Anyone who has worked with me over the past 25 years knows that my mantra has always been “benefits, benefits, benefits.” Benefit headlines … benefit copy … benefit subheads … benefit captions … anything to hammer home the customer benefits.
Benefits are still a vital key, but today, copywriting needs much more than just benefits. To sell the most, copywriting needs to connect at a much deeper and more dramatic level than ever before.



There are 6 main reasons why. I call them The New Secrets to Copywriting That Sells.


1. The “Yahoogle” effect


Thanks to mega search engines like Yahoo and Google, tons of information on just about any topic, product or service is literally at your fingertips … for free.
Here’s what that means to your marketing:

* Internet search engine rankings for your business/product/service are vital. Most people search on the internet for things they are interested in.

* People won’t pay for information they can get online for free. You can’t succeed selling generic basic plain vanilla information any more.

* You can’t get away with outrageous claims. Everything you say can be checked out in an instant.

* Many people comparison shop on the internet before making any purchase.

* Use search engine optimization (SEO) to get your website ranked high.

* Most businesses will have to use Pay-Per-Click advertising for their best keywords and phrases.

* Copywriting must uncover and feature the unique advantages and superiority of whatever is being sold.

* Your offering must be extremely differentiated from the competition – or else you’ll end up having to compete on low prices alone.

* You must make it clear – very quickly – that you are providing something they can’t find elsewhere online for free.

2. Advertising Overload Filter


In today’s hectic, media-frenzied world, people are bombarded by hundreds or even thousands of advertising messages every single day. Therefore, to maintain their sanity, most people have become more immune to advertising.

They can’t possibly devote their full attention to every message they receive, so they’ve learned to “scan” and “filter” the messages they receive in a matter of a split-second or two.

So, to succeed today – marketing must cut through the “advertising filter” and get attention and interest from target prospects.




* Don’t send out “advertising.” Instead – send out valuable helpful information. Make it something that will obviously benefit your prospect just by reading it. Weave your sales pitch into this helpful information.

* Make your marketing look and sound valuable.

* Use specific numbers.

* Make a great offer. You can “buy” a new customer this way and profit from their Lifetime Value (LV).

* Consider a free offer to get prospects/customers into your marketing funnel.

* Be outrageous, crazy, unique – if appropriate.

* Be personal, corny, homey – if appropriate.




You may be the most honest person in the world. Your company may be the most honest in the world. But all your potential customer knows is there are a lot of dishonest people out there.


Internet scams, ID theft, companies going bankrupt, and credit card fraud are all in the headlines almost daily. And many people simply disregard claims that sound “too good to be true” today more than ever.


To succeed today, you need to add heavy credibility to your marketing. This will reduce the risk or fear people may have about doing business with you.



* Show the number of years you’ve been in business, membership in trade organizations, awards won, etc.

* Offer a free sample or free trial.

* Offer a risk-free, money-back guarantee.

* Sign your name to the ad or sales letter.

* Use a photo of the person writing, product photo, business photo, employees photo.

* Use customer testimonials extensively.

* Use case studies.

* Use lots of specifics.

* List your physical address, phone, fax, email and business hours.

* Have an “expert” be your spokesperson.

* Acknowledge any doubts or “sneaking suspicions” your prospect may already have, and give them valuable, factual information to support your product/service.

* Don’t make claims that could sound “too good to be true” – even if they are true.


4. The Entertain-Game Society


Today, entertainment is everything. Even hard news websites are full of flash, video, audio, surveys, contests, games, etc.

So, use this new environment in your marketing as an advantage. Look for ways to entertain and get prospects involved with your marketing promotions.


* This can include new uses of traditional “action” devices like stickers, rub-offs and inserts.

* Personal stories/testimonials in your promotion are entertaining and engage people on a personal level.

* Surveys with results

* Self-tests with answers

* Trivia

* Celebrity spokesperson

* Games

* Streaming audio and video

* Humor – if appropriate


5. The Right Now Factor


The days of “please allow 6-8 weeks for shipping” are dead and gone … just like any company who still thinks anything close to that kind of policy is ok.

More than anything else, the internet has conditioned consumers to expect everything instantly. Instant ordering … instant payment … instant confirmation … and, in many cases, instant downloading of product.

Solution: If you are going to grab the attention of today’s consumers, you must let them know you can satisfy their needs IMMEDIATELY. Play up how fast they will get their product, premium or first issue.


6. The Bonding Factor


We all want a hero, a guru, someone we can relate to, and someone we feel has our best interests at heart, right? Today’s consumer is very jaded, skeptical and frustrated with the lack of love and bonding in his life, whether consciously or subconsciously.

Today, you need to be seen as a guide and friend first, and a helpful confidant second. If you even smell like just a greedy salesperson, you will lose your advantage.




Be likeable, friendly, personal, passionate, unique and different. Be authentic – a person and company that your prospect can genuinely bond with.


The One Word Every Prospect Craves 

It’s arguably the most important word in the copywriter’s arsenal. It ranks right at the top with words like “free,” “new” and “savings.”

I’m talking about “you.”


“You” is the word that gets your prospect’s attention and keeps them involved. As Herschell Gordon Lewis says in <I>The Art of Writing Copy, “Unless the reader regards himself as the target of your message, benefit can’t exist. Benefit demands a ‘We/You’ relationship.”


While the “We” in the “We/You” relationship is important, it’s better implied than communicated literally. If your goal is to put prospects first, then it’s best to have the “you’s” far exceed the “we’s.”


It’s the “you’s” that matter to prospects. They’re your workhorse for communicating your message and include all derivatives such as “your,” “yours,” “yourself,” “you’re,” and “you’ll.”


Powerful ‘You’


What makes “you” so powerful? For one thing, it addresses your readers directly. In effect, it says “Hey you,” which is much harder to ignore than “Hey somebody.”


Say “Hey you” in a crowded room and a lot of heads will turn. Say “Hey somebody” and a few heads might turn.


While your copy won’t actually say “Hey you,” it can clearly identify to whom you’re talking. Once you have your audience’s attention, use “you” to help keep it.


Personal ‘You’


Why does “you” get and hold attention? For one thing, it’s personal. It’s used in personal conversation every day. What do you think? How was your weekend? You’ll be glad to know …


When people say these things to you, they’re bound to get your attention and involvement. After all, they’re interested in your opinion. They’re interested in the things you do. They have something to tell you that will make you happy.


That’s the goal of you-oriented copy. Address your audience directly, personally and in terms of their interests. Be conversational and “you” will pop up in the copy naturally.


Counting ‘You’


It was mentioned earlier that “you” is a workhorse. A classic example is contained in “The Do-It-Yourself Direct Mail Handbook” by Murray Raphel and Ken Erdman. They highlight a “Newsweek” magazine subscription letter used for nearly two decades.

The subscription letter was written by direct mail expert Ed McLean, who used “you” nearly 30 times on the first page alone. More than 100 million copies of the letter were mailed, a testament to its effectiveness.


Try counting the “you’s” (and “you” derivatives) in your copy. Compare them with the number of “we’s” and first-person derivatives. If the “you’s” don’t outnumber the “we’s,” consider reworking your copy.


Excessive ‘You’?


Can you overdo “you”? Yes.


If you load your copy with “you’s” but forget the benefits, your message will have a phony ring.


“You” can’t save you if there’s nothing meaningful to offer your audience. Likewise, it will help put you over the top if there is.


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