Copywriting

Testing Bullets

I was pleasantly surprised to see the results of James Brausch’s testing on bullets versus paragraphs.

I’ve often felt that leading with bullets intuitively felt more appropriate. Clayton Makepeace often does it and it makes a lot of sense. Check out this sales letter he has up. After you read the headline, you can read some bullets and really decide whether you want to plow through the long copy or not. Of course long versus short copy is a different discussion.

Since Clayton does it and James has verified it usually converts better through multivariate testing, you might think there’s nothing more to say about it, right? Well…

What if in addition to testing feature, benefit, or nothingness bullets as James recommends, you also tested an NLP pattern? You’d figure out what kinds of patterns converted better for your particular market. You’d also begin to figure out how elegant you need to be.

One copywriter insists that you can use the equivalent of BUY NOW type embedded commands and get results. So test it. I don’t recommend testing something that obvious but you can sure calibrate it down until the conversion rate starts to turn against you.

You’re free! You’re free! Run wild… free from the shackles of paragraphs. 🙂

The first lesson

As I mentioned previously, I’m converting my video into a series of lessons.

The first lesson is now available for download. I’m going to go back and reformat it so that it has a title page, table of contents, copyright, etc, but the content of the lesson will be the same.

In the meantime, I’ve posted that the first lesson is free in several forums. Here’s more or less what I post:

I’m creating a course on becoming a hypnotic writer. I’m giving away the first lesson and would appreciate any feedback… testimonials or suggestions for improvement.

Here are some overall benefits for the whole course so you can see if it’s worth your time.

  • Acquire readers’ good will through calculated ordering of words
  • Allow prospects to lower your resistance while accepting the message unconsciously
  • Implant subliminal commands directing readers to a predetermined outcome
  • Compel prospects to resist misdirected words as the real message is received
  • Distort time and perception… adjusting readers’ desired frame of mind
  • Bottom line: increasing conversions, winning more sales and lowering return rates leading to…
  • More readers buying the results they want = more money = more overall happiness for all parties involved.

It’s a mix of brief, clear explanations and challenging practice exercises. If you realize you want the rest of it, instructions are at the end of the free lesson. Also, for reference, I’m a Certified NLP Copywriter (by Harlan Kilstein) and have since studied many of the original source material books and seminars. I’m incorporating all I’ve learned about NLP into a 12 lesson course delivered once a week.

After blogging on NLP Copywriting for a while I had folks commenting that there wasn’t a good way available to learn it. Most of the original materials are hard to find and harder to understand. I’ve been both a soccer coach and a middle school math teacher so I’m comfortable breaking things down into simpler components and creating exercises.

Harlan may teach NLP Copywriting again if he decides to have another seminar. If so, you’ll have to have the available funds and time and hope he decides to promote it in time. Last time there was only a couple weeks’ notice. Based on the emails I’ve seen from him and his teleconferences, I don’t know if that’s in the future plans or not.

Here’s what a previewer said:

“Louis I like your part 1 a lot. You have used notes, which are really what I would have hoped for, even though I could not have told you that before reading it. Using your notes gives me confidence in a way it would be difficult to achieve with just explanation. The critique of examples is the heart of your teaching.

“As you have spotted the explanation of the device or technique only takes a couple of pages. After that it is practice, practice, practice, hopefully with an experienced sounding board for guidance and advice.”

John Sadler
bitesize-marketing-nlp.com

The lesson is 100% free. It’s a real lesson rather than a cloaked sales pitch. It’s a pdf so you can scan through it and see for yourself. I’m not asking for an email address or anything. If you want to go get it , visit hypnoticwriter.org.

Louis

You may have noticed I used a few patterns even in that post. It’s fun to find yourself using patterns even in simple communications like forum posts or emails too.

[Update: The offer has since changed. The first lesson isn’t free anymore. Sorry.]

What do you call NLP?

One thing I’ve noticed since having begun studying NLP is that very few people here in the USA have ever heard of NLP.

If you look at NLP trainers, many of them have taken to making up other names for it. Bandler has Persuasion Engineering . Tony Robbins doesn’t mention it much except that he had to start calling it NAC (Nuero-Associative Conditioning) due to a lawsuit. One of the top corporate trainers in it wrote a book on it and called it Influencing with Integrity . Another wrote about NLP in terms of optimal happiness and titled it Flow . Others have named it Hypnotic Writing, Covert Persuasion, or Speed Seduction depending on the niche.

And don’t even get started on NLP trainers. There are so many different names for it now. They usually have to do with life enhancement or development. I read about a medical treatment called something like Lightning Therapy. Evidently it treats a condition that sounded like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome with a surprising success rate. It was a UK newspaper and they actually reported that it was like NLP. That was surprising because you’d never see a US newspaper refer to NLP. If they did, they’d have to explain it because so few people here have heard of it.

All that said, I’m still wondering what to call my upcoming course. How about something like Hypnotic Copywriting or Covert Copywriting? Any other ideas?

Progress Update

I upgraded to the newest version of WordPress today. With the InstantUpgrade widget, it was a piece of cake… especially since I maintain 3 different blogs. One click (after backing up) and I was done.

