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Friday, December 14, 2007

Review: Power Copywriting

Power Copywriting is a new course just released by my publishers WCCL. It's written by top US copywriter Bob Serling, and is provided as an instant download in the standard PDF format.

Power Copywriting is 149 pages long. My first impression on opening it on my PC was that it was well written and neatly presented. However, this is the sort of manual you really do need to print out to get the most from. Fortunately WCCL have not built in any copyright-protection features that stop you doing this, so you can print all or any of the pages if you like.

Power Copywriting is primarily about writing website copy, though many of the principles set out would apply equally to other forms of copywriting, e.g. sales letters.

At the heart of the manual is Bob Serling's "32 Step Power Formula" for creating compelling website copy. In general I was highly impressed with this. I always like how-to guides that provide easy-to-understand, step-by-step instructions, and Bob certainly delivers here. One point that came across very clearly to me is that website copywriting is about much more than just sitting down and spinning out a few paragraphs of purple prose. Bob emphasises the importance of researching the product or service you are marketing in great depth. As he says, if you have all the facts about the product at your fingertips, actually writing the sales material becomes quite easy and straightforward.

Another point I gleaned from the manual is that successful copywriting is very much a two-way street with your client. Bob regards it as an important aspect of the copywriter's work to come up with a compelling offer that a customer simply can't say no to. That may mean getting back to your client and suggesting that he offers more and better bonuses, a beefed-up money-back guarantee, and so on. This is certainly something I can identify with from my own experience of copywriting. You must be prepared to liaise with your client to help him come up with the strongest possible offer (while still allowing him to turn a fair profit!).

After the (long) chapter devoted to explaining the 32-Step Formula, there is a Workshop section where Bob shows how he applied the formula in an actual copywriting assignment. He goes through all 32 steps in order, showing how he incorporated them in the finished sales copy (which is reproduced in the manual as well). This is very informative, and actually includes some additional advice and information that is well worth taking on board.

As an occasional copywriter myself, I picked up a lot of useful tips from this manual, and I'm sure my copywriting is going to improve massively as a result. There was just the odd thing I disagreed with, including Bob's recommendation to split long copy over a number of different web pages with a 'click to continue' button at the foot of each. In fact, in my experience this is seldom done on the web today, and I think for good reason - each time the prospect gets to the foot of a page he has to click to continue, and if he can't be bothered to do this, you have lost him. Personally I think it is better to keep your sales copy to a single page, even if it does end up quite a long one!

In addition to the main manual, buyers of Power Copywriting also get five bonus audio interviews in MP3 format, from copywriting gurus Joe Vitale, Marlon Sanders, Audri Lanford, Corey Rudl and Declan Dunn. I must admit I haven't listened to these yet, as the total file size is over 300MB, and even with my broadband connection Firefox tells me it will take over two hours to download! I definitely intend to do this, however, probably overnight, as these guys really are the creme-de-la-creme of Internet copywriters.

Finally, I should emphasise that Power Copywriting is all about writing web-based sales copy. If you want to know how to do this, whether for your own sites or on behalf of your clients, I recommend it highly. It's well written with lots of examples to support the points made, and would be suitable for beginners as well as people such as myself who have some knowledge of copywriting but realise they still have plenty to learn. One thing Power Copywriting doesn't do, however, is tell you how to set up your own copywriting business. Still, I understand that WCCL have a new course on that subject coming out next year!

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Anonymous Tony said...

Hi Nick,

Although this course could be good I find the website utterly appalling. It smacks of that hyberbolic, manic American style of the 1970s. It also looks shambolic.

Also, and this is unforgivable, he's made it impossible to actually buy the product without having to jump through the hoop of signing up for a 'free trial' of some get rich quick scheme, which involves filling out a form. This happens if you click on the 'buy now' link and there seems to be no way to get round it.

I wouldn't look at this course even if it were free as the writer clearly has no idea of how to impress via the web.

Tacky sales gimmicks should be avoided at all costs on the web - if the product is good enough and effectively described it will sell itself.

You should also be criticised for employing what I and others consider to be a shabby and underhand technique. On your 'write a book in 28 days' site you pretend that the low price is only being held until midnight that day, when we all know it's the standard price. This is unnecessary if the course is any good and frankly such tactics do you no credit. It actually put me off buying the course.

2:44 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

I've looked at the sales site for Power Copywriting and I have to say I can't reproduce the 'free trial' offer you complain about, even with all my pop-up blockers switched off. In both Firefox and IE, when I click to order I am simply taken to the SWREG (WCCL's order processor) payment page. Perhaps you might have a spyware infection on your PC? Maybe someone else would like to try this and see if it occurs on their PC also. I'd be interested to know!

As regards the rolling discount on the sales page for my "28 Days" course, you will understand that all of the copywriting and the programming of this page is down to my publishers, WCCL, rather than me personally. I'm not that keen on the use of the rolling discount device myself, but it is common practice on web-based sales pages. However, when I am doing my own copywriting it is not a device I would use personally.

4:05 PM  
Anonymous Tony said...

Thanks Nick, fair comment. I didn't realise that you didn't write the copy for your sales site.

On the subject of the power copywriting site, did you try the 'buy now' link at the top of the page? That's the one that takes me to the spurious site and I've copied the url:

The links further down the page which say 'click here to download your copy of the course' do indeed take me to a download and purchase page, although this is after a redirection kicks in.

So perhaps I do have a spyware infection and it would be useful to confirm with others that they don't have the same problem when clicking on the 'buy now' link at the top of the page (underneath the main banner).

9:11 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Hi Tony

Ah yes, I see what you mean now! I think the programmers of the sales page have made a mistake. Instead of in the link concerned, it is, which takes you to a totally different website (nothing to do with the product in question and not even a WCCL site). I will report this to my contact at WCCL. Thank you for drawing it to my attention!

9:44 PM  
Anonymous Alleyman said...

Hi Nick and Tony,

If I may, I'd just like to tell Tony that I have purchased Nick's 'write a book in 28 days' course.

I knew the rolling discount was a likely sales tactic but made the purchase anyway. And it has turned out to be an excellent investment on my part.

If you have any reason to seek step-by-step instruction for writing purposes, this is not something you will be sorry you've bought. It is very well put together and covers almost all of the materials and applications of a similar course I had purchased for $300. I wish I had found Nick's course first. I could have saved some serious quid.

Just wanted to add my two cents.

5:30 AM  
Blogger Nick said...

Thanks, alleyman. Glad you liked my course!

8:30 AM  
Blogger Nick said...

The error on the Power Copywriting website has now been fixed. Thanks again to Tony for spotting this.

6:04 PM  

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