palmer also has countless sales letter breakthroughs under his belt. But, as
we mentioned in Chapter 8, one of the biggest by far has to be the Proclamation Lead he recently wrote
for another of our publishing colleagues. The product was a newsletter that had taken up a strong and
pessimistic position on where the U.S. is headed, given its soaring national debt.
Here’s the online space ad that lead to the video link:
For the promotion itself, Mike took advantage of the video format and had his design team craft it in
the same style of a “red band” movie trailer. This underscored the controversy of the message, made it
feel even more urgent, and no doubt piqued the curiosity of viewers. This is what you would have seen
after clicking the link:
Because it was such a bold prediction, Mike spent the first few moments establishing credibility. He
quickly gave the background of the analyst behind the prediction that would follow; another, bigger
breakdown of the U.S. financial system and even some social and political structures that depend on it;
and then dug into the deep and dramatic forecast.
Said the letter …
“I reference our success and experience with Wall Street’s latest crisis because we believe there is
an even bigger crisis lurking — something that will shake the very foundation of America.
“That is why I’ve spent a significant amount of time and money in the past few months preparing this
letter.
“In short, I want to talk about a specific event that will take place in America’s very near future …
which could actually bring our country and our way of life to a grinding halt … ”
Bold words. And, of course, the Proclamation Leads that work need to hit on the right emotions at the
right time, as you saw in our earlier samples. When this particular promotion was released, worries about
rising U.S. debt ran especially deep (as of this writing, they still do). And that helped this message touch a
nerve with target readers.
In the first three months after this mailed, it brought in over 200,000 new subscribers. Sales topped
$10.5 million, making it one of the bestselling sales letters in the industry. Certainly it’s made a fortune
for Mike and cemented what’s already been a stellar career.
Publisher Mike Ward and copywriter Jim Amrhein also wrote to us with a big Proclamation Lead
success. They were also selling a financial research service, but for an analyst with an incredible backstory.
Not only was their editor a top oil expert, but he used to work as a spy for the State Department.
His list of industry contacts alone was almost unbelievable.
Here’s what they finally came up with …
Just 50 People Control 90% of the World’s Energy Markets
…And They All Have Me on Speed Dial …
I’m helping these Big Dogs set up three global energy “super shifts” right now — here’s how you could
play them for up to 2,505% gains in 13 months
Dear Reader,
Forget Blue Chips … microchips … biotech … gourmet coffee chains … smartphones … iPads …
iPods … and i-Don’t-know-whats …
The biggest money in this world will ALWAYS be made by those who know how to play the energy
markets.
The problem is that 99.9% of media pundits, market analysts, money managers, and investment
advisors will never be able to help you win at this game.
That’s because, unlike me, THEY don’t have access to the small “Inner Circle” of power-players
who control 90% of the world’s energy.
So, they’re always late getting into the real, fast-moving money plays that only a handful of people in
the world can see coming.
I’m one of these people. And in this letter, I’ll prove it to you …
You can see that the bold statement, about an inner circle of “50 people” controlling most of the
world’s energy market, isn’t really a promise outright, though it’s certainly implied. And, the rest of the
copy had to go on to prove that not only did this “Inner Circle” exist, but that they really do have a
connection to the analyst behind the service.
Says Mike, “It was very challenging … [because we wanted to feature his credentials] in a way that’s
credible, without bragging. We did about three rewrites. At one point, I just said, ‘Why don’t we just say
that 20 or so people control 90% of the energy market, and our guy knows them all.’ That was all Jim
needed. He just ran with it and created the ‘speed dial’ thing and when we saw, everyone on the staff just
went: ‘Oh, yeah.’ It was immediately cool and arresting.” The target readers thought so, too.
This promotion, as of this writing, has racked up around $6 million in sales in four months.
Copywriter Jennifer Stevens writes regularly for travel products. Story Leads, says Jen, are a staple in
the travel industry, because they let you capture the romance of travel in a way the other lead types can’t.
She sent us this example. Notice how the story starts in the sub-headline copy and carries into the lead …
What if You Had a Simple Blueprint to Take You from Where You Are Now … to
Your Perfect Place Overseas?
It took our editors, Dan and Suzan, a full decade to uncover the best secrets to the good life abroad …
But now you can do it easily. With their step-by-step blueprint, you save money … avoid the pitfalls …
and find your perfect “sweet spot” overseas fast …
So you can start living better (and for less), right away …
Dear International Living Reader,
They started out in Ecuador … tried on three places in Mexico for size … moved to Panama … did a
stint in Nicaragua … went back to Mexico … and now they’re spending part of the year in Ecuador
again …
They’ve rented … renovated … traveled with pets … learned a new language … had teeth fixed …
been operated on … bought homes … sold homes … rented homes out …
For the last decade, our editors Dan Prescher and Suzan Haskins have capitalized on many of the best
opportunities on the planet …
They’ve saved tens of thousands of dollars in day-to-day expenses … but live much better than they
ever did back in Omaha, Nebraska. (And no more snow to shovel, either.)
Today they have a gorgeous colonial home in Merida, Mexico — a city full of sunlight and music.
And when it gets too hot there, they decamp to their penthouse apartment in Ecuador’s highlands, in a
place where the air is clear and crisp all year round.
If they were still Stateside, they’d be living in a middle-class neighborhood, working 50-plus hours a
week, driving in the ice, saving up for the day when they could — hopefully — retire.
Instead, for the past ten years, they’ve been enjoying life. Traveling lots. Living well. Free from the
money pressures and stress of life in the States, there’s time to relax, enjoy themselves, appreciate
the comforts …
The letter goes on to tell you how they did it, mistakes they made, and what they wish they’d known up
front. The copy even includes a tempting photo of Dan and Suzan’s gorgeous courtyard pool at their
affordable home in Mexico. Notice how the letter doesn’t just make a promise, but demonstrates it with
the narrative.
That’s the strength of the Story Lead.
Says Jen, they almost didn’t go this way. “Here we had this ‘retire overseas kit’ that should sell but
just never did. So, we reinvented it. We added videos and sliced up content to put into little reports.
Then, we tried selling it as ‘90 days to your new life overseas.’ That didn’t work either. So, then I redid
the lead again to position the kit as Dan and Suzan’s blueprint for their new overseas life — and that
worked great.” In just five days, this sales letter brought in $75,636 in new sales and it continues to work.
Why This Is Really All You Need
One of the challenges we faced in writing this book was finding perfect examples for our six lead
types. Why was it difficult? Because much current advertising is a mix of one, two, or more of these true
“archetypes” rather than any one in particular. And, our desire was to use examples that were as “pure” to
one type as possible, to make the message that much easier to get across.
In fact, maybe you noticed, just to make our message clear, we wrote each of these chapters about a
lead type so they would start with the kind of lead in question. So, even there, we took pains to show you
— rather than just tell you — how to best open with each kind of lead.
In the end, what we can tell you is this: Between us, we have looked at hundreds of successful
packages over the years. Easily over 80% of the winners do indeed lead predominantly with one of these
six pure lead types, if not a blend of two or more similar types.
Does this mixing dilute the effectiveness of the lead or counter what we said early in this book about
the Rule of One? It can. But in the best leads, the effectiveness is maintained as long as the copywriter
uses the different tools to stick to one core message.
Bottom line: When in doubt, stick to the six pure types you’ve learned here. Enjoy the success
understanding each will bring. Then, when you’ve mastered each lead type and you’ve isolated a single
sales message to focus on, you can slowly branch out to hybrid lead types.
But, do just what you’ve seen here, and you’ll already find yourself leagues ahead of other persuasive
writers. You’ll find your advertising leads are much stronger, more successful, and more profitable for
both you and your clients.
What’s more, here’s a bonus: Apply these same lead-writing rules throughout the rest of your
persuasive copy and you’ll see huge benefits there, too. Use the Rule of One, for instance, to focus your
sales messages. Use the idea of message directness to make sure you’re speaking the right way to the right
kind of customer, right through to your offer reply page.
And so on.
You’ll find you write stronger offers, make more irresistible promises, identify more relevant
solutions for your buyers, tease better opportunities, tell stronger and more persuasive stories, and more.
Of course, there’s only one way for you to be sure that we’re right about this final claim. And, that’s to
try what we’re suggesting for yourself. Once you do, we’re sure you’ll agree.
Table of Contents
Introduction
An Amazingly Powerful Strategy for Direct Response Success
1
The Rule of One — One Big Idea
2
The Simple Question That Can Double Your Success
3
Direct or Indirect?
4
The Easiest Type of Sales Lead You’ll Ever Write — Or Your Money Back
5
Double Your Sales With This Next Kind of Lead
6
Still Can’t Find Your Hook? Try This Time-Tested Solution
7
The Magic of the Velvet Pouch
8
You Won’t Read This Anywhere Else But Here: The Proclamation Lead
9
The Tale of the $2 Billion Sales Letter
10
How to Make This System Work for You
Great Leads
The Six Easiest Ways to Start Any Sales Message
Michael Masterson & John Forde
Published by:
American Writers & Artists Inc.
245 NE 4th Avenue, Suite 102
Delray Beach, FL 33483
Phone: 561-278-5557
Fax: 561-278-5929
Website: www.awaionline.com
© 2011 Michael Masterson and John Forde. All rights reserved.
Protected by copyright laws of the United States and international treaties.
No part of this publication in whole or in part may be copied, duplicated, reproduced, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or
mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the express written permission from
the publisher.
Copyright and other intellectual property laws protect these materials and any unauthorized reproduction or retransmission will constitute an
infringement of copyright law.
Federal law provides severe civil and criminal penalties for the unauthorized reproduction, distribution, or exhibition of copyrighted materials.
Penalties for criminal and statutory copyright infringement are set forth at 18 U.S.C. § 2319.
ISBN-13: 978-0-9821500-3-0
ISBN-10: 0-9821500-3-2
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
To our fathers — Francis P. Ford and George S. Forde, Jr. — who taught us to
make that first step count.
Acknowledgements
No book becomes a reality through the work of just the authors. This is particularly true with Great
Leads: The Six Easiest Ways to Start Any Sales Message . We gratefully acknowledge the inspiration and
help of the following people. This book would never have been published without you.
Katie Yeakle and the entire AWAI team were a constant resource for ideas and assistance. Thank you
for always being there for us.
Many thanks to the people responsible for the “heavy lifting” of getting this from concept into print:
Will Newman, Lorie Drozdenko, Jill Perri, and Nan Hughes for editing, designing, and critiquing.
Thank you to all the copywriters whose work we studied and drew upon. There were literally
hundreds, so we can’t thank you personally. But, that doesn’t lessen our gratitude for your contribution.
Thank you to the historic giants on whose shoulders we stand: marketers and copywriters like Eugene
Schwartz, Claude Hopkins, Max Sackheim, John Caples, and David Ogilvy. They were our early
inspirations for this book, as well as for our careers.
And finally, special thanks to Bill Bonner for his early and continued guidance in both of our careers.
And, for giving us the final push to turn this book into a reality.
Introduction
An Amazingly Powerful Strategy for Direct Response Success
If you are a copywriter intent on improving your skills, don’t read this book … Memorize it.
This book reveals in detail a very powerful strategy for writing breakthrough copy. It will change the
way you think about sales copy. It will change the way you write sales copy. It will make you a far more
skilled — and successful — copywriter.
And, it does this by giving you a tool you can use to beat “controls” by a factor of two-to-ten.
Learn this strategy and you will never have to worry about writing a dud. All your promotions will
perform extremely well because your prospects will read them with a high level of interest and
excitement.
Although just a few years old, this strategy is already responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars
in sales for the businesses we consult with. And, promotions using this strategy are getting even better
profits as we learn more about how it works and how to employ it.
What you are about to learn is entirely new. Although we have been studying the craft of copywriting
for a combined 60 years, the idea behind this strategy was hatched in 2007, tested with our clients
between then and 2010, and is only now being made available to the public.
If you learn this strategy — and it can easily be learned — you can expect certain immediate benefits:
You will start producing stronger, more compelling copy
The results of your efforts will improve and your clients (or employer) will notice
The demand for your writing will skyrocket
As a result, you will earn more money — perhaps multiples of what you are earning now
If that weren’t enough, you will also:
Waste almost no time figuring out how to “begin” your sales copy
Write virtually every ad or promotion with confidence knowing that your copy will work
You should be able to read this book in a single day. It will be an exciting first read because you will
be discovering new ideas that boost the quality and effectiveness of your copy.
By this time tomorrow, you will be able to put some of the techniques to work. But, we recommend
you reread the book several times during the next few weeks. With each reading, new secrets will be
opened up for you.
This strategy becomes more powerful as you become more adept at using it. In the hands of a Master
Copywriter, it becomes a “magic wand,” doubling and tripling the power of your copy every time you use
it.
In the next few years, dozens of self-styled copywriting gurus will be teaching this strategy as if it
were their own. This has already happened with other copywriting techniques we’ve introduced to the
industry. There is no reason why it won’t happen again.
By keeping this book as a personal resource, you won’t have to worry about forgetting any of the
details. Everything you need to understand this strategy and put it into action is contained in the following
pages. And, since it is coming from two of the three people who invented and refined it, you are getting it
undiluted straight from the source.
How Did We Come Up With This Crazy Idea?
When we were new to copywriting, we read everything we could find on the subject and attended
dozens of seminars. Most of the experts back then had a similar pedagogical approach. They taught the
craft of copywriting by providing their students with dozens or even hundreds of rules. Rules such as:
Always write in the second person.
Never have a headline that is more than seven words.
Use red or black headlines but never blue or green.
Always give away a premium.
Always provide a money-back guarantee.
Fill your copy with proven power words such as “now” and “free.”
These rules often were accompanied by statistical “proof” of their effectiveness. One guru in
particular would astound his audience with rules and statistics like the following:
Using an envelope teaser will increase response rates by 25%.
Positioning an information product as a “club” will boost returns by 37%.
Manila envelopes jack up response rates by 15%.
And so on … ad nauseum.
We were always suspicious of that sort of advice. If copywriting could be learned by following a set
of static rules, then it would be easy to learn and there would be thousands of super-successful
copywriters out there happily plying their trade.
But, in fact, there were very few super-successful copywriters.
When we looked carefully at our own successes and failures, we decided that the problem with rules
and techniques was that they tend to be true only in very specific cases. For every rule that applied to one
situation, there was a different situation to which it did not apply.
We found it was more effective to teach the big things — the rhetorical ideas that are eternal and
profound and universal. It is the big ideas — not the little ones — that create breakthrough copy.
So, instead of using rules and secrets to teach our group of up-and-coming copywriters one year, we
had them study dozens of the great sales letters of the past. Then, we told them the underlying secrets
behind the successful promotions.
Soon after this experiment, we incorporated what we knew in a new copywriting program we
introduced to American Writers & Artists Inc. (AWAI).
Since 1997, that program has been refined and improved at least a half-dozen times. We have been
part of the process to improve it. It is now, we believe, the very best program for learning copywriting of
its kind.
And, our most recent refinement is the strategy laid out in this book.
What Most Copywriting Teachers Won’t Teach You
This is a book about one small part of the advertisement — the few hundred words, what copywriters
call the lead.
The lead was not much talked about when we were learning the copywriting game. Back then, Master
Copywriters talked about features, benefits, proof, claims, and other elements of copy, but not the
structure of the direct response advertisement: that every well-formed sales letter has a beginning, a
middle, and an end.
Of the three, the beginning (or lead) is the most important. It is the first thing the prospect reads and the
one chance you have of persuading him emotionally. If you don’t do that in the lead, you will lose him,
regardless of what you do later on.
Pareto’s Law — How it Works in Direct Marketing
You’ve heard of Pareto’s Law. Loosely defined, it says that 80% of the value of any business or
endeavor comes from only 20% of its matter.
You may have noticed, for example, that 80% of the profitable sales of your business are generated by
20% of your customers. Likewise, 80% of the successful advertising campaigns you conduct are
generated by 20% of the copywriters who work for you.
At the level of advertising, Pareto’s Law also holds true. About 80% of the emotional impact of any
piece of advertising copy will be determined by the first 20% of the copy.
That brings us back to the proposition stated previously: when it comes to writing breakthrough
copy, the lead is, by far, the most important part.
We have been making this point to direct marketers and copywriters for many years now. In the
beginning, the idea was greeted with skepticism. “How is it possible that a few hundred words could
have such an impact?” the Doubting Thomases asked.
And so, we proved it to them by testing two otherwise-identical sales letters that had two distinctly
different leads. And overwhelmingly, one would significantly outperform the other. One might get, for
example, a response rate of one-half of one percent. The other would respond at double or triple that.
Nothing else would be changed. Just the leads. It was the leads that made such a profound difference.
Eventually the disbelievers were converted.
Nowadays, most marketing experts and copywriting coaches accept the importance of the lead. They
have seen the tests. They can’t dispute the facts.
If this proposition is new to you and you’re unsure of its truth, consider what these renowned,
successful copywriters have to say about the power of the lead …
“You can create a brilliant offer for a product or service everybody wants. But, unless the lead is
a ‘grabber,’ you won’t be competitive. Shortened attention spans and increased skepticism have
added new rules for an effective lead.”
— Herschell Gordon Lewis
“The headline gets attention. The lead either forges an instant connection with the reader — or
the package fails.”
— Bob Bly
“The headline and lead are 80% of the package. If you don’t have those, you have nothing. And,
the rest is journeyman writing.
“That is what separates the great writers from the ordinary. Ordinary writers write ordinary
leads. Great writers think of intriguing and powerful ideas …
“It is the hook that makes a great package — if you involve them there, your chances of success
improve incalculably. The more you involve, the more you succeed.”
— Don Mahoney
“30 seconds — that’s how long I’ve got to grab my prospect and get him hooked with my lead.
So, never save the ‘good stuff’ for later in the copy — it may never get read!”
— Carline Anglade-Cole
“The lead is important because it not only makes the promise, but determines the role you’ll be
playing in your presentation of the opportunity … and kind of ‘relationship’ you’ll have with the
reader for those next 10 or so minutes. And, that’s something that will have a very positive (or
negative) impact on the success of any package.”
— Paul Hollingshead
“In my experience, the lead is about 75% of the work. Finding a really compelling idea … and
figuring out how to express it in a unique and compelling way (in two pages of copy) is by far the
most important part of any package. The rest of your promotion can be very formulaic … because
you’ve already done the most difficult and important work in the lead.”
— Mike Palmer
Why the Lead is So Damn Important
Are you with us? Good. Let’s spend a few minutes discussing why exactly the lead is so important.
Direct response advertising copy is different from brand advertising. Its purpose is to produce an
immediate, positive action. To create that response, you need to do more than catch the reader’s attention.
You need to do more than entertain him. You need to do more than leave him with a positive impression
of the product.
With direct response advertising, you need to provoke action. And to do that, you must accomplish
two important objectives:
1. You must move the prospect emotionally.
2. You must persuade him intellectually.
Both jobs are equally important. But, to write breakthrough ads or promotions, you must do the
emotional persuasion first.
Experienced copywriters discovered this truth and were using it to write the great classics of the past.
Consider this famous advertisement from 1926 that ran for 40 years:
Max Sackheim — the author of this much-imitated ad — could have started out by giving statistics (if
any existed) about how much mistakes in English reduced a businessman’s earning power.
But, he didn’t. Instead, he appealed to the emotion of insecurity.
You can see this appeal to emotion at work in a much more recent advertisement, this one by
Bottomline.
This lead plays on one of the most powerful (and frequently, poorly-used) emotions in persuasive
arguments: Fear. There’s nothing subtle about this approach. The prospect reads it, and the fears this
headline and the subsequent lead arouse force him to keep reading.
But, print ads are not the only ones that use emotional hooks to grab the prospective buyer’s attention.
We are sure you are familiar with this much-quoted ad. Before reading on, you provide the words:
Of course, this is the “I’ve fallen and can’t get up” ad by LifeCall. It ran for about a year in 1989 to
1990. But its imagery, catchphrase, and play on fear were so strong that it is still quoted over 20 years
later.
This seems to be the way the brain works: when it comes to making most decisions, we begin by
generating an emotional preference and only then subject that preference to logical debate.
Another way of saying that is that first we find ourselves wanting to buy a product and then begin the
rationalization process of deciding if we should.
_________________________
The mind is slave to the heart.”
— Mahatma Gandhi
_________________________
The reason this is true has everything to do with the way the brain processes information and makes
decisions.
Studies reported in the journal Nature Neuroscience , for example, have pinpointed the parts of the
brain that are most active when someone is thinking about buying something: The limbic system, the
amygdala, and the posterior cingulated cortex.
These are the emotional parts of your brain.
The UCLA Brain Research Institute said this about the prospect’s brain and how best to talk to it:
“Corporate America, meanwhile, is hoping brain scanning can help sales. The big question for
neuroeconomics is, ‘How does the human brain make decisions like which car to buy or what to
have for lunch,’ says Antonio Rangel, director of the neuroeconomics lab at Stanford. Research
is showing that the limbic system, which governs emotions, often overrides the logical areas of
the brain, suggesting that the ‘rational actor’ theory of economics misses deeper sources of
motivation rooted in unconscious feelings and interpersonal dynamics. Instead of aiming at
consumers’ logical decision-making processes, companies could perhaps appeal to the fuzzier
side of how people feel about themselves and others around them.”
But, persuading someone doesn’t have to feel like brain surgery. All it really means is that as
copywriters, we must recognize our first job is to win over the prospect’s heart. Once we do that, then the
rest of our job — winning over his mind — is relatively easy.
Time is a big factor in this. The customer doesn’t have time to read every promotion that comes his
way. He will give each a few minutes or seconds depending on how good the copy is. If he becomes
bored or confused or doubtful, he will stop reading and move on to the next thing in his reading pile.
