Breaking the rules and finding what’s buzzing

Dec 22, 2023

It’s now less than one week until Christmas. And Santa Kim’s been busy!

While I was able to avoid any more HOA drama yesterday, I did end up spending several hours at the hospital emergency room tending to my elderly mom.

Turns out she’s got the flu, and will need to stay in the hospital for the next few days. Please keep my mom in your thoughts and wish her a speedy recovery in time for Christmas!

Now, let me dig deep into my mailbag and see what questions I’m going to answer for you today. Oh, here’s one! It’s come all the way across the pond from London, England…

“Are there any new emerging markets or trends in the supplement niche (or others) you think copywriters should keep a tab on. Merry Xmas. You’re probably (most definitely) my favourite ever copywriter. Peace, Tal Sam”

Thank you, Tal! Of course I had to put your question first… (-;

I’ve seen some big emerging markets and trends — several of which I talk about in my Supplement Copy Boot Camp (which you can get here).

But let’s recap a few that seem to be especially strong:

➼ ULTRA-specific solutions—i.e., hearing, foot fungus, hair growth, diabetic neuropathy

➼ Product names that sound like drugs but with a clear implied benefit—i.e., Prostadine, Nervogen, Alpilean

➼ Unique forms—i.e., chews, tinctures, gummies (which are especially hot)

Plus you want to keep up with the hottest-selling nutrient categories and ingredients. That’s because when a client hires you to write for one of their supplement formulas, you can better decide which nutrient you want to lead with and make the “star” of your promo to differentiate it (and support your claims and unique mechanism).

You want to look for recent studies (the more credibility behind them, the better), anything that’s getting buzz from celebrities and on social media (i.e., lately there’s been a lot about berberine being “nature’s Ozempic”, which of course you could never say in your sales copy), and categories of nutrients that are rising in popularity (i.e., nutricosmetics, anything to do with mushrooms).

In my boot camp, I talk about where you can find this info and stay on top of it. One free source I’ve mentioned recently here is to look at the top-selling offers on Clickbank, as that can shed light into what’s working online.

And New Hope Network has a lot of resources and info available online, some of it paid, some free.

Good luck to you Tal! Always good to hear from you.

Alright, now that Santa Kim’s had her second cup of coffee, let’s dig into the mailbag and answer another question. Oh, lookie there… this one’s actually a two-part question!

It’s from a Copy Insider who didn’t say whether I could identify them, so we’ll keep them anonymous. Here goes…

“Hi Kim… I have two questions: 
1- I ask about how i can use AI tools when i want to search about any topic in copywriting ,for example headlines, the story behind the topic….. i mean is there any guideline or course i can use it to master this opportunity? I want to master how i can use the AI prompts. 
2- .I see some good copywriters use crazy negative claims ( Non Compliance ) in their copy , for example the copywriter [name withheld] uses the headline ‘The Big, Fat Cholesterol Hoax That Put You in Diapers’) … My question is this because they write for a newspaper that they can say what they want in their copy ? if so, what about when I don’t have a newspaper… just owner offer.”

Regarding the first question, I provide a number of “done-for-you” AI prompts you can customize for doing copywriting research that are included in my popular Research Beast course (details are here). I strongly recommend that you get up to speed and comfortable using various AI tools — and research is a great way to make use of them.

There are other AI courses out there — in fact, I see them popping up on an almost daily basis. One of the best people to follow in this space — albeit often from a bigger-picture perspective — is my friend and past mentee Sam Woods. You can sign up for his free Bionic Marketing e-letter here. It’s excellent!

However… I still recommend you do research the non-AI way as well. In fact, that’s still how I find my very best copy “morsels”.

Whether it’s nailing the prospect’s exact language and deepest emotions… finding the best studies and actual sources (i.e., the full-text version that was actually published)… or discovering articles that shed light in more understandable terms on various nutrient claims or health concerns, I still swear by “Dr. Google” (plus multiple other resources I can’t list here but are in my Supplement Copy Boot Camp and Research Beast course).

Now, regarding your second question… you’re calling it a “newspaper” but what you’re actually referring to is a direct mail promo that masquerades as a newspaper or magazine… a popular and highly-effective format called a “magalog” (with other variations like “tabloid”, “slim jim”, or “faux newspaper”).

