The Power of Words is Vastly Underestimated

[This article appears courtesy of THE SUCCESS MARGIN, the Internet’s most valuable success and marketing e-zine. For a complimentary subscription, visit

I’m constantly hammering away on the importance of the words used in sales copy. Especially in headlines.

But, dear reader, the reality is few really “get it.”

Today my goal is to change all that for you.


By using several examples that I believe will drive home the importance of words even further for you. And hopefully inspire you as well.

I will share valuable lessons based on experience which also taught me so much about the power of words.

My goal is to help you become a far more successful marketer.

A few brief background experiences may be of help.

My first business beginning at age 21 was a roadside candy and ice cream parlor.

The first name I used was:

Peterson’s Home Made Ice Cream and Candy

Then I simply changed the name to:

Peterson’s House of Fudge

The result was an immediate sales increase by 10 times. That’s 1,000%!

My first promotions for my new confectionery business were not in print. They were on giant roadside signs at least 50 feet wide.

You know the kind -14 miles to Peterson’s House of Fudge. 10 miles… 7 miles … 1 mile…

I began experimenting by adding small additional signs with a few words of copy on the large billboards.

The number of customers who stopped and spent money in my shop was amazingly different depending on the copy used on each sign.

For example, when I added two words “Free Samples” on the sign 1 mile away. Result? Business doubled instantly!

I also had good success with added signs on each billboard with the following copy:

— See Candy Made

— Bring the Children

— Meet Miss Fountain Fresh in Person

— 77 Flavors of Fudge

— Try Delicious Mint Velvet

Words used in naming any business are also vitally important.

There is no question that creating your company name is a crucial marketing decision.

Here is an example.

I founded the very first direct to consumer incorporation company in the U.S. in 1972. Unlike competition, I dealt directly with entrepreneurs. Competitors at the time would only deal with lawyers.

I named the business:

The Company Corporation

Is that a good name?

Everyone who heard it seemed to remember it. And comment about it.

The Company Corporation soon became the largest incorporation company in the U.S. and the world.

When I sold it in 1991 I had over 125,000 clients.

After I sold, I acted as The Corporation Company’s marketing consultant for several years, until it was re-sold. Today the business has over 350,000 clients.

I’m always astonished by what seems to me the little attention most entrepreneurs give to the words in their company name.

I love to create great company names. It’s so incredibly important.

And it costs you no more to have an exciting and memorable name than a dull and boring one.

A brief story.

In early 1993 at one of my first seminars, one of my attendees, Lori Prokop, approached me.

Lori explained she was homeless and living in her car just 2 years earlier.

She and her husband owned a butcher shop in a small Minnesota town.

But they were about out of money. They were planning to pursue what they saw as their only option – to file bankruptcy.

She asked me if there was anything that could be done to save what seemed like a hopeless basket case.

My response was that I wasn’t sure what to suggest until I had more information. “Tell me more,” I said.

Lori went on to say that the butcher shop was on the outskirts of town. There was new road construction in front of their business.

So when you visited the shop, it was impossible to avoid getting muddy shoes.

I then asked Lori to tell me about her husband, the butcher. Lori described how the customers loved him and how he hugged each of them when they shopped.

Then an idea popped into my mind.

I then posed this question to Lori.

Do you know a good sign painter?

She said yes.

I then suggested the following plan (which would cost less than $250 total).

(1) Change the name to:

The Hugging Butcher

(2) Install a giant wooden sign on the front face of the store with the new name in giant letters.

(3) Create 5,000 flyers announcing the grand opening of the new butcher shop.

(4) Distribute the flyers on car windows in the nearby communities to the shop.

(5) Offer an amazing guarantee. Guarantee that every Hugging Butcher customer would get a warm hug from her husband!

(6) Continue to offer the best, quality meat in town. (Which was also the highest price.)

The local newspaper heard about the shop. They decided to do a story about the interesting “new” butcher shop. They ran the story.

Result of the publicity?

A huge turnaround for the butcher shop and remarkable success!

The very first weekend after the grand opening the shop was packed with customers.

A few years later the shop was sold at a big profit.

Today Lori and her husband are publishers of information and success products. They now live on a 20-acre estate.

What power do you think the new three-word name change, The Hugging Butcher, had? Can you see that it helped to reposition the entire business? And generate such a success?

Product names are also highly important.

A good name has an enormous impact on sales. Up or down.

Yet few entrepreneurs have really good names for their products.

After working hard on building the business and having good products, it’s astonishing to see boring product names used.

Yet success or failure does not depend on quality alone. It often rests on a “hot” product name.

It’s no wonder that even world-class, successful marketing companies such as Proctor and Gamble with amazingly dull product names succeed in just one out of five new product launches.

I love to shop in supermarkets. It’s always a kind of marketing lesson for me.

When I look at the names of most new products on the market, I can understand the high failure rate.

The next time you visit a supermarket I suggest you look more closely at the names used on products.

How many really great names can you find?

Perhaps books are the number one example of the importance of a good product name.

A book title is really a headline for a book.

Yet it’s well known that 95% of all new books published never sell out the first printing of usually around 5 to 10 thousand books.

