I've been a student of the Bible for practically all my life. There is a lot of reason why this book remains the number one best-seller year after year. I think that it is the source of ALL wisdom, yes, including successful copywriting!
What do I mean by this?
Simply put, every copywriting strategy can be found FIRST in the Bible. This may appear to be a strong statement but I challenge the reader to prove otherwise. As I did the research for my latest ebook "77 Ways to Skyrocket Your Website's Conversion", I kept saying to myself "but that's in the Bible … that's in the Bible."
I would like to take a look at FIVE copywriting principles and show you that they are as old as the Scriptures. This article is not meant to 'convert' you so read with an open mind ... ready? Let's go!
1. Stress benefits not features.
It's the Garden of Eden. The serpent approaches the woman Eve to get her to take of the forbidden fruit. Does he rave about the color, taste and texture of the fruit? No, he sells Eve on benefits. "Your eyes will be opened, you will be like God ..." (Genesis 3:4). Now that's a benefit, not a feature at all. And did Eve fall for it? She surely did.
That may seem like a 'negative' example - a plain deception. But look at what the book of Revelation promises the "overcomer". Eternal life, health, recognition, wealth and mansions without mortgages.
2. Use lots of testimonials.
If you have just a cursory knowledge of the Bible you know that the gospels of Matthew, Mark Luke and John make up the first four books of the New Testament. They all cover the same ground and share many common stories. So why would we need four different people saying practically the same thing?
You see they all wanted to tell THEIR story about the Rabbi Jesus Christ. So the writers (all satisfied customers) relate the life-changing encounter they each had - the more testimonies the better.
The entire Bible relates stories of peoples encounter with the supernatural and how it affected their lives. In fact, Jesus related to the disciples after His miraculous resurrection that all the Old Testament was really about Him.
3. "Create a damaging admission and address flaws openly"
That's the title to chapter 3 of the master copywriter Dan Kennedy's book "The Ultimate Sales Letter". He goes on to explain that if you openly admit the drawbacks of your offer then your credibility goes up instantly with the customer. For example, your price may be higher than your competitors so you may say: "If you are looking to save a few bucks then you can find many other companies who will be willing to give you some 'quick fixes'. But we provide a very thorough and expert service, hence the higher price"
You are admitting that you are expensive but showing why - the customer gets a superior service.
In the gospels we see many potential disciples who wanted to follow Jesus and he told them openly that it was a sacrificial walk. He told them in no uncertain terms that it involved a "cross", leaving father and mother behind, even possible death - but you will gain eternal life in the process. Talk about a "damaging admission.
4. Place a limit on your offer to motivate procrastinators.
This is a very important element of the "call to action" section of any sales letter. Humans are naturally procrastinators. We always put off what should be done now for a 'later' that never arrives. That is why the copywriter must show that supplies are limited or the special offer is for a 'limited time only'.
In many 'call to action' sections of the Bible we see the same warning to procrastinators. "Today if you hear my voice do not harden your heart .." (Hebrews 3:7). In the story of the great flood procrastinators were found outside the ark. Jesus told the story of the covetous farmer who built bigger barns to store his grains not knowing that death would come knocking on his door that very night.
Jesus never sent one of his listeners to go away and think about it. Today ... now, was the only time that anyone had. His message was "ACT NOW!"
5. Research your potential customers to know their problems and needs.
Dan Kennedy refers to this as "getting into the customer". Getting into the head and experiences of the customer -walk in his moccasins.
The whole Christmas story is about Jesus getting into the skin - literally - of the customer. The writer of Hebrews says that Jesus is touched by our feelings and infirmities. He became like one of us so that He may understand "the customer" better. That is why he could speak to the needs of the human heart with such authority because he knows what is in man.
I've just briefly looked at 5 copywriting principles but this applies across the board. Whether you accept the Bible as just another book or as inspired writings, there is no denying that the principles are there.
I would love to hear from the reader if he or she would like to challenge me on finding a useful copywriting principle that's not in the Bible.