What I Did to Land a Test Mailing for AWAI – and How That Might Help You Win $10,000

Last year, I wrote a sales letter for AWAI. To tell you the truth, I really didn't expect it to go any further – I just wanted a good sample to include in my portfolio. But then Katie called and said it was going to be tested. As you can imagine, I was beside myself!

Then I learned that students Peter Forest and Stuart J. also wrote sales letters that AWAI thought were worth testing. Peter's letter won and has been mailing as a control for over a year now. Stuart and I have excellent chances of winning too!

Personally, I was amazed at how much “extra” help I received from Don Mahoney and the other board members once they saw my first draft. As Don put it, “When you win, we win. We're happy to pay $10,000 for a new control!”

Now, as an AWAI student, you have a chance to participate in the ongoing “$10,000 Challenge.” Here's how it works: You write a letter to sell the course. If it's accepted and becomes a control, you get paid $10,000.

I strongly recommend taking the challenge. There's no reason why what happened to me, Peter, and Stuart can't also happen to you. It's a great chance for you to make $10,000 – before you even finish the course. Plus, once you get started, I think you'll find it's easier than you thought it would be. Why? Because you're already familiar with and excited about the product.

I know the idea of getting a test mailing (not to mention winning $10,000) sounds farfetched right now. It may even seem a little intimidating. But it won't be if you take it one step at a time.

First, you have to decide who you're writing to. Ask yourself what your prospect is interested in. (Here's a hint: AWAI students come from income opportunity, self-improvement, investment, and writer's lists.) And remember, YOU are the prospect. So think about what your beliefs, feelings, and desires are.

Next, list the benefits the course offers and decide what big promise you want to make. (Check out Sections 19, 24, 25, and 26 of the course for information on how to do this). Think about which promise most intrigued you. Was it the financial independence? Being your own boss? Or maybe the idea of being able to live anywhere in the world?

Then, study AWAI's past controls and endorsements people have written for the course. (These are all on the website, by the way, under the AWAI $10,000 Challenge link.) Poring through these will give you a better idea of what your prospect wants and believes … as well as the language he relates to. But, remember, don't just give AWAI a “rehash” of what they already have. They're looking for something fresh.

Plus, for further inspiration, read through AWAI's list of over 200+ testimonials. This is “gold” for a copywriter!

Mull over all the information you've gathered. Get a picture of and a “feel” for the person you're writing to. Ask yourself what ideas and facts are likely to encourage and excite him.

If you haven't done so already, decide who you want the letter to come from. If the letter isn't coming from you, you'll eventually need to get approval from that person (don't worry AWAI will help you with this).

Now … you're ready to start writing your headline and lead.

Remember, your headline must get your prospect's attention. And your lead must find a way to keep it. Everybody's different, but coming up with a headline isn't easy for me. I've found that using headline archetypes is a great way to get ideas flowing. (See Why This Headline Works and 25 Headline Archetypes to Get Your Creative Juices Flowing.) I also look at the headlines in AWAI's “Hall of Fame” book.

And here are two things I've learned about headlines while working with AWAI and other clients: Make the biggest (truthful) promise you can and be as specific as possible.

After you've completed your initial headlines and leads, revise, revise, and revise. Checking your “readability statistics” will help you keep your language conversational. (See What You Don't Know About “Readability” Stats Could Be Killing Your Copy.)

When you feel your copy is strong (I recommend asking family members or friends for feedback), select your best headline and lead and send them to AWAI.

AWAI will do a panel review of your copy. Basically, this involves rating the headline and lead on a scale of 1.0 to 4.0. The headline will be rated on how well it gets itself noticed and whether it makes someone want to read further. The lead will be rated on how well it sells and how strongly it hooks the reader.

If your headline and lead are selected, you'll receive detailed instructions for completing your first draft.

I strongly encourage you to give this challenge a shot. You have nothing to lose – and a whole lot to gain. Have fun … and good luck!

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »

Click to Rate:
Average: 5.0
Published: May 12, 2003

Guest, Add a Comment
Please Note: Your comments will be seen by all visitors.

You are commenting as a guest. If you’re an AWAI Member, Login to myAWAI for easier commenting, email alerts, and more!

(If you don’t yet have an AWAI Member account, you can create one for free.)

This name will appear next to your comment.

Your email is required but will not be displayed.

Text only. Your comment may be trimmed if it exceeds 500 characters.

Type the Shadowed Word
Too hard to read? See a new image | Listen to the letters

Hint: The letters above appear as shadows and spell a real word. If you have trouble reading it, you can use the links to view a new image or listen to the letters being spoken.

(*all fields required)