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Intensifying Your Copy—Old Masters Series

Published by: David Garfinkel on 03-13-2023

Today we returned to the Old Masters Series, but with a twist. We used some secrets from one Old Master to look at the famous work of another.

This all came about last week, when I was going over the chapter on Intensification in Breakthrough Advertising with a client. Breakthrough Advertising, of course, is Gene Schwartz’s masterwork on copywriting. Part 2 of the book is seven chapters on “the basic techniques of breakthrough advertising.”

And the first of those seven sets of techniques is what Gene Schwartz calls “Intensification.” Basically, how to get your hands on your prospect’s feeling of desire, and push it through the roof.

I was struggling with how to put this on a podcast. And then I had an idea: Why not take John Caples’s famous ad, “They Laughed When I Sat Down At The Piano… ” and see how Caples used the intensification techniques.

You might not be surprised that, even though the ad was written nearly 40 years before the book was, Caples knew what he was doing and used a bunch of the techniques.

So, as we get started, you should know there are actually 10 Intensification steps in this chapter. Plus three other tricks. Again, this is all in one of 14 chapters of the book.

We only covered five of the 10 Intensification steps today. First, because we did not have time for all 10. Second, I wanted to leave out five so you’ll be encouraged to get your own copy of Breakthrough Advertising from Brian Kurtz. We’ll give you a link in the show notes.

Really, it’s one of the best copywriting books ever written. As you have already gotten a glimpse of there is so much in each chapter that you can spend years, and make a fortune, learning what’s in the whole book.

Now, as to Caples. Gene Schwartz actually mentions this ad as a great example of one of the intensification steps, and we’ll cover that step. But it turns out Caples included more of than one Instensification step.

It’s interesting to look at this ad, one of the most famous in history, because of the unusual way Caples uses the steps. He skips around from the normal order you would put them in. You’ll see what I mean in the full podcast.

Here are the five Intensification steps we covered:

1. Present the product.
2. Put the claims in action.
3. Bring in the reader.
4. Bring in an audience.
5. Make a damaging admission.

And a link to get Breakthrough Advertising:

Keywords: exciting sales copy

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