In a moment, I’ll share a new way to think about your sales letters…
I just went to town on a bunch of Steven Pressfield books…
I’ve read a bunch of his work before. But it kind of falls under the “motivational pick-me-up” category, worth revisiting whenever you want to either keep or regain momentum. So I repeated it.
The title of one of the books — Do The Work — pretty much sums up his approach.
But his other books, The War of Art and Turning Pro, each come at the topic from a different angle, and are complementary when combined. (The audio books are all super-cheap from Audible, enough so that all three are about the cost, and length, of one other book.)
I recommend his work. Don’t agree with his model 100%, but it’s good enough to recommend.
It definitely works for him. He’s up to 16 published books to-date. And since one of his big topics is how to actually get work done, the proof is in that pudding.
Half of his books are also fiction books, so he occasionally slips in advice that comes from that world.
Which leads me to the three-act structure…
Every good story comes in three parts…
This is pretty basic and you might be aware of it, but keep reading because there was a really valuable addition you’ll discover in a moment.
You know the three-act structure. Setup-conflict-resolution. Beginning-middle-end. Etc.
It’s a staple of storytelling.
You get someone into the story.
Then, you make it interesting.
Then, you bring it to a climax and resolution.
This is a very natural way to structure stories. And most great storytelling can roughly be broken down into these three parts.
Now let’s apply this to longer-form copy. If you’re writing around one of the three big idea types taught in High-Velocity Copywriting, here’s what that’s going to look like…
— Problem: You have a problem, I have the solution, here’s how to get it…
— Opportunity: Here’s an opportunity, here’s how to know it’s right for you, here’s how to get it…
— Prediction: This event is about to happen, here’s the response you’ll need, here’s how to get it…
At the very core, any good sales message is roughly going to follow this structure. Here’s what’s going on, here’s what you need in response, here’s how to get it.
But wait, there’s more!
I’m a huge proponent of outlining. I find that your message is clearer and more concise when you outline before you write. It forces you to get clear on your thoughts, which comes through in the final product.
But the above three-part outline is not enough. You don’t flesh out an entire 6,000- to 10,000-word sales message with just those simple parts.
Which brings me to the next point from Pressfield.
Another lesson he shared is that pretty much any good (long) story contains 7 or 8 total turns.
That is, the three parts each have their own parts.
I didn’t structure the High-Velocity Copywriting training quite in this way, but the essence is there — especially once you get into the companion Templates training.
Here’s how to flesh out your three-part selling story…
I’ll use a problem promotion as an example.
You have a problem…
— I recognize the problem you face.
— I can empathize with how agitating the experience of that problem is!
I have the solution…
— I struggled to find a solution to that problem, too, but I couldn’t find anything!
— Finally, the agitation got so bad that I thought, “I guess I’ll have to make it!”
— Here’s how I came up with the perfect solution…
Here’s how to get it…
— Now, I’m offering this solution to others…
— But you have to act fast.
This is pretty straightforward, but it is a powerful way to structure your selling message.
And of course, each part has its parts. Maybe your offer includes the product, the price, and the guarantee. Maybe the agitation section around the problem tells a couple selling stories that really underscore it.
There’s a lot of ways to add life to it, and to flesh it out. This same strategy can be used to write 500-page novels. But if you stick to the same core structure and make sure you dedicate each section to doing what you’re supposed to do, it will come out natural and feel like it has a flow to it.
Applying this, in practice…
I regularly and consistently outline every piece of sales copy I write. (It’s the final thing I do in the process of The Control-Beating Project Pre-Flight Plan.)
While I haven’t been following this three-act structure to the letter, it is the essence of my outlines.
My plan going forward is to follow Pressfield’s recommendation here.
Start with a clear differentiation between beginning, middle, and end.
Then, flesh out each section with the most important points that need to be hit. Aiming to cover about 7 to 8 total ideas in the progression of the sales message.
From there, fill in details to make sure I’m telling the full story with all the proof and credibility I need.
You could do this in Word or in Google Docs, in an outline. I also really recommend learning how to mind map if you don’t know how, as it will really help with learning to think in this way.
Whatever you do, make sure you’re putting thought into the structure, not just the language, of your selling messages.
And from there, consider how using the structure above could be just what you need to make sure you’re putting together the best selling message.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,