More importantly, I’ve nailed down the 12 topics I plan to use for the NLP Copywriting course I’m developing. Each lesson will be a brief pdf followed by written exercises. Top copywriters will tell you that copying winning sales letters is a foundational exercise to build up copywriting skill. Writing NLP patterns is the way to get these patterns to flow through whatever you write… naturally.

Here are the topics I plan to address:

  1. The Presuppositions of NLP plus some basics
  2. Causal modeling plus some more basics
  3. The differences between spoken and written NLP
  4. The Meta Model and Milton Model
  5. Criteria and Modal Operators
  6. Pacing and Leading
  7. Presuppositions I
  8. Presuppositions II
  9. Time Patterns, Shifting Persona & Nominalizations
  10. Embedded Commands, Embedded Questions & Mind Reading
  11. Reframing and Preempting Objections
  12. Therapeutic Metaphor

Again, if you purchased the NLP Copywriting 101 (Beta Version), you’ll automatically receive the above course.

At this point, the plan is to set it up as a subscription… $10 per lesson per week. I’m thinking I’ll give away the first lesson. If you like it, subscribe and you’ll automatically receive a lesson a week. Let me know if you think I ought to do it differently.

[Update: the offer is slightly different now. See http://hypnoticwriter.org .]

The Holy Grail of Copywriting

There’s lately been some discussion on the value of NLP in copywriting.

I haven’t seen too much hype about NLP Copywriting being the holy grail of copywriting. Jon McCulloch posted today about how it’s just another tool for copywriters. I don’t know that anyone is arguing that point.

Copywriters worth their salt will tell you these are the most important elements of a promotion:

  1. The list
  2. The offer
  3. The copywriting

These aren’t percentage contributions either as I saw one marketer teaching. This is a situation where if you miss on #1, it doesn’t matter how good the other two are. You can nail #1 but if you miss #2 you still don’t have a very successful promotion.

Conversely, you can do a terrible job of #3 but still have a moderate success if you got the first two down. Obviously you’d want to do well on all three to optimize your chances for success.

That said, NLP Copywriting is about optimizing the effectiveness of #3. It can’t rescue a promotion that missed on the first two elements.

The other point I wanted to add to the discussion is on testing.

James Brausch does as much testing as anyone else out there. Through using his multivariate testing software, he turned the visitor value of one of his sites from $5 to now $31.35 . And that’s without deliberately testing any NLP. [FYI: Visitor Value means for every unique visitor to that site, the average payoff is over $30]

James also posted a good and brief explanation of the different types of testing (including Taguchi). Split testing is better than nothing but why would you do it when you can get results so much faster these days?

As an aside, I’ve participated as a subject in several double blind studies and they’re not usually as blind as people would like to think. There are ALWAYS incentives at work that people tend not to take into account.

It would be ridiculous for an entrepreneur to spend time trying to set up a double blind study. In a medical setting, double blind means neither the doctor nor the subject knows which medication is being dosed and tested. But believe me, sometimes you KNOW which one is the placebo.

Why would an entrepreneur want to set up a situation where the winning variables were in a black box (double blind) that they had to sort through after the fact? James’ software, MuVar, automatically sorts it out for you and selects the best ones to display.

The point of all of this is the overall approach I’ve intended to take with this blog:

NLP Copywriting is simply another variable to multivariate test while you’re improving your copywriting.

There’s no perfect sales letter. There’s no magic pill persuasion technique. There’s only a point of diminishing returns where it becomes more profitable to either focus more energy on increasing traffic or create a new offer.

If there is a holy grail of copywriting, it’s multivariate testing.

Embedded Commands in Forum Posts

There are several ways to format embedded commands.

On a hard copy print, you have total control over how it turns out. Online, sometimes things render differently in their browser (like in Harlan’s golf letter).

A forum is usually even more limited in formatting. There are specific colors and text sizes available.

For my video release, I looked at several things. First I played with font colors. They all seemed a little too conspicuous to me. Then I looked at text size. In my browser, the default text size is 2. If I formatted the embedded command with size 3, it looked pretty good.

Then I wondered about people who may view their text in a larger size than I do in my browser. I increased the font size on the preview to see what that would do. As you can see in the following before and after pictures below, it increased both text sizes by one. The difference between text size 2 and 3 are pretty small but from 3 to 4, it looks like you’ve also added bold emphasis. That’s no good.

Look at the second paragraph after the salutation. Do you see the difference in "this is different." I realize it’s not a very direct command but that’s part of the being elegant. I tried to avoid any "BUY NOW" kind of commands especially near the beginning.

Before

After

After all that, I decided the most elegant solution for the commands was to italicize most of them and leave the rest unformatted. I have a persona shift into an embedded command just before the middle of the letter that may have been too obvious if I’d emphasized it with any formatting change.

If you didn’t see the final outcome of my formatting, go to:

http://www.warriorforum.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=230194

Writing a Sales Letter with NLP

I was posting a comment on the Warrior Forum and realized it was something I ought to share here too.

