I say that not because we're talking about a lot of money -- don't be too surprised if in the near future we hear about the first under-18 billionaire -- but because we're talking about foul language.
Now don't get me wrong. You could find language 10 times fouler on TV just about any night, or in a wide variety of PG-rated movies.
But in copy, the world is a little more conservative.
Uh... make that was a little more conservative.
My both-guns-blazing mentoring client, copywriter Vin Montello, recently wrote a sales letter with some pretty sassy language in it. The old rules of copy said, "don't cuss."
Vin thought that approach for this product and to this market - young people (20s - gen y) who have had it up to here with bogus claims about Internet marketing... and can be sold by straight, even crude, talk that acknowledges their frustration and offers a hard-core, no-punches-pulled alternative.
Before I give you the sales numbers on this letter (which pencils out at somewhere between half a million and three-quarters of a million dollars in four days), let me show you the first few paragraphs. The letter is no longer online, for an interesting reason I'll cover very soon. I got Vin to send me the code and I put up an image of the first version on my site. To see it, click here.
The first version of this letter went to a house list. "1000 sales in 90 minutes," Vin writes in an email. "Somewhere between 4000 and 5000 in 4 days."
The product was $77. There was an upsell for $67 additional, and more than 50% of buyers opted for the upsell.
Now, here's the kicker...
The blue-nose censor in this drama turns out to be my old friend Clickbank. (I say "old friend" because I've made enough from Clickbank to buy a small house... though not in San Francisco!)
What happened was when Clickbank saw words like "bullsh*t" and phrases like "make Google your b*tch," they wagged their corporate finger and said, "no, no, no."
Something about this letter didn't pass their standards. So Vin's client dutifully made the required alterations and got the letter approved. It is still making handsome heaps of money today.
You can see the revised, "cleaned up" version at www.projectblackmask.com
A question to think about: Will this work for your market? Probably not. But I think the important point is that while the essence of human nature changes very little over time, rules and assumptions about what works in copy are changing all the time. Keep your eyes open and your ear to the ground.
Publisher, World Copywriting Newsletter