Here are Clayton’s final 7 ‘non-rules’… take notes, and reap the rewards!
I view commas as warning flags in my copy. Sure – they could be there for a good reason: Like showing the proofreader that I do, in fact, know a thing or two about proper punctuation.
But often times, commas are a big red flag that tells me that I’ve got a run-on on my hands. Or even worse, they scream, “HEY, BOZO! You wrote this sentence UPSIDE DOWN!”
“With only the finest of intentions, Clayton wrote his example.”
That comma in the above sentence is a dead giveaway that something’s out of kilter. Wouldn’t it read faster if I merely said …
“Clayton wrote his example with only the finest of intentions.”
Use connecting words at the beginning of paragraphs.
In addition to communicating, every paragraph of great copy should also make a sale: It should “sell” the prospect on the idea of reading the next paragraph.
Early on, I learned that using conjunctions and other connecting words at the beginning paragraphs was a simple way to keep the momentum going: “And” … “Plus” … “But” … “Furthermore” … “Moreover” … “What’s more” … “And there’s more:” … “Even worse,” for example.
Hint: I like “and” better than “but.” “And” is positive. “But” is negative. I look for “buts” and try to replace them with “ands” wherever I can.
Look for shortcuts to keep the momentum going.
I make liberal use of contractions. After all – it’s how people talk! In fact, the only time I write “does not” instead of “doesn’t” is when the “not” is crucial to my meaning. And if it’s really crucial, I’ll ad emphasis to it with an underline, italicizing it, capitalizing it, and in some cases, all of the above.
Every generality in your text is a landmine. That will kill you.
Instead of merely saying “you’ll save time,” tell your prospect precisely how much time he’ll save. Don’t say, “Buy now and save!” Say, “You SAVE $99 by calling in the next 10 minutes!”
I actually read through each draft looking for excuses to add specifics to fully dimensionalize every problem and every promise.
Consider the question.
Some folks think that asking the prospect a question – either in a headline or elsewhere in your copy is a mistake. “After all,” they say, “Declarative sentences are strong; questions are weak. And besides, how do you really know how the prospect will answer?”
But sometimes questions aren’t weak. Sometimes, they’re hypothetical – and make a very strong declarative statement. A headline I wrote for Louis Navellier – a head that mailed successfully for more than a year – once asked …
What’s wrong with getting richer QUICKER?
The copy went on to say:
I’ve made money slow, and I’ve made money fast. Believe me: Fast is better!
That head wasn’t really a question. It was a cry of defiance from impatient investors who were sick and tired of being told to cool their jets.
In the pre-head of a recent direct mail piece for Your Money Report, I wrote …
• Suspicious of corporate CEOs who lie about their earnings?
• Fed up with stockbrokers who tout lousy stocks – and get rich even when you don’t?
• Impatiently waiting for the profits Wall Street promises you – but never delivers?
It’s time for you to join millions of your fellow Americans who grew rich when they finally said …
“Thanks for nothing, Wall Street –
I’d Rather Do It MYSELF!”
Used properly, questions can often be used to demonstrate that you already know and empathize with the answer. And they can also be a great way to demonstrate the horrifying alternative – as I did in this P.S. for an investment newsletter …
P.S. What if I’m right? What if I really can help you avoid losses and even profit when tech stocks tumble? How will you feel, licking your wounds and knowing that if you had just said, “YES,” to this generous offer, you could have made a killing?
Please – for your sake – let me hear from you today. If I can’t help you, my service costs you nothing. If I can, you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.
When in doubt, cut it out.
After I’ve completed a draft, I often realize that my best lead is buried a few paragraphs down in the copy. Moving or deleting the first few paragraphs — or even the first page — would get us off to a much faster start.
Another weakness of mine: Excessive repetition. I tend to over-write key paragraphs or write a key paragraph several different ways. Second drafts are the perfect time to spot this needless repetition and condense several graphs into one, short, punchy one.
Break the rules!
Never let the fact that a particular technique is frowned upon preventing you from using it.
Follow every road that opens up before you as you write. Explore every unbeaten path. Don’t let that left-brained party-pooper who lives inside you kill what could be a great idea before you’ve had time to fully develop it. Even if you later agree that it doesn’t work, you’ve learned something. And if it does work, you’ve made a breakthrough.
About CLAYTON MAKEPEACE
– A 43-year veteran of direct response industry, Clayton’s hard-hitting sales copy has enabled him to do wonderful things.
– Before Clayton, Security Rare Coin had monthly sales of $300,000. One year later, monthly sales hit $16 million.
– Before Clayton, Blanchard Rare Coin and Bullion had annual sales of $20 million. After Clayton, sales surged to over $120 million.
– Clayton sold two million subscriptions to Phillips Publishing’s Health & Healing newsletter.
– He generated more than $30 million in sales for Health Resources’ “Oral Chelation” supplement.
– He built three investment newsletters – The Money Advocate, Personal Health Bulletin, and Safe Money Report – into the largest of their kind in the world.