“Writing bullets is the single-most important copywriting skill.”
That’s according to Ken McCarthy, who is arguably THE most influential internet marketer of all time. Even though many haven’t heard of him.
Ken’s System Seminar was THE place, from 2000 through 2010 (I think) where internet marketers went to learn the greatest secrets of online direct response.
Heard of the Traffic and Conversion summit? Today it’s — I believe — the biggest internet marketing conference. And its name comes DIRECTLY from Ken’s core teaching that traffic plus conversion equals profits. The way you create profits online is by getting great at one or more traffic sources, and learning to convert the traffic into buyers.
There’s a lot more to it, of course. But that foundation is still the most important lesson any internet marketer could learn.
Ken was also my second freelance copywriting client.
He read the sales letter I wrote for my first client, and tracked me down.
Among other things, Ken was incredibly generous with me. He sent me a ton of his materials. Plus he spent time with me, on the phone, giving me feedback on the copy plus dropping bombs of wisdom from a lifetime in direct response.
(Among various claims, Ken… Was Dan Kennedy’s first webmaster… Hosted the world’s first internet marketing conference, in 1994… And actually bought Boardroom.com, the domain name, as a favor, before they thought they’d need it… Plus he was a Titan for Brian Kurtz’s Titans of Direct Response, where he took the stage among old friends and the legends of the industry.)
All of this is a long way around to get to the quote above.
Ken had a long history in direct response, and was personal friends with many of the best copywriters in the world.
And he argued that writing bullets is THE #1 copywriting skill, above all others.
For the sake of the bullets you can write, yes. But also because great headline writing is great bullet writing. And because conveying information and benefits with the power and punch of a good bullet can work in ANY line of copy.
Which brings me to…
Today’s Mailbox Monday question!
Remember: on every Monday I open the mailbox and answer YOUR questions. Click here to submit yours.
Here’s today’s question…
What’s your best tip for writing Killer fascination bullets?
I know how much you’d love just one tip…
But a HUGE part of bullets is that they should keep you intrigued. They should keep you guessing. Each bullet should feel fresh and new.
Which means that if I just gave you a ONE tip, I’d be doing you a disservice.
Because by the time you get to about your fifth bullet and they all sound the same, your prospect won’t care anymore.
You have to keep it fresh.
So with that in mind, you’re going to get a whole pile of notes on my most powerful bullet-writing strategies for copywriters…
First — what bullets should (and should not) contain…
Here’s the first thing to remember.
Most often, bullets are used for information products, to tease information you’ll get from the product when you buy.
Do they have uses elsewhere? Sure. Maybe to convey benefits or suggest uses in a reader-friendly format.
But the best bullet writers gravitate toward information products. Because you tease, tease, tease the sizzle. And prospects have to buy your product to get the meat.
With that in mind, a huge portion of bullets are BLIND bullets. That is, they tease a benefit. They tease an outcome. They tease a result. But they don’t tell you how to get it. As in…
— The one bullet-type you should write if you want your prospect salivating for your product (page 8)
(And note: the page numbers are common for some marketers, ignored by others. They can be valuable because they make each item feel more real and thus believable.)
Another type of bullets are HALF-BLIND. These are bullets where you give away part of the solution in the bullet, but hold back a critical detail…
— Cinnamon is an all-natural way to manage erratic blood sugar levels — here’s the best way to get enough of it (NOT sprinkling it on your food)
Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself a little bit here. Because I’m throwing in some other techniques. And I’m writing this fast off the top of my head. So don’t fact-check me on this. But at least you’ll have an idea of what these types look like.
Then there’s the occasional GIVEAWAY bullet. I like these because they can make your copy feel more valuable — and thus, more engaging — as someone is reading. They’ll actually get a little dopamine hit from discovering that you’re giving real value in your copy, and they’ll keep reading to look for more.
— The surprising scrap material we always use for foam wing cutting templates? Formica. Just ask your local counter-top installer for leftovers.
Get the idea? Good — let’s move on.
Second — give your bullets a rhythm…
Great writers have a rhythm to their prose. It’s not written as poetry. But it flows nonetheless.
Sometimes, it’s punchy.
Other times, it’s more drawn out and eloquent, to really pull you in.
And it almost always varies quite a bit — to fight the inevitable boredom.
Bullets are very much like this. Some should be long. Some short. Others contain multiple ideas, that build on each other. And yet others do something else completely (because if you’re too predictable, you’re subconsciously being boring).
Here’s some ways to jazz up the rhythm of your bullets…
— What never to eat on an airplane
— What never to eat on an airplane, and the scary reason why
Jab, Jab, Hook:
— Save on taxes, pad your retirement accounts, and double your nest egg with one 5-minute decision
— Blind bullets, half-blind bullets, and giveaways — here’s when to use each
— What to do when you need to write lots of bullets (this cheat-sheet makes it easy)
Get the idea?
Also note: some bullets should be ultra-short. We’re talking just a couple words. Others can be much longer sentences, packed with promises of benefits plus teases to create curiosity.
Third — go with these proven formulas for bullet-writing…
Here are some more approaches that have proven themselves again and again.
Reveal problem, hide solution:
— Most copywriters never succeed because they don’t understand the business of copywriting — here’s the one thing you MUST understand to beat the odds.
Make uninteresting information interesting:
— Bills it’s okay to pay late
(Famous Boardroom headline for a book on accounts payables.)
Make impersonal information personal:
— What every work-at-home copywriter must know about height-adjustable desks
(Relevant to anyone who works at a desk, but the ultra-specific audience makes it feel personal.)
Tease a story:
— One idea my company implemented that DOUBLED customer lifetime value — what happened, and how to steal it for your business
Tease a secret:
— What every cop knows about human nature — that immediately makes you a better copywriter
Reveal a mechanism:
— My biggest secret to weight loss and management is called “Weigh every day” — I step on the scale every morning, and then I do this (lets me eat pizza whenever I want!)…
Propose a test:
— Try this: write 15 bullets using what you learn on page 8, and if they’re not better I’ll send you a full refund.
— Here’s the one trick I’ve used to double my stamina in the weight room — and you know the harder you train, the better your muscle-growth
— Earn $50/hour copywriting income — without writing a single word.
Faster, easier, cheaper:
— Do this to make your garden bloom fuller, lusher, earlier this spring — without buying a penny’s worth of fertilizer.
Give something a name:
— Try my “McCarthy Method” for becoming a better copywriter — details inside
Include a number:
— 7+1 quick tips for writing control-beating bullets
— Most people will tell you becoming a great copywriter takes 10,000 hours of hard work… Try my recommendation on page 53 and you will prove them wrong!
Okay — now go write!
Time’s up and I’m going to be late getting this out, so let me conclude with this.
Getting great at writing bullets will make you a better copywriter, because it translates across the board into so many other parts of writing great copy.
AND, the more you practice and the more you write, the more natural this will all become, and the better bullets you’ll write.
Now go write some breakthrough bullets!
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,