How to Ensure Your Prospect Reads Your Letter From Start to Finish …

Okay …

You’ve got an eye-catching headline — a strong lead with a powerful promise. It’s a great offer.

The last you thing want to do is “blow the sale” by having your reader stop reading after the lead!

Because if your prospect reads beyond the headline and lead — chances are very good you’ll make the sale.

As Michael Masterson told me when I was starting out, “It’s yours to lose from there.”

So, how do you “lose” them once you’ve gotten them excited about your promise?

The most common way is by not offer enough proof that you can deliver what you’re promising.

But, there’s another less obvious way to lose your readers:

Lulling them to sleep!

And one of the ways you’ll do that is by making your copy too predictable.

I know.

One of the most common knocks against my writing is that, at times, it can become ‘too predictable.’

For the longest while, I didn’t know what that meant.

But then I did some digging.

I discovered there’s actually a copywriting term used to identify this problem. It was coined about 12 years ago by Agora founder and Master Copywriter Bill Bonner, when he was closely involved with teaching his writers the principles of good copy.

It’s called the Secret of the Categorical Imperative. In a nutshell, it means if your reader can anticipate what’s coming up next in your letter, he or she will recognize it and dismiss your letter.

Here are six things you can do to keep your prospect guessing …

  1. Make your points as quickly and succinctly as possible. If you dwell too long on one point, it slows the copy down and lulls your reader into complacency. You need to keep your reader in a "what's next?" frame of mind by making your selling point quickly, then moving to the next one.

    Bad:

    “Another great thing about the Trigger 2000 exercise machine is that, after you use it, it’s easy to store. With most exercise machines, you have to devote an entire section of a room to them. Not with the Trigger 2000. No longer do you have to lose part of your bedroom or den just to stay in shape.

    After you finish your workout, simply press a button on the base of the machine and it automatically collapses to six inches in height and four feet in length. Then you can easily slide it under a bed or store it in a closet. In seconds, your room is back to normal.

    When it’s time to exercise, simply move the Trigger 2000 into position, press the same button and — voila! You’re ready to go!”

    Good:

    “If you want to hide the Trigger 2000 from view between workouts, no problem. Unlike an ordinary exercise machine, simply press a button and the Trigger 2000 automatically collapses to six inches in height — making it easy to slide under a bed or store in a closet.

  2. Try to switch gears (ideas) every four to five paragraphs. Keep your copy ‘jumpy.’ Take your readers in a different direction. Keep them guessing. Don’t give your prospects a reason to stop reading.

    Bad:

    “Imagine how it will feel to be able to run as fast and as long as you want and never be out of breath … to be able to compete (and win) in any sport you choose against men twenty years younger … to have all the energy you need throughout the entire day.

    It can happen!

    Just follow the Trigger 2000 “Three Steps to Fitness” program (included free of charge), and within weeks, even days, you’ll notice a huge difference …

    Your clothes will fit better. You’ll be more attractive to the opposite sex. You’ll have more stamina.

    And all it takes is 30 minutes, three times a week!

    You’ll start to feel more alive.

    People will be commenting on how much faster you are on the tennis court.

    You’ll be able to run up a flight of stairs without being winded. If you choose to compete in a marathon, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you won’t embarrass yourself.”

    Good:

    “Imagine how it will feel to be able to run as fast and as long as you want and never be out of breath … to be able to compete (and win) in any sport you choose against men twenty years younger … to have all the energy you need throughout the entire day.

    It can happen!

    Just follow the Trigger 2000 “Three Steps to Fitness” program (included free of charge),and within weeks, even days, you’ll notice a huge difference …

    Your clothes will fit better. You’ll be more attractive to the opposite sex. You’ll have more stamina.

    And all it takes is 30 minutes, three times a week!

    That’s all it took Bob Williams from Seattle.

    Two years ago, Bob was in a rut. His business was booming. He was making all kinds of money, but his personal life was a mess.

    He was fat and flabby. Merely walking up a short flight of steps had him huffing and puffing for breath.

    His lack of staying power was affecting other areas of his life. He was too embarrassed to show his wife affection.

    He felt ugly and unwanted.

    Then one day, he received a letter similar to the one you’re holding in your hand today.

    That’s when his life changed forever …”

  3. Don’t talk about a chain of events: this happened, then this happened, then this happened. Your reader will quickly assume they know what’s going to happen next and move onto something else.

