This entry was originally published waaay back on July 27, 2011.
Thankfully, not all of the stuff I put out then was crap.
I’m republishing it on March 16, 2022.
What’s changed in the world of direct mail supplement selling since then?
If you’ve got a HOT product, killer copy and great lists to market to, it’s almost formulaic to be able to build your company and sell it for a pretty penny, almost always within a ten year time frame.
By the way, my semi-shameless swipe of Gary Bencivenga and Ken McCarthy was heavily KNOCKED OFF as an email subject line after this entry was posted.
Heck, you might try it yourself.
It’s so ancient I’ve forgotten about it, ergo it’s new to me. 🙂
How can you get a Nobel Prize Winner to endorse your product or service?
Believe it or not, it can be really quite simple.
And one of the best places to take a cue from is top flight direct response companies who know the importance of pairing promise and proof.
So with that in mind, I’ll swipe Ken McCarthy’s equation: Traffic + Conversion = Profits for:
Promise + Proof = Profits
See, without superb proof mechanisms, the loud promises just get drowned out. Amazingly, most marketers never catch on to this fact. And that’s good news for us!
Look at the above headline for the colon cleansing product, Flora Source
“Doctor who won a Nobel Prize accidentally discovers a miraculous, medically proven-remedy that helps your digestive system work like a dream. Doctors recommend it”
At first sight, you’d think the white-jacketed man is the Nobel Laureate promoting this miracle product, yet he’s just the advertiser’s “house doctor.” Actually, the Nobel Winner referred to in the headline did his award winning work on phagocytosis over 100 years ago.
Though that’s clear to an observant reader after a moment or so, the one-two combination of the strong first impression and abundant proof are unbeatable here… and they’re responsible for moving a lot of product.
Somehow, I’ve managed to preserve the cover of this massive selling magalog. Admittedly, I have a weak stomach for the subject matter. Get it? LOL 🙂
What’s exciting is there’s no reason you can’t use such “proof plays” in your own advertising.
It can be as simple as asking yourself the following questions.
- What person or which publication is the ULTIMATE authority related to the market I’m in… or for the product I’m selling?
- How can I draw a connection to myself or my products and services?
I observed the stunning power of this for the first time, during a headline split-run test I ventured in the mid-2000s
(My tastes in marketing at the time included the underbelly of direct response. MEA CULPA! Some old timers will recognize this as David Bendah territory. Perhaps, not a ringing endorsement.)
A) “If you’ve got 7 minutes, then I can show you how to earn a second income helping 1-in-8 people nationwide
reclaim their lost assets”
Now here’s the modification that shot sales nearly 50% higher. Nothing else was changed in the ad besides the addition of the sub-headline.
reclaim their lost assets”
“Whether it is pirate’s treasure found on a beach vacation, or a long-lost $20 in the living room couch, everyone dreams of hitting the jackpot…last year, the states held $22.8 billion in unclaimed assets.” (The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 17, 2004)
Just as borrowing the credibility of the Nobel Winner ramped up supplement sales for Nutri-Health, the reputation of the “Wall Street Journal” silently accounted for a 50% response boost. The net result is these implied endorsements, when correctly crafted, can trigger an avalanche of sales
Caveat emptor: Latin for watch your backside.
Never cross the line of insinuating that a third party is endorsing you or your specific product when they are not. Example: if “The Financial Times” were to publish an article identifying nanotechnology as the most promising industry of the next decade, a newsletter publisher specializing in nanotech stocks would be foolish not to trumpet this fact. But if the publisher suggested for a moment that the FT had endorsed their newsletter, when they did not, they could count on being sued back into the Stone Age.
jeremy young says
Another great article, thanks Lawrence.
I just need to figure out how I can apply it to the up and coming launch of my site, Keep up the great work, very quickly becoming a fan.
