Become an A-Level Copywriter by Personally Connecting the Deeper Benefits to Your Prospect

Will Newman

Let me introduce myself. I’m Will Newman. I’m a working copywriter, currently writing fundraising copy.

But I’m also the Circle of Success Master Instructor. In that capacity, I’ve been responsible, along with Denise Ford, for developing the COS Targeted Learning Programs. I also write the COS Blog – an exclusive perk of COS membership.

I love writing for The Writer’s Life. So, I was ecstatic when Rebecca asked me to do a series for you again.

Then the inevitable “what’ll I write?” settled in. But Rebecca came through. She suggested I give you a sampling of the exclusive secrets I share on the COS Blog.

Great idea!

But, I’m not going to talk about COS over the next few days.

Instead, I’ll be adapting five blog articles that have been the best received, that have garnered the most comments, and … most important … have had the biggest impact on COS members’ success.

A bit of a confession here. I’ve edited these blog articles to bring them up to date … and to shorten them, so they’ll fit into your busy day.

Since this is our first day together, let’s start with a blog I wrote about a writing secret few writers truly understand …

Regardless of the type of freelance writing you’re going to do, your job is to convince your reader (your prospect) to do something. It might be to buy a product, use your service, vote for your candidate, support your cause, or whatever.

The surest way to get your prospect to act is to offer him real benefits that impact his life in a positive way. When you offer benefits, you’re connecting with your prospect at the deepest levels of his emotional life.

The question then is: What are benefits? The best place to start this discussion is not with benefits, though. It’s with features.

Features: What You See

Features belong to the product. They transfer from user to user without changing. The horsepower of an auto engine is a feature. It doesn’t matter who owns the car. Horsepower remains the same.

The writer of a newsletter is a feature. So is the number of pages. Or the slant or bias of the publication.

In alternative health products, capsule size, dosage, even the components are features.

In themselves, features will not convince your reader to act. If you focus on features, you’re asking your reader to make the connection between those features and how they will impact his life.

You know what? He might not make that connection. Help him by showing him the benefits.

First-Level Benefits: Don’t Dig … They’re Right There

The simplest of benefits – the most obvious ones – are the ones you can get by thinking about the features generically. They sit there right on the surface and could apply to almost any person who’d be interested in what you’re offering.

Let’s say you’re trying to convince your reader about the effectiveness of an alternative health approach. The first-level benefits are physical improvements the approach produces in the reader. Improved cardiac function, for example.

First-level benefits are where most writers stop. They’re “good enough.” But “good enough” never is. You must dig deeper.

Second-Level Benefits: What Does That Really Do for ME?

The second level of benefits comes from understanding how the reader wants his life to change on a deeper level.

For example, second-level benefits for alternative health include things your prospect can accomplish in his life with the improved heart function:

Being able to walk longer distances. Not waking up gasping for air in the middle of the night. Playing a full 18 holes of golf with his buddies. Maybe even shooting hoops with his granddaughter.

Third-Level Benefits: Digging Even Deeper

Once you understand second-level benefits and how they affect your prospect, you get deeper insight into him. This is where the deepest, core benefits come in.

With the alternative health example, being able to shoot hoops with his granddaughter means he won’t be abandoning the people he loves by dying too soon.

Or, it could mean he’ll be a better provider for his family than his father who died young.

By knowing this level of benefits, you’re on your way to being an A-level writer. Ironically, you might never mention these deeper benefits in your copy if they’re too personal, too dramatic. But knowing they’re there means you can write more personally to your reader. And with far more impact.

Where do you tell your reader about the benefits you’re offering him? Come back tomorrow for that answer.

Until then, I’d like to ask a favor. On the COS Blog, I ask the members to give feedback. I love reading their comments. So, I’m asking you to do the same here. Please leave your comments and questions in the comment section below.

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Click to Rate:
Average: 4.4
Published: May 4, 2015

47 Responses to “Become an A-Level Copywriter by Personally Connecting the Deeper Benefits to Your Prospect”

  1. Some other copywriting instructors say you shoud always start with the fear or problem that the clients has on his mind. And then dimensionalize or exband the first -- and then bring in the product solution/benefits. Does this conflict with your message of starting with high level benefits? jklein

    Guest (jklein)

  2. Hey Will: I've resurfaced! I'm still not sure what happened to my automatic email alert for COS blog, but I digress. I accidentally clicked 1 star - meant to do 5. I loved the three-level concept ... makes you dig deeper. Blessings to the family!


  3. Thanks, Will. It makes sense that the more personal we can be the more that the client will remain interested and a customer. Looking forward to tomorrow's article.

    Vegas Pat

  4. I thought I had a good understanding of emotions, how they interact with our actions. Hence, reading your article I have discovered a new and wonderful understanding that I'm grateful for. Thank you.

    Guest (Sandra Joyce)

  5. Thanks Will. I always love to read what you're writing about. I'm starting on some new projects and even though today's post is a "basic," it really helped ground my thinking. Looking forward to tomorrow's post.

    Guest (Jan Schochet)

  6. Thanks Will. This was an eye opener article. Mention features and then help prospect to see the superficial benefits and then go deeper. I hope I understood this correctly.

    Guest (Denise)

  7. Forgive me but I have to say it: "Where there's a Will, there's a Way!"
    ... surely I'm not the 1st to gush that unavoidable t-shirt motto in your presence?!

    What I really came to say is that I can't wait for the next 4 days of communication with you. You got me at "Hello."

