When "Conversational" Copy Fails, Part 2

The "Rule of You" grew out of two important realizations: (1) people respond better to a sales offer when they feel connected in some way with the copywriter, and (2) one of the best ways to connect with the prospect is to talk to them and about them.

But when copywriters blindly follow the Rule of You – without understanding the logic behind it – they wind up with copy that is senselessly peppered with the word "you." Instead of helping their sale, they weaken it.

An example is a sentence like: "It’s time for you to stop your life-deflating procrastination and start working toward your copywriting success." Plenty of "you’s" in that sentence … but also plenty of negativity that doesn’t make the prospect want to connect with the writer.

Last week, you saw how applying the Principle of Intimacy is one way to connect deeply with your prospect without having to resort to overuse of "you." Another way is to apply Michael Masterson’s Principle of Benefit.

This principle states that if you touch on important needs, hopes, desires, or other emotional motivators in your prospect by emphasizing the benefits of your product, you will connect with him on an intimate level.

A lot of copywriters are unsure of what benefits are. Bob Bly tried to clear up the confusion at last year’s Bootcamp with this explanation:

  1. Features are what the product is or has. Contrary to what many believe, features do sell some audiences. Features sell equipment managers, distributors, dealers, engineers, and other technical buyers.

    A 4-amp motor on a vacuum cleaner is a feature.

  2. Benefits are what a product does to improve the prospect’s life. Benefits appeal to consumers, top-level executives, entrepreneurs, first-time buyers, end users, and prospects.

    Being able to finish your vacuuming in half the time is a benefit.

  3. Ultimate (or Deeper) Benefits are the "benefits of the benefits." They are not obvious when you first see or think about the product. They are what is underneath the surface, what’s in the back of your prospect’s mind. Ultimate benefits appeal to consumers, unsophisticated buyers, casual users, opportunity seekers, and "dreamers."

    Ultimate benefits touch intimately on the prospect’s emotional hot buttons.

    Being able to play more with your children and improve your relationships with them because it doesn’t take you as long to vacuum is an ultimate benefit.

Another example: You’re selling a car that accelerates from 0 to 60 in 7.3 seconds

  • The Feature: Fast acceleration
  • The Benefit: Being able to merge onto the freeway safely
  • The Ultimate Benefit (for a woman): Your children will be safe when you drive them to school … and you will not have to live with the emotional burden if they’re injured (or worse).
  • The Ultimate Benefit (for a man): The feeling of power, admiration and envy from other men; "My what a sexy devil you are" from women.

Now, when you’re writing about benefits and ultimate benefits, the most effective way to do it is to put your prospect directly in the picture, seeing himself taking advantage of the benefits. Of course, this means that you’re going to use the word "you." But when you do it based on the Principle of Benefit, "you" works. It sounds and feels natural, and effectively bonds you with your prospect.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: September 12, 2005

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