I can vouch for this strategy. I used Tony Blair’s (the last British Prime Minister) picture in a direct mail lead generator. I placed his picture next to the headline and promised people a free report on how to make a bundle from the u-turn in government housing policy. Response from the control shot up from 5.5% to over 18%. I now use this technique on all my lead generators for financial products and rarely get below 10%.
Hey Carl and Jeremy,
Thanks for checking in.
Carl, that same strategy you’re effectively employing on the other side of the pond is exploding over here right now using Obama’s image to sell info on free government money and grants. I’ll post something on this when I get back form Chicago.
Caleb Osborne says
This Proof + Promise is the number one thing I’ve learned from the World’s Greatest Copywriter (Bencivenga) and I strive to use it in EVERYTHING I do now.
Great post Lawrence!
Re: Obama’s image —
Affiliates promoting free government money alongside Obama’s image have been getting warning letters from the networks for a few weeks now. So, there’s your caveat emptor. Also, witness the growing scandal with Acai and the “dieting mom” blogs. People are getting very sloppy with this approach.
Good article though.
I noticed the image of Obama who’s supposed to be holding a check in front of his face has a Caucasian female’s hands. Sloppy through and through.
As for the dieting blogs, amateurs will milk it to death if it works. They haven’t experienced the fear of an FDA action letter yet.
As you alluded to, concocted comments and stories, as well as making medical claims, will get many of them shut down.
Ciao for now,
Jeremy Young says
Thanks for the update on this Liam, Even the thought of receiving a letter from the government sends a shiver down my spine.
Raymond Merz says
“People are getting very sloppy with this approach.”
Sloppy is a very generous word. Outright fraud is more like it.
Remember, you have as close to nothing to fear as possible if you work on the up and up, don’t lie, and don’t concoct anything. Notice I didn’t say “nothing.” The government is not your friend. Don’t forget that, either.
Even if that means a lower response and less cash. Even if something is technically “legal.”
If it causes enough outrage, they can and will MAKE it illegal, then send you to jail retroactively. So work on the golden rule, not the law.
Lawrence, thank you for this site.
Three words we should all keep in mind when we market.
“Truth in advertising.”
It becomes quite tempting to forget about the “golden rule” and “truth in advertising” when you become aware of just how much a few of these non-compliant sites are making. And the products they’re promoting are just as shady, if not more-so.
It would be a little more encouraging if “best practices” led to better results. I’m all for long-term / win-win, but short term cashflow is also crucial for survival.
Solid content as usual.
How do you go about finding your proof element to go along with your promise?
In your examples there is a Nobel prize winner and a quote from the very credible wall street journal, two great examples of authority and proof, but my questions is
In a hay bail as big as all human knowledge how do you find that tiny needle of proof?(or many needles to test)
What are some of your best practices?
Ahhh, Art that’s a good question.
(Almost has the setup feel of the shills working with Three Card Monte operators on 6th Avenue of Old New York.)
I do have a few aces up my sleeves where this is concerned.
I call it the “Research Magnet.” I’ll publish something on this soon. Terribly busy as my friend, Drayton Bird likes to say.
I know this is off topic, and I apologize…but I’m desperate. I’m really looking for more information about a book by Eugene Schwartz titled “The Brilliance Breakthrough”.
I’m told it’s a must have for any copywriter…but it’s quite literally hard to find any information about it whatsoever…actually finding the book itself is even more impossible than that.
Can anyone tell me anything about this book?
I greatly appreciate it!
Hey Matt, just out of curiosity what’s it worth to you!?
I think that depends…I know what it’s sold for in the past. So I’m aware of it’s monetary value to collectors.
However, I’m not very clear on what’s IN the book…so I don’t know the value it would have to me.
With that said, if it’s even only half as good as Breakthrough Advertising…I’d pay $400 for a copy in excellent condition.
Great Article. Really great information.
Wow, thanks Lawrence…
This is definitely a technique to keep in mind
and try to use on EVERY ad that I write from
Loving the “golden nuggets”, keep em’ coming!
