Once, a few years ago, the legendary copywriter Gary Bencivenga taught me a copywriting lesson that I’ve never forgotten.
I still use it to this day.
It’s called the “5 P’s Of Great Persuasion.”
A short, pithy lesson… which explains the parts of a long-form promotion (and for that matter, any promotion) that must be present for any chance at effective conversion.
Here is the formula…
Problem + Promise + Proof + Proposition = Persuasion
And here is each part of the formula, explained a little bit more detail (I could spend HOURS talking about EACH part, but I’ll get to the point here):
The Problem - In your promotion, you have to pull out a problem your target reader is thinking about. But not just any problem, a deep, burning problem that when solved with your solution will have your prospective reader wondering how to pay.
Top of mind awareness gets bonus points here… burning problems solved by your product that are currently on the mind of your prospective reader are the best type.
The Promise - Then, you have to make a BIG promise to solve the problem. But, this cannot, repeat cannot be a deceptive promise, mind you. Any promise you make has to be simple, big, standing out in the mind of your reader… and be backed up 100% with…
The Proof - Here is where you prove your case. Proof has to be 100% believable, not 99%, not 99.9%, a full 100% believable. You have to explain it, re-explain it, show examples, testimonials etc… anything that backs up your promise. Your proof has to be presented in a clear, easy to read and understand manner.
An 8th grader should be able to read it, understand it, and not have to ask questions about it.
Then you get to make…
The Proposition – The late Gary Halbert calls this the most important part of a promotion. Otherwise known as “the Offer,” this is your package of “you gotta buy this NOW” items. It also has to be clear, simple to understand, and easy to take action on.
Let me restate that last part in a different way… Holy fuck people… make it easy for your prospect to pay and take advantage of your offer. I can’t begin to state how many times I’ve seen solid offers with massively complicated ways for the prospect to pay like multiple confirmation pages, a bunch of nonsense legalese and policies etc… if you’ve done the hard work of getting a direct response to your offer… don’t make it harder by putting up roadblocks.
You can take care of most of the “administrative” stuff later.
If you do these 4 P’s correctly… you can get the 5th… your goal of successfully persuading the prospective reader to buy.
Welcome to the direct response copywriting heavens.
NOTE: I believe the actual lesson was 4 p’s of persuasion… but the 5th one, the goal, is as important as the steps to get there IMO.