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Step 2 (pt. 2): Elements of Your Copy

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Avish: Alright, Fred, you’ve given us some good resources, your site as an example, plus two books people can use to really learn the ins and outs of writing great copy. But, for the purpose of this program, you have a copy writing template, which is about twelve pieces that should be in most pieces of copy, correct?

Fred: Absolutely. Yeah and we should go through that because this will give people after, even before they’ve read the books or gone to the website, this will be sort of a good, sort of an outline, a framework for what everyone should have in their copy.

Avish: Okay. Well then let’s start out with the first piece is the pre-head.

Fred: Yeah. The pre-head is referring to the pre-head line, is what comes directly before your major headline; so up at the very, very top of a website, on the far left, at the very, very top of the site. You may want to have a few lines and then ellipses, which is the three dots. So it might go, “if you’re interested in getting a new website . . . “, and then you put the headline. So the pre-head leads you in to what the headline is all about. Or it might also identify who the target audience is you’re trying to reach by saying, “if you’re an aspiring professional speaker, than you need to know . . . “, then comes the headline.

Avish: Okay, this is generally in a smaller text size font than the headline?

Fred: Good point. Yeah, it’s generally in a smaller, text size font. It usually is flush to the left and after whatever it is you put, you’re going to put your three dots, or your ellipses and it also is trying to immediately—because if you think about it, when somebody first comes to a site, that’s going to be the first thing they see up on the top left is your pre-head. So it’s sort of saying, if you’re one of these, which hopefully if you’ve targeted your traffic correctly you’re getting those people, people will look at that and go, yes, to the headline: “If you’re an aspiring professional speaker who wants to make more money . . .”

And if you’ve done your SEO work and your other kind of work correctly, chances are a lot of people of that ilk are going to be coming to that site, then that basically says, oh, I have come to the right site. So the person who is reading that will say, yes, I should continue reading because this is clearly geared to someone like me.

Avish: Okay, that makes a lot of sense. So that’s the pre-head line which comes right before the next part, which is the headline. So tell us a little bit about headline, why it’s important and what it’s a good headline.

Fred: Okay well, the thing about a headline is that a headline basically, the purpose of a headline is to get people to continue to read the rest of your copy. That, it is, a headline is successful if after people read it, they continue reading the rest of your copy. So that’s the basic bottom line on that. Let me just go through a couple of items that we actually talked about, again yesterday. Number one, all of the headlines I would suggest, go fully from left to right across a page and aren’t sort of tucked in to one side because it’ll look a little bit better that way. Second thing is, you want to make sure you put all, that you put the headline line in quotations and that you capitalize every, you know, the first letter of every word that’s in the headline other than the prepositions. And you used a term for that and I forget it, what did you call it?

Avish: Title case.

Fred: Title case, yeah, that’s the technical term for that, and what you want to do is, you want to have a headline that basically gets people to continue reading. And something that promises them a benefit or it gives them a warning or it stops their, stops them from thinking the way that they’re currently thinking to sort of consider something else. And so there are a lot of different headlines that you can use.

And again, this is something that will require testing, but there’s, there are in every book on copy writing, there’s a section on how to write headlines. So rather than give an entire course on how to do that right now, I would just say that the purpose of the headline, and again, often times it takes your single biggest benefits and matches it with the customer’s greatest need. So if we’re thinking about the speaking experts site, what is our headline there by the way?

Avish: I think it’s two experienced professional speakers show you how to make more money, speak better, and have more fun in the speaking business.

Fred: Right, so in other words, what we’re doing is we’re taking someone who’s interested in the speaking business; we’re making them a promise, which is to make more money and do so quickly and easily. So that’s, we’re taking the customer’s greatest interest or need, combining that with what our product has to offer them, what our service has to offer them, and delivering it in a concise form in that headline.

