7 Big Ticket Copywriting Secrets I Learned from Ted Nicholas


I recently sponsored and attended Joel Christopher and Ted Nicholas's Double Birthday Bash and Interactive Marketing Summit in beautiful San Antonio, Texas.

There was a fantastic lineup of speakers including John Assaraf, Joe Vitale, Brad Fallon, George McKenzie, Shawn Casey, Alan Bechtold, Tom "Big Al" Schreiter, Brian Keith Voiles, Rosalind Gardner, and Sydney Johnson.

And, of course, both Joel Christopher and Ted Nicholas presented as well.


Don't know who Ted Nicholas is?

Ted is a living legend in the offline direct marketing world. He's considered the "King of Print", the "Copywriter's Copywriter", the "Entrepreneur's Entrepreneur" and the "GodFather of Direct Marketing".

He's known as the "4 Billion Dollar Man" because that's how much of his own products he's sold using offline marketing methods.

Ted's business card says: "I help people turn words into money".

Anyway, it should be clear that Ted knows a lot about marketing and especially copywriting.

Copywriting is simply selling with words. When someone reads the "copy" or words of an advertisement or sales letter and is compelled to respond to the offer, then you know your copy is effective.

I wanted to pass on some copywriting secrets I learned from Ted while I was at the Double Birthday Bash. These secrets are taken directly from my notes so any errors or omissions are mine.



Secret #1: Write the copy BEFORE the product is created!

Ted Nicholas says the smart marketer writes the copy BEFORE the product is created.

Say, for example, you have a product idea. You should write the copy that sells the benefits of the product even before you create the product.

There are two great reasons for doing that.

The first reason is that you get a much clearer idea of the focus of the product from a customer perspective because you will be focusing on the benefits to the customer in the copy.

Remember, people buy products that help solve their problems or give them information that they need to solve a problem. By focusing on the benefits to the customer, you can ensure that your product is really targeted towards providing those benefits.

The second reason to write the copy first is to do market validation. In other words, even if you've done some market research that indicates there is a huge market, you can perform one final test using the copy you write first.

Even if people order your product you can tell them that it is not ready yet but that they will be the first to be notified when it is ready.

If no one tries to order the product THEN don't spend any more time on it! This is the smart way to determine if a product is worth creating before wasting time creating it! Especially for a Big Ticket product.

Also, if a ton of people order the product based on the copy then it is a huge motivating factor to create a product that meets the expectations in the copy!



Secret #2: Headlines ? The Most Important Item to Focus on when Writing Copy

When Ted Nicholas writes copy for a product, he has to look at the research, the features, the claims and the benefits of the product ? all before he creates the copy for that product.

The first thing Ted writes are the potential headlines for the products.

Ted writes the headlines FIRST!

Before any copy.

Without the headline you are DEAD!

Because if the headline does not draw your reader's attention and intrigue them enough to read further, then they WON'T buy your product!

It does not matter if you have the most killer Big Ticket product in the world, if people stop reading after the headline you have no chance to make the sale.

Spend 50% to 80% of your time on your headline and make sure that there are no more than 3 ideas covered by the headline. Any more than 3 ideas is too confusing to readers. And confusion causes readers to stop reading, something you definitely don't want.

One final tip on headlines: Studies show that 27% more people will read a headline that has quotation marks around it because it indicates that someone important said it. And of course someone important did say it ? you did :-)



Secret #3: Headline Generation Process

As mentioned in Secret #2, when Ted Nicholas writes copy for a product, he has to look at the research, the features, the claims and the benefits of the product.

As he goes through this process, he lists all the benefits of the product on 3x5 cards. He lists one benefit per card and uses as many cards as required to list all the benefits.

Once Ted has all the benefits down on the cards, he reorganizes the benefits in order of highest impact.

The strongest or best benefits are used in the main headline for the sales copy.

Many of the other benefits become sub headlines for the copy. Any others that are left over are often used as bullets in the body copy.

So this process is extremely useful not only for creating headlines but making sure that all the benefits are covered somewhere in the body of the copy itself.

With Big Ticket items and their higher price tags, it is crucial to make sure all the benefits are covered. The more benefits you can point out in the copy the more you move your reader away from their natural skepticism towards the value that your product can offer!


Secret #4: Copy Flow is Key

Ted Nicholas brought up a quote that many of the top copywriters agree on:

"Copy can never be too long. Only too boring".

