Using Copywriting Alchemy
Step by Step
Copywriting alchemy is analogous to the fabled goal, the keystone of alchemy in the middle ages, turning lead into gold. Some say the process represents, symbolically, the raising of your attention from material things to the etherial quest for higher wisdom. In copywriting alchemy you raise the lead of mere features up to the gold of customer benefits. Then you transform the benefits into bullets and headlines.
I got started down this road long ago by studying Ted Nicholas. He was an early proponent of creating powerful sales copy to sell your own products. He sold millions of dollars worth of a book he wrote about creating a corporation without a lawyer for under $50.
There is a craft to doing this alchemical change of features into benefits. When I do it I take a standard 8 1/2 by 11 sheet of paper, wide ruled, and draw a vertical line down the middle. On the left side I write all the features I can scrape off of the product’s use. I leave space between the features. When I start writing the benefits on the other side, I may have more than one benefit for a feature. The more benefits, the better.
Questions Transform to Benefits
The transformation of features to benefits comes from asking the questions, “What does this feature do for the user? How does it help the user solve a problem? How does it abolish pain, mental, emotional or physical?” The answers to these questions get written down in the right column.
Sometimes the benefit can be strengthened by looking at the detail of a general benefit. For instance, if the feature lets the user save time, how much time can be saved? How can the saved time be used to move the user closer to their goal?
When you complete this task, you have passed a mile marker on the road to a completed page of sales copy. The next task is similar, and also an example of copywriting alchemy.
Here Come the Bullets
You are going to turn each benefit into a headline or bullet point subhead. There is much that has been written about this process of writing headlines. It’s crucially important. What I will offer here is another sheet of ruled paper with a line down the middle. Write all your benefits on the left, again leaving space in between each benefit.
On the right you are making up a simple headline for each benefit. You are just getting started on headlines so don’t agonize. Just state simply and strongly what each benefit does for the person using the product. Later you will focus more on magnetic headlines that draw the attention powerfully, with a common touch and dynamic, vivid words.
For this exercise, write a simple declaration, a complete sentence, stating the benefit for the user. When this goes well, you often spot the key benefit. That will roll up to the top of the copy and become your headline. It will attract people looking exactly for the clearly expressed benefit.
Now you have transformed the plain, no chrome features into the bullet points and headline that form the basis of your sales page. That’s copywriting alchemy!