13 Point Copy Checklist

I recently changed the fortunes of a lackluster sales letter by doing just one thing:

Adhering to basic Direct Response Marketing rules.

(In case you’re wondering, the sales letter was for a Personal Trainer).

Back to the point of this article: most businesses (online and offline) are still oblivious of direct response marketing, and think the way to make sales is to follow Madison Avenue-esque marketing.

Not so, unless you have an unlimited budget.

So, when business is slow, look first at your sales letters, emails, print ads and so on. Chances are, you’re violating one (or more) of the key marketing principles.

Use the checklist and make sure you’ve included the essential elements:

The 13 Point Copy Checklist

A headline

An attention-getting headline is vital. It must be focused on your target market and address their problems.

A hook

Can you use a story, analogy or metaphor as your hook? Is there a hook or compelling story behind your product or service to make the “deal” more enticing? Think about what you have that your competition does not.

A clear opening paragraph

The first sentence should transition seamlessly from the headline, and should act as a “slippery slope” so that the words continue to engage the reader.

Create authority

Simply put, this means to establish your credentials and demonstrate expertise (without bragging). This can be done in many ways, such as with testimonials, links which prove your claims, screenshots of bank statements/ accounts, or photographs which illustrate results.

Ask yourself: “have I proved that I walk the talk”?

Compelling flow

Does the first sentence compel you to read the second, the second the third, and so on? If not, re-write it.

Summarize the offer

Tell the reader what they get in a few words. Avoid complication and ambiguity, and people will take action. A confused reader will never make a buying decision.

Call to action

Just asking for an order will multiply your results like crazy. Asking for the order several times during your sales pitch will also increase your sales (but not before you’ve given a compelling argument).

Easy to order

Even with a great offer, the ordering process must be simple, or clients will click and leave your website, never to return. Test your order page to ensure it’s A-B-C simple.

Test your offer

Have you tried different prices, options or product/ service bundles? If not, then make it the next thing you do.

Answer objections

Why wouldn’t a reader order? Now, think about how you can counter that objection. Don’t avoid these questions. Instead, raise them in your copy before (or as) readers would logically consider them.

Create liking

Use personal stories so the reader can connect with you. This builds a foundation of trust. Clients do business with those they like when other all other things have been considered.


Why should a reader order now? Don’t lie. There’s no need to, and you will lose all credibility. Identify a genuine reason and include it so that you attract the best clients (e.g. “I only have time to work with two new clients this month”).

Use specifics

Be specific in your copy. This is another proof element and demonstrates that you’re genuine (e.g. “I’ve worked with tons of Dentists in the past” vs. “In the last 6 months alone, I’ve worked with 14 Dentists in the Los Angles area”).


Can you remove the risk from the buying decision? For freelance writers, this could be as simple as offering an editing service, or a money back guarantee.

That’s the checklist.

Yes, it’s simple, but I’m still dumbfounded at how often the marketing basics are ignored. Go through the 13-point checklist above, and ensure you have a genuine sales pitch.

Even a badly-written advert (with the basics of direct response) will outperform an ad that focuses on “message”. If you have a good product or service then tell people what you have to offer, and how they can get it.

Be clear, concise and direct (speak at your intended reader). They will thank you for it.