A quick reminder before I get into this piece…
My fiancée Ruth and I…otherwise known as ‘Gluth’…are running the Great Grimsby 10k this year and raising money for the British Heart Foundation.
For the many readers outside the UK who are wondering what on earth ‘Great Grimsby’ is…it’s where I’m from. Grimsby is a small fishing port on the east coast of England. And it’s, er, great.
Anyhow, we’re over 60% of the way towards our target of £500, which is pretty good and I thank everyone who’s contributed so far.
As a bonus for readers of All Good Copy, I’m going to hold an exclusive live webinar where I’ll open the floor to a live Q&A and reveal some of my top tips.
I’d like to thank Jared, Kyle and Chris who’ve already sponsored and secured a spot…it’s much appreciated.
If you’d like to join us for the webinar…and more importantly sponsor me and Ruth for the run…
Now, on to more copy-related matters…
Write first without your research
When I come to write a new long copy sales letter, the first thing I do is research the idea.
Actually, this is the case with ANY piece of copy I write.
You already know this. I’ve written often on the fact you shouldn’t start to write a thing until you’ve got a solid idea with plenty of back up. It saves you a lot of time.
Here I’d like to assume you’ve done all your research and you have a load of expert quotes…newspaper cuttings…testimonials…past performance…and case studies.
With all that in your pocket, the next question is how do you use it?
That’s what I’d like to address here.
And it may come as a surprise, but the first thing you should do with all that research is forget about it.
OK. Let me be clear…I don’t mean forget about it completely so you don’t even know what you’re writing about. But I do mean you should put it all to the side and not let it cloud your first draft of the copy.
You see, at this stage of the writing process, your subconscious mind will have drawn out the most important pieces of proof from your research and held them at the front of your focus.
By disregarding the physical research for a moment, it will allow your mind to bring to the front the key bits you remember from your research, which will most likely be the things that will resonate with the reader.
This is useful and, not to mention, good exercise for your brain.
The second advantage of this approach is your copy will naturally flow much cleaner.
If you begin by trying to link up various pieces of research, it’s possible your copy will become stilted and you’ll artificially link sections together that wouldn’t have flown that way if you had just argued your point to a friend in the pub.
By writing what you remember, you’ll be less beholden to detail and be able to focus on the natural flow and most persuasive elements of the writing itself.
Remember, making your copy readable and persuasive is just as important as the proof behind the idea.
Of course, doing it this way means that you will need to revisit what you’ve written and edit it comprehensively.
But before you do that, you need to ‘layer-in’ your research.
Layering your copy with different types of proof
So, now you should have the first part of your copy pretty much written out.
You might go ahead and write the offer too, but that can come later if you prefer.
Let’s assume you’ve written out the bulk of your argument from all the research you can remember.
You should have a compelling piece of copy, but one that’s a bit flimsy, without any real proof of what you’re saying and lacking specific details.
You’d be surprised by how many copywriters stop here and think this is ‘job done’.
The next stage is critical.
Here you need to go back to your actual research and work it into your ‘copy’ argument.
How’d you do this?
Well, you should start by reading your research and breaking it into different types with a mind to what it proves.
If you’ve got a good bucket of research you should have:
- Newspaper quotes – These are headlines from online or offline news outlets that reiterate the idea. For example, if you’re writing about the Fed raising rates, if you have The Times saying “The Fed plan to raise rates,” it’s going to lend weight to your argument.
- Case studies – If you can show what you’re saying will happen to the reader having already happened to people in real life, then this will lend further support to your argument.
- Testimonials – When it comes to making promises, if you can back those promises up with quotes from existing readers who’ve already realised those promises…you’re on to a winner.
- Past performance – If you’re writing about a system or strategy, it will pay to be able to show how that system or strategy has worked in the past. Examples of previous results can be very powerful and showing them, rather than just telling someone they did happen, will help increase response.
Recently I’ve also seen some really good use of social media as proof in a number of current sales letters. If one of the people you’re writing about is on Twitter, look for a tweet that backs-up your argument and include a screenshot of it in your copy.
As I say, as well as identifying what research you have, you should also make a note of the points it backs up so it’s in your head.
Then, read through your copy again and wherever you make a claim or a prediction…look to your research to find something you can include which backs it up.
For example, if you’ve just written that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in support of legalising cannabis…
Back that up by showing a tweet of him saying so.
This will lift your copy to another level. It will give it more gravitas and cement it in the real world. It’s no longer just some abstract voice writing to the reader, they’re now hearing that voice in the context of real world affairs.
Sometimes it’s not even that the reader will look at your proof in detail…it’s just reassuring to see it there, proving that you’ve actually done your research. It means they can have confidence in your authority and expertise.
And through the copy you go again
Of course, once you’ve layered-in your proof, you need to go through your copy again and make sure the flow is still there.
When it comes to adding in testimonials…case studies…newspaper quotes…it can sometimes jilt the copy, or push it in a slightly different direction.
You need to take the time to review this and manage it.
As much as possible you should bring it back to the natural flow you initially crafted…but be nimble here, too…and if you see by adding a piece of proof the section is much stronger or a line suddenly pops off the page…don’t be afraid to move this up in the copy.
Remember, most people don’t get beyond the first page of your copy, let alone the sixth, sixteenth or twenty-sixth…so don’t bury your best proof too low…get it up top for the world to see.
Once you’ve been through this process, your copy should be in a strong position and you should think about getting some other eyes on it to give you a new view of it.
But that’s a different story.
For now, I hope this gave you some insight into how to ‘layer-in’ proof and perhaps a different way of doing it to how you’ve done it before.
Pablo (my dog) needs a walk, so I better skedaddle…but I will end by sharing that link for the Great Grimsby 10k again.
If you’re able to help us reach our target…it would be much appreciated.
Oh and before I go, did you see the very kind testimonial I received from Jenny last week? Talking about featuring strong proof, she writes:
“As a copywriter, I nearly didn’t buy Glenn’s guide thinking I’d learn nothing new. How wrong I was! Write Better Copy is packed full of practical tips you can use straightaway to improve any piece of writing (no fluff or filler here). I’ve already started using Glenn’s techniques and can see the difference. Whether you’re new to copywriting or have been writing for years, I’d recommend getting your hands on Write Better Copy.”
If you haven’t got the guide yet, you can pick up a copy here.