The 10 Laws for Writing Letters that Get Results Materials!

The following is a letter in response to a question about how to write sales letters. This is something you could model in layout, tone, and ideas, to write your own letters. By the way, this is where your letterhead should go. 

Dear Fellow Chicago Seminar Attendees, 

Jerry Jenkins asked me to tell you how to write letters that get read and get results. That’s a tall order! Well, here’s what I think the “laws” are:

1. Know what’s in it for your reader.

Get out of your ego and into your reader’s ego. Complete this sentence: “Get my book so that you can…(fill in the blank).” Your book (or whatever you are selling) is the feature. What people get as a result of having your book is the benefit. Focus on benefits. Always! Without this, your letter will bomb. 

2. Write a headline that telegraphs the key benefit to your reader.

ALWAYS use a headline. There is only ONE exception to this rule. When you personalize your letter, the “Dear (whoever)” opening becomes your headline. There are few headlines more powerful than the reader’s own name. The headline is THE most important part of your letter! Spend nearly all of your time on it. 

3. Be brief. 

Say what you have to say in terms of the reader’s self interest and shut up. This does NOT necessarily mean a short letter. If you are trying to make a sale, and the reader has never heard of you or your item for sale, you may have to write four or more pages to get your message across. If all you want is a return call, a one page letter may do. Don’ be afraid of length. People will read any length of copy AS LONG AS IT’S INTERESTING! 

4. Always use a PS.

Always. Why do copywriters who charge upwards to $15,000 to write a sales letter and have weeks to draft it always use a PS? They are always read. Always. 

5. Look good.

Visual attractiveness accounts for 70% of your letter’s impact. Use short sentences, short paragraphs, bulleted points, indented paragraphs, subheads, etc. Some people will just skim your letter, so engaging subheads and bulleted points help reach them instantly. 

6. Outline first. 

Use a planning tool to help you think through your message. Or talk to a friend. Or to a tape recorder. Or to yourself. This also helps you get comfortable with speaking your letter rather than writing it. 

7. Write first, edit last. 

Turn your inner editor off. You can rewrite later. For now, write spontaneously and quickly to get your ideas on paper. 

8. Ask for something.

Why are you writing? You want a call. Or an order. Something. Say so! 

9. Get a reader. 

Find one person to read your letter OUT LOUD in front of you. If he (or she) has trouble reading your letter, if he wrinkles his brow or stops to reread a sentence, rewrite those places. Don’t skip this step! It’s the secret of many professional writers.

10. Rewrite your letter again.

Is it the best you can do? Be honest! If not, throw it away and call the person instead. Or hire a copywriter to write it for you. Why waste your time or your reader’s with something that doesn’t communicate in a persuasive and interesting way? (I rewrote this letter 24 times!) 

Well, there you have it. Of course, there are more rules, laws, ideas and suggestions for writing letters that get results. You should always guarantee whatever you are selling, for example, and always offer proof for all of your claims. But the above will get you rolling. 

Sincerely, 

Joe Vitale “Hypnotic Writing”  

(ALWAYS Identify yourself. People look here to see who the 
letter is from.)

PS — Notice that you read this PS? 

PPS — Notice that you read this one, too?

The Story of the Hypnotic Writing Monkey

A monkey could use this material to write a riveting sales letter, ad, or email message.

The only condition is the monkey needs to be able to read.

I’ll prove it to you.

Right now I have no idea how to write this article for Larry on ” How to Easily Use This Material to Get Gloriously Rich.”

So, in this case, I’m the monkey.

Now follow my path….

I grab this material and flip through it — which is what I’m doing right now — and I spot a phrase…

“You don’t realize it, but in the next few minutes you’re going to learn…”

I add to that phrase something my monkey mind gives me, “…how to get people to do your bidding by using this amazing collection of hypnotic materials.”

I now have this: “You don’t realize it, but in the next few minutes you’re going to learn how to get people to do your bidding by using this amazing collection of hypnotic materials.”

There, I just wrote a good line. Any monkey could do it, as long as said monkey can type.

If you’re like me, you’ll probably want another example.

Stop! Did you notice that “If you’re like me…” is one of Larry’s hypnotic lines? It is. It’s in this book. My monkey mind found it and used it.

And “Stop!” is from his book, too. I saw it and tossed it into the above paragraph. Made you look, didn’t it?

Here’s a fact for you: Any man, woman, child or monkey can flip through these pages and find words, phrases, and complete sentences to help them lead and control the minds of their readers.

Hey! Did you catch what I did? The phrase “Here’s a fact for you…” is also from Larry’s collection. It’s a way to assume logic without having any. It works.

And did you notice that “Hey!” grabbed your mind?

It, too, is from this collection. It’s a powerful yet simple tool for practically yelling out your reader’s name in a crowded room. It GRABS attention.

Are you beginning to see how you can use this material?

Think about making use of this collection of hypnotic material and you’ll begin to feel real power.

And did you notice that “Think about making use of…” is yet another golden nugget from Larry’s book?

Yes, a monkey with typing and reading skills just might be able to write a good letter with this amazing collection of tried and true hypnotic words and phrases.

But more importantly, since YOU are smarter than any monkey, by the time you finish reading this material you will be able to take these words and phrases and weave them into hypnotic letters and ads that get people to act on your commands and suggestions.

Stop! Note “by the time you finish reading…” is ALSO from Larry’s priceless bag of tricks!

Can you see why I’m so excited!

As you study every word of this book you will become amazed at how easy it will be for you to start writing your own hypnotic material.

