By Ray Edwards
In the course of writing some blockbuster promotions (a number of my sales letters have brought in seven-figure paydays for my clients), I've seen what works when it comes to copy.
I believe there is a "magic ingredient" you can inject into any anemic, pathetic, lackluster piece of copy ... and transform that underperforming sales letter into an order-getting engine of prosperity.
How did I stumble upon this "secret"? Watching movies. More specifically, watching movie trailers (also known as "previews").
What Makes a Blockbuster Movie Trailer
Of course, you and I know that not all movies live up to the trailer. We've all had that experience of seeing the actual film and saying, "Well, they put all the best parts in the previews."
So, just for the moment, let's think of your product as the movie. And let's think of your sales copy as the "trailer." Let's also assume your product or offer lives up to the promise of the trailer.
How do we create a "trailer"--in our case, a sales letter--that makes people feel they must have the actual product? The secret of great movie trailers--and of great sales copy--is something I call the dominant story idea, or "DSI" for short.
How the DSI Transforms Copy from Boring to Blockbuster
I'm going to give you an example of how this whole "DSI thing" can actually save your bacon and turn a losing sales letter into a winner (often in just a few minutes).
The best and most successful movie trailers do three things without fail:
1. Give you the dominant story idea (DSI)
2. Offer a sample of the feelings you'll get from the movie itself
3. Provide proof that the movie "works"
I've selected an example from an older film, because I want to be sure you've seen it and are familiar with it. The movie is The Firm, based on John Grisham's book.
Here's a summary of The Firm, starring Tom Cruise.
1. Dominant story idea: Young lawyer passes the bar and gets a dream job--with great pay and even a free BMW. Seems too good to be true. In fact, it is: he's working for the Mob. And if he wants out, they're going to kill him.
2. Sample feelings: We see Mitch McDeer in his innocent phase ... winning the new job, the car, and the status he so desperately wants ... getting seduced by money, power, and very hot women ... and then getting into some really scary trouble. Will he prevail?
3. Proof the movie "works": Overtly, we're shown Tom Cruise, Gene Hackman, and Hal Holbrook (proven actors we love) ... some very compelling scenes (tightly edited) ... and in the background we're anchored by the sound of suspenseful and ominous music (hinting that bad things are about to happen to dear Mitch McDeer).
That's all from the trailer, mind you! Back to my point: how this applies to your copy.
Using the DSI to Create Winning Sales Copy
Well, it should be getting clear for you by now ... you need to do these same three things with your copy. As long as your product actually solves a problem, this formula will work for you. All you need to do is figure out how to do the following:
1. Showcase your dominant story idea: Imagine you're making a Hollywood movie trailer ... how would you sum up your DSI? Look at the movie examples above for some clues.
2. Offer sample feelings: Again, looking to our movie trailer examples, can you show--in your copy--some scenes that will help the readers feel the feelings they want to get from your product? You do this by telling stories and directing the readers' imaginations so that they see themselves in the end state your product provides (financial freedom, quitting their job, being a best-selling author, enjoying their new car, or whatever your product does for them). And here's a key: they must link this end state to your product. Let me be clear: by the time they're done with your copy, they need to see that the only way they can reasonably expect to get to that end state is ... using your product.
3. Provide proof the product "works": You do this in the ways we're familiar with: testimonials, case studies, before-and-after photos and videos, screenshots, etc. Showing "celebrity" endorsements will improve your results by multitudes. Just remember you don't need Kevin Spacey or Tom Cruise ... chances are your niche has its own celebrities that will work just as well (or even better) for your purposes.
Putting the DSI to Work in Your Own Copy ... Today
First, you need to identify the three elements used by movie studios to "sell" their movies to the public. So, thinking in terms of your own product:
1. What's the dominant story idea of your sales copy? (For example, "Weird exercise routine provides world's best workout in just 4 minutes" or "Collapsing financial markets have produced an overlooked opportunity for investors," etc.)
2. What are three ways you can provide sample feelings for your readers ... so they picture themselves using your product and enjoying its benefits? (For example, can you tell them a true but amazing story? Show them a brief video? Let them try one of your techniques?)
3. What are three powerful ways you can prove your product works? (For example, celebrity endorsements, before-and-afters, well-known examples, etc.)
Once you've actually written these things down, your next task is to incorporate them into your copy. How do you do that? Simple. To start with, get the DSI into your headline.
This might mean you have to ditch that worn-out "Who Else" headline ... but are you really going to cry about that? For instance, in one of the examples above, I could actually just use my DSI as the headline:
World's Best Workout ... In Just 4 Minutes
Next, summarize your sample feelings elements and place them in the deck copy (right under the headline). Bullet points work best here. To continue using our exercise example, I might write:
In this special report, you will learn the amazing (but true) story behind the world's fastest workout. You'll discover:
• How this method of "fast exercise" was discovered, and how scientific testing has proven it to be effective.
• The "miracle transformation" that took the method's inventor from a blubbery 300 pounds to a fit & trim 160... lowered his blood pressure... and took 30 years off his biological age (and how you can do the same - or better).
• The simple principles behind the 4-minute workout and how you can start using them right now to build your strength and endurance.
What To Do Now
If you can find your own dominant story idea and build your sales copy around it, you'll almost certainly increase your sales and profits.
Look, it's not just me saying it. David Ogilvy, arguably one of the greatest ad writers who ever lived, said this:
"Unless your advertising contains a Big Idea, it will pass like a ship in the night. I doubt if more than one campaign in a hundred contains a Big Idea."
Now you know what will set your campaign (or sales letter or product launch) apart from all the others: it's your DSI.
Spend some time identifying it and incorporating it into your copy.
The results will be your reward!
Do you have any questions or comments? Please leave them below!
Guest blogger, Ray Edwards, is the author of the #1 Best-Selling Marketing Book Writing Riches. Ray is a sought-after Direct Response Copywriter, Speaker, and Marketing Strategist. He can help you create a successful Internet business, and offers free articles, tutorials, and weekly audio training at his website. RayEdwards.com