The 1-hour headline secret [Promo breakdown]

Mar 3, 2023

After a brief, somewhat unintentional “sabbatical”, I’m BACK, baby! Even better, I’m back at ‘ya with a fresh new issue of “What’s in Kim’s Mailbox”.

I’ve been busy working on some cool new things, including a few client supplement promo projects… and planning my brand-new Supplement Copywriting Workshop for early April.

Currently write supplement copy or want to break into it? Get on the wait list here.

Having mostly written online sales pages in recent years, I’m excited to be taking on a full-on supplement direct mail promo (which will also likely be used as an online sales page).

Yes, direct mail is still alive and kickin’!

And while I don’t get nearly as many magalogs in the mail as I used to, part of that is the fact that I haven’t bought any supplements from big mailers lately… which is a great way to get “seeded” for future mailings.

However, I can always count on getting some good-quality direct mail promos from my old friend Healthy Directions (the supplement biz I helped launch many years ago when I worked at Phillips Publishing).

And for today’s issue, we’re going to take a look at a magalog that landed in my mailbox a little over a month ago. It’s got some great lessons to share with you.

So let’s start with looking at the front cover…

The format is a slightly shrunken-down magalog (10.5×7.5 vs.the typical 11×8.5 inches) that mails flat. So you can bet the first thing a prospect does when they get it is look at the front cover.

And in that very brief split-second window where they decide if it’s “keep or trash”, you HAVE to grab their attention and make them want to read further.

Taking a desired benefit (increased focus) and adding a “speed of result” promise (“in 1 hour”) makes for a compelling, attention-getting headline.

Typically I like to frame a big speed-of-result promise headline as a question if it’s something that sounds unbelievable (i.e., my long-running “Live to 120?” headline for an anti-aging supplement sales page).

However, I question how “unbelievable” it is that you can “boost focus” in one hour. I can do that in 15 minutes with my first strong cup of coffee in the morning.

If I were to suggest a tweak, I’d make this a powerful statement–not a question, and bring memory into it, too–not just focus. And if you can’t say that memory is boosted in 1 hour, chances are you can say it can be boosted “starting in” 1 hour.

(These are the kinds of powerful tweaks you can make depending on the study back-up you have, and your ability to bend any compliance officer or lawyer to your will!)

In any case, let’s move on to the deck copy below the main headline. The company is dealing with a unique challenge in that the spokesperson for the product–Dr. Stephen Sinatra–sadly and suddenly passed away last year.

Since this is likely a long-time control package, I’m sure they wanted to make minimal changes to it to reflect that he’s no longer living. But that requires putting things in the past tense, like “Top cardiologist revealed…”

Again, I would have tweaked this a bit more and taken out “GENIUS” (which I think reads awkwardly here anyway). Something like “Top cardiologist’s recommended NEW way to improve…” I think would work much better here.

I also think there’s a lot of redundancy on the front cover with the 1-hour claim. While I do agree you want to really play it up, I’d bring in some of the other benefits of the formula to demonstrate that there’s something for everyone concerned about maximizing their brainpower.

And apparently, there are heart benefits as well (which is briefly mentioned in the deck copy and then not followed up on here.)

Okay, so let’s take a peek at what happens when you turn the page to the opening first spread on pages 2-3 (note: I couldn’t get a nice clean scan of it in its entirety, hence my dingy smartphone photo here…)

The headline at the top of this spread is longer AND stronger than what we saw on the front cover. I’m not sure I’d bring in the “single pill a day” as a main overriding benefit. It seems to compete with the 1-hour promise.

“Cardiologist’s secret” is intriguing and again begs the question of “what is this memory connection to the heart, or vice versa?” I feel there’s a potential angle there waiting in the wings. (There’s some heart copy at top but it disappears.)

We can also see here how the company chose to deal with the delicate situation of Dr. Sinatra’s passing… and I feel it’s handled better here than on the front cover. It doesn’t as obviously put things in the past tense in the opening copy as well as in his short bio sidebar at the bottom.

On page 3, we see that the lead is coming from a different person (a “director of research”), NOT Dr. Sinatra, so that it can be written in the present tense.

Again, there seems to be a lot of emphasis on improving focus, which may have resulted from the claims they’re able to make as well as their avatar research. If I was a compliance officer (I play one on TV), I’d be concerned about making such Adderall-like, drug-type claims… as well as using words like “dose” or “pill”.

But seeing how it’s one of the top-selling drugs right now (and apparently there are major shortages), perhaps focusing on FOCUS is the right way to go here. In my experience though, people want the immediate benefit as well as the longer-term support to avoid going through what they’ve seen elderly parents deal with.