Those precious few moments are all you have to persuade him emotionally. In such a short space of
time, you don’t have time to put forth a rational argument. And even if you could, you would lose the
chance to capture his heart.
In a typical long-form direct response advertisement (whether it’s a sales letter, a space ad, a
television spot, or a telemarketing script), you have just 100 to 600 words to incite an emotional
response. Those 100 to 600 words constitute the lead. And that is why the lead is so important.
We once worked with a very successful direct marketer who was famous for his ability to predict very
quickly how well advertising copy would work. He never spent more than two minutes reading the copy.
He’d read the lead word-for-word and then quickly scan the rest of the copy.
It might have been he who taught us the importance of the lead. Or, perhaps we inferred it from
watching him do his thing. But, when we began to concentrate on the leads, we found that we, too, could
predict the success of promotions with a fair amount of accuracy.
We could read the lead and ask, “Does this lead get me excited? Does it make me want to continue
reading with a high level of anticipation?”
If the lead accomplished these tasks, then we felt with a high degree of confidence that the promotion
would work.
As we said, most copywriting experts today recognize the critical role the lead has on the success of
the ad. But until now, there has never been a book that took a scientific approach to analyzing great leads
and demonstrating the principles that made them work so well.
In the chapters that follow, we will walk you through our strategy. To put it to work for you, we will
teach you a few important strategies:
The importance of the lead (You have just learned that.)
A unifying principle called the Rule of One that immediately will make all your writing stronger and
more effective
The difference between a direct and an indirect lead
Gene Schwartz’s concept of reader familiarity
The six archetypal lead types
The rules for each of these six types
That is how this book is arranged. There are 10 chapters, one each explaining these concepts in detail
and with plenty of examples.
The strategy you’re about to learn will easily put an extra million dollars in your pocket over the
lifespan of your career. More likely, if you are an active, full-time copywriter, the value will be many
times that.
How this can happen is quite simple. This strategy makes you write compelling copy more effectively
— without relying on numerous and often contradictory “rules.”
Your prospect will feel a stronger, more real bond with you and with your writing. And, your efforts
to “sell him” will fade into the background so that he concentrates on your words and ideas and not on
having to fork over money.
This strategy allows you to write effective, compelling copy more quickly with far fewer false starts
and time-wasting restarts. Because you understand this strategy, you’ll know how best to approach your
reader. And, you’ll know what approaches to avoid that will not work as effectively with him.
You’ll notice how much more effortlessly your writing seems to flow. So will your client or employer.
Most importantly, the reader will enjoy an easy, unlabored flow of words that lead him inevitably to the
action you want him to take.
When you put our simple strategy to work for you, you’ll write every advertisement or promotion
confidently, knowing that it will work.
Put it all together and this means more work for you, finished faster, garnering more success. And,
more money coming to you — multiples of what you’re earning now while expending a lot less labor.
Here’s how Master Copywriter David Deutsch characterizes why you want to be writing great leads:
“A good lead may intrigue, build curiosity, create anticipation, open the reader’s mind, build trust,
create a bond, and in a myriad of ways lay the groundwork for (and magnify the effectiveness of) the
persuasion to follow.
“A great one — ‘If the list on which I found your name … ’ ‘The American Express Card is not for
everyone … ’ ‘You look out your window … ’ — can in itself elevate the reader to an entirely
different level of susceptibility to our enticements.”
The book you’re holding represents a tiny investment compared to what you stand to earn using this
strategy. All you have to do now — to turn that tiny benefit into a financial windfall — is to read on and
pay attention to what you are reading … and then to put it into action.
But that’s easy, as you’ll see as you continue reading …
1
The Rule of One — One Big Idea
________________________________
“There is a certain majesty in simplicity which is far above all the quaintness of
wit.”
— Alexander Pope
________________________________
One of the biggest lessons I ever learned about writing leads came very late — in fact, more than
twenty years after I wrote my first piece of copy.
It happened about a year after I began writing Early to Rise (ETR). I was looking over the issues I had
written that year, and noting which ones the readers rated the highest. Without exception, those that
achieved the highest scores presented a single idea.
I realized readers didn’t want to hear everything I had to say about a topic every time I fired up my
computer. They were looking for a single, useful suggestion or idea that could make them more successful.
That was one of those “a-ha!” experiences for me.
As a reader, the stories and essays I liked best tackled one subject, however narrow, and did so
effectively and deeply. As a writer, I had a sense that my readers should feel this way, too. But, it wasn’t
until I looked at the ETR results that I recognized the power of a narrow focus in writing.
I thought about some of the books I admired the most. Most of them had that narrow focus. Many of
them centered on a single idea.
What Color Is Your Parachute? by Richard Bolles — Finding a life-changing new job that you love.
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell — How trends develop and fortunes are made from them.
Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins — A philosophy that advertising’s purpose is to sell, not
entertain or win creative awards — and how to apply this philosophy to create winning ads.
How to Become CEO by Jeffrey J. Fox — How to become a great employee and, eventually, take over
the business.
Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey — The behaviors you need to adopt in your
professional and personal life to become successful.
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie — How to use personal power to
achieve success.
My next thought was to see if this same phenomenon applied to advertising copy. I pulled out my box
of “best promotions of all time” and went through them. Not all of them were on a single topic, but many
of them began by hitting one idea strongly.
It seemed like I was on to something. When we had our first company-wide meeting for publishers in
France, I presented this as one of several dozen “secrets to publishing success.”
Bill Bonner, who was there, reminded me that he had been telling me about the Rule of One for many
years. He learned it, he said, from the great advertising guru David Ogilvy. Ogilvy called it “the Big
Idea.” The concept was that every great promotion has, at its core, a single, powerful idea.
Here are Ogilvy’s exact words on the crucial importance of the Big Idea:
“Big Ideas. Unless your advertising is built on a Big Idea, it will pass like a ship in the night. It
takes a Big Idea to jolt the consumer out of his indifference — to make him notice your
advertising, remember it, and take action. Big Ideas are usually simple ideas. Said Charles
Kettering, the great General Motors inventor: ‘This problem, when solved, will be simple.’ Big,
simple ideas are not easy to come by. They require genius — and midnight oil. A truly big one
can be continued for 20 years — like our eye patch for Hathaway shirts.”
And, my co-author John Forde said that he, too, has used the Big Idea to write some of his best
promotions.
The next year, I invited two of Agora’s most successful writers to make presentations at the annual
meeting. One gave a very impressive speech about the 12 rules he follows when he writes copy. The
other copywriter — Steve Sjuggerud — talked about only one thing: The importance of clarity in writing.
Both presentations were terrific. But, it was Steve’s speech that people were talking about afterwards.
And, it was Steve’s idea that became institutionalized at Agora that year.
At the same time, John told us he was rereading the classic 1941 book, “How to Write a Good
Advertisement” by Victor Schwab, the man Advertising Age called the “greatest mail-order copywriter of
all time.”
In that book, Schwab lists what he called the “Top 100 Headlines” of his time. John found that in that
list, 91 were driven by single ideas.
Yet, even the remaining 9 not clearly based on a single idea still had an implied strong, single idea that
bound the whole thing together.
Take a look. And remember, this is the list of headlines that DON’T appear at first to fit the singleidea
theme we’re talking about …
“Five Familiar Skin Troubles — Which Do You Want to Overcome?”
“Have You These Symptoms of Nerve Exhaustion?”
“161 New Ways to a Man’s Heart — In This Fascinating Book for Cooks”
“Do You Do Any of These Ten Embarrassing Things?”
“Six Types of Investors — Which Group Are You In?”
“The Crimes We Commit Against Our Stomachs”
“Little Leaks That Keep Men Poor”
“67 Reasons Why It Would Have Paid You to Answer Our Ad a Few Months Ago”
“Free Book — Tells You 12 Secrets of Better Lawn Care”
“Notice,” John said in a Copywriter’s Roundtable article discussing the Rule of One, “that even
though they don’t, each clearly points toward a single, over-arching theme.”
Now, take a look at some of the other 91 “best headlines” of Schwab’s time. Note how instantly clear
and engaging these “Big Ideas” are.
“The Secret of Making People Like You”
“Is the Life of a Child Worth $1 to You?”
“To Men Who Want to Quit Work Someday”
“Are You Ever Tongue-Tied at a Party?”
“How a New Discovery Made a Plain Girl Beautiful”
“Who Else Wants a Screen Star Figure?”
“You Can Laugh at Money Worries — If You Follow This Simple Plan”
“When Doctors Feel Rotten This is What They Do”
“How I Improved My Memory in One Evening”
“Discover the Fortune That Lies Hidden In Your Salary”
“How I Made a Fortune with a ‘Fool Idea’”
“Have You a ‘Worry’ Stock?”
John pointed out that starting off in the headline with just one, simple idea has two major benefits:
It makes the copy stronger
It makes writing the rest of the sales letter easier
“Finding the core idea,” John added, “of course, is the hard part. It has to be precise, not scattershot.
You have to know your audience and know them well. Or, you risk missing your target completely.”
At ETR, we made this concept a “rule” of writing — the Rule of One. The mandate was very clear.
Our contributors should write about one thing at a time. One good idea, clearly and convincingly
presented, was better than a dozen so-so ideas strung together.
That rule made a difference. When we obeyed it, our essays were stronger. When we ignored it, they
were not as powerful as they could have been.
Although this was clearly a copywriting principle that was extremely powerful, I found that I
sometimes ignored it. If I had six good reasons for this, or 12 techniques for that, I couldn’t stop myself
from including them all. The results were always disappointing.
Why did I break this golden rule? I’m not entirely sure. I think sometimes I was afraid readers would
think, “Is that all he has to say on the subject?” I was, in other words, too cowardly and conceited to stick
to my rule — even though I knew it would help me.
_________________________
Non-Writing Applications of the Rule of One
The Rule of One can also be applied to your daily workday goals. Before you go into a
meeting, think about what one thing you’d like to accomplish from it. Make that one thing
your priority and hammer away at it during the meeting. You’ll be amazed at how often
you will end up leaving the meeting with your goal accomplished.
You can also use the Rule of One at business lunches, meetings, and even parties.
Challenge yourself: “Who is the one best person I can network with?” and “What is the
one best thing I can say to that person to capture his interest?”
Spend some time today looking at work you’ve done — ads you’ve written, products
you’ve created, goals you’ve set. How could you make them stronger by applying the Rule
of One?
_________________________
Here is an example of the Rule of One as applied to a short advertorial, taken from an ETR message:
Subject Line: The Easiest Product to Sell Online
Dear Early to Riser,
Would you be interested in investing $175 to make $20,727?
That’s exactly what Bob Bly just accomplished!
See how he did it below … and how easily you could do the same.
MaryEllen Tribby
ETR Publisher
_______________________
Dear Friend,
There’s no product easier to create or sell online …
… than a simple, straightforward instructional or how-to e-book.
Why are e-books the perfect information product to sell on the Internet?
• 100% profit margin.
• No printing costs.
• No inventory to store.
• Quick and easy to update.
• No shipping costs or delays.
• Higher perceived value than regular books.
• Quick, simple, and inexpensive to produce.
My very first e-book has generated $20,727 in sales (so far).
My total investment in producing it: just $175.
Now, I want to show you how to make huge profits creating and selling simple e-books — in my new
e-book “Writing E-Books for Fun & Profit.”
Normally my e-books sell for anywhere from $29 to $79, and later this year, “Writing E-Books for
Fun & Profit” will sell for $59.
However, to make it affordable for you to get started in e-book publishing, I’m letting you have
“Writing E-Books for Fun & Profit” for only $19 today — a savings of $40 off the cover price!
For more information … or to order on a risk-free 90-day trial basis … just click here now.
Sincerely,
Bob Bly
P.S. But, I urge you to hurry. This special $40 discount is for a limited time only. And once it
expires, it may never be repeated again.
_______________________
Let me explain how the Rule of One operates here.
In the lift letter (signed by MaryEllen Tribby), Bob asks a question and then tells a tiny little story. The
question is an inverted promise. The story — a single-sentence story, mind you — validates the promise.
The sales letter follows. This, too, is a beautifully simple piece of copy. It leads with a statement. The
statement expresses an idea. The idea suggests a promise: the easiest way to make money on the Internet
is to market e-books.
That statement is then supported by a number of bulleted “facts.” Then, Bob validates the statement by
mentioning his own experience.
The reader is already sold. Bob makes the sale irresistible with a strong, one-time-only offer.
Short, sweet, and simple.
The Rule of One is not only one big, central idea. It’s a fully engaging piece of copy with five
necessary elements. Using Bob’s example:
One good idea: “There’s no product easier to create or sell online than a simple, straightforward
instructional or how-to e-book.”
One core emotion: “It is simple! I bet I can do it!”
One captivating story: Told brilliantly in 17 words: “Would you be interested in investing $175 to
make $20,727? That’s exactly what Bob Bly just accomplished!”
One single, desirable benefit: “Now, I want to show you how to make huge profits creating and
selling simple e-books … ”
One inevitable response: The only way to get this book for $19 is to “click here now.”
To create blockbuster promotions time-after-time, you must understand the difference between good
copy and great copy. The Rule of One is the driving force behind great copy.
Veteran advertising consultant James Loftus, who has worked with Anheuser-Busch, Holiday Inn, and
McDonald’s, among many other clients, agrees with this concept:
“Also keep in mind that the more points you try to cover, the less effective each point, and therefore
your ad, will be. An effective ad will actually have only one central focus, even if you discuss it
from two or three perspectives. If your points are too diverse, they compete with each other, and
end up pulling the reader’s attention in separate directions.”
Think for a moment about a few modern ads and ad taglines you remember. Those that stick with you
follow the Rule of One:
Coca Cola: “The pause that refreshes”®
OR
“Always Cool.”®
But not “The pause that refreshes and always cool.”
McDonald’s: “You deserve a break today”®
OR
“i’m lovin’ it”®
Not “You deserve a break today, and you’re lovin’ it.”
You run across numerous other examples of top companies following this rule in their most successful
ads:
“We try harder”
[Avis]
“Think Different”
[Apple Computer]
“Pork, the other white meat”
[National Pork Board]
“Quality is job one”
[Ford Motor Company]
“Milk, it does a body good”
[National Dairy Council]
These are more than taglines. The commercials they embellished — when produced by ad execs who
understood this rule — used one strong idea to drive the ads.
Porter Stansberry (founder of Stansberry & Associates Investment Research) recently wrote a memo
explaining the great success he and Mike Palmer had with two blockbuster promotions. Both
advertisements brought in millions of dollars within days of posting them. I won’t tell you all the secrets
Porter revealed in his memo (Porter and Mike would kill me if I did) but I’ll tell you this: Each of the
blockbuster promotions highlighted one dominant investing idea — not several.
The challenge is to find one good idea that the reader can grasp immediately, Porter said. And then,
stick to it.
But, most marketers and copywriters are not up to this challenge. Instead of sticking to the Rule of
One, they conjure up lists of features and benefits and create ads that mention as many of them as possible.
The thinking behind this approach goes something like this: “I wonder which of these benefits will really
push the buttons I want? Hmmm. I don’t know. I guess what I’ll do is throw them all in the promotion.
That way if one doesn’t work, another one will.”
This is what I call the “tossed salad” approach to advertising copy. Throw everything on the counter
into a big wooden bowl, marinate with some connecting sentences, and toss. It’s a standard recipe for Blevel
copywriters. But, it’s not the way to win any blue ribbons in the competitive kitchen of breakthrough
advertising.
The little advertisement Bob wrote had that simplicity. E-books are easy was the idea. E-books are
easy to make and easy to sell. The reader hears it. He gets it. He believes it.
So, the idea has to be strong. Yet, it also has to be easy to understand. And easy to believe. That last
part — being easy to believe — is key.
The examples in this book follow this cardinal rule of copywriting: The Rule of One. As a general
rule, leads that follow the Rule of One are stronger because they do not have the emotional power
dissipated by copy that goes in different directions.
But, the Rule of One does not mean you can’t have a story and a secret and an emotionally-compelling
fact in the same lead.
It means that the lead is strongest that promotes one compelling idea by supporting that idea with all
the appropriate techniques … stories, predictions, statements, promises, and so on … but all unified by
that single idea and by a single emotion that drives the sale.
For example, Porter’s Railway package — There’s a Railroad Across America — was both a Story
and a Secret Lead. And, it had other elements in it as well. But, there was a single idea — that we are
living in a time of change as great as the height of the Industrial Revolution. If you read this letter, you
have a chance of becoming as rich as those great oil and railway barons. One compelling idea and one
powerful emotion. The package worked because all the other competing ideas and emotions were
eliminated.
To reiterate the most important points:
Lead your advertisement with one, and only one, powerful idea
Make sure that the idea creates an emotion, a single emotion, which will compel the reader to respond
Support that idea with one engaging story or compelling fact
Direct the reader to one, and only one, action
What is a great advertising idea? That could be the subject of another book. But, in short, a great idea
is:
Big (enough to stir interest)
Easy to understand
Immediately convincing
Clearly useful (to the reader)
Anybody who cares about marketing — and everybody in business should — needs to understand this
core principle. Spend five or ten minutes now studying Bob Bly’s little ad and understanding how it is
working.
Put the Rule of One to work for you in all your communications, especially in your promotions and
their leads. You’ll be amazed at how much stronger — and successful — your copy will be.
2
The Simple Question That Can Double Your Success
_______________________________
“The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think.”
— Edwin Schlossberg
_______________________________
Ask a simple question, the next time — and every time — you start a piece of promotional copy, and
you could see double or better the results you otherwise might get.
In fact, answer this same question and you’ll immediately find it a lot easier to make many of the same
decisions most marketers and business owners find challenging.
For instance, you’ll have a much better idea which products will sell best to your target audience.
You’ll also have a much better idea of the lead types, as detailed in this book, that will work best with
that audience, too. Only certain ones fit at certain times. And, by asking this question, you’ll know how to
decide among them.
You’ll even have a fair idea, once you ask this question, which words will work best in your headline,
what the opening line of your sales piece should say, even a few ideas about the layout and design.
And, what question is that?
Seasoned marketers might think it’s “What am I selling?” or “Who is my customer?” And, in both
cases, they wouldn’t be far off.
But, the real question too many marketers never stop to ask is this one: “What does your customer
already know?”
What does he know, for instance, about who you are? What does he know about your product and the
research behind it? What does he know about himself, his own problems, and the other possible solutions
available?
Why does any of this matter?
It matters because it completely changes the way you’ll approach and talk to your customer. And, it’s
this question of how you approach him that’s so different.
In this book, we’re going to ask you to begin with exactly this premise: Everything your prospect
knows before you begin your sales pitch will determine not just what you’ll say, but how you’ll say it,
when you open the conversation between seller and buyer.
More specifically, what your reader knows will help you decide which of the following six lead types
will work best. It’s that simple.
We call this key premise the concept of “customer awareness.” And, we’re not the first. It was the
late, great copywriting legend Gene Schwartz who first wrote about this idea, in his classic book
Breakthrough Advertising.
If you can get your hands on a copy — we’ve seen it sell “new” for as much as $800 on Amazon.com
— you should. It’s worth every penny, just to get his brilliant and full treatment of the idea.
But, for our purposes here, you won’t need to go so deep.
Let’s just start by taking a look at how Gene himself put it:
“If [your prospect] is aware of your product and realizes it can satisfy his desire, your headline
starts with your product. If he is not aware of your product, but only of the desire itself, your
headline starts with the desire. If he is not yet aware of what he really seeks, but is concerned
only with the general problem, your headline starts with that problem and crystallizes it into a
specific need.”
In other words, even when you’re selling the same product to everybody, the people you approach will
respond only to one kind of ad — depending on how aware they are of who you are, what you’re selling,
and why you’re selling it.
Schwartz even broke out what he called the “Five Levels of Awareness.” We’ve laid them out for you
here, in a kind of “awareness line,” running from most to least aware:
Gene Schwartz’s Groundbreaking “Five Levels of Customer Awareness”
So, how do you use this concept when making a marketing or copywriting decision?
First, you ask the simple question we have already mentioned: What does your customer already
know? In other words, if you had to plot your prospect on the “awareness line” we diagramed, where
would he land?
If your customer has already bought something from you before and loves your brand, then he’s going
to fall on the “most aware” end of the scale.
If he’s never bought or heard of your product, but suspects there’s something out there like what you
sell but he doesn’t know about your product specifically, then you might say he’s “solution-aware.”
On the other hand, if he only knows the frustration of the problem he’s trying to solve, he’s better
described as “problem-aware.” If he’s not even that much in tune, and carries only a general angst that
you’ll need to channel, he falls into the category Schwartz labeled “unaware.”
As you’ll see in the upcoming chapters, some leads will work extremely well to “most aware”
customers but would most likely bomb to an “unaware” audience. The reverse is also true. Leads that can
give you blockbuster success with “unaware” audiences would fall flat with customers that already know
you and your products well.
How do you discover where to put your target customer on that “awareness line”? Simply by drilling
down with even more questions, as a detective might.
For instance, you might ask yourself how new your product is to the marketplace? If it’s very new,
obviously customer awareness levels will be low. But then, you might also ask, is there anything else out
there just like it? In which case, your target customer isn’t completely “unaware” — they already have a
frame of reference.
Again, the simple key is that you understand this general concept. Simply put, knowing how aware
your prospect is will change the conversation. And, it will especially change those first key moments of
the conversation, which in advertising we call the headline and the lead.
Just to make sure you’re clear on how awareness levels can impact your message, let’s just spend a
few minutes looking at each of the levels on Gene’s five-level scale …
1. The Most Aware
Your prospect knows your product, and only needs to know “the deal.”
