In an interview, someone asked me for a “must-have” list for a good piece of copy. I hit all the basics in my answer…
2) More benefits
3) Specific and even shocking stats and proof
4) Third-party validation of your claims
5) Credibility building testimonials
5) Some track record of product success
6) A nice strong offer and airtight guarantee
7) And a firm push to get the order.
Not a bad set of tools. But I left something out.
No copy will work if it isn’t build on top of a good sales effort STRATEGY. Now what exactly do I mean by that? I have to credit this insight to Roy Williams and his “Monday Morning Memo,” where he asked the question, “Which do you think would work better, the brilliant execution of a flawed strategy… or the flawed execution of a brilliant one?”
Of course you know the answer. Think about it. Have you ever seen a movie with a great director… an all-star cast… and a screenplay you wouldn’t use to line a litter box? No matter how good the direction and performances are, they can rarely save a miserable script.
On the other hand, get a great screenplay with a terrific plot and insightful, natural dialogue… and it’s hard for even a ham actor or egotistical director to screw it up.
Something similar is true in sales copy. Strategy — a great product paired with a great offer and the ability to fulfill orders beyond the buyer’s expectations — is the cornerstone. If it stinks, it doesn’t matter how clever… how well printed or designed… or how stylistic your ad… because it’s still likely to flop.
Meanwhile, a great strategy — which includes a great product, a great offer, and a strong guarantee, among other things — can work even in the hands of semi-amateurs. Not always, but often.
How do you know you’ve got a strategy problem?
If ad after ad isn’t working, no matter how good you ‘thought’ it read before going out the door… step back and look at the guts of what you’re doing. This is why it’s nice to have clients you work with over and over again. Especially those whose agenda you can anticipate… and who will listen to your input if you sense the strategy behind a product is weak.