Stage 1: Understanding the Mechanics — The untrained copywriter can become exponentially better in a day’s worth of training. It really is that easy. And a copywriter that’s made that minimum effort can get results, right away. That’s why a lot of A-List copywriters will tell you that you don’t have to become a great writer to make money writing copy.
Stage 2: Learning the Psychology of “Salesmanship in Print” — Semi-decent copywriters won’t continue to get better without at least a few month’s or a year’s worth of continued study and practice. That’s because they’re moving from the core mechanics and basic mindset of copywriting, to applying effective sales psychology to their writing.
Stage 3: Becoming a Serious Student of Advertising Artistry — Moving from seasoned, journeyman copywriter to true pro DOES require that you become a better writer. You must become adept at directing the “movie in the mind” of the prospect, and that requires superior wordsmithing along with artistry above and beyond the previous two stages. Naturally this takes longer to learn.
So why should you care?
First, it’s important to know that you can get dramatic improvements and business results from moving through the first two stages. Meaning that it’s worth the limited effort to get better even if you are NOT looking to become a professional copywriter or marketer.
Second, if you ARE looking to become a professional copywriter, you’ll get better faster if you understand what stage of development you’re in and what resources will help you the most for any given stage. That’s not to say the components of each stage don’t overlap, but that they do tend to build one stage on the other, so you shouldn’t spend too much time, say, trying to learn rhetorical flourishes if you haven’t mastered the basics of WIIFM, substantiation and proof, etc.
And with that in mind, here are some solid, mostly free resources to get you to that next level:
Understanding the Mechanics
To me, the basic mechanics of copywriting includes the following:
- Moving from We-We to You-You Copy
- The Importance of WIIFM and Benefits vs. Features
- Learning AIDAS and/or the Four “P”s of persuasive messaging
- UVPs, Irresistible Offers, and Calls to Action
- Gary Halbert demos the “how to” of creating an irresistible offer as only he can
- Sonia Simone’s 15-minute Guide to Creating a USP
- Charlie Moger on why it should really be the Unique BUYING Proposition
- Brian Clark on why it should be called the Unique STORY Proposition
- The Grok on the importance of Calls to Action
- Writing Calls to Action as Persuasive Links
- Substantiation & Proof Elements
- Do Your Readers Secretly Think You’re a Liar?
- How to Signal Sincerity When Words Alone Won’t Cut It
- The 6 Currencies that Buy Credibility
- Infomercial Proof Elements Guaranteed to Work — Or Your Money Back 😉
- Dave Young’s Video Explains Online Trust and Credibility Builders
- Marketing Experiments Explains Credible vs. Non-Credible Copy
- Anticipating and Answering the (prospect’s) Freaking Question & Objection
- Achieving Clarity and Conversational Tone
So, there’s obviously a bit more to the basic mechanics of good copywriting than JUST these elements, and for you dedicated students, I’ve come up with two entirely FREE resources to cover those:
- Jeffrey and Bryan Eisenberg have graciously agreed to let my readers download a free copy of their highly praised and sought after book, Persuasive Online Copywriting.
- You can download a free, no-email-necessary PDF of Claude Hopkins’ Scientific Advertising right here.
Learning the Psychology of Salesmanship in Print
Sales Psychology is a BIG topic, and I’m sure I’m leaving lots of topics uncovered, but for me, the must-have basics include:
- Understanding The Elements of Influence
- Learning about Temperaments & Decision-Making Styles/Needs
- Understanding the Role of Self-Image in Persuasion
- Understanding the Importance of Persuasive Momentum
- Framing Arguments & Manipulating Context
- Understanding how prospects are Predictably Irrational
Obviously, there is a lifetime’s worth of learning around these topics and any number of “additional reading” books could be recommended. That said, the best FREE resources for this stage are Roy H. Williams first two books in his Wizard of Ads trilogy, The Wizard of Ads and Secret Formulas of the Wizard of Ads, both which you can download as audio and e-books for free at Roy’s Website.
Becoming a Serious Student of Advertising Artistry
Once you understand the mechanics and the psychology, you enter the realm of advanced techniques, subtlety of execution, and general artistry. This is where the ad writer has the most in common with the novelist, playwright, movie director, entertainer, and even the stage musician. Here are
- Frameline Magnetism & Closure (aka, Knowing What to Leave Out)
- Short-Form Drama and Storytelling
- Nested Storytelling
- Mental Imagery & Image-based Ad Writing
- Magical Thinking
- Set-ups and Payoffs
- Hooking the Reader /Listener