In a lot of ways, this is your dream customer. They know what they want. They know you offer it. And,
at this stage, all that’s left is making the deal.
You’ll hear lots of talk these days about the importance of building a lasting relationship with
customers. And even more, about how the Internet and email marketing have made that even easier.
And, this is why.
The “most aware” customer can be a very active, even assertive kind of customer. This is where
you’ll find your repeat buyers. These are the people who feel loyal to your brand, who shake your hand,
and who send you “fan” emails. In the best case, these are the customers who even recommend your
product to friends.
Apple, for instance, has what some — especially hardcore Microsoft customers — call “fanboys.”
They’re so devout, they’ll track rumor websites to find out about new product releases. Then, they’ll
camp outside the retail stores to be among the first to buy.
Apple has famously built an avid fan base. Their “most aware” customers have often camped out overnight to be first in line for new
products. ©Quintin Doroquez
The benefit of selling to highly aware customers? You can often reach them with something as simple as a straightforward offer, such
as this one for the iPad.
No doubt, you also know someone who refuses to drive anything but a Chrysler, Ford, or Mercedes.
Or, someone who buys tickets, T-shirts, and CDs of a favorite band or goes crazy over anything that has
the logo of a favorite sports team. Even something as simple as Colgate, Crest, or Aquafresh toothpaste
can build this level of loyalty in a crowd.
Selling at this level of awareness is easy.
Your target customers know you. They know what you do. There’s no education required. Because for
them, your product is more than a product. It’s a point of contact with someone they now trust and feel
emotionally connected to. More often than not, to this crowd, all you’ll need to do is offer them something
new and they’ll buy.
Why?
Because not only are they already passionate in the niche where your product resides, but they’ve
already answered many of their own questions. They’re already emotionally ready to make a decision.
And, almost all you’ll need to do is give them the opportunity to buy.
The first lead we’ll show you, featured in Chapter 4, can work great for this kind of highly-aware
customer. What’s more, it’s among the easiest to write, once you’ve decided exactly what you’re selling
and whom you’re selling to.
To figure out if you’re selling to a “most aware” customer, you’re going to look immediately at
whatever kind of mailing list or slice of the market that’s most available to you. For instance, in a
company that markets often by direct response, they’ll have a “house list.” And on that list, they might also
have what are called “multi-buyers.”
These are the customers who bought before and who came back again for more. Most direct response
marketers place high value on this list simply because, as “most aware” customers, they’re much easier to
sell. Most of the work has already been done, long before your copy comes along.
Keep in mind, in today’s over-exposed, media-dense world, you might sometimes run into customers
who seem too aware. These are the jaded ones, who have been hit too many times by similar pitches,
have tried products like yours that have let them down, or who have just reached a self-imposed limit on
how much they’re willing to spend.
In those special cases, they’re not only “most aware” of who you are and what you offer, but also
they’ve already made up their minds. And, you’ll find it very difficult to change those opinions, even if
they’re not exactly right about what they think.
However, it’s not impossible, as you’ll see with the special lead types we’ll talk about later, starting
with Chapter 4. But, before you jump ahead, let’s continue with Schwartz’s other levels of customer
awareness, as they might apply to the marketing situation you find yourself in right now.
2. Product-Aware
Your prospect knows what you sell, but isn’t sure it’s right for him.
Even for products that have fans, you’re also going to find buyers sitting on the fence. And, that’s
mostly what you’ll see at this second level. These are the prospects that just aren’t sure what you’re
selling is right for them.
Do they know the name of your product? Yes. Do they know the benefits you claim? It’s pretty likely.
But, making up their minds whether to buy, that’s a different story.
First, you’ll need to win their trust. And, because they’re not completely decided, they’re skittish. So,
you’ll have to make sure you don’t scare them away.
You’ll find these kinds of prospects reading other customers’ reviews on Amazon.com and poring
over copies of Consumer Reports. Even though they’re close to a purchase, they crave reassurance. They
want and need to know you sell not only what they need, but that they can trust your claims about what
your product or service can do.
Of course, that means you’ll need to work that much harder to convince them. The good news is that
with this kind of “product-aware” customer, at least part of the seller-buyer relationship has already
begun.
That’s why “product-aware” customers are often easier to win over. Because you still won’t need to
do much here to educate the customer about what you’re doing. Most of your work will focus on proving
you’re able to do what you say you’ll do.
Of course, every sale works to build buyer trust. But, with this kind of prospect, trust building
becomes especially important. It’s what you’ll want to do as soon as possible in your copy. The lead type
you’ll read about in Chapter 5 will show you how that’s done.
Once you move beyond these first two higher levels of customer awareness, selling gets a little
tougher. And, this is where good copywriters start to earn their money. Why? Because it’s here that
resistance spikes higher and you’ll need to work harder to make that first connection.
Let us show you what we mean …
3. Solution-Aware
Your prospect knows the result he wants, but not that your product provides it.
Picture yourself craving a midnight snack. You’re standing in the glow of the open refrigerator. You
feel the hunger pangs. And, you know there’s food in the house. But, you’re just not sure what you want.
That’s not so far off from being “solution-aware.”
At this third level of Schwartz’s Awareness Scale, the prospect knows that somewhere out there,
somebody has a solution to his problem. He might even know vaguely where to look. Beyond that, he’s
not so sure where to look next.
A prospect in this category needs a little extra education before he’s ready to compare his options.
When he comes to you, this third-level customer has only an outcome in mind.
To make the sale, you show him you’re able to help him reach that outcome. But, before you can do
that, you’ll first need to convince him you understand what he wants and needs.
An ad like this goes beyond the simple offer, with more claims and proof, to sell to a slightly “less aware” prospect.
At least two of the kinds of lead types we’ll show you — in Chapters 5 and 6 — will help you do this,
as you’ll see.
And then, we start to move into the customer awareness levels where making a solid connection gets
much tougher and much more important. So, why target these buyers?
Because it’s in these last two categories where you’re going to find the customers that help businesses
grow.
4. Problem-Aware
Your prospect senses he has a problem, but doesn’t know there’s a solution.
A “solution-aware” customer has hope. But, a “problem-aware” customer has only worry. They know
something’s not working, but they don’t know yet there’s a way to fix it.
Notice how this ad taps the emotions attached to the problem of “stiff joints” and “discomfort” before it actually reveals anything
about the product.
The key with this customer is to show you “feel their pain.” Not just that you know they have a
problem, but that you know the frustration, desperation, or even fear and anger it causes. We call this the
“point of maximum anxiety.” Once you identify it, you’ll find an open avenue for making an emotional
connection.
This kind of copy says loud and clear “I sympathize,” before it even tries to begin to name benefits or
mention products. Many classic ads fall into this category.
In Chapter 6, you’ll see specific examples. Plus, you’ll see how to connect with the key selling
emotions that make this special kind of lead work. And in Chapter 7, you’ll discover a lead type which
can also be very effective for prospects keenly aware of what ails them.
And finally, there’s the toughest and yet potentially most rewarding of the customer awareness levels,
and the last in Schwartz’s five-level breakdown …
5. Completely Unaware
No knowledge of anything except, perhaps, his own identity or opinion.
Of the customers you’ll target, none is tougher to win over than the completely “unaware” prospect.
Not only do they not know who you are, they don’t know your product. They don’t even know products
like yours exist. Nor do they know they have a specific problem worth solving.
So, why bother?
Because it’s here that you’ll find the completely new markets a growing business needs. This is where
you’ll find new places to resell your entire product line. It’s also where you might get lots of ideas for
new products.
It’s in this market where smart marketers make their fortunes.
Of course, it’s also here that the pros compete. The secret sounds simple. Here, you’ll need a lead that
grabs readers without letting on the least detail of what it is you’re trying to do.
To make this work, you’ll need finesse.
To see how it’s done, take a look at the examples in Chapters 8 and 9. In the first of these, you’ll
discover the Proclamation Lead. In the second, you’ll read about what we call the Story Lead.
These two lead types are designed to give you an entry point for a sales message that’s hard for your
prospect to see coming, let alone classify.
Why? Because winning the attention of your most “unaware” customers can be especially difficult, as
they have no reason to trust or even listen to your message. Come on too strong with a pitch or product
mention, and you could chase them away.
On the other hand, once you’ve won their attention and moved past that initial resistance, their lack of
awareness can make them more receptive to an offer which is, to them, unique in a very real way.
One famous example that we’ll look at more closely is one you might know from The Wall Street
Journal. It could have opened with an invitation to subscribe to the world’s most famous financial journal
at a discount.
It could have shown how past headlines broke stories about dangers in the markets or giant
opportunities that readers might otherwise have missed.
Instead, it began …
Dear Reader,
On a beautiful late spring afternoon, twenty-five years ago, two young men graduated from the same
college.
They were very much alike, these two young men. Both had been better than average students, both
were personable, and both — as young college graduates are — were filled with ambitious dreams
for the future.
Recently, these men returned to their college for their 25th reunion.
They were still very much alike. Both were happily married. Both had three children. And both, it
turned out, had gone to work for the same Midwestern manufacturing company after graduation, and
were still there.
But, there was one difference.
One of the men was manager of a small department of that company. The other was president …
Where, in that engaging story, is the newspaper mentioned? It’s nowhere to be found. And, the
subscription offer? Just as absent.
Yet, as you’ll read in Chapter 9, this powerful and very indirect opening was the start of one of the
most successful direct response letters of all time. So much, that the “tale of two young men” story is a
much-copied and still successful model today.
But, before you move ahead for more on these and other examples, find out in the next chapter why
each of our specific six lead types tends to work better in some situations where they might fail in others.
_________________________
Summary: Why “Awareness” Matters
Knowing what your prospect knows in advance of a sales pitch is just as important as
knowing who he is or what he wants. Advertising great Gene Schwartz broke it down into
an “Awareness Scale,” ranging from the “most aware” to the “least aware,” as follows:
_________________________
3
Direct or Indirect?
______________________________
“That’s right — it filets, it chops, it dices and slices. It never stops. It lasts a lifetime,
mows your lawn, and it picks up the kids from school … It plays a mean rhythm. It makes
excuses for lipstick on your collar. And it’s only a dollar, only a dollar, only a dollar.”
— Tom Waits
_______________________________
At a cocktail party, how do you start a conversation?
With an old friend, you might pick up right where you left off. With a total stranger, you might first
look for ways to “break the ice.”
Socially, this insight comes naturally. What you might not realize, though, is that in marketing — and
especially in crafting powerful leads for sales letters — the same instinct can apply.
For instance, take a look at this envelope:
This was for an invitation the Cooking Club of America sent to “serious cooks only.”
Even on the envelope, you know immediately what the letter inside is about. This is not for bachelors
who can’t boil eggs. Or college students with take-out shops on speed dial.
This is for “foodies” who love the kitchen, crack spines on cookbooks, and who enjoy talking and
thinking about the gadgets and secrets that can make them better at their craft.
Inside, you find a letter with this offer stamped right at the top …
Then the lead begins …
“Dear Fellow Food Lover,
“Would you mind very much if I sent you a free cookware set to use in your kitchen? How about
a free bread machine? A free selection of spices? A free set of utensils? … ”
It goes on to explain that you can test — and keep — free kitchen gadgets every month, just by joining
the Cooking Club of America.
The club has other benefits, too, of course — a recipe directory, equipment deals and discounts,
member contests, member forums and events, a members-only magazine. But, true to the Rule of One
principle discussed in Chapter 1, they focused on the one benefit that testing proved an immediate draw.
And, because they were targeting already passionate and informed cooks, the copywriter saw no need
to “warm up” or educate the readers. The offer invitation alone was enough. The letter was a huge
success.
Lots of sales letters take exactly this same kind of head on or “direct” approach.
You might recognize some of these famous headlines:
“Don’t Pay a Penny For This Book Until it Doubles Your Power to Learn”
“Weird New Sonic Lure Catches Fish Like Crazy … ”
“We’re Looking For People Who Like to Draw”
“At Last, Instant Beauty!”
“FREE — The Book That Has Helped Thousands to Get Slim and Stay Slim”
But, it would be a mistake to think that direct offers are the only way to sell, or even the best way in
all situations. Take this Gene Schwartz classic, which first appeared as a full-page space ad in Barron’s

Nowhere in the lead can you guess this is about a $5.95 book. Nor does the lead focus on the six
wealth-creation secrets found inside.
Schwartz realized that if he really wanted to highlight how this book differed from all the rest, he
would have to find a different way to lead the reader into the sales message.
So, instead of focusing on the book or the secrets, he threw the spotlight on the reader. Not just his
desire to get rich, which is common, but with the word “courage,” some deeper unspoken feelings the
reader might harbor about making money.
This ad, too, was a big hit, selling thousands of copies of the book.
These other, less direct headlines just as famous as that one include:
“She Fled the Hospital When the Doctor Said ‘Cut Her Open’”
“71-Year Old Man Has Sexual Congress 5 Times a Day”
“How a ‘Fool Stunt’ Made Me a Star Salesman”
“What Never, Ever to Eat on an Airplane … ”
“The Great Oil Hoax: What George Bush Was Told Behind Closed Doors”
In each case, the lead pulls you in with a story or a piece of news. But, claims tied directly to the
product have all but disappeared. When the headline and lead take this approach of avoiding direct
claims or reference to the product, we call it an “indirect” sales lead.
Which Approach is Better?
Which is better: a “direct” or “indirect” approach?
Here’s what award-winning copywriter Don Hauptman, who you might remember for the famous
headline “Speak Spanish Like a Diplomat,” wrote in a memo way back in 1979:
“I have come to the conclusion that some of the strongest copy is not of the traditional hard-sell
variety, with superlatives, benefits, and how-to. A more seductive, indirect, oblique approach
strikes me as being the wave of the future.”
Meanwhile, equally successful copywriter and author Bob Bly says, “The majority of my heads and
leads are direct, as a result of my long years in Business-to-Business … where virtually every headline
and lead is direct.”
Then, there’s copywriter Clayton Makepeace, possibly the highest-earning U.S. copywriter. Says
Clayton: “Do direct benefit headlines still work? Hell, yes! I use them all the time … but in many markets
and for many products, they’re working less well than they once did — so ‘A’-level writers have evolved
other ways to seize prospects’ attention … ”
Or, you could ask highly-successful copywriter Lee Euler his opinion about direct or indirect leads.
Lee is famous for some of the most successful indirect sales letters in the financial newsletter industry —
including The Plague of the Black Debt you’ll see highlighted in Chapter 8. Lee’s opinion:
“Pure news or curiosity, with no clear connection to the customer’s concerns, can be very
dangerous … if you have to choose, choose the [direct] benefit approach. You’re almost always
better off with a headline that offers a strong benefit that addresses a deep need of the customer.”
Bill Bonner launched his own publishing empire with the indirect International Living classic lead
shown here.
Bill has his own opinion about indirect leads. “I like indirect leads because they have to appeal
straight to the heart. Copy always has to aim that way, of course, but indirect copy forces you to do it. The
risks are higher, but so are the rewards.”
With copywriting giants like these leaning both ways, you can guess that both “direct” and “indirect”
can work extremely well. The trick is deciding which to use and when.
The Role Awareness Plays
In the last chapter, we saw how much the awareness level of your customer can vary. Your customer
can be “most aware” of who you are and what you’re selling or at least of the problems you can help him
solve. Or, he can be completely “unaware” of much of anything having to do with what you’re trying to
sell him, his problems, or the solutions to them.
By far the easiest way to figure out if you should come at a sales lead idea head on or sidle up to it
indirectly, is to figure out where your prospect falls on this scale of awareness.
The more aware he is, usually the more direct sales lead works best.
The less aware, the more indirect you’re going to want to go.
It’s not a perfect indicator, but it’s pretty close.
On the “awareness line” we showed you in Chapter 2, it might look like this:
How Aware Your Customer Is Helps Decide How Direct You Should Be
Of course, there are other ways to explain why you might want to use one kind of approach or the
other. For instance, you’ll hear that directly stating the benefit or getting right to your offer in the lead
works best when …
You’re selling a product that’s easy to understand.
You can make a promise that’s very large and easily accepted.
You’ve got an exceptionally good deal or guarantee to offer.
Your customer knows and trusts you and deals with you often.
You’ve made a product improvement your market was already waiting for.
Each is a case when awareness and acceptance levels are already high. So, buyers are more receptive
to the sale right away.
Here’s an example of a direct lead that did very well. The product, TurboTax, is already well-known
tax software.
What could be more familiar, at least to this product’s target audience, than the pain of preparing and
paying taxes?
This copy doesn’t need to dredge up those emotions. Because the customer is already there and, most
likely, on the brink of a purchase. He may even know TurboTax by name.
The relationship is already in place. So instead, this copywriter can cut right to the chase with
something much more direct. He can jump right to the irresistible offer.
As you can see, writing direct ads can be easier than writing indirect ads, simply because you don’t
have to work as hard to educate or seduce a prospect before you reveal that you’re looking to make a
sale. When you’re working with a “most aware” prospect, a straightforward direct lead can be extremely
powerful.
On the other hand, you’ll also find times when a purely direct approach comes on too strong or makes
it too easy for a target customer to assume he’s not interested, even before he actually knows what you’re
selling.
This happens more often when …
Your customer trusts you less as a resource than you imagine.
Your customer just doesn’t trust the scope of your claims.
Your customer doesn’t believe a solution to his problem is possible.
Your customer doesn’t even know there’s a problem worth solving.
Your claims all sound too much like everybody else’s.
The less your customer knows about you, what you’re selling, or his own needs, the less effective a
direct lead is likely to be. For instance, he might not know what sets your product apart from similar ones.
He might not understand what makes you credible. Or, he might not even be aware of the problems you’re
promising to solve at all.
In each case, a lead that’s too direct risks forcing assumptions or ignoring obstacles that will get in the
way of making your sale. So, you’ll want instead to close that awareness gap before you try to reveal the
details of whatever you’re offering.
_________________________
Copywriter and publisher William Bonner, who’s also a history buff, often compares this
lead-writing lesson to the history of wars and military strategy.
Empires like to fight direct wars, coming on strong with full force, says Bill. And, that
works a lot of the time. But, when you’re outflanked and outmatched, going in headfirst
can be suicide.
Some of the greatest military “upsets” in history — when the barbarians took Rome, when
American revolutionaries turned back British redcoats, even when the Vietcong repelled
the West — tie their victories to “end around” tactics and sneak attacks. In short, they win
by being more indirect.
Of course, nobody recommends you wage war on customers. But, you are waging war on
their skepticism, along with the many demands on your customer’s time, and the years of
built-up resistance they might have to advertising or new ideas in general.
_________________________
When you’re working with a less aware or skeptical customer, the great power of an indirect lead is it
can open — or re-open — the door on that relationship before the customer has the chance to get confused
or sock your offer away in a pigeon-hole of “heard that, done that before.”
You might want to try one of the more indirect kinds of leads when …
You’re writing to a customer who knows little or nothing about you.
You’re selling something that needs explanation.
You’ve got a jaded customer with a lot of skepticism to overcome.
Your product has a timely news connection too big to ignore.
You’re ready to reinvent or elevate your product or the idea behind it.
For instance, here’s a promotion that successfully uses an indirect approach …
Obviously, the subject here is health.
It’s clear the subject here is health. But beyond that, does anything here immediately give away what
kind of health product might be offered? Not quite.
Rather, the lead and headline combination promise to entertain and inform all by themselves, enough to
make reading the sales piece almost irresistible to even the most skeptical or disconnected reader.
Another benefit of the indirect lead is that part of what makes it work is not just the emotional
connection it makes on the spot, but the way it actively involves the reader in making that connection.
Direct leads deliver an idea to a customer that he’s ready to accept. Indirect leads, on the other hand,
give the customer extra emotional momentum and reaffirming proof to help him finish forming the
conclusions he’s only just started to make. Conclusions that will, hopefully, energize his imagination
enough that he’ll soon be ready to buy.
This might help explain why, when an indirect lead works — and it can take a lot more work to find
one that will — it can work extremely well. Because to write a good indirect lead, you have to work that
much harder to get inside your prospect’s head and figure him out. In some cases, you might even need to
get to know him better than he knows himself.
Master Copywriter Clayton Makepeace calls what we’re referring to as indirect leads as “dominant
emotion” leads. Says Clayton:
“Every time I get a new control, I go to work cranking out up to six cover tests for each roll-out,
each one trying a different type of lead. Sometimes, my benefit heads win. Other times, my
dominant emotion leads win. Recently, I’m finding in heads-up A/B splits, dominant emotion
leads are winning more often. And looking back over the 34 years I’ve been doing this, the fact
is, most of my biggest controls (packages that mailed 20 to 30 million pieces per year) have had
dominant emotion leads.”
Again, as powerful as they can be, you do have risks to consider when testing indirect leads. For
instance …
You might accidentally use an indirect lead when you don’t need to.
You might pick a lead that’s too indirect to connect back to your product.
You risk being too subtle by taking your time to get to the product.
You risk boring your customer by taking too long to get to the product.
You risk getting distracted by writing something “interesting” but not relevant.
Many humor-based “brand advertising” ads, for instance, take such an indirect approach to selling that
the prospect never figures out what’s for sale. But, rarely is being clever or coy in sales copy the same as
being successfully indirect.
When trying to decide whether you should try the “direct“or “indirect” approach, you should start by
figuring out where your target reader falls on the Awareness Scale.
More aware and already engaged customers tend to respond better to direct leads.
Less aware or skeptical customers tend to respond better to indirect leads.
Of course, in advertising everything remains to be tested and nothing is a hard-and-fast rule. But
generally speaking, that’s how we’ve seen the chips fall.
