April 2018 3
From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.
I’m a big fan of Gary Bencivenga. Brian Kurtz calls him “America’s greatest living copywriter” and that’s based on results … not hype. Bencivenga routinely smashed controls and he generated tens of millions for his clients.
You can read a great deal about Bencivenga online and I’ll provide some links to resources toward the end of this email.
Proof is a huge deal to Bencivenga ... as it should be to every copywriter.
If fact, Bencivenga had an ‘equation’ he used when writing copy.
Problem + Promise + Proof + Proposition = Persuasion
I prefer to use the word “motivation” instead of persuasion but that’s fodder for another time.
For the next several emails, I want to focus on the “proof” part.
When it comes to copywriting, you’ll read a great deal about headlines, bullets, guarantees, and other technical parts of our trade but you rarely read much about proof.
As Bencivenga writes, the biggest obstacle you face as a copywriter is the “yeah, right” skepticism that everyone has today ... including me ... including you.
You might be writing copy for a client who has genuinely found the cure for type 2 diabetes but the initial reaction from everyone is always going to be “yeah, right.”
Herschell Gordon Lewis wrote a great deal about overcoming skepticism. You haven’t read anything by the great HGL?
Fix that problem right now. HGL was one of the greatest copywriters … plus he was also the producer of what he called “splatter” movies … horror movies with tons of serious gore.
But I digress.
An advertising agency in Brisbane created a wonderful poster of proof elements. You can find it here and it’s free.
I’ll go through parts of this list in the next several emails.
But let’s start with …
Test data Charts and graphs Specificity
Test data is especially important with health-related products. But I have also used test data in golf-related copy. Sometimes you can use test data from extensive tests and trials. But you don’t always have to use data that super-deep. Sometimes I’m a big fan of surveys but sometimes I’m not.
Charts and graphs are always valuable but with these caveats. • A chart or graph must be super-clear. • There should be a copy doodle and caption saying “here’s what this graph proves” along with some type of benefit. • The chart or graph should be relevant. You might be thinking, “I’m a copywriter so why should I have to get involved with charts and graphs?” Dan Kennedy says, and I agree, that a copywriter must be totally involved with the graphical presentation of the copy. I’m not a developer and I’m not a graphic designer but I always want to provide graphical direction.
It’s pretty simple … instead of writing, “you’ll hit the ball further with the Max Cannon” … I write … “Gain an Extra 14-25 Yards Off The Tee With The All-New Max Cannon.”
Specificity is so important, you’ll find a chapter about it in Scientific Advertising.
But you have to be extremely careful with this weapon … and specificity is about more than just numbers. Specificity can be about individual success stories, geographic examples, relevant studies, testimonials from experts, and more.
Let’s focus on numbers.
Choose the numbers extremely carefully and find the ones that have the most impact plus are most relevant to the most important benefits of the product or service.
You can quickly and easily overwhelm the reader/viewer/listener with too many numbers. The prospect’s head can be spinning and there won’t be a sale.
Specificity is obviously vital and must replace vagueness wherever and whenever vagueness appears in copy. But be careful … especially with numbers.
In the next email, I’ll go through these proof elements.
Comparisons Scientific findings Research findings Unique mechanism
OK … here, as promised, are the Bencivenga links.
The Bencivenga Bullets are here.
An interview with Clayton Makepeace is here.
And if you have $5,000 lying around, you can get the video of Bencivenga’s retirement seminar. It's all here along with over 30,000 words of copy.