(I can’t resist. “As you study every word of this book you will become…” is also swiped from Larry’s collection. This is becoming way too easy.)

But let me confess something:

(Yes. “Let me confess…” is a hypnotic phrase.)

When Larry wrote to me and said he compiled this material, I was angry.

(“I was angry…” is from this collection, too.)

I wanted to be the author of these gems. I even offered to help add more gems to the package if Larry would let me be co-author. He agreed, but I could barely think of anything to add! Larry already did the work—and did it very well!

The further you read into this collection, the more you will realize why professional copywriters always have “swipe files.” They use them for inspiration. In this case, Larry has done ALL the leg work for you.

(“The further you read into this…” is from his swipe file.)

Remember when you were in high school, and you cheated to get a passing grade? Admit it. You did, at least once. Well, this collection is your cheat-cheat.

(“Remember when you were in high school…” is swiped from this book, too. Do you see how easy it is to write with this collection at hand? It’s so easy I feel silly accepting money for writing material like this for clients. But not THAT silly.)

Have you noticed yet that I began with no idea of how to write this article and now, with the help of Larry’s collection, have written a very interesting and maybe even hypnotic piece?

(“Have you noticed yet that…” is from this fantastic swipe file, too.)

So here you are. You’re holding dynamite. Do you light it and throw it in a field to watch the dirt blow up, or do you light it and throw it where you know lay hidden gold?

FACT: The choice is yours. Use this material wisely.

(“FACT” is swiped, too.)

Go forth and profit.

Joe Vitale is recognized by many to be one of the greatest living copywriters. His latest project, the Hypnotic Writer’s Swipe File is a collection of over 1,550 copywriting gems that took him years to compile. This is his personal swipe file that he uses to create world famous sales letters responsible for generating millions and millions of dollars of revenue.

Meeting Someone by Helping them Make Money.

“That’s a great ad, I said.

Who taught you copyrighting?”

Little did I know that sentence would make me over $100,000.

How could “doing the Jonathan” make you more money this month?

This is a crazy business we’re in.

Sometimes the things you think are going to be great actually bomb on you.

And sometimes the things you don’t think twice about turn out to be your real winners.

A case in point for me was years ago when I first met my friend Jonathan Mizel online.

That was before the World Wide Web existed.

It’ll take me a minute to tell you the story. But there’s a payoff for you in reading it. So stick with me if you will.

Back then, we sold our stuff on America Online and Compuserve.

Anyway, the game in those days was to run a little classified ad and people would respond for more information.

You’d send the info and hopefully they would buy.

You didn’t have sequential autoresponders in those days like AweberGetresponse, Quicktell or PostMaster Online. So what you’d do is follow up by hand emailing everyone.

One day I spotted an ad that grabbed my attention. I still remember the email that came back to me. It led with a free offer.

You could get a free copy of a Russ Von Hoelscher book if you subscribed to the Online Marketing Letter.

I sent an email back saying that I admired the copywriting and asked who he learned his copywriting skills from.

He wrote back and told me John Caples and Robert Collier.

John Caples had several classic books on copywriting including “Tested Advertising Methods.” And “The Robert Collier Letter Book” was likewise a staple for anyone who cared about learning to write copy.

I almost freaked out! John Caples. I loved John Caples. At the time I hadn’t written “The Amazing Formula That Sells Products Like Crazy.”

There was NO step-by-step formula for writing ad copy as I later created.

John Caples and Robert Collier were as good as it got.

Anyway, I introduced Jonathan to the owner of the company I was writing ad copy for. He sold some of Jonathan’s books.

I’ve always networked by helping the OTHER person make money first.

That’s how Jonathan and I became friends.

Is your first initiate with someone asking THEM to do something for YOU? Or do you first help THEM make money?

You know, in all the time I’ve taught this method, I’ve never received one email from someone who said, “Hey Marlon, I’m doing this to help you make money.”

It’s always, “Hey Marlon, I have a product. Can you sell it to your list for me?” And so forth.

To get to the point, that friendship with Jonathan later landed me a position on his team travelling around the U.S. and speaking at over 120, $3,000 one-day seminars.

Over the years, my friendship with Jonathan has made me at least $100,000 and maybe more.

The lesson?

I call it “doing the Jonathan.” Meeting someone by helping them make money.

Who can you “Do the Jonathan for” today?

  • Meet someone new. Let them know you admire
    their marketing if you truly do.
  • Help the other person make money before you
    ask anything from them.
  • When you help someone else, don’t do it with strings attached.

Know that the universe often returns the favor from a source other than the one in front of your face.

If I had initiated my friendship with Jonathan by asking for something from him such as free help or whatever, then how far do you think that friendship would have gone?

Advertising Secrets I Learned From The Kirby Vacuum Cleaner Man.

I was just sitting here at my computer (as usual) when my husband walked in and announced, “There’s a man here to see you”. What? I wasn’t expecting anyone. “Who is it”, I asked. “Some guy who wants to speak with my wife.” OK, my husband was home so I knew I was safe. I ventured outside to see who it was.

I was promptly met on my porch by a smiling face who presented me with a free box of laundry detergent. This seemingly nice young man told me he was in the neighborhood and wanted to give me this free gift. Being the skeptic I am, my first thought was, “Oh yeah… and what kind of sales pitch?”

He proceeded to walk to his truck, then turned and asked if I had a minute. “Yep, here it comes”, I thought. I said I was a little busy but asked what he wanted. The smile came back to his face as he said, “I want to make your life easier.”