Of course, just like there are shades of customer awareness, there are also shades of directness and
indirectness. Which is why there are different types of direct and indirect leads. In this book, we’ve
identified the six major categories of these lead types we see most often. We’ll spend the rest of this book
showing you how to make each of these six lead types work best for you.
Six Types of Direct and Indirect Leads
Here’s a quick introduction to the lead types we’ll cover:
The Offer Lead: This is a direct appeal that goes straight to deal. Offer Leads almost always mention
the product, the price, discounts, premiums, guarantees, and other related “deal” elements very early in
the lead, if not in the headline. An “Invitation” type of lead that opens by asking a prospect to become a
member or try a product is a more subtle variation on the classic Offer Lead.
The Promise Lead: This might be the most common type of lead that you’ll see. It’s only slightly less
direct than the Offer Lead, in that the product usually isn’t mentioned as early. But, it still opens with your
product’s best and biggest claim. In a classic “Promise” ad, the big promise is your headline, your first
line, and often your last line, too.
The Problem-Solution Lead: This is the classic “hot button” approach, where you delay any talk of
the product at first and instead lead off by identifying your prospect’s biggest, most emotionally-charged,
and relevant issue. Promises related to the product immediately follow.
The Big Secret Lead: The “tease” of hard-to-come-by knowledge, formula, or ‘system’ leads the
promo. The secret can either be a solution or hidden problem or, as in many financial promos, a ‘system’
for getting consistently good results. Usually, you get the best mileage when ordering the product reveals
the secret.
The Proclamation Lead: Decidedly indirect, a Proclamation Lead seeks to jar the “unaware” reader
out of his seat. Maybe with a factoid that’s just incredible, maybe with a shocking future forecast or
prediction, or maybe with a bold statement. The goal is to disarm the prospect for just long enough to
work your way back to the product and your pitch.
The Story Lead: This may be not only the most indirect way to open a sales letter, but also one of the
most consistently powerful. Everyone loves a story. What’s more, stories can engage readers who don’t
know you or the product well or who might flinch at a more direct, unbelievable claim. Testimonials,
guru bios, historical proof, or track record — all yield Story Leads. Just make sure to tell the story
quickly and keep it in context of the bigger promise/core idea of the promotion.
True to what you read in Chapter 1 about the Rule of One, all of these lead types still work best when
focused on one unifying Big Idea. All of them will also need, sooner rather than later, to work their way
back to big product claims and benefits. And ultimately, all need to get back to the product itself and the
offer.
You’ll find that some of these leads work better when you can talk to your prospect more directly.
Others work best when you take a more indirect approach.
And, in some cases — Story Leads, for example — you’ll find you can make the lead type work either
directly or indirectly. It will depend on who you’re writing to, what they know, and what kind of product
you’re writing for.
We’ll show you this with specific examples in the chapters that follow. But roughly plotted on the
Awareness Scale we’ve used so far, here’s how it might break down …
You may find sales leads that defy definition exclusively as any one of these types. Certainly of the
millions of sales letters mailed or posted online, copywriters have tried thousands of ‘new’ approaches.
But, when we studied the most memorable and imitated “Hall-of-Fame” classics and million-dollar
mailings, we found they almost entirely fell into one of these six categories that we’ll define and discuss
in detail in the pages ahead.
4
The Easiest Type of Sales Lead You’ll Ever Write — Or Your Money
Back
______________________
“What marketers sell is hope.”
— Seth Godin
______________________
If this first lead type we’ll look at isn’t the easiest you’ll ever write, with the most return per ounce of
effort … we’ll see to it you get back every penny you paid for this book.
Sound like a good deal? To us, it does.
Because what we’ve just done — promising you that the Offer Lead is the simplest you’ll find in this
book — is a safe bet. In the right situation, an Offer Lead can practically write itself.
In fact, here’s what our old friend Gene Schwartz says …
“Here, the copywriter is nothing more than the merchandise manager’s phrasemaker. The price is
the most important part of his headline. There is nothing creative about his job and he should
receive the lowest possible scale of pay.”
But, hang on.
Are Offer Leads Really That Simple?
In most cases, yes — Offer Leads can be that simple.
In some cases, they can get a little more sophisticated.
To understand why, first you’ve got to understand what we mean by “offers” themselves. The offer is
how you close every single sales letter you’ll ever write. There is no such thing as a sales letter without
an offer that lays out the details of what’s for sale and what the prospect gets in return.
The difference here is usually the offer only shows up close to the end of the copy. And, the product
might not get mentioned until sometime after the lead as well.
But with an Offer Lead, you’re lifting the curtain on your offer right up front.
We talked about the “directness” of a sales letter. You can measure how direct a letter is by how
quickly it gets to mentioning the product and — even more so — the details of the deal. This is what
makes Offer Leads the most direct of all the lead types you’ll discover in this book.
This is also why Schwartz and others often think of Offer Leads as the easiest to write. Because when
you’ve got a very good deal … going out to a very receptive audience … it can be almost impossible to
screw up a good Offer Lead.
That said, even something as innately appealing as a good deal can be made even more effective in the
hands of a good copywriter. You only need to look at some of the great Offer Leads written by Schwartz
himself for examples. Take a look at this headline from an ad Schwartz wrote to sell an educational
product for the Univox Institute …
Guaranteed To Improve Your Child’s School Marks — or you pay nothing!
The Fabulous New Teaching Machine Automated Speed Learning Method
Is there any question here that you’re about to be “sold?” Not at all. We know in the first instant that
it’s about a product, in this case some sort of “teaching machine.” We know that in just moments from
reading these words, someone will ask us for money. And, we know, also, that it’s attached to some sort
of guarantee.
Yet, despite the often-repeated cliché that nobody likes to be “sold,” this ad brought in millions of
dollars from new and returning customers. No wonder Schwartz used a similar approach in an ad he
wrote to sell a book called How to Double Your Power to Learn. His headline for this one began …
Don’t Pay A Penny For This Book Till It Doubles Your Power to Learn!
Here at last is your chance to make such an overwhelming difference in your child’s performance in
school — in as little as five short minutes of your time everyday — that the teacher may actually call
you up to see what happened!
Let me explain …
Again, the offer is instant. His first four words reveal that you’ll be asked for money — by
guaranteeing you’ll get it back if you’re not satisfied — and yet, this ad went on to sell over 600,000
copies of the book.
The formula comes back again in this headline …
“Don’t Pay One Penny Till This Course Turns You Into A Human Computer!”
And, in this one …
“Don’t Pay One Penny Till This Course Turns Your Mind Into A Mental Magnet”
Notice the twist. In each case, the offer detail isn’t price but guarantee. And in each case, he’s also
shored up the offer with a very powerful promise. This is something you’ll see often in Offer Leads.
Take a look at a few more examples and you’ll see what we mean …
“Give me five days and I can give you a magnetic personality … let me prove it — free”
“You must win at least $7,500 with my 13 points or they’re yours free”
“Free for a month … a full head of hair in only 32 seconds a day”
“Pick the brains of a millionaire for $10”
“Free to brides — two dollars to others”
“I guarantee (with my own money) that you will shoot your lowest score ever on your next round of
golf”
As you can see, each headline leads explicitly to some kind of offer. But in each example, simply by
hinting at the guarantee, these copywriters elevated the impact beyond a simple price-driven “good deal.”
They’ve opened the door to make a claim, and in most of these cases, an irresistible one.
Of course, adding guarantees or promises to an Offer Lead just scratches the surface of what you can
do with this type of sales letter opening. What else can you test?
You’ll see some examples in just a moment.
You’ll also notice as you read, even when we’re working with very different products and very
different deals, most successful Offer Leads still share a similar formula. It goes something like this …
1Im. mediately focus on the most emotionally-compelling detail of your offer
2U. nderscore the most valuable benefit of that deal
3E.l aborate on that same deal-benefit in the lead that follows
4A. t some point, include a compelling “reason why” you’re offering that deal
Each of these four steps in the Offer Lead formula is important. But, we want to draw your attention
here to that last part of the formula, the “reason why,” because it’s the element many copywriters
overlook.
The “reason why” could be almost anything, depending on what you’re selling and the context in which
you’re selling it. Maybe supplies are short. Maybe the price offer has a deadline. Maybe there’s a news
event that’s coming or has already happened that makes your offer an imperative.
But, in each case, you must offer your prospect something to answer the question that’s inevitable, in
response to an offer that sounds too good to be true: “Okay, that sounds great … but what’s the catch?”
A good “reason why” can help diffuse that last bit of resistance. It can be a device to heighten the
urgency of your offer. And, it can even be something that shows your prospect you share his concerns or
agenda.
There can, in fact, be a catch attached to an Offer Lead. And if there is, you should mention it.
Either reveal it or hint at it early and make sure you explain the catch sometime before you ask for the
final sale. Why?
First, because it’s better business not to try to “put one over” on your prospect. But also, because the
“catch” can or should always be something that’s also a net positive for the deal.
For instance, the “catch” of a gift-driven offer might be the purchase of a valuable product that’s even
better than the gift itself. Or, the “catch” might be a limit on how many customers you’ll accept, who
you’ll accept, how many items you’ll sell, or how long the offer is going to last.
In each case, what’s most important in an effective Offer Lead is that the prospect feels immediately
that the benefit he’s about to get is both valuable and a “steal” by comparison to what he would normally
be willing to pay.
Again, that value could be connected to the quality of what you’re offering, the promise of what it will
do for the reader, or even the availability of what’s on offer.
And, what makes it a “steal” might be a low price or a discount — often that’s the case — but it
doesn’t have to be. Sometimes emphasizing a higher or more elite price is what will get you the sale.
Many luxury brands charge more simply because some prospects being able to afford the higher price is
part of the appeal.
The following email ad from Thompson Cigars illustrates this first kind of “value” offer and does it
very simply and directly. If you’re a cigar smoker, you know what they’re promising you immediately: a
highly-regarded brand of cigars at an uncommonly good price. And, just to make sure that point isn’t
missed, the copywriter does all the math to show you that this is a really good deal.
And, here’s the twist that makes this ad different from all the other cigar ads. To sweeten the deal, the
copy also throws in a $20 Gift Card for Omaha Steaks. This is what you call a “dissolving bonus” — a
gift that adds so much extra value, it melts away remaining resistance. No doubt a good steak likely holds
plenty of appeal for your typical stogie-smoker.
Here is another example of a clear, direct Offer Lead from Littleton Coin:
Like the cigar ad, the offer is instant and explicit. The prospect is told exactly what he’ll get (all 56
commemorative quarters). His savings are made clear (67%) and he’s also teased with a “free gift” — or
resistance-resolving bonus — of 4 uncirculated Lincoln pennies.
Are all Offer Leads this explicit? Not necessarily. Consider, for example, a special sub-type of Offer
Lead called the “Invitation” offer. Invitations work especially well when you have something that’s
anticipated or exclusive on offer. Take a look at this next example, from an investing and wealth
protection society called The Oxford Club …
Immediately, you notice that it’s much less forthcoming about the details of the deal. But, because it
looks and feels like an invitation, there’s no question for the prospect that some tempting carrot is about to
be dangled.
When explaining how this special kind of “exclusivity” offer works, we like the example of a high-end
restaurant or big city nightclub. If you’ve ever taken a ride through Manhattan or Miami after hours, you
don’t have to travel far to see clubs with the aspiring “in” crowd lined up for entry.
Almost invariably in front of these clubs, you see a bouncer or that icon of exclusivity, the ominous red
“Velvet Rope.” Nobody gets past the rope without a nod from the gatekeeper.
But, as much as that rope keeps people out, it also draws people in. Something, they reason, must be
really great on the other side of that door.
Invitation offers often capitalize on that deep desire to feel included. Of course, they’re only valid
when what you’re offering really does hold some kind of exclusive value. Not every product does.
Products with a long tradition of quality, clubs and societies, and luxury items, can work especially well
with an invitation-style pitch.
When Should You Use an Offer Lead?
Of course, not every product works every time with an Offer Lead either.
To help you decide, follow the guideline we set earlier: More aware customers often respond to
direct leads and less aware customers often respond better to indirect leads.
Since the Offer Lead is the most direct lead type you’ll come across, you will mostly want to use it for
products that are easy to explain and for prospects who already know something about you, about what
you’re selling, and even about the market value of what’s for sale.
Why? Because your “most aware” customers are those whose trust you’ve already won. Or, at least,
they are those that already know very well what they want. And, if you’re offering it, they’re the ones who
are already prepared to buy. They are emotionally open to hearing what you have for sale.
In that kind of situation, that’s why seasoned copywriters and marketers agree that it’s pretty tough to
screw up an Offer Lead. In fact, the more aware and open the customer, the simpler that up-front offer can
usually be.
We say “usually” because there’s a special caveat. Occasionally, you can run into situations where a
high-level awareness is a net negative. For instance, think of someone on a car lot or the other end of a
phone conversation with an insurance salesman.
In those examples, awareness levels might be very high. So might the need for the product and even the
desire to buy. But so, too, might be the level of skepticism, thanks to too many similar offers and too many
broken sales promises.
In that case, a simple Offer Lead is suicide. Instead, you’ll need to move more toward the indirect side
of the scale, so you can buy the time to build up trust levels all over again.
What to Test in Offer Leads
What’s the best detail to test in an Offer Lead?
“Most aware” prospects will respond just fine if you lead with something about the price — a
discount, a last-chance deal before a price hike, a countdown price deal.
Slightly less aware prospects, even though they’re almost ready to be sold, might need a little extra to
get them over that hump of indecision. For instance, a free or almost-free trial offer, extra gift premiums,
or an extra-strong guarantee.
When you’re looking for ideas, just keep this in mind: Anything you can test in a regular offer at the
end of a sales letter, you can test in an Offer Lead.
There’s something else special about Offer Leads.
You’ve seen that this lead type often blends not just the offer detail but also a promise in the headline.
In most cases, you’ll find blending two or more lead types violates the Rule of One principle we covered
in Chapter 1.
But, for a handful of lead types — Offer Leads and Promise Leads especially — you can combine
with other lead types to get an even stronger impact. This is because elements like offers and promises
are indispensable in every kind of package. So, rather than adding what isn’t there, you’re simply bringing
it forward.
Here’s a famous example from The Economist …
____________
May I send you 3 FREE Issues of what may be the most influential (as well as
selectively distributed) newsweekly in the world?
Dear Colleague,
Every Monday morning, a rather unusual publication arrives at the desks of a select circle of
individuals in positions of power and influence.
The readers of this discreetly (one is almost tempted to say reluctantly) publicized newsweekly
include presidents (of countries, banks, universities, and Fortune 500 companies), ranking executives
(in business, government, and industry) and prominent thinkers (in law, science, economics, and
military strategy).
Now, it may not surprise you to learn that the average personal income of North American
subscribers to this singular periodical exceeds $144,800 per annum. However, it may surprise you to
discover that despite the enormous clout and affluence of its world renowned readers … only a
relative handful of Americans are aware of the existence of this exclusive publication, much less the
intelligence it provides.
But now, with this letter, you are cordially invited to join the extremely select circle of men and
women who wouldn’t think of beginning each business week without the incomparable insight of and
reporting of … The Economist.
Enclosed you will find a non-transferable order card. Return it to me and I will send you three
absorbing issues of The Economist to read at my expense. These three issues will be yours to keep
free whether or not you decide to become a subscriber …
____________
Again you see it’s an offer right away.
It slaps down those details in the headline.
Then, it continues by stressing how exclusive their “club” of subscribers happens to be, a hallmark of
the special “Invitation” type of Offer Lead we talked about earlier.
Would opening with an offer have worked here without the recognition and credibility The Economist
has spent years building ahead of this? Probably not.
How likely is it that this letter landed in the hands of the “relative handful of Americans who are
aware of the existence of this exclusive publication … ?” Very.
Otherwise, the three-free issue offer might have gone over like free ice cream in winter.
Here’s one more.
____________
Dear Sir,
This letter is going to be short and to the point. We don’t want to make a big thing of it. Not yet anyway.
We’d like to invite you to take advantage of what we call our “no-strings” membership.
This offer extends our typically generous introduction to you: choose any 4 books for $1 each.
But it omits the usual obligation to buy four more books. You don’t even have to buy one more book.
In other words, you can join Book-of-the-Month Club, take your welcoming package of 4 books (saving
up to $100 or more), and never buy another thing from us.
It’s an experiment for us. Will this attract the kind of reader who will appreciate our other Club benefits
as well as the introductory offer?
It’s an experiment for you. A way to try us without tying yourself down to a commitment.
So enjoy all the Club benefits you wish. Just as if you were a committed member. We’ve put it all in
writing. Take any books for $1 each, plus shipping and handling, with no obligation to buy anything else.
The rest is up to you.
I can’t imagine a bigger bargain for the reader. Can you?
Sincerely,
James Mercer,
President
P.S. This offer isn’t available to everyone. It isn’t transferable. But, if you decide to join and become a
member of the Club, we can understand why you might want to share the news of your “no-strings”
membership with a special friend or two. In that event, ask them to write me and mention your name.
____________
This “Book-of-the-Month Club” mailing was a huge success. The only other elements in the envelope
were a folded lift note and a reply card. Yet, this promotion was so successful, it is one of the many offerdriven
pieces collected and featured by Dennison Hatch in his book, “Million Dollar Mailings … ”
What Else Do You Need to Know About Offer Leads?
Most of what you need to know about writing Offer Leads, you already understand if you know how to
write regular offers because both share a lot of the same tricks and techniques.
Here’s a quick rundown, though, of some key ideas …
Endorsements can give a big boost. Remember, an offer-based pitch is something you use with your
“most aware” customers — that is, they trust you to cut to the details of the deal because they already
know what they feel they need to know about you. Your name means something to them. In that sense, if
you know you’re sending something to a list that’s already warm to you or some person connected with
you … use that to your advantage. That might mean making the signature under the sales letter come from
the person they know and trust most. It could mean showing the face of that most-trusted person next to the
headline. It might even mean putting that person’s name in the product title.
Know your goal. Offer Leads that give away irresistible “FREE” gifts will get subscribers who sign
up just for the gift. That might be fine for a low-priced product, where they still might stick around for
more. But, it might not be so fine for a high-priced product, where the incentive to cancel and keep the
premium is greater. If you need cash now, an easy-payment offer might not be something you’ll want to
test. But, if you want lots of new orders, this might be just the ticket. What you want out of your target
audience can change what deal detail you feature up front in your Offer Lead.
Mirror and Test. The offer that’s usually at the end of a sales letter and the Offer Lead you’ll put up
front share details, but you’ll also want them to share similar language, hit the same hot buttons, and share
rationale behind the special deal. Likewise, just like you would test different details in the close of a
sales letter, you can test those same details in your Offer Lead.
If you can, stay short. One of the key reasons you go to a direct Offer Lead is because the customer
you’re writing to is already mostly sold on you or whatever you’re offering. This means you can often cut
a lot of the warm-up and copy-coddling that happens in less direct sales pieces. Most of what you’ll write
in a sales package with an Offer Lead, outside of what the deal is and how to take advantage of it, is proof
that the offer has value.
When in doubt, do the math. If you’re leading with a special price break, some kind of guaranteed
result, or anything you can express as a percentage … try doing the math for your reader. If your Offer
Lead compares your product cost to someone else’s, show the savings in terms of a dollar amount. Often,
that math is aimed at showing you’re about to give more to the reader than you’ll expect to get in
exchange.
Find clever ways to price. Offer Leads often focus on price, but not always on a simple discount or
“FREE” trial deal. For instance, say you’ve got a half-off discount to use in your lead. It might work
better if you keep the nominal price high but give them a “2-for-1” deal. Or, you could try a trade-in offer
or say you’ll cover the entire cost of shipping. Try introductory or limited-time pricing. Or, you might
even want to try a “$1 trial offer,” where you get their credit card information with a nominal $1 charge
and then say something like, “If after a 30-day trial, you like our widgets, you don’t need to do anything.
We’ll just debit you for the full amount … ”
Test time limits. Ready-to-order customers can feel even more ready to buy if they know the special
deal you’re offering won’t last forever. Try testing a countdown deadline of either time or quantity in your
Offer Lead. If your sales letter is online, set up a live “countdown” timer that shows how much (or how
little) time is left on the deal.
Make it easy. Just like you would never want a prospect to get confused over how to fill out your
order form or whom to call to get started, a good Offer Lead hits the reader with at least a short sentence
or paragraph that hints at how easy it will be to take advantage of the deal (e.g., “And this is easy to do —
just take the ‘Send-no-money Invitation’ card you’ll find in the envelope, fill it out telling me which gifts
you’d like and where to send your first issue, and drop it in the postage-prepaid envelope I’ve provided.
It’s that simple. But, you’ll want to make sure you do this quickly. And, here’s why … ”).
Provide a parachute. Even though you’ll most often use Offer Leads with “already sold” buyers who
have at least a partial if not full emotional commitment to your deal, you’ll still have a better chance of
getting them to respond if you can reverse some or all of the risk early in the lead. Possibly even in the
headline. (e.g., “Don’t pay a penny until this book … ” or “You risk nothing unless this new strategy … ”
and so on). The Offer Leads that do this aggressively — where you pay later for a free trial now, are
called “soft offers.”
Test highlighting the guarantee. We recently saw a “No Matter What” warranty on a site selling
Eagle Creek luggage. “If your luggage is ever damaged (even by the airlines) we’ll repair or replace it
free — no matter what.” That’s bold. And, to someone already searching for luggage, it could be a
clincher that makes the sale. If you’re in a situation where an Offer Lead might work, and you’ve got a
great guarantee, consider pulling it up front to feature in the headline.
_________________________
A Warning about “FREE”
Featuring something “FREE” is common in Offer Leads, but it might not always be the
best or strongest way for you to go. Why?
