AS3-John_CarltonDuring the third Action Seminar, John Carlton disclosed the 5 revelations about sales copy that changed the way he writes.

John’s comments:

These are the revelations that changed my life.

Number 1. (there will be 5. I wanted to keep it to one hand. None of you guys will have to take your shoes off. You can do this right now with your salesman. How many people have a sales message that’s out there wandering around somewhere in the cold, lonely world?

The big revelation I had was that your sales message is a little salesman going out into a hostile situation. He has no backup…you’re not there to explain what your little salesman meant. Nobody’s going to take what he said and figure it out for themselves.

Danger, danger Will Robinson. How many people remember that? Yeah, good, I’m not alone.
So, there are 3 ways you can look at your ad that is out there, your message. No matter what type of ad it is…video sales letter, website, email, print ads. Whatever you’re doing, you want to think about it as putting your baby together and sending him off to kindergarten for the first day. You want him prepared. In a more advanced way, you want to send him out into a hostile environment prepared for anything.

So, you want him to be presentable. What that means is the format. You want him in a non-threatening suit. How does your ad look when your prospect sees it? This is pretty simple, but this is why most of the old-school ads that you see, or ads where people follow me, and they do their websites or video sales letters.

This is why they have a superscript…or a headline above the headline. Then they have the regular headline in that particular format. Often a different typeface…a sans-serif typeface where that is much larger. Then a smaller typeface again for the subhead. Then the body copy. Bullets. Spaces between paragraphs. Captions on photos. This is part of the presentation.

How many of you tried to reinvent the way ads are presented when you did your first sales message. Liars, you all did.

That’s the way you want your ads to look. In all formats. You want it to look familiar, so that’s not part of the problem of getting your message across, is that you’re new in this person’s life. You should look familiar. Does that make sense to you? Try to look as familiar as possible. Don’t try to be the first time he sees the email with a flashing hand that jumps out of the screen and grabs him by the throat. Don’t be that guy. I can’t wait until Google can do that, too…have real hands jumping out of the screen.

So, format, and can anybody guess what is the other part of this? Think about the salesmen you’ve met, or the salesmen you have seen on TV, or the salesmen you’ve met who meet somebody cold and are able to get through to them. What’s the next thing they do…other than coming on as a non-threatening person. What’s the next thing they do?

Close…it’s a charm offensive. Charm is a word not often used in advertising. For me, what that meant was acceptable outrageousness or, especially, spot-on frankness. And that’s where my headlines came out. The one-legged golfer, the hooks, all those things. They seem outrageous, but the people that objected to them were…what? Never going to be customers anyway. And the people who did like the headline and go off with it were what? The targeted audience I was going after.

So, the outrageousness of your ads has to connect with the people you’re going after. So, the outrageousness of your ads has to connect with the people you’re going after. You don’t care what anyone else says. OK?

You want him presentable..2, you want your ad, your salesman out there in the hostile world, to be packaged right to survive this. You wouldn’t send a package across the country without duct tape on it, you’re not going to send an email out there that will end up in spam filters, an ad that’s going to get slapped by Google. What’s another bad example? Yeah…a letter that’s going to get tossed into the trash.

You know, when I started I cut my teeth on direct mail, and one of the best things about the way I was writing direct mail is that I was up against letters from insurance companies saying “New insurance quote” on the outside of the envelope, so people didn’t even have to open it. This is part of Gary’s A pile/B pile speech. They would give the game away right on the outside of the envelope. So, I could come in…even though I was writing bullets on the outside of the packages, they were all like little headlines, so it was like “I’ve got to open this just to see what this nut case is talking about”. But, we were up against loser ads. So, you want to make him armed to the teeth and packaged right to get out there.

Finally, you want him to have the street-savvy skills. That would be persuasion. You guys all know AIDA, we call it Aaeda. This is the first formula that I found out about, and I used it for years. It was John Caples’ best idea.

It was A. I. D. A., which stands for Attention, interest, desire, action…

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