How do you convince your prospect to buy your product or service? Over the years, I’ve developed two “rules” for the marketing copy I write. Whether you’re writing the copy yourself or reviewing copy that someone else has written for you, make sure it abides by these rules. If it doesn’t, nothing else that you do in your sales letter will work.

First and foremost …

1. Care about your prospect.

This is by far the most important secret to producing good, strong, compelling copy. Understand what keeps your prospect up at night – and what he thinks about when he wakes up in the morning – and be sure your sales letter addresses those concerns in honest and sincere ways.

Understand his worries, needs, and fears. When you have the prospect’s welfare in mind, you’ll produce a much more sincere sales letter. And sincerity is very powerful.

You can’t be obvious about it. You can’t directly say to him, “Listen, I know you’re not doing that well in the market and I want to help you.” Your sincerity has to come through in the way you talk to him … the words you choose to use.

Let’s say you’re selling a stock trading service designed to uncover “home-run” profits. You could say:

“The market’s tough on everyone these days. The Dow is down 3% – the NASDAQ’s down 6%. It’s pretty tough for anyone to make money out there – let alone someone who’s on the outside of Wall Street looking in.

“But there are a handful of investors getting wealthy – even in this sideways market. They’re doing it using the very same trading techniques the pros use. I’d like you to know about them … so you too can enjoy the profit spoils many Wall Street insiders help themselves to every day.”

This copy addresses a big concern for most investors: It’s tough to make money when the market’s not performing. It’s empathetic when it says that the market’s tough on everyone – suggesting they’re not alone and it’s not their fault.

You’ve got them thinking, “This guy knows me. He’s on my side.” And then you invite him into this special group of people who are having success … which in itself makes him feel unique and special.

The “caring” is there. Much better than saying: “You can make a lot of money using a trading strategy I’ll show you in this letter.”

Be sure to follow the “caring” language throughout the letter. When talking about your guarantee, for instance, don’t just say, “You’re guaranteed to like it or your money back.” Instead, you say something like …

“I’m sure you’ll be thrilled with the number of home-run gains you earn with XYZ. But I don’t want you stuck with something that’s not for you. So if for any reason you’re not absolutely thrilled with any aspect of XYZ, just let me know and I’ll see that every penny you’ve spent is returned to you.”

A little trick many copywriters use to ensure we write “caring” copy is to think of someone we know who we’d like to see make an extra $100,000 or so a year, and write as if we’re talking to that person.

Which brings me to my second big secret …

2. Believe in the product.

Obviously, you believe in your product. (If you don’t, why are you selling it?) But if you’re not writing your own copy, you have to make sure that the person who’s writing it for you believes in it too. If he doesn’t, it will be impossible for him to produce convincing copy.

It’s no accident that some of my greatest successes have come with products I truly believed in and was able to get myself really excited about.

How do you get your copywriter “excited” about your product? Easy. Help him learn everything that is good about it. Provide him with all the marketing information you can get your hands on. Arrange to have him talk to your editor, product manager, or marketing person.

Most products have plenty of benefits that a good copywriter can wrap his head around – benefits that you know will be great for the prospect you care so much about. But, of course, no product is perfect. So how do you deal with those “imperfections”?

Say you’re selling an investment advisory that has a few losing picks associated with it. You can ignore them – but if you do, you’re doing your prospect (the guy you care so much about) a great disservice.

So what do you do? Be honest! Tell him about the losing picks … then turn that into a positive. Here’s one way to do it. After talking about the successful trades, say:

“You know, I’ve just given you seven instances where XYZ has made a lot of money for subscribers. Is every pick on the money? Of course not. I’d be insulting you if I suggested it was. But here’s the thing. I’ve shown you examples of winners returning 120%, 240% – even 560%. But our losers rarely exceed 25% … thanks to our super-strict stop-loss strategy that severely limits the amount of money you could ever lose.”

This not only turns a negative into a positive … it also enhances the credibility of everything else you say in your sales letter.

Are there other “rules” to follow with your marketing copy? Sure – and we go into all of them in detail in AWAI’s Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting. Briefly, here are some of the most important ones:

Use short, simple, sentences. Be aware of tempo. Use punctuation to your advantage. Apply The Barstool Test. Keep the copy “conversational.” Never talk down to or show up your prospect.

Every one of these rules contributes something to the main goal of your sales letter: to persuade your prospect to buy. But unless you follow the first two, none of the others will make a difference.

“I like to think of sales as the ability to gracefully persuade, not manipulate, a person or persons into a win-win situation.”- Bo Bennett

(Ed. Note: Paul Hollingshead, a professional copywriter, is the co-founder of AWAI.)

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