Gary Bencivenga’s Marketing Bullets: A Summary

Gary Bencivenga, one of the world’s most respected and admired direct response copywriters, shared 29 copywriting bullets that are free to read on the web. These bullets are jam-packed with timeless information and insight on copywriting, and I implore you to read the original articles if you have the time to do so.

If not, here’s each and every marketing bullet summarized.

Bullets listed:

Bullet 1: The Credo Technique
Bullet 2: Advertising is war, minus the venom
Bullet 3: The Two Most Powerful Words In Advertising
Bullet 4: The Most Important Advertising Question
Bullet 5: The Secret Of Red Shirts
Bullet 6: The 7-Letter Word That Instantly Multiplies Your Creativity 11-Fold
Bullet 7: Can You Pick The Winning Headline?
Bullet 8: The Secret Of How To Turn A Setback into a Triumph – in Marketing or in Life
Bullet 9: The Most Persuasive Tool in Advertising and How to Use It
Bullet 10: The Secret “Trigger Word” That Makes More of Your Prospects Say Yes Than Any Other Word in the English Language
Bullet 11: The Secret of Happiness (A Holiday Message)
Bullet 12: How to Get Anything You Want in Life
Bullet 13: How to Be Lucky
Bullet 14: 6 Little Words That Boost Your Sales
Bullet 15: The Secret of the Monkey’s Fist
Bullet 16: The “Fuzzy Dice” Secret For Exploding Your Sales
Bullet 17: How To Name Your Product
Bullet 18: A Simple 7-Step Formula for Succeeding Online
Bullet 19: The Most Important 9-Word Sentence in Marketing History
Bullet 20: Controversy! Gunfire Erupts Over “9 Most Important Words in Marketing History”

Bullet 21: Which Offer Pulled Best?
Bullet 22: 16 Rules For Success
Bullet 23: The One Word That Teaches Almost Everything
Bullet 24: The “Borden Formula” for Giving a Great Speech …or Writing a Potent Headline
Bullet 25: The “Golden Key” Of Persuasion
Bullet 26: The #1 Strategy for Exploding Your Productivity This Year
Bullet 27: The 3 Greatest Copywriting Lessons I’ve Ever Learned
Bullet 28: 3 Secrets for Multiplying Your Productivity, Success, Income, and Personal Happiness as a Copywriter or Marketer
Bullet 29: The Secret of How to Sell Anything

Bullet 1: The Credo Technique

“To be great, a company needs a religion”
– Thomas Watson Sr., founder of IBM

  • Never be afraid to tell readers what you/your brand believes in and stands for. Even better if you do this at first touch.

Credo Technique.

Credo = I believe

An expression of your most closely held values. When you stand for something, you’ll never stand alone.

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Bullet 2: Advertising is war, minus the venom

“Advertising is much like war, minus the venom….We are usually out

to capture others’ citadels or garner others’ trade….We must have

training and experience, also right equipment. We must have proper

ammunition, and enough.”

  • Claude Hopkins

Bencivenga is a firm proponent of the Pareto principle (also known as the 80/20 rule).

In any human activity, just a small group of factors is responsible for the lion’s share of success.

For example, just 20% of the salespeople earn 80% of the commissions.

20% of the authors sell 80% of the books.

20% of your daily activities generate 80% of your success and income.

And so on.

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Bullet 3: The Two Most Powerful Words In Advertising

No, not FREE, NEW, or YOU.

This bullet starts with a challenge to the reader.

Which one of these two ads smashed the other in a controlled split-test, becoming the control for years?

If you’ve got 20 minutes a month,
I guarantee to work a financial miracle
in your life.


The Millionaire Maker

Can he make YOU rich, too?

The answer’s at the end of this bullet. For now, read on.

Bencivenga goes on to mention how all the old copywriting greats never mentioned this simply because advertising wasn’t everywhere the way it is now.