    For now - Barbara McClellan

  8. I really appreciate you breaking the benefits down in to different levels. Although I know how to spot benefits, I now understand looking deeper will not only help me connect on a deeper level with my prospect, but add a deeper understanding of motivators,and how to employ them, to my writing. Thanks again, keep up the good work!

    Guest (Paul D Bryant)

  9. Hi Will. Thanks for the reminder. The "third level" is what I often "forget" if I'm not careful.

    Interestingly, I recently wrote a B2B sales brochure for a new social media analytics tool that analyzes Twitter feeds to determine not what people SAY, but what they FEEL and BELIEVE. In my copy I had to remind the prospects -- marketing directors! -- why they had to connect deeper. Just what you are talking about here.

    Amusing, huh? Talk about a topic for one of your copywriters!

    Les Worley

  10. Thank you, Will. I really appreciated your article.

    It especially hit home because when I write fiction, I'm always going for the goal, conflict and motivation of the characters. Your level one details are like the goals - what do they want. The level two is like the motivation - why do they want it, and the level three details are kind of like conflict - what keeps them from getting it or what are they trying to escape/avoid.

    It's a really interesting parallel and I appreciate the connection that will allow me to use the skills I've already developed as a fiction author.

    Best Regards, Theresa Meyers

    Guest (Theresa Meyers)

  11. Thanks Mr. Newman for easy to understand and insightful words! I can easily say your posts and articles are my favorites. Love your style and the way you talk!


  12. Dear Will Newman, Reading your progression of digging deeper, and WHAT it will accomplish, was akin to getting advice from, well, a shrink!!! Only a delightful, engaging caring and methodical one. Does life get any better?! What this fascinating and I think little known secret did for me was this: it made me feel WORTHY of your having shared a hard earned gem from your writing experience, and in doing that, you have lifted me up to a higher level of UNDERSTANDING. Thank you tons! Jackie S

    Jackie S of N H

  13. You made a concept (features) clearer, that's always been a little illusive. Now that I understand it much better, I will go back to my website content and revise accordingly. Thank you.

    P.S. A hundred years ago, a direct mail master used the acronym, WIIFM. And of course you know that it means, What's In It For Me. And I've been using it as a compass ever since, to keep me on the right track.

    Guest (Judith)

  14. Hi Will,

    Thanks for the mastery instruction, inspiration and insight! I am just getting started in the copywriting business. I am grateful for your reminder that great copy is one that reaches to the heart of the reader. Its more than good words that describe features but its more showing or making a person want to improve their life or gain something on a deeper level. (Talking to a friend not a stranger helping them get something they want) I want to learn more!!!


  15. Good tips. I'm wondering, with your comment (under 3rd level benefits) - "you might never mention these deeper benefits in your copy" - if you are going to explain later just under what kinds of circumstances you might mention these things, or not mention them


  16. Thank you so much for this topic. I was wondering if I had dug up all the benefits that I could on my assignment, as it turns out, I think that I have done some good work. I am looking forward to tomorrow's Golden Thread.

    Guest (Brandi Poole)

  17. Hi Will,

    Thanks for all the information about benefits. The way you explained it by using the example made your comments very relevant and easy to understand.

    Those intrinsic ideas are NOT always easy to follow and I will keep your examples in mind when copywriting.

    Thanks again,


    Guest (Larry Duncan)

  18. Thank you Will,

    That was written by a "true salesman" and I remember well my training of focusing on selling the features vs the benefits, as in, "Sell the sizzle (benefits) not the steak (features). So true! We always want to activate the reader's senses (emotions) and not just the reader's mind (logic) because we buy with emotion and justify with logic, don't we?

    Guest (Steven Graham CHt)

  19. Impressive. I tried to analyze how you did it, but the sense of empathy that went deep stayed with me. And I learned much from that too.

    Guest (BARBARA)

  20. Thanks very much, Will. Breaking it down into three levels actually works even better than the two levels I was previously thinking with.

    I liken it to the "back story" in a novel" or a song: The info you (the writer) know, which you might not mention but which somehow gives your story or lyric more depth and reality.



    Guest (Steve Wagner)

  21. Hi, Will

    Thanks, for your timely reminder about focusing on benefits when writing to a prospect. It is ingenious to start with the obvious features, then digging deeper and deeper to unearth the hidden and precious benefits that can appeal to a reader. Thanks, again. I'll try to remember that every time I write.


  22. Hi Will, I am so happy to receive this e-mail/ blog from you today, as I did not know that my COS membership had been processed. I just signed up for COS yesterday (5-19-15). In discussing features and benefits we are mindful that we want our prospect to take some type of an action. If not the sale today, then perhaps providing an e-mail address, downloading a white paper... and persuasive writing is what ties these elements together. All of this takes skill and I am eager to begin learning.

    Nora King

  23. I signed up for this program a year ago, but am just now settling down to get started. I thoroughly enjoyed your insights on how to reach the deeper benefits. A side benefit is that I get to read them back-to-back!

    Guest (EditorBethCrosby)

  24. Happy 4th of July to EVERYBODY at AWAI and all AWAI members!!! RED, WHITE & BLUE!!! Have a blessed day EVERYONE!!!

    Paul E Wilder

  25. It's been a loooong time since I studied Journalism at university.Your clear examples of the distinction between features and benefits are invaluable for me as a speaker and writer.

    Positively Pauline

  26. Have only recently joined AWAI with a goal of becoming a paid published writer who does help. Your insights are clear and inspiring. Thank-you for sharing. Positively Pauline

    Positively Pauline

  27. I am new to the copy writing arena and am just leaning. Much of what I have read so far is pretty much in line with my military recruiting training.

    Guest (Stephen)

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