It’s really easy to over-complicate things…

And, in fact, to make it all justifiably over-complicated.

That is, all the little complications, conditions, and complexities you add in have a reason — and a good one, at that.

But the more you pile complication on top of complication, the more likely it is that you’ll run into big problems if you don’t follow the steps just right.

The same thing most certainly goes for marketing.

I still remember, very distinctly, hearing Agora’s founder, Bill Bonner, speak at AWAI’s 2010 Bootcamp.

He said that over the course of somewhere north of three decades in direct marketing (now four), he’d learned something like 5,000 rules for writing good copy.

That is, there are 5,000 individual, tactical-level things you can do to improve your copy.

And when you get deep down into a piece of copy and are looking for way to optimize something that’s already good, these are really useful rules.

But today, Bill said, he’s mostly forgotten those rules, in favor of one really simple rule: find a story that you believe will resonate with your market, and tell it in the most compelling, convincing way, asking them to take action on it at the end.

That’s a principle-based approach to writing a really great sales message.  Do that right, and you may be able to tweak it on a tactical level for slightly better response.  But do it wrong, and no matter which of the 5,000 tactics you might use to try to make it better, it won’t work.

I find a lot of novice marketers and copywriters are enamored with tactics…

They worry about how to write perfect bullets.  How to craft a sizzling headline.

They care about grammar and typos.

Forget the forest, forget the trees — they make sure every leaf is perfect.

And so you look at their copy, and tactically, it follows every rule and recommendation from all the classic copywriting books.

But underneath, it still misses the mark.  Something is off.  And so it doesn’t get response.  It doesn’t bring in the moolah.

And those of us who sell copywriting training are at least somewhat guilty in misleading them.

Because tactics are easy to sell.  When someone has an addiction to shiny objects, we can repackage any of the 5,000 tactics and put a bow on it, and they’ll buy it without hesitation.

Principles and strategies?  They’re the harder sell.  Even though they’re what matter.

Principles are unimpressive.  They’re dull — definitely not shiny.  They can be amorphous and hard to plug-and-play.  Often, principles take more work to profit from.

And so buyers are unimpressed, don’t jump all over the principles with the same fervor, and aren’t ready to cough up big piles of cash for the latest and greatest.

Not only that, there are a lot fewer of them.  If there are 5,000 tactics to effective copywriting, there are maybe a dozen principles.  Print them out on small pieces of paper, stick ‘em in plastic Easter Eggs, and put them in a carton — sell the carton for more than a couple bucks, and the teeming masses in the copywriting market will think they overpaid.  But the few who recognize the value of right principles will think no price would have been high enough to match the value they get by actually applying these tiny tidbits of advertising wisdom.

What I’m about to share with you looks very simple on its surface…

It’s a short list.

Just three items.

All will seem obvious.

All will feel familiar, at first glance.

“I already knew that,” will be the common refrain.

In fact, that’s a common refrain when the grand-master wizards of the universe reveal the true secrets of their magic powers.  They seem too simple to be real — too good to be true.

But the question is: how well are you applying this?

Have you overlooked this principle for its simplicity, opting instead for complex tactics that satisfy your inner hunger to have the next shiny object, and the next?

Are you justifiably over-complicating your selling message — to the point where it’s easy to leave out or bury these three critical elements that should be there and obvious?

If your prospect reads, listens to, watches, or consumes your selling message in some other way, will they walk away with a clear and accurate understanding of this list?

If not, fixing this will be better than finding 1,000 tactical tweaks.

(And yes, sometimes I fail at this too — it’s easy to forget, and often these daily essays are as valuable to me as a reminder of what I need to be doing, as any value I can get by sending them to you.)

With that, here’s the simple list of the 3 elements of any successful sales message…

  1. Here’s what we have…

Deliverables matter.  As much as copywriting will teach you to sell the benefits and not the features, the customer is still buying something.  If you’re not crystal-clear in helping them understand what that is, what it looks like, what its features are, they will have an easy reason to not respond.

You have to be clear about the details of your product or service.  What are they getting?  What should their expectations be?  What will their experience be like after the purchase?

At some point in your selling message, this needs to be spelled out with total clarity, so they have something to say “yes” to.

But it’s not enough to sell the features, as most copywriters, salespeople, and marketers know…

  1. Here’s how it will help you…

You also have to be crystal-clear about the benefits of the offer.  Why did you add those features to the product?  What will the prospect get because of the unique way you structured your service?  What’s the immediate impact on their life?  Why is that important?  And how else will their life change as a result?

Why is this a better solution than every other option available to them?  What does your offer uniquely provide to help them overcome their fears, frustrations, and failures?  How will it help them fulfill their dreams, their desires, their destiny?

Go beyond the immediate impact.  How will this make their life better 10 years from now, in ways they wouldn’t even think about?

If you’ve done these two things well, at some point the prospect is going to decide, “I want this,” which is why this next item is so important…

  1. Here’s what to do to get it…

Many great copywriters and salespeople (and I’ll lump speakers and entrepreneurs in general in here) are afraid of actually making a clear offer and asking for action.

They’ll do everything above to get the prospect intensely interested in it, with a mentality along the lines of “if you build it, they will come.”

No, they won’t.  If you build it, they can come, but they won’t until you invite them.

If you’ve built a truly great product or service that will be of immense benefit to your prospect, you owe it to them to do everything in your power to make sure they get it.

Which means telling them explicitly and in a compelling way what they need to do.  And why they should do it now.

Be crystal clear about your offer.  What it is, and how to get it.

This is not an outline, more of a checklist…

There are better copy outlines than this.  And if I were using it as an outline, I’d probably flip the first and second items.  But it’s not an outline.

It’s a checklist you can use before you create a selling message.  Make sure you truly understand and have clarity on these items, as they relate to this message and this target market.

And it’s a checklist you can use after you create a selling message.  To make sure you didn’t miss anything obvious that really needs to be there.

This one simple task — probably only a few minutes’ work for each message — will dramatically increase your chances of creating a winner.

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr