The Compelling Power of One

Michael Masterson delivered his final presentation at this year's AWAI FastTrack to Copywriting Success Bootcamp. As in previous Bootcamps, AWAI’s Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting, and essays, he persuaded us with the copywriting principle known as the “power of one.”

Tony Robbins highlights it and shares a related story in his book, Unlimited Power. "If you're a persuader, you become a trend creator rather than someone who just reacts to the multitude of messages … the job of a persuader is to lead the way, map the terrain, and find the paths that lead to better outcomes."

Meet Sarah Joseph Hale

The mother of five supported herself and her family as a professional writer. In 1827, few women were known to be successful in the profession.

Hale was editor of a ladies' magazine. And her leadership helped make it a major national periodical with a circulation of 150,000.

Her writing skill was responsible for editorial campaigns on behalf of women's colleges, free public playgrounds, and day nurseries. She even wrote the classic nursery rhyme "Mary Had a Little Lamb."

But it was the power of one big idea that leveraged Hale’s writing skills to create a permanent national tradition. It’s still celebrated today.

Hale used her magazine as a tool for influence. For almost thirty-six years, she wrote to persuade presidents and governors.

Her content included tempting menus, stories, and poetry featuring the theme of her big idea. Hale wrote editorial after editorial supporting an annual day of observance.

Sarah Joseph Hale saw opportunity in a problem.

Many falsely think the Thanksgiving holiday has been an American tradition since the Pilgrims first "gave thanks" in October 1621. Not so.

For 155 years, following the Pilgrim landing, there was no unified Thanksgiving celebration in the colonies. The tradition wasn’t recognized even though the War of Independence was celebrated by an entire country.

The third U.S. Thanksgiving was observed after the drafting of the Constitution. President George Washington proclaimed November 26, 1789, a day of national thanksgiving. Yet it wasn't upheld in the years that followed.

Sarah Joseph Hale used the power of one to leverage her cause.

The U.S. Civil War gave Hale the opportunity to ultimately “sell” her idea. In October 1863, she wrote, " … would it not be more noble, more truly American, to become national in unity when we offer to God our tribute of joy and gratitude for the blessings of the year?"

Hale promoted her big idea in a letter to Secretary of State William Seward. He showed it to President Abraham Lincoln. And four days later, he signed a proclamation setting the last Thursday in November 1863 as a national Thanksgiving Day.

The rest is history. Because a woman with one compelling idea used her writing skill to change a nation's perspective.

Like Sarah Joseph Hale, copywriters possess a compelling power.

  • The power to persuade with one big idea.
  • The skill to leverage our content for change and the greater good.
  • The opportunity to solve problems for individuals and businesses hungry for success.

So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, "Thank you, Michael Masterson, for teaching us the power of one."

This year’s Bootcamp has just ended. If you couldn’t make it, why not start paying for next year’s event – taking place Oct. 24-27, 2012 – now?

The team at AWAI wants to make it easy for you, so you can lock in your 2012 Bootcamp registration for only $179.50, plus $179.50 for the next nine months.

Go here to take advantage of this pre-registration offer.

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: 5.0
Published: November 2, 2011

2 Responses to “The Compelling Power of One”

  1. Hey Eddie, GREAT article. I really enjoyed your writing and also learning about Sarah Joseph Hale and Thanksgiving. It's my favorite holiday. I think I'll tell my family about it this year. Thanks!

    PS. Yes, that talk by Michael Masterson was really a good one, wasn't it?

    JanNovember 16, 2011 at 9:58 pm


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)