(Secret #1 – Give your customers something absolutely free of charge. This makes them appreciative and brings about a feeling of good will. It can be free useful articles, a free ebook, a sample or trial… anything free.)

He began to pull box after box from the back of his SUV. As he approached my door, loaded for bear, he asked if I would allow him to vacuum and clean my carpets… all free, of course. At first I was going to turn him down cold. I wasn’t in the vacuum or carpet cleaner buying mood. But then I wondered if I might be able to learn something from this representative of one of the most successful vacuum cleaner companies in America. I decided to give in and allow the demonstration, hoping to glean some “secrets” I could use in my copywriting.

As he walked into the living room, he began to set up the vacuum. Small talk followed. He complimented me on the interior design of my house, asked what brand of vacuum I used, how I liked it, how old it was, if I had considered buying a new vacuum, if anyone in my family suffered from allergies and how much time I spent cleaning house.

(Secret #2 – Get to know your customers. By collecting this information, the salesman was mentally tailoring his “pitch” to suit me. He was making notes to include the elements of his presentation that would appeal to me personally, and leave out those that would not.)

Next, the Kirby man (who I’ll call Roger), began to ask me questions that I would obviously have to say “yes” to. This is reminiscent of the Dale Carnegie style. Roger asked, “Would you like to be able to spend less time cleaning with better results?” He asked, “Would you like to know that the allergens AND the dirt are taken out of your upholstery and carpeting?” And finally, he asked, “Would you like for your new carpet to last twice as long?” Needless-to-say, the answer to all three was “yes”.

(Secret #3 – Get them in the habit of saying “yes”. Dale Carnegie made a point of this in his book How To Win Friends and Influence People. If you get someone in the habit of saying “yes”, they are going to be more likely to agree with you when it comes to other questions (like, “are you ready to buy a new vacuum”!)

Roger asked me to get my old vacuum from the closet. I did. He asked me to bring him a box of salt. (Yes, I saw it coming but I did it anyway.) He began to pour the salt onto my carpet. Then (as expected) he ground it in with his foot. He took my old vacuum and asked me to let him know when I thought it had sucked up all the salt. On came the vacuum and the challenge began!

After about 15 passes, I instructed Roger to stop. He did. Then he reached behind him and rolled over the Kirby G6 – Limited Edition. He opened the latch where the bag goes and placed a black, thin pad over it. Next, he flipped on the “onboard transmission”, put the vacuum into “drive” and began the first part of his demonstration.

Just 6 passes later, he stopped the Kirby, opened the bag latch and pulled out the black pad. It was covered with salt! It was also covered with dirt, sand, lint and hair. It was extremely gross, not to mention embarrassing!

(Secret #4 – Prove your point. Just telling someone that your product or service works means nothing. You have to prove that you can and will do what you say. If you can’t offer an online demonstration; use testimonials, offer references that tell about before and after results. Or give a free trial period so the customer can check it out themselves.)

“I know you’re busy, ma’am, but I just wanted to show you that. I’ll finish vacuuming now and then clean your living room”, said Roger. I knew Roger and I weren’t finished yet, but I went back to my computer like a good little prospect and let him do his work.

Sure enough, about 10 minutes later, Roger asked where he would find our trashcan. I walked around the corner to see what needed to be thrown away and was immediately horrified! He had used those little pads while vacuuming the entire room! There were disks all over my living room just covered with hair, lint, fibers, dust, sand and who knows what else. The fear of creepy- crawly things in my house started to rise up within me. All this junk was in my carpet? How disgusting! My house wasn’t as clean as I thought it was. “I’m sorry for the mess, ma’am, but we are only allowed to use these demonstration pads to vacuum with. I’ll throw them away if you’ll show me to your garbage can.”

(Secret #5 – Play on emotion. By leaving all those little demonstration pads around the room, Roger was subtly telling me that my house wasn’t very clean. He was reminding me of the initial conversation we had about allergens and getting my house cleaner in less time. It was working, too. I began to think about all the mess deep down inside my carpet, and drapes, and rugs, and upholstery.)

“Can I try to get these stains out for you”, was the cry from the living room. “Sure, go ahead”, I replied. Roger continued to work, as did I. A few minutes later he asked if I would come see if the stains were still noticeable. They weren’t! I’d tried to get the stains out before but had no luck. “Good”, Roger smiled, “I’ll clean the rest for you now”.

I continued banging on my keyboard until I heard the whirring of the motor stop. Roger peeked around the corner and told me it would take an hour or so for the carpet to dry enough to walk on. “Do you mind if I get my gear together in here?” I agreed.

As he was putting up hoses and attachments, he began to explain the extreme versatility of the Kirby G6 – Limited Edition. The package he had with him that day came with a base vacuum which offered an “onboard transmission” so the motor wouldn’t wear out. It also allowed the vacuum to be easier to push. It offered the ability to blow as well as pull suction. This, as Roger explained, was useful for blowing up pool toys or inflatable balls – and for deflating air mattresses, etc. so they would lie completely flat for storage. The carpet cleaner attachment would… Well, you get the idea.

(Secret #6 – Focus on benefits, not features. We’ve all heard the phrase before, however most don’t apply it. I wouldn’t care anything in the world about a vacuum with “onboard transmission” because I don’t have a clue what it is or what it does for me. Once explained, however, I love the idea of a vacuum that “drives itself”.)

Lastly, after the full tour of how easy the vacuum was to operate, how much cleaner my house would be with less effort, and how versatile the vacuum/carpet cleaner was… we got to the price.

