A while back I read Ca$hvertising by Drew Eric Whitman. Don't judge this book by it's goofy name. It is a phenomenal read on advertising psychology.

There are so many words of wisdom like this:

When you write advertising, on the other hand, you want people to do more than just read. You want them to do more than simply say, “Wow...great ad!” and then toss it into the kitchen trash on top of the grapefruit skins. No. You want people to act now, to place an order or request information that’s designed to persuade them to order. Let’s not kid each other, we advertise for one reason: to make money. Period.

And this:

You see, advertising is a subset of communication. Sales is a subset of advertising. Persuasion is a subset of sales. And psychology is a subset of persuasion. Each is a form of the other, and it all leads back to psychology: the study of the human mind.

This book was written 10 years ago and I still always find myself coming back to it. Since there's just so much information, I threw together a "hotlist" that you can easily reference. Whenever I'm wrapping my head around sales copy or building out a new landing page, this is my go-to resource.

I'll note that some of these are cringe and might not be aligned with your brand. Just use common sense here.

22 Response Superchargers

  1. SCREAM “Free Information!”
  2. FORGET style—sell instead!
  3. WRITE short sentences and keep them reading.
  4. USE short, simple words.
  5. WRITE long copy.
  6. BOIL it down; cut out the fluff!
  7. STIR up desire by piling on the benefits.
  8. SHOW what you’re selling—action shots are best.
  9. GET personal! Say: you, you, you.
  10. USE selling subheads to break up long copy.
  11. PUT selling captions under your photos.
  12. WRITE powerful visual adjectives to create mental movies.
  13. SELL your product, not your competitor’s.
  14. DON’T hold back, give them the full sell now!
  15. ALWAYS include testimonials!
  16. MAKE it ridiculously easy to act.
  17. INCLUDE a response coupon to encourage action.
  18. SET a deadline to break inertia.
  19. OFFER a free gift for quick replies.
  20. SAY the words Order Now!
  21. OFFER free shipping.
  22. BOOST response 50 percent or more with a “Bill Me” or credit option.

9 Ways To Convey Value

  1. SCREAM “Sale!”
  2. GIVE them a coupon.
  3. DIMINISH the price: “Less than a cup of coffee a day.”
  4. EXPLAIN why the price is low: “Our boss ordered too many!”
  5. AMORTIZE it: “Just $1.25 a day.”
  6. BOOST the value: Tell what it’s worth, not only what it costs.
  7. TELL how much others have paid (and we’re happy to do so!).
  8. CREATE a sense of scarcity with deadlines.
  9. EMPLOY psychological pricing.

13 Ways to Make Buying Easy

These are outdated and should be obvious. That being said, I included this one just to note how critical it is to offer a seamless checkout experience.

  1. GIVE your street, e-mail, and Web address.
  2. GIVE your phone number.
  3. PROVIDE street directions and parking advice.
  4. SAY “It’s Easy to Order...”
  5. ACCEPT phone orders.
  6. ACCEPT mail orders.
  7. ACCEPT online orders.
  8. ACCEPT fax orders.
  9. ACCEPT credit cards.
  10. ACCEPT personal checks.
  11. GET a toll-free phone number.
  12. INCLUDE a long, strong guarantee—longer than your competition’s.
  13. OFFER installment payments for products more than $15 (“3 easy payments of just $10.99”), shown to boost response 15 percent.

Headlines Explained

  • Unless your headline sells your product, you have wasted 90 percent of your money.
  • Solution: Put the one thing that’s most important to them in the place where they’re most likely to see it: your headline.
  • Your headline should immediately select the audience you want to hook.
  • A short headline isn’t necessarily an effective headline.
  1. Always put your biggest benefit in your headline.
  2. If you can write two equally effective headlines, the shorter one will likely be read by more people, all other variables being the same.

22 Psychologically Potent Headline Starters

  1. FREE: “Free Book Shows You How to Write Sneaky Advertising That Practically Forces People to Send You Money!”
  2. NEW: “Powerful New Seminar Teaches Flea Marketers the Power of ‘Flea-Psych’ to Drive People Into a Buying Frenzy”
  3. AT LAST: “At Last...A Bakery That Uses Only Organic Sugar, Flour, Milk, and Eggs!”
  4. THIS: “This New Invention Stops Any Attacker in His Tracks Without a Gun, Knife, or Black Belt in Karate.”
  5. ANNOUNCING: “Announcing the Hottest New Sandwich Craze From Southern California: The Malibu Crust Pocket!”
  6. WARNING! “WARNING! Some Dog Groomers Wrap a Noose Around Your Dog’s Neck!”
  7. JUST RELEASED: “Just Released: Psychologist’s Study Reveals Little-Known Speaking Patterns That Immediately Put Rude Salespeople in Their Place.”
  8. NOW: “Now You Can Stop Any Attacker Without Guns, Knives, or a Black Belt in Karate.”
  9. HERE’S: “Here’s How a 95-Pound Granny Made a 275-Pound Psychopathic Killer Cry Like a Baby for its Rattle....”
  10. THESE: “These Three Very Italian Men Make a Pizza to Kill For.”
  11. WHICH OF: “Which of These Hot Bodies Would YOU Like to Show Off?”
  12. FINALLY: “Finally...a Self-Improvement Seminar That Moves, Empowers, and Transforms You for Life!”
  13. LOOK: “LOOK! Now You Can Buy Cotton Candy Machines at Wholesale Prices.”
  14. PRESENTING: “Presenting the Easiest Way Ever Developed to Learn the Piano.”
  15. INTRODUCING: “Introducing the Only Water Ice Stand in Philly that Uses Real Fresh Fruit.”
  16. HOW: “How to Sing Like an American Idol in 90 Days or Less—Guaranteed.”
  17. AMAZING: “Amazing New DVD Lowers Your Blood Pressure by Just Watching It!”
  18. DO YOU: “Do You Know How to Stop Vicious Dog Attacks with the Push of a Button?”
  19. WOULD YOU: “Would You Trade $2 for Our Famous Brick-Oven Pizza?”
  20. CAN YOU: “Can You Be Sure Your Child Won’t Get Kidnapped?”
  21. IF YOU: “If You Hate Cleaning Your Pool, This Ad Brings Good News!”
  22. STARTING TODAY: “Starting Today You Can Dance 97% Better...If You Follow These Rules.”

11 Ways to Boost Coupon Returns

  1. TELL them in the headline or subhead to return the coupon.
  2. SAY “Buy 1 Get 1 Free!” instead of “50% Off.”
  3. USE a big “FREE!” at the top of your ad.
  4. TELL what the coupon brings; say it again inside the coupon itself.
  5. SHOW what the coupon brings with a small photo or illustration.
  6. USE a bold coupon border.
  7. SET a hard (firm date) or soft deadline (“The First 100 People...”).
  8. PROVIDE check-off boxes to get people involved.
  9. SAY “Valuable Coupon” at the top.
  10. GIVE sufficient room for fill-ins.
  11. POINT to the coupon with bold arrows.