Again, I don’t want to get into a complete course on how to write headlines because some of the books that I’ve recommended, some of the other resources, will be much better at doing that than I will. But the point is, the basic bottom line of the headline is, if the headline compels the person who is reading the copy to continue reading, the headline has done its job

Avish: Okay, so as far as continue reading goes, the next thing after the headline is the post headline.

Fred: Right and the post headline basically just takes what the pre-head did and the headline then did and basically seduces the reader into continuing to read more by reinforcing to them the fact that they’re in the right place. They are going to get what it is that they’re looking for and come on sort of, come along with us on this journey and read the beginning of what appears to be, in most cases, you know, depending on what it is, sort of a letter. Which leads us to our next area, which is . . .?

Avish: The salutation.

Fred: Yeah, the salutation is the dear whatever. So in the case of, again, taking as the site, we could then say, “dear future professional speaker”, or dear, if we’re targeting someone who’s already a speaker, or “dear fellow speaker”. We’re addressing people so that they feel like, yes again, this is all about me; I am the right person. So then, if you got to a speaking site and it just said something like, well let’s take the difference between ,if your copy is geared towards new speakers, if your salutation said dear aspiring speaker, and you were already a speaker who was doing quite a few gigs, what might you think?

Avish: Oh, this isn’t for me.

Fred: Yeah, this isn’t for me because clearly they are targeting a different group. So we have to really think carefully about the salutation and make sure that it matches the product or service or whatever it is we’re trying to do to make the person feel like, yes, I’m in the right place.

Avish: Okay, so basically it’s almost like, I mean we’ve called these sales letters, but you’re creating it like a letter by having an actual dear whoever line in it.

Fred: Yeah, it works in a similar fashion. Again, our goal is with everything here is to get them to the point where they make a decision to either buy the product or opt into the list, whatever it is we’re trying to do.

Avish: Alright, now what about going with something like dear friend, or something generic?

Fred: Well dear friend can be okay, but if you think about it, it’s a little bit less targeted and so that there will be a certain number of people, and again this is something that if you have sufficient traffic, you can test to see what the results are, but in general, dear friend has become so overused as a salutation that people, I would think that in most cases, it would be much better to target specific individuals that you’re trying to reach, rather than giving this generic sort of greeting that’ll appeal to everyone.

Avish: Okay, so once we’ve got the salutation, then we go into the opening paragraph.

Fred: Yeah, the opening paragraph is crucial. Again, it’s sort of, it sounds like I’m a broken record here, but what’s happening is, every single step of the way, the goal is to keep people reading and to keep people on the page until they get all the way through our offer, which is going to come later; and getting them to make a purchase decision or to opt in. So naturally, the first paragraph has got to be powerful and seductive to get people to go, “Wow I really am in the right place”.

So if we’re writing to speakers and you say, if you’re dealing with someone who’s a professional speaker and you say, “If you’re not getting the number of gigs you want at the fees that you deserve, than this might be the most important letter you’ll ever read.” Or this might be the most important website you’ll ever visit. So now, somebody who reads that who’s a speaker goes, “Yeah, you know what? I’m not getting as many speaking gigs as I’d like. Yeah, you know what? I’m not getting the fees that I ‘deserve’”. So that’s the kind of paragraph that you want to write. Something that will get people to go: Yeah, that’s me; I want the answer, tell me more.

Avish: Okay, now, the next section you have is bullet points, which is going into what the benefits are.

Fred: Yeah, and by the way, this doesn’t mean that we won’t have anything else between the first paragraph and the bullet points. But I wanted to then just to have people, if they’re putting this sort of skeletal sales letter/website together, the copy that they’re writing, that they think about the bullet points. And the bullet points are basically going to be a very, very succinct set of individual benefits about what the product contains.

So what you’re going to do is, you’re going to take all of the various important things that are delivered in the product that you’re selling and put them into short bullet point form in terms of benefits that will be derived by the person who buys the product. So you’re going to want to put together a series of benefits and bullet points that relate to whatever it is the product has and all the various different features.