Needless-to-say, with Kirby’s reputation, I was expecting to pay and arm and a leg. However, Roger simply said, “All this can be yours for just $3.00 per day”. That didn’t sound so bad. “For how many days”, my cynical self asked. Roger laughed and pulled out his pricing sheet. To answer the question that you’ve had since the beginning of the article… Yes, I bought the vacuum.

(Secret #7 – Save the price for last. Get them to love your product or service and then – if possible – break the price out into as small an increment as you can. This saves the prospective customer from suffering “sticker shock” and makes the item appear more affordable.)

Was it worth it? Yes and yes. It was worth my time to find out how one of the most successful vacuum cleaner companies in America does it’s sales magic; and it was worth the price of the vacuum, too. I learned a lot from the Kirby vacuum cleaner man, and my house looks great!

Learn to put these secrets to work for YOU to dramatically increase your advertising performance. The Step-by-step Copywriting Course shows you how AND gives you LIVE feedback!

How To Write Motivational Copy That Sells?

Who of us hasn’t written advertising copy that we thought was great only to find out it flopped big time? Why? When you wrote it, it seemed very persuasive. You included lots of benefits and even gave a money back guarantee. It got YOU up and moving so why did your customers turn their heads?

The reason is usually quite simple. They are not you. While one thing might motivate you and excite you enough to open your wallet and buy, there are other personality types who respond to different motivational factors. If you know the factors, you hold the key to copywriting success!

There are several names for the different personality or behavioral types. Myers-Briggs labels them with letters (E = extrovert, I = introvert, etc.). Some psychologists label them with types (“A-type” personality, “B-type” personality, etc.). The DISC model (which I find the easiest to follow) labels the different personalities with descriptors (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, etc.) Regardless of what they’re called, I encourage you to get to know them. Once you decipher the inner workings of your customers, you can write copy that will motivate each and every time.

Let’s look at a few of the descriptors used within the DISC model and I’m sure you’ll see what I mean.

Dominance

The Dominance behavioral style is usually described with the following attributes:

  • high egos
  • problem-solver
  • likes challenges
  • drives hard for results
  • positive
  • loves power and authority
  • motivated by direct answers

Influence

The Influence behavioral style can be described like this:

  • socially and verbally aggressive
  • optimistic
  • can see the big picture
  • people-oriented
  • fast movers
  • motivated by praise and strokes

Steadiness

Those who fall into the Steadiness behavioral style usually are described as:

  • loyal to those they identify with good listener
  • patient
  • loves security
  • wants to see benefits
  • oriented towards family activities
  • motivated towards traditional procedures

Compliance

The last of the four styles is Compliance. These people usually have the following attributes:

  • critical thinkers
  • high standards
  • well disciplined
  • accurate
  • motivated by the right way to proceed


As you can see, these simple hints already open new doors for copywriting effectiveness. From what’s written above, you are probably getting some good ideas about how to adjust your copy to fit your target audience.

For example, when writing to people with a Dominant behavioral style you’ll want to be direct and to the point, focus on the business at hand, show them how this will help them get results and offer a win/win situation.

Influential people will want to allow time for socialization (so include some “chit chat” when possible), to have fun, offer new and innovative ideas, give a way for them to respond quickly and offer praise and strokes for them making a good decision. Steadiness types make up the majority of the population. Over 40% of Americans fall into the Steadiness category. These people need to see a logical approach to your product or service, they need time for thinking before buying, they want to see how your solution will benefit them and they need a sense of security about buying.

This explains why most copywriters will tell you to write long copy that is full of benefits and offers a money back guarantee. However, while this does work for 40% of the population, the other 60% has an issue with it. This is why I continually preach that you should know your target audience! If you are marketing to a group of CEOs (which most definitely fall into the dominance category) you can’t provide long copy… they simply won’t read it. They are looking for the bottom line and may ask for more details later if they feel they are necessary. If you have lots of information to provide, you’ll have to break it up into sections to suit a “dominance” type.

It all boils down to giving the customer what they want. Even in your copywriting techniques. If you don’t, you’ll lose the sale – plain and simple. As an example, I’ll tell you about a real estate agent I once worked with. I was looking for a house and had specific criteria for the exterior and interior. Rather than scheduling an appointment with the realtor every other day to view houses, I wanted to be given the addresses and view the outside at my own pace. If the outside didn’t have specific features, there was no need for me to see the inside.

One Realtor emphatically told me, “Mrs. Thackston, that’s just not the way I sell.” To which I responded, “That’s a shame… that’s the way I buy!” He wouldn’t give me what I wanted and therefore lost the sale.

I encourage you to learn as much as you can about your target audience. Their likes, dislikes, personality traits and behavioral traits. When you do, you’ll be able to write motivational copy that creates a desire to buy.

Learn to put these secrets to work for YOU to dramatically increase your advertising performance. The Step-by-step Copywriting Course shows you how AND gives you LIVE feedback!

I Almost Flunked English But Went On To Make Millions of Dollars Writing Sales Copy.

The Guinness Book of World Records listed Joe Girard as the “World’s Greatest Retail Salesman” for 12 consecutive years. He holds the singular distinction of having sold an average of six cars a day over his career. Recently, Joe Girard told me: 

“Joe, I can sell in person to individuals in a personal way – in fact, I can sell more cars per day than anyone else. Yet, I can’t do what you do — you sell millions of products to masses of people through the sheer power of print.” 

Salesmanship in Print 

When you look at it from Joe Girard’s perspective, it’s hard to deny the awesome power of writing good sales copy – which I call “salesmanship in print” — a power that anyone can take advantage of. You don’t need good looks, a charming personality or even great intelligence. In fact, you don’t even have to pass English. 

