The Secret of “The Golden Thread,” Part 1

To ensure that their copy is tight and compelling, Master copywriters use a technique known as “The Golden Thread” – a technique that most run-of-the-mill copywriters don’t even know about.

When you apply the secret of The Golden Thread, you instantly grab your prospect’s attention and compel him to read your promotion right through until the very end. And, at that point, he’s so persuaded by your words that he (almost) has no choice but to buy your product.

How The Golden Thread Works

As a copywriter who understands AWAI’s basic secrets of writing powerful copy, you know that people don’t buy products and services for what they are. They buy for the emotional needs they satisfy … what we call a prospect’s “core complex.”

Compelling copy appeals to the prospect’s emotions – getting him to believe, in his gut, that your product/service can relieve the fears that keep him awake at night … or satisfy the dreams that fill his head during the day. Compelling copy appeals to his right brain, the part of the brain that operates on an intuitive, emotional level.

When you’ve woven an emotional appeal throughout your entire package – from the envelope teaser to the last word on the last page – you’ve used The Golden Thread to do that.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re selling a male nutritional supplement that improves prostate function and also burns fat.

The core complex for your prospect (an active, 61-year-old, married man) is made up of fear, embarrassment, vanity, and pride.

So you’d make promises to him that this supplement would eliminate his fears about all the health problems an enlarged prostate can cause. He won’t have to worry about being embarrassed by the symptoms that bedevil men with that problem.

You’d also promise that when he walks down the street, women will look at his trim body and smile, while other men his age will be jealous.

Now, The Golden Thread is NOT just about weaving your promise(s) throughout the copy (although that’s important). It’s about appealing directly to your prospect’s emotions.

Here’s the difference.

If you’re selling a financial newsletter, your main promise could relate to making tons of money. But making tons of money is not an emotional appeal. It’s much more of an intellectual, left-brain appeal.

On the other hand, the perks that money brings have some very strong emotional attachments: pride (“I’ve made it!”), vanity (“I’m better than the other guys who haven’t made it!”), security (“I won’t have to eat cat food in my retirement!”), sexiness (“I’m rich – and women think wealthy men are sexy!”), and many others.

When woven through the copy, it’s these emotional connections to the promise – these appeals to the prospect’s fears, ego, joys, and desires – that make up The Golden Thread.

How The Golden Thread Can Break

However, if you’re not careful, The Golden Thread can break – especially when you’re writing longer copy.

It’s not too difficult to keep the emotional appeal moving forward in 2- to 4-page copy. But when you get into longer copy – 12, 18, 24 pages – that emotional thread can easily go limp or snap. Particularly when you get into the very important, but left-brain-focused, proof section of your package.

Getting back to the male nutritional supplement …

In trying to prove that the supplement really works, it’s easy to get bogged down in citing scientific and medical journals. Or in talking about how the prostate works. Or in giving a mini-course in biochemistry.

Now, all of these aspects of the proof can be very important. But if they get in the way of The Golden Thread, your prospect will lose interest in what you have to say and will stop reading. And not buy the product.

The key is to craft the proof section (and, of course, the entire sales letter) in such a way that you carry your appeal to the emotions right through it. Sometimes obviously. Sometimes subtly.

Next week, we’ll examine ways to weave The Golden Thread – the emotional appeal – right through difficult parts of your letter. We’ll also show you how to discover when The Golden Thread is going slack or is about to break … and how to fix it when it does.

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: 4.9
Published: May 15, 2006

3 Responses to “The Secret of “The Golden Thread,” Part 1”

  1. Where is the link to part 2?

    RosSeptember 16, 2010 at 9:45 am

  2. Part 2 is the first item listed under the related content below.

    JoshSeptember 16, 2010 at 4:47 pm

  3. Useful information

    Guest (Sarapaul)February 16, 2017 at 10:30 am


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)