Hey Lawrence, thanks for sharing the bedrock of excellence with countless ways of achieving maximum ROI. Most of us already know, you can’t change anything until we accept it, so in regards to results like you’ve mentioned above, this is what makes great copy reach new heights. Now, if put the same “copy soul strength” into video, you’ll see remarkable money on the table…I’ve used this technique to show graphs and visual presentations on video and it changes the personality and influence factor for the better!
Heres whats in it Matt
1. The Two Main Parts of Grammar
2. How to Put These Two Word-Parts Together
to Write a Single Sentence
3. How to Build Understanding into Every Sentence You Use
4. How to Link Your Sentences Together
5. How to Choose the Right Length for Your Sentences
6. How to Write Simply, that Anyone Can Understand Your Most Complicated
7. How to Avoid Monotony – So that Your Reader Enjoys Your Sentences
at the Same Time that He or She Learns from Them
8. How to Write Clearly – So Your Reader Doesn’t Think You Mean One Thing,
When You Really Mean Another
9. How to Use the Clarity Principle to Build Wit, Symbolism,
and Suspense into Your Writing
10. Elaboration: How to Develop Your Flow of Thought from Sentence
PART TWO: BRILLIANCE TOOLS
11. If You’re Going to Say It…Say It Well!
12. Let’s Start With a Single Sentence. And Use It to See the
Basic Rule Underlying All Punchy Statements
13. A Brief Interlude – to Stress Again How You Can Go from Copying
Epigrams to Creating Them Yourself
14. The Second-Search Command – Implication
15. Tools that Let You Build Implication into Your Sentences
16. Other Sentence Strengtheners
John Eyubeh says
Thanks for sharing this valuable proof strategy with us.
The great one, Gary Bencivenga also shared this same proof technique–through his free marketing bullets tips.
In his bullets tips #7: Can You Pick the Winning Headline? Gary stress the fact, that one should strive to make one’s proof more stronger than the promise. Then he goes on to say…
“Never make your claim bigger than your proof. And always join your claim and your proof at the hip in your headlines, so that you never trumpet one without the other.”
Following this proven technique, I’ve successfully used it to create headlines and sub-heads that drove more response to my affiliate websites.
Here’s a sample of one of my successful ads:
Attention ALL Shoppers!
“CNN News Says: If You Grab this Amazing Revolutionary New FREE-Autopilot Software TODAY-It Can Help You EASILY Find the Lowest Prices at Over 200,000 Online Stores…in Just 10 Seconds-GUARANTEED!
I knew there was bound to be skepticism about my claims, so I added the CNN News proof element to instantly back up my claim.
When shoppers visited the website, they actually see a 20 seconds video from one of CNN’s savings expert endorsing the free shopping software.
Imagine, it wasn’t CNN that actually endorsed the software. It was just one of their savings guru, who mentioned the software.
All I did was mentioned the words “CNN News” in my headline–and shoppers flocked to the site out of curiosity, just to see if it was a bogus claim about how powerful or real this free software was.
No other affiliate thought about using the the CNN angle in their ads.
That’s the beauty and advantage of being a copywriter. It does give you a dominant edge.
For copywriters who have not signed up for Gary’s free bullet tips…here is the link: http://marketingbullets.com –
It’s jam-packed with many amazing proven tips, tricks and techniques–from Gary’s 40 years of copywriting and direct response career!
Once again, Lawrence thanks for sharing.
I apologise, if I’ve taking up too much space here. But I thought I should expand on Lawrence’s valuable tips–he’s shared with us.
I actually am about to use something similar, but with a different twist. We should bounce some ideas back and forth… I’m experiencing higher responses using this technique as well, but there are ways to take it one step further.
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris Brisson says
Love it. The first assumption is that the white jacket guy IS the nobel prize winner. I think I’ll have to use this one…
Thanks for sharing…