When your gift or set of giveaways feels almost as valuable as the product you’re selling,
it’s rarely a problem.
Prospects are likely to sign on for the bonuses, but they’re also likely to stick around and
try what they’ve paid for, too, because they can rationalize that they’ve gotten their
money’s worth already.
However, when you’re selling something with a much higher perceived value, throwing in
lots of freebies can actually work against you. Why?
Because it can make the paid product you’re offering look like it’s not worth as much as
you claim it is.
“FREE” is a powerful word. But like jokes, funny ties, and wine — context is everything
when it comes to deciding whether it’s something worth featuring in your deal.
_________________________
5
Double Your Sales With This Next Kind of Lead
____________________________
“Be neither too remote nor too familiar.”
— Prince Charles
____________________________
“Cash If You Die, Cash If You Don’t”
According to our friend Drayton Bird — who has written copy for Ford, American Express, and
Proctor & Gamble — that headline was one of the most successful ever written in the insurance industry.
And, we believe it.
“Your safest opening,” says Drayton, “ … is your prime benefit and offer … an instant statement,
instantly comprehensible.” Despite a career going back to 1957, Drayton’s not the first to say so.
For instance, in 1904, a Canadian Mounted Policeman named John E. Kennedy marched into the office
of Albert Lasker, a young partner in one of Chicago’s biggest ad agencies, and told him more or less the
same thing.
Their meeting started at six o’clock in the evening and they talked about nothing but this ad technique
until 3 a.m. Kennedy had spent long, snowy nights studying ads and had come up with a theory he called
“Reason-Why Advertising.”
To find the real reason why customers buy was to find the emotional core of the promise your ad
needed to make. Said Kennedy in a book by the same title, “To strike the responsive chord with the reader
… is to multiply the selling power of every reason-why given.”
Up until then, most ads appeared in newspapers and were written as news. Products were announced.
They were explained. But, Kennedy and Lasker began to change all that.
They first tested their promise-driven “reason-why” ads with a washer company. Within four months,
the ads were so successful, the company increased its budget with Lasker’s advertising agency from
$15,000 per year to $30,000 — per month.
Kennedy went on to earn the highest salary paid to any copywriter in the industry. And, Lasker went on
to build what would be the world’s most successful ad agency at the time.
If you’ve ever eaten a bowl of Quaker Puffed Rice, washed your dishes with Palmolive, brushed your
teeth with Pepsodent, or taken a ride in an Oldsmobile, you’ve seen success built with the help of
promise-driven advertising.
Ad giant David Ogilvy went on to say, nearly 80 years later, that with the help of this one technique,
“Albert Lasker made more money than anyone in the history of the advertising business.” With Kennedy’s
inspiration and his own version of the Promise Lead, Lasker went on to be called “the father of modern
advertising.”
When you consider the trillions of dollars Lasker’s title represents, that’s no small feat. It’s no wonder
Ogilvy himself took pains to teach the same technique in an ad he wrote for prospective ad agency clients:
The headline, “How to Create Advertising That Sells” was itself a tempting, straightforward promise
for Ogilvy & Mather’s future clients. But, the lead puts it just as plain with this powerful nugget:
“It pays to promise a benefit which is unique and competitive, and the product must deliver the
benefit you promise. Most advertising promises nothing. It is doomed to fail in the marketplace …
Headlines that promise to benefit sell more than those that don’t.”
Our friend and fellow copywriter, Clayton Makepeace, put it even more bluntly in a recent message to
readers of his Total Package blog:
“The only reason any rational human being ever purchases anything is to derive a benefit from
it! That means … any scrap of sales copy that fails to clearly, dramatically, emphatically,
credibly, and repeatedly present the benefits a product will deliver is destined to fail
miserably.”
In other words, if you have any hope of getting your reader by the lapels and making him listen to your
message, you first have to give him a reason why. And, that reason is bound up in a promise he cannot
resist.
These days, you won’t find many ads of any type — at least not successful ones — that lack a promise
of some kind, either stated outright or implied. And, almost always right there in the lead or, just as often,
in the headline.
That includes every one of the six types of sales copy leads in this book. So why, you might ask, use a
chapter to single out Promise Leads for special focus?
When Pure Promise Leads Work Best
Because, as often as there are times when a prospect needs a more subtle approach, there are also
times when a simple, direct promise really is best. And again, you’ll find it’s always tied up with how
“aware” and ready your customer is to hear about what you’re selling.
This can be easy to test. Since almost every kind of lead type will include some kind of promise, often
all you need to do is remove the extra elements to unearth the pure promise hidden underneath.
Take, for instance, a hypothetical offer headline for a tooth-whitening product, as you might have
expected to see in our previous chapter. It might read:
A Hollywood smile in 3 days … or your money back
The promise is clear. Use this product and flashbulbs will soon glint off your pearly whites. By adding
the offer line “… or your money back,” however, this becomes a clear sales pitch. An offer. The lead that
follows will quickly get to the heart of the deal and the credibility bound up in that guarantee.
No doubt, if you’re already out there looking for a good deal on exactly this kind of product, an ad that
starts off with that kind of bang would likely get your attention.
But, suppose you’re talking to someone who’s interested, but not quite sure yet that the product can
deliver. For this kind of prospect, the promise is tempting. Yet, revealing the offer out of the gate might
come on too strong.
In that case, it may need to be that you’ll want to develop anticipation with just the promise first. You
might even do it without mentioning the product at all …
A Hollywood smile in 3 days
A lead that would follow just the pure promise alone could sound very different from the lead
following an offer headline. How so? Instead of talking up the deal, it might repeat the promise another
way or dive into proof.
____________
You’ve seen them on the red carpet, I’m sure — the tuxes and gowns, the makeup and jewelry — but
what do they all have in common? Yep.
Pearly, shining smiles full of straight, white teeth.
Now you can get the same flashy grin, and you don’t need $50,000 worth of caps and a high-ticket
Hollywood dentist to make it happen.
This wasn’t even possible, just a year ago.
But, it is now.
Let me show you why …
____________
Of course, opening with a pure Promise Lead like this one has gotten a little harder recently. The
reasons for this are almost directly tied to the Promise Lead’s unique success in the past. In short, more
and more prospects today have become “hyper-aware.”
That is, they’ve been hit so often with so many similar promises from a flood of so many similar
products — thanks to the Internet and other always-on sources of advertising — that prospects have gone
the other way and shut down to many promises.
As much as they still want their needs met by the products they buy, they have more walls raised
against marketing messages. And, the one that’s become most familiar to those “hyper-aware” prospects
is an ad that busts into the room making a big claim or promise.
Still, you have at least two key reasons to master the Promise Lead.
First, because you need to identify and write strong promises to create any other kind of successful
lead. And second, because there are times when a simple, direct, pure Promise Lead opening will not
only work, but will prove the single best way for a marketer to get his foot in the door.
The decision is almost this simple: Promise Leads work best with “mostly aware” prospects who are
almost ready to buy.
What to Promise
“Advertising works best,” says Drayton Bird again, “if you promise people something they want, not
— as many imagine — if you are clever, original, or shocking.”
It’s not hard to see that the core promise in any ad is like a statement of intention. If I read this, says
your reader, what do I get in return? You, in your promise-driven copy, answer that question. But, it’s
also clear they’ll only stick around if they like your answer.
So, what’s the most relevant promise you can make to your prospect?
We know ads can and have promised all kinds of things: To make you thin or bulk you up. To make
you stronger, younger, fitter, and faster. To teach you to do something you’ve always wanted to do. Or, to
make something easier than you ever thought it could be. Be more attractive. Be rich. Save money. Drive
a better car, own a bigger house, look more beautiful or more handsome, dress sharp, have a happy
marriage.
Here are just a couple of headlines from classic Promise ads …
Instant Relaxation!
Build Your Memory In 4 Short Weeks —
So Powerfully Your Family Won’t Believe It
What made these ads work, when they did?
It’s easy to guess the products these could sell. But, when a lead starts this way, it’s not the promise
derived from the product that’s done the selling. Instead, it’s the emotional promise you can see barely
hidden behind the words.
For instance, “Instant Relaxation!” promised more than just peace and quiet. It was a reward that
acknowledged a well-earned rest. And, the promise of a “powerful memory” gets elevated to the respect,
love, and admiration you’ll get for having such an impressive skill.
The richer part of the promises you’ll make is the part that pulls the strings from behind the curtain.
Friendship and status among your peers. Confidence and freedom from worry. Inclusion. Safety and
security. Even just the feeling of association to people you admire and respect.
The bottom line is that the most effective part of Promise Leads — and, in fact, the promises you’ll use
in all six of the lead types in this book — is that what your product will do for customers is only as
important, or maybe less so, as how you’ll make them feel about themselves while using it. Or, even more
importantly, how they’ll be seen by others while using it.
You’ll recognize the headline of this following ad:
This, of course, is the same title used on one of the most successful self-help books ever sold. And,
this was the ad that sold it, much better than anyone imagined possible.
The original publisher had printed only 5,000 copies for the first run.
The author, after all, was only an ex-farm-boy salesman named Dale Carnegie, who had hawked
everything from bacon and soap to Packard cars, before moving to New York to become — of all things
— an actor. He only started teaching his course after the acting career failed to pan out. And, it took
Carnegie 15 years of compiled class notes to pull his textbook together.
Yet, it caught on with readers.
And, when a copy landed on the desk of copywriting legend Victor Schwab, he was smart enough to
know that the best promise he could use to sell it was the one already on the book’s cover, “ How to Win
Friends and Influence People.”
Underneath the headline, Schwab’s Promise Lead began …
John D. Rockefeller, Sr., some years ago said: “The ability to deal with people is as purchasable a
commodity as sugar or coffee. And, I will pay more for that ability than for any other under the sun.”
Wouldn’t you suppose that every college in the land would conduct practical, common sense courses
to develop this “highest-priced ability under the sun?”
To our knowledge, none did.
How to develop that ability is the subject of Dale Carnegie’s amazing new book …
For extra punch, Schwab included some promise-laden chapter titles, straight out of the original book.
Some of those titles read like textbook Promise headlines, for example:
Six Ways to Make People Like You Instantly
Do This and You’ll be Welcome Anywhere
A Simple Way to Make a Good First Impression
Twelve Ways to Win People to Your Way of Thinking
How to Interest People
How to Get Cooperation
An Easy Way to Become a Good Conversationalist
Letters that Produce Miraculous Results
How to Spur Men on to Success
Any one of these might have worked as the main headline for the ad. And, some were tested. Over the
years that followed, Schwab’s ad and others went on to sell over 15 million copies.
Where Good Promise Leads Get Started
When writing a Promise Lead, where should you start?
The default for most marketers is to study the product and just figure out what it does best. After all,
we’ve all heard the lesson about “features” versus “benefits.” First, you make a list of the product’s best
features, then you translate those into what they will do for the customer.
Simple.
This is a lesson you may have heard connected with one of the most successful product pitches in
history. Forrest E. Mars grew up in a candymaker’s house. And, with some big shoes to fill. His father’s
home business grew to invent and sell some of the world’s most famous candy bars including Snickers,
Mars Bars, and Milky Way.
But, Forrest’s father didn’t want to expand the business and Forrest, fresh home from Yale University,
did. So, he sold his share in the business back to Dad and moved to Europe. That’s where he took up with
other candymakers.
It’s also where he first spotted the breakthrough that would help change the chocolate business, the
course of World War II, and millions of kids’ birthday parties — and indirectly, the advertising industry.
It was a tiny pellet of chocolate, wrapped in a candy shell, found in the field kits of soldiers fighting
the Spanish Civil War. The chocolate gave them quick energy, the shell kept it from melting under harsh
conditions.
We know it now, of course, as the M&M.
Forrest took it back to the States and patented his own formula for the candy in 1941. Within a year,
the U.S. was committed to World War II. And not long after, M&Ms made their way into soldiers’ field
rations. When the soldiers came home, the candies were a hit with the general public.
But, sales were about to get even bigger.
Forrest realized that television — making its way into the mainstream at that time — was the next
place he wanted to go to sell M&Ms. He hired a copywriter named Rosser Reeves to do it. It turned out
to be another groundbreaking move.
Reeves was already a success at the time. He was both copy chief and vice president of his agency in
New York. But, when he sat down with Forrest Mars to talk candy, he listened and took notes like a firstyear
copywriter.
“He was the one who said it,” claimed Reeves in the version we’ve heard told. “He told me the whole
history and then I pressed him and he said, ‘Well, the thing is, they only melt in your mouth, but they don’t
melt in your hands.’”
That was all Reeves needed.
Within four years, Mars was selling one million pounds of M&Ms per week. M&Ms have since gone
on Space Shuttle flights with astronauts. They’ve been the official candy of the Olympics. And, according
to Business Week, they’re the bestselling candy in the world.
Mars died at age 95 in 1999, with a $4 billion fortune. And, his candy company takes in over $20
billion per year with 30,000 employees worldwide.
It’s no accident that Reeves went on to his own kind of fame. And, not just because Reeves happens to
be the real-life model for the character of Don Draper on the TV series Mad Men.
You might know him even better, after all, as the father of what every copy cub and professional
advertiser memorizes as the “Unique Selling Proposition” or “USP.”
To Find the Promise, Find the USP
When Reeves first wrote about the USP in his book Reality in Advertising, he was writing down the
formula you can use to write any effective Promise Lead.
Reeves’ formula had three parts.
The first part for Reeves meant starting with the product. But, only if that product was actually good
enough to almost sell itself. As a preacher’s son, Reeves was fundamentally honest and felt all advertising
should be, too. The product must be able to do what you’ll say it can do.
But, an even better reason for starting with the product is the second part of Reeves’ formula. What the
product does, and by default will claim to do, has to be original. That is, the best products do something
the competitor’s won’t or can’t. That’s key because the USP — the promise you’ll make — has to sound
and feel different from everything your prospect has heard before, too.
Then, there’s the final part of Reeves’ formula. This is the one most forgotten, but it’s impossible to
overlook if you’ve got any hope of coming up with a powerful promise. Every promise must target your
prospect’s core desire. That is, they have to already want what you’re promising.
This is worth repeating.
Reeves believed, and so did Eugene Schwartz, and so do we, that you cannot create desire in a
customer. You can only awaken what’s already there. This is especially true in a pure Promise Lead,
where you have nothing but the claim pulling all the weight. The more tightly you can target those core
desires, the more likely your ad will work.
It’s that simple.
Can a Claim Be Too Big?
We’re sure you’ve heard British writer Samuel Johnson’s advice, who famously said, “Promise, large
promise, is the soul of advertisement.”
And, when Johnson and his friends were about to auction off a brewery, he went on to warn them, “We
are not here to sell off a parcel of vats and boilers; but to offer the potentiality of wealth beyond the
dreams of avarice.”
A good promise, in other words, is a big one.
And, Promise Leads should promise to change lives.
But, is that always true? No, not necessarily. Because you can run a few risks by committing to bigger
and bigger advertising promises. One risk, even Johnson went on to write about, saying “Advertisements
are now so numerous that they are very negligently perused, and it has therefore become necessary to gain
attention by magnificence of promises, and by eloquence sometimes sublime and sometimes pathetic.”
That was in 1759.
Imagine what he would say today.
A second risk is that oversized promises, especially in today’s crowded market, can be so large that
they become unbelievable. As copywriter Clayton Makepeace recently warned:
“Simply shout[ing] benefits are not working as well as they used to, because yours is the
gazillionth ‘benefit’ head your prospect has seen today … your benefit [lead] screams, ‘I WANT
TO SELL YOU SOMETHING!’ … [and] increasingly skeptical prospects think, ‘Yeah, RIGHT!’”
Of course, you still need some kind of claim to sell. Which is why even the most indirect lead types
you’ll find in this book still lead up to a promise of some kind.
So, what to do when a promise seems too large?
One way to derail the skeptics is to just acknowledge the reason for their skepticism before they have
a chance to. For instance, by turning the giant claim into a question:
Can You Really Grow $500 Into $8.4 Million?
The risk, of course, is that you still can’t deliver on a promise that large. Or, that you’ll disappoint the
prospect when they realize it was just a hook to get him reading.
Another option, obviously, is to scale back to a promise until it’s surprisingly small. For instance, we
remember a great and simple Promise Lead that did just that, in the midst of a sea of cliché “Get Rich
Quick” ads. The headline read:
Get Rich Slow
Who on earth wants to get rich “slow?” Maybe nobody. But, you can see how it still promises
something desirable while actually fitting neatly into the prospect’s comfort zone.
Here’s another interesting example of a scaled-down promise working better than a big one, from
career copywriter Dick Paetzke.
It seems that Sears had hired a team to help them sell their “Diehard” car battery on TV. To show how
the battery could hold up in rough weather, the team lined up 10 cars in front of TV cameras on a cold icy
night.
They shut off all the engines, linked all 10 cars to one Diehard battery, and then had 10 drivers start all
the cars up at the same time. It was an amazing performance from a great product. But, there was one
problem: Viewers didn’t believe it.
The team shot the commercial again, but with only three or four cars. Everything else in the
demonstration was the same. This time the commercial was a smash hit. By scaling the promise back just
enough, the claim was suddenly believable.
How do you know how to make a promise that’s just right?
First, you have to know what’s been promised before. That’s your mark to beat. You also have to
know what your prospect expects, so you don’t under-promise.
You need to make promises you know you can prove. All copywriting claims, but Promise Leads
especially, demand airtight credibility. That can be testimonials or anecdotes, clear metaphors, case
studies, charts, and powerful statistics. Whatever it takes to make even your biggest claim a clear
possibility.
And finally, you need to know how much what you’re selling can meet or beat those expectations, too.
Promise Leads that over-sell a product — even successfully — only set that product up to fail faster, once
it under-delivers.
The Bottom Line
When you’re targeting an eager and ready-to-buy customer, try an Offer Lead. When you’re selling to
someone farther removed, or to a skeptic, try one of the other leads you’ll find in here. The more distant,
the later you should look in these pages.
But, when you’re targeting a prospect that’s just barely sitting on the fence, almost ready to buy but just
waiting for that extra nudge, a simple, direct Promise Lead can be an excellent tool.
What’s more, make no mistake, no matter which approach you take, Johnson was right: Promises are
the soul of good ads. Make strong ones, where you can.
Just remember, far more important than the size of the promise in your lead is how original and
relevant it is to your target customer.
The promises that work best are the promises that your prospect doesn’t hear anybody else making …
at a time when he really wished someone would.
Of course, that means doing more research and staying on top of the competition. It means finding new
ways to say simple things. And, it means knowing your prospect’s secret desires, maybe better than he
knows them himself.
But, it’s the only way.
_________________________
Promise Leads …
Should start with the product’s biggest benefit.
Should hit the targeted promise right away.
Must connect the core benefit to the prospect’s core desire.
Should sound as new and original as possible.
Should be bold but still believable.
Must follow with even bigger proof.
Often focus on speed, size, or quality of results.
Usually won’t work to skeptics or highly “unaware” prospects
Can work very well with “on the fence” prospects.
_________________________
6
Still Can’t Find Your Hook? Try This Time-Tested Solution
____________________________
“When you advertise fire-extinguishers, open with the fire.”
— David Ogilvy
____________________________
What keeps your customer up at night?
In countless seminars and training sessions with new copywriters, it’s a question we’ve both repeated
often. And, one we hope you’ve answered, too, no matter what it is you’re hoping to sell.
Because once you identify that one big worry, you could have the makings of a blockbuster pitch in the
form of this next lead type, the Problem-Solution Lead.
This lead type is a “go-to” classic when it comes to starting sales copy. You’ll find plenty of examples
in ad archives from every era, including plenty included in this chapter.
You can also find lots of Problem-Solution Leads in an industry where we’ve both done a lot of
consulting — financial publishing.
When we’ve asked that question in the financial publishing business, our prospects shared a similar
profile. Most are men in their mid-50s to 60s with some money to invest. Some have set aside a lot
already; some, not so much.
But, even in their differences, their worries are often similar.
In the big picture, they often worry about the mess politicians have made of the economy. They worry
about countries fighting over oil, gas, food, and other resources. And, they worry about market scandals
and corruption that might cheat them out of savings.
More locally, they worry about keeping up with bills in retirement after paychecks stop rolling in.
They worry about shrinking bank accounts and the impact of inflation.
They worry about the crushing impact of taxes, about making dumb mistakes with money, about having
less than the Jones’ next door, or about missing out on a big opportunity.
Maybe most of all, they worry about running out of money before they run out of life.
All the ads we helped clients create targeted the most pressing of these worries.
Not all of those ads used Problem-Solution Leads, but in certain cases, you can get your biggest results
by directly naming and promising to fix those problems.
Getting Less Direct
With our first two types, Offer Leads and Promise Leads, you’ve seen how aware, ready customers
can respond best to a really direct approach. They’re so in tune with what you’re selling — or at least
what they want — that you don’t need much to gain their trust or attention.
But, when the worry outpaces everything else in the prospect’s mind, this is where you start needing an
interest-grabber that’s less direct. Consider, for instance, the “solution-aware” and “problem-aware”
prospects we mentioned earlier in this book.
In both cases, you have a customer who knows at least that there’s a situation they want to improve.
They may even suspect that, somewhere out there, there’s a way to improve it.
But, with both prospect types, you’re starting to see a gap in what they know about themselves and
what they know about your product. This is a small gap you’ll need to cross before you can start to make a
sale.
And, a good Problem-Solution Lead might help you do it.
Why start there?
As you move away from customers who are “most aware,” your lead types shift to less direct because
— before you can make a sale — you need that much more time to build trust.
Problem-Solution Leads are a little harder to write than Promise Leads or Offer Leads because you
first must take a moment to show empathy. Think about it. In personal conversation, what’s one of the
ways we show a person that we’re listening?
