Proof Elements Part 2. Direct Response Copywriter Email Archive May 2018.

May 2018

Proof Elements

I’m going to continue with my series about proof elements. I'll go through the following.

Comparisons Scientific findings Research findings Unique mechanism


I’m quite a big fan of Car and Driver Magazine, a publication that routinely runs comparison articles. They’ll test 2-5 different cars and tell you which car they liked the best … and then rank all the contestants. It’s fun reading plus it motivates car lovers to open the magazine to see which car won.

In direct response copy, comparisons can be a proof element, usually in some type of table that compares your product to others in the market. You have to be careful and I’m NEVER a big fan of bashing the competition, even if the competition is eminently bashable. In fact, I'm working on copy where the control bashes doctors, drug companies, and pretty much everyone. My new copy doesn't bash anyone.

The comparison I prefer is what I call the “self-comparison” where I provide two offers for the product, each with different levels of features. It’s the old, GOOD-BETTER-BEST self-comparison.

I like this approach much more than creating a table that beats up the competition.


I’m going to group these together because they’re very similar … and mostly self-explanatory.

It’s not hugely difficult, although it takes a lot of time, to come up with research to back up claims. Many times, the client will have this research ready to go.

And it’s not hugely difficult to pump a ton of research and related content into a promotion. But you have to be careful.

In the last email, I talked about how it’s really important to be careful with specificity. You can include a lot of numbers and specificity but you can end up bombarding the reader with too much information and the surfeit of specificity can confuse everyone.

So … with your scientific and research findings, choose wisely and only include the most salient findings that really back up your claims. Perhaps there’s something from a big-name source like Harvard Medical School, or Time Magazine, or The Mayo Clinic. In the financial space, can you get something from The Wall Street Journal?

If you have a lot of “leftover” research that you really like, you can create a Johnson Box with a subhead saying … “Here’s Additional Research About Product X” or you can include it after the P.S. in a Q and A.


I could write a book about this proof element and, in fact, I am writing a couple of books about copywriting and the “unique mechanism” will play a big part in both books.

The unique mechanism is not just a proof element. It can be a core element of profitable copy. Over the next couple of days, pay close attention to the advertising you see and hear and you’ll see the unique mechanism tactic used over and over. It’s such a vital way to differentiate a product or service.

But you can’t just plop down the unique mechanism and say, “here’s a unique mechanism so that’s why you have to buy.” The prospective client will say, “yeah, right.”

You have to explain the basis behind the unique mechanism plus you have to prove that the unique mechanism actually works and makes the product better than other products.

If you have a dietary supplement then you can highlight a new ingredient but then you have to show that it performs.

Let’s say you’re selling a ski with a new technology that makes it easier to turn the ski. You have to explain the new technology with video plus images and copy. Then you have to show it actually works. You can use before and after images, testimonials, and celebrity skier endorsements.

What are we discovering here?

All the proof elements must work together. Proof elements do not work in isolation.

In the next email, I’ll go through the following proof elements.

Reasons why Logical argument Specialization Third party verifications

If you want the full list of proof elements from the ad agency in Australia, click here.

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

P.S. As you read and hear copy, check the copy for proof elements.