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Quick and Simple…Bare Essence Copy Writing

Bare Essence Copywritng from Robert Plank
So there’s lots of ways to write your sales letter, to write copy, but who the heck wants to spend a few weeks writing sales copy? Who the heck wants to spend a week or a few days or even a full day writing a sales letter? You should just be able to sit down and crank it out in one sitting; crank it out in an hour or two and be done with it. Speed copy.
First let’s figure out how I normally write copy and when I use which technique. And then we’re going to talk about this new Bare Essence Copywriting technique, which is a lot simpler, where all you have to do is answer a few questions and the copy will just flow out of you.

So, when do I write each different kind of copy?  I’ve noticed that I have to do either the fast or the really, really, really fast method depending on which mood I’m in because I can’t always write it the same way because I’ll get bored.

So if I know a lot about what I want to say and I have a big swipe file built up, then I’m going to use the two-hour formula, which is the fast food copywriting formula.

So this is where I start with my table of contents, and I turn my table of contents into a sales letter.  So I take the table of contents, turn them into features, then into benefits, and I expand those into bullet points; and then I add the headlines, the sub-headlines, the storytelling, the guarantee, all that good stuff.

And when I’m just really, totally stuck, I will use my five-minute formula called “Five Minute Copywriting,” where I’ll take a bunch of plug and play stuff, like fill in the blank stuff.  So I have a stack of headlines where it’ll say, “Something, something.  Blank something in the blank.”  You stick in what your thing is selling, what your thing is about.

And so that is really fast, but that’s also really cookie cutter, really low quality.  So I try to only use the five-minute formula if I’m really stuck and I have almost no creativity.  So if I’m in a less creative mood, I follow more of a template.  And there’s nothing wrong with that because if you’re just too creative, then your process isn’t as repeatable and your process is like, “Well, when I’m in exactly the right mood, and I sit down at my computer at exactly the right time and who knows how long it’s gonna take.”  Who wants that?

So if you’ve got writer’s block, it means you have too much creativity and you need a system.  You need to dumb it down and turn it into step-by-step instructions, so that there’s no question about what you need to do next.

So my fast food copywriting — writing a sales letter in  two-hour method — is where you take the pieces of your book or in your video series or whatever, and you cut them up into pieces.  So if it’s a book, you take the table of contents.  If it’s a video series, you take each video and you turn those into features.

So if you had your chapter one of “How to Install a WordPress Blog,” and so video one would say, “How to Install a WordPress Blog” and that turned into a feature would be “How to Install a WordPress Blog and Get the Database Set Up and Get the Correct Theme Set Up.”  And so on.

But that’s not very exciting.  There’s no “what’s in it for me.”  So you take that statement about how to get the blog set up, how to get the database and the theme, and you say, “Well okay, here’s how to set up the WordPress blog, database, and theme.  So what?”  And then as a response for that you say, “Here are some simple step-by-step instructions to get your WordPress blog installed in seven minutes with almost no work.”

And then you ask again, so what?  And your answer to that is “Here is how to set up a WordPress blog in seven minutes or less, get exactly the theme you want, and start making new blog posts in less time than it takes to take a shower.”

See how that worked?  I couldn’t have come up with such a good bullet point — well it’s not great but I couldn’t have come up with a decent benefit just out of the gate.  I had to think about first, “What is this about?”  Then another thing about “What does that mean?” which means that is a feature.  Then I had to ask twice “so what?” to get it turned into a proper benefit.

So then let’s say the second chapter was about what plug-ins to use and so on.  I do the exact same thing and try to figure out how to install plug-ins.  What does it actually mean?  So what?  And then I turn that into more of a “what does it mean for you?”  Ask “so what,” again.  Turn it into “What does it really mean for you?” and “What can you do with it?  Because I think when the first time you ask “So what?” the only thing that is on your mind is “What does it mean for you?”  But then when you ask, “So what?” again, you’ve already answered, “What does it mean for you?”  And now it’s “Now where can you go with that now that you know what it means for you?”

So you’ve got your list of benefits, and then you expand those benefits.  So if you notice that your benefits are really detailed and you can make sub-benefits, the more the better.  So for that first chapter we were talking about getting a theme set up and getting the database set up so your sub-benefits can be, like, you don’t have to worry about setting up a database ever again.  Just follow these three steps.

And then another sub-benefit could be have your friends and your competition scratching their heads and wondering how you ended up with a WordPress theme so great, and the last few, who your WordPress theme designer was that you paid thousands of dollars, but they don’t know you got a WordPress template for free.

Then you come up with a headline.  So you come up with something attention-grabbing that gets people to want to know more about WordPress plug-ins and so on.  So you do all that stuff.  So you got your headline, you got your benefits; and if you got a lot of benefits and you have a lot to say, you break it up with sub-headlines.  And at the end you say, “So here’s everything you get.  You get this report that teaches all the stuff about WordPress blogs.  You get these videos that teach all this stuff about WordPress blogs.  So what I want you to do now is click on this order button and purchase this course, and you’ll be taken to the next page to enter your information.  And within less than a minute you will have instant access to these five hours of videos and these 11 scripts, which you can plug into your blog right now, and you will be on your way to installing WordPress in less than seven minutes.”