People hadn’t become used to FREE and NEW yet. It was often enough to just focus on benefits, benefits, benefits.

But nowadays, not so much.

The two words hinted at in the headline are “Yeah, sure”. If it makes more sense to you, use “Yeah right” or any other close relative. 

The whole point with this is to make sure the proof equals the claim. 

You can’t say that you have the greatest goddamn product in existence if don’t have enough proof to back that up.

This is when “Yeah, sure” comes into play.

It’s more of a check after each big claim you write. Could the reader go “yeah, sure…” after reading this? Or have you added enough proof that it’s virtually impossible to say so?

Bencivenga adds another way to bypass this “BS radar”. The If – then clause.

Let’s go back to the two headlines:

If you’ve got 20 minutes a month,
I guarantee to work a financial miracle
in your life.

This ad smashed the other one – and it wasn’t even close.

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Bullet 4: The Most Important Advertising Question

Here’s the question:

What are we really selling?

In the factory we make cosmetics. In the store we sell hope.” – Charles Revson (cosmetics magnate)

Advertising is nothing more than multiplied salesmanship.

Quoting Bencivenga: “Whenever you are marketing anything, always ask, “What are we really selling?” Don’t stop until you’ve got a long list of answers and test an ad built around each of your best. The difference in response will often astonish you, open up whole new markets as well as lots more opportunities to raise the question again.

Tobacco companies used to promote the “rich tobacco taste” in their products. But at some point, after asking themselves the 5-word question, they changed their messaging.

To this:

Another great industry to study is the automotive world. Is Volvo selling cars or are they more into selling safe transportation to families? Is Lamborghini selling transportation or do they lean more into the exciting & outlandish lifestyle a Lambo is associated with?

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Bullet 5: The Secret Of Red Shirts

This bullet is all about focusing on fewer things as opposed to chasing too many rabbits. Bencivenga uses this metaphor to hit the point home:

You’re at a large stadium watching a baseball game.

Take a good look around the stadium and close your eyes.

Now open your eyes.

How many red shirts did you see?

You have no clue… Because you weren’t looking for red shirts.

Take a good look around the stadium again and look for red shirts.

How many did you find?

Way more than before, because you were focusing on red shirts and nothing else.

Intention facilitates perception.

Seek and ye shall find.

You might have other takeaways from this, but to me this is the Pareto principle (the 80/20 rule) explained a bit differently.

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Bullet 6: The 7-Letter Word That Instantly Multiplies Your Creativity 11-Fold.

This word? SCAMPER – An acronym.

It stands for:

S = SUBSTITUTE (a new, surprising or more contemporary element for a tried and true one).

C = COMBINE (successful elements from two or more different sources).

A = ADAPT (a winning headline, product, offer, etc. from another product category).

M = MODIFY, MINIFY OR MAGNIFY (any element).

P = PUT to other uses (who else can use this and why?)

E = ELIMINATE (one or more of the elements that have always been included, and see what happens).

R = REARRANGE, REVERSE OR REDEFINE (any part or the product, selling process or problem you’re confronted with).

Here’s how to use it:

Substitute the new, surprising or more contemporary element in the headline for a tried and true one.

E.g. The Doubleday Book Club -> The Military Book Club / The History Book Club / The Children’s Book-of-the-Month Club

Adapt an older tested formula to your headline.

E.g. “Do You Make These Mistakes in English?” -> Do You Make These Mistakes [insert your niche here]

This bullet basically talks about building your own swipe file and then going through that file if you’re not feeling creative.

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Bullet 7: Can You Pick The Winning Headline?

Never make your claim bigger than your proof.

Never trumpet one without the other. They should go hand in hand.

Here are two headlines:

“Tension headache”


“When Doctors Have Headaches, What Do They Do?”

Ask yourself this question: Which one offers more compelling proof?