Book titles are usually given to books by editors who, bless their souls, tend to know zilch about marketing.

Look at my book titles:

— “How to Form Your Own Corporation Without a Lawyer For Under $75”

I wrote 217 titles before choosing this, the longest one. This is the largest seller of any title in history on incorporation. Sales to date are over 2,000,000 copies!

— “Magic Words That Bring You Riches”

A perennial best seller.

— “How to Turn Words Into Money”

An “evergreen” book which will sell forever.

— “Billion Dollar Marketing Secrets”

My latest “baby.” When I state the name alone, most people want to buy it.

Because it’s so important, I invest lots of time to come up with my book titles.

Most writers will spend a year or two writing a book. And 20 minutes on the title.

This is dead wrong.

I write hundred of titles and choose one before I write a single word of copy for inside the book.

(In fact, I write the table of contents using magic words for the chapter titles before writing a word of the book itself.)

Of course, I emphasize the very same elements for copywriting and joint venture clients.

Bill Fischer, for example, came to me with two failed books.

He really needed help. I turned both into best sellers.

The first I renamed “How to Fight Cancer and Win.”

The second was originally called:

“The Mysterious Causes of Disease”

I changed it to:

“The Mysterious Causes and Cures of Disease”

Adding a single word to the title made all the difference between failure and success.

One fact is certain, consumers don’t care nearly as much about “causes” as they do “cures!”

I also created five free bonuses and created names for them. They were offered to the prospects as an added inducement to buy the book at once.

1. The Truth About a More Exciting Sex Life

2. How to Take Off the Pounds and the Years

3. Nutritional Secrets to More Youthful Skin

4. How to Improve Brain Capacity Naturally

5. How to Increase Your Energy and Enjoy Living Longer

These days free gifts are a must to help induce highly successful offers.

However, as with products you sell, the title of your free gifts are very important. And has everything to do with the success of your offer.

Tip: To be successful, any free gift you offer must be so appealing the prospect would gladly invest his/her money to buy it.

What about a weak or a poor free bonus? What will happen to sales?

A poor free bonus with a dull name will not boost sales. In fact, it will dramatically reduce sales!

One of the main secrets of creating a successful marketing program is this.

Really study the product wearing nothing but your marketer’s hat.

Your job. To identify as many benefits for the reader as possible.

For example, when I wrote the headline for Bill Fischer’s book eventually titled “How to Fight Cancer and Win,” I didn’t find the headline until I studied the whole book. I came across the winning “big idea” on page 117. Here is the final headline for the 16-page sales letter mailed in the millions.

“How to Prevent and Even Cure Cancer by Eating Two Natural Foods!”

I’ll bet you’d like to know what these foods are.

Am I right?

The mailing offline for this book averaged 500,000 to 750,000 pieces. They cost about $1.00 each to mail.

Bill Fischer is now retired due to this one sales letter. He loved the copy don’t you think? And my successful copy for the book is still being used today. Online and offline.

Final point. Testing of all elements of copy is necessary.

Possibly the very best thing about the Internet is how fast and inexpensive it is to test important elements of your copy.

This, of course, includes product names, company names, headlines, offers, the all-important body copy, and the P.S.

Good testimonials are also very important and should be tested as well.

When I began direct marketing offline in 1973 there was no Internet. Testing was much more expensive and time consuming. It could take 2-3 months to get a read on any test.

Now on the Web you can get an accurate “read” in just 24-48 hours!

There is every good reason to frequently test and re-test your copy elements online.

And remember.

A single magic word can be the difference between earning great wealth. Or being unsuccessful and flat broke!

Sales Letter Design Tips – Text, Colors, White Space?

An effective sales letter design is not just about the words you use, but the complete well crafted picture that entertains your reader.

Common Website Design Mistake…

Have you ever seen a sales letter or visited a website that had so much jammed into it that you couldn’t see what the heck any of it’s about?

Some people think the more they can cram onto their website, the more effective it will be.

But in fact, bunching up all your text, links and ads in the one space has the opposite effect.

Remember, “the confused mind always says no”.

If you want your visitors to stay on your website, you need to think about the layout and design.

Copywriters are Artists

You might think copywriting is just about the words we use.

Words are very important to communicate the meaning but designing the words in such a way that is creates an attractive overall picture is key to getting readers’ attention and keeping it!

Tips On Text, Color, White Space Etc.


First, let’s talk about text formatting and design.

There are a few text design elements worth considering.

  • Font
    – choose an easy to read font (particularly for headlines – Tahoma, Arial, Georgia)
    – be consistent! use same font for paragraphs and same for headlines.
  • Sentence length
    – not too long – keep sentences short and simple
  • Paragraph length
    – never go over three lines
  • Bolding, emphasis, highlighting
    – use sparingly


A word on color

  • Black text on white background
    – never type white on black
  • Headlines in Red/Blue
    – or another contrasting color that matches the website theme
  • Yellow highlighting
    – super effective when used sparingly
  • Website background color
    – choose a color that’s easy on the eye. Eg. light grey, light blue, white or black
  • Avoid bright fluorescent colors
    – eg. pink, orange, yellow, green…anything that will burn your reader’s retinas.


