Today I’d like to share one of my fave copywriting secrets. This secret helps me connect with you and other readers on an emotional level. It keeps you hanging out in Planet Perry long after you’ve abandoned the other haunts.
The secret is this:
Don’t make people think. Except when you really want them to think.
In sales, making people think is generally a no-no. Stir peoples’ hearts ’til they open their wallets, right?
But I do make you think. The other day a customer said, “When you get an email from Perry, you know it’s going to take some work to follow where he’s going.” Heck, in Maui I spent the first hour talking about Fibonacci numbers.
If I didn’t make people think, I wouldn’t have so many members who earn high-six and low-seven figure incomes. Nobody ever said business is easy – not if they’re telling the truth.
But the reason I can get away with this is….
You never have to waste your brain power dissecting my sentences.
Almost everything I put out reads at the 5th to 8th grade level (age 10-13). The lead article in USA Today this morning reads at Grade 9.4. New York Times: Grade 9. Huffington Post, 9.8. This article you’re reading now, 4.5. An average 9 year old can read it just fine.
If you want to be welcome in peoples’ email boxes, you need to pay attention to this.
I made you a Free tool at
…and I use it all the time. You can paste your text into the box and see the grade level instantly.
When your copy reads at a 5th grade level, it’s primal. Gut level impact. It sails right into your reader’s brain and sticks. Your reader spends his brain cells digesting your ideas, not your sentences. One of the reason Gary Halbert’s copy was so seductive was, it seldom read above 6th grade and often 3rd or 4th.
Right now I’m writing a new book about very complex ideas in biology and it’s never above grade 8. Which means when the book comes out, people will understand what I’m saying.
You achieve this by….
- Never using a 4 syllable word when a 2 syllable word will do
- Using short simple sentences that get right to the point
- Making your paragraphs short and punchy
Keep your copy in the Grade 4-7 range, and even white papers and tutorials below 9. You’ll buzz past the competition and only you will know why. Since age = grade level + 5, you’re ensuring that any 14 year old can understand what you’ve written.
Now there’s one more secret that will help you write great copy. It’s the “You to Me ratio.”
In copy, you should always talk about your reader (“You” – “Your”) more than you talk about yourself (“I” – “me” – “my” – “we” ). 1.5:1 is good. More is even better.
It’s much easier to listen to somebody who’s talking about YOU than somebody who constantly talks about themselves. It’s more fun and it’s less work. Many times you can twist a sentence around and speak from the reader’s point of view. See? Just did it again.
The You:Me ratio of this message is 1.8:1. Which is one reason why you’re still reading now.
Enjoy this tool, and do your friends a favor – tell others about it too:
P.S.: You can use this tool for email subject lines, tweets and Facebook posts too. I recommend Grade 4. Today’s subject line, “How to rivet your readers with ‘primal’ ad copy” is Grade 3.7.
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