For 18 years I've focused my career on providing high-level copywriting services to companies.
I'd take on a few handfuls of clients per year and engineer campaigns that often brought in millions of dollars.
Before the Internet, most of my efforts were dedicated to offline. But then, for the last 12 years, my copywriting services were focused online almost exclusively (ranging from search engine copywriting to blog content to traditional web copywriting).
I loved the work.
My copywriting career started auspiciously. The first person I worked with was one of Australia’s richest men, Rene Rivkin.
It was meeting him where I learnt an important lesson: Even wealthy people don’t know a lot about engineering million dollar marketing campaigns! They know even less about where copywriting fits into the mix.
The Aussie representatives of Robert Kiyosaki were the second people I worked with. This was at the time when Robert was the biggest name in the world in financial education.
I wrote sales letters for Robert’s programs and courses. Along with the litany of other speakers this company represented.
And things continued, until one day, I had the bright idea to write a piece of sales copy for Warren Buffett. And lo and behold, I got through... and he invited me as his guest to Berkshire’s AGM:
This is the power of GREAT copywriting!
But then about three years ago, I felt an itch kick in. I started wanting something different. That’s when I took inventory of my skill sets… interests… and desires.
I looked at how the world of marketing was unfolding and something became very clear. Content is the future. All the social platforms are hungry for it. Email, too, as a channel, always needs fresh content.
Content marketing, in its traditional form, is powerful. But it can take ages to see results. Because of my extensive copywriting background, thankfully I know how to speed up the results.
What is Copywriting? And How Is Copywriting Different From Content Marketing?
Copywriting is about accountable (and often immediate) results in the form of sales or leads. It’s focused on sales communication and persuasion.
A downside is that people know they are being sold… so it can polarize them.
In comparison, content marketing is usually focused on education, either as a presell mechanism to prepare someone for a “sales pitch”. It’s also used as a post-sale tool to build a community.
Content marketing can be enormously persuasive… and that persuasion happens covertly over time.
What most people don’t know: there are ways to combine both copywriting and content - so you get astounding leverage and the best of both worlds. Meaning you’re able to produce content that gets QUICK results.
“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.” — Archimedes
And so, in this article, I’m going to share 3 of the most powerful copywriting secrets that will turn your content marketing into overdrive. These secrets can be placed on your blog as SEO copywriting to get more traffic from Google and Bing.
In our content agency, Fubbi, we use these secrets every day to produce millions of words of content for our clients. More important than that, the tangible results we get for our clients are jaw-dropping!
Content Marketing Stats That Makes You Go “Hmmm”
- According to Forrester, 70-90% of prospects have already made up their mind about you and your product before they even consider connecting with you. (Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs)
- The #1 B2B content marketing challenges: Producing engaging content @ 60%.
- Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about 3 times as many leads. (DemandMetric)
- Conversion rates are nearly 6x higher for content marketing adopters than non- adopters - 2.9% vs 0.5%. (Aberdeen)
- Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got almost 3.5X more traffic than companies that published 0-4 monthly posts. (HubSpot)
- B2C companies that blogged 11+ times per month got more than 4X as many leads than those that blog only 4-5 times per month. (HubSpot)
- 47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep. And traditional advertising methods no longer work as well they as used to.
- 58% of B2B marketers say they’re NOT effective at content marketing. (Content Marketing Institute)
- 55% of B2B marketers say they are unclear on what content marketing success or effectiveness looks like. (HubSpot)
- 70% of marketers lack a consistent or integrated content strategy. (Altimeter)
- The #1 goal of content marketing: Lead Generation @ 59%. (LinkedIn Technology Marketing Community)
- By spending as little as six hours per week, 66% of marketers see lead generation benefits with social media. (HubSpot)
Copywriting Secret #1: Lead With The Best Proof In Your Content Marketing
One of our clients has a skin care product - that’s a super competitive space. There are also many companies producing solid ‘Grade A’ content. So, that’s why, before working with this client we comprehensively reviewed his website.
