Copywriting secret of the masters which sells best, stories or stats - john forde


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Copywriting secret of the masters which sells best, stories or stats - john forde

  1. 1. Copywriting Secret of the Masters: Which Sells Best, Stories or Stats? by: John Forde
  2. 2. Which Sells Best, Stories or Stats? Do this: Write down the word ―baby.‖Now, how does that word make you feel?Try it with another baggage-friendly word like ―family‖ or ―war.‖ Or any otherphrase that gets your inner emotional stew simmering.Done? Good. No, dear reader, you haven’t stumbled into a 1970′s sensitivitytraining group.There will be no hugs here. And no massaging your chakras (I mean, really…who does that in public?)Rather, I’m just trying to warm you up for today’s issue. See, I’m reading―Made to Stick.‖ (Okay — listening to it as an audio book, during themorning run. But in print or audio, I recommend you get a copy too.) Andthis morning, the book gave me a shocker worth sharing.So now that I’ve got you ―primed‖ to receive (I’ll explain what I mean in justa second), let’s begin…Which Works Best, Stats or Stories?Carnegie-Mellon, says the book, did a study. They invited participants in totake a survey. The topic wasn’t important — something about tech products— but what mattered was the small payout. Each participant got paid withfive $1 bills.They also got an unexpected letter and an empty envelope. The letter askedfor donations for an international charity called ―Save the Children.‖ Butdifferent groups got different letters.One letter dripped with grim statistics. In one African country, it said, 3.2million stand on the brink of starvation. In another, 2.4 million have no easyaccess to clean water. In a third, almost 4 million need emergency shelter.Each problem was gigantic and serious.The second letter had only a story. ―Rokia,‖ it said, ―is a 7-year-old girl fromMali, Africa. She’s desperately poor and faces a threat of severe hunger oreven starvation. Her life will be changed for the better as a result of your
  3. 3. financial gift. With your support, and the support of other caring sponsors,Save the Children will work with Rokia’s family and other members of thecommunity to help feed her, provide her with education, as well as basicmedical care and hygiene education.‖Which worked better?Now, dear reader, I know your momma raised no dummies. You’re going totell me that the Rokia letter cleaned up. And you’d be right.On average, Rokia’s letter took in $2.38 in donations from the test group.The stat-soaked letter took in only an average of $1.14. But that’s not thebig surprise, is it? No, of course not. (What kind of storyteller do you think Iam, after all?)See, the study didn’t stop there…How Less Really Can Mean a Lot MoreThe researchers then called in a third group. You’ll get paid for taking thissurvey, they said again.Only this time, instead of giving the participants only one letter with theircash — everybody got both the story AND the stats together.Great, you might say.Heart AND head. A real one-two punch. Wouldn’t that net you both thebleeding hearts and the brainiacs, all in one sweep?As it turns out, no.Not only did combining both approaches fail to gas up the giving engines… itdoused the pitch-power of the story-only approach with ice water.The combo group, on average, gave almost a dollar LESS than the story-onlygroup alone.Just $1.43.Isn’t that amazing?I thought so.But even more amazing was the last part of the experiment. This time, justto make sure of their conclusion, the researchers invited in a fourth group.
  4. 4. This time everybody would only get the stronger Rokia letter. Butbeforehand, they would complete an exercise.Half the group would finish some simple math problems. The other halfwould answer a word challenge like the one I gave you at the start of thisissue: Give word, write down feelings.What happened?Incredibly, the group that got ―primed‖ with the emotional exercise gave analmost equal $2.34… but the analytically ―primed‖ group AGAIN gave less,for an average of just $1.26.These were unrelated calculations. But somehow just putting on a thinkingcap was working like one of those tinfoil hats that crackpots wear to blockout alien mind-reading waves (I’ve got to get me one of those).Nearest the researchers could figure is that, while analytical thinking canshore up beliefs or activate a reader’s capacity for focus, it actually stymiesaction.To get someone to act, they need to go beyond beliefs to the feelings theyHOLD about those beliefs. Feelings inspire action.And I don’t just mean that in the ―touchy-feely let’s all hug a kitten and lighta vanilla candle‖ kind of way. All persuasion works best when it focuses moston core emotions, not cerebral abstractions. I know this charity, ―Save theChildren,‖ pretty well by the way. My wife and I have a Danish friend whoworks for them.She’s a talented photographer.Whenever there’s a crisis, her boss dips into the funds and puts our friendand her camera on a plane. Burned out post-war zones, post-tsunami andtyphoon disaster areas, dirt poor African villages — she’s been there,capturing a personal, eyewitness view.Why?
  5. 5. Because in the charities well-tested experience, those individual on-the-scene images raise more money than a boatload of shocking statistics evercould.I know that I’m going to try to work more of the ―story of one‖ effect intomy future promos. Maybe you should too.JOHN FORDE’s copy has made untold millions for clients in the financial,health, and travel industries. And he’s also personally trained dozens ofother now-successful writers and mentored many million-dollar controls.John is also the proud recipient of the ―Ouzilly Award for Sterling Copy‖ andthe ―2008 AWAI Copywriter of the Year‖ award as well as a 2009 ―MostValuable Player‖ award from Agora Financial Publishing.John is also a published author and a favorite speaker at AWAI’s FastTrack toSuccess Copywriting Bootcamp. He currently divides his time between theU.S. and Europe, with his wife and two young children.John is also the founder and editor of the weekly industry e-letter,TheCopywriter’s Roundtable, considered by many to be one of the best in theindustry ( Writers’ Alliance EXCLUSIVE: John takes us behind thescenes of a winning control in ―First to Final‖: The Evolution of a SuccessfulSales Letter.A lot of new writers think professional writers simply sit down at a typewriterand pump out winning copy effortlessly, time after time. They wish that werethe case…In reality, every writer has a first draft he or she most likely would ratherforget.But, its the process from that shaky first draft to the final product where somany writing and selling lessons are learned. Which is why well be askingtop writers like John to share this experience with you – by taking you fromfirst to final draft – and telling you about everything in between.
  6. 6. John Forde:A Master at WritingMore Controls More Often"If you write copy … how many chances to sell your talents to the businessesyou know and trust have you overlooked? Company websites … local salesbrochures … online ads and sales letters … print ads in local papers … evenP.R. pieces or ezine editorial.It might be the small gigs that get you started. It might be the bigopportunities that let you smack the cover off the ball at your first at bat.Either way, I’ve met plenty of people who had no grasp about what rolecopywriters play.Masterson’s [Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting] offers themost thorough and well-organized approach to the subject I’ve seenanywhere. There’s not a technique or secret in there that I haven’t foundhelpful over the years. I owe a great deal of my own success to MikeMasterson. And I tell him so regularly. As for the program, I’d recommend itto anybody – not just direct-mail copywriters, but anyone who’s trying to geta grip on what makes marketing work."— John FordeJOHN FORDE has been writing winning controls for going on two decadesnow. He’s made untold millions for clients in the financial, health, and travelindustries. John also works as a copy coach, hosting intense seminars fortwo or three hundred marketers and copywriters at a time.John Forde also writes the successful and very useful eletter, TheCopywriter’s Roundtable.