You Did What? Where? How Many Times? Whoa…


People constantly ask me for simple tips to write copy that persuades.

And I like to drop lots of easy shortcuts on my blog and emails.  However, I often cloak them in riddles or inanity.


Because lots of people seem to learn better when rather teased and forced to think.

But get this: While reminding folks about the value of journalism when communicating with prospects…

… I sorta accidentally came up with a VERY cool new twist on a traditional rule.

This is so good that it may just be the Mother Of All Shortcuts to writing killer ads.

Wanna hear it?

Okay, here it is: The fundamental rule of journalism is to communicate the “essence” of a story as succinctly as possible…

… so that even skimmers can get the specifics.

That basic journalism rule for reporting is to promptly deliver on the “who, what, where, why, when and how” of the story.

For example:

“Mayor Flytwaddle, speaking to reporters from his office downtown yesterday afternoon, insisted he did not know the dead hooker found in his secret apartment last night, despite the discovery of his handwritten check for $75 in her purse, nor could he explain how she had a key.”

Or something like that.

The key is communication of the specifics.

Just the facts, m’am.  As Sgt. Friday used to say.

Most folks, untrained in allocating and delivering basic information, sound like this:

“Dude!  It was, like, totally awesome!“…

Now, yes, you could argue that this basic speech contains a primal form of “essence” 

But “essence” isn’t communication. And it doesn’t sell.

Luckily, even the most tongue-tied sap can instantly transform their ability to communicate clearly.

To get better at telling stories (and writing copy), just tattoo this checklist on your forearm and remember to deliver on the “5 W’s + H”:

1. Be clear on Who you are, and who your intended audience is.  

2. Have a freakin’ point.  Explain What you’ve got that is so special.

3. If there’s a deadline for acting, say When it is.  

4. There is always a “Where“, too, virtual or in the real world. Our brains are still wired for jungle living, so always give your reader a sense of “place”.  

5. Explain "Why" it’s so important to hear your message, and why anyone should want to possess whatever you’re pitching.

6. Finally, tell me "How" to get this ball rolling.

But wait…

… I’m adding one more “W”:

7. Take a hint from the tabloids like Weekly World News and the NY Post…

… and add some “WHOA” to your tale.

Shoehorn a truly startling hook or twist that causes me to say “Whoa!  What up with that?”

For an ad to be world-class good, it has to be the best thing your prospect reads or hears today.  It’s got to lay out the basics, yes…

… but more important, it’s got to grab attention, hold it, and deliver on being something that was worth waking up from his zombie-like daze and hauling out his wallet for.

Thus… it’s who, what, why, where, when, how…

… and whoa!

Journalism profs, please take note of this change in the curriculum.

Stay frosty,


P.S. Following my advice above will definitely help you become a better copywriter. But you know what you need to get really, really good… like to a world-class level? 

Yep, you guessed it. Personal coaching.

And as luck would have it, there’s a new SWS Coaching program starting soon. 

Somehow, we managed to snag Lorrie Morgan to coach a small class for a whole year…

You read that right. 

An entire year’s worth of coaching and getting your copy ripped up and shredded by one of the best in the biz. All the details, right here.