Something became immediately obvious…
… his existing content did NOT trumpet that he’s a board-certified dermatologist. There was no mention of it in his title, his headlines, or his subheads.
So the solution was easy - ramp up his proof! Trumpet his education and training. Lead with it in the headlines and subheads. And finally, create a kick-ass bio to go with every article.
But what do you do if you’re not, say, a doctor? Then you should borrow proof. We do it all the time for our clients.
Another of our clients is in B2B. And one of his most successful articles has the headline “Elon Musk's Secret to Sales Success”.
We (and our client) don't know Elon Musk personally, and in fact, have nothing to do with him. But it didn’t stop us from using his celebrity status to elevate the quality of the content.
Another of our clients is a Young Australian of The Year. We do the bulk of his content. His name is Sam Cawthorn and he’s in a hypercompetitive space - the professional speaking market.
One way we cut through the clutter is featuring celebrities in his content. Here’s an example:
As you can see, this piece is getting good engagement. In this example, Sam is running a paid ad directly to our content. Normally, it’s challenging to generate ROI by running promotions to content.
But when you know how to combine copywriting principles with content marketing, a new world of possibilities open up!
The other way we cut through the clutter for Sam is by telling his story. Sam’s story is one of the most engaging you’ll ever hear. Go ahead and Google him. He’s a perfect example of someone sharing the wisdom of life experience.
His story is so captivating, Goalcast did a video on him. Check out those stats at 5.7 million views!
If you follow our Fubbi Facebook or LinkedIn, you’ll see in many of our videos we tell stories - our own stories and the stories of others. Then, at the end of the story, we’ll sum up the takeaway with imparting words of wisdom.
Why do we tell stories? Because they’re the most robust and persuasive communication and copywriting tool.
Why do we sum up with wisdom? Because our goal is to shift a paradigm.
Wisdom only comes from applied experience. So when you share your wisdom through stories, it makes for an engaging piece of content.
We have one client with 35 years of business experience. He’s a seasoned investor. Four different companies he's owned have made it to the AFR/BRW 100 Fast Growing List.
This is one smart dude. He was sceptical that we could impart his wisdom in the content. And he's right to have doubts. A content writer won't exist with his depth of experience about business.
What’s the solution? So easy…
Enter the monthly chat. Yes, we interview him. Nothing stressful. Nothing difficult. He’s a master of his domain so it’s easy to get gold. And then, we transcribe the call recording… and use the recording as the basis of articles, social posts and even copy for his website.
The better your proof, the better your content. The best proof are celebrities. The next best proof is either 1. Your story 2. Your client’s stories.
But it doesn’t end there.
You can also use:
Before and after charts/photos
Screenshots of product users posting to Facebook
and so on.
Bottom line, what you’re looking for when creating your content is to integrate wisdom.
This is why one wonderful framework for your content is:
- Tell a personal story of an adventure, accomplishment or challenge you overcame
- Sum up the narrative as lessons
In this way, you’re sharing a unique viewpoint. This is great content and smart copywriting!
Copywriting Secret #2: Use a Call To Action In Your Content
Here’s a content marketing mistake I see almost everybody making…
… they create fantastic content that leads to nowhere.
In other words, there’s no specific call-to-action that sends readers/viewers to a funnel. I’m not kidding!
If you’re a copywriter you might be reading this thinking “no way… everybody knows to use a call to action and send people through to a funnel”.
What is a funnel? There are a few different types... but the easiest starts with a brief, one-page landing page that asks for the name and email. This means there’s no navigation bar on the page… and there are no advertising banners.
Attention is focused.
Then after people have shared their details you direct them to the next page, often a thank you page. Sometimes a traditional, copywritten sales page.
One of our clients sends their traffic to a quiz very successfully. They’ve raised tens of millions from one of the largest banks in the country.
Their methodology is simple:
Step 1: Run traffic from paid media, such as Facebook ads.
