The Surprising Secret to Unbeatable Success in the Health Market, Part 2

Yesterday, you got the secret to writing strong, legally compliant headlines, subheads, and call-outs for nutritional supplements. You do it by writing "structure-function" claims, using the DSHEA (Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994) and the FTC laws to your advantage.

But what about the proof?

How do you talk about the studies behind a product when they're likely riddled with mentions of symptoms and diseases? Or if you're not sure of the validity of the studies you have in hand.

"Ten diabetic patients …"

"Vitamin C was studied for its role in protecting the body from cancer …"

"10,000 patients with varying severity of heart disease were studied …"

These examples represent the majority of the type of copy that gets chopped to bits during legal review. And the copy I spend most of my time editing and rewriting. It's the most frustrating part of the job, even for the most experienced copywriters.

So What Do You Do?

First, if you're going to quote studies, do so with complete disclosure. If the research involved just 10 rabbits, be sure to say that.

Or, if you're feeling especially daring … put more emphasis on the PICTURE and …

Avoid quoting studies all together.

It may sound crazy, but you'd be surprised how many packages we've gotten to work without the direct mention of studies.

The fact is, the inclusion of studies tends to bog copy down. And the majority of studies wouldn't be considered by the FDA to be "definitive" enough to use as substantiation anyhow. So turn that in your favor, embrace the challenge … and think positive.

When it comes to writing to the health market, simple and direct is often best. And quoting research and statistics is not simple.

Even if you have a stack of quality research behind your product, you may not want to get into it. Instead, just feel confident you have the substantiation you need to include more "structure/function" claims.

In other words, stick to talking about how a product or ingredient works in the body and about its effect on the body. (For example, calcium supports strong bones.) Use the research and studies you have to identify these details … then just state them. Simply and directly.

You can also tell the story of the history of each of your ingredients.

What were its traditional uses? Explain, for example, how the Aztecs used a certain herb for the reported benefit of joint comfort. Just make sure the source you use is reputable (like the American Botanical Council, and NOT another marketer's website).

And finally …

Make "Promote," "Maintain," And "Support" Your New Best Friends … And The FDA And Your Clients Will Love You.

Of course, the beauty of all of this is that when you have a product that doesn't actually have much behind it in the way of studies … your job will be that much easier and less frustrating.

Focus on developing the picture. Spend more time talking about the "traditional history" or where an ingredient came from – what makes this formula different from others. Stick with support, maintain, and promote. Back it with a strong guarantee, an unbeatable offer, and your job is done.

And at the end of the day, when all is said and done, remember this …

After watching a playback of a feature news story on the history of DSHEA, it all became very clear to me: If it weren't for the passage of DSHEA, there's a VERY good chance we wouldn't be able to say anything at all.

So accept the rules … learn them … be thankful you can say what you can … and make it work to your advantage.

Push yourself to get more creative rather than take the easy way out. Strive for "Pee like a fire hose" instead of the now cliched "Eliminate your prostate woes." And enjoy the unbeatable results.

Recommended resources:

For a copy of DSHEA, go to

For extremely useful guidelines and examples, download a copy of "An Advertising Guide for Industry," prepared by the FTC, visit

For more information on nutritional supplements in general, including research, history, and usage, visit

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Published: March 20, 2007

1 Response to “The Surprising Secret to Unbeatable Success in the Health Market, Part 2”

  1. "An Advertising Guide For Industry" is now at

    DSHEA of 1994 is now found at

    2007 updates are at Scroll down to the bottom to find info on supplements.


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