Also keep in mind that when prospects see an ad or any type of message promoting something, they’ll ask themselves two questions:

  1. Is this of any interest to me? (the question most marketers focus on)
  2. Is this believable or typical marketing hype? (the question most marketers forget about)

John Caples (one of the all-time copywriting greats) defined effective advertising as “a believable promise to the right audience”. Too many focus on the promise (the flashy, fun part) without building the belief (more challenging).

Without belief, nobody buys. Yelling is not selling.


What proof would I need to persuade a fair-minded jury beyond a reasonable doubt that my copy rings true?

Remember “yeah, sure” (bullet #3).

P.S. The winning headline was of course “When Doctors Have Headaches, What Do They Do”. This headline has been altered and published in many different promotions, sometimes in the form of “When Doctors ‘Feel Rotten’ This Is What They Do”, more recently as “How Doctors Stay Well While Treating Sick Patients All Day”. You can easily apply this to an email subject line as well, (e.g. The guitar Jimi Hendrix swore by)

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Bullet 8: The Secret of How to Turn a Setback into Triumph— in Marketing or in Life

“Every adversity carries within it the seed of equal or greater benefit.”

Don’t be too hard on yourself over temporary setbacks (e.g. losing a split-test or a client). Instead, learn to ask yourself: “Why was I beaten on this? Why did my copy fail?” When you’ve figured out the answer, remember that and move on.

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Bullet 9: The Most Persuasive Tool in Advertising and How to Use It

Reason-why copy.

Directly quoting Bencivenga:

“Ask if you are giving reasons why in each of these three areas:

  1. Compelling reason(s) why your product is superior to other solutions your prospects might choose, including doing nothing.
  2. Compelling reason(s) to believe that what you say is true.
  3. Compelling reason(s) to seize the opportunity today.”

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Bullet 10: The Secret “Trigger Word” That Makes More of Your Prospects Say Yes Than Any Other Word in the English Language

If you’ve ever read Robert Cialdini’s Influence, this tip will sound familiar.

The secret “trigger word” alluded to in the headline is “because”.

In Influence, Cialdini details an experiment made by Ellen Langer, a Harvard social psychologist.

The setting? People waiting in line to use a library copying machine.

The researchers tested asking 3 different questions:

Question 1:Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?Success rate: 94%

Question 2: ‘Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?’ Success rate: 60%

Question 3: ‘Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?’ Success rate: 93%

Look at question 3. It’s almost nonsensical. “Can I do this because I need to do this” – yet the success rate was almost the same as when you give an actual reason.

Quoting Bencivenga:
“Top Gun, if you want to boost your results by very significant numbers—virtually automatically!—start filling your copy with more ‘becauses.’

Why? Because it works!

And, for best results, always follow your ‘becauses’ with compelling reasons.”

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Bullet 11: The Secret Of Happiness (A Holiday Message)

Says Bencivenga:
“We experience our moments of purest joy at precisely those moments when we are causing it in others.

It’s vital for all of us to understand that our prospects and customers are people, too . . . and people like to connect with others who are unafraid of showing a little humanity, of taking some time now and then to share a laugh, feel some warmth, express some sympathy, do a favor, help a charity, be a friend.

Whatever your product, however impressive your expertise, people will never care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

People will never care how much you know until they know how much you care… That’s good. That should be framed in every office from Anchorage to Adelaide.

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Bullet 12: How to Get Anything You Want in Life

“You can get anything you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.”
– Zig Ziglar

The only way to influence someone is to find out what they want, and show them how to get it.
– Dale Carnegie

Look at markets and opportunities through the lens of what people want to buy, as opposed to what you want to sell.

“I’ve never bought an aspirin because I’m a member of a demographic group or because I want a relationship with my druggist. I buy aspirin because I have a headache!

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Bullet 13: How To Be Lucky

Build up your risk muscle.

The fear of loss is usually a greater motivator than the desire for gain.

Compare these two questions:
Question 1: ”Did you know you can save an extra 75 cents a day by implementing our recommendations?”
Question 2: “Did you know it costs you an extra 75 cents a day if you don’t implement these recommendations?”