Step 2: Send that traffic directly to our article
Step 3: From the article, funnel traffic through to a funnel. In this case, their quiz.
The result? Our content generated so many sales leads that it had to be turned off during Christmas. Why? Because there were not enough hands on deck to service them.
But those happy times don’t end there.
Combining copywriting and content marketing has implications for your SEO. Below is a chart of this client’s organic traffic. Take a look at that growth!
And I’m thankful to say a big part of this result is our content (we produced hundreds of thousands of words of SEO content for their blog, too).
Sending content traffic to a funnel is tremendously important.
Please, don’t make the mistake of pouring resources into creating amazing content - without sending viewers of that content to a funnel.
Copywriting Secret #3: Speak To Your Audiences’ Level of Sophistication In Your Content Marketing
What you’re about to learn may be the single most important insight about content and persuasion you will EVER read.
More than anyone, I give credit to the greatest living copywriting teacher for helping me master this model. This copywriter’s name is Parris Lampropoulos.
If you’re not involved in copywriting circles, you probably haven’t heard of Parris. But what Michael Jordan is to basketball, Parris is to copywriting.
I’m lucky. Besides being his “copy cub” for four (admittedly gruelling) years, he’s also one of my closest friends in the world. So I’ve had unusually high exposure to his razor-sharp copywriting mind.
Which is why I can honestly say only a handful of people in the world deeply understand this topic I’m about to teach you. It’s such a deep and important topic that I could run a full day workshop on it!
What is Market Sophistication?
It’s a term first coined by the great copywriter, Eugene Schwartz. Gene wrote the best copywriting book ever penned, Breakthrough Advertising.
Market sophistication seeks to answer an important question…
Does your audience “think” they’ve seen this information before?”
Another way I view this question is as follows…
“If, after reading your article topic, does the reader think they know what the content will be about?”
If the answer is yes, then you need to move up at least one level in sophistication. Let me take you through an example. I will do my best to compress years of knowledge, experience and numerous failures into a few pages :)
It's very important to correctly identify the sophistication of your audience. That's because it's key to creating content that truly resonates.
There are 5 levels of sophistication.
Level 1 is the least sophisticated. Level 5 is the most.
Level 1 - First In Market.
You are first to make the claim… or the first to answer a question for a reader… or the first to shed light on the topic.
This does NOT mean you are first in the world to talk about a subject. It means you’re the first that a particular reader has found to answer their question. Please, note the difference.
From Eugene Schwartz:
“Be simple. Be direct. Above all, don’t be fancy. Name either the need or the claim in your headline-nothing more. Dramatize the claim in your copy-make it as powerful as possible. And then bring in your product; and prove that it works.”
How To Lose Weight
The Secret to a Beautiful Garden
Level 2 - You Are “At Least” 2nd In Market
Your competition has caught up. There are a few of you answering the question your reader has in mind. This is also the first time the famed “Skyscraper” method of content creation becomes relevant.
At this stage, as a content creator, you ask “what other information exists on this topic that I need to be aware of?”
From Eugene Schwartz…
“If you’re second, and the direct claim is still working - then copy that successful claim- but enlarge on it. Drive it to the absolute limit. Outbid your competition.”
“Lose Up To 47 Pounds In 4 Weeks - Or Receive $40 Back!”
“Who Ever Heard Of 17,000 Blooms From A Single Plant?”
Level 3 - Your Readers Have Heard It All And No Longer Blindly Accept Your Advice
The advice you’ve shared - or other experts have shared before - is now falling on deaf ears. When they see your headlines, readers are no longer satisfied or curious.
That’s because they know what it’s going to be about... or think they know. Either way, the result is the same: they don’t bother reading and instead pass on by.
What’s the best strategy for this stage?
From Eugene Schwartz:
“If your market is at the stage where they’ve heard all the claims, in all their extremes, then mere repetition or exaggeration won’t work any longer.
