Am I really in such grave danger?

Jan 5, 2021

What’s in Kim’s Mailbox?

I’ll never forget having the privilege of spending a full day listening to the legendary Gene Schwartz breaking down his process for creating breakthrough promotions.

I was in the same room as about 30 other Phillips Publishing marketers, publishers, and executives, soaking up every word of brilliance that came out of Gene’s mouth. And a lot of it influences my approach to copywriting to this very day.

While there are word-for-word transcripts of that famous Gene Schwartz lecture floating around (including as one of the bonuses you get with my Million-Dollar Control Breakdown Master Class, which you can get at 50% savings through tomorrow with coupon code BYE2020), there are certain things Gene said that day that I can still hear him saying in his own voice more than 25 years later.

And one of them was this…

Gene said he liked to agitate the problem or pain point, or better yet, the hidden underlying cause, to the point that it would create urgency and make the prospect think to him or herself, “Am I really in such grave danger?”

I couldn’t help but think the same exact thing to myself as I read through the sales page promo I’m about to share with you.

It’s a promo I’ve seen used multiple times over the past year or so, so I know it’s a strong control. I also have a good idea of who wrote it (and who designed it)…both are good friends and well-known within our direct response world. But since I haven’t confirmed it’s their promo, I won’t divulge their names.

In any case, it stands out as a promo well worth studying and learning from on many fronts. In fact, so much of it is worth looking at that I screenshotted nearly a dozen different pages from the sales page alone to share with you,.

That’s why I’m breaking up this special “What’s in Kim’s Mailbox?” issue into two separate emails (you’ll get the second one tomorrow.)

So without further ado, let’s get rolling!

This long-running control sales page is for a colon cleanse supplement. So it talks a lot about “poop”. Now, that’s not exactly a pleasant topic…but let’s face it–just like the popular children’s book (at least it used to be popular when my kids were young), “Everybody Poops”.

And a lot of folks have problems doing so.

To be honest, I don’t have issues with constipation (I know, TMI). However, when I was reading through the sales page and the email that drives traffic to it, I couldn’t help but think…

“Am I really in such grave danger?”

Let’s take a look at that initial email that landed in my inbox not long ago, with the subject line “Is your big belly really a “Swollen Colon?”

First, let’s talk about that subject line. It immediately connects a common and often stubborn problem (a big, protruding belly) with something else–hinting at a hidden cause that’s about to be revealed. So it’s casting a wide net, versus simply calling out people who suffer from constipation. It’s also got lots of curiosity at work.

Then there’s that headline (spoiler alert: it’s the same headline used on the sales page you click through to–and if you click on the image above or any of the images in this email, it will take you to the actual sales page).

It doesn’t look like the typical headline in that it doesn’t feel “salesy”. That helps draw the prospect in by bringing their guard down, while continuing to stoke curiosity.

It’s also, well, CATCHY (as Shakespeare surely intended) and gets stuck in your head. In fact, I took my dog out for a walk in the midst of writing this email. As Pearl did her doo-ty, I couldn’t help but say out loud, “Out, out damn poop!”

Next, that opening sentence is a stunner…it combines the credibility of a medical study with humor. Okay, you’ve got me laughing, and making me have to read more (the latter being exactly what you want your opening sentence to do, while being a logical bridge between your subject line/headline and copy).

Then we get into the heart (or “poop”) of the matter…the idea that 5 to 20 pounds of disgusting stuff is plastered to one’s intestinal walls, making them fatter and sicker.

But then, just when you’re realizing you may be in grave danger, there’s HOPE…that “special all-natural colon-cleansing substance” (note: you never say “supplement” or something that just sounds run-of-the-mill) that reduces bowel mass from 42 to 17%.

Note: right after making that dramatic study claim, it doesn’t just go on to the next thing. It goes back and dramatizes that claim even further with “This is an amazing reduction!”