This is why it baffles me when people desperately rack their brains trying to find ways to make money — when the greatest opportunity is staring them right in the face. What’s even more mystifying is that those very same people, when presented with ingenious approaches to writing copy that sells, take the skill for granted and don’t use it to make personal fortunes for themselves. 

Flunking English 

Not many people know this, but I almost flunked English back in high school. In addition, I don’t know many big words, unlike the rest of my advertising and marketing colleagues — and my writing style is quite unsophisticated to boot. Yet, by learning to incorporate into my sales copy all the things about how the human mind reacts to certain words and phrases that I’ve learned over the years, I have made millions of dollars for myself. 

The most important lesson you must remember is this: If you learn nothing else but the proper use of psychological principles in writing sales copy, you will always make more money than you’ll ever need. 

The Million-Dollar Grapefruit Farmer 

If you’re one of those people who believes that you’re not a good enough writer — and that you couldn’t possibly learn to write ad copy that sells — I want to tell you the story of a man who attended one of my seminars. This man was a grapefruit farmer who had never written sales copy prior to attending my copywriting seminar. In fact, he expressed his doubts that he would get anything at all from the copywriting lessons he learned. Yet, by the end of the seminar, he was able to write direct mail copy to sell grapefruit by mail which, over a period of ten years, has earned him millions of dollars. 

Success Leaves Clues 

For many years I specialized in “space-age” products, and my claim to fame was in building and selling “the better mousetrap” — from state-of-the art smoke detectors to chess computers to new-fangled calculators — and more recently — to BluBlocker® sunglasses. 

But you don’t need a space-age product to make a million dollars. In fact, that is the downfall of most people who enter the marketing field. They find a product, fall in love with it, and try to get the market to buy it. With an unproven product, you could lose a lot of money in the process. 

Instead what you should do is find a product that’s already selling well — and use compelling copy to sell it better. 

Harmonize with the Marketplace 

One of the psychological principles I describe in my book, “Triggers,” is simply this: Your product needs to harmonize with the marketplace. 

Here’s a tip that you would definitely find useful: When you’re looking for a product to sell, go to the library and flip through the back issues of magazines — particularly the tabloids. Note those mail order ads that are running week after week, month after month. There’s only one reason why those ads keep running — they’re making money. Those products are already proven to sell well — they’ve demonstrated that they harmonize with the marketplace. 

Even if there are many companies that are already competing in those product categories (example: weight loss, hair restoration, and wrinkle products, etc.), don’t worry. If you apply good copy- writing guidelines, your marketing efforts will fare better than those who are making money, despite their poor sales copy. 

“Splish Splash I Was Takin’ A Bath” 

Take a clue from Bobby Darin, a popular singer of the ’50s. Darin was a young singer in New York who, for a long time, tried unsuccessfully to break into the music business. He would go from record company to record company trying to convince them to make an album of him singing popular jazz oldies. He was rejected. 

So one day, Darin sat down and wrote a song that fitted or “harmonized” with what the public was buying at the time. 

What was popular at the time was good old rock and roll sung by black artists — it was called the Motown sound. 

The song he wrote was called “Splish Splash” and the words started out, “Splish splash, I was takin’ a bath/ ‘Round about a Saturday night.” It had a good old Motown rock and roll sound — and it became a smash hit, selling millions of copies. 

Darin recognized what the market wanted, and he created something that harmonized perfectly with the prevailing market. 

From his earnings, he himself produced a record in the music genre that he really loved — popular jazz oldies. His song, “Mack the Knife” went on to become a multimillion-selling single and made Bobby Darin famous. 

To summarize, you must first have a product that harmonizes with your market. If you haven’t made a substantial amount of money from your marketing efforts yet, sell only products or services that have a ready market — this is the path of least resistance. Afterwards, with the money you make, you can blaze new trails with other products of your own preference.

Power of Psychological Triggers.

A desire to buy something often involves a subconscious decision. In fact, I claim that 95% of buying decisions are indeed subconscious.

Knowing the subconscious reasons why people buy, and using this information in a fair and constructive way, will trigger greater sales response — often far beyond what you could imagine.

I recall a time when I applied one of these subconscious devices by changing just one word of an ad, and response doubled. I refer to these subconscious devices as psychological “triggers.” A psychological trigger is the strongest motivational factor any salesperson or copywriter can use to evoke a sale.

There are 30 triggers in all, some of which I will reveal to you in a moment. Each trigger, when deployed, has the power to increase sales and response beyond what you would normally expect.

There are triggers, for example, that will cause your prospect to feel guilty if they don’t purchase your product. Let me give you an example. Whenever you receive in the mail a sales solicitation with free personalized address stickers, you often feel guilty if you use the stickers and don’t send something back — often far in excess of the value of the stickers. Fundraising companies use this method a great deal. You receive 50 cents worth of stickers and send back a $20 bill.

Another example are those surveys that are sent out asking for you to spend about 20 minutes of your time filling them out. Enclosed in the mailing you, might find a dollar bill included to encourage you to feel guilty, and entice you to fill out the survey. And you often spend a lot more than one dollar of your time to do that.

Guilt is a strong motivator. I have to admit that I’ve used guilt in many selling situations, in mail order ads and on TV — with great success, I might add.

I call one of the most powerful triggers a “satisfaction conviction,” which is a guarantee of satisfaction. But don’t confuse this with the typical trial period you find in mail order, i.e., “If your not happy within 30 days, you can return your purchase for a full refund.” A satisfaction conviction is different. Basically it takes the trial period and adds something that makes it go well beyond the trial period.

