Ignore This Essential Copywriting ‘Rule’ From Mark Ford and Risk the Success of Your Copy
Denise Ford gave me exciting news! She's asked me to teach the next session of the Circle of Success class called “The Power to Persuade.”
I’m excited for a couple of reasons.
First, I had the pleasure of developing this course a year ago as part of the revamped Circle of Success Targeted Learning Program structure.
Denise and I felt there was a need to teach essential secrets behind all persuasive writing before launching into the secrets of headlines, leads, and the rest of a successful promotional letter.
This is the second time I've taught this program. I had so much fun last time, I was looking forward to teaching it again. I think the members in the class had fun too.
The second reason I’m excited is Denise's invitation gave me an idea about what to write this week.
So today, I'm going to give you one of Mark Ford's foundations for successful writing of all kinds … a secret we delve into in great detail in The Power to Persuade. Then, over the next three days, I’ll give you three other crucial secrets of successful copywriting.
A shotgun doesn't work in copywriting
A common misconception beginning copywriters hold — and many experienced as well — saps all effectiveness out of their writing. They make this common blunder thinking they're providing as many reasons to buy as possible.
But they're really confusing their readers with too many messages … and muddying all the reasons for buying.
This ‘shotgun’ approach to copywriting violates one of Mark Ford’s foundational principles of persuasive copywriting … The Rule of One.
The way Mark puts it:
“To create blockbuster promotions time after time, you must understand the difference between good copy and great copy. The Power of One is the driving force behind great copy.”
Simply stated, the Rule of One means you use one, big central idea to build your promotion around.
You see the Rule of One at work in the most successful advertisements of all time.
Coca Cola built a hugely successful advertising campaign around the slogan “The pause that refreshes.” When that slogan grew stale, they switched to “Always Cool.”
Each slogan gives a very clear picture of one central idea. They would have lost this focus with a slogan like “The pause that refreshes and always cool.”
Here are some others that follow the Rule of One:
- Avis: “We try harder.”
- Apple Computer: “Think different.”
- Pork Advisory Board: “Pork. The other white meat.”
Don’t let your ideas compete with each other
Veteran advertising consultant James Loftus has worked with Anheuser-Busch, Holiday Inn, McDonald’s, and many other clients. He’s invoked the Rule of One to power his very successful career …
“ … keep in mind that the more points you try to cover, the less effective each point, and therefore your ad, will be. An effective ad will actually have only one central focus, even if you discuss it from two or three perspectives. If your points are too diverse, they compete with each other, and end up pulling the reader’s attention in separate directions.”
Celeste W. — a COS member in a Targeted Learning Program I taught — summed up the Rule of One perfectly:
“When I do all the research and have all those ideas, it makes my head spin trying to make sense of it. How do you think your reader feels when he’s confronted by all of that? His head has to be spinning just as badly.”
There are three other parts to Mark Ford’s Rule of One. But they really demand in-depth study such as we go into in The Power to Persuade program.
But if you hold onto one core idea from this Writer’s Life, it should be this …
If you’ve picked one strong, main idea — one that touches your prospect’s core complex — that’s all you need. That’s enough to carry your reader to the decision to keep reading … And to buy.
Even if your product has three great major benefits, concentrate on just one. Use that one as the driving force in your promotion. You can touch on the others later in the promotion — maybe in a sidebar or a P.S. But make your main idea and the big benefit your promotion’s driving force.
If you don’t, you’ll lose focus. Your prospect will lose focus. Your promotion will lose focus … and fail.
Looking ahead for more secrets …
I really hope to see you back tomorrow. I’ll be sharing one of the biggest ‘lies’ in copywriting.
Until then, please let me know what you think of Mark Ford’s Rule of One and if you’ve noticed examples where it has been used successfully. Comment below and let us all know.