John Carlton Copywriting Tips: Make Your Words Count


In this marketing hot seat, John Carlton tells how he examines the words he uses in his copy. Which words can be replaced, which ones should be eliminated.

His comments:

But, the words here, like “end”…the word “end” is what might get the attention of the alphabet agencies, like the FDA or the FTC, so he has to be careful about that. Or, he can be bold about that, depending on how your lawyers have told you to act.

And, the word “fast” becomes one of the consumer benefits that is going to swing this thing. I mean, if he had a headline “End chronic back pain sometime later on in the future of your life”, you know, “maybe you’ll be happy on your death bed”, you’re not going to sell a lot of stuff.

Simple and easy, is part of the basic USP’s. I usually talk about simple, cheap, fast and easy as being the triumvirate,

So, simple and easy is the very bottom part of the basic USP principle…simple, cheap, fast and easy. He is saying “simple and easy”. He has the word “fast” in there. “No drugs or doctors”…this is just common language in any kind of health-related product. “New, natural” becomes a power word here, or a word that could possibly be changed.
So, when I go through and add, like this, and I get the basics down, then I go back and I look at the words that can be changed and maybe pumped up. The words that become the hinges of the thought that you’re trying to do. So, the person is reading and he hits a word like “natural” and he may go one way or another. I have to think about that. Am I eliminating people who would just never take an herb in their life? You know, the first time they hurt they run to the doctor for big pharma pills and stuff. So, that’s a word you have to look at.

“Healing method”. Both “healing” and “method” are words you want to look at. I mean, in this small ad, this is advanced copywriting stuff. In this small ad with 2 dozen words, each word has to carry a lot of weight. Now, even if he takes this general copy and takes it into a full-page ad in a magazine, it’s going to be an expansion of this. He’s going to run into the same problem, because these words that he is using are going to end up in the headline, in the sub-head, in the opening, the kind of stuff that has to hook the reader or the reader is gone forever.

“Healing” and “healing method”. Both the word “healing” and “method”. You could use the word “system”, “secrets”, things like that, ok? So, we’ll talk about this stuff.
“Amazes”. That’s another word. Is that a word you want to use in the golf market? I used it. It’s one of my favorite words, actually I use “amazing” a lot. But, it’s definitely an old-style word, it’s an old classic word, and it carries a lot of weight, sometimes negative weight, with it.

“Amazes and delights golfers”. Now, what’s the most important word in the whole thing here? It’s the word “golf”. You’ve got to bring it down.

We’re going to talk about this, I’m just kind of blowing through this. So, “amazes and delights”, I think you stole that from me, where I used to say “shock and delight” a lot. I don’t know why I picked “shock and delight”, but the first time I used it, the ad just went crazy.

OK. “Amazes and delights” is a phrase, is a hinge phrase, where the reader reads it and he is trying to deliver some things. This ad, small as it is, is just packed with things that can be changed, things that he would have to sit down and think long and hard about, and a copywriter, writing an ad like this, would put 20 years of experience in this and spend a couple of hours and would just have to focus on it very very clearly.

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