This is one of those lessons that stuck, that I use in all the copy I write…

I first read it from Clayton Makepeace.

I’m pretty sure he developed this when working alongside Tom Phillips at Phillips Publishing.

Phillips Publishing was one of the giants of direct marketing at the turn of the millennium.  They were the parent company to InvestorPlace and Healthy Directions.  And they worked with nearly every A-list direct mail copywriter.

And Tom Phillips is, by my understanding, the person who introduced the idea of “dimensionalization” to direct marketing.

So — what is dimensionalization?

First things first, this is NOT a word you’ll find in any academically-audited dictionary.

Look up “dimensionalize” in Merriam-Webster or on Dictionary.com, and you’ll get nothing.

But in direct marketing, it’s a verb that means “to add dimension.”

Think about what happened in animation, with the rise of Pixar.  Disney animators, as good as they were, still fundamentally created two-dimensional animation.  But Pixar’s computer animators added a third dimension to their animation.

Adding dimension made it feel deeper, and more real (at least in some sense).  Like a space you could walk into.  Watch Lion King, and you don’t think you can pet the lion.  But watch Toy Story (released one year later) and it almost seems like you could pick up the toys.

Your goal in copy is to make everything feel more real.

The problem you’re solving.  The consequences of not solving it.  The solution you offer.  And the reasons they’d want that solution.

The more real you make the entire message feel, the more likely it is that you’ll get response.

And the way you do that is by dimensionalizing.

So — how do you dimensionalize, using the dimensionalized benefits technique from Clayton Makepeace?

In old school selling, we were taught to sell benefits, not features.

In other words, you don’t sell the pen.  You sell “the writing experience that will inspire the next great American novel…”  (Or, for copywriters, “What you write with this pen could generate your next six-figure royalty check…”)

There’s what a product is or has — its features.

And then there’s what a product does and gives the user — its benefits.

A feature is only relevant to making the sale insomuch as it justifies the benefits.  A pen that doesn’t run out of ink has the benefit of saving you the annoyance and interruption of flow, and the justification for that is in the feature of an inkwell 150% the size of the average high-end pen.

But all of that is still features versus benefits.

Dimensionalization comes in with one important question.

“Yeah, but what does that really mean?”

So let’s say I’m selling a pen.  It’s a high-end pen for people who write by hand.  It’s really meant for writers.

An important feature might be that inkwell that’s 150% the size of other high-end pens.  So it will write longer without running out of ink.

That’s a nice and lazy claim I could throw in an ad, “writes for 50% longer without running out of ink.”

I guess a few engineers might buy based on that — YAWN — boring claim.

But what does that really mean?

Well, I guess I jumped ahead above, because it means you won’t be interrupted and lose flow because your dang pen ran out of ink again.

Yeah, but what does that really mean?

Well, it means you’ll write in-flow more often, and for longer stretches.

Yeah, but what does that really mean?

It means your writing will be more compelling and inspiring.

Yeah, but what does that really mean?

It means you’ll be more likely to have commercial success — let’s say as a nonfiction writer.

Yeah, but what does that really mean?

It means you’ll be making a bunch of money, and have a bunch of fans of your writing all over the world.

Yeah, but what does that really mean?

It means you’ll get invited to present on your book in front of large audiences, and your ego will be stroked by the awesome reception you’ll receive.

Now we’re cooking…

You see how I went from talking about a pen to getting a round of applause as a well-regarded author, in an auditorium full of people?

Which suggests a story…

“As the crowd rose to their feet for a standing ovation, your hand instinctively went to the pen in your pocket that started it all…”

And then you go on to tell the story.

“Many writers never get the recognition they truly desire.  Many writers never find the inspiration they need to write something that truly makes a difference.  Many writers waste away their lives in quiet desperation, waiting for that day when the muse pours forth their masterpiece through their hand and onto the page.

“Many writers — but not you…”

Suddenly you’re not selling a pen.  You’re selling fame and glory, and the recognition and riches that go with it.

Which — I think you’ll agree — is a way more interesting prospect than a simple pen.

Of course, you back out of the story and the dimensionalized benefit that started it.  You go backwards to the point where you’re explaining how a 150% bigger inkwell is the secret to inspired writing and fame.

You have to justify your dimensionalized benefit.

But when you do, you find selling magic.

Because suddenly you’re not selling just some solution to a problem (or worse, a simple product or service).  Suddenly you’re selling today as the first day of the rest of their life.  You’re selling the fulfillment of their dreams, their desires, their destiny.

Here’s a simple method for brainstorming using the dimensionalized benefits technique…

Open a spreadsheet.  (Or, once you really understand the process, I think a mindmap could work better — but it will lack the labels.)

Label the first two columns FEATURE and BENEFIT.

Then, to simplify, you can label the next 5 or so columns with WHY?

In the first column, in the first row under the headers, you write a feature of your offer.  Then, in the next column, you start listing benefits of that feature, one-per-row.  Then, proceed to fill in column after column of your answer to why, or “Yeah, but what does that really mean?”

The idea is to keep zooming out.  What’s the even bigger impact this will have on the prospect’s life, if everything works out in the best way possible?

You don’t have to fill in all 5 why columns, but try to do as much as possible.

Do this same process for all the features, and all the benefits.

Just keep adding depth and dimension to what your offer will do.

Then reflect on which of these is the most compelling to the core of your target audience.  Make that the core promise of your ad.  And use all the other dimensionalized benefits to flesh out the appeal of the offer.

This is just the start…

You can also dimensionalize every other part of your message.  Especially the problem, and what makes it so agitating.

Again, it’s about making it all feel as real as possible.

The more real, the more compelling.  And the more compelling, the more response.

Make this an automatic part of your writing process, and before long, you’ll be pulling those big royalty checks out of your mailbox…

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr

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