And that’s basically the formula.  It’s a lot more detailed than that; and I include strategies  to overcome writer’s block, how to come up with a headline, how to come up with a story, how to avoid common copy mistakes, and so on.  And as far as the time I put into that, I set a timer for one hour; so I spend one hour of listening to benefits, making summary and the call to action, and then one hour on the headline and the sub-headlines, because those are going to be the most important parts, and those are going to be the things that grab the most attention.

So that’s when I’m in like a somewhat creative mood, not super creative, but it will get the job done.

If I’m really, really stuck, that’s when I go to my Five Minute Copywriting; and yes, sometimes I just use one, and sometimes I use both.  It just depends.  So if I’m really, really stuck, then I do this Five Minute Copywriting.

So Five Minute Copywriting means you can come up with a really basic — about a one-page sales letter — in five minutes.  And if you don’t like it, then you can spend another five minutes going through each step again and improving those steps.  And if you don’t like it again, you can spend another five minutes going through it again.  But usually I find that after about two passes, I’m happy with it.  So it ends up being about 15 minutes of work total, but the thing that makes it five minute is, after five minutes it’s decent enough.  After five minutes you can send traffic to it and you can send your lists to it.

And sometimes I use Five Minute Copywriting to improve existing sales letters.  So maybe I’ll have a sales letter that I already built in two hours using Fast Food Copywriting, but I wasn’t super happy with it.  And I think a few things can be changed, but I’m not sure exactly what to change so I just use the Five Minute Copywriting formula to go through and bump up the sales letter to the next level.

So what you do with Five Minute Copywriting is first you do a little bit of research.  So this is like the pre-copywriting.  You figure out what headline you want.  To do this I search “digg.com” and “blog” plus my keywords, and usually you can find some titles that use your niche keyword that got a lot of traffic; and usually they’re funny or they’re clever or just weird enough that will grab attention.  Figure out a good headline or a good story, and then you match it to these copywriting templates.

So I’ve got a big list of plug and play stories, headlines, and bullets; and they each have different categories.  So figure out what kind of story you want and it’ll give you a setting and a starting point for the story you want to tell.

For the headline you have — there’s I think 10 or 15 categories of headlines that I have — and you pick what kind you want.  Do you want the controversy?  Do you want a question?  Do you want a challenge?   Do you want a shock and awe?  And then it’ll give you a headline, but it’ll leave one word out and that one word you could plug in as your product name or your niche or whatever.  And then if you really don’t like the headline, you can rewrite it, but it gives you somewhere to start.

Same way with bullet points.  You decide what kind of bullet points you want, what category, and you can fill in stuff.  And then with offers you can decide if you want a really aggressive offer or more of an implied offer.  And then a guarantee.  Do you want to stress the length of the guarantee or how easy the guarantee is?  Do you want a simple or a detailed guarantee?

And then I share a lot of time management and productivity tactics that I use to really psyche myself up and get ready to produce a sales letter in five minutes, because it’s really important that you don’t stop writing and you don’t stop thinking because otherwise five minutes isn’t a lot of time.  And I have it mapped out so you spend one minute doing this one thing, one minute doing the next thing.  So if you spend 30, 45 seconds waiting around each time, that’s most of your time sucked up, so you don’t want that.  So you need these very special tactics to get you psyched up.

But basically it’s some fill in the blank copywriting, where I’ve taken some popular headlines, and I’ve just removed the part that makes them unique.  And then you just stick it right back in, and then you can reuse the headline, so it’s sort of a swipe file in that way.

So that was the Fast Food and the Five Minute Copywriting.  Now let’s get into what is Bare Essence Copywriting

So this is where you don’t know where to start, but you don’t want something as dumb as fill in the blank headlines.  So instead we’re going to answer a series of questions related to your copy as if you are being interviewed.

So this technique works if you’re the person who made the product that the copy is about, and it means that you’re knowledgeable.  You know what your customers want.  So this is more like customer-oriented, emotion-oriented copywriting style.

And if you think about it, any good copywriter is going to ask you a few questions.  They’re going to interview you anyway and then rewrite what you said.  So you’re already doing 80 percent of the work.  So why not write a first draft average version of your sales letter in an hour or so?  And then you can apply these little tweaks over time, so later on if you decide you wanted a better headline or maybe rewrite this or that bullet point, you can, but the basics are there.

So what are these questions we are going to answer?  There are these eight questions, and the procedure is we are going to write them out as questions and then answer them.  And I’ll get to that in a minute.  But the eight questions are:

What do you want the reader to do?

What does the reader want and desire?

What is the payoff?

What will they get once they order from you and how will it benefit them?

What are their top objections and how would you defuse them?

What is the guarantee and what bonuses do you provide to make the guarantee not even relevant?

What step should be taken to order?

What have other people said about the product?

