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Don't screw this up (your promo's most important "real estate")

What's in Kim's Mailbox? Every real estate agent you may know will tell you the secret to closing bigger sales: "Location! Location! Location!" Yet we as copywriters and marketers don't always take this secret to heart when it comes to our promos...whether they're print or online. It was inculcated into me from an early age as a direct marketer that you want to maximize the effectiveness of the most valuable "real estate" of your promo. If it's a direct mail piece, that's whatever your prospect sees on the outside of it...whether it's the front cover of your magalog or whatever is on the outer envelope. If it's an online sales page, it's whatever is "above the fold" and is the first thing your prospect sees when they first land on it. If it's a video sales letter (VSL), it's the headline or other copy above the video, as well as whatever else is showing at the beginning of the video when they land there. Having "grown up" in the direct mail world, it was always pounded into my brain that you have just a second or two to grab a prospect's attention and make them want to read your promo...as they precariously dangled it over the trash can as they sorted their mail. I was taught THIS is exactly where the rubber meets the road. Which is why so many of the most successful copywriters and direct response marketers put so much emphasis on coming up with the strongest possible "big idea" and finding a way to immediately convey it in their main headline. If you bore them...if you're confusing...if you don't call them out as if you're speaking to directly to them...if you sound like everyone else...if you're too unbelievable...or if you commit any one of dozens of possible sins, you're dead in the water. And into the "circular file" (digital or real-life trash can) you go. That's why when I received not one, but TWO magalogs in the mail the other day for different products--from the same company (seems like shooting yourself in the foot right there), I decided I wanted to study them. While there were definitely some things they were doing right, they both committed this cardinal sin of not maximizing the most valuable real estate of their promo: the front cover. Let's take a look at the first front cover of a promo that's selling an immune-boosting supplement...

This promo is banking on the strength and curiosity of the story of a super-centenarian. But it's something that's been done to death before. And it's not speaking directly to a deep want or dominant emotion the prospect may already have. In fact, it doesn't seem to be speaking to the prospect at all, as it lacks a "you" component in the main headline. It also steers clear of making any kind of stop-you-in-your-tracks claim or big promise. "Long and healthy life?" Yawn...boring! The thing is, turn the page and you'll find so many "buried" headlines throughout the promo, which is very well-done and designed once you get inside (IF you do). If you insist on going with the centenarian theme, why not use the buried headline on page 3 that reads, "The Centenarian's Secret to a Longer and Better Life". But honestly, what's on everyone's minds right now (and why have immune supplements been selling like hotcakes for months?) Duh...people want to boost their immunity so they don't get sick and can fend off nasty viruses. On the top of pages 4-5 there's a headline that could be tweaked and put on the front cover along the lines of this: "The Strongest Immune Booster Science Has Ever Found...60 times more potent to dramatically reduce the number of times you get sick" (all of this copy is already on that page, so I'm assuming it's passed muster compliance-wise). Or "Make your immune system a protective powerhouse", which is buried on pages 20-21. There are so many better angles and headlines inside than what's on the front cover..and it lacks one big unifying idea. The separate ideas of boosting immunity so you don't get sick versus being able to live past 100 seem to compete with each other. And I doubt people are waking up in the middle of the night worrying about whether they're going to live to 100. They just want to live until next month, or whenever this crazy pandemic goes away. As an old Buddhist saying goes, "Be in the now." What does your prospect find most urgent right now? Okay, let's move on to the front cover of the second magalog I received in my mailbox the same day from the same company...

This next promo, which is for a nitric oxide-boosting supplement, takes to heart Gene Schwartz's fourth stage of market sophistication by focusing on a mechanism that provides a better, surer way. And these types of circulation-boosting supplements have been hot for a while (like my CircO2 control)...so to stand out from the competition, this seems like a good thing to focus on. However... It's not immediately telegraphing to me why I should want "twice the N-O power". Even if I'm a more sophisticated and educated prospect, I still want those reasons reinforced to convince me to read further. And not just vague, boring copy (like we saw on the first cover) like "heart health", "brain health", etc. Yet inside on pages 2 to 3 and throughout the promo, the copy does a great job of dimensionalizing why strong blood flow is so important and all the wonderful things it does for your health. So it motivates you to want stronger blood flow as the answer to all your biggest health worries, pursuit of endless youth, and stubborn, nagging health problems. Meanwhile, it's like a disconnect when you go from the front cover into the rest of the promo. This "big idea" of "swiftly moving blood flow is your body's greatest healing force" (a headline I took from page 4) should be conveyed right on the front cover. And THEN tease about the unique mechanism in the subhead--that your solution has twice the N-O power. Though I would argue that's not a very strong and immediately understandable mechanism. On page 5 there's copy that may be stronger to borrow from: "Dramatically improves your blood flow in as little as 3 hours" or something like that. Okay, if you happen to see these babies in your mailbox, take a look yourself and think about what could have been done better here. And if you're not getting enough "junk mail" (oops...did I just say that?!), buy a supplement from one of these direct mail marketers I feature from time to time in "What's in Kim's Mailbox" and you'll get on their list. Speaking of "What's in Kim's Mailbox", if you weren't on my Copy Insiders list during all of 2018, there are 27 no-holds-barred copy breakdowns you missed out on…including successful promos written by Carline Anglade-Cole, Dan Ferrari, Marcella Allison, Arthur Johnson, and other top A-listers. Well, now you can get all of these breakdowns including actual promo excerpts in one giant, 100+ page E-book as one of exclusive 6 bonus gifts when you take advantage of Justin Goff's 1000 Buyers a Day offer at my special link. But that's not all. You'll also be invited to bring your own copy or a promo you've seen to a live call I'm hosting this Friday called "What's in Kim's Mailbox LIVE". It's happening at 11am Eastern and it's your chance to see me in action breaking down copy. Plus you'll also get 4 other fabulous freebies from yours truly, including a swipe file containing full PDFs of 10 of my most successful, longest-running controls...and the following 3 special reports:


  • Long-Form Copy Made Easy: 60 Secrets to Writing Killer Sales Pages and VSLs

  • Six-Figure Success Secrets: 11 Totally Hushed-Up Client Strategies That Get You More Money with Less Hassle

  • How Did They Come Up with That? Research Secrets That Result in Better “Big Ideas”

This bodacious bundle is worth at least $999...but it's yours free when you take advantage of Justin's incredible "Free bribe" offer that's ending tonight at midnight. Click here to get all of these copywriting and business-building success tools now (while you still can!) Yours for smarter marketing, Kim

P.S. If you don't want to receive any more emails from me about this special 1000 Buyers a Day offer from Justin Goff that's ending today, but still keep getting your Copy Insiders, What's in Kim's Mailbox, and other emails from me, you can click here and I'll make sure you don't hear about it from me again. No hard feelings!

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