It was a peaceful moment. I had been chewing over high-level copywriting courses. I had three options, one favorite, and a quiet Wednesday afternoon to scrutinize the sales pages and make my high-stakes decision. The problem was the favorite was also the most expensive. Or was it more a confirmation of prestige? I wasn’t sure. The exact price isn’t relevant now. But it was a good chunk of hard-earned change. I told myself, “Paul, as an entrepreneur, you gotta pay your tuition! And you can’t graduate until you do.”
As I got closer to decision time, I checked in on Twitter.
The algo dished me up a thread from retired copywriter Jim Clair. At that time, I’d never heard of Jim.
I retired from copywriting twoish years ago. No more client work. No more client hunting. No more launches. No stage speaking. Nada. I lift, read, flaneur, write, travel, consult my Good Word subscribers. My masterclass:
And what followed was a reading list.
A reading list organized by “Levels” 1-5 and with a special mention for “Level Bullshit.” Level 1 started with advertising granddaddies David Ogilvy and Claude Hopkins. Level 5 ended with David Ogilvy and Claude Hopkins.
My kind of guy.
Level 2 was interesting.
One of the books was Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff: ‘An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal.’ Klaff’s story and experience were from the world of venture capital investing. But the principles were clearly transferable to copywriters.
I bought it on Kindle.
I took a breath and stepped away from the screen with the sales pages still tabbed out like a dessert menu.
I folded into a chair and started reading.
The chapter on The Buyer’s Formula was STRONG.
Oren Klaff’s Buyer’s Formula
Setting the Frame. Control the angle your offer is seen from. Package it in a way that encourages certain interpretations and discourages others.
Telling a Story. Introduce a short, personal narrative about an emotional experience involving a high-stakes and time-sensitive decision. You are trying to do something but being blocked by some force. Failure would not be pretty.
Revealing the Intrigue. People give you their time because they want to visit a new world to learn about new things and interesting ideas. Changing trends. Moving social, economic, and technological forces. Big ideas.
Offering the Prize. Present yourself as part of the package through expertise, credibility, and unique value. You have proprietary knowledge and experience.
Nailing the Hookpoint. This is deadly if you get it right. Giants can fall. Instead of giving them more information, they are asking you for more on their own. They go beyond interested to involved and committed.
Getting a Decision. Tell them exactly what you’ll be delivering, when it will be delivered, and how. If they have a part to play, also talk about what will be expected of them. Stack frames for “hot cognition.” Intrigue. Prizing. Timeframes. Moral authority. Bonuses.
These notes are a summary but incomplete.
I’ve left a couple of areas vague by design.
Because this memo isn’t a tutorial but a parable.
I hope and wait for you to read the book yourself.
I promise it will be worth your time.
All of which is to say:
I didn’t buy a 4-figure high-level copywriting course that afternoon.
Instead, I decided to read Jim’s masterclass book list from start to finish.
It saved me 4 figures and has made me 6.
It was a peaceful moment.