Okay, so here are the eight questions, and so you’re going to start by retyping question one into a Word document.  It’s very important that you retype because this gets the questions embedded in your brain, and it’s very important that you keep it as a question.

I don’t want you to just look at the question and answer in the Word document.  I don’t want you to retype the question as a statement or as a sub-header.  You need to retype that as a question and then type your answer right underneath it because you can also remove questions later.

So retyping is very important, and it’s so important I made it a capital “I” as Important.  And you are going to want to answer it as if someone asked it.  That is the whole reason we have it as a question.  Because when you read questions and answer them, it feels like somebody asked them because you are so used to answering questions on the phone.  You’re so used to seeing questions in e-mail, and then you retype an e-mail as a reply.  So answer it as if someone asked.

So when I answer all these eight questions, if I have a lot to say, I end up with usually two to five pages of copy, which is average copy; and then I can quickly edit it later for better headlines or bullets.  So either I do that by hand or I use the fast food copywriting or the Five Minute Copywriting techniques or my swipe file to put in better headlines and bullets.

And I’m the kind of person where my swipe file contains different lines of text, so every line of text is a different idea, and I hardly ever have more than 50 items in my swipe file.  I regularly delete stuff I haven’t used in my swipe file a lot, and about a month ago last summer, I wrote a sales letter.  I exhausted my swipe file so my swipe file is completely blank.  I have nothing in there so I’ll probably have to use maybe Five Minute Copywriting to do the editing.

So now that we’ve got the process, let’s go back over the questions one at a time so there’s no confusion about it.

So question one:  What do you want me, as the reader to do?  For example, I want you to pay me to buy a $20 e-book.

What do I as the reader want and desire?

Question three:  What will I get once I order from you and how will it benefit me?  So these are going to be your benefits, and you are going to want to list as many of these as you can because the majority will suck.

Question four:  What would my top objections as the reader be, and how would you defuse them for me?  How would you get them out of the way by revealing that your objections don’t really matter and aren’t as big of a deal as you think?

Question five:  What is your guarantee and what bonuses do you provide to make this offer a no-brainer?

And question six:  What steps do I take to order?

Question seven:  Why should I order right now instead of later?  What’s the scarcity in play?

And question eight:  What have other people said about this product?  What are the testimonials?

So if you’re trying to answer these and you’re still blocked, whip out a countdown timer.  Give yourself ten minutes to answer “what do you want me, the reader, to do?”  And as you see these numbers tick down, you’ll kind of freak out and you will be like, “All right.  I really got to answer this in ten minutes.”  At least that’s how my brain works.

So let’s go back here and let’s look at these eight questions before I let you try to answer them on your own.

So first you are going to say question one:  What do you want me as the reader to do?  So retype that down in a Word document, give yourself ten minutes, put up the countdown timer, and answer that as quickly as you can.  And don’t even think about any of the questions right now.  Just focus on answering that question.

Once that’s done, type out “What do I as the reader want and desire?”  And then put — start the countdown timer for ten minutes and nothing else, but answer that.

Question three:  What will I get once I order from you and how will it benefit me?  So what are the benefits?

Question four:  What are the top objections that the reader, me, has, and how would you defuse them for me?  What’s your guarantee?  What bonuses do you provide?

Question six:  What steps do I take to order?

Question seven:  Why order now and not later?

And question eight:  What have other people said about this product?  For me as far as testimonials, I am not big on testimonials coming out of the gate.  I’m more big on social proof.  I’m more big on what other stuff do you have in this niche?  What are your credentials?  What kind of statistics about this can you provide?  There are lots of other forms of proof that you can provide other than testimonials.

But after your product is out there and gets a bunch of sales and you have testimonials, you can almost sell without anything else.

So that’s the gist of the Bare Essence Copywriting technique where you write a sale letters by answering a few questions.  You just answer those eight questions in a Word document.  If you’re still stuck, put up a countdown timer.

If you’re still stuck again, let me give you a quick technique. You open up your instant messaging client like AIM or something.  Then if you could open up two instant messaging clients that talk to each other, that’s perfect.

So you might be able to open up Google Talk and Gmail and then talk, and have the Google Talk communicate with a separate account in your Gmail or whatever.  Just figure out a way to send instant messages to yourself.  So this is if you’re really stuck.

So in window number one you type in the questions.  So window number one you type “What do you want me, the reader, to do?”  And in your other window where you answer you type in “Well, as a reader you should blah, blah, blah,” and just that it’s a lot easier to answer your instant messages because it’s a lot less intimidating.  You have tiny blocks of text.  Anybody can talk in an instant messaging client all day versus trying to type out a big, long Word document.

So and then you keep your chat log and copy and paste in your Word document through a little bit of editing, and you have your sales letter.

So that’s how you write a sales letter by answering a few questions.  And that’s the technique I’ve used in addition to fast food copywriting and in addition to Five Minute Copywriting.  So I’ve used the Bare Essence Copywriting just to get the copy on there, and then I used one of those other two techniques to perform the editing.

Comment below and let me know if you are able to write a sales letter using those eight questions.

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