For example, if I were offering a subscription, instead of saying, “If at anytime you’re not happy with your subscription, we’ll refund your unused portion,” and instead said, “If at any time you’re not happy with your subscription, let us know and we’ll refund your entire subscription price — even if you decide to cancel just before the last issue.”

Basically you’re saying to your prospect that you are so sure that they’ll like the subscription, that you are willing to go beyond what is traditionally offered with other subscriptions. This in fact gives the reader the sense that the company really knows it has a winning product and solidly stands behind the product and your satisfaction.

Is this technique effective? You bet. In many tests, I’ve doubled response — sometimes by adding just one sentence that conveys a good satisfaction conviction.

I received an e-mail from a company, a subsidiary of eBay, requesting my advice. They had an e-mail solicitation that wasn’t drawing the response that they had expected. What was wrong?

Looking over what they had created, I saw several mistakes, many of which would have been avoided if they knew the psychological triggers that cause people to buy. Let me give you just one example.

In the subject line of most e-mails that have solicited me, I have been able to tell, at a glance, that the solicitation was for a specific service or an offer of something that I was clearly able to determine. Examples such as “Reduce your CD and DVD costs 50%,” Or “Lose weight quickly,” pretty much told me what they were selling. Was this good or bad?

The problem with those subject lines is that the reader was able to quickly determine: 

1. that it was an advertisement; and 

2. that it was for some specific product or service.

Most people don’t like advertising. And most people won’t make the effort to open their e-mail solicitation if they think they are getting an advertising message — unless they are sincerely interested in buying something that the advertisement offers.

The subject line of an e-mail is similar to the headline of a mail order ad, or the copy on an envelope, or the first few minutes of an infomercial. You’ve got to grab somebody’s attention and then get them to take the next step. In the case of the envelope, you want them to open it. In the case of an infomercial, you want them to keep watching, and in the case of an e-mail, you want them open up the e-mail and read your message.

The key, therefore, is to get a person to want to open your message by putting something into the subject area of your e-mail that does not appear to be an advertising message — one that would compel them to take the next step. And the best trigger to use for this is the trigger of curiosity.

There are a number of ways you can use curiosity to literally force a person to take the next step. You can then use this valuable tool to put a reader in the correct frame of mind to buy what you have to offer.

Once again, all the principles apply to every form of communication — whether it be advertising, marketing or personal selling. And to know these triggers is the key to more effective communication and most importantly, the avoidance of costly errors that waste time and money.

Killer Copy: Words That Are Like Magnets to Money.

I’ll never forget what my accountant said five years ago when he saw the ad I wrote for my services: “How many scotches did you drink before you wrote this?” 

He was kidding about the scotch. But he just couldn’t believe anyone in their right mind would write such a bold and outrageous ad for their own writing, consulting and speaking services, as I had. 

Well, I spent $300 on that ad — $200 to run it in a local trade association directory, and $100 to have it reprinted as a flyer. The following year, that $300 ad turned into $12,341 in new business for me. And $12,341 was just a tiny fraction of my total business that year. 

Why did I make so much money myself while there were so many thousands of “starving writers” in the world? The answer may surprise you. You see, it’s not because I’m a better writer. It’s not my schooling. Not my resume. Not any talent I was born with. 

It’s all because I learned how to write “killer copy.” 

How do you write killer copy? 

You start your killer copy with an emotion-packed opening statement that will get the attention of your reader. This opening statement may be: 

* a headline
* an opening sentence
* a subject line on an email
* the header on a Web page 

… or for that matter, the opening words in a telemarketing script, radio commercial, or TV spot. What’s important is that you understand – your first words count for everything – because you must captivate peoples’ imagination with those words in order to keep their attention. 

Here are examples of opening statements from actual successful marketing pieces: 

a) “Take the luxury vacation of your dreams at a reduced cost because of this special offer” (from a travel agency’s letter to business owners.) 

b) “How to stop overwhelm before it stops you” (from a personal coach’s ad aimed at stressed-out overachievers) 

c) “Why almost every financial statement in family court may not disclose the full net worth of the opposing spouse” (from an

investigator’s sales letter to divorce lawyers.) 

Then, after your emotion-packed opening statement, you just 
a) Make a promise
b) Back it up with convincing proof and
c) Ask for action

Let’s look at how you do each of those three techniques. 

1. Make a promise. The letter about luxury vacations starts with these words: 

“Imagine taking your winter vacation knowing you aren’t spending a penny more than you have to – secure that you have a team of travel experts making sure every little detail of your vacation goes smoothly. “Here’s how you can have that vacation right now: Take advantage of an unusual promotion our company is doing. Let me explain.” 

Pretty exciting, right? Even if you don’t think so, the people who got the letter did – because the letter produced an amazing $5 million in sales for the travel agency. 

2. Back it up with convincing proof. The personal coach’s ad for stressed-out overachievers, the one that begins “How to stop overwhelm before it stops you,” contains this proof: 

* 3 case studies,
* 3 testimonials,
* detailed credentials of the coach
* and a money-back guarantee. 

Despite its stunningly bold claims, the ad comes across as very believable and has generated a record-breaking parade of new clients. 

3. Ask for action. The investigator’s sales letter to divorce lawyers, beginning “Why almost every financial statement in family court may not disclose the full net worth of the opposing spouse,” ends this way: 

“I would like to meet with you at no charge to show you how I can be of service to you and your clients in future family law cases. 