To paraphrase a President, it’s “I feel your pain.”
While a certain prospect might not know about your specific product, or even know that a product like yours exists, he might
desperately feel his problem. Just identifying it is a way to win trust by saying, “I feel your pain … ” which then opens the door to
you continuing, “ … and I have a solution.”
When someone sees that you understand their concerns, that helps open doors. What’s more, hearing
those concerns echoed can also make your target reader more willing to believe you might also be
someone capable of finding a meaningful solution. This can begin a relationship between customer and
seller where one didn’t exist before.
So, what’s the full formula for an effective Problem-Solution Lead? Sometimes it can seem as simple
as identifying the problem and offering the product that answers it. But, the reality usually has a few more
layers. It goes something like this …
1T.a rget those worries that keep customers up at night.
2M. ake sure they’re worries that carry deep emotional weight.
3Y.o u have to stir those emotions first, to prove you feel your prospect’s pain.
4Y.o u don’t want to linger on the problem too long before offering hope.
5Y.o u must offer hope of a relevant solution at some point in the pitch.
But, you ask, isn’t it a mistake to “go negative” when you’re trying to put somebody in an optimistic,
buying mood? And, even if it does work, isn’t it just plain wrong to make a sale by stirring up bad
feelings and capitalizing on people’s fears?
Reasonable questions.
After all, you don’t want to come across like a health insurance salesman pitching products at his high
school reunion, or a lawyer handing out business cards in the hospital cardiac unit. That said, there are
times when the Problem-Solution approach to selling is not only right; it’s what your customers will
prefer.
How so?
When It’s Right To “Go Negative”
Have you ever tried to cheer someone up — a friend, a family member, or a spouse — only to have
them turn on you and start making a case for their right to feel bad?
It’s a pretty common experience. Some studies even show that “up” messages directed at someone
who’s already feeling “down” can actually make them feel worse.
Why is that?
At least in part, it’s because negative emotions that have an unwelcome way of washing over you —
fear, pain, anger, frustration, shame, desperation, and more — can be isolating. It’s easy to feel like
you’re the only one in the world who really “gets” how wrong things feel.
This is why someone who is upset or depressed by something can actually bond better with somebody
else that sees what’s going on and can commiserate. Simply acknowledging the problem gives it
legitimacy. It can also help open up your long-suffering prospect to looking for solutions. The fact that you
understand what’s wrong can help make you seem like a more credible source for solutions, too.
Which problems to focus on first?
Obviously, that has a lot to do with what you’re selling. More importantly, it has a lot to do with
whom you’re selling to. Because the most relevant worry clearly originates with the prospect, not the
product. You might find that easy to accept, which puts you ahead of product-focused marketers. But,
identifying what those worries are might still prove tougher than you think.
See, it’s easy to imagine the practical, superficial problems most people share: pounds they want to
lose, stained teeth and wrinkles, a nasty smoking habit worth quitting, pain that lingers, low savings, low
income, or bad job prospects, sleepless nights, a nasty cold, undisciplined children — all of them and
more, obvious obstacles to the good life.
But, behind these run even deeper feelings, including some even your prospect would find challenging
to name. We refer to these as the “core emotions.” And, in Problem-Solution Leads, you’ll consistently
get more bang for your buck if you can tap these subconscious feelings first.
From the solution side of the equation, Master Copywriter Clayton Makepeace does a good job
identifying these when he writes about what he calls “emotional relief benefits.”
“[This is the promise that] erases your prospect’s fears and frustrations. It eases his feelings of
guilt, shame, self-doubt, and feelings of inadequacy. It soothes nerves and ends shyness and
embarrassment. It prevents future humiliation. It delivers blessed relief from loneliness,
sadness, or depression. It protects them from future feelings of regret.”
You can only identify these deeper target emotions in one way, and that’s by spending time “talking” to
ideal prospects for whatever you’re selling. Do it by speaking with them directly. Read their letters and
emails to customer service; even ask if you can sit in on their calls.
Find out which blogs and magazines they read, which podcasts they listen to, and which conventions
they go to. Read their posts on online forums. Meet them where you can and get them talking. Record what
they’re saying — if you can get their permission and don’t think it will change the way they respond.
People with worries often can’t help talking. Listen for the patterns, especially those things they don’t
realize they’re saying and repeating. It’s those deeper problems you’re setting out to solve.
The key to Problem-Solution ads is often that the problem you’re fixing is connected to a lot of deeper feelings, not just surface
issues. Identifying the unspoken worry can be far more powerful than promising to fix a spoken one.
How Long to Linger?
Once you accept the idea that problem-based selling can work with problem-focused prospects, you
run into your next question. How long should you focus on the worry in your lead before you start teasing
with a solution?
First, as we said, you need to make sure you’re targeting the right problem and offering the right
solution. As an example, maybe you know the story of Kleenex® Brand tissues.
Depending on whom you ask, the paper company Kimberly-Clark got stuck with warehouses full of
“cellucotton,” a filter product they made for gas masks at the end of World War I.
With the war over, they needed to find another market. They tried out a couple of ideas until someone
hit on Kleenex® Brand “facial tissues,” a disposable replacement for towels that women back then used to
remove cold cream.
And, they sold it that way, too.
In 1925, a magazine ad showed up in the Ladies Home Journal promising “no more dingy cold-cream
towels” and showed celebrities demonstrating how they used the tissues. For the next five years, Kleenex®
was sold as “the new secret of keeping a pretty skin as used by famous movie stars.”
In some of those ads, a small box suggested Kleenex® tissues might work as disposable handkerchiefs,
too. Other ads also tested alternative uses for Kleenex®, everything from spare coffee filters to cleanup
towels.
But, it was Kimberly-Clark’s head researcher, who suffered chronic hay fever, who pushed Kimberly-
Clark’s top copywriter to rewrite the ads with the disposable handkerchief lead up front.
“Don’t Put a Cold In Your Pocket ,” said the ads. Instead of putting a dirty cloth tissue back in your
pocket, “It’s ‘Kleenex® Tissue Time’.”
And, it was those campaigns, along with other Problem-Solution promises like “No more sore noses
— use gentle Kleenex®!” that helped create a $1.6 billion brand.
Problem-Solution pitches have been a staple for copywriters since the early days of advertising. For instance, Kimberly-Clark’s ad
department tried a lot of different ways to sell their now-famous tissues before they settled on these Problem-Solution ads that
targeted cold and hay fever sufferers.
Of course, you don’t need much copy to sell cold tissues.
But notice, in Problem-Solution pitches that target both big and small, you’ll get your biggest impact
when you can first sum up the core worry in as instant a phrase as possible.
Think of the problem you target as the cover on a blockbuster novel or the opening shot in a movie. On
the one hand, you want your prospect to linger over it long enough to commit to your message that
follows. On the other hand, you know you’ve got to stir an emotion before the prospect’s head kicks in
and reminds him about his to-do list for the rest of the day.
So, how long do you linger on the problem in your copy, assuming you’ve identified the biggest
worry? For exactly as long as it takes to win that commitment to read on.
For simple products that solve simple worries, it might happen as early as right there in your headline.
For something more complex, you might have to hold off just a little bit longer.
Understandably, we know that’s an unsatisfactory and abstract answer. But, it should become clearer
as we look at some samples, like the ones you’ll find here:
“If This, Then That”
The classic “If-then” approach to writing a Problem-Solution Lead might be the most common you’ll
come across, both now and in the advertising archives.
Take this classic 1950s ad for Geritol …
If you’re feeling run down, then this will pick you up. The phrase “tired blood” isn’t a medical term.
Geritol’s makers — or copywriters — cooked it up to characterize how it feels to come out of a cold or
the flu.
Just reading it almost wears you down. It also makes the promise you’ll “feel stronger fast” that much
more life-changing. It’s such a direct and simple proposition, you can see some Offer Lead creeping in:
“within 7 days — or money back!”
Just to see how an ad for a similar product did it, here’s another classic Problem-Solution pitch from
around the same era. It uses nearly the same formula, only instead of “If this, then that” it’s “For Relief
from this, try that” …
The emotional pull of the problem is all in the mention of the “misery” and the image, with arrows
pointing to the blocked areas of an appropriately-miserable man. You can see that the power of the
solution is also tied up in the specific details of a “3-Layer Tablet” that “Helps Drain All 8 Sinus
Cavities.”
“Inversions”
Gene Schwartz was a big fan of what he called “Negative Promise” leads. We might call them
“Inversion” or “Solution-Problem” leads, because what they do is flip the formula around and promise a
way to get yourself out of a situation before highlighting the problem itself.
This is also something you can see in ads going way back. For instance, there’s a yellowed old
newspaper ad for Pond’s Vanishing Cream that shows a drawing of a woman bather who’s barely
showing any skin, aside a headline and lead copy that reads …
“Get all the benefits of Summer sunshine but avoid the discomforts.”
“You will find that your skin will not blister and burn half as readily if you protect it before exposing
it. Apply Pond’s Extract Vanishing Cream and … it will [also] soften dried, scorched skin and keep it
from peeling, leaving you a rich, beautiful tan … ”
It’s a foregone conclusion with claims that set out to solve a problem before you even have it. Here’s
another old-school example, from a Solution-Problem headline for a property ad:
“How to Do Wonders With a Little Land!”
It ran against a more conventional Problem-Solution Lead, under the headline “A Little Land — a Lot
of Living” and beat it by 40%. And, it beat a flat-out — if abstract — Promise Lead that ran under the
headline, “Two Acres and Security,” by a crushing 75% margin.
“Identification”
Of course, you’re not just writing to the problem, but to the person who has the problem and feels
strongly about it.
So, it’s no wonder some of the most successful Problem-Solution Leads are written to make the reader
feel identified by their troubles or even directly responsible for them.
For instance …
“Advice to Wives Whose Husbands Don’t Save Money — By a Wife”
“To People Who Want to Write — But Can’t Get Started”
“For the Woman Who is Older Than She Looks”
This last one ran against a headline that was all solution, no problem, “For the Woman Who Looks
Younger Than She Is” and outperformed it by a big margin. Why?
Most likely because the latter targets a woman who doesn’t feel like she needs a change, where the
former is all about an emotion the prospect would love to rid herself of — frustration with looking older
than she should.
“The Question”
You’ll find many successful Problem-Solution ads phrased as challenging questions.
Here are a couple of examples you might recognize …
“Are You Ever Tongue-Tied at a Party?”
“Do You Do Any of These Ten Embarrassing Things?”
And, of course this one from great Madison Avenue copywriter Maxwell Sackheim:
“Do You Make These Mistakes in English?”
Sackheim tried other ads, including a simple Promise Lead under the headline, “15 Minutes a Day
Gives You a Wonderful Command of Language, ” and a Secret Lead under the headline, “His New
Invention Finds and Corrects Your Mistakes in English.”
But, we agree with ad archivist Lawrence Bernstein of infomarketingblog.com, who points out that one
of the keys that makes this ad work is the word “these” in this headline. Plus, the fact that it targets the
deeper emotions in a way the other leads don’t: the shame and embarrassment connected to the mundane
subject of grammar.
Questions also work in Problem-Solution Leads because they jump-start the mental conversation with
your prospect. Once well-targeted customers answer “Yes” to what you’re asking, it’s that much tougher
for them to quit reading.
Asking a question about a problem with an inevitable “Yes” answer from the right prospect is a strong way to jump-start a
conversation with your customer.
“Instruction”
If you have a problem that’s a little more complex to address, another technique that can work is to
invent a name for the problem that characterizes it quickly.
We’re sure you’ve seen at least some of these famous examples:
“Have You a ‘Worry’ Stock?”
“Is Your Home Picture-Poor?”
“How Much Is ‘Worker Tension’ Costing Your Company?”
All of these headlines are also questions but with the added twist and intrigue of a term your prospect
hasn’t heard before. The key is that the term, even though it’s new, instantly makes sense of the negative
situation (a lot like the phrase “tired blood” in the earlier Geritol ad).
Of course, creating a new term means that somewhere the lead will have to explain what it means. In
this way, these kinds of ads are also usually “instructional.” They teach the customer something about the
negative situation, even as they promise to free him from it. Here’s another example but without the
invented term:
“Five Familiar Skin Troubles — Which Do You Want to Overcome?”
In 10 words, the headline promises to teach the prospect something about “five familiar skin troubles,”
nearly assumes he’ll have at least one of them — the “which” here is like the “these” in the famous
Sackheim headline we looked at earlier — and teases hope for a solution.
Could an ad that simply asked “Do You Suffer One of These Five Familiar Skin Troubles?” have
worked? It certainly seems worth testing. And in either case, the rest of the lead would have continued as
this one did — educating the prospect on the problem he was about to solve.
Here’s another Problem-Solution Lead example, though this time without depending on any invented
terms in the headline. It was also written by Max Sackheim:
Obviously, it riffs on the idea of “Seven Deadly Sins.” He’s created what feels like a definitive list of
big mistakes you really don’t want to make. Really, it’s just a way to make common advertising mistakes
feel more memorable.
Just like with David Ogilvy’s “How to Create Advertising That Sells” ad from Chapter 5, Sackheim’s
future clients feel like they would learn something, just by reading the ad alone.
Of course, deciding whether to use one of these approaches to the Problem-Solution formula hinges on
the idea that you’re writing to prospects who know what they’d like to change.
The pulling power isn’t in educating the reader about a problem. It’s more in the idea that his or her
troubles are heard and understood.
Once the reader feels that you’ve heard him, that you understand his problems, and his need for a
solution, then he’ll be ready to listen to your solutions to those problems — solutions that come through
your product.
7
The Magic of the Velvet Pouch
_______________________
“Life is 95% anticipation.”
— Gloria Swanson
_______________________
In this chapter, you will discover a technique that has recently become the dominant lead type in the
information publishing industry.
In the past five years alone, it has been responsible for more than a billion dollars worth of sales.
We know of one copywriter who used this lead type for a health package. It worked so well that he
was offered a six-figure contract as a senior copywriter.
We know another group of copywriters who used this technique last year to create more than $40
million worth of sales for their publisher and gave themselves all very substantial bonuses.
We have used this technique to our own advantage many times in recent years. In fact, it is one of the
two most powerful lead techniques working today.
It won’t take you weeks to develop this technique. You will probably pick it up fairly quickly because
it is something that you already know how to do.
Let me tell you a story about the velvet pouch.
Almost forty years ago, I got a job selling pots and pans to flight attendants in Queens, New York, near
LaGuardia Airport.
I was trained for this job by a master. His name was Harry. He had been selling products door-to-door
for thirty of his forty-five years at the time. I was working part-time, as I was in my senior year of college.
Harry didn’t think much of formal education. “Why do you want to waste your time reading a bunch of
dusty old books?” he’d ask me. “Everything you need to know about life you can learn by knocking on
doors.”
Harry was wrong about that, but he knew an awful lot about salesmanship. Many of the secrets of
marketing I’ve discovered since then were based on the fundamentals of selling that Harry taught me.
One of the most important of these fundamentals Harry called the velvet pouch.
After gaining admittance to the apartment, Harry would start his pitch about the quality of our
cookware, taking out the pots and pans individually from his case. But, they were each encased in plush,
royal blue velvet pouches. As Harry described the features and benefits of the cookware, he would gently
massage the pots, first from outside over the velvet pouches, and then by slipping his hands inside them
but still keeping them hidden from the prospect.
“Just keep your eye on the customer,” he told me. “In the beginning they’ll be looking at you. But as
you go on, you’ll notice that they will shift their focus to the pots and pans. That let’s you know they are
getting interested. Keep hitting them with the benefits while they stare at what you’re doing. And never,
ever take the pots out until you know they have the prospects’ full attention.”
It was a visual gimmick that had great power. Harry closed almost a hundred percent of the prospects
he got to look at those velvet pouches. The more he fondled them from without and from within, the more
intrigued they seemed. When he finally withdrew the gleaming pot, you could see their eyes widen.
Sometimes they literally oohed and aahed.
I didn’t fully understand what was happening at the time, but now I realize what Harry was doing. He
was creating emotional tension by talking about the benefits of the product without showing it. The
prospect’s instinctive desire to discover what was in the velvet pouch played in Harry’s favor. The
longer he could get the prospect mesmerized by the hidden product, the greater the chance he would close.
The same psychological principal is what makes the technique we will be examining in this chapter so
powerful.
It taps into a very basic human instinct that can’t be resisted. That’s why, when used properly, it has
such power.
As I said, this secret has become more commonplace in recent years. Before then, most direct
marketers relied on the other, more traditional techniques we’ve been talking about: Offers, Promises,
Problem-Solution Leads, and occasionally Story Leads.
The first time I used this technique was about ten years ago.
Working with a junior copywriter, we launched a new financial publication using it. That sales letter
was a runaway blockbuster. It generated tens of millions of dollars of sales and turned that junior
copywriter into a multimillionaire. Seeing that success, about a dozen other copywriters adapted that
same lead type for their promotions and the result was massive and undeniable. Together, they accounted
for more than a billion dollars in sales in the following four years.
Nowadays, this lead type is the preferred one for selling not just information products but natural
supplements, body building systems, marketing programs, stock market systems, and diets — just to name
a few.
It is a simple technique, but it has rules that must be followed. If you learn these rules and use them
consistently, you will see the amazing power this lead type can give your copy.
Would you like to know what this technique is?
It is the “secret” — starting your sales presentation off by teasing the prospect with a secret.
Harry created a sort of secret when he put the pots and pans in velvet pouches. The prospect, seeing
them enclosed in such nice, soft cases, couldn’t help but imagine what they looked like. The more Harry
talked about their many useful and valuable qualities, the more they wanted to see them. By withholding
the “reveal” until he had finished his pitch, he achieved the goal of all leads — he had emotionally
persuaded them that they wanted it before they even saw what it looked like.
Agora founder and legendary copywriter Bill Bonner has this to say about the power of the secret:
The Secret Lead really connects to a deep instinct in people to feel that there are secrets to things;
that the things that you know and are obvious to everybody don’t give you any edge. What
everybody knows is what everybody knows and once you know what everybody knows, you’re just
like everybody else.
If you want to get an edge, you need to know something that everybody doesn’t know and those
things tend to be secrets. You look at people who are very rich, for example, and you say, “What’s
his secret?” Or, you look at somebody who is 60-years-old with beautiful skin and perfect body and
perfect hair and you say, “Oh, what’s her secret?”
We feel there must be secrets to these things because they’re not obvious. So, part of us wants to
know. We don’t believe these things are random. We don’t believe the world works in a random
way; it’s just by accident that people get that way. We believe there must be a secret. So, if you
reveal the secret, you already have a lot of people who want to listen to you.
Let’s see how this works in the following copy.
Closed to New Investors for the Last 6 Years — Now Open Again …
The “Chaffee Royalty Program” That Turned Every $1 Into $50
Now, let me ask you: What is a Chaffee Royalty Program? Do you know?
No? Well, don’t feel bad. You aren’t supposed to know. The copywriter made it up!
He invented the phrase because he didn’t want the prospect to know exactly what he was talking about.
He wanted to get the reader excited before he told him what it was.
We used to call this process neologizing — giving some key concept a new name in order to spark
interest.
Let’s continue reading this lead a while and see how long the copy goes before the term is explained.
This is the literary equivalent of the velvet pouch.
The copywriter who wrote this was trying to get his prospect to ask, “What is this Chaffee Royalty
Program?” To find out, he must read on. “I’ll give this another minute or so,” he thinks — unconsciously.
And, that is as much time as the copywriter needs to set the hook deeper.
So, that is the first thing to notice here: this velvet-pouch trick that holds the reader’s attention. But,
that is not all the copywriter has done. The headline continues:
In 2002, the same royalty “paycheck program” that paid out $50 for every $1 invested …
decided to shut the door to new “members.”
In 2008, that door is open again … and it just got easier than ever to “make money while
you sleep” …
But the door will slam shut again right at Midnight on Wednesday, May 28, so
you’d better collect your own “Chaffee Royalties” right NOW …
Now, what’s the copywriter doing?
He is sinking the hook deeper by attaching a specific claim to it: that the Chaffee Royalty Program paid
out 50-to-1 in 2002. And then, he pushes the hook in deeper. For some reason, in 2008 (the year this
promotion was written), the same opportunity has been opened up again for a short period of time.
The reader thinks, “Hmm. This is interesting. This Chafee Royalty Program, whatever it is, produced a
huge return six years ago. And now, this advertisement is telling me, it might do the same thing again. I
should read on.”
So, he reads on.
Dear Reader,
Doing nothing while collecting royalties has to be one of the best — and easiest — ways to get rich.
“I like the idea of ‘doing nothing while collecting royalties,’” the reader thinks. He reads on.
For instance, David Sengstack does nothing and collects royalty paychecks of $2 million per year …
just because his dad was smart enough to buy the commercial rights to a song you’ve sung a hundred
times, “Happy Birthday to You.”
Michael Jackson does nothing and collects royalties every time a Beatles song plays on the radio (he
bought the rights years ago). But, Paul McCartney — now a billionaire — does nothing and collects
even more on the 3,000 song rights from other artists that he owns.
Paul Newman made plenty acting. But, licensing his name piles up even more donations for his
favorite charities — over $200 million so far — from royalties on the Newman’s Own food line.
Even boxer George Foreman does better doing nothing than he did fighting in the ring, thanks to the
$137 million royalty checks he gets for lending his name to a grill.
No wonder the world’s richest investor calls collecting royalties the best business in the world. It’s
literally one of the easiest ways to do nothing and “make money while you sleep.”
“All these rich guys are somehow involved in this Chafee Royalty Program,” the reader thinks.
