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How to Craft Cash-Creating Climactic Copy

Have you ever picked up a book off the shelf at a local bookstore, read the front and back covers, opened it up and, after reading a few pages, just couldn't put it down?

Do you remember, after buying the book, how you flipped each page with an almost excruciating curiosity because the story was so tantalizing, you became increasingly riveted to the book with each subsequent chapter?

Copy is, or should be, the same.

Look at it this way: Good copy makes a good case. But great copy tells a good story. A great copywriter is also a great salesperson. But all great copywriters AND all great salespeople also have one thing in common...

... They are also great storytellers.

The closer your copy reads like a compelling story -- keeping the reader interested and engaged, hanging on to every word -- the greater your chances she will read your copy until the end and, of course, buy.

Your story should tickle the reader's curiosity and pull her into the copy. Each new idea introduced should build on the other, pulling the reader further and deeper into the salesletter. Your copy should almost mesmerize the reader to the point she's in a trance-like state, totally engrossed in your story.

Each paragraph and each word crescendos and prepares you, step-by-step, for the climactic twist in the story's plot.

The climax, of course, is the offer.

And the plot, in copywriting, is called the "platform."

Your platform is the major concept or storyline. It's possibly a core benefit, result or key topic that creates the foundation upon which your entire "story" is built. It's one powerful idea on which your entire copy will hinge.

The platform you choose to present your offer is critical to the offer's success -- hopefully the offer is good, but getting there is the job of the platform.

The concept of the "greased chute" is one in which you keep the reader hanging on to every word you write -- up until they buy -- as if they are sliding down a well-greased slide. They simply can't leave until the end. They're glued to your copy. They're compelled to keep reading.

Copy is telling a good story that involves the reader so they can see in their mind's eye the benefits of your offer, as if they owned your product already. The platform is the foundation, if you will, you choose to build your story on.

It could (and often should be) be your USP. Some people call it a unique selling proposition. I prefer to call it a unique selling position. Because it's tantamount to what copywriter John Carlton calls your "hook."

A good hook grabs your readers "by the eyeballs."

It could be some major advantage, claim, promise or benefit. But the best one often consists of some unexpected, incredible, and almost unbelievable or even surreal concept. John Carlton often refers to a hook as the "incongruent juxtaposition of seemingly unrelated ideas, facts or events."

(Want some examples? Subscribe to the National Enquirer. They contain some of the best eyeball-grabbing hooks. Or check out this awesome article by Dorian Greer from

Here's an example ripped from my own experience.

A stock trader one day asked me to write the copy for his how-to stock trading information product. Sure, the program was great. But in terms of salability and positioning, there was nothing new, fancy or unique about it.

So I had to dig. Dig real deep.

And here's what I found: after gathering some information about the author, I discovered that the gentleman's story behind the creation of the product was rather interesting. After a tumor was found on his brain and undergoing life-saving surgery to remove it, he couldn't work in his old 9-to-5 job and decided to plunge into trading full-time. (He dabbled in it up to that point.)

After discovering and honing a method to trade the markets, he started to make a killing and later he went on to create a program that taught his strategy to aspiring traders who bugged him to reveal his bag of tricks.

Well, the hook I came up with was to use his surgery as the pivotal moment that changed his life. Here's how I worded it...

The preheadline said: "As if the surgery 'jogged' something in his brain..." And then, the headline said:
"After having a golfball-sized tumor removed from his brain and forced out of a job, 57-year-old stock trader accidentally stumbles onto magic formula that consistently humiliates even some of the most respected Wall Street stock trading gurus..." But if that's too off-the-wall for you, here's a simpler example...
Ray McNally, a programmer and friend, offers a neat software program that complements an affiliate marketer's efforts by helping them capture the names and email addresses of traffic they generate to a website they're an affiliate of.

This program sets up a doorway page (not the search engine kind) that, before the affiliate's generated traffic is sent to the site being promoted (and then gone forever), it capture's their name and email addresses for potential follow-up.

Why? Because once they click on an affiliate link, they're gone. But that affiliate has worked hard or spent money on generating that traffic. They own that traffic. So why not capture it in the process?