And again, breaking it down into fairly minute elements of, you know, so and a lot of people by the way, when they put the bullet points together, in addition they not only list, what it is the benefit they’ll receive is, but often times if it’s a work, say for example, if it’s a book, they might put where that question is answered, on what page of the book. So, it might say, one of the bullet points might be: the three most important characteristics of a great speaker and how you can develop them, page 21.

So that a lot of times, when people are going through copy on a site, they will look at the various bullet points, they will read them, and often times, and this is an important case, this is the reason why you have to put a lot of bullet points out there, is that a lot of times people will glom onto one particular bullet point and that one bullet point will be one of the primary reasons for them buying the product: One individual bullet point.

So that’s why, come up with a lot of them and list as many of the features and benefits together in those bullet points and possibly tell people, if it’s an audio program, you might want to say, at two hours and forty three minutes into taping, or audio number one, you will find . . . and put that in parentheses. So you not only tell people what they’re going to get but where they’re going to find it in the product itself.

Avish: Right, now since we’re writing this copy before we create the product, for now, it’s make the bullets and then you come back in later and specify where in the product it is.

Fred: Yeah, that’s a good point. So one of the things you want to do is you want to list all your bullet points, and again, this might be a little bit of a back and forth between writing the copy and then creating the product and then going back and revising the copy and revising the bullet points. But yeah, there’s a certain amount of exchange both sort of forward and backwards between the product itself, the product outline and the copy that you’re writing.

Avish: Okay, a couple questions on the bullet points then. Is there a magic number or do you just want to have as many bullet benefits as you can?

Fred: Well I think that what you need to do is just to start out by brainstorming and writing as many as you can and then when you go through it, you don’t want to have any bullet points that aren’t fairly, that aren’t sufficiently strong. So later on you may edit out some bullet points because they’re just not strong enough to compel people to want to read whatever else it is you have to offer. So you want to make sure that every bullet point you have in there is really strong and compelling but you don’t want to just throw a bunch of bullet points in there and just have a lot of them and have them be weak.

Avish: Okay, well when it comes to brainstorming the list, how do you come up with the bullet point benefits if you haven’t yet created the product?

Fred: Well, in your mind I think that again, what you’ve done is, as you’re thinking about the product that you’re coming up with and you’re writing the copy and all of these bullets, you’re basically at the same time formulating the outline for the product itself. So, you’re coming up with these benefits based on sort of what it is you know you’re going to put into the product itself and in doing so, you’re going to come up with your outline is going to be much less sort of benefit oriented. Your outline is for you to use, whereas the bullet points are to get the person who’s reading or going to the site to compel them to buy the product. They’re sort of two parts of the same coin.

The outline though, you may have a lot more elements to the outline than you do bullet points because obviously you’re only going to take the really, really powerful items that end up creating your product to put into bullet point form. And you’re going to put them in a certain different kind of language than you would your outline, which is only for your own self use.

Avish: Okay, and to touch up on something that you mentioned leading into this section, this is just kind of your skeleton structure. So when you say that opening paragraph or bullets, there might be more than one paragraph, there may be paragraphs after the bullets as well, it’s not just one paragraph, bullets and then on, right?

Fred: Absolutely, correct. And again, I direct people to the site to get an idea of how I put this together and what might be most effective; or to take a look at as well.

Avish: Okay, so we’ve got the bullets, next segment is you want to have testimonials.

Fred: Yeah, and testimonials obviously it’s great to have a combination of written testimonials combined with audio or video testimonials. Video testimonials obviously being the most powerful and I would recommend that people try and accumulate as many testimonials as possible and in doing so then you can ferret out which ones you want to keep, which ones aren’t as strong and keep only the really strong ones. But, yeah, testimonials are definitely an element that you must have in your copy in order to get people to make a decision to buy.

Avish: So, if this is a new product, what do we do about testimonials?