    Bad:

    “This diet pill has XYZ in it to speed up your metabolism. It also has XXY in it to target fat cells and break them up. There’s also ZYX in it to curb your appetite …”

    Good:

    “Ever wonder why you can gain so much weight without eating a lot of food? It’s because your metabolism gets lulled into a routine. Product XYZ delivers powerful stimulants to jolt your immune system and make it work overtime.

    Plus, you’ve probably heard fat cells are the last to burn away. The XXX ingredient in Product XYZ bypasses naturally fast-burning cells and goes directly to stubborn fat cells — and zaps them with a powerful lard-buster called YZX.

    And you know a great byproduct of these two ingredients when combined in a powerful supplement like Product XYZ? They make your skin smoother. It’s true. According to a study by XXXX …

    But, there are other ingredients in Product XYZ that help you lose fat and make you look better …”

  4. Be careful not to make your copy read like a list.

    Bad:

    “There are four reasons why you should send away for Ted’s Money-Generating System today. The first reason is it will make you rich. Secondly, after the initial setup, there’s absolutely no effort required on your part — you literally make money while you sleep. The third reason is the great lifestyle you’ll experience. And lastly, today and today only you’ll save $50.00.”

    Good:

    “When Nick Tilden sent away for Ted’s Money-Generating System, he was down to his last hundred dollars. Three months later, he received a check for $11,347.25. Now he routinely brings in over $20,000 per month.

    And, he does it working less than an hour a day!

    You see, after the initial setup, Ted’s Money-Generating System practically runs itself. After your morning coffee, flip on your computer, upload a different money-making template, and the rest of the day is yours to do as you please. No more nagging bosses … no more long commutes.”

  5. Bullets are a great way to quickly communicate a lot of benefits to your reader. But, if you don’t do them right, they can do more harm than good.

    When your reader sees a string of bullets, their first assumption is that they’re all similar. Your job is to show them they’re not. If you fail, they may skip over your bullets. Or worse, stop reading your promo altogether.

    To counter this, you should:

    1. Put your strongest and most unique bullets first.
    2. Break up long lists of bullets with a paragraph of copy that talks about a different aspect of the benefits.
    3. Vary the theme of your bullets … for example, have one section of bullets that talks about skill building … another that talks about how to be more productive during the day … then another that talks about how much money you can make (with a paragraph of copy leading into each).
  6. Don’t use clichés. Try to find new ways to say ordinary things.

    Bad:

    “This fat inhibitor will let you shed pounds in no time.”

    Good:

    “This XYZ fat inhibitor seeks out buried fat cells and zaps them with the force of a powerful laser — busts them into a million pieces so they can easily and quickly be flushed out of your body.”

Keep these six points top of mind and I guarantee you’ll never write copy that is accused of being “too predictable.”

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Average: 4.9
Published: October 11, 2010

7 Responses to “How to Ensure Your Prospect Reads Your Letter From Start to Finish … ”

  1. Nice article John. Very, very helpful!

    Cindy CyrOctober 11, 2010 at 4:56 pm

  2. Some good points John. However, I disagree with point 6. I think cliche's can be very effective in copy. Not overdone mind you but very useful.

    Why?

    Because they are accepted truths in our culture - phrases that bypass our conscious mind as accepted truths. Familiar might be a better word.

    Because, we tend to choose the familiar over logical or even other "better for us" options.

    It's why McDonald's continues to sell burgers despite the obvious negative health benefits. Familiarity.

    Guest (Sean McCool)October 16, 2010 at 11:13 am

  3. Good article. It gave me pointers that targeted a specific problem WITH examples. So many articles on the Internet tend to list things not to do while never applying examples. Thanks.

    Guest (rusty)October 16, 2010 at 11:38 am

  4. Great info, John ... Your examples - with specific details - CLEARLY drive home your main points. Thanks!

    Lynda DavisOctober 16, 2010 at 2:41 pm

  5. Thank you Mr. Wood, these are six things I know will help me with my copy. I didnt know how predictable I was til I read some of the bad examples.

    David AdameNovember 26, 2010 at 3:50 pm

  6. Thank you, this was helpful. Your tip #4, don't let your copy read like a list, was especially helpful. I noticed that my writing often reads like a list. I will keep my eye on that. Thanks again.

    Guest (Lynn Huber)July 17, 2011 at 9:16 pm

  7. Very interesting and helpful. Thanks for the excellent tips.

    Khari LaMarcaNovember 15, 2011 at 3:42 pm


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