Hello and welcome to this week’s edition of the Exit Five Weekly Email, a weekly note with B2B marketing lessons & observations, fueled by the community at Exit Five (a private community of ~3,500 marketing pros).
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How To Become a Master-Level Copywriter
“DG: you can’t call yourself a marketer and not have this book in your library.”
That’s the first line of a hand-written note I got a few years ago from Ryan Deiss.
Ryan is the founder of DigitalMarketer.com, a best selling author, founder of multiple companies collectively employing hundreds around the globe, and one of the best speakers about marketing I’ve seen in my career.
The note was in the middle of a book called Breakthrough Advertising, written by Eugene Schwartz. The book was originally published in 1966 and became a cult classic and one of the most sought after books about direct marketing. I had never heard of this book until Googling it and finding it retails on Amazon for $400.
Dang! I guess Mr. Schwartz was a heck of a copywriter in his day.
Ryan’s note said that “State of Awareness, Chapter 2” and “States of Sophistication, Chapter 3) will get anyone 80% of the way to master-level copywriter.”
Here are those lessons from Eugene Schwartz.
State of Awareness:
You must know the “state of awareness” of your market; e.g. how well do your potential customers know you and what you can do? And you need to speak differently to prospects/customers depending on their stage.
“In its natural development, every market’s awareness passes through several stages,” Schwartz says. “The more aware your market, the easier the selling job, the less you need to say.”
Though in 2023 in B2B SaaS, I’d argue it’s not necessarily easier the more they know…it's just more technical and product oriented...but I digress.
As a copywriter, you must tweak your copy to match each level of awareness. Writing to someone that is the “most aware” of your products/services is going to be different than writing to someone who has no idea you exist.
The awareness scale is as follows:
States of Awareness help answer “how much does your marketing know about your product?” and helps you understand which angle to approach your copy from. (Side note, also consider structuring your marketing campaigns around which level of awareness the prospect is in.)
But there’s also another layer to factor in: sophistication. How many similar products have they been told about before?
If you’ve ever purchased software, you may have experienced this yourself. Your first time seeing ABM software you’re sort of taking it all in, getting a broad strokes understanding of what it does. You hear about different features and you’re wrapping your head around how they address your challenges. By the 7th demo you come in knowing the patterns and different features, and have an opinion on which functionalities within features will meet your needs.
Here are the different States of Sophistication:
Not to jump too far ahead, but in the podcast below, April talks about how to position and differentiate in a crowded market...definitely give it a listen if this state of sophistication idea got your gears turning!
Breakthrough Advertising is not the easiest of marketing books to read, but if you can pound your way through it you’ll come out the other side as a better copywriter. And if you’re not willing to dish out the $400 like Ryan did for me, I hope this little explainer gives you a helpful taste for free and will probably lead to some “Eugene Schwartz” Googling for later.
My main takeaway is this: understanding your customer and your market is the real secret to becoming a great copywriter.
The CMO at one of my earliest marketing jobs handed me a fortune cookie paper that said, “Good writing is clear thinking made visible.” I reflect on this a lot.
It’s not about using the most creative and descriptive language or having the punchiest copy. Alliteration and metaphors won’t hit as well as copy that says exactly what your prospect needs to hear, at the perfect time.
Hope you are having a productive week.
🎧 Podcast #97: April Dunford on Positioning, Differentiation, Lessons from 200+ B2B Sales Pitches, and How To Do It Right
This episode ties in so well with this week's exploration of great copywriting because copywriting/positioning/differentiation share the same fundamentals... you have to know what matters to your audience to be great. And April is one of the best there is on this topic for B2B.
I've been studying storytelling and positioning closely for 8 years now starting with my time at Drift.
I've devoured every book and guide out there from the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, Positioning, Story Brand, Play Bigger, Storytelling Secrets, and The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs; I've taken a bit from each and used them to create my own POV on positioning for brands, and it was great to have a chop session with April on these topics. I hope you'll give it a listen.
This podcast is particularly noteworthy for the startup founders out there as we dig into differentiation and how to find yours, and why this goes beyond marketing and must include product, sales, customer success, and the whole cross-functional leadership team.
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