The single most important element in copywriting

by Matt Burgess on February 2, 2010

Copywriting is not some “dark art”.

There are no hidden secrets, although some would have you believe there are. In a nutshell, copywriting is essentially communicating ideas in written form.

So why does it all sound so complicated?

Well, quite simply, because you can be overwhelmed by all the different elements that factor into successful copywriting. Elements such as:

  • the headline, which needs to get your attention and draw you towards the subheadline.
  • the subheadline, which explains further.
  • the image, which needs to sell the product.
  • the copy, to sell the main point of the piece.
  • the subheadings, to break up the copy into manageable pieces.

… and the list goes on.

All of these elements have their own particular purpose in effective copywriting.

But I want you to forget all of them.

Instead, I’m going to simplify your copywriting journey by condensing all of those elements into one, single element. And to do that, I’m going to quote from one of the biggest legends in the copywriting world: Joseph Sugarman.

First, some background on Joe.
Joe Sugarman is a writer that you should be reading. Seriously, devour his stuff. The man is widely recognised as one of the most prolific – and effective – copywriters in direct marketing history. He started his own company, JS&A Group, Inc., that became America’s largest single source of space-age products; and he did it all through the power of his pen. And in so doing, showed us all that great copywriting is not complicated.

Oh, don’t get us wrong; copywriting isn’t easy. No one ever said it was. But it doesn’t have to be complicated.

So, how did Joe show us this? I’m going to share what Joe taught, right now.

The single most important element in copywriting.

Joseph Sugarman condensed all the disparate elements in copywriting into one, single lesson, and that lesson is this:

The purpose of every element in an advertisement is to get you to read the next line.

That’s it. Suddenly, copywriting with all its elements doesn’t seem quite so complicated anymore, does it?
If you just remember that one lesson, you’ll be miles ahead of most of your contemporaries. And your online web copy will shine.

The purpose of every element in your copy is to get the reader to read the next sentence.

How to get your reader to want to read the next sentence? Ah, now that’s a story for another post. Subscribe today to learn how.

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