If they DIDN'T end up buying that affiliate product, no problem. That list can now be followed-up with, offered special incentives or even monetized in other ways!

What has that got to do with copy?

Originally, Ray had one of those hackneyed headlines: "Discover how to explode your income... Blah, blah, blah."

Bland. Hypey. Boring.


After talking with Ray, I said: "Ray, your USP is not made up of the benefits your software offers... your hook is the fact that top affiliates use your 'secret weapon' to stop giving away their hard-earned traffic and driving them into black holes! So, why not capitalize on it?"

Consequently, the platform or "hook" I told him to use was this ability affiliates gain with his software to catch the traffic they generate and make far more money by monetizing it before they blindly drive visitors off into the ether. The result is here: Check the headline out and you'll understand what I mean. Also, you'll notice another strategy I used.

Before I explain it to you, let me "set the story."

A great way to learn how to write mouth-watering copy is to read fiction. Take a popular book and read it through once. Then go back, read it again and take notes. List the nuances, twists and storylines that grabbed you. And why.

In other words, try to look beyond the story.

Pinpoint where certain characters, ideas and phrases were introduced in specific locations of the book -- and see how they relate to the whole plot.

Look at the flow of ideas. Is there a crescendo? Are there small "valleys" along the way (until you reach the "summit," i.e., the climax)?

What do I mean by "small valleys?" Copy should build on the reader's intrinsic curiosity. But it needs to do so multiple times throughout. In fact, incorporate what copywriter David Garfinkel once told me are called "nested loops."

A nested loop is when you begin on an idea but, before you complete it, you introduce another idea. And guess what? People will read every single word more intently and intensely, and remember more what is being said in the process, until you close the loop and finish the idea.

In between the nested loop is therefore a great place to insert a key idea or critical point you want to drive home.

Why are "nested loops" so powerful?

In 1927, Bluma Zeigarnik, one of the early contributors to Gestalt Psychology, found that people remember unfinished tasks better than they do finished ones.

She noticed something peculiar after observing waiters and waitresses, who seemed to remember orders and forget them once the food was served. In other words, the incomplete task created a certain tension, discomfort or uneasiness that caused the brain to "hook" onto the unfinished task until it was done.

You see, we have an intrinsic need for closure.

We get a certain feeling of disconcertedness when something is left unfinished. Often called the "Zeigarnik Effect," we not only remember interrupted tasks best but also the tension tends to create curiosity to an almost excrutiating level.

As a result, we either passionately attempt to complete something that's incomplete, or feel a certain discomfort until it is and often go to great lengths to get it done. In copywriting particularly, this tension created by such an unfinished task helps us to concentrate more.

For example, have you ever watched the news or one of those tabloid shows on TV, where they begin with the following:
"Tonight, Hollywood superstar escapes blazing fire while filming her new mega-budget movie. More on that later. But first..." That story aroused your curiosity. So you remain glued to your TV set until... They air that particular story at the end of the show! Now, do you think they did this intentionally? Of course. They did so to force you to watch the entire show. (And of course, all of the commercials in between.)
Look at all the TV shows that keep you hanging with each show to the next. (Look at the hit show "24" as a perfect example.) Even commercials use this strategy brilliantly. (Remember the "Taster's Choice" soap-opera-like series?)

Once you close the loop, their concentration level goes down somewhat, which is why you want to use multiple nested loops, or "valleys," throughout the copy. Once they finally "climax," there's no more "Zeigarnik Effect." And you stand a great chance to lose your reader.

(Take, for instance, the show "Dallas" in the 80's with the famous "Who Shot J.R.?" plot. After the show's culmination when they finally revealed who did it, ratings dropped dramatically.)

In copy, include nested loops to not only keep the reader reading but also to build on the reader's level of concentration until the very end. That way, you can introduce new or critical ideas in between them so that they internalize your offer far more effectively.

Look at soap operas and cliffhangers as an example. As an aside, even a few Internet marketers are doing exactly that. For example, check out The Joe And Mable Show.

. . .

© 2005 Michel fortin - All rights reserved

Michel Fortin is a direct response copywriter, author, speaker and consultant. Watch him rewrite copy on video each month, and get tips and tested conversion strategies proven to boost response in his membership site at today.

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