Short Formula For Copywriting

Okay this is more of a check list than an exact guide, but you should make sure it’s done in this order.

#1 – Give an example that graphically demonstrates the idea behind the product that you’re trying to sell.

#2 – Tell your reader what you want them to do.  Not just “buy it”, but something like “use this to…”

#3 – Give them the reason to do it.  Tell them it will improve this, that or the other.

Now that is as simple as I can possibly break copywriting down into, but that is absolutely the essence of it.  Let’s just take a look at the 3 steps.

The first one engages their emotions and imagination.  This is vital.  People buy (or do) things because they want to, not because they need to.  The only things that people need to do are drink, eat, sleep etc.  Everything else is driven by longings from the emotional soul of their body – their wants.  So activate their interest with a good example – stories are important.

While they’re still in this imaginative state of mind – some refer to it as a hypnotic daydream – steer them in the direction of what you want them to do.  You will often have to be careful about it and plant the idea in their mind by suggesting it to them rather than telling them outright.  Sometimes you can tell them exactly what to do, but it depends on the circumstances.

Finally, give them the reason to take the course of action you’ve suggested to them.  If you get it right, you’ve completed the rationalisation process for them which is the third and final stage.

The whole concept behind this three stage process is we do things because we want to do them – we are all creatures driven by our emotions but don’t often admit it even to ourselves.  After we’ve decided to do something, then we look for ways to rationalise the decision to ourselves.  Not the other way round.

The three stages get the reader into a receptive frame of mind, suggest a course of action (which engages the “want”), and then finally offers the rationalisation we all need before we do anything.

Mind blowing isn’t it?

Example.  Instruction.  Reason.

As long as you get these three stages into your copy, in that order, everything else is cake.

If you appreciate this post, then I would appreciate a link back to it from one of your blogs or other web sites.  You doing that for me keeps me motivated to write more stuff like this.  Thank you.

-Frank Haywood

Posted by Frank Haywood


Hello Frank,

I think you got it spot on.

Most things we do can be broken down to
basics and it’s wise to appreciate that, as
we can sometimes get carried away and
add in so much fluff that we lose sight of
where we’re supposed to be.

Keep up the good work.


Eruwan Gerry

Hi Frank,

Thanks for your sharing.

I’m interested to know, can we apply the copywriting technique when we send out emails to our subscribers?

There is a belief that the selling should be done on the salespage itself with the copywriting provided and not within the email itself.

What is your personal take on this?

Frank Haywood

@Eruwan Gerry:

Absolutely you should presell in your email, and leave things open so that there’s some curiousity factor to get people to click through. I always presell any product I’m promoting, and if I have time I also do an example of what I’ve used it for – that works wonders.

I’ve been VERY busy just lately, and there’s a great product out there (two actually) I want to promote, but it needs some love and attention before I do so via email as I’d like to give an example of where I’ve used it. Having said that, I may not be able to do exactly that as I’ve set myself some huge tasks ahead of me 🙄

The product itself is a corker but needs people to engage their brains and imagination to get the best out of it, so it may not be for everybody. Oh what the heck, here you go.

(Talk about getting distracted! What were we talking about again?)

So yes, presell, but hmm, maybe not sell as such. It’s always a good idea to give info in bite sized chunks I’ve found, and lead people onto the next thing.

Think of it as an extension of your site flow, with just one required action on each page, but it starts at your email. So the one action you want people to do in your email is click your link, so you work to sell that click. And a good way to do that is pre-sell the product without actually giving away what it is.


Hi Frank,

Great post and definitely shows people where they need to concentrate their efforts. Anyone can get traffic and most people are convinced that they need more when in fact they should make sure that they have ‘killer’ sales copy.

This is where they should start!

Frank Haywood


Yep traffic is great as long as its converting.

If you think about it, once you know your traffic is converting and what kind of return you’re getting for every 100 visitors, then you can work out how much each visitor is worth to you on average.

Once you know that figure, then you can work out how much money you can afford to spend on paid traffic – as long as you’re very careful with your keyword selection. 😉


Herschel Lawhorn

Hi Frank,

I like the way you have broken this down to just 3 simple steps. I agree, I believe you got it just right…not over simplified…not over complicated.

I don’t consider myself a good copywriter at all, but this might help me on the road to becoming one.

Thanks again, I read all of your stuff. It is all good.

Frank Haywood

@Herschel Lawhorn:

Thank you. I don’t always know where this stuff comes from, I just *know it*. Some of it I’m sure I’ve learned other places, but there’s a good chunk of it that comes to me over time. I spend a reasonable amount of my downtime thinking about things like this, and I’ll often get my sub-conscious working on this kind of thing by thinking about it just before I go to sleep.



Jannie Borg Larsen

That was a good post which reminded me about one of my goals — to become a better copywriter. It is really an essential skill online! Another little tip (in your comments) that I enjoyed was to involve the sub-concious in “the process”. 🙂

Frank Haywood

@Jannie Borg Larsen:

Copywriting is becoming an essential skill in 2010 and beyond, and I firmly believe that it’s going to make the difference between a succesful business and one that falters.

Getting your conversion rate up with better copy is far easier than getting more traffic. Once your conversion is up, then that’s the time to concentrate on traffic, but so many people do it the other away round.

The sub-conscious is a wonderful thing, and the best part about it is it doesn’t really require any sustained effort on your part. I think of it a sub-processor that I can program to work things out for me whan I’m stuck.

One of the methods you can use to program your sub-conscious is to write your issue down on a piece of paper and then braindump everything about it that you can, define your problem, and put a lot of mental effort into trying to come up with solutions. Do this for about 15-30 minutes, and then forget about it.

Your sub-processor is now working on the problem and you can relax. I often find that after a few days or a month or whatever, the answer just comes to me. And it’s cost me virtually no effort other than a bit of patience.


Gareth Hogan

Brilliant insight Frank, what a wonderfully simple but effective strategy. For the benefit of your other readers I would like to mention that this could be combine with a technique I was taught.

There are some authors that make sure they have “page turners” at the bottom of each page. (This means, they end the page with a cliffhanger of some sort to make the reader turn over the page.)

When you think about what the purpose of a headline is, in the sales copy, there is something similar at work. It is there to make the person reading it, read the next line.
By extension, the function of that next line or paragraph is to make them read the next bit, all the way down, till you make the offer and hopefully the sale.

It may sound easy but believe me it is not. To be successful, each sentence must compell the reader, to read the next one. If you can master this like Frank has, you will have cracked it.

Frank Haywood

@Gareth Hogan:

Part of the required skill set for a good copywriter is to tell a story. If you think about it, once upon a time no-one could read or write, so the only way of passing on useful information that would be remembered was to tell a story.

For instance we all know the story of the boy who cried wolf.

That “instinct” (if you like) is part of our genetic makeup, and is part of who we are as human beings. We all love a good story.

If you can get the page turning, cliff-hanging, compulsion to read on into your copy, you win. It’s difficult, and while some people make it seem easy, most succesful copywiters know it takes a lot of effort.

Someone said the difference between a good and average copywriter is that the good copywriter will spend longer working on the copy…

And I think it was Gary Halbert who said that he would often write 200 headlines before settling on one he knew would work.

I’m not there yet (!) but I know it’s something I have to spend more time on. And as I said in another post, I quite enjoy writing, and the more I do the easier it gets.