PROMISE-CRAFTING - The Heart of Copywriting
Different copywriters take different approaches to their creative process. But there's one step that has to be included no matter what the process.
I call it Promise-crafting.
Why Promise-Crafting is Such a Key Copywriting Skill
Promises are at the heart of what makes copywriting work.
-- A promise is what you use to get attention in your headline
-- A promise is what you develop in the lead
-- Promises are the key parts of your body copy and the source of subheads
-- A promise is the foundation of your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)
-- Your offer and order form and Post Scripts restate your promises.
Prospects ultimately act on sales copy because they desire to gain or avoid what the promises offer. Promises spark and build the desire that ultimately motivates them to buy.
How Do You Craft a Promise?
A promise starts from, but is not the same as, a benefit. Here's an example"
You're selling a cat collar that stretches so it will, if snagged, let the cat slip out without being trapped.
The feature is the stretchiness.
The benefit is that the cat can release himself if the collar is snagged.
But the promise is:
YOUR CAT WILL NEVER CHOKE, SUFFER AND DIE WITH THIS COLLAR
WHEN THEY GET TRAPPED OR SNAGGED BY A BRANCH, NAIL, OR OTHER DANGER
Start with the Benefit
To craft a Promise you enlarge a benefit. You explore what effect it would have in the real world when applied. You think about it in a setting and a situation. Then you empathetically probe the emotions of the prospect to see how they (you-in-their-shoes) feel about that effect.
When you write the promise, out of your exploration, you select the most dramatic effect. You describe it using the emotional appeal you've uncovered with your probing. You direct it specifically at your target reader's experience.
Here's another example.
Product: Internet Marketing Course
Feature: Produced on DVD's
Benefit: Lets you learn to make money online more easily, by viewing DVD's rather than reading
Here are some of the promises you could craft from this benefit:
LEARN TO MAKE MILLIONS FROM THE COMFORT OF YOUR EASY CHAIR
YOU"RE WORKING TOO HARD. STOP! LEARN TO MAKE MILLIONS THE EASY WAY!
ALL YOU HAVE TO KNOW TO START MAKING MILLIONS IS HOW TO WATCH TV. HOW MUCH EASIER COULD IT BE?!!!
-Or, one that works to overcome credibility issues by making it a question instead of a statement:
CAN YOU REALLY QUIT YOUR JOB, MAKE MILLIONS, AND RETIRE RICH BY WATCHING TV?
Now you try. Craft promises for copywriting course above.
START PROMISE-CRAFTING TO MAKE THE WRITING PROCESS EASIER
Note that you'll almost always find multiple promises when you start to explore. Use the strongest where it has the greatest impact - the headline and lead. Don't throw away the others, though. They can become the basis for body copy.
Next time you write copy, use Promise-Crafting to help you develop the heart of your appeal. Extend a benefit and explore its effects. Give it a setting and a situation. Probe the emotions of the prospect to see how you-in-their-shoes feel about that effect. Then put it all together. Craft an emotion-charged, desire-fanning promise statement that will suck the cash right out of their wallet.
I PROMISE you it works.
Let me know how it goes. Ronald A Murphy is a Copywriter and Graphic Designer specializing in Direct Response and Internet Marketing. Murphy writes and designs sales letters, direct mail packages, inserts, web sales pages, direct email, newsletters for marketing, Internet articles, white papers, and other sales focused materials. He provides expertise to clients serving financial, business, technology, health, opportunity and fundraising markets. For more information on copywriting and marketing, visit his site at RAMurphy.com. There you can subscribe to his newsletter, R A Murphy's Copywriting and Design Tips. You can also read Murphy's Blog on Copywriting and Design for Internet and Direct marketing at RonaldAMurphy.com.