I’ve been getting a ton of new readers recently — if that’s you, welcome!
If you’re a regular reader, you’ll notice today’s issue (along with yesterday’s) is arriving in your inbox in the afternoon, instead of early morning. There’s a reason for that, and I’ll address it in tomorrow’s Web Wednesday.
But today is Copy Tuesday, so let’s get into that…
Arthur Johnson is the superstar copywriter you’ve never heard of…
Late last year, Brian Kurtz and I were on the phone discussing what he was going to do this year to follow up last year’s private workshop with Perry Marshall. He’d been doing this “one expert, one day” workshop for the last couple years, for his private network of the world’s top direct marketers. He wanted his 2014 event to be the best ever.
This was, of course, before Titans of Direct Response was hatched.
At the time, he told me he wanted to have one of Boardroom’s secret weapons — copywriter Arthur Johnson — headline the day.
I told him it was a fantastic idea.
Well, as fate would have it, Johnson did not end up with a headline spot — rather, he ended up with his face on Mt. Rushmore. That is, he was one of four copywriters Brian put on “Boardroom’s Current Mt. Rushmore of Copywriters.” Johnson, along with Eric Betuel, David Deutsch, and Parris Lampropoulos make up the four copywriters whose copy has mailed the most (and generated the most revenue) for Boardroom. Together, the four have generated over $1 billion in sales through direct mail. More than 628 million pieces of profitable direct mail have been sent.
What’s amazing though is how few folks know these copywriters’ names. You have to be a true student of the industry to have even heard of them. (Johnson though has been seen on TV — on infomercials that generated over $200 million in sales — as a “Health Writer and Editor.”)
I say all this to lend credibility to a throwaway comment Johnson made during his panel at Titans.
“Don’t start writing with your headline. Start writing in the middle.”
We’ll get to the point in a minute, but let me lend even more credibility to this statement.
Another copywriter, whose name I won’t mention, is probably the best working financial copywriter today. And no, he doesn’t work for a company whose name starts with “St” and ends with “ansberry.” (The controversy!) That company has some incredible copywriting talent, but this gentleman is even better.
While “End of America” has been the most publicly successful promotion in the financial newsletter business in the last few years, this writer’s promotion for another publisher quietly sold even more subscriptions and generated even more revenue.
Anyway, this writer was a quiet attendee at Titans, and he and I had a chat about a project I’m working on with his primary client.
“Don’t even worry about the headline.” He told me. “Just get that story down. We’ll find a headline later.”
This is a guy who doesn’t even write a headline for his promo until it’s done. At best, he’ll throw in a placeholder.
He focuses first on finding the story. What’s the one thing nobody is talking about today? What has nobody in the industry written about yet? And further, when you find that (which can take weeks or months of research), what is the most interesting story you can pull out of that?
Dig, dig, dig.
Pile the research into an outline.
And when you think you have it, go find some more.
Flesh out the story with specifics.
Don’t let anything through that doesn’t build credibility and intrigue.
And tell that story with such interest and fervor that your prospect can’t help but feel like it’s the most transformational thing they’ve ever heard.
If it’s about wealth, they should end it feeling like they’re already rich (as soon as they get your product). If it’s about health, they should end it feeling like they’re 17 and indestructible again (as soon as they get your product). If it’s about… Well, you get the point…
This all points to the narrative — the big idea.
If you get this right, your only task as the copywriter is not to screw it up.
If you get this wrong, it doesn’t matter what BS headline you stick above it.
You don’t become a great copywriter by becoming a better writer. You become a great copywriter by becoming a better researcher, finding that story nobody is telling, and diving into the middle of it.
All the other stuff you’ll learn will help you sell more, once you get this right.
But flowery prose and good feelings won’t ever make up for the lack of this research and this story.
Don’t take it from me, take it from two of the best copywriters you’ve never heard of (who’re making a fortune while writing in obscurity)…
I’m still learning from these Titans. Yeah, I’ve had some success to this point. But I’m still a sponge, soaking up all I can from these guys.
And here I’ve squeezed it out for you, for you to go use right now.
Just yesterday I was emailing back and forth with the Creative Director with probably the biggest direct response fitness brand on the planet, who I met at Titans. In a quick 5-minute piece of feedback, I essentially pointed to this one thing as the reason their biggest hit worked so well, and why everything else was coming up short relative to that one massive success.
Yes, it takes hard work. But the payoff will be worth it. I promise.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets