The other day I was listening to a talk by Gary Bencivenga, widely acclaimed as the “world's greatest living copywriter.”
And he said something that set my mind racing:
Of all the elements that go into a persuasive advertisement, the one that's the rarest and most valuable is PROOF.
It's easy to make inflated claims—it's *hard* to back them up with solid, believable proof.
When I heard that, all kinds of connections started clicking in my brain like tumblers falling into place in a lock.
Because I hate hype.
Hype is making grandiose claims with nothing to back them up.
Hype is stuffing your copy with “power words” and hoping no one realizes that your refund rate is 50%.
Hype is the last resort of the desperate copywriter (or the lazy one).
When I detect hype creeping into my writing, I whack it mercilessly with a shovel until it stops twitching.
And that shovel is PROOF.
Proof is the antidote for hype.
Proof is a lot more than just throwing in a few glowing testimonials, though.
What Gary helped me realize is how great copy uses proof at every step along the way.
Proof is a major reason why stories work so well. There's a ring of truth to a good story that demonstrates “I've been where you are, I understand your problem, and I can help you fix it.”
Proof is why I work hard to learn the jargon and “lingo” that my market uses. The right word in the right context says “we are the same” in a subtle and powerful way.
Proof is why specifics are so important—in your headlines, in your claims, in your stories.
Proof is why it's crucial to build your copy around a logical progression of ideas, even as you weave in emotional appeals.
In an advertising saturated world, proof is the knife that slices through the clutter and sets you apart.
Don't ask yourself, “How can I make my copy more exciting?”
Instead ask, “What proof would make this deal a no brainer for my customer?”
Then your copy will write itself.