I clutched my phone as I raced down my apartment building’s stairs to catch an Uber.
I was talking with the online marketing strategist for a famous doctor. She needed some copy re-written. But first, she needed to air some grievances: “I don’t know what’s going on. I hire these copywriters. They miss their deadlines. They’re impossible to communicate with. Is it just me?”
As soon as I jumped into the Uber, our call dropped. We exchanged a few half-hearted texts, but never spoke to each other again.
Is it just her?
When it comes to drama, copywriters are worse than strippers.
You pay them $10,000. They disappear.
You actually get one to write something for you, and he (or she) emails you 10 pages of garbage. I’ve seen one of the most well-known copywriters in the industry do that. The client—proud that he’d retained a “famous guru”—had no idea he’d been ripped off.
Or you hire a copywriter to coach you by phone, and you end up his therapist while he spends the sessions getting drunk and crying about his ex-wife (that actually happened to a friend of mine).
Here’s the good news. You can avoid all this frustration and wasted money by producing the copy yourself. You’re about to find out the easy way to do this. It’s based on the exercise inspired by Gary Halbert, a copywriting genius. Best of all, you won’t have to stare down a blank page, or drive yourself nuts trying to be creative.
Here’s how this easy method works:
Get on the phone with a friend. Or Skype. Either way, make sure one of you is recording the conversation. Your friend is about to interview you with specific questions about your product or service. Here they are:
- “Who should get this thing? In one sentence, tell me who they are and what their problem is.”
- “What’s the story behind your product or service?”
- “What problems does it solve? Big and small, tell me all of them.”
- “What’s your offer? What are you charging, why is it a bargain, and why should I buy it right now?”
- “In one, short sentence, tell me what’s so great about this thing.”
Congratulations. You just wrote your sales copy—in almost perfect order—and it probably took you less than 60 minutes. Look for yourself:
“Who should get this thing? In one sentence, tell me who they are and what their problem is.”
This becomes your opening “if/then” sentence. For instance, let’s say your answer was, “Men over 50 should get this book because it helps them lose weight, even when things like the low carb diet haven’t worked.” With some simple editing, it becomes, “If you’re a man over 50 struggling to lose weight and low-carb diets have completely failed for you, your story is going to change…”
“What’s the story behind your product or service?”
Your answer to this question creates the compelling story. It gets the reader engaged and believing you offer a real solution. Let’s say you told a story of how you personally tried all kinds of different diets and they failed, until you dove into the actual scientific research behind all of the popular books, and discovered what’s proven to truly burn fat. That becomes the story in your sales letter.
“What problems does it solve? Big and small, tell me all of them.”
Question three transitions to you announcing your book. Let’s say you answer, “The special food program burns 15 pounds of fat in the first couple of months, and helps get you to your ideal, healthy weight. You’ll start feeling better much faster than that, plus you’ll have more energy for what you love doing in life.”
This becomes the section for benefits. Outline them, like this:
My product/service …
•Doubles your energy in the first 24 hours.
•Melts 15 pounds off your body in just 60 days, revealing a new, slimmer you that everyone will love.
•Turbocharges your sex life (your spouse won’t believe what’s going on, but will love every minute).
(Pro Tip: If a product helps with wellbeing, relate it to sex.)
“What’s your offer? What are you charging, why is it a bargain, and why should I buy it right now?”
The fourth question clarifies what your actual offer is. $19.95 for a book? $49.95 for a DVD? Whatever it is, make sure you provide a reason to order NOW. Don’t be lazy about this. Do you only have 286 copies of a book printed? Or do you have a limited amount of time to take on new coaching clients? Spell it out.
“In one, short sentence, tell me what’s so great about this thing.”
The final question is for creating your headline. I saved that question for last, so you could mentally “clear your throat” with everything else.
After you’ve completed your recorded call, get it transcribed using a service like Temi.com. Then, edit your transcription. Clean up the parts where you repeat yourself or go off on tangents that don’t drive the sale forward.
Finally, hire three copywriters to edit your draft. Because they don’t need to write anything original, they’ll charge less and get the work done faster. Out of all three, pick the best one. Now you have a copywriter you can work with in the future. (Or, if you’d rather, keep doing it yourself.)
Either way, you won’t have to be any copywriter’s therapist—unless you charge appropriately.