Bad advice for sales copy newbies

This is either a frustrated newbie crumpling a sales letter, or a very intricate origami piece.

Today, I opened up an email from a self-professed marketing newbie asking if I’d look over his sales copy and give him my honest opinion.


I could practically see his eager, smiling face as I opened up the the attachment he sent me.

So what did I find when I looked at his draft? An incomprehensible mash of words organized in a way that mocks a sales letter.

The thing was a mess. I didn’t even know where to start. The elements of a sales page was there, but the copy had huge ‘sales bumps.’

For example, the first word of the headline was “Learn”.

I don’t care what your 3rd grade math teacher said, no one has ever wanted to pay money to ‘Learn’ anything.

We pay money to solve problems. We pay money to feel better. Heck, 99%* of the people who go to college aren’t there to learn – they’re there because they want to land higher-paying jobs.

People also don’t want to “Work” or “Earn.” Remember – sales copy isn’t an exercise of logic. It’s an appeal to emotions that people later back up by logic.

Apart from that starting gaff, there were plenty of uncertainties “You might enjoy this…” and vague promises “This works the best!”

But I couldn’t be mad at him – his monstrous copy attempt was the result of a piece of common, kicked around copy advice.

“Bleh! I vant to ruin your copy!”

When newbies ask how to write good sales pages, so many of us copywriters (myself at one point included) have suggested they study and learn from popular sales pages out there.

Bad advice.

The problem is this advice is the equivalent of telling an aspiring doctor to “Go ahead and watch a few episodes of ‘House’ and ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ then go ahead and perform an open-heart surgery next week.’

Sales copy isn’t surgery, but it is about hitting emotional triggers that lead up to sales. And they can use all the bolded words, exclamation points, and highlights that they want – and it still won’t sell if they can’t guide their reader down the right mental path.

Here’s some useful advice for sales copy newbies

When you’re trying to write up ANY sales copy – whether it be a small ad, a booklet, or a long sales page – immerse yourself into what your customer is going through.

People don’t want to be sold to. They want to find solutions to their problems.

They can sniff out an average sales rat miles away.

So if you can’t make heads or tails of what made that popular Clickbank sales copy work – then skip it.

In fact, before you teach yourself about ‘sales writing’ – learn basic human emotions. What drives people to take action? What do people in your market fear and desire?

Even if you’re not the most gifted writer, by merely having the ability to get people to react emotionally to what you’re writing, you’ll be more likely to pull in sales than a lyrical writer who talks at an informative level.

Do I have more to say on this subject? You bet! Am I going to stop here for now because my pending projects are impatiently tapping their feet behind me. You bet!

Hope you’re having a spiffy week


* I’m at least 75% sure that the college percentage listed above was a completely arbitrary number pulled from my left shoe

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