I’m going to share a bit of the information that I first taught at my $3,495 per person copywriting workshop. This subject is something I have not seen anyone else tackle in full. So if you are interested in making your sales copywriting (actually, any writing) work harder for you – pay attention!
You see, once most people learn about copywriting, they can usually crank out some pretty decent letters. But where the rubber meets the road is during a part of the writing process that most people don’t want to think about, let alone do. I’m talking about the editing. Today, I’m going to reveal four of the steps I take to hone, polish, and sculpt my sales letters.
Of course, before you start editing, you need to have something worth editing. And you really cannot write and edit at the same time.
So, when you sit down to write, I suggest that you turn off your internal editor. (You know, that little voice in your head that says, “That’s dumb” or “Blah!” or “Nobody is going to care about that.”) Then write quickly. Get it all out as soon as you can, and edit later.
When you begin editing, focus on one thing at a time. This is one of the biggest secrets to ending up with a great sales letter. It’s like when you buy a new car and all of a sudden you start seeing your make and model everywhere. The same number of Mini Coopers were on the road before – but now you have selective perception. Our brains are trained to seek out what we are hunting for, so most people will do one “general” edit and catch a few big problems. But that’s not good enough.
Phase 1 Edit: The First 500 Words
The opening is one of the most critical parts of your sales copy (after the headline), so that’s what I concentrate on first. Studies have shown that once a person gets past the first 500 words, he won’t stop reading until the 5,000-word mark. So one of your major goals is to get people to read through those 500 words.
Most writers start a sales letter with a lot of “warm up” – getting ready to say what they want to say. You need to be ruthless and get rid of the fluff. To make your copy more powerful, see what you can cut from the beginning of the letter. You’ll usually find that your best lead-in will be further down the page. (When doing copy critiques, I often X out the entire first page – or two! – or several of the initial paragraphs.)
Phase 2 Edit: The Flow of the Copy
The next thing I do is read through the entire sales letter with one thought: “Does this paragraph/section/copy block make sense where it is?”
What I’m looking for is a logical and persuasive flow to the copy. If I am writing to an audience that is especially skeptical, I will move my “Authority” and “Proof” elements closer to the beginning. If I’m using an analogy or a story, I make sure it is positioned in the best spot to keep readers engaged.
Phase 3 Edit: Graphics, Embellishments, and the Overall Look
The next thing I pay attention to is the “look” and “feel” of the entire letter.
Just like a top chef doesn’t want the spices to overpower the food, you don’t want the graphics and embellishments to overpower the copy. A pinch will do it. So, to make sure I’m not overdoing the bolding, italics, underlining, bullet points, check boxes, fake handwriting, etc., I use what I call my “Squinty Test.”
I print out each page, hold it in front of my face, and squint so all I can see is patterns, not the actual words. If I don’t see a good amount of white space and a balance of graphic elements, I make the necessary changes.
Phase 4 Edit: Double-Readership
I learned the concept of double-readership from Dan Kennedy, and it’s something you have to keep in mind when you’re writing copy.
There are two types of prospects: those who will read your sales letter, and those who will only skim through it, even after you capture their attention with your headline. So you want to make sure they can get enough information to make a buying decision just by skimming through the headline, subheads, and words that are set off by bolding, italics, etc.
If they can do that, you’ve done your job.
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Just by skimming through the above, you get the idea, don’t you? You get enough information to decide whether you’re interested in the product being sold.
There are other important edits you can make to your sales letters to make them stronger – and I’ll address them in an upcoming article. In the meantime, these four can tighten up your sales copy and make it much more appealing to prospective customers.[Ed. Note: As master Internet marketer Yanik Silver (www.MaverickBusinessInsider.com) says, careful editing can make the difference between mediocre and blockbuster sales copy.]