Writing for Direct Response – My 37-Point Acid Test for Sales Copy

Seems like it doesn’t matter whether I’m talking to the owner of a home-based business or a small business, a marketing exec or a copywriter, just about everybody in this biz deals with the same, burning question about every direct response promotion they create:

“How can I know just how strong the sales copy in my promotion is before I show it to prospects?”

If you can relate, you’re gonna love this. Next time you’re tempted to let go of a draft – submit it to a client or send it to a layout artist or web programmer, do this:

Set aside one hour. Lock yourself in a quiet room. Yank the phone jack out of the wall. Mentally insert your dogs into a prospect’s Nikes and then read your sales copy just as he or she would.

DO NOT allow yourself to get drawn into editing or changing anything. Instead, notice every fleeting thought that crosses your mind and every feeling – excitement or boredom, conviction or skepticism, clarity or confusion — that arises within you as you read the sales copy.

Then, the second you’re finished, take out this test. Rate how well your sales copy accomplishes each of these 37 objectives on a scale of one to five as follows:

1: Non-Existent or Pathetically Weak

2: Room for Major Improvement

3: I’ve seen worse

4: Pretty darned strong

5: Golly geeze, this is perfect – I must be a freakin’ direct response genius

Ready? Here goes …

1. Is the theme or benefit presented in the headline and lead likely to resonate powerfully with a significant number of your best prospects?

1___ 2___ 3___ 4___ 5___

2. Does the headline and lead instantly seize your attention?

1___ 2___ 3___ 4___ 5___

3. Are they instantly and completely believable?

1___ 2___ 3___ 4___ 5___

4. Do they present compelling benefits the prospect will derive in return for reading this?

1___ 2___ 3___ 4___ 5___

5. Do they explain why it is crucial for the prospect to read this right now?

1___ 2___ 3___ 4___ 5___

6. Do they establish the qualifications of the spokesperson beyond the shadow of a doubt?

1___ 2___ 3___ 4___ 5___

7. Do they sell you on reading the opening?

1___ 2___ 3___ 4___ 5___

8. Does the opening copy connect directly with the headline and lead – and intensify your desire to read on?

1___ 2___ 3___ 4___ 5___

9. Do the emotions you experienced while reading the copy that follows the open make you disposed to continue reading?

1___ 2___ 3___ 4___ 5___

10. Are all key statements of fact supported by sufficient specifics to make them believable?

1___ 2___ 3___ 4___ 5___

11. Does the spokesman present a compelling reason why he’s writing this or offering this product or service — early in the running text?

1___ 2___ 3___ 4___ 5___

12. Is the prospect told why he/she absolutely must read this?

1___ 2___ 3___ 4___ 5___

13. Does the spokesperson’s personality and conviction come through loud and clear?

1___ 2___ 3___ 4___ 5___

14. Does the copy feel like a one-on-one conversation between two friends with a common interest?

1___ 2___ 3___ 4___ 5___

15. Is the emotional tone of the copy appropriate for the subject matter?

1___ 2___ 3___ 4___ 5___

16. Is it clear that the spokesman is an advocate for the prospect and has an emotional stake in getting this information to him or her?

1___ 2___ 3___ 4___ 5___

17. Is the prospect likely to find an emotional soul mate – someone who articulates his feelings — in the spokesperson?

1___ 2___ 3___ 4___ 5___

18. Does the spokesman feel like a friend and advocate – and not just another salesman?

1___ 2___ 3___ 4___ 5___

19. Do you feel as though the copy moves faster as you progress through the piece?

1___ 2___ 3___ 4___ 5___

20. Are the practical benefits of the product and/or premiums fully dimensionalized?

1___ 2___ 3___ 4___ 5___

21. Are the positive emotional benefits the product/premiums deliver fully addressed?

1___ 2___ 3___ 4___ 5___

22. Are the negative emotions your prospect has regarding the topic at hand and that will be neutralized by the product fully explored?

1___ 2___ 3___ 4___ 5___

23. Are there entertaining elements sprinkled throughout – and if so, are they appropriate to the subject?

1___ 2___ 3___ 4___ 5___

24. Is the value of the product and all premiums fully dimensionalized – and is the price fully trivialized?

1___ 2___ 3___ 4___ 5___

25. Is there a plausible rationale given for the discount, premiums and other offer elements?

1___ 2___ 3___ 4___ 5___

26. Does the guarantee restate benefits and is it presented in a way that deepens the bond between the spokesman and prospect?

1___ 2___ 3___ 4___ 5___

27. Is the prospect’s desire for instant gratification addressed? Have you emphasized how quickly he or she will receive the product?

1___ 2___ 3___ 4___ 5___

28. Did you feel your excitement rising to a crescendo as you approached the close?

1___ 2___ 3___ 4___ 5___

29. Does the spokesperson present a compelling reason to buy now?

1___ 2___ 3___ 4___ 5___

30. Is there an urgency motivator – a fast-response bonus, a limited offer, a deadline, etc.?

1___ 2___ 3___ 4___ 5___

31. Would it be strong enough to get you to act?

1___ 2___ 3___ 4___ 5___

32. Does the close leave you feeling like it would be insane NOT to order?

1___ 2___ 3___ 4___ 5___

33. Is there a special incentive to order right now – by phone?

1___ 2___ 3___ 4___ 5___

34. Does the order form copy restate the benefits and the guarantee in a compelling way?

1___ 2___ 3___ 4___ 5___

35. Does the order form appear to be simple and easy to use?

1___ 2___ 3___ 4___ 5___

36. Are the ordering instructions clear and easy to understand?

1___ 2___ 3___ 4___ 5___

37. Does the order form thank the new customer for his order and begin the bonding process?

1___ 2___ 3___ 4___ 5___

How’d You Do?

Want an overall read? Just add up all your answers and check your score …

37-109: Whoa. You just gave yourself an “F.” And you were going to give THAT to a client or a designer? If the Earth Firsters ever find out you were willing to kill a tree to make paper for that, your life won’t be worth a plug nickel. Better get back to the drawing board – FAST!

110-128: The bad news is, you’ve got some “D” copy on your hands. The good news is, you know exactly how to fix it. Just work on each of the weak sections until you can honestly give them a substantially better grade.

129-146: OK – that’s about a “C.” Not bad for a draft … but certainly NOT good enough to make it a final one. I’d suggest you begin with the sections you rated a “1” or a “2” first — and when you can honestly give each one a 4 or a 5, move on to the ones that scored a 3.

147-165: So you’re in the “B” range – a great start. Just a little tweaking on the weaker sections, and you’re there. Be sure to pay extra attention to the headline, lead and open copy – when you can honestly give them a 4 or a 5, you just might have a big winner on your hands.

166-184: Want a job? Seriously.

185: Yeah, right. Whatever. Oh – my fault. I forgot to mention you have to do this SOBER!

I’m yanking your chain a little here. Fact is, the overall score is pretty much meaningless. What’s important is that you’ve identified the things you still need to do to turn this sales copy into a grand-slam home-run.



Source by Clayton G. Makepeace

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