Master Copywriter John Forde and
“the Full Monty” …
Plus, 4 Questions That Will Improve Your Copy Instantly!

Everyone in the room grew silent as John Forde got ready to give us “the full monty.”

Was he really going to reveal it all?

Before I tell you what John did next, here’s one of the biggest lessons I learned at the AWAI Writer’s Retreat last week …

Most copywriters (including me) are too busy looking for the next big copywriting “secret” or technique that will make their copy powerful. But the truth is, the more techniques, strategies, and secrets you learn, the easier it is to get further away from one of the most important keys to becoming a great copywriter – the basics.

The basics are the things you’ve heard a million times before (e.g., know your prospect, the big idea, be specific, focus on benefits). When you hear them, you think, “Oh, I already know that … tell me something new.” I often think this way, and it’s a mistake.

In fact, the only difference between a master copywriter and everyone else is this: a master copywriter has a better grasp and deeper understanding of the basics.

This proved to be true at the Writer’s Retreat, time and time again … especially during the peer reviews.

As I listened to the masters give powerful copy suggestions, I realized their suggestions were the direct result of knowing the basics inside and out.

To keep you focused on the basics, here are four questions to ask yourself before you write a single word of copy. (John Forde and Jennifer Stevens shared these with us on Thursday morning. They credit learning them from one of their mentors, Michael Masterson.):

  1. Where will your prospect come from? To answer this question, think about who your prospect is. How old is he? What is his income? Where does he live? What are his desires, fears and dreams?

    In short, you want to know everything there is to know about your prospect. If you have trouble answering this, talk to past customers. Visit online forums and check out what your prospect is talking about. Read magazines you think he would read. Do whatever it takes to get good insight into your prospect, as this will make it infinitely easier to write your sales letter and/or improve it.

  2. What product are you selling to your prospect, and why? This question bridges the gap between what you’re selling and your prospect. It’s also where you come up with your product’s USP. Figure out the product’s benefits. What emotional need does your product satisfy?

    For example, if you’re selling your prospect a new diet aid, you’re not just selling him a pill. You’re selling him a new lifestyle. Why? Because your prospect wants to feel good, confident, respected, and attractive to the opposite sex. He’s tried and failed in the past to lose weight, but your pill offers the quick, easy solution he’s been looking for to finally fulfill his dreams.

  3. What is the offer? (This includes the price, the guarantee, premiums and any discounts or deadlines.) This one is pretty self-explanatory. Figure out your product’s price point. Think about different guarantees, and which one might get a better response (e.g., 30-day, 60-day, double your money back).

    For example, is there any way you might offer a discount if your prospect buys within three days? Maybe you’d like to add a special report you think might improve response.

    Think about what will get your prospect most excited.

  4. What do you need to do to convince your prospect to buy? Get creative when answering this one. Will adding a picture of a doctor with a stethoscope help convince your prospect? Is it showing before and after pictures? Maybe it’s telling the story of how your product was made … or perhaps showing the product’s track record.

    Sometimes it’s the little things you don’t think matter that can be the reason the prospect buys.

    For instance, million-dollar copywriter Carline Anglade-Cole, discovered that her prospects for a health supplement she was writing about complained about most pills being too big and uncomfortable to swallow. This insight led her to showcasing how her supplement’s capsules were almost half the size of her competitor’s … and Carline gained a new control.

Don’t let the simplicity of these questions fool you. Answering them before you write your copy will add clarity, power, and persuasiveness.

And, even while you’re writing your copy, go back to these questions throughout the process to make sure you’re on track …

  • Have you correctly identified your prospect?
  • Have you positioned your product so that it appeals to your prospect?
  • Have you thought about how to word the offer to make it a “no brainer”?
  • Have you done everything you possibly can to convince your prospect?

Doing this keeps you on your toes, and prevents lazy thinking. Plus, you’ll be amazed at how much you learn each time you think about and answer these questions.

After all, this is how the masters got to where they are today.

Now to answer the question I’m sure you’re eager to find out … did John reveal everything in his version of “the full monty”?

He did.

And, it’s possibly the greatest copywriting secret known in the world. It’s a secret so powerful, every copywriter – whether new or experienced – needs to live by this to ensure a long, profitable career. Copywriters who fail to use it don’t get very far.

It’s “The Golden Rule” … Treat others – in your sales letter and in your business – as you would like to be treated.

John told us that whenever he sits down to write a sales letter, he imagines he’s writing to his mom. This prevents him from ever selling a product he doesn’t believe in, using hype, or telling bold-faced “untruths” to convince his prospect. Because after all, what would his mom say if she were to read his promo?

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 »


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Published: June 2, 2008

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