Can Watching Movies Help You
Write Better Copy?

In his book Writing Riches, copywriter Ray Edward talks about how watching movies – specifically, movie trailers – can help you write blockbuster copy.

He also says it can help you write blog posts, articles, product information pages, and so on …

Here is Ray's three-step formula:

  1. The dominant story idea – The movie trailer gives you the dominant story idea of the movie. When you're writing copy, look for your dominant story idea. Then describe it as if you were summarizing the plot of a movie to convince somebody else to see it.
  2. Offer a sample of the feelings the viewer will get from the movie – Movie trailers give you an idea of the feelings you’ll experience watching the movie. When writing copy, you have a similar goal. You want to show “scenes” that give the reader an idea of what they will feel like once they try the product or service.

    You can do this by telling stories that allow the reader to imagine how they’ll feel once they've experienced your product. The key, Ray says, is to link the way they will feel to the product you're promoting.

  3. Provide proof that the movie works – A movie trailer provides proof that the movie works by showing the caliber of the actors and listing the writer, director, and track records. In copy, you provide testimonials, case studies, celebrity endorsements, statistics, and so on.

The next time you're looking to "juice up" a sales letter (or other copy), Ray suggests you ask yourself these three questions:

  1. What's the dominant story idea of my copy?
  2. What are three ways I can provide sample feelings for my readers so they picture themselves using my product and enjoying its benefits?
  3. What are three powerful ways I can provide proof that my product works?

Here’s an example using a hypothetical exercise machine called the Trigger 2000:

  1. Dominant story idea: A new-age exercise machine that does all the work for you. You just strap yourself in, sit back and relax, and the Trigger 2000 automatically exercises your legs and arms without any effort from you.
  2. Sample feelings: Talk about how wonderful the reader will feel knowing they're finally doing something about the added girth they've acquired over the years. How smart they are to have found a machine that does all the work for them – while their friends and neighbors "spin their wheels" at the local health club. Describe how great they'll feel after each workout. Explain how even though they are exhausted after a hard day's work, the Trigger 2000 will actually sooth their muscles and boost their energy level. Ask your reader to imagine how much better their clothes will fit … how much more attractive they'll look … and how much more appealing they'll be to the opposite sex.
  3. Proof the product works: Present mini case studies of people who have used the Trigger 2000 and highlight the dramatic impact it has had on their lives. Fill your sales letter full of testimonials from users. Include scientific data that backs up the health benefits of the Trigger 2000. Explain to your reader the unique way the Trigger 2000 works that puts it head and shoulders above the "effort-requiring" exercise machines.

After you've written everything down, start incorporating them into your copy. It's important to get your dominant story idea into the headline and lead of the article, sales letter, or blog post you're writing.

What do you think of Ray's three-step formula? Have you ever used something similar? Please share your comments with your fellow AWAIers below.

Are you looking for camaraderie, encouragement, and support in your writing career? Then consider becoming a member of the Professional Writers’ Alliance (PWA). It gives you all the resources you need to take your writing career to a new level of success.

For specific details on how being a PWA member will benefit you, click here.

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:
No ratings yet
Published: February 22, 2012

1 Response to “Can Watching Movies Help You Write Better Copy?”

  1. While just beginning the Copy writing industry, I have written persuasive" arguments for many a government agency.

    Instinctively I used almost the exact same formula but didn't know it! Interesting Huh?

    Guest (Susan Birkenshaw)February 22, 2012 at 4:25 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)