The All-Important Opening


Monday, May 19, 2003

*** “The secret to success, in life and in business, is to work hard at the margin.Relentlessly. It’s as powerful as compound interest, the eighth wonder of the world.Those little marginal extra efforts will inevitably grow into something big.”– Bill Bonner

*** Little things mean a lot

*** “God is in the details”


In a sales letter, you have less than two seconds to gain your prospect’s attention.

In e-mails, letters, brochures, and ads, you must grab the reader’s interest immediately, or you are dead. Your message will simply
not be read. Instead, it will be tossed and, thus, your chance to make a sale goes out the window.

Avoid the Biggest Copywriting Mistakes

I read and analyze direct mail letters, e-mail, space ads, brochures and websites on a daily basis.

The first major mistake most people make is to start out with a weak headline.

Remember this. If your headline does not immediately grab attention, whatever you do in the body copy is meaningless.

The next biggest marketing “sin” copywriters and entrepreneurs can commit is to bore potential customers.

Tip: Copy can never be too long; just too boring.

Yet, by far the biggest error I see is starting any piece of copy with a “me” message.

A “me” message is all about you. Or your company. You, of course, find it very exciting. But here is the problem. To your prospect…

“Me” messages are boring!

To grab your prospects attention, you must talk about THEM.  Not YOU!

Their pleasure.

Their wealth.

Their challenges.

Their fears.

Their problems.

Their joys.

One way of looking at it is this.  Every prospect is subconsciously tuned into the same radio station, WIFM.

These initials translate to “What’s In It For Me.”

Here is an example of a typical sales message upon  which I was asked to critique. Recently a copywriter friend asked me to review a draft of her copy for a brochure.  The copy goal is to promote her copywriting service.

Here is how the copy reads:

Copywriters Ink (headline)

*Please note.  What does this headline mean? The headline is the most important element in any piece of copy. This headline is wasted. It communicates no benefit whatsoever to the reader.

Professional Writing Services (subheadline 1)

Words that sell (subheadline 2)

“What is it that makes you notice one product or service and not hundreds of others?

Good writing, that’s what.

Words that are to the point, punchy slogans and effective text are what will maximize your selling power.

We are copywriting specialists.  Our business is to write and we write well. Because we know that it is our words and ideas that will sell your products or services.

We write advertisements, websites, leaflets, flyers, brochures, company profiles, letters, posters, newsletters, press releases, speeches, translations, articles, direct mail packs, web pages, product or business names.

Our main objective is to deliver your message to your audience in the most effective, intelligent and targeted way.

Our words will help you achieve your business objectives and increase your profits.”

Notice all the “me” messages.  The words “we” and “our” are used no less than 8 times!

Tip: Every time you prepare copy or when an employee, ad agency or copywriter prepares copy for you, do the following exercise.

Circle all the “me” words such as “I”, “me”, “we” and “our.”  Rewrite the copy using “you” and “your” words instead.  Your copy will be
far more readable because it’s interesting and exciting to your prospect.

Here is what I suggested as a new opening for my friend’s brochure:

Would Your Bottom Line Benefit From Hordes of New Customers? (headline)

*Please note.  This headline communicates the strongest benefit the reader can derive from hiring a good professional copywriter.
Here is how the rest of the copy opens…

“Imagine how much fun it would be to see your profits go through the roof!

To do so, clearly you must make your business stand out–apart from all your competition.

You somehow must convey your uniqueness without spending a fortune.  You must do it within your budget.

The secret is all in the copy.

Most importantly, you must create a U.S.P  (Unique Selling Proposition).

You now can have experienced marketing help and tips, including sales copy for your advertisements, brochures, sales letters–
every medium you use that does just one job. You can have a sales message that hones in on your prospects and customers like a
laser beam.

As a first step, you can meet with us to discuss your most pressing needs.  We’ll even make some suggestions which you may use
without any obligation to us whatsoever.”

As a prospective copywriting client, would this opening approach get your attention?

If you are a copywriter, do you agree that you could increase your opportunities to gain new clients using this approach?

For effective copy in any media, start with a powerful headline.  Then open avoiding all “me” messages.

Emphasize your prospect’s wants and needs in all your copy.

Remember that your targeted audience is tuned into station WIFM. Make exciting and appealing statements and offers using emotional words and phrases which appeal to your prospect’s   self-interest. You will then enjoy watching  your sales and profits soar.

Warm regards,

Ted Nicholas