White Space is what we call the space on your website or sales letter that is just bare space….just blank white space.

At first, you might think that having white space on your page is a waste of space….but white space is not a waste of space at all.

It’s very, very important if you want your readers to stay on your page.

Like I mentioned at the start of this post, a cluttered website (no white space) is going to confuse your visitor.

Visitors will leave before they read even one line and this is because they won’t know which line to read first.

Cluttered websites are ineffective. Use white space to make your website easy to read and understand.

Places to look out for white space include…

  • Line spaces
  • Paragraph spaces
  • Margins
  • Between images and text (more about images below)
  • Padding in cells and tables


A few other design tips to stop your reader from skimming and offer a little entertainment value your reader include video, images, johnson boxes, bullets, etc.

Basically, the purpose of these are to give your page some contrast. A page that looks the same from top to bottom won’t intrigue the reader much.

Images and johnson boxes will break up the monotony and stop the reader from skimming.

Images can really enhance the experience for your visitor but using too many or distracting images will take away from the effectiveness.

Images are great, but they are not everything.

You can take away the images and your words can still do a good job selling. But take away the words and only leave your images…how well do you think your images can sell?

Thanks for reading!

Stuart Stirling

What To Test With Sales Letter Split Testing

We know that split testing is the best way to refine our sales copy to find the best converting letter.

But what are the things we need to split test on our sales letters?

If you really wanted to, you could go on split testing every element of a sales letter forever.

It depends on how far you want to take it, but for the sake of time and energy, let’s take a look at some of the most common areas of a sales letter that are split tested:

Headlines – wording, color, font, size/length.

Video/audio – compare results with and without.

Testimonials – with or without, many or few.

Graphics – with header graphic, without header.

Bonuses – with or without, many or few

Price – some people prefer the magic “7” i.e. $17, $47 or the .95c option i.e. $19.95 $49.95

How many different versions of each you want to split test is up to you. Some marketers have experienced drastic results with just testing different headlines.

Most good website/affiliate scripts allow you to split test sales letters. If not, there are some stand alone split testing scripts and software available.

Some split testing software is cheap and some are expensive. But it’s a good idea to use split testing so you can constantly track and improve your sales letters’ conversion rates.

You’ll be leaving a lot of money on the table if you don’t.

Stuart Stirling

How a story will keep people reading your sales letter

People love to hear and read stories. Take a movie for example. That’s just a story made into moving picture.

A sales letter that incorporates a story will make an impact and get people to read your letter.

Here’s why:

Would you walk out of a movie half way through, before the story ends? Not likely. You want to keep watching to see what happens in the end.

All of the highes onverting sales letters contain a story. But keep reading. Some copywriters think, “OK, I’ll write a story in the first half of the letter and that should do the trick.”

That’s good, but you can do better.

Think of the whole sales letter as a story. It has to flow. It has to make you want to keep scrolling to read. This is where I pay detail to sub headlines.

Most potential buyers won’t read your sales letter word for word. They will stop at headlines and boxes and the order button.

Tell your story through the headlines. Yes, you can still tell a detailed story at the beginning to spark that initial interest but keep it going throughout the whole page.

All the best,
Stuart Stirling

Writing Responsive Email Subject Lines

A bit part of marketing online is email marketing. I’m sure at some point in your career online, you will be sending out some sort of email promotion.

To cut a long story short, a promo email is very much like a mini sales letter.

You draw upon the AIDA system to get them interested and taking action. In most cases, that action will be to visit the sales page for the product you are promoting.

But don’t let that be the benchmark…I’ve heard and witnessed marketers actually give you an order link or order instructions right there in the email body!

But the one thing that is different with an email to a traditional web page sales letter is that you have to get the reader to OPEN the email before you can give your sales pitch – which is often the bigger challenge.

Your email subject line needs to be the trigger.

So how can you trigger someones interest in just one line of text?

Great question and one that baffles many internet marketers.

First let’s look at what NOT to write in your email subject line.

When I was just starting out online, my subject lines really stank.

  • They were too general.
  • They didn’t list any benefits.
  • They blended in with all the other spam emails others were sending.
  • The result – the trash box or in the bad cases, the SPAM bin.

So here are some tips for writing KILLER subject lines that will get your email open!

  • Use the reader’s first name in the subject line. Most good auto-responders let you insert the name with a small piece of code.
  • Don’t beat around the bush fluffing it up – just write what the offer IS! In other words, don’t be misleading and don’t try to put a shiny cover on it. Simply explain what it is your email is about.
  • Use trigger words like “Free”, “New”, “Limited”, “Exclusive”, “Download” etc. People love getting a good deal or being treated special.
  • Use some controversy. People want to know the “goss”.
  • Use Upper Case On The First Letter OF Each Word….just like that. However, DO NOT use ALL CAPS in the entire subject line. It will get spammed by the recipient if it didn’t already by their ISP.

NOTE: Take into account that different lists require different styles and levels of “pitch”. That should be left up to your discretion.

As with many things, practice makes perfect. Write a few different subject lines for each email you send out and then send it to yourself. Have a look and see what it looks like in your inbox.

To your email success!

Stuart Stirling