Question 2 won by a landslide.

Humans, broadly speaking, are risk-averse. We tiptoe through life, choosing safety instead of the unknown.  This fear, unfortunately, stunts our good luck if we live by it too rigidly.

If you don’t push timidity into a corner, it will push you into a corner.”
– Jim Rohn

This can be applied to all areas of life. Here’s a marketing-related idea, courtesy of Bencivenga:

“A perfect example in marketing: make an offer to your prospects so outrageously generous, only a fool would refuse it. In one daring stroke, you can have a blast, electrify your marketing team, outflank your competitors, seize momentum, wow your prospects, trigger fantastic word-of-mouth, spark some media buzz, and uncork a geyser of new business.”

Make “persistence” your job description. 

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not. Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not. Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not. The world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
– Calvin Coolidge, 30th president of the United States

The harder I work, the luckier I get.

To reach your destination, you must first have one.

Bencivenga: “In my experience, the most important ingredient in filling your life with good luck is clarity— clarity about what you want.”

Before investing days/weeks writing your next ad, take sixty seconds to picture it being a smashing success and how good that makes you feel. Then review your clear image of success before every new work session, to keep yourself heading straight for the target you’ve now envisioned.

Before hurrying into your next three-hour marketing meeting, picture clearly what you want to see as the successful outcome of this meeting. Your clear vision beforehand will keep bringing the meeting back into sharp focus when people wander, and you’ll accomplish a lot more.

And before you give anyone on your marketing team an assignment—whether to find a new list universe or develop a breakthrough new product—clearly define for them your vision of a successful outcome, so it can guide them at every step.

The battle is won before it is engaged.
– Sun Tzu

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Bullet 14: 6 Little Words That Boost Your Sales

I keep 6 faithful serving men
Who teach me well and true
Their names are What and Where and When
and How and Why and Who

– Rudyard Kipling

The 5W1H formula:

Who are you advertising to?
What does your product do for them?
Why is it superior to alternative products?
How can you prove your case?
Where should you advertise to reach prime prospects?
When is the best time to reach them?

Bencivenga: “If you aspire to write compelling copy or be a marketer with a Midas touch, ask at least one good ‘why?’ every day and, like a dog with a bone, gnaw on it until you’re satisfied.”

Why is this product such a hot seller?
Why did this headline outpull the control by 60%?
Why is our renewal rate failing?
Why are our sales higher in California?
Why do women comprise 80% of my practice?
Why do I want to take on this subject?

There are no boring subjects, only boring writers.

Says Bencivenga:
“Appoint Mr. Why as your lead detective. Instruct him to come back with at least seven times more information than you can use, and he will dump on your desk a gold miner’s sack of fascinating factual nuggets, each of which will outweigh 100 airy adjectives.”

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Bullet 15: The Secret Of The Monkey’s Fist

Make the first step for your prospect irresistibly easy to take.

Don’t try to sell your product from the get-go. Instead create an offer that is incredibly easy to say yes to. A good modern example is the “free + shipping” model gurus and info-product sellers use.

The typical free ebook is another example. Give something of value away for free (or in exchange for your prospect’s email address). Then keep nurturing that relationship (usually through email marketing but some have seen great successes in FB groups and similar forums).

The point of offers like these is to make your prospects lower their guard, spend time consuming your content and let you enter their life.

Make the first step easy, nonthreatening, enjoyable, irresistible.

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Bullet 16: The “Fuzzy Dice” Secret For Exploding Your Sales

“Intercept your prospects where they are searching for you.”

The secret of selling online is to go vertical and to go deep. Don’t try to be Amazon. Be the opposite.

Instead of selling “car accessories” online, you create one mini-site selling “fuzzy dice” (the dangly, spongy dice that you place in your rearview mirror).


Because nobody searches for “car accessories” in Google. But some might search for “fuzzy dice”.