“Maybe it’s legitimate.”
What might shock you is that there actually IS a way for anybody to tap into a pool of growing
royalties … wealth that piles up by itself … that, ultimately, could be worth more than the entire
Beatles catalog, all the commercial rights to “Happy Birthday,” and the total value of the top 25
most expensive works of art in the world … combined.
And, you can set it up in less than five minutes.
“Hmm. This is pretty interesting. I can get in on this in less than five minutes?”
I call it the “Chaffee Royalty Program,” after a former schoolteacher and wealthy American
millionaire, Jerome B. Chaffee. Just like people who make a living collecting royalty checks, you
don’t need to do anything once you’ve tapped into the program.
You just sit back and watch the money pile up.
The prospect has now read a page-and-a-half of copy. He is intrigued — no, more than intrigued. And
yet, he still doesn’t know what the Chaffee Royalty Program is.
He knows that some of the most famous people in the world including Paul McCartney and George
Foreman are involved in it. He knows, too, that the richest investor in the world thinks its hot stuff. The
hook is getting deeper.
So, he reads on.
8 Americans Who Just Cashed in on “Chaffee Royalties”
Even though I’m almost positive you’ve never heard of “Chaffee Royalties,” some of America’s
wealthiest families have — though by another name. In fact, it’s a secret that’s made more than a few
Americans exceedingly rich.
• Robert Friedland made millions of dollars when his “Chaffee Royalty” holdings jumped in value
from $4 to $167 in just two years.
• George Hearst borrowed the $3,000 he used to buy his way into “Chaffee Royalties” in Nevada.
Within months, his stake had grown to $91,000 — money he used to buy even more royalty rights,
which ultimately launched his empire.
• Jim Fair, a former Illinois farmer, got so rich with his “Chaffee Royalties,” he was able to hand his
daughter a $1 million check as a wedding present.
• William O’Brien earned enough from his “Chaffee Royalties” to make him one of the 100 richest
Americans of all time.
• Former California carpenter John Mackay scraped together $500 to buy his first share in a “Chaffee
Royalty Program.” He made enough to build a mansion surrounded by 70 acres of land and formal
gardens for his son.
• E.J. “Lucky” Baldwin parked his last $800 in “Chaffee Royalties” while living in Virginia City,
Nev. By the time he was through, he’d piled up royalty wealth worth over $5 million.
• James Flood, who came to the U.S. with next to nothing, got so rich on “Chaffee Royalties” he was
able to build a beautiful sandstone home on top of San Francisco’s famous Nob Hill. It’s still there
today.
• Then there’s Stanley Dempsey. A lawyer who quit law and put his money into “Chaffee Royalty”
contracts now makes his living collecting on 23 different streams of royalty income. Forbes even
featured Dempsey and called his fortune “virtual gold,” since he barely has to do or run anything to
keep the money rolling in.
Now, the hook is deeply buried in his gut. “All these regular folks are taking advantage of it,” he
thinks. “Why can’t I?”
And, the copywriter has an answer for him:
But, there’s no reason you can’t collect anytime you like.
In fact, now that these “Chaffee Royalty Programs” trade directly on the stock exchange, you can get
in anytime you like. And with the right timing, you can get in at a very good price. And then, start
seeing gains from “Chaffee Royalties” immediately.
This is the situation we’re in right now.
Which is why I’m writing you today. See in 2002, one of the most impressive Chafee Royalty
opportunities of all time closed its doors to new funds, just after delivering a 50-to-1 payoff for its
earliest members.
And for reasons I’ll share, the timing now is better than ever.
What’s more, today, there’s more than one way to lock into “Chaffee Royalties.” And one of those
options, according to research that took me nine months to pull together, could pay out even better
than what was once the most profitable “Chaffee Royalty” opportunity of all time.
We’ll get to those details.
But first, let’s start at the beginning …
The reader’s interest is peaking now because he is being told that the opportunity won’t last very long.
He has to take action soon.
Finally, he gets his answer. Or, begins to get it …
The “Chaffee Royalty Program” That Changed America
Jerome B. Chaffee didn’t make enough as a schoolteacher. So, he took a job as a sales clerk in a dry
goods store. Then he took that money and started a dry goods store of his own.
When that wasn’t enough, he packed his bags and went to Colorado in 1860.
See, Colorado then — as right now — was mineral rich. And, even though Chaffee knew next to
nothing about mining, he saw the possibilities. And, started snapping up the “royalty rights” on as
many gold and silver claims as he could afford.
I won’t take you through the rest of the letter. I will tell you it was very, very successful. It generated
thousands of subscriptions and millions of dollars. And, the reason it was successful is the subject of this
chapter.
Introducing the Secret Lead
Next to the Story Lead, the Secret Lead is the most universal and useful. It can be used to sell just
about any sort of proprietary product or service.
We have used and seen the Secret Lead used to sell everything — from investment newsletters to
kitchen knives.
The purpose of a Secret Lead is the same as any lead: to get the reader to keep reading until the prime
benefits and Unique Selling Proposition of the product are fully presented.
The mechanism is the secret. It is presented in the headline and not revealed until after the prospect
has read everything the copywriter wants him to read.
To understand how powerful this is, let’s look at the Secret headline again:
Closed to New Investors for the Last 6 Years — Now Open Again …
The “Chaffee Royalty Program” That Turned Every $1 Into $50
Now, compare that to the following:
Closed to New Investors for the Last 6 Years — Now Open Again …
A Dividend Strategy That Turned Every $1 Into $50
This, as you can see, is considerably less intriguing.
The prospect for this promotion, an avid investment newsletter reader, has seen hundreds of stock
schemes in his time. He is skeptical of them. Yet, he is still looking.
The copywriter who wrote the “Chaffee Royalty Program” letter knew that. So, he wanted to do
something that would hold his reader’s attention for a few minutes. If he could only keep him reading long
enough to explain the product’s Unique Selling Proposition, he would have a chance to make the sale. So,
he created a hook: an intriguing name for an investment service that specializes in natural resources
stocks.
A good Secret Lead, in the hands of a clever copywriter, can compel the casual reader to read a dozen
or more pages of copy before the secret is revealed. In this case, the second version of the same headline
might have stopped the reader cold.
Now, let’s get back to the copy we have just read. We’ve shown you the technique of the velvet pouch
and how the copywriter used it while he was making three promises:
1T.h at this secret has the power to turn a single dollar into fifty
2T.h at the prospect can learn the secret in five minutes
3T.h at he can sit back and benefit from it like rich people who collect royalty checks without doing
anything
All three promises are strong. The first one promises significant profits — the kind of profits that can
make a person wealthy. The second one promises ease of understanding and implementation. Making a
solution easy is always a very good thing to do. The third promise appeals to everyone who has ever
dreamed of owning a money tree — which is just about any person who is likely to read this promotion.
In fact, most of the 300 to 400 words that comprise this lead are devoted to illustrating this promise.
Beginning with a man who collects $2 million a year from royalties on Happy Birthday to celebrity
check-cashers like Michael Jackson, Paul Newman, and George Foreman. And then, moving to eight
bulleted examples of others who got rich or are getting rich cashing in royalty checks.
Royalty checks? Well, not exactly. These aren’t royalties in the way that Michael Jackson’s estate
collects royalties when Beatles records are bought or played. They are stock returns and dividends — an
altogether different thing.
Dividend stocks are rather ordinary in the investment world. They definitely don’t have the sex appeal
that something called The Chaffee Royalty Program would.
And that is why the copywriter began with Newman and Foreman and Jackson and then switched to the
others. He wanted to take full advantage of the emotional impact of royalty checks. It’s a bit of a
conceptual bait and switch — letting attributes of one thing carry over into another.
At both Agora and AWAI, we call this type of secret transubstantiation. This means we turn
something ordinary (like water or mining stock returns) into something special (like wine or advertising
royalty checks). It’s another useful technique that is often used by Master Copywriters when crafting
Secret Leads.
Read the lead again. See how the copywriter engages the prospect by providing teasing details that
seem like they are revealing the secret, but never quite do. The prospect’s initial interest is merely to find
out what the Chaffee Royalty Program is. But sentence by sentence, the copywriter makes the secret more
appealing. Before the copywriter reveals that the program is a dividend investment strategy, the prospect
has decided he wants to get in on this investing opportunity. By now, he is willing to read the entire sales
letter to find out more.
In this case, the reader discovers the full secret before he buys the product. But, in many promotional
packages that use the Secret Lead, the nature of the secret is never revealed. To find out, the prospect must
buy the product.
Let’s take a look at another Secret Lead. This, too, is for an investment newsletter promotion.
Texas Company Tapping $2.8 Trillion Oil Reserve… Under the Eiffel Tower
Some company in Texas has struck oil. In Paris! And under the Eiffel Tower!
“That’s pretty amazing,” the reader thinks. “I didn’t know there was any oil beneath the Eiffel Tower!”
So, he reads on:
Tiny company from Dallas preparing to extract 40 billion barrels of crude oil from
beneath Paris, France …
Discovery big enough to fuel U.S. demand for 5.2 years, according to Energy Information
Administration …
Estimates show 4,620% gains for investors who get in now … before this oil comes to
market …
The first word he reads, “tiny,” helps him understand why hasn’t heard about this before. It is a tiny
company. But, it’s from Dallas. “This can’t be a hoax,” he thinks. “The writer is telling me that the
company is located in Dallas. It must be real.”
Most investors these days are skeptical. And, the best prospects are the most skeptical because they
have read and responded to more offers than most. They are aware, if only unconsciously, that they are
reading an advertisement. They are looking for clues that this particular advertisement is factually based.
The copywriter knows that, so he is handing out teasing little details as the lead progresses.
The prospect reads on to discover more specifics:
The size of the oil find is 40 billion barrels.
That is big enough to supply America’s fuel needs for more than five years.
Someone has estimated that this discovery could produce investment returns of more than 4,000%.
Once again, the copywriter is sinking in the hook by providing teasing details that reveal more
information about the secret without giving it away. And, some of those details are indirect promises.
(That he can possibly make 4,000% on his money once he finds out what this stock is.)
The reader continues:
Dear Reader,
It could be the richest oil deposit in Western Europe.
But, very few even know of its existence … yet.
Even leading oilmen in the U.S. have no idea.
Because … well … who ever thought of looking for oil beneath the Eiffel Tower?
In just four simple sentences, the copywriter has explained away an objection that must surely come
into the reader’s mind. If this discovery is so big, why haven’t I read about it?
He reads on:
Indeed, while Parisians sip coffee and nibble croissants in Montmarte … as tourists stroll through the
Louvre, and walk along the Left Bank … there’s an ocean of sweet crude oil bubbling directly
beneath their feet.
The copywriter creates a picture of the promise. This is effective because it excites the reader’s
imagination and reduces his skepticism at the same time.
He can practically see all those billions of barrels of oil floating in an underground sea beneath Paris.
He reads on:
The French Oil Ministry has confirmed more than 40 billion barrels.
It’s enough to fuel total U.S. oil demand for 5.2 years, according to the Energy Information
Administration.
Enough to fill more than 2.54 million Olympic-sized swimming pools …
And 27 times more oil than ExxonMobil produces annually …
The reader discovers that the French Oil Ministry has confirmed the finding. This is sounding more
credible. The reader’s skepticism is further diminished.
He continues:
Perhaps most amazingly, the rights to every drop of this oil now belong to one little company from
Dallas, Texas!
When it brings this mother lode to market later this year, the company will multiply its oil inventory
5,632-fold.
No wonder Goldman Sachs and Barclays are quietly building positions in the stock before the big
event.
“Goldman Sachs and Barclays?” the reader thinks. “Those are well-known names. If they are investing
in it, it must be the real thing!”
He keeps reading:
And, no wonder they’re keeping this news to themselves — not telling a single one of their retail
clients.
“Gee,” the reader thinks. “I’m glad I’m reading this. I’m going to find out what Goldman Sachs’ retail
clients don’t even know!”
Over the next few minutes, you’ll discover all the details of this opportunity.
And, you’ll learn how you could turn a small speculation of $5,000 into $231,000 starting just a few
weeks from today.
But, you must act right now.
Let’s get right to the details …
The copywriter knows that the hook is in deep. So, he makes a promise now, that he will reveal “the
details” of this opportunity in just a few minutes. He also promises to tell them how they can profit from
the information. And, he asks them to keep reading to find out more details. And, they will.
Let’s look at one more investment newsletter lead, this one from Stansberry & Associates:
The Only Investment Legally Obligated to Pay You 181% Gains By June 15, 2009
It’s not a stock, option, or gov’t bond … But this unusual investment has crushed the S&P 500 by
543% since 2001, according to a recent Dow Jones report.
By now, you’re beginning to see how this is working. The copywriter has created a Unique Selling
Proposition with the phrase “only investment legally obligated to pay you 181% gains by June 15, 2009.”
The investment isn’t named. So, the prospect reads on to find out what it is.
Dear S&A Subscriber,
What if I told you there’s an investment that could pay you 181% gains over the next 12 months …
And that this money is SECURED by a legal contract …
Would you be interested?
Well, how about if I told that your 181% gain is required BY LAW to be delivered on this EXACT
date: June 15, 2009.
The copywriter has done nothing but repeat the claims made in the headline, a very common and
successful pattern with Secret Leads. Restate what is said in the headline and you make it seem more
credible.
And, that in addition to a 181% gain, you’d also be legally entitled to collect 3 interest payments
over that same period, bringing your total return to 227% …
… Turning every $10,000 invested into $32,700, with almost 100% certainty.
Still interested?
Well, before I go any further, I should warn you: After reading this, you may never want to buy
stocks, EVER again.
That’s because this unique opportunity has nothing to do with the stock market … government bonds
… mutual funds … or options.
Instead, it’s something we call a “Secured Investment Contract.”
So, you see what is happening here: The copywriter neologizes. He’s come up with a clever phrase to
introduce the Unique Selling Proposition. If he gave it its conventional name, it would seem mundane.
What are “Secured Investment Contracts” exactly?
In short, these Contracts offer you a way to collect gains that are potentially as big as the fastest
moving stocks. The big difference is, your gains are secured by a legal agreement.
Even better … you’ll know, months ahead of time, exactly when and how much you should be paid.
Let me show you how it works …
It seems like the copywriter has just explained the term, but in fact he’s revealed nothing more than he
had already. Yet, because the copywriter posed the question the reader has been asking (What is a
Secured Investment Contract?) and provides a summary in different words, the reader feels that progress
is being made.
So, the prospect continues reading. In doing so, he gets his curiosity further aroused by techniques
you’ve already seen.
The copywriter strengthens his case by providing teasing details. He tells the reader that Secured
Investment Contracts are offered by U.S. corporations. And, they are somehow more “secure” than shares
of stock.
He then gives an “example” of a specific trade that adds no new clue to solve the puzzle. But, it is
more information.
The copywriter wants there to be no question of how valuable the secret is, so he does the math for the
reader — a $10,000 investment returning 227% would be worth $32,700.
And, he continues adding specific evidence to the copy including a list of dates secured payments
were made.
Here is a core secret about writing Secret Leads: Specificity is absolutely required to overcome the
skepticism that secrets automatically evoke.
Not Just for Financial Promotions
As Bill Bonner said, “The Secret Lead really connects to a deep instinct in people to feel that there are
secrets to things.”
Since secrets instinctually inhabit all aspects of our lives, Secret Leads have been used successfully in
different direct marketing niches, not just financial.
So, let’s take a look at how Secret Leads can work in two other examples, the first from the selfimprovement/
self-actualization niche in the following promotion from Learning Strategies Corporation.
In this promo, the prospect is probably familiar with the word “dowsing” — the practice of searching
for water or valuable minerals using a dowsing rod. But here, it’s used in a much different context, raising
the question “What’s that?”
What exactly is “Diamond Dowsing”? The envelope hints at it being a way to discover ancient secrets
and modern solutions. But, no more information than that is available. The fact that it’s tied up with
someone named Marie Diamond doesn’t diminish the intrigue. Is it dowsing for diamonds? Is it dowsing
with diamonds? What exactly is it?
Without using the word “secret,” this phrase (a neologism like we’ve seen before) is exactly that: A
secret that might deeply affect the prospect’s life. The secret aspect of the promo is reinforced as soon as
the prospect begins reading the letter:
How you can use “dowsing” to take anything you’re doing to radically higher levels
… making money, exercising, playing, working, sleeping, meditating, even
PhotoReading … you name it!
Dear Friend,
I used to think dowsing was just for finding water, until our Feng Shui Master Marie Diamond gave
me a spectacular demonstration that changed my mind.
You see, many people assume that the problems they have in their lives are caused by something
they’re doing. Marie showed me this might not be the case at all.
If you have issues or struggles that just won’t go away, it might not be your fault but
actually your home or office that is attracting them.
These issues could be the result of “geopathic stress,” “interference lines,” or “negative energy
vortexes.” I’ll talk about these later — right now you merely need to know that you can easily learn
how to use dowsing to find and resolve these problem areas.
Marie showed us jaw-dropping demonstrations
In the summer of 2005, Marie Diamond, Paul Scheele, and I met up for a week in Aspen, Colorado.
Marie brought brass L-shaped dowsing rods and began demonstrating how to use them within
seconds of meeting up with her.
First, she used the dowsing rods (divining rods) to show us energy lines that thread the Earth and in
one way or another affect all living things. I was surprised at how the dowsing rods opened when
Marie approached these stress lines.
Sleeping on these energy lines can create nightmares, sleeplessness, and even illness.
In this first page of an 8-page letter, the reader is given a lot of “facts” — ideas like geopathic stress,
interference lines, and the like. The copywriter has also started talking very specifically about proof —
“jaw-dropping demonstrations” — that dowsing can solve problems.
The copy continues like this throughout the next 7 pages. But, the real secret of “dowsing” is never
revealed. It’s teased and danced around in a way that the reader feels she’s getting some real, substantial
information.
But, the secret is kept cleverly hidden in the words and phrases.
If an energy line goes through your garden, it can even retard the growth of plants or make them
susceptible to disease and drought.
Remember, Marie Diamond knows how energy works not only because she is a Feng Shui
Master and has worked with Dowsing Masters the world over for years but because she
sees energy.
You see, she has a rare gift: She can actually see energy flow, much like how you and I can see water
flow in a river. This ability makes what she says infinitely credible and valuable.
You cannot expect the prospect to believe everything you say — especially about a secret as mystical
as this one — simply because you say it. So, the copywriter provides “proof.”
Marie then showed us positive and negative energy vortexes. She told the story of one of her clients
who owned a failing retail store. Marie used the dowsing rods to uncover a negative vortex right on
the cash register. Marie neutralized it, and immediately the business began to thrive. She said, “It was
as if the vortex repelled customers.”
Diamond Dowsing and The Secret
We were in Aspen that summer for a meeting of the Transformational Leadership Council. Another
phenomenon was born there, too. Rhonda Byrne showed up with a film crew and a wild idea about a
movie called The Secret. As a matter of fact, much of The Secret was filmed right there during the
meeting. That’s how Marie Diamond got into the film herself.
The readers of this promotion have at least heard about the movie The Secret. In all likelihood,
they’ve seen it more than once. So, the copywriter ties that movie’s credibility back to Marie Diamond
and her secret.
Much of our Transformational Leadership Council meetings involve members presenting miniworkshops
so we can learn each other’s specialties. The first day’s events in Aspen were awkward
and uncharacteristically boring.
That evening, Marie whipped out her dowsing rods and walked over the exact spot where the
presenters had stood — and the rods began spinning wildly in a counterclockwise direction. This
indicated a negative energy vortex.
When Marie neutralized the energy, the rods quit spinning. For the remaining few days, the
presentations were more engaging than ever! (I wonder how much of the great energy in The Secret
came from Marie’s dowsing.)
I found an “Energy Vortex” in my own home!
So, the actual secret isn’t really about Diamond Dowsing. It’s about how to neutralize negative energy.
But, that subtle shift came about unnoticed. The reader doesn’t care at this point. She just wants to know
how to use Marie Diamond’s gifts to improve her life.
And, we don’t learn until much later that the way to do it is by learning from Marie directly — in a
special DVD course.
We see this same formula followed in the following promotion from Rodale Press for a book about
“Square Foot Gardening.” Notice how this lead actually combines two different lead types very
successfully: a Secret Lead and a Promise Lead.
The promise here is direct and clearly stated: you will have “Your Most Bountiful Garden … Ever!”
But, this bounty is going to come from just a few square feet. And, that’s where the secret comes in. The
fascination with how that will happen is what really brings the prospect into the letter.
On this envelope, there is nothing to give a hint at what this technique is except that “You’ll love the
ease and results of this proven gardening technique.” As you begin reading the body copy, the promise
remains strong and the secret remains hidden. But, as with the previous examples, the copywriter feigns
revealing the secret.
Dear Fellow Gardener,
Grow the same bounty of tomatoes, peppers, and beans in one tiny 4 x 4 foot space as you’d get in a
20-foot row? Yes!
Make one packet of lettuce seeds last 5 to 6 years instead of planting all 1,950 of them in one season?
Yes!
Grow bigger, longer-lasting tomatoes and lettuce in winter? Yes!
Garden with less work, less weeding. Less watering? Yes!
What’s the secret?
It’s a technique called “Square Foot Gardening,” I couldn’t wait to try it — and now I can’t wait to
share it with you! Put down the hoe. Hang up your hose! Join hundreds of gardeners who’ve learned
the secrets of SQUARE FOOT GARDENING . . . yours FREE for 21 days.
The copywriter hasn’t revealed anything substantial about the secret is except that it is a secret and that
the reader can learn about it for free. (The 21-days barely comes into the reader’s consciousness at this
point).
The copywriter answers the question in the first subhead “What’s the secret?” with his next subhead.