The same compliance “rules” (which I put in quotes since they’re often interpreted by different companies in different ways based on their risk tolerance) apply to direct mail promos like the “newspapers” you refer to OR any kind of online promo, ad, social media, or website copy OR on product labels OR in print ads OR whatever is said by a retail salesperson in a store OR what’s said over the phone by a customer service representative etc etc etc.

Is that particular headline breaking any rules? I will say at least one of my more conservative clients would say it is since it’s mentioning the word “cholesterol”… but most of them would say it’s just fine. That’s because it’s not making any kind of disease claim. If the word “high” was in front of “cholesterol”, then that would be referring to a medical condition and be far riskier.

My Supplement Copy Boot Camp (and my Million-Dollar Controls master class) both include in-depth supplement copy compliance training. This particular Copy Insider happens to have both, so it’d be a good idea to go back through this.

Alrighty… dare Santa Kim pour herself a third cup of coffee and answer one more question?

[oh, look, there’s still some coffee left in the pot! Let me finish that off… I mean, I am wearing my new “Coffee makes me less Grinchy” holiday t-shirt!]

Okay, let’s see what the next question is that I’ve pulled out my mailbag. It’s from Copy Insider Fazil…

“What is your process when given a long-standing control to beat? I’m referring to the steps you take even before you start writing a single word of copy. Any insight here would be greatly appreciated!”

Ah, great question! Long-standing controls are often my favorite promos to go up against. Why? (Here’s a little secret most A-Listers won’t tell you…)

It’s because in many cases, that once smokin’-hot control has likely gotten a bit (or a lot) fatigued over the many months or years it’s been running. So it’s usually far easier to beat than a fresh, new control.

Yes, I’ve had controls that have run for 10 years or more undefeated (including one that’s going into its 12th straight year). But are these controls anywhere near as strong and unbeatable as they were in their early months as controls? Probably definitely not!

I remember getting this sage advice from one of the world’s best copywriters years ago: if you have a choice, choose to go up against a weak, fatiguing control! Then you have a much better shot at getting a winner.

So don’t be fearful of existing controls. Look for opportunities instead!

Study your opponent hard, like you’re Baltimore Ravens football head coach John Harbaugh (who I went to college with), picking apart hours of film of the team’s next opponent… looking for hidden weaknesses so they can claim victory like they did Sunday and secure their playoff spot (woo hoo!)

In the aforementioned Million-Dollar Controls master class, I walk through my process for picking apart controls I’m going up against (and beat handily). Study that existing control like a mad scientist, dissecting every part of it.

Figure out what’s working. Look for anything that trips you up or is confusing. And, combined with the research you’ve already done, see if you can spot any missed opportunities.

Speaking of research, my Research Beast course gives you my entire six-step process I use for doing research before I write a single word of copy. You can learn a lot about my process simply by reading the sales page for it here.

That’s all I’m going to be able to get to today. I plan to send you one more issue of Santa’s Mailbag this coming Thursday where I’ll answer questions about doing sales calls when you’re a “newbie”, finding clients in this age of AI, and more challenges many of you may be facing. So keep an eye out for it!

And be sure to read the P.S. and act if you’d like to become a part of an incredible 6-month mentoring experience that kicks off less than a month from now.

Yours for smarter marketing,


P.S. The doors are now open to my new Copy Champions 6-month mentoring experience. It’s a more affordable option that focuses on improving your copywriting skillset by getting regular feedback as well as seeing me critique other people’s copy.

Plus there’s office hours and a private Slack group where you can get more feedback and support, while building valuable connections.

I’m offering special savings when you sign up by January 1st, and there’s a monthly payment option available as well. And there’s a handful of VIP spots (one of which has already been snapped up) where you can add private, one-on-one mentoring as well.

If this is something you know you want to do, you’ll want to act before I raise the price January 1st. Actually you’ll want to act sooner than that, as spots are starting to fill and I need to keep the group to a manageable size. So make sure you secure your spot now before I have to close the doors to this program.

Get all the details and secure your spot here.