This whole bullet is a more modern take on the “specificity rule” in copywriting.

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Bullet 17: How To Name Your Product

The best product names have a benefit built into them.

Some examples:
Blu Blockers – Joe Sugarman’s sunglasses that shield your eyes from harmful blue rays.
Easy off – Oven cleaner
Way cool – Car window shade

Never underestimate the power of a good name—one with a built-in benefit!

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Bullet 18: A Simple 7-Step Formula For Succeeding Online

  1. Carve out a niche. (See bullet 16)
  2. Give something valuable away for free (See bullet 15)
  3. Promote your free lead magnet/offer any way you can (Explore any and all avenues – Google ads, guest posts, social platform posts, radio, podcasts, print ads, media spots (radio/newspapers/magazines), SEO, direct mail, list swaps)
  4. Capture email addresses (build a list)
  5. Pile on the value (work hard to make your email sends so valuable and interesting, that your eagerly open them. Share stories, be personal, become their friend. Resist the urge to hard-sell at every chance.)
  6. Never sell hard in your ezine or free course. Instead, dance the two-step (let your newsletter be an oasis of value in a desert of hype).
  7. Bonus tip: capture their physical address as well (free physical gifts are perceived as more valuable as ebooks).

The last tip is important because according to Gary Halbert, one of the greatest direct marketers who ever lived, “sending your direct mail promotion to the physical addresses of prospects who originally signed up online usually pulls up to 400% higher sales than the same copy delivered on the web only.”

You can promote your offers in your newsletter sends, but you have to “dance the two-step”, as Bencivenga calls it:

First, mention that you have a great product that enhances the valuable, free tip you’ve just shared in your ezine. To learn more, ‘click here.’

Second, when readers click on the link, they land on a dedicated page elsewhere, where you can sell your product or service as hard as you want.”

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Bullet 19: The Most Important 9-Word Sentence In Marketing History

A gifted product is mightier than a gifted pen.

The magic is in the product, not the copywriter’s pen. Advertising doesn’t create a product advantage, it can only convey it.

Your product is the horse, the copywriter is only the jockey.

For copywriters, this means that you should begin every assignment as an investigative reporter. Start with these 10 questions:

  1. Why is this product made the way it is?
  2. What consumer problems, desires, and needs is it designed for?
  3. What’s special about it—why does it fulfill a consumer’s needs better than the competition?
  4. Who says so besides you?
  5. What are your strongest proof elements to make your case believable?
  6. What are all the product’s best features and how does each translate into a consumer benefit?
  7. If you had unlimited funds, how would you improve this product?
  8. Who are its heavy users—the 20 percent who generate 80 percent of sales?
  9. What irresistible offers might trigger an explosion in sales?
  10. What premiums can be tossed into the mix to press your prospects’ hot buttons?

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Bullet 20: Controversy! Gunfire Erupts Over “9 Most Important Words in Marketing History”

A gifted product is mightier than a gifted pen means that a superior message is even more important than the way it is delivered, as most good copywriters can be counted on to do a halfway decent job of putting the prospect in the picture. But if their ads aren’t based on a powerful strategic difference that a gifted product makes possible, prospects are smart enough to see the message for what it is—a weak, me-too product presented skillfully. Result: no sale.

What you say in your advertising is more important than how you say it!”
– David Ogilvy

Bullet 21: Which offer pulled best?

50% Off
Half Price!
Buy One, Get One Free!

The third one outpulled the two first with over 40%.

Direct Marketing components listed by importance:

  1. The list
  2. The offer
  3. The copy

A believable reason for an offer boosts response (remember bullet 10).

Never sell more than one thing at a time.

Always try to think of a deluxe version of your offer.

Always test the same type of offer that your competitor is repeating (they’re probably repeating the offer or promo because it works).

Make your guarantee as strong as you can.

Test a price ending in 7 (reported by legendary marketer Ted Nicholas to be the best price ending).

