Write Powerful Bullets That Your Readers Will Devour Like Starving Teenagers …
John Wood here, taking over this week of The Writer's Life.
Over the next five days, I'm going to focus on practical persuasive writing tips that will help make your writing stronger and more effective.
Today, I'm going to talk about an essential skill: bullet writing.
Bullets, of course, are an essential part of every writer's marketing arsenal.
Whether you write advertising copy for print, websites, or email, bullets are a great way to break up the text of a web page, long sales letter, or email message. They draw the eye and are a great way to pack a lot of information (and persuasion) in a small space. And that makes prospects and clients more likely to read your copy.
But knowing how to write a great bullet is a good skill to have even if you're not a sales and marketing writer. Writing them is great practice at how to quickly create curiosity and desire in your reader.
In the AWAI Masters Program, Michael Masterson writes that three or four pages of well-written bullets can do the work of eight to 16 pages of regular copy.
I'm going to focus on the four "U's" and how they can play a key role in your bullet writing success. So let's quickly review the 4 U's. You should strive to make every bullet:
- Communicate Urgency – Your bullet should give the reader a reason to act sooner than later.
- Useful to the reader – The bullet must have a value to the prospect.
- Suggest a Unique benefit – The bullet should only list one benefit at a time. Plus, it should be different – even if in a very small way – from everything else.
- Ultra-Specific – Your bullet can't be vague. A vague bullet is a product of "lazy copywriting."
To illustrate the 4 U's, I'm going to use one of the examples Michael Masterson uses in his "Accelerated Bullet Workshop" in AWAI's Masters Program:
- Cut Your Taxes 35% to 50% by Turning Your Hobby into a Business. This "Patented" Technique Can Be Accomplished in About 2 Minutes! (Find Out Before Tax Day Rolls Around Again!)
Let's break this bullet down:
- Cut Your Taxes 35% to 50% by Turning Your Hobby into a Business. (Ultra-Specificity)
- This "Patented" Technique Can Be Accomplished in About 2 Minutes! (Uniqueness)
- (Find Out Before Tax Day Rolls Around Again!) (Urgency)
Overall, the bullet is Useful for someone who is looking to cut down on the amount of taxes they pay.
So assigning one point for each of the 4 U's, this bullet would rank a 4 because it has all 4 U's. Now, you might be asking yourself, "Does every bullet I write have to rank a 4?"
The answer is no.
A rank of 4 is something you should strive for, but bullets of lesser strength also have their place.
In fact, it's important you mix perfect bullets with "imperfect" bullets (bullets that rank a 2 or 3 – but never a 1) because, in Michael's words, you "create an ebb and flow that works to relax and soothe the prospect. He senses that he is being spoken to by a real person."
He suggests you make the first two or three bullets in every series of bullets perfect. After that, one perfect bullet out of the next three or four should suffice.
When writing a sales letter, I often start by writing the bullets. If it's an information product, I read it looking for bullet opportunities. I search for interesting, benefit-oriented nuggets that are useful, unique, ultra-specific, and have the potential to create urgency.
I try to always find and write more than I'll need in the finished copy. I then edit and re-edit them until I have a good mixture of 4's, 3's, and a few 2's, discarding the 1's.
If you have any comments on today's issue, I'd love to hear them. You can post them here. Tomorrow, I'm going to show you 23 ways to write more effective bullets.