Copywriting For MSPs – Part 14

Recap – Last time we had a look at :
Rephrasing the Most Important Benefits in The Closing Offer.
Making Things Fast, Easy and Simple.
Spelling Out EXACTLY What People Must Do.
A Note about CAPTCHA Forms.
A Note About Images, The ‘P.S.’, The Signature and the Envelope.


In 1900, the number of advertisements an average person was exposed to daily was significantly lower than today. While there are no precise figures, it’s safe to assume that the exposure was limited to a few dozen ads per day at most.

By 2000, the landscape had changed dramatically and estimates suggest that the average person was exposed to about 300 to 3,000 ads per day around that time. Nowadays, that figure is reportedly more like 10,000 so my point is that people have become desensitised to adverts.

David Olgivy reputedly said “There’s no law that says an ad has to look like an ad”. Actually, I think there are laws that have to tell readers that an advert is an advert – you see the small print in newspapers – alongside the adverts.

I’m told that 6 times more people read editorial than ads, so remember that when writing your copy. Even when you’re putting your ‘ad’ or sales copy in a place where everyone else’s advert is just an ad – just worth bearing in mind.

A Lesson From Antiquity.

From that recap of the last session, I’d like to use this session to summarise the main parts of a sales letter. The mnemonic I came up with years ago is (I think) a pretty handy tool to make sure that you’ve got all the main sections of a sales letter or indeed any sales copy – you can use it as a checklist.

At the heart of it, we can go back over 2,300 years to when Aristotle first coined the phrase “Ethos. Pathos. Logos.” which I personally think exquisitely sums up a lot about salesmanship in one very compact phrase. No Wonder Alexander the Great went on to subjugate most of the known world with a tutor like Aristotle helping him to pass his school-exams in subjects like politics and rhetoric and of course and invading and  conquering. Anyway, I digress, let’s get back to Ethos, Pathos and Logos.

‘Ethos’ comes first in the sequence, which refers to someone’s ethical character – i.e their Credibility. You have to trust what someone is telling you before anything else because if you don’t trust them then you won’t believe what they’ll tell you and if you can’t trust or believe them, then why would you buy anything from them?

Next in line comes ‘pathos’, which involves appealing to the audience’s emotions. This is important because people rarely buy for the reasons they think they do – there’s usually an underlying motive such as fear or envy or pride. That really is key to making people buy. In fact, the word emotion comes stems originally from latin ‘emotio’ meaning “to move out, stir up, agitate”. Remember what I keep saying that “people buy with emotions then justify with logic”.

And on that note, last but not least is “Logos”, which is all about the logical argument or reasoning presented. You might stir someone up to buy the latest greatest laptop which looks sexy and cost twice what others cost but the buyer will still require to have some logical reasons to purchase it to justify it to themselves. Countless times I’ve ended up with electronic claptrap which is gathering dust somewhere which I originally persuaded myself would make me super efficient and which eventually got used maybe three times! I think we’re all guilty of it but the point is we usually need all three to be in place – ethos, pathos and logos before we’ll buy something, unless it’s in exceptional circumstances.

Okay – so here’s that Mnemonic I mentioned earlier :
URGENT AIDA   U – R – G – E – N – T      A – I – D – A
Urgency, Reciprocity, Guarantees, Easy-Going Language, Negatives, Testimonials.
Then the classic : Attention, Interest, Desire, Action

Now, to be clear whilst this is a checklist, it’s not in the right order. Going back to what we said just now, Credibility has to be first.  The Call to action – or perhaps the guarantee – comes last.

So let’s do them in the right order :


Testimonials come first here in this list because they’re there to establish credibility from social proof and ensuring early on in your copy why someone should listen to you or read your content in the first place – Remember the sequence of ethos, pathos Logos.

If you are doing a talk or presentation, this is where you outline who you are and why people should believe you. It’s your opportunity to address your qualifications, time in service, successes (and occasional failures).

Demonstrate how long you have been providing a product/service, especially if it is a long time. But even if you have a new business, how much experience do the owners/suppliers have (combined) – it could be worth mentioning.

Use Facts and Personal History.

Remember, you are trying to build rapport. You need to create empathy and to show the reader that you feel their pain, so make sure to write about your own experiences. In terms of belief though, people usually believe what others say about you more than what you say about yourself.

So you can use this to your advantage – if you’re trying to add credibility to something you’re drawing upon, you can leverage external credibility, such as citing a respected person’s research or findings.

Social proof is an excellent way to establish credibility because people follow people, like sheep and social media is not only proof of that but a great place to establish social proof too.

So, always point out who else is using your products/service. Offer case studies. The more the merrier. Where possible, get people to talk about your product/service in a natural way so that it comes across as real and ideally passionate too. Video endorsements can be amazing for this reason but at the very least use photos of anyone endorsing you or your services. As an aside, having a photo of yourself early on within your sales letter or website is worth doing – remember that people buy from people.

My accountant told me in my first year of business a great lesson in that “your best salesmen are your best customers” which I truly believe and which is why I’m so keen to promote leveraging testimonials and social proof.

You can’t have too many testimonials but you can definitely have too few. Pepper them throughout your copy. Use quotes around them to add importance. Ensure that different stories are included as these are more relevant and interesting than just blatant sycophantic ones. Crucially, make sure that the people giving the testimonials are as real as possible, i.e. include contact details if possible.

Further to that, your testimonials will not only be more believable but more compelling when they are as specific and quantifiable as possible because facts and stories are more credible when they are specific. Don’t just round-off dates, times, numbers – they look more contrived if you do.

We’ll look at a specific example next time …


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Mike Knight