Repeat business is where the money lies — that’s why it’s better to sell subscription services than one off products.

A takeaway offer (“offer ends in X days”) can be extremely effective in boosting response. But you of course have to actually remove the offer/promo by the deadline.

If prices are going up, say so.

Offer an extra bonus for prompt response (early-bird bonuses).

Always offer an alluring premium.

Offer a “mystery early-bird” bonus.

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Bullet 22: 16 Rules for Success

We need not so much to be taught as reminded

  • Rule 1: Get and stay out of your comfort zone
  • Rule 2: Never give up
  • Rule 3: When you’re ready to quit, you’re closer than you think
    • The temptation to quit will be greatest just before you are about to succeed
  • Rule 4: With regard to whatever worries you, not only accept the worst thing that could happen, but make it a point to quantify what the worst thing could be
  • Rule 5: Focus on what you want to have happen
  • Rule 6: Take things a day at a time
  • Rule 7: Always be moving forward
  • Rule 8: Be quick to decide
    • A good plan violently executed today is far and away better than a perfect plan tomorrow
  • Rule 9: Measure everything of significance
    • Anything that is measured and watched improves
  • Rule 10: Anything that is not managed will deteriorate
    • If you want to uncover problems you don’t know about, take a few moments and examine areas you haven’t for a while.
  • Rule 11: Pay attention to your competitors, but pay more attention to what you’re doing.
    • Remember that everything looks perfect at a distance
  • Rule 12: Never let anybody push you around
  • Rule 13: Never expect life to be fair
  • Rule 14: Solve your own problems
    • You never succeed in technology, business, or anything by following others
  • Rule 15: Don’t take yourself too seriously
  • Rule 16: There’s always a reason to smile. Find it.

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Bullet 23: The One Word That Teaches Almost Everything

That word is Why.

This bullet was written shortly after the great Gary Halbert’s passing. As such, the piece focuses a lot on Halbert’s advice. Here’s an example.

If you can collect physical addresses of your online prospects, you can send them a direct mail promotion and generate up to 400 % higher sales than you would by promoting the same offer online.

Great headline formula:

I = B + C

Interest = Benefit + Curiosity

Bencivenga: “If I suspect that I can predict what the article  will likely say, I will skip the article. Predictability kills curiosity!”

But when the result of reading the headline is “How could this be?”, or in other words when the content is unpredictable, it inflames my curiosity and I have to read it.

Another interesting Gary Halbert credo:

“Nothing is impossible for a person who refuses to listen to reason!”

4 Gary Halbert teachings that Bencivenga mentions in this bullet:

  1. Share valuable news in your advertising and marketing
  2. Be interesting (can’t bore people into buying)
  3. Get real (write with personality)
  4. Be original (write with your or your client’s personality)

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Bullet 24: The “Borden Formula” for Giving a Great Speech… or writing a potent headline

Use this headline writing template (or checklist):

  • Ho-hum! (Don’t be boring!)
  • Why bring that up (Why’s that relevant?)
  • For instance? (Examples)
  • So what? (What should I do about this?)

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Bullet 25: The Golden Key of Persuasion

Use metaphors. Metaphors make your copy more memorable.

Some examples:

“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”
“Small leaks sink great ships”
“Your copy will flow like silk”

And so on. You know what a metaphor is. 😎

To see more examples, read Bencivenga’s copy. Even his bullets are chock-full of them.

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Bullet 26: The Pareto Principle

80% of your results are linked to 20% of your output.

80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your clients.

“Lack of time is a lack of priorities”

Your Not-To-Do list is more important than your to-do list.

Drop or delegate everything that isn’t inside your 20% most revenue-driving tasks.

Gary has a great personal story of how he managed to focus on the 20% that drove most of his results, writing (of course), back when he was still working in an agency.

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Bullet 27: 3 Greatest Copywriting Lessons I Ever Learned

Lesson 1: Copywriting is salesmanship in print, not clever wordsmithing.

