John is well known in his own right. As a top-of-the-totem-pole direct-response copywriter. And, as longtime partner of the late Gary Halbert.
What many people don't realize is John was also the smoking gun behind many recent multi-million-dollar Internet launches.
Without John's simple but devastating ideas... his hard-boiled advice... and his irresistible inspiration, the guys who ended up taking all the credit (and most of the profit) for these launches never would have made their mark.
This past weekend, John held his Copywriting Sweatshop. Ten people paid $5,000 apiece to get their copy blown to smithereens. Then, John and his two trusty assistants (me, and superstar copywriter David L. Deutsch) rebuilt what was left into a frighteningly effective money-magnet winner.
I got to be a student when I wasn't chiming in for the demolition and regeneration festivities. It was rewarding.
I took a pad full of notes -- John really is like no one else you've ever heard -- and while I will only share most of the nuggets with my private clients (on a nugget-by-nugget basis), I will risk insane retribution from John by sharing three deceptively simple tips that can make a major difference for you (like a comma in the bottom line) because of improvements in your copy:
1) Words matter. OK - you know this and I knew this before Reno. But John's nigh-obsessive focus on every word, especially in the headline, showed me how little imrovements -- one word here or there -- could adds thousands upon thousands of dollars to the responsiveness of an ad.
(Example: John added one word to an already-successful Web page and the student stopped breathing for a moment, then looked John right in the eye and said, "You just earned your [$5,000] tuition.")
2) Cute is great for babies, boyfriends and girlfriends -- but it's death to the money-making power of an ad. Not news, perhaps. But what is shocking and may catch you by surprise is how easy it is to let cute phrases, words and ideas slip right by your watchful eyes and into your copy. Oooops! There goes a lot of money. Where? Do you hear that loud flushing sound?
3) Proof is the most valuable, and most frequently overlooked, part of most copy. I only stayed for day one of the two-day sweatshop. We picked apart five attendees' ads on day one. Only one of those ads had a testimonial. Amazing!
Even worse: I can only recall one other instance of proof in all five of the pieces of copy we looked at.
Sending copy out without proof is like taking a prizefighter into the ring, and just before the bell sounds for round one, you bash your boxer across the knees with heavy wooden sticks... zap his wrists with a taser.. and squirt full-strength lemon juice into both of his eyes.
Doesn't exactly level the playing the field.
Don't you do that with your copy.
John was filming video with a full professional crew, and when he releases DVDs of the event, I'll let you know. But I may not do it in the blog, so make sure you are subscribed to the World Copywriting Newsletter to find out when they're available.
Here's some bona fide news for you: John and I have something planned we'll be doing together in the next month. I can't say more about that now. But I'll let you know more about that in the newsletter when I'm free to tell you more.
Meanwhile, heartfelt advice from me to you: Keep focused on the basics, like the kind I told you about today.
In copy, they make all the difference in the world.
Publisher, World Copywriting Newsletter