“Please call me at your convenience so we can set up a meeting to discuss further how I can assist your clients recover their fair share of assets. Call me directly at xxx – xxx-xxxx.” 

Killer copy always asks for action in the most powerful way possible. Notice how the above words spell out exactly what to do, and even make a big promise – that the lawyer reading the letter will recover more money in court for their clients (and, therefore, get more money themselves). 

As you can see, a few words of killer copy can lead to massive amounts of money. In fact, many people say writing killer copy is the single most valuable money-making skill in the world. 

And recently, writing copy was named as one of the top 10 emerging professions for the new century. 

It doesn’t surprise me. In the age of the Internet, the old style of advertising copy — saying something clever, and hoping people remember – just doesn’t cut it anymore. 

Besides, these days, with business-to-business advertising growing so fast, the traditional advertising industry is feeling a lot of pressure for ads that really produce results. Why? Because, old-style advertising that entertains, but does not sell, is not cost-effective enough for many companies in today’s hyper-competitive market. 

Recently I heard from my former accountant. (A few years ago, he left accounting to start a new business.) 

He asked me if I wouldn’t mind sharing some ideas on how he could write killer copy for his own business. 

I said sure. And now he’s on his way to doing the same thing that I do, for himself. 

Funny thing about the conversation we had the other day. Unlike the conversation we had back in 1995, he didn’t kid me about drinking scotch, or anything else. Maybe he finally realized that when it comes to increasing your income, killer copy is serious business.

How to Write Press Releases that Get Published?

Do you want to know the secret of writing a news release that will get published? Here it is: 

My secret for publicity success, developed from rigorous self assessment, after having sent out over a million faxed news releases on behalf of over 2,000 clients: 

“Tell me a story, give me a local news angle, touch my heart (make me laugh or cry), hit me in my pocketbook, make my stomach turn over, or grab my gonads.” 

Do this as many times as possible in a one page news release in 30 seconds or less and you will succeed in getting publicity. 

A few years ago I spoke at the National Public Relations Society meetings in Omaha. I found out that most publicists at most big PR firms don’t have a real clue about how to write a news release to get news coverage. They write corporate fluff. 

Rarely do you see them create something that makes an editor drop what he’s doing and pick up the phone and call. And yet this is what you want an editor to do. 

Few people who write a news release really think about what they want the editor to do after they receive and read a news release. 

I’ve been sending out news releases for people for almost 22 years, and most of the people who come to me initially write detailed book reviews or commercial news and web site announcements, not short ideas for articles intended to attract editors’ attention and get a dialog going that results in a feature story published. 

I often have to tell them to start over or shift gears. 

A lot has to do with the content and quality of the book, product service or web site, but let’s just assume that you’ve written the be-all, end-all of whatever subject in your field. This is the ultimate sensation. The only thing anyone will ever need or want. You’re all charged up and revved up to go. Now what… 

A Publicity Plan! 

Yes! A Publicity Plan. 

First, establish your goals for the release. Write them down. Memorize them. Sleep on it. Wake up and think about them some more. 

Remember you have to integrate your marketing with your PR and keep it all within your budget. So identify what you have available and write down how much you want to spend — and on what — and when — and with whom. 

Let’s assume your goal is getting the word out about your product. It could be an initial announcement. It could be part of a year-long monthly campaign to a well targeted media list (again and again to get name recognition). 

Look at your schedule and see that this week your task is at hand. 

You want to get an article published in as many places as possible, to feed sales, acquire name recognition, drive web traffic, all of the above, or whatever. These are common goals. 

Now it’s time to be more specific. Narrow your options and tighten the true alternatives you wish to seriously consider.  Think strategically. Narrow the goals and keep it as simple as can be. 

Whatever your specific publicity goals, you need to be mindful of the types of news releases that can be written: · Print releases for feature stories · Op-Eds Tips articles 

Event announcements 

Radio and TV interview releases 

Product or services releases 

Query letters 

Internet News Releases 

E-mail news releases 

All these can produce publicity success. But writing each type of release entails arraying different information into a different format and style of presentation. Each release has a different purpose and asks the editor or producer to take a different action. And doing any of these well in order to succeed is a daunting challenge. 

Every year I complete a qualitative review of our custom news distribution and the relative success people have been having in getting published as a result of sending fax and e-mail news releases. We analyze this data to see what works and what doesn’t work. We ask our clients what got published and where, and how much publicity or success they experienced as a result.  While this is by no means statistically definitive, it is nonetheless useful. 

We’ve seen one page releases sent to targeted media lists result in successful publicity (defined loosely as having resulted in either wide national publicity, a significant number > 35, top national interviews or bookings, or profit) for book authors, publishing companies, product firms, and government agencies, whose one-page news releases took one of the following approaches. 

So no matter what type of news release you write, you will increase your chances of success if it incorporates one or more of the following. Here’s what appears to be working the best: · human interest angles — particularly with heartwarming anecdotal stories that reveal deep emotion or feelings with bright, colorful word pictures, and enriched sensory experience · interpersonal relationships on difficult or controversial issues — focus on love, sex, money, communications between men and women, parents and children, companies, and employees, government and individuals, 

tips articles advice and tactics excerpted from books, ten commandments, ten tips, etc. 

unusual events — unique personal accomplishments, unusual creative ideas 

humor and wisdom, fun and tragedy 

really new and unique products or books Internet innovations and developments 

politically and socially important editorial tie – in articles 
holiday and event tie in articles 

At least in my humble opinion, for those of you writing news releases or seeking publicity, your chances of success are likely to be increased if you follow one of these formats. 