Fred: Good question. So what do you have to do then is, you will create the product and you will get the product out for free to certain select individuals and ask them if they would be willing to give you a testimonial in exchange if they feel it’s merited and warranted for the product that you send them as a sort of a freebie. So that I might pick, if we were doing a program specifically for speakers and we got out the program to ten or twelve well known professional speakers and said, hey, look, I just want you to go through this and give me your thoughts, I’m looking to put something on there as a testimonial; and hopefully half of them will get back to you with something that’s usable. You may even want them to not only just write you something, but record some kind of a video, a YouTube video, that you can then use as your testimonial for the product.

Avish: Okay, now what if this is a new product but you have testimonials from other similar products you’ve made or similar work you’ve done, can you use that, those testimonials?

Fred: You can as long as you make sure that you don’t identify it as a testimonial specifically. For example, it’d be what people are saying about this product or this program as differentiated from what people are saying about Fred and his work. So you would just want to make sure that you’re not misleading people with what the testimonial was about. Certainly legitimate to use it as long as you title it correctly and say, what others are saying about Fred and Avish’s seminar.

Avish: Okay, makes sense. So he’s got a couple more sections to the copy. Next up, after your testimonials, is the actual offer.

Fred: Yeah, the offer is where you, sort of, what do you get. So what is it that people get if they’re, if you’ve sufficiently gotten them excited about this process? What is it that they get? And frequently, a lot of times this is where people fall down because the offers that they make are so confusing. Make the offer simple and easy to understand. And don’t over complicate it. If it becomes too big and too fleshy, if you will, the offer, you may want to divide that and put it into separate bonuses, so that the offer is very simple.

For this program you get these three DVD’s, this live event that you can attend and this bonus call, or whatever it is. Make the offer very clear and easy to understand and so that people when they’re done don’t go, “Well, 197 dollars, what do I really get?” You want to make sure that it’s crystal clear to people exactly what they’re getting and do that with a very succinct, very, very specific offer and again you can, if it gets too fleshy or too meaty, you can put that, put the other elements that you want to throw in there into the bonus section rather than into the offer itself.

Avish: Okay, that makes sense. So once they’ve got the offer laid out before them, the next item is the price.

Fred: Yeah, you’ve got to, you know and again, here’s where, somebody will always ask me at a seminar; they’ll say well, how do you determine a price? And you know, the way that you determine price is you sort of make your best guesstimate and then based on sales and total revenue generated you’re going to adjust that pricing.

The nice thing is, the way that I always look at it is, it’s always easier to lower the price than to raise it. So I would generally, if you’re just sort of guessing on what this price should be, and how do you guess, you look at other products in the market. You know, what are you trying to be, are you trying to be a lower priced provider? Are you trying to get a lot of people? What are you trying to do? But if anything, you may want to price your product higher than you initially think, rather than lower, because it’s easier to lower your price, even psychologically for yourself, than to raise it.

Avish: Alright well that makes sense. Now I’ve seen some sales pages where they’ll have the order link but they won’t have ever mentioned the price. Is that a sales tactic or are they just stupidly forgetting to post the price?

Fred: In most cases, it’s a sales tactic and for me it really annoys me. And I just don’t think it’s very fair to try and trick people into having to click on the order, or the buy link, to find out how much the product costs. It’d be sort of like going into a store where all the products are on the shelves but no prices until you get to the register. It’s kind of absurd.

Avish: So, it’s not something you practice or believe.

Fred: Not something I practice, believe, understand, or recommend.

Avish: (Laughter). All right, two more sections then. So after you set the price, after you’ve stated the price and what’s in it then you want to give them the bonuses?

Fred: Yeah, good idea to list, and again the bonuses are, and this is one of those things, where just like people will buy a product just for one bullet point that they see, often times people will buy just for the bonus. I’ll give you a real life example of something I just bought. I got a solicitation recently for a subscription to Time magazine and they offered me twelve months for twenty bucks, I mean, twelve months yeah, a full year for twenty bucks. And I thought, oh that’s pretty good.

