The 5-step features and benefits exercise I learned from Clayton

Mar 22, 2021

As promised, I’m going to share a transcript of my presentation from the epic Clayton Makepeace tribute event that took place this past Thursday.

The lesson learned from Clayton that I chose to share (there were many others, but I had to pick one) was his 5-step features and benefits exercise.

I’ve written about it in some of my past Copy Insiders issues…and it’s something I’ve taught my mentees as well.

I even walked a group of fellow members of Brian Kurtz’s Titans Xcelerator group through this exercise a few months ago, and everyone found it valuable.

In the Q&A “after party” that followed the Clayton tribute event, someone asked me to recap this 5-step process one more time…

That’s why even if you heard my presentation already, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to share it all one more time here.

So here we go…

When I first came to work at Phillips Publishing, I kept hearing the name “Clayton Makepeace”.

He didn’t work there…he was the freelance copywriter who wrote an ultra-successful promo to launch their Health & Healing newsletter. And thus, helped create my job in the process!

Years later, after I’d gone freelance, I had the chance to work directly with Clayton on a few promos with him as my copy chief, and I learned tons. I also attended his live $5,000 event in DC and it was worth at least three times that.

My biggest lesson from Clayton out of many is how to identify and write to the prospect’s most dominant emotions and biggest motivators…in a way that makes them believe.

One tactic of Clayton’s I’ve applied many times and that I’ve shared with my copywriting mentees is his 5-step features and benefits exercise.

This goes way beyond listing out features and benefits like everyone’s taught to do. It adds a “why” step for each feature so you can identify which problem it solves or advantage it brings.

Then you go beyond identifying the “so you can” benefit to further dimensionalizing it: What does it look like once you have that advantage in your life…or that problem eliminated?

Then for each of these dimensionalized benefits, you identify the dominant emotion tied to each one.

For example, it could be “fear of dependence or loss of control” associated with a bone-building supplement benefit…

Or it could be a desire to feel successful, respected, or admired associated with a financial newsletter or real estate investing course benefit…

Or it could be the frustration of feeling lied to or taken advantage of…an emotion Clayton tapped into many times with his health and financial promos.

Once you’ve gone through this 5-step exercise you then rank the emotional motivators in order of how powerful they are…and then use that to flow out your copy.

You also have quite a bit of flushed-out copy points you can start weaving in, so you’re able to write stronger, harder-hitting copy far faster.

And writing powerful, hard-hitting copy was something Clayton was able to do better than just about anyone else. I still to this day keep copies of his promos handy to look at for inspiration. I’m always awed at his incredible story leads…

…How every verb is carefully chosen to trigger a specific emotional reaction—short, powerful words that Hemingway himself would be envious of…

…And how he maximized credibility and proof by tapping into using quotes from Nobel Prize-winning scientists…medical studies that he boiled down into simple language…and unique mechanisms explained in a way that truly differentiated his product.

All of these tactics were essential to helping his target prospect to believe…and without belief, there is no action.

This is why I recommend any copywriter, whether beginner or advanced, carefully study Clayton’s dozens of successful promos to see his powerful copy tactics in action.

Clayton’s teachings on copy definitely impacted my career. Seeing how he started teaching others and sharing so generously more than 10 years ago set a great example for me. It’s what I’m doing today with my Copy Insiders, students, and mentees.

So here’s to you, Clayton! I owe you much gratitude and don’t know where I’d be if you hadn’t written that Health & Healing promo.

I also appreciate Wendy, also known as “The Redhead”, and Carline, for all they did in bringing Health & Healing to fruition.

Between the three of them, they helped create not just my job and my subsequent copywriting career, but opportunities for so many others in the “alternative health” market that exploded after Health & Healing was launched.

Wendy, I know you suffered a huge, un-fillable loss when Clayton passed away. I hope that the love, friendship, and support of this community help to bring you comfort and strength.
Thank you, Carline, for including me in this event to honor Clayton. It truly is a privilege.
I hope you found this recap valuable. Enjoy your the rest of your Sunday, and I’ll be back at you tomorrow with some valuable lessons shared from the rest of the speakers who spoke at the event.

Yours for smarter marketing,


P.S. The “early bird” pricing for the upcoming TCC(n)IRL event ends tomorrow. I’ll be there doing live copy critiques, and there are other speakers like Carline Anglade-Cole, Joana Wiebe, and Todd Brown who you’ll want to hear and learn from. It’s also a great way to meet other copywriters as well as potential clients without the costs and hassles of travel.Check out all the details at this link. Hope to see you there!

P.P.S. I just found out that Carline, who did a spectacular job coming up with the idea for the Clayton tribute and putting it together, will be posting Part 1 of the video recording from the event on her YouTube channel tomorrow. Go here and make sure you’re subscribed to her channel and you’ll be able to watch it for free.

P.P.P.S. Out of curiosity, I decided to see if I could find a picture of that legendary Health & Healing launch promo Clayton wrote that launched so many careers, including mine. And guess what? I found it!

While the copy may sound like what we’ve heard so many times since, it truly broke new ground and helped create the alternative health market we know today…