Lesson 2: Writing is not spontaneous creative combustion (if you’re facing writer’s block as a copywriter it just means you haven’t done enough research).

Quoting Bencivenga:

“It took me a while to realize that the best copywriters are the most tenacious researchers. Like miners, they dig, drill, dynamite, and chip until they have carloads of valuable ore. John Caples advised me once to gather seven times more interesting information than I could possibly use.

I learned that good copywriters get to know so much about the product and the prospect and his or her wants, fears, assumptions, and lingo that the copy soon wants to burst forth as if a dam is breaking” (shoutout to bullet #25).

Lesson 3: Writing is thinking on paper. Before you start writing, have a mental conversation with yourself about everything you want to write, all the persuasive elements you need to include. Then sleep on it and write the morning after.

This sounds simple on paper, but most copywriters are lazy and don’t do it. But it is a step that can’t be skipped. Unless you’re ok with being a below-average write, that is.

The key to copywriting is always learning how to be a better copywriter.

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Bullet 28: 3 Secrets for multiplying your productivity, success and happiness as a copywriter and marketer

Secret 1: Apply the pareto principle to everything

Secret 2: Start (as in first, not second or third, thing you do when you wake up) your day with an “hour of power”, during which you do the most important, result-generating activity (for copywriters, this is writing).

Secret 3: Right before you go to bed, review a problem, question, or creative project you’re working on. Let’s say you’re working on a landing page and the headline is still not right. Focus intently on creating 25 headlines and try to visualize it. Then go to bed and let your subconscious get to work. Combine this with secret #2.

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Bullet 29: The Secret of How to Sell Anything

Build your products, promotions, and offers based on your strongest proof elements, AKA the most impressive and persuasive credentials:

  • Case histories
  • Endorsements
  • Testimonials
  • “Reasons why” copy
  • Proven outcomes
  • Expert status
  • Areas of specialization
  • Reputation within the industry
  • and especially a spirit of candor and integrity that never fails to delight clients and competitors.

Persuasion is easier when you base your marketing on credentials because skepticism is swept aside by the proof.

The ultimate secret to get what you want (also mentioned in bullet 12):
“Find out what others want and help them get it.”

A longer quote by Harry Browne, a legendary salesman (and presidential candidate) who passed away in 2006:

“It isn’t what you want that determines what other individuals will buy from you—it’s what they want. And that answer can only come from them, not from you…
Probably 99 out of 100 salesmen try to motivate their prospects. And that’s their mistake. You’re not capable of motivating anyone, no matter how persuasive you think you are…
Everyone is already motivated. The only question is ‘By what?’ Your job is to find out what it is that motivates your prospect. And then show him how he can get what he wants through your product or service. Only then will he buy…
Most sales are lost because the salesman presented his product before he knew what motivated his prospect…”

– Harry Browne

Same goes for copywriting and marketing as a whole:

“Trying to educate and motivate people into wanting what you offer is one of the most common and devastating mistakes.
It’s so much easier to find and then appeal directly to an audience that’s already motivated and let them do a big part of the work of selling themselves!”
– Gary Bencivenga

The first rule of writing body copy is that your first few paragraphs should immediately pay off, or build upon, your headline.

Every headline you write should assemble the right audience — an audience already motivated to hear the rest of your story.

There are two audiences you can write for (regardless of medium):

  • The unmotivated 95% (who couldn’t care less about your message)
  • The motivated 5%

You won’t succeed in motivating the unmotivated, so don’t try.

Long copy almost always outpulls short because:

  • If you’re trying to shorten your copy you’re probably writing for the unmotivated 95% (who won’t care no matter how short your copy is).
  • But if you write as much as necessary to give the motivated 5% what they need to make a favorable decision, the copy won’t necessarily be “short”, but it will be long enough.

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Mats Liljeström
Mats Liljeström

Email Copywriter & Marketer.

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