From The Golden Thread Mailbag …
The Difference Between Promise and Picture

The Golden Thread is a newsletter about helping you achieve the writer’s life – and in this column, I’ll tell you how your fellow members are doing it. I’ll let you in on what they have to say in their phone calls and emails to us about their progress and the jobs they’ve been getting. I’ll share opinions and comments, and answer questions too.

Let’s start with this question from Dwanell W.:

"I started the copywriting program last year, but stepped away from it. I really didn’t understand the difference between Promise and Picture. I have to go back to the beginning. Could you email me some examples of a good promise and explain what you mean by people ‘picturing themselves’?"

– Dwannell W.

Don’t worry, Dwanell. This is something that a lot of members get stuck on. But the difference is actually very simple. Promise and Picture are just the first two steps in logically leading your prospect through the sale. Do you remember, from Section #9, The Three Fundamental Rules of Selling? The second rule is, "People buy things for emotional, not rational, reasons." This rule is the secret to writing a strong promise.

You want the promise you make to push your prospect’s emotional hot buttons. And you’re going to use the major benefit of the product to create it. If you’re selling life insurance, for example, the major benefit is that your family will be well taken care of and free from debt after you’re gone. Use this to promise your prospect peace of mind and the pride of being a good provider. Those are BIG ideas. (The promise in not about the little stuff.)

If you’ve used a strong enough benefit/emotion combination in your promise, your prospect is close to being hooked – but he’s not quite there yet. He may understand that his family needs to be taken care of when the inevitable happens – but to really be convinced, he needs to see it. So you take him out of his current situation and put him in a place where he can see himself enjoying all the benefits of the product. In this example, unfortunately for our prospect, that means … well, it means that he’s left the building. But I think you know what I mean. Show him his two oldest children building bright futures in college with no financial worries. And show him his youngest daughter getting the braces she desperately needs to keep her pretty smile.

Gary P. wrote in to tell us about the positive effect our "Passport to Romance, The Ultimate Travel Writing program" has been having on his life:

"I just sent in my first homework assignment but I have not yet received my critique. Even without it, I have been hired to go on six free sailing trips in Costa Rica (have already been on 3) and am to go on 5 fishing trips next month for Online Costa Rica magazine and a sister online version I have also written an informative article for a new restaurant resort in the area. The magazine editor likes what I have written so far, and I hope your evaluation can help me improve my writing. I have been coming to Costa Rica for years and never had the money to do the activities. But now I can do the things I always wanted – and then write off the trip!"

– Gary P.

And let’s close with some thoughts from Marte C., looking back on The FastTrack to Success Bootcamp that she attended in 2003:

"I attended the AWAI Bootcamp in 2003, and what you had to say made a difference in my life. I was just thinking about it as I forwarded your current letter to a friend who also wants to ‘break out.’

"I was a Realtor and totally sick of the job, the boss, the customers, and the hassles. I started studying copywriting and set a date to get out of real estate. I missed it by 40 days because of closings I needed to attend to – but on Dec. 31, I quit.

"I wanted to start writing and stay in real estate until I had work, but real estate doesn’t let you have that much free time. It tends to be a night-and-day job.

"So, I took a giant leap of faith and quit with no work lined up. Just enough money in the bank to last a few months. But as of this week, I’m working on two paying assignments. I’ve also been building my sample file with some very successful animal rescue fundraising campaigns that I do for free.

"My decision took nearly two years and had many influences, but you played a large part. I haven’t been this happy in years … so thank you."

– Marte C., Priest River, Idaho

Thanks to one and all. Keep those emails coming!


The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: March 14, 2005

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