What this means is that you must engage your reader and keep them engaged throughout the copy of your sales letter or advertisement.

If your potential customer loses interest at any point and stops reading or puts your copy down there is a good chance that they will never come back and finish reading.

Your Big Ticket copy needs to cover all the benefits and possible objections that your potential customer might have. That means its going to require a lot of copy to cover everything. So you must ensure that your copy flows and that they keep reading.

Here's what Ted had to say about the flow of copy and what makes good copy:

  • Keep your paragraphs short and only cover 1 idea per paragraph.
  • The best way to test the flow of your copy is to read it out loud. If it doesn't flow naturally when you read it out loud then chances are doesn't flow. Change the copy until it does.
  • Have a student in Grade 7 or 8 read the copy. If any of the copy is hard for them to read then you need to rewrite your copy. You want the copy to be easy to understand.
  • Great writing is about rewriting. It makes it clearer and simpler, removing unnecessary words and loaded with emotion. That is when the writing is truly great.


Secret #5: Buying is Emotional

Almost all purchasing decisions are emotion driven. When we buy something, we buy it because of how we think it will make us feel or because we think it will solve a problem for us and make us feel better.

We may come up with all sorts of other rational reasons why we should make or made the purchase but the core reason is always an emotional one.

The last bullet in Secret #4 says that great writing is clear, simple and loaded with emotion. It appeals to our emotions.

So, when you write or read a good sales letter, you need to look at the copy and ask:

What is the emotional feeling you get when you read the sales letter?

Is it Hot?

Exciting? Important but boring? Or just plain boring? Any parts of your copy that are in the "Important but Boring " or "Just Plain Boring" categories you need to rewrite or get rid of those sections.

Why?

Because those sections are the ones where your potential customer could choose to stop reading.

You never want them to stop reading!

Ted Nicholas also said:

"If you can't cry, you can't write copy!"

It takes great strength to admit your feelings.

It's also vitally important that you can relate on an emotional level to the situation of your potential customers. The more you can emotionally experience where they are coming from the better copy you can write.



Secret #6: Trust

When people know you, trust you and love you they will buy from you forever.

If you ever betray that trust, you will lose your customer forever.

In copywriting, never try to trick your potential customer with misleading copy and then switch topics.

They can detect that, will feel deceived and will not read your copy any further. You have lost the sale.

So when you sell someone a first product, make sure you astonish them with the first product because you want to win their hearts and minds!

This is especially true of Big Ticket products.



Secret #7: Avoid These Common Copy Mistakes in Your Sales Letters

Here is a list of the most common mistakes you must AVOID in your sales letter or advertisement:
  • No headline ? You must have a headline. It is what catches your reader's attention and makes them want to read you copy.
  • Few subheads ? People tend to read in two ways. They either read your whole letter or they scan it. If they scan it you want to have lots of sub headings to catch their eye and interest and make them read at least those sections.
  • No guarantee ? Always include a moneyback guarantee with your offer. The longer the guarantee period the more credible your offer.
  • No P.S. ? Always use a P.S. on every letter you write. If people scan a letter they will usually read the P.S if nothing else. The P.S. should re-emphasize the strongest benefits and restate your offer.
  • No signature ? Always sign your letter. It's more personal.
  • No free bonuses ? Free is one of the most powerful words in the human language. Providing free bonuses enhances the already great value of your product offering. In some cases, the right bonuses might convince someone to buy your product just to get the bonuses!
  • Logo on the letterhead ? Your logo is about you, not about your customer. It's just one more distraction from your sales message. If you must include a logo put it at the bottom of the letter.
  • No close ? Make sure you give specific instructions on what you want your potential customer to do. If you don't tell them to buy your product and exactly how to do it then the won't.
And that's it for 7 Big Ticket Copywriting Secrets I learned from Ted Nicholas. I hope this helps you improve your own copy.

Or, if you need help with your copy, at least hire someone who knows and follows these secrets. It will be worth the money you pay them to get more sales with great copy.

Copyright (C) 2005 Chuck Daniel, Like Magic Marketing, LLC -- All Rights Reserved.

Chuck is a former Microsoft software designer and program manager who spent more than a decade happily working on Email and CRM. Admittedly a seminar, workshop and information addict, Chuck left Microsoft to pursue his interests in personal development, internet, direct and information marketing and to promote and work for charitable causes.

Chuck Daniel

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