What this market needs now is a new device to make all these claims become fresh and believable to making them again. In other words, A NEW MECHANISM - a new way to making the old promise work. A different process- a fresh chance- a brand-new possibility of success where only disappointment has resulted before.”
What’s a mechanism? I usually think of it as a better, stronger proof element e.g. a celebrity is writing the article. Or perhaps there’s a fresh reason why the promise is believable.
Here’s an example…
In a stage 3 market, the headline “how to doubles your sales” would fail.
But if the headline read “Richard Branson reveals how to double your sales”...
Now that has a much better chance of working - and in fact, would probably work well. Why? Because Branson acts as the mechanism - the proof why the promise is true.
Level 4 - Proof elements abound!
At this stage, your competition has caught up to you. Newer and bigger claims are made. Everybody's an expert. Wherever you turn somebody is dispensing advice on the topic.
What’s the best strategy for this level?
From Eugene Schwartz:
“If a competitor has just introduced a new mechanism to achieve the same claim as that performed by your product, and that new- mechanism announcement is producing sales, then counter in this way.
Simply elaborate or enlarge upon the successful mechanism. Make it easier, quicker, surer; allow it to solve more of the problem; overcome old limitations; promise extra benefits. You are beginning a stage of embellishment similar to the Second Stage of Sophistication.”
The biggest challenge at this stage is believability.
So even an article topic with Richard Branson in the headline may not work so well. What’s needed are topic titles that STACK the mechanisms.
“Richard Branson reveals how to double your sales. His secret has nothing to do with PR escapades… workplace culture or having fun in the workplace.”
So now you see the secret to a winning stage 4 topic - the reader wants what you’re offering and believes that what you’re saying is true… but is unable to easily determine what the topic will be about. This is called “closing all the exits”.
Level 5 - Focus On The Audience
This is by far the most difficult stage to understand. And it’s way beyond the scope of this book to outline a battle plan.
From Eugene Schwartz:
“The emphasis shifts from the promise and the mechanism which accomplishes it, to identification with the prospect himself. You are dealing here with the problem of bringing your prospect into your ad-not through desire-but through identification.”
Putting it all together
The bottom line is your audience is at various stages of sophistication for all ranges of topics.
To create content that is of vital interest to your audience, you need to assess:
1. In general, how sophisticated is your audience? That’s because whilst you want them to engage with one article, in reality, you want them to keep coming back to your website and keep reading your emails.
2. How sophisticated they are for each article topic. This way, at every juncture, they are learning wonderful insights from your content.
Believe me, this is easier said than done! But when you know how to create content that speaks to a person’s sophistication level, your content marketing explodes in its effectiveness.
We have a client whom we craft a daily content email for - that’s 30 emails month, like clockwork. Our content is absolutely focused on his audience’s sophistication level.
Is he getting results? Well, take a look for yourself:
This is the calendar for part of their sales team. You’ll see they’re fully booked out. But here’s the thing: the rest of the team are booked solid each day, too.
And then, if I haven’t proven my point, my friend Kerwin Rae uses email very effectively. Over the last few years, Kerwin’s hit the content marketing hard. At the time of writing, he’s closing in on a million fans just on Facebook.
We recently helped him with the campaign for his Fast Growth Summit (full disclosure: Kerwin is not a client; he’s a friend whom I’ve known for a long while). Anyway, once the tour was finished, I received word that we generated an extra 600 event registrations.
Again, the secret to this success is correctly identifying his market’s stage of sophistication.
I don’t know for sure what that is worth to Kerwin’s business. But I’d say a few hundred thousand dollars is a fair bet. Probably much more. Obviously, I can’t take full credit for that. Kerwin has done a blistering job of continually delivering amazing content to his list.
Okay, we’ve come a long way together in this report, so thanks for sticking with me. I’m sure you can instantly see the value of what we revealed. We’ve talked about a number of critically important ideas you can use right now to dramatically increase your sales with content.
But it doesn’t have to end here...
If you'd like help with your content plan - or if you have any questions about how to combine copywriting and content to your business - we'd love to help.