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This week's Copy Insiders: 3 quick fixes that make your copy soar

Updated: Aug 18

Issue #101—July 24, 2020

Getting your copy critiqued is not for the weak of heart. After all, you've poured your blood, sweat, and tears and perhaps even felt like you sliced a vein open and bled on the page (as the author Stephen King famously describes writing) to get that copy written. Now, your client or someone else you've asked to review your copy is ripping it up right in front of your eyes.


It's one of the most difficult aspects of copywriting to deal with, especially when you're starting out. But it's also one of the best--if not THE best--ways to get better at writing copy. I'm talking exponentially better. On many occasions I've done live copy critiques, like recently as guest on one of Brian Kurtz's Titans Xcelerator mastermind calls, or the live copy critiques I did for the smart folks who joined my Copy Teardown Master Class (all of the recordings and trainings are available here in case you missed it). Today at noon Eastern time I'll be joining my friend Kevin Rogers and some other copy pros to do live copy critiques on his weekly "Chief Chat" (if you're speedy, you can sign up for the call here and see me in action). But for those of you who want to do your own "do it yourself" copy critiques, I thought I'd share a quick rundown of some of the most common problems I see with copy I'm asked to review... #1: Main headlines that are too generic or vague You'd be amazed how often I see headlines that could literally be talking about just about anything. They don't instantly telegraph what it is they're talking about: what problem they're solving or benefit they're offering, who it's for, or why I should believe what they're saying. By adding more specifics to your headline, you can make it dramatically more powerful. You want to make sure you're calling out the right prospect (is this for me?) Many times this can be accomplished by simply mentioning the problem and promising a solution. Three key things to include in any headline are news, benefit, and curiosity. You don't need all three, but at least two of them. You may also want to include a "speed of result" promise, as well as tease about a unique mechanism. You also want to overcome skepticism over a big claim you're making by providing some form of proof (this could simply be "Stanford scientists" or mentioning a study). Just be sure that by adding more specifics you don't bog your headline down with too many words or sentences. But in general, adding a few more carefully-selected words, while editing out those that are superfluous, will lead you towards a MUCH stronger main headline. Now let's look at some common mistakes once someone starts reading your promo... #2: Abrupt or non-existent transitions Chances are you've heard me or other copywriters talk about how you want your prospect to be gliding down a "greased chute" when reading your copy. Every sentence makes you want to read the next one, and so forth. In an ideal world, there's nothing to stop or trip your reader up that keeps them from that "greased chute" ride to the close section of your copy. But in most copy I'm asked to review, I find there are multiple points where simply having a sentence, paragraph, or even simply a few words like "But that's not all..." would go a long way to keeping me from feeling like I'm on a knuckle-baring rollercoaster ride getting jerked around back and forth. That's just one common "body copy" mistake. Here's another one many copywriters make... (see how I just transitioned there?) #3: Missing the chance to dimensionalize Many copywriters who are doing things right invest a lot of time on research. Through their digging, they come up with a great story or big claim they're able to make about their product or service. But then they just throw it out into the copy, without taking this next key step: dimensionalizing it. So it almost becomes diminished in its importance...practically overlooked as the reader continues soldiering on through the promo. If you make a big claim or have a big study finding, make it stand out. For example, you could say "That's pretty amazing!" You want to reflect what's going through the prospect's mind and then reinforce it in your copy. You also want to dimenisonalize your claims and benefits in terms of their impact on your prospect. What does this mean to your prospect? "So they can {fill in the blank}". Things like walk longer without getting tired. Retire worry-free and never be a burden to their children. Sleep through the night and wake up refreshed every morning. You can go even deeper with this...how does this tie back to their deepest fears and desires? Tie it back to the underlying dominant emotion the prospect is experiencing about the problem or solution. The late Clayton Makepeace was a master at this, and if you ever have the chance to study his copy, you should do so. He taught me a lot about dimensionalizing that I've used in many a successful promotion. Okay, I've got more common mistakes I could get into but I need to end it here. Until then, be sure to use the "Ultimate A-List Copywriter's Promo Checklist" you got when you signed up for my email list. It gives you 5 different pro-level checklists in one that you can use in each stage of writing your copy to make it much stronger. If you don't have that checklist or it's not handy, you can download it at this link. Yours for smarter marketing, Kim

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