what do you think?


This copywriter was asking r/advertising to critique. Here's what he said...

Spec ad for Banana Republic/J. Crew, etc. for a new line of better-fitting shirts targeted at men. Esp. men who can't find slim shirts with long enough sleeves, so they always end up rolling the sleeves up.

Two headlines:

"Free the sleeves."


"Free your sleeves."

Which is better? Why? For the sake of this exercise let's say these are the only two options...so any opinions like "they both suck" won't really be helpful.


I'm leaning toward "free your sleeves" because it's directed at the consumer, obviously. But I like "free the sleeves" because it sounds like "free the slaves" and would garner attention for that reason...making people do a double take. It seems a tad more clever. I dunno. Maybe I'm just tired and neither is a good idea.

another effective landing page

Here's another example of what an effective landing page looks like.

Again, in the first ten seconds, you know what it is you are getting with this web app. It gets straight to the point. You are given a choice--click this or that, or leave the website.

Oh, I forgot... you need the URL for that website? Click here.

this is what an effective landing page looks like

3 reasons why I think this is an effective landing page:

  • In the first ten seconds upon seeing the landing page, you will know what it is you are getting
  • Spotify makes it easy to sign up using your facebook profile
  • They made it easy for you to see which of your friends are using this web app

weak landing page

  • "Smarter Web Hosting"... Why'd you think it's smarter? Translate that into benefits that I can understand.
  • Don't just say FAST, tell me how fast compared to a well-known benchmark.
  • Modern--who cares? Describe the equipment, how does your server work that's different from what I have now?
  • Flexible setup? What does that mean? Why should I (your target audience) care?

"Feel free to browse around and don't hesitate to email us or chat with us if you have any questions."
What makes you think I will want to browse around? The only reason I found your website is because I clicked on an ad from another website that I wanted to support.

Why should I spend more time looking around your website when the message on your landing page failed to hold my attention?

Your website is today's version of the sales letter.

First, your website has to grab your audience's attention. You can entertain them, shock them, or better yet, give them information that they are looking for.

Next, you have to offer them a solution to their problem. For every claim you make, follow them up with proof elements... statistics, studies, videos...

Like any sales letter, you do not know how your audience is reacting to your message. This is why you have to ANTICIPATE every issue, objection and problem that they might have. You can't afford to not do this. Most websites today try to look hip and "web 2.0-ish" that their audience doesn't get the message. This is why most websites fail to convert.

Now... this website failed to ask a closing question on their landing page. That's a big no-no for any sales person.

You might say that there was a sign up button in bold orange, plus another one for features and prices. That's not enough. Why? The message on the landing page did not get me excited about moving away from my current provider. Why should I click on those conversion buttons.

During those first few seconds when your prospects finds your website, give them your best "reason why". Remember, they are either doing business with someone else, or seriously considering signing up with your competition.

marketing oxymoron

ANNOUNCING... a marketing agency that outsources copywriting content for their own website.

Here is what they expect from you...
** Content Structure

Overview (300 words) - teaser text providing a brief explanation of each service listed
--Selling page (300-500 words)- incorporating our mission statement and voice within the content
----Supporting definition (150-300 words)- explanation of what the specific service actually is and it's connection with relevant services.

** Content outline
----Web Design
------Responsive web design
------UX web design
------Mobile web design
------Web redesign
------Landing page design
----Web Development
------CMS development
--------Drupal development
--------Wordpress development
------E--commerce development
------CRM integration
------Social integration
------Custom applications
----Web Optimization
------Site architecture
------Internal Linking
------Conversion Rate
------Content optimization
--Internet Marketing
------Content strategies
------Link building
------Social media
------Market Research
------Brand awareness
------Direct mail marketing
------Email Marketing
------Reputation Management

headline swipefile

I got these from Rodale.

website critique - top cat

I put numbers on some of the elements on this page as reference. You'll have to click on the image to see more details. Let's go over them one by one.

The image above, is what marketers typically call above the fold. This is your make-it-or-break-it moment. Everything that should be on this part of your website should motivate your prospect to stay and look around.

From experience, fancy graphics is "ok" but may not be that effective. I'd rather use a headline that will highlight your main message. If you have one, I'd use a video that summarizes the benefits that your prospect will get. Immediately below that message, you have testimonials from satisfied customers, more proof elements on how you can help them, plus links to more information.

( 1 ) The font is too small... gray font on black background looks slick, but quite unreadable. The text box script is too fast to read. I think the message used in this text box only tells them stuff they already know and expect from your industry in general.

( 2 ) This is still prime real estate. You need to use this space and tell your prospect what makes YOU different from everyone else.

( 3 ) The background image is good. It tells people what this page is about... what business you are in.

( 4 ) So much space... I'd rather move that brand down, place that in the footer. People do not care much about your brand until they know what's in it for them. Use this space to sell.

To summarize, everything you have above the fold should be about, "what I can do for you"...benefits that people will buy. Use text, video, images... anything that will best send that message. Make it easy for them to find what they are looking for.

shark questions answered

This is for my swipe file. I found this on the local news website. I think this will make a good headline.


Click on the image so you will be able to read the copy better.