Finally towards the end of this section we start getting into some heart benefits, i.e., healthy arteries and blood vessels.

Again, I think this could make for a compelling new angle, i.e., how healthy arteries can boost your brainpower, to play up the surprising connection between the two, and that it’s coming from a cardiologist.

Alright, let’s move ahead to page 5 of the promo, where the first “star nutrient” in the formula is introduced. However, I do want to point out that, while this is a direct mail magalog, all of this copy could easily be used in an online sales page.

(I’ve had several direct mail magalogs I wrote be successfully used word-for-word as text sales pages and video sales letters… including some I wrote as long as 11 years ago that are still in use.)

Okay, let’s jump ahead to page 5…

Since the Longvida ingredient is the one where they’re able to make the 1-hour claim, it’s logical that the copywriter decided to lead with that nutrient in the copy.

However, you do have to look hard to find that one-hour claim substantiated here… I almost missed it. But it’s mentioned midway down in the second column. I would make sure that doesn’t get buried like it is here… especially when it’s trumpeted throughout the promo!

There’s also a bit of a disconnect when it goes to another mini-article spread on the next page (not shown here). It then picks up again with another study supporting Longvida’s ability to combat stress and promote mood balance (a compliant way of saying it helps banish anxiety and depression).

As you go through this magalog, there’s a series of mini-articles with headlines at the top and sidebars. Many of my long-running control magalogs have been one long letter of running copy that goes from page to page, with sidebars throughout.

I prefer the latter from the standpoint of readability and continuity… however, if someone has trouble with focus, maybe the short mini-article approach is best!

Let’s jump ahead to page 8 and see how they decided to present the #2 nutrient (no, not THAT #2, lol)…

The other two nutrients in this supplement aren’t very unique (ginseng and vitamin K)… but the ginseng is in a patented form. That’s probably why it’s the second nutrient mentioned. However, I want to point out an important tactic when you are selling a supplement formula.

It’s to give each nutrient its own “role” and differentiate what it’s doing from the other nutrients… i.e., a “co-starring” role to the “star” nutrient. That way the prospect will feel they need to take YOUR specific formula to get the desired benefit, and not just run off and buy the main nutrient somewhere else.

In this case, on page 8 the copywriter is focusing on ginseng’s ability to improve working memory. Again, I feel like it gets a little lost on the following page (not included here) where it’s not clearly included as part of the running copy.

I would have started off this section talking about that benefit and study support… and then talked about boosting “stress resistance” Always lead with the benefit you brought the prospect in with.

But the main point here is to give each nutrient ingredient its own “job” or role that feels essential to the prospect.

One last thing… I’m including the order form (the direct mail equivalent of the order page) so you can see how simplified they’ve made the offer. This has been their approach for several years for all their direct mail-sold products, so I’m sure it’s something they’ve tested into. And it can be applied to online or other use.

Let’s take a look…

One of the biggest “hidden” obstacles with getting your prospect to convert and actually BUY your product is when you give them too many choices. This can lead to indecision and then the all-too-often-fatal putting off ordering.

Having one price with ONE choice (where the prospect can order any number up to six… which by offering a ceiling provides a suggested number to order) makes it MUCH easier for your prospect to take that next step.

It’s also easier to put emphasis on all the “freebies” that build the perceived value of your offer–in this case, the free report, free bottle of Vitamin D3, and a $20 savings certificate for a future order (a great retention idea you could apply to just about any consumable product you’re promoting.)

Another point: if you want to get seeded on their list for future direct mail promos (and I’m sure they rent their list to other mailers), and you live in the U.S., you might want to consider ordering a bottle so you become a customer.

I do NOT get any kind of commission, it’s just a question I get often from folks about how they can get on lists and start receiving direct mail promos.

That’s it for today’s long-overdue issue! I was going to get this out this morning, but I didn’t finish it in time before I had to head to the emergency room where my mother was taken. She apparently broke her leg, but is doing well. Perhaps I need to get her back to taking a bone support supplement!

Hopefully you got a lot of valuable takeaways you can apply to any type of copy you write. If you found some value, please share this issue with a fellow copywriter or marketer, and tell them to get on my list! No supplement purchase required! (-;

Yours for smarter marketing,


P.S. If you want to level up your supplement copywriting skill set, or it’s a niche you’re interested in breaking into, be sure to get on the wait list here for my upcoming Supplement Copywriting Workshop… you won’t want to miss it!

P.P.S. If you’re interested in one of two one-on-one mentoring spots that are currently open, there’s a special that ends this Tuesday. It saves you 10% off the $5k, 3-month package I’m offering. If that’s something you’re up for, reply back to this email as soon as you can while these two spots are still available.