I can still remember the first and most powerful lesson in the science of copywriting I ever learnt.
I was in Year 10 or 11 of high school (that’s sophomore or junior for our North American friends), and my buddy Martin S. was writing some posters we were going to stick up around campus to get volunteers for a project.
As we were trying to brainstorm what to put on the posters he said, “Well, we want as many people to read this as possible, so why not write ‘FREE BEER?’ It will at least get attention that way.”
Now that powerful lesson wasn’t how to ‘bait and switch’ your audience… it was simply the importance of a captivating headline that gets noticed.
Another important lesson that I continue to reap benefits from which I learnt in high school was the power of a cheat sheet.
If you’ve been around our little community here for any time, you’d know my mum was a math teacher. And thus, it’s no surprise what subjects I ended up doing a lot in high school (clearly, it wasn’t literature).
Now as handy as it was having a permanent tutor at home to get me ready for tests, the best thing about these advanced math classes was the ability to take a double-sided cheat sheet into exams. For some reason I still can’t quite understand, we were allowed to create two pages with formulas, equations and examples to take in with us and reference during these tests.
It made such a difference to have something to rely back to, ensure you were not missing any steps in a formula, and use as a kind of checklist.
And it’s why I use cheat sheets and checklists in almost every area of my life… and felt a little less weird when I read Atul Gawande’s great book, The Checklist Manifesto.
So combining these two lessons together, I want to share with you a Copywriting Checklist I created a few years back.
It’s the reference sheet I lean on regularly when trying to craft a piece of sales copy.
Does it replace a great copywriting course?
Does Atul’s checklists replace 6 years of medical school? Of course not.
What it does do though is act as a fantastic map to follow when you’re working on your next piece of marketing.
The downloadable two page cheat sheet reads like a sales letter, but is in fact a guide and reference tool to ensure you never miss any of the 11 critical copy tactics or elements.
I hope it helps you, like it does me.