After reading it, I hope you will agree that this is the kind of copy you get when you hire "employee-copywriters."

What do I mean by that?

According to Claude Hopkins, copywriting is salesmanship multiplied. Therefore, a copywriter is a salesman. When sales people are paid on salary, they don't have that "Eye Of The Tiger." 

Employee-copywriters, like sales people paid on fixed salary, work hard enough to keep their job, and work harder if they want to move up. Either way, they get paid even if the client's ad fails to make money.

Take a look at the bullets after "The Book Marketing Secrets You’ll Discover on This Page:" Notice something weird about the text? They are all in title caps!

On second thought, I think the writer is a freelancer. I bet that this writer was from odesk. If you read the copy, the grammar is flawed. The ideas doesn't flow. You have to stop now and then to think, "What did I just read? What did he/she mean by that?"

If the person who wrote this copy is a freelancer--I admire the effort. But still, copywriting like this will not sell. I don't think the client will make any money from this ad.

Imagine that this copywriter was an actual sales person sitting across your desk. The way the copy was written, it's as if this sales person is blabbering away while you are trying to be polite. You are probably thinking to yourself, "Soon as he pauses to catch his breath, I am going to get rid of him..."

I know. I'm gloating here...making unnecessary judgement on someone else's work.

Tell you what--I'm going to make changes to this copy, and then you can critique my work. Fair enough? Give me a few days and I'll post a blog update on this.

Here is the link to the image file on my mediafire account. You can zoom in to the image file inside the mediafire website. You will have to enable javascript on your browser if that doesn't work. Or download the image file if you want a copy on your computer.

Here is how I think this copy can be improved...

First, you need to find out--what is the prospect's biggest pain?

For now, let's assume that the prospect wants her work to get attention in the market.

How will I convince her that, by signing up for our service, her work will get the attention it deserves. We want her to sign up for the premium service.

I then explain to her how our service works. I will give examples, case studies, client testimonials, videos and all that. I will then enumerate the benefits she, the prospect will gain upon sign up.

For every benefit that I give her, I will support them with proof elements. "Your book will get reviews from such-and-such... Here's how. This is what happened to Mr. X, who signed up for the service 30 days ago. Here is a video testimonial from Mr. X..."

The copy is going to be lengthy. The more I tell, the more I sell.

As a sales person myself, I am at a disadvantage. The prospect is not in front of me . I don't know how she is going to respond to what I'm saying. The best that I can do is to anticipate how she will respond.

This is why the copy has to be long. If I limit my work to 500 words or less, I am not going to get her to sign up for the service. I can shorten the copy, but I am going to have to use more video with the copy.

I'm going to take a break now. I think I have enough material for my mind to digest.


Ad critique - Forex signal provider

Trading foreign exchange is one of the business that I'm interested in.

This morning, after I fired up my web browser, this banner ad, caught my attention...

The word "Verified" had a nice ring to it. I decided to click on the ad to see what it's all about. This is what the landing page looks like...

The header (that top part of the web page), it was a turn off. That part unconsciously set an alert in my head. My eyes then went towards the headline, "Catch 300+ pips per day with *company name, the world's #1 rated signals engine"

That's where I stopped reading. 

Whatever the advertiser got going for them, they've lost it. Why?

The benefit they were offering was good, making 300 pips per day. It's plausible. What failed them was the next statement, "the world's #1..."

It's an unsupported claim. Even if it were true, I wouldn't use that in my headlines. I'd rather give the facts, then let the reader decide if we were the best or not.

I never bothered looking around to look for proof that they were number one. Their company name was new to me. How can they be #1 when they are noobs in the market?

Imagine this ad were a real person and was selling door to door. They knock on your door, and the hook they use on you is, "catch 300 pips, we are the best in the market." How did that feel?

It tastes flat, doesn't it?

Here's how I might do the ad.

First, I'd get rid of the header. The reader doesn't care about recommending this product with their social network. They will do that AFTER they have long been a happy customer, not before they sign up for anything.

I'd change the headline and get rid of that "world's #1" claim. I would probably use a headline that will appeal to the reader's interest. Or maybe highlight something that is news worthy about the product/service.

I will then go on explain how it is easily possible to make 300 pips from the forex market--how the thing works. 

Etc, etc, etc.

Incidentally, I did scroll down. I wanted to find out what the sales process is about the ad. Sure enough, there were some good points in the copy they could have used as headline. Here's one...

"Each Signal comes with an FX Chart to back the signal! You will see charts showing why the system has predicted a particular move, explain why prices are what they are..."

It's not exactly the headline word for word, but the idea is there.


A few minutes after I posted this blog update, I went to my facebook page to find out what's happening in the world. Etoro is one of the facebook pages about forex trading that I follow. This was on my news feed today...

It's not exactly a signal provider, like the one above. It's more like, "this is how one of our customer-traders are trading, and how those that follow their trades are making money."

So I click on the link to satisfy my curiosity... and got this...

The copy is made to look like a blog update--it is a blog after all. This "blog update" offers facts and information I might be interested in. Claims are made here and there, but it's more toned down. The message comes across as, "this is what's happening... in case you want to know more about it, there's links on the sidebar."

Which of these two do you think is more effective?

Enjoy your weekend!