Then they threw in, and they said well, but if you enclose this little coupon, we’ll give you an extra six months for free. And then the bonus that really got me is they said they were also going to include this atmospheric clock that would be, and I was thinking to myself, you know what? I could use one of those. And so they were throwing that in as a bonus, so my subscription to Time magazine was almost in a good part of the reason was because I wanted the clock for free.

Avish: Oh, okay.

Fred: And a lot of times, people don’t realize this, but people will make a decision to buy your product, now again, that’s not to say that your product isn’t going to be great, but people’s decision to sort of make that leap of faith often times is the result of one bullet point or a bonus. So your bonuses are critical. So now, again, you want to make sure that you don’t dramatically increase the price of your product with your bonuses so a lot of these might be digital, and in this case I’m using a physical example with the Time magazine subscription. But what is it that you can come up with that there might be a bonus in there that will be so seductive that somebody will say, I want the product just for that bonus. I don’t even really care what the product is at this point.

Avish: Well that’s a good question then, how do you, especially if you’re new at this and maybe some people listening to this, it’s their first product; how do you come up with bonuses if you haven’t even made the product yet?

Fred: Well first off, just a couple of guidelines. Number one, the bonuses should make sense. If you’re selling a program on how to get, how to become a professional speaker and you have a bonus there on knitting a quilt, those two things aren’t related. So somebody who is looking at the bonuses, it’s got to be a bonus that makes sense and is related to the product that you’re trying to sell. It can’t be something too far afield, number one. Number two, it’s got to be something that will sort of help or enhance their ability to use, understand or figure out the product that they’re buying. It would also be helpful if the bonus is short and easy to consume and preferably is something digital. So if we’re putting together a bonus for we might want to include this, a twenty five minute presentation from you, five tips on how to be more humorous with every speech you give.

Avish: Okay. Now this may mean, though, the person listing this will have to actually create additional content beyond just what they’ve got for their product.

Fred: True, or it’s possible also that they can find these bonuses from other people who might be willing to give them to you in order to help them get traffic and get leads from you so that you might be able to get bonuses either by doing them yourself or asking other people to contribute bonuses; perfectly legitimate. The only problem is that what I’ve seen recently is people will give 8,553 dollars worth of bonuses and it becomes ridiculous if you’re selling a 97 dollar product to have bonuses totaling 8,000 dollars. That just is patently absurd and people just go, this is, you’re nuts. So what you want to do is to have a number of bonuses, but make them really, really well related and don’t have so many. I’d say that generally a rule of thumb, no more than three to four bonuses.

Avish: Okay, so now that we’ve finished with the bonuses, the final section that goes in the copy is the p.s.

Fred: Yeah, often times the most read item on a letter, sometimes people will read your headline, they’ll skim through your copy and they’ll go all the way down to the bottom of your website and read the p.s. So the p.s. is almost like a second headline. So whatever, whenever you are putting a bunch of headlines together, you’re going to select one to go with, but chances are there’s another one that was pretty powerful, too, and that often times becomes the p.s.

So, you want to take your strongest thing that you can come up with, compelling reason, and put it in the headline but some of the other compelling reasons you may want to put in the p.s. as well. Or the p.s. can also be a reminder of timing, of you know, remember, order this before noon tomorrow and get it for fifty percent off the normal price. There’s got to— the p.s., just remember that the p.s. is probably one of the most read items on any letter or website at all because people will start at the top, they’ll generally scroll down to the bottom so they’ll definitely see the headline and the p.s. and make that as powerful as you can.

Avish: So along the two lines, as you’re editing and working on your copy, those are probably the two things then that you want to spend the most time and effort on?

Fred: Absolutely.

Avish: Alright. Well thank you Fred.

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