The thread was by someone who said they were having a hard time getting their letter written because they were getting lost in the process. I laid out how I usually go about writing a sales letter including the NLP parts. I quote it here again for you:

I usually list out every benefit I can think of and then form headlines from the most powerful benefits. I’ll often take my second and third favorite headlines and use them for pre or post headlines.

At some point near the beginning I’ll look around for a sales letter I’d like to emulate.

Then I list out everything I can think to say about the product. I take the list of benefits and make bullets out of them. By then I’ve decided on the type of lead to use. Then I get a stack of note cards and put each idea I wanted to include on them. I also make an outline of sorts that includes things like nested loops to open and close, objections to reframe, what to pace and lead, etc. It’s really something between a mind map and a to do list.

I lay the note cards out and build the letter in the order it makes most sense to me. I usually don’t use all the cards as I’m wanting to be as concise as possible. See Bob Bly’s methodology above [edit: from www.bly.com] for the structure of a sales letter.

Then I start writing and layering in NLP and other persuasive devices as I go. Sometimes it’s helpful and fun to go into a sort of hypnotic trance as I do it. I think Joe Vitale and Matt Furey talk about doing that kind of thing. You’ll need to watch the time if you do that though because you’ll blink and an hour will have passed.

I let it sit a day or so and then start editing. First I read it out loud and smooth out any grammatical issues. I’ll fine tune any persuasive devices I’m looking for and make sure the deeper meta message (ie NLP) builds progressively and elegantly. I’ll go back through that and tweak it with Glyphius. I think I finish by making sure I’m happy with the formatting. Once I feel like it’s where I like it, I’d make a list of things to multivariate test.

I may be leaving something out. Hmm.

If I feel stuck at any point, I’ll skip to something else and come back to it. I usually try not to go more than an hour without getting up and taking a break to go outside and kick my soccer ball around.

Do you really know how it is?

I saw an auto insurance commercial the other day.

The opening was this person sitting in an office saying, "At ABC Insurance, we know how it is. That’s why we [blah, blah, blah]."

I thought, huh. The image advertisers are trying to use NLP deletion. Not a bad first attempt. I don’t think it worked though. Here’s why:

The were trying to use deletion to let the viewer fill in the blanks and make their own meaning (aka the Milton Model). Trouble was that they were so vague, I was left wondering, "You know how what is?"

If I had to rewrite that attempt, I’d probably go with something more along the lines of, "At ABC Insurance we know what a hassle auto insurance can be. That’s why…" Almost everyone would hear that and think, "of course it is," and you’ve just built rapport. Auto insurance being a hassle could mean any number of things from having an extra bill to pay to dealing with customer service to filing a claim in the event of an accident. The specific content doesn’t matter.

The bottom line is that if you’re going to use the Milton Model, you have to make sure you’re calibrating how vague and specific you are. Give them enough to fill in a meaning and that’s it for that pattern.

The Ultimate Intellectual Property

The final fronter for intellectual property seems to be NLP’s ability to model people.

Harlan Kilstein’s modeling seminar ended last Friday (I didn’t go but I may get the DVDs at some point).

In it, he was going to share and install his models of several A list copywriters. As part of the promotion leading up to it, he shared a model of negotiating he’d modeled from two top negotiators. The interesting thing about that was that one of the exemplars (person being modeled) wasn’t a willing contributor.

And then John Carlton posted recently that he’d done a live seminar in which he went through the process of what he does even before he starts writing copy to make sure it goes like greased lightning every time. It’s in the PS if you want to see what he said about it.

http://www.john-carlton.com/2008/02/28/the-exhaustion-goldmine/

So what’s the deal? Do each of us have some kind of intellectual property over our own personalities? I don’t know. It’s an interesting question. As long as you keep growing and improving, no one will ever be a better you than you are. I don’t know about the ethical implications of modeling people who don’t want to be modeled.

In reviewing Persuasion Engineering , Richard Bandler said that many top entrepreneurs (esp. in MLM) were recovered drug addicts. James Brausch comes to mind. He’s told his story of recovery on his blog openly. Evidently the deal is that an addict’s life depends on him following directions to the t. I definitely see that in James’ story. That skill then serves him well in following business systems.

So it’s more than just copying the outward behaviors of a successful person. To truly get the same results, there’s the whole mental and emotional components too. If you think and feel what they do, then you’ll really behave as they do. In NLP, it’s known as acting "as if." That’s pretty different than the mantra, "fake it ’til you make it." In the latter, you’re acting with the full knowledge that you’re not doing or believing the same thing. In the former, you’re taking action with the same foundational beliefs and will eventually replicate the outcome.

All that’s to say that if someone wants to model James Brausch or others like him, I bet that would be a hot selling product. I may see about doing it myself some day if no one else gets around to it.

EDIT: I actually wrote this post last Friday and scheduled the posting for Tuesday. During that time, James came out with a new product that sounds eerily like what I’d just suggested. Of course it’s a 27 minute DVD so I doubt it’s a full NLP model. Funny thing about the timing though.

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