Even when you do, you will maximize your success if you give the editor a “local news angle”. Localizing news releases maximizes the publication of your release in weekly and daily newspapers. The easiest publicity to get is the announcement of a local event with a distinct local human interest angle. You don’t have to do the editors work for him, but the idea that the news release can be easily adapted to appeal to local needs must be very clear. 

Sometimes getting national publicity is harder, especially in mainstream publications. You need to have a news angle that has some interest at a national level. You also will compete against everyone else vying for attention in the nation, and you have to distinguish why your release is worth publishing over others. 

You can make your job easier and be more successful by breaking 
your national media lists into geographically distinct areas and localizing the release. 

You can create custom media lists on the Internet at the Internet to Media Fax: Click Here. 

Even once you’ve identified you target media, settled on a type of news release, it all comes down to writing the actual release. Assuming you are aiming at print (radio/tv releases are a different animal) — here’s my advice. 

Bottom line — find out what works specifically in the media you want to be in and use my special simple technique for publicity and news release success.  

The Identify, Imitate and Innovate Technique 

Go to a newsstand, and pick up the latest issues of every relevant magazine or publication you can find. The ones you want to be in. Spend at least . Then dissect each magazine for book articles. Use yellow stickies, or cut these out and make a scrapbook. Study the publications closely and see how they write book articles and reviews. Make a list of the headlines. Study the style, length, focus, content, word choice. 

Then start writing by imitating the articles you see. Remember most of the small articles (which are the easiest to get published are one page 200 words. 

Then Innovate it. Re-write it fifteen times. Make it Short and Snappy. Vary the character of your news release to the media you are aiming at. 

You’ve written the end all of all books in the field. Or you’ve created the best product in the world. This is the ultimate sensation. The only book or product anyone will ever need. Get enthused. Now tell people why you are enthused in 150 to 200 words. 

Read it out loud as if you were live on the air — see if it sounds good. 

By the way, good short articles in newspapers and magazines are often read on radio stations and on talk shows every day, especially on morning radio talk shows. This has happened to me. Listen closely when it happens. Remember what the radio announcer is doing. He’s reading a paper or magazine on the air. Wow — a force multiplier effect. Like being seen on Oprah and getting asked to do an interview with People magazine (This happened to my client Courtney Garton. You can see the 7/27/98 edition of People magazine). It also happened to my client Ms. Karen Derrico, author of Unforgettable Mutts. She did an interview on a small radio station in New York City, and was heard by William Safire, who then wrote about the Million Mutt March on Mother’s day in Washington DC in his column in the New York Times. 

A news release has to sing to you before you send it to me, if I am to make you the best possible custom targeted media list I possibly can. 

Best way I know to make it right is to follow in the footsteps of the successful before you.

How to Stop Digital Thieves with CGI?

I’m going to assume you’re serious about your business. If you’re not, I can’t help you anyway. You’ve gone as far as getting a real merchant account to accept credit card payments online.

You know that this was neither easy or cheap. So does everyone else! So, a merchant account shows that you’ve made a serious commitment to your business. That’s good for customer confidence, which is good for business. So far so good…

Now there’s the issue of selling stuff to people online. Your order form leads them to feed their credit card info to a secure gateway, using software you bought or leased from (or through) your merchant account provider. Finally, the transaction is approved or denied.

If approved, the software generates a receipt and emails you and the customer each a copy. At this point, the customer is returned to a page you specified. In the case of downloadable products, this is often the page where they download your product. So, you’ve got the entire process fully automated.

For a product or service with a fairly low price point and a potential for many thousands of sales, this seems ideal. You can quite literally make sales and earn income 24 hours a day. So, what’s the problem?

The form code on your order page is the problem. If someone uses the ViewSource function of their browser, they can see all your code. If they have even a tiny bit of initiative and skill, they can locate the URL of your download page. After all, it’s right there in your form code!

CGI provides two ways of fixing this problem. One involves using a script that makes it impossible to view the source code. You can find a source for such a script by searching the web. Expect to pay a lot for this technology.

Another way is to make the return path a script instead of the actual download location. The script would be used to create and display the download page. It would not be visible to the surfer, since it’s not an HTML document. The script can also record details of the transaction for book-keeping purposes.

I admit that I discovered this by trial and error – and a lucky guess or two. Your merchant account gateway software may have radically different behavior than mine, but here’s what I’ve learned:

The gateway uses the POST method to send the customer to your specified return URL (which can be a script as well as a web page). It also POSTs most of its input data items at the same time. They are usually ignored, but your script can read them if you want to!

Use the names given to the form inputs. Have your script extract the values of these “named parameters” at the time it creates the download page. Record what you want to save about the transaction in your orders file or database.

Now here’s the real secret to foiling the thieves. Inside the script, check to see that the variables you extract contain non-empty values. Did you get that? Here’s an example:

if ($email eq “”) {exit;}

In this example, the script expects to get an email address. If it contains no characters, the script quits instantly. By testing for the presence of some data in such fields as customer name, email address, item #, price, etc., you can tell whether the script was called after a successful transaction – or by a thief…

Put all your security checks prior to the code that creates the download page. If any test fails, the script exits and the thief is left empty- handed. If your form-handling script can convert a product name to a product ID that’s never visible to a browser, this provides even more security. This will be POSTed back to the script and you can check for it before allowing the download.

Close these security holes and you’ll make more money. You may even sleep a little better knowing that people can’t steal that product you worked so hard to create. I know I do!