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5 Keys to Believability

Published by: David Garfinkel on 03-06-2023

Today’s podcast is about a topic that is so important, we quote from three Old Masters, even though this is not an Old Masters Series show.

The topic is: making your copy believable.

Two of the Old Masters, right now. In his book “Ogilvy on Advertising,” David Ogilvy writes these words:

“Says James Webb Young, one of the best copywriters in history: ‘every type of advertiser has the same problem: to be believed.’”

And that only makes sense, when you think about it. Because no matter how good your copy is, if people don’t believe it, what good is it at all?

We’re going a long way to solve that problem on today’s show.

First, something from the third Old Master. We did a show on this topic a year and a half ago as part of our Old Masters Series. I’ll do a speed recap of the best of what we covered about believability then from a chapter A.O. Owen wrote in an old copy book about 100 years ago.

His tips were:

1. Use exact numbers. Instead of “around 150,” use the actual amount, like, for example, 154—if that’s what it is.

2. Use the actual names of streets, cities, states or provinces, countries, and people’s name. Owen’s example was

It is more believable to say “styles now reigning from Rue de la Paix, Paris, to Fifth Avenue, New York,” than to say, “styles now reigning from the fashion centers of Europe to those of America.”

3. His third tip was what we call today “the damaging admission.” Basically, admit you’re not perfect. In an sales letter by Million Dollar Mike Morgan that brought in over $10 million, one line that’s a great example, in the voice of the finance guru he was writing for, went like this:

“No one has a crystal ball to predict the future—not even me.”

4. And the fourth one from this podcast was to mention motivation—your reason-why for doing something or the self-interested reason why your prospect should respond.

This from a successful promotion I wrote years ago for Mendelson Auto Body Inc. in San Ramon, California:

Here's A Special Offer To Keep Your Car Looking New!
Plus, You Get A FREE Gift To Protect Your Car All Summer Long

Two very self-interested reasons for people to take him up on his offer.

So those four tips from A.O. Owen, with some modern examples, are as valid in 2023 as they were 100 years ago.

But let’s move on to what we’ve got for today. It’s brand new, yet the advice is eternal. I pulled most of what we’re gonna talk about from a new book I’m writing which I’ll tell you more about in a month or two, when I should be ready to publish.

For today, I took some copy for a bonus in an imaginary info-products course. It was pretty good to start with. Then I screwed it up four times, each with a different believability destroyer. All in the service of hopefully helping you avoid making the same mistake!

Keywords: old masters copywriting tips

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