How good are you at judging advertising copy? More importantly, do you know how to fix weak copy when you see it?
Test yourself. Read the copy below. It’s a “lift letter,” which is a short letter meant to prompt readers to click on to a longer sales message. After you’ve read it, give it a rating: A to D. Then think about how you would “fix” it.
The Lift Letter:
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So what did you think? What grade did you give it? And if you think it needs improvement, what would you tell the copywriter to do?
About 30 years ago, I came up with a simple formula to make headlines, subheads, and short-form advertising stronger. I called it The 4 U’s.
You should be able to understand and figure out how to use The 4 U’s by reading the following. It’s what I told the copywriter who wrote the lift letter that I just asked you to critique:
This letter is too soft, too indirect….
Even from the beginning, there is no reason given why I should want to read on. When you don’t have a headline, your first sentence should be one.
The fact that you apparently gave me 10 “guides” that I’m probably not reading doesn’t help. It hurts.
And then you tell me about another report for “older men” (that’s not me!) that I shouldn’t be interested in either.
Often writers give short shrift to lift letters because… well, because they are short. That’s a big mistake. Lift letters have very critical work to do. They must not only prompt the reader to take an action (click) but to do so with the expectation of immediate and significant benefit. (In the short term, it’s the benefit of having his curiosity satisfied. But he should also be anticipating a larger and more longstanding benefit.)
Every communication should follow The 4 U’s. Starting with the first sentence, it must:
- Be useful — provide a clear and desirable benefit to the reader.
- Sound urgent — I need to know why I must read this and respond to it… today!
- Appear to be unique — tell me very clearly why the particular benefit you are giving me is unavailable elsewhere.
- Be ultra-specific. There is no ultra-specificity here. Imagine how much stronger it would be if you had interviewed the people you quote at the end and drilled down on how they benefited from the product.
Revise this accordingly and it will be much, much better.