In continuing the study story in the email, it transitions into future pacing, even while still telling the story of the patients…which has the prospect pre-experiencing the benefits of the product before they’ve even clicked through. At this point, how could he or she not take that next step?

Let’s take a look at the first thing we see on the sales page when we click through…

The pre-head says exactly who this is for, and there’s that catchy main headline again. The subhead brings in the pressing problem of removing those pounds of stubborn poop trapped inside you. My only quibble with it is that it’s posed as a question instead of a statement…i.e. I’d prefer to use, “Why You Need a DEEP COLON CLEANSE…” versus a question the prospect may be able to answer “no” to.

But that’s a minor quibble. Note the “Warning” callout on the right about the “extremely graphic” photos. It tantalizes us with the same kind of sick human curiosity that makes us rubberneck at traffic accidents: we just HAVE to look.

There’s a lot more copy that follows between the main headline and the opening of the main letter, coming from the spokesperson and founder of Green Valley Natural Solutions, Lee Euler.

Let’s take a look at what we see next as we scroll down the page…

That subhead at the top is combined with a salutation, signaling we’re able to get into a letter. I like the use of “Dear” and the overall respectful tone, even though we’re talking about an embarrassing topic. You never want to risk insulting your prospect, and this has a kinder, gentler approach to the copy.

Here the copy is letting the prospect know this is for THEM, that the spokesperson knows what they’re going through and can describe it in the same words they would use themselves (versus using “medical speak”.) Simply using their own words gives the copy an emotional punch that speaks to the prospect’s key pain points.

Let’s look at what comes next…

Again, this copy is making good use of empathy…acknowledging the pain points and embarrassment the prospect may be experiencing. At the same time, it’s now starting to broaden out to other “symptoms” due to the hidden cause.

These are common problems that are often difficult if not impossible to get rid of. So even if someone doesn’t often suffer from constipation, they may see themselves as possibly being “backed up” and having this be the reason their stubborn joint pain or forgetfulness or fatigue won’t go away.

(Note: I would have added “Stubborn belly fat” or something else referring to the protruding belly that was teased about in the email and that the promo gets more into, in terms of the build-up causing excess weight gain. This, to me, is a big part of the product’s appeal.)

These “side problems” also add to the urgency of solving the problem for those who do suffer from chronic constipation along with some of these related issues, which is quite likely they do from at least one of them.

Okay, now we’re finally getting into the opening of the main letter. Let’s take a quite look at how nicely this transitions and introduces who’s talking…

I like how right off the copy acknowledges that these “side problems” may seem unrelated, and then teases about how effective and easy the solution is. In the introduction, it’s also acknowledging why the prospect hasn’t heard about this before from their doctor.

Many people struggle with how their copy should flow, especially in the lead. It’s important to order it in a logical way, anticipating what might be going through the prospect’s mind and what they expect to hear next. This can make it easy to edit and rework your lead if you look at it through this lens.

Okay, there’s much more to dig into the sales page copy here…we’re just getting started! Look for Part 2 of this issue of “What’s in Kim’s Mailbox?” tomorrow!

And if you haven’t had a chance to scoop up my Million-Dollar Control Breakdown Master Class, Copywriting Velocity, or Virtual LA Boot Camp Intensive yet, you won’t want to miss this chance to get these A-level copywriting training programs at 50% savings. Simply use the magic Farewell 2020 Flash Sale code BYE2020 (and act by midnight tomorrow night!)

Yours for smarter marketing,


P.S. If you love Copy Insiders and these “What’s in Kim’s Mailbox?” issues, my Copy Insiders 2018: The Complete Collection is packed with dozens you may have missed. You can get it here at half-price with the same BYE2020 code.

And my “Buy ’em All Complete KKS Promo Swipe File” is waiting for you here at 50% off when you use your magic code (which goes “poof” at midnight tomorrow night).

Okay, that’s it for now…see you tomorrow with Part 2 of this promo breakdown! It’ll be a great way to finish out the year.