From The Golden Thread Mailbag …
Intimacy vs. Benefits

Hi Pat,

I’m new to the copywriting program, and I’ve been looking for examples of great copy for my swipe file and to apply to our assignments (such as the restaurant letter and vitamin letter).

I had a little “ah ha” moment when I realized that the letters I’m finding are quite long and, in all but a few cases, they focus on the benefits of the product without really mentioning the product at all until the end of the letter. Sometimes leaving you wondering what the product even is until the very last page.

Another thing I have noticed is that price isn’t mentioned until the end, if at all. You often have to click through to or read the order card to find it.

So my question is this: Is this considered good copy? Or should you discuss the product throughout the letter or website and mention the price in your close?

Linda L.

Hello Linda,

This is an excellent question!

The short answer is yes. The benefits are what your prospect really wants to know about – so benefit-driven copy is good copy. And benefit-driven copy is about the product, even if it doesn’t mention the product by name or reveal it in its entirety until the end.

The second he picks up your sales letter, the prospect asks himself, “Why should I read this?” He’s looking for a reason to drop it in the trash.

Your job as a copywriter is to hook his attention and not allow him to do that.

In order to hook your prospect emotionally and get him to read on, you have to present him with the strongest benefits right up front.

By doing that, you’re letting him know that you’re not going to waste his time … that you take his “wants” seriously and you are going to address the concerns on his mind.

Hi Pat!

I need help!

I thoroughly read the section of the copywriting program about creating intimacy and using benefits. I then read the “Ken Roberts” letter and sat down to mark “intimacy” or “benefits” on it, as instructed. Apparently, I didn’t “get it” at all!

After the first two paragraphs, I CHEATED!! I went ahead and peeked at what the answers, because I didn’t want to go thru the whole thing, marking it incorrectly. And I wasn’t even CLOSE!

So, am I reading too much into these things? What am I doing wrong?

Kathryn R.

Hello Kathryn,

This is a tough exercise – and the answers are not written in stone. They are slightly subjective and can be done in different ways.

The important thing is to recognize the difference between intimacy and benefits. Benefits are very simply what the product will do for your prospect. Using Bob Bly’s famous “features vs. benefits” example, a pencil has a hexagonal shape. That shape is a feature. The benefit would be that the hexagonal shape provides a good grip, so you don’t have to worry about the pencil slipping out of your hand.

A benefit answers the question, “What will this do for me?”

Intimacy is … well … just that. It’s a closeness between the writer and the reader. For the prospect, it’s a feeling that he knows the author of the letter … that the writer cares about him and is someone the reader can trust.

One way this is accomplished is by the writer revealing personal details about himself. Another way is for the writer to use words and phrases that make the reader feel like he’s talking to a good friend over a cup of coffee.

Every writer develops his own style for achieving this important goal.

Go back and reread Sections 14, 17, and 26 of the program with a clear head. Then try the exercise again.

If you still aren’t getting it, make photocopies of some of the letters in the “Hall of Fame” book and practice on them.

It may take a little time … but it’s well worth the effort.

That’s it for this week. Thanks to one and all – and keep those emails coming!


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Published: October 16, 2006

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