Issue #126—April 9, 2021
This morning an email popped up in my inbox from a longtime friend and former colleague (and boss) at Phillips Publishing.
Over the past few decades, she’s headed up a major conservative book publishing company and is now working as a consultant and strategist for authors in that niche.
Her name is Marji Ross, and while she may be a top expert within this publishing niche, she also knows a LOT about copywriting and marketing.
In fact, I was immediately struck by how applicable some of the tactics Marji wrote about in her e-zine that’s directed to conservative book authors and publishers are to successful long-form copy.
I asked if I could share them here, and she was delighted for me to do so (Marji is a fabulous mentor and teacher in her own right, I can personally attest!)
So here we go…
“Steal-able” tactic #1: Confirm that their greatest hope or biggest fear is true.
Marji says this tactic is “click-bait for books”. It works great for sales promos, too. Try naming the hope or fear that your audience is harboring, something they suspect might be true but don’t dare hope (or fear) is actually true — and proclaim it.
The late Clayton Makepeace was masterful at this…especially when it came to fear in the highly-successful Weiss financial promos he wrote. By connecting with an idea the reader already has bubbling around in their brain, you make your main headline or email subject line or other copy immediately relevant and appealing to them.
(Note: Marji also points out a common mistake I’ve seen copywriters make: the OPPOSITE of this tactic is to promise to solve a problem the prospect or reader doesn’t know they have…which is a bad idea and will get you nowhere fast.)
“Steal-able” tactic #2: Provide historical context.
This tactic can make your promo more effective by giving support to your “big idea” and making it more credible and believable. This works especially well for financial promos (like Mike Palmer did with his epic “End of America” VSL), but can also work well for alternative health newsletters (i.e., Jim Rutz’s incredibly successful “Read This or Die” promo).
Marji says this tactic is particularly effective when there are big trends shaping our world (in the political book space, it could tie in with the pandemic, racial division, or the debate over election fraud). Any of these or other big trends could be fodder for your next promo as well.
Providing historical context helps frame what is currently happening and makes it less threatening and more possible to navigate. And when you drill down to what we’re really selling with many of our promos, it’s control. Control over your nest egg…control over your brain so you don’t get Alzheimer’s…control is what sells.
This “steal-able” tactic also provides for great story-telling. Even if your prospect doesn’t order from your promo, you can make them feel better off for reading it…and they’ll be more likely to order next time they see it or another promo from you.
“Steal-able” tactic #3: Expose a myth or paradox.
As Marji says, exposing a myth or a paradox can be very powerful, but you have to do some explaining. It’s a tactic that asks people to rethink or re-examine what they believe.
But when it’s done right, it’s a powerful way to introduce a new concept, a new paradigm, or a new path forward. Marji says to use it when the reader (or prospect) doesn’t want to choose Door #1 or Door #2. You provide Door #3.
It could also be a way to introduce the underlying “hidden cause” or why [insert common solution] doesn’t work. It’s most effective for when your target prospect feels stuck or frustrated…for those stubborn problems or worries they feel and experience every day, like joint pain, weight control, or anything money-related.
I’ve seen this tactic used successfully to not just launch a successful promo or product, but to launch entire markets. The entire alternative health market was launched by tapping into the myths and paradox of the traditional medical system.
The same is true of much of the financial publishing industry as well.
In any case, there’s some great tactics here you can “steal” and apply to the next “big idea” or promo you come up with. All from a conservative book expert who…despite our political beliefs being on the other side of the “aisle” from each other…is one of my dearest, longest-time friends and mentors.
We really can’t let political differences divide us. The more we listen to each other, the more we can learn from each other…and the more we can find out how much “middle ground” we actually share.
If you’d like to get on Marji’s list or read her blog, you can do so here. She’s got a special report on five steps to writing a bestseller that’s sure to have some more “steal-able” tactics you can use for copy (or maybe you’ve got a book in you?)
Okay, now let’s take a look at a promo that seems to fit in well with the tactics I’ve just shared with you…
What’s in Kim’s Mailbox?
It’s a sales page promoting a financial newsletter called “Strategic Investor” that’s published by Casey Research. It was submitted by Copy Insider Tyler McCune (who submitted multiple other promos as well–thank you, Tyler!)
As you can see from reading through the main headline and lead, it’s definitely using the first tactic I shared by confirming something the prospect fears is true.
In this case, it’s the fact that the wealthiest, most politically-connected, and most “in the know” people are fleeing the United States and finding their safe harbors elsewhere…
As you can see, right out of the gate this headline and lead are confirming what is likely “bubbling up” in the deep recesses of the prospect’s mind…some unconfirmed fear that something may be happening that’s putting their entire financial stability and retirement “nest egg” in serious jeopardy.
The lead continues on this way, providing more and more proof, with article excerpts and other supportive graphics, leading up to this overwhelmingly long list of examples…
See how the copy then shifts to how it’s not being reported in the mainstream media. This positions the spokesperson as the one with the “inside” story they’re not hearing, hooking the prospect into reading further and building curiosity.
By this point, the prospect’s unconfirmed belief has now been powerfully confirmed. This tactic builds belief and trust…and without either, one can’t entice them to read or ultimately buy.
What follows next are even more examples and proof photos that continue to confirm the prospect’s belief, while also agitating their greatest fears. It then introduces the spokesperson and editor behind the newsletter…
What’s the “set of instructions” they’re promising? You’ll have to read the promo to find out. Just click this link and it will lead you to the sales page.
You can see how the copy also starts to bring in historical context, tying it to the company’s past success and track record…while also reminding the prospect of other big events that shook up the market, further agitating their fears.
Also, notice how the copy dangles something in front of the prospect to sell them on readership–in this case, a “set of instructions”. It’s not a “free report” or something else that immediately signals that this is a sales piece.
I encourage you to take a look at the entire promo, as that’s all we have time for today (and I really need to eat lunch!) Thanks, Tyler, for passing this one on. It’s a great fit with the lessons I shared in today’s issue.
Look for more good stuff from me next week…I appreciate all the submissions, and if you have a promo you’d like to send my way, simply hit “reply” and send it over!
Yours for smarter marketing,
P.S. I know I have this message at the bottom of all my emails, but if you know anyone else who would enjoy the copywriting and marketing lessons and breakdowns I share, send them over pronto to get on my list right here!