Only he doesn’t really answer it at all.
An easier, more foolproof way to garden — anywhere
The revealed secret — an easier, more foolproof way — is a dodge, a way of presenting the big
promise clothed as the “secret.”
The copywriter then gives a bit more to further sharpen the prospect’s interest.
Traditional methods like rows, tilling, and irrigation were all designed for farmers … and tractors.
But now, with SQUARE FOOT GARDENING, you can grow all your favorites in your garden with
a lot less work.
The copywriter seems closer to revealing the secret by telling what it isn’t . You’ve seen this
previously in the “Secured Investment Contract” promo: “That’s because this unique opportunity has
nothing to do with the stock market … government bonds … mutual funds … or options.”
By telling the prospect what the secret is not, you have him feeling he is closer to finding out what it is.
The Square Foot Garden promotion goes on to follow a similar structure to the others we’ve
examined. And, what is that hidden, “secret” structure?
What Patterns Can You Observe in Secrets Lead?
Since we first began to think about leads in this way, we have created and/or edited thousands of them.
What we have found is that the most successful have certain commonalities:
1. The secret is intriguing and beneficial
2. It is introduced in the headline
3. It is not disclosed during the lead
4. As the letter progresses, more clues are given
Not every successful Secret Lead has this precise pattern, but we have found that most successful ones
do.
It’s because this pattern is so common that we recommend the following “rules” for writing Secret
Leads.
1. The Secret is Intriguing and Beneficial.
Let’s take a look at the first example headline again.
Closed to New Investors for the Last 6 Years — Now Open Again …
The “Chaffee Royalty Program” That Turned Every $1 Into $50
We have already discussed in some detail how the copywriter used neologism to create intrigue. But
notice, too, the super-head: Closed to New Investors for the Last 6 Years — Now Open Again. That
certainly adds to the intrigue. It also, by the way, creates a sense of urgency. So, it is intriguing.
Is it beneficial? Indeed. It is a program that “turned every dollar into fifty.” For an investor, that’s
about as relevant as can be.
Any good secret will attract the reader’s attention and distract him from the fact that he is reading an
ad. But, if you don’t connect the secret to a major benefit of the product right away, then you will make it
that much harder to complete in the second part of the package (after the lead).
When you tie the benefit to the secret, you tip your copywriting hand, so to speak. You indicate to the
reader that you are selling him. It is not overt but it is certainly more direct than the Story Lead.
But, even though the prospect knows that he is being sold, he can’t keep his conscious mind on that
because is he so intrigued by the secret.
Now, let’s look at the third headline we studied:
The Only Investment Legally Obligated to Pay You 181% Gains By June 15, 2009
It’s not a stock, option, or gov’t bond … But this unusual investment has crushed
the S&P 500 by 543% since 2001, according to a recent Dow Jones report.
Again, you can see that it is both intriguing and beneficial.
The intrigue is achieved by two things: the “legally obligated” concept and the fact that it’s not a stock,
option, or government bond …
The benefit is provided in the promise of 181% and the fact that it “crushed the S&P 500 by 543%
since 2001.”
In the Diamond Dowsing example, the intrigue comes from using the word “dowsing” in a way the
prospect hasn’t seen before. And the benefit? Taking virtually everything in your life to “radically higher
levels.”
And finally, the Square Foot Garden copy … The big promise, splashed across the envelope is a
grabber for any serious (and not-so-serious) gardener:
Your Most Bountiful Garden … Ever
That’s the benefit, and the intrigue comes from being able to do it in “a few square feet of any soil … ”
2. It is Introduced in the Headline.
With virtually all of the Secret Leads we have studied, the secrets were introduced immediately, in the
headlines.
There is a very good reason for that. Of all the lead types, none is as instantly engaging as the Secret
Lead.
Who can resist the temptation to see what is under the velvet pouch? The impulse to discover “the
secret” is buried deep in the human brain.
Like stories, secrets are universal. They exist and play a role in just about every aspect of culture,
from sports to cooking to espionage — even to copywriting!
We are all prone to believe that those who excel at certain things have secrets that make them better.
We want to discover those secrets so we can enjoy their success.
In fact, good copywriters use the power of the velvet pouch in all sorts of ways and in every possible
place in their advertisements. They are used to introduce products, to explain systems and track records,
to introduce premiums, and so on.
And, as you have already seen, they can also be used in conjunction with other types of leads to keep
the reader engaged.
If you take a look at almost any Story Lead, for example, you will see that a secret is usually
introduced either within the lead or just afterwards. By introducing the secret in the story, the copywriter
is able to hold the reader’s interest.
3. The Secret is Not Disclosed in the Lead.
Without a doubt, the most common mistake beginners make when constructing Secret Leads is to
disclose the secret too soon.
Consider the effect on the reader if the copywriter had followed the Chafee Royalty Program headline
with this:
Dear Reader,
The Chaffee Royalty Program describes a system for investing in dividend stocks that we
believe is amazing, etc.
The reader’s curiosity is satisfied in the first sentence. If the reader believes dividend stocks are
boring (as many investment readers do), he will read no further. The power of the secret created by
neologizing dividend stocks into royalty programs is gone. The number of readers who continue to read
drops dramatically … as does the response rate (and the copywriter’s reputation).
If this mistake weren’t so common, we wouldn’t even mention it here. But, for whatever reason, many
copywriters feel compelled to reveal their secrets. Perhaps they feel it is too cruel to tease the reader for
very long. Perhaps they are looking for the pleasure one gets from disclosing secrets.
Whatever the reason, it is a mistake to reveal it during the lead. Remember, the purpose of the lead is
to persuade the reader emotionally. To do that, you have to maintain the reader’s full attention until you
have shown him all the benefits. That takes some number of words — 100 to 600 depending on the
product. Those 100 to 600 words constitute the lead. Thus, the rule: Don’t disclose the secret in the lead.
In fact, many Secret Lead advertisements never reveal the secret at all. Instead, they promise the
revelation in a premium. As the copy progresses, the secret becomes more intriguing. The prospect reads
on only to discover that he must buy the product to learn the secret and that the revelation will come
alongside the product.
4. As the Letter Progresses, More Clues Are Given.
We have spent some time in reviewing these examples to see how the copywriter maintains his
reader’s interest by providing clues to the secret as the copy goes on.
In the Chaffee Royalty Program, for example, the prospect knows from the headline that this is an
opportunity to make fifty times his money and that this opportunity, closed for the past six years, has just
been opened up again.
Even in the subhead, it appears that the reader is given more clues. He finds out, for example that:
In 2002, the same royalty “paycheck program” that paid out $50 for every $1 invested was closed new
“members.”
In 2008, that door is open again … and it just got easier than ever to “make money while you sleep” …
The door will slam shut again right at Midnight on Wednesday, May 28.
In fact, the prospect has already been told this in substance in the headline. The extra details (the more
precise dating) give the reader the feeling that he is learning more, but he is not.
As the copy continues, he is given the names of some celebrities who have “used” the program.
Michael Jackson and Paul Newman come into play. This again gives the reader the feeling that he is being
given more clues, but in fact, he is no closer to guessing the secret then he was after reading the headline.
Later he is given some relevant details. He learns, for example, that “Chaffee Royalty Programs” trade
directly on the stock exchange and that he can get in anytime he likes.
You can see this use of “clues” in all the copy we’ve reviewed. These sorts of clues give the prospect
the feeling that he is getting closer to discovering the secret. The copywriter knows he won’t, but he
continues to put down these clues like bread crumbs leading him forward through the sales copy.
How Do You Create the Secret?
There are two ways to create a secret headline. The first is to find a secret already in the product. The
second way is to take one of its benefits and neologize or transubstantiate it into a secret — that is, to take
something familiar and rename it and reposition it so it seems new and secret.
Let’s say you were asked to write copy about a natural supplement with eight ingredients. You might
decide to lead with the one that was relatively unknown. By focusing the copy on that unusual ingredient
the prospect hasn’t heard of before, you intrigue him. And at the same time, you solve the problem of his
thinking, “Oh, I’ve tried that before. It doesn’t work for me.”
In taking this first approach, make a list of all the qualities, characteristics, and components of the
product and ask yourself which, if any of these, is not well-known. Then, decide if the benefit provided by
an unusual or unfamiliar quality, characteristic, or component is enough to drive the lead. If it is, you have
a good secret to start your promotion with.
When the qualities and characteristics of the product are all well-known, then you can “reinvent” the
product by giving it a new name (neologizing or transubstantiating). You have seen five examples of how
that is done in this chapter.
These are the basic rules for writing strong Secret Leads. Find something about the product that your
customer doesn’t know (or describe something he does know in a new way). Then, tease the prospect
with that unusual aspect starting from the headline. Continue to provide teasing “clues” along the way, but
be sure that you do not disclose the secret until the prospect is emotionally ready to buy the product.
The Secret Lead is relatively easy to master. It is a simple tool … but a powerful one. Adding it to
your repertoire will greatly increase your power as a copywriter. If you follow the rules!
8
You Won’t Read This Anywhere Else But Here: The Proclamation
Lead
________________________
“Boldness be my friend.”
— William Shakespeare
________________________
As far as we know, no one else has ever categorized this kind of lead.
And yet, not only could you find it extremely powerful in the right instance, but there are many
examples of the Proclamation Lead both in advertising and in persuasive editorial literature. In fact, they
are a very common way to begin a rhetorical speech.
When we first discussed the idea of making Proclamation Leads their own special category, we had
different ideas about what to call them. “Emotionally-compelling sentences” was the term we originally
discussed. But, then we debated whether all leads are emotionally compelling and whether that might
confuse readers.
We also tossed around the terms “declarations” and “pronouncements.” We finally settled on
“proclamations” because we felt the word connoted the energy inherent in these emotionally-compelling
statements.
Whatever you call them, they are a type of lead distinct from the other five covered in this book. They
are first and foremost assertions — sometimes they are statements of fact, other times they are statements
of opinion, and still other times they are statements about what might be true now or in the future.
But in all cases, they startle, intrigue, and tempt. This is where they get their great power.
So, if you are looking for a definition for a Proclamation Lead, here is one that will do:
A well-constructed Proclamation Lead begins with an emotionally-compelling statement,
usually in the form of the headline. And then, in the copy that follows, the reader is given
information that demonstrates the validity of the implicit promise made.
One of the things we’ve been talking about in this book is the concept of directness and indirectness.
We have made the point that some lead types — Offer Leads, Promise Leads, and Invitation-type — are
direct in the sense that the reader is very much aware he is reading sales copy. Indirect leads — stories
and secrets — distract the reader from that recognition. Done well, the reader temporarily forgets he is
reading an advertisement and gives the same attention and suspension of disbelief that he would give to a
novel or movie.
The Proclamation Lead, though very simple, is primarily indirect. It is indirect because it distracts the
reader from the sale by forcing him to pay attention to the point suggested by the proclamation, without
revealing exactly how it will lead to the essential claims of the actual sale.
Good Proclamation Leads read like newspaper stories — tabloid newspapers sometimes, but
newspaper stories nonetheless. The target reader’s rational brain might realize he is reading a sales pitch,
but his emotional brain is so taken by the secret and the story that he suspends disbelief and reads on with
eager anticipation.
And that, as you already know, is the secret of effective indirect leads. They “borrow” the emotional
framework of other communication forms — stories and secrets to name two — and use that to “sell” the
reader emotionally before the sales pitch becomes obvious and direct.
Because Proclamation Leads are primarily indirect, you’ll find they share a lot of similarities with
good secret-driven, story, and other indirect leads. Here are some ways in which they’re similar:
Because it’s more indirect, the Proclamation Lead gets a lot of its strength from taking the reader by
complete surprise. It must be relevant, but it has to be something almost pushing the envelope of the
incredible. The reason for this is that ordinary statements are too easy to pass over. To get the
reader to pay attention to your Proclamation Lead, you must hook him with the remarkable.
Like the Secret Lead, the skillful copywriter will not reveal the product’s USP until he has finished
proving the proclamation. The proclamation itself is very strong and irresistible. The goal is raising
curiosity in an intense and relevant way. What he wants first is proof that justifies his curiosity, and
only then will he search for a link to the promises also made or implied in the lead.
Like the Story Lead, the Proclamation Lead must be concise and engaging. This is why you’ll often
find Proclamation Leads “proven” using anecdotes or detailed stories — because these can help
you vividly show the proclamation describes something real in just a few words.
Like all good leads, the more specific you can be with your proclamation usually the better. There’s no
better shortcut to real credibility than specific detail. And likewise, as with all the leads in this
book, the Proclamation Lead must lead ultimately to some kind of big claim or promise that’s
relevant to the reader.
Let’s take a look at the lead in one of the most successful sales letters ever written so you can see how
these rules apply. The following example is “report-a-log” promotion that sold a health product …
Useful, arresting, and on-point: What you see is the cover to a “report-a-log,” a sales piece in the
form of a paperback book. The first phrase — Read This Or Die — is obviously a title. But, it is not like
many titles the reader might have read before. We can think of only one: Abbie Hoffman’s 1970
bestselling counter-culture manifesto, Steal This Book.
This statement is meant to arrest the reader’s attention. It certainly does that. Imagine seeing it on a
bookstand. Then, imagine reading the subhead and learning that you have a 95% chance of dying from a
curable disease.
Do you think you would be startled? Do you think you would be incredulous? Of course you would.
And, the copywriter who wrote this headline was very much aware of that.
But, the job of a good Proclamation Lead is not just to startle, but also to excite and to tempt. And this
headline accomplishes both those important goals by a few simple words: “for which there is already a
known cure somewhere on the planet.” This gets the reader thinking, “Gee, if this statement (about having
a 95% chance of dying from a curable disease) is really true, I better find out more about this.”
The target reader (someone who buys information about health) is compelled to read on. He is reading
for a specific purpose — to find out if the claims made on the cover are valid. And, if they are, to
discover something about the “known cures.”
Here is the next page of copy:
An Announcement from Mountain Home Publishing, Publisher of Alternatives
After 6,000 years of recorded human history, we are finally able to issue this statement:
The worldwide medical community has found solutions for all of the primary diseases and
disorders of our time.
Until now, the healing arts have always lagged behind the onslaught of plagues and chronic illness.
But as of today, at the start of the 7th millennium, we at last have remedies, successful treatments, or
outright cures for every one of the leading maladies of our modern world.
What’s interesting here is that the copy continues with another proclamation: That after 6,000 years,
the medical community has remedies for every known disease. This is effective because it repeats the
emotional work that was done on the cover. The text, the reader realizes, is not backing away from the
claim made on the cover. If anything, they are repeating it more strongly.
Let’s read on:
This does not mean, of course, that every known disease will quickly vanish from the face of the
earth. But, it does mean that some segment of the medical community in some nation now has an
answer — or the answer — to virtually every common health problem.
Actually, this claim could have been made 15 years ago. But, it would have required stretching the
definition of “the medical community” to include a lot of practitioners of traditional folk medicine.
Today, however, research laboratories have put many thousands of folk remedies under their
microscopes, and hundreds of long-treasured ethnic remedies have been refined, polished up, and
upgraded from “ancient lore” to “scientific fact.”
Do you see what the copywriter is doing here? He’s dealing with possible objections the target reader
might have (“Is this based on science?”) while sticking strongly to the startling claim made on the front
page. He knows that the success of this lead will depend on the reader feeling like he is learning
something useful and new to him. It gets him excited. He wants it to be true!
Let’s read on:
The Journal of Alternatives exists to bring together all these newly-discovered treatment
modalities and deliver them to you — in formats that enable you (or your patients) to use
them very easily.
We are a network of 150,000 rugged individualists, a highly educated and sophisticated society of
health experts and perpetual students. About one-fourth of us are doctors and other health
professionals.
Now the reader is introduced to the product — the Journal of Alternatives, which he finds has
150,000 members. This extra bit of detail makes him feel more comfortable.
Let’s continue reading.
The purpose of this bulletin is to cordially invite you to become one of us. Please see our invitation
on the last page.
Now, this is interesting. The copywriter is extending an invitation to the reader. The invitation is a
direct technique. The reader knows now that he is being sold something, but the invitation format makes it
feel personal and exclusive.
This is, as you have already learned, a very common practice in writing leads. You might begin
strongly with one type of lead (in this case, a proclamation) but once the emotional hook is set in, you can
use more direct leads to move your reader along.
Increasing detail: Jim Rutz, the copywriter who wrote this masterpiece, hints that the reader will
learn more about saving himself from dying right from the beginning. But, as he continues through the
copy, he provides increasing details about the nature of the remarkable, scientifically-proven cures.
As we’ve said, Proclamation Leads typically have an implicit promise. “Read This Or Die!” — an
imperative — implies that the reader will be able to avoid some terrible, life-threatening calamity if he
reads on.
Proclamation Leads are used most often for selling consumer-based products, usually to prospects that
aren’t aware of the product. But, that’s not always the case.
Let’s take a look at another very successful Proclamation Lead taken from the Business-to-Business
niche where the prospects — doctors in this case — are very aware of the product:
The copy that jumps out at you — “Warning: Your 1995 PDR is Obsolete” — is a declarative
statement.
You may not know what a PDR is, but the prospects who received this promotion did. The PDR is the
Physicians’ Desk Reference. It is one of the first books interns buy and is a consistent part of all
physicians’ libraries.
If you were a health professional, you would be very concerned to hear the book you’ve been using to
make diagnoses is obsolete. It would arrest your attention. It would cause you to worry. And, it would
cause you to think that maybe you should replace the one you have with the newer version. The newer,
updated PDR is the promise.
Can you see how much work has been done so far? In about 50 words of envelope copy, Master
Copywriter Bob Bly grabbed attention, scared the prospect, and then gave him a solution for the problem
he may not have known he had!
That’s the efficiency of a Proclamation Lead.
Later in this letter, Bly did something so clever we had to show it to you. Take a look at this sticker
that he included:
Talk about ratcheting up the core emotion!
In this clever bit of copy, Bly has transformed “outdated” into something that seems downright
dangerous. This is the kind of cleverness that can arise when you have figured out a strong Proclamation
Lead.
In selling political, environmental, health, and financial ideas, Master Copywriters often turn to a
special form of a proclamation — the prediction — to achieve the desired emotional effects.
Here’s one that ran in the late summer of 1999. The product was a monthly subscription newsletter
from the famous Dr. Robert Atkins.
This title copy — “Why Most 20th Century Medicine Will Soon Become Extinct” — is certainly
arresting. The reader is surprised by it. How could an entire century of medical knowledge suddenly
become extinct?
The reader wants to know the answer. He reads the subhead and finds out that a “maverick doctor is
reporting amazing success treating cancer, arthritis, heart disease, and other ‘untreatable’ diseases.”
And, the specificity of “maverick” and the diseases mentioned gives the lead just enough detail to
make the reader believe that the book might contain some very interesting and useful information.
That same subhead is also an implied promise: That the reader will discover new, presumably 21st
century remedies that might make him healthier and help him avoid deadly diseases.
Beneath the subhead, there are bullets that indicate particular benefits the reader will derive from
opening the book and reading through it.
Let’s look at another example of a Proclamation Lead that also hinges on a prediction.
This one appeared in the summer of 2006, when many people worried whether real estate prices,
stocks, and the world economy had hit a peak.
One European economist, Dr. Kurt Richebacher, offered sophisticated research that proved this was
the case.
But, his argument was complex and the copywriter knew he had to find a way to simplify it. The lead
you see here was his solution.
It begins with a super head in a flag: “Countdown to Crisis!”
That sets the tone and piques the reader’s interest. Then, the main headline predicts “Three Shocking
Events will wipe out millions of American investors.” And, it will happen by a specific date: December
31, 2006.
Linking a predicted event to a specific date is a proven technique for increasing credibility. The
reader wonders, “What three events could have such a great impact by the end of the year?” In asking that
question, the reader has already half-accepted the veracity of the prediction. He is on a hunt now to find
out what these events could be and how the writer knows they will take place by December 31st.
The copy that follows the headline lets the reader know that this prediction is coming from someone
credible: “one of the world’s most famous market analysts.” And, a moment later, he discovers that this
same authority has just made two recommendations that will protect him from this predicted set of
disasters.
As we said about Proclamation Leads in general, in a prediction-based lead, once an emotionallycompelling
statement (in the form of a prediction) has hooked the reader, the copy can then start using
some of the techniques that work in other types of leads.
For instance, in this example, you can also see the pull of a secret (actually five secrets: three events
and two recommendations) and a large promise. The pull being that these recommendations will protect
the reader.
A story element then follows: “One of the smartest and richest investors I know says he will not buy
any stocks or gold or bonds this year.” The reader is very drawn in at this point. He feels compelled to
continue reading until he’s found out just what these events are and what sort of unusual investments will
save him.
Here’s another Proclamation Lead, also in the form of a prediction …
In the early 1990s, the U.S. had just emerged from a banking crisis. We had just fought a costly war.
And, our government had launched into a spending spree. People were worried and this promotion — in
the form of a small “bookalog” — capitalized on that fear.
As you can see, it begins with a single, massive prediction: That there was going to be a depression.
And, that depression was caused by debt, something people were talking about then (just as they are
now).
The cover copy is not precisely a declarative statement, but it is close enough. It asserts a prediction,
identifies a problem, and then offers the solution to that problem.
Again, this is a very efficient way to stir up emotions: in this case, fear and hope.
Notice how it was done: through a metaphor. The copywriter, Lee Euler, decided to compare a stock
market crash (which might have seemed a bit abstract) to something that they could visualize more easily:
a plague.
The Table of Contents deepened the boldness of the prediction, with chapter teasers that fleshed out
the seriousness of the threats and identified solutions.
This promotion mailed ove