Joseph Sugarman’s 64 elements of copywriting checklist

Joseph Sugarman is one of the great copywriters.

He’s sold just about everything there is to sell in just about every possible medium to sell it in. In this excellent book The Adweek Copywriting Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Powerful Advertising and Marketing Copy from One of America’s Top Copywriters, he lists 64 elements of copywriting that marketers can use as a checklist when creating their own copy.

These 64 elements were offered by Sugarman as generally applicable to all copywriting, but you will need to put your own twist on these, depending on what you’re selling.

Not every item will be applicable to every ad every time, but marketers need to at least consider all 64 elements and find a way to include most of them into their copy.

JOSEPH SUGARMAN’S 64 COPYWRITING ELEMENTS

Items 1 through 10 are graphic elements; items 11 through 33 are copy elements; items 34 through 64 are psychological triggers.

  1. Headline
  2. Subheadline
  3. Photo or drawing
  4. Caption
  5. Copy
  6. Paragraph headings
  7. Logo
  8. Price
  9. Response device
  10. Overall layout
  11. Typeface
  12. First sentence
  13. Second sentence
  14. Paragraph headings
  15. Product explanation
  16. New features
  17. Technical explanation
  18. Anticipate objections
  19. Resolve objections
  20. Gender
  21. Clarity
  22. Cliches
  23. Rhythm
  24. Service
  25. Physical facts
  26. Trial period
  27. Price comparison
  28. Testimonials
  29. Price
  30. Offer summary
  31. Avoid saying too much
  32. Ease of order
  33. Ask for the order
  34. Feeling of involvement or ownership
  35. Honesty
  36. Integrity
  37. Credibility
  38. Value and proof of value
  39. Justify the purchase
  40. Greed
  41. Establish authority
  42. Satisfaction conviction
  43. Nature of product
  44. Nature of prospect
  45. Current fads
  46. Timing
  47. Linking
  48. Consistency
  49. Harmonize
  50. Desire to belong
  51. Desire to collect
  52. Curiosity
  53. Sense of urgency
  54. Fear
  55. Instant gratification
  56. Exlusivity, rareness, or uniqueness
  57. Simplicity
  58. Human relationships
  59. Storytelling
  60. Mental engagement
  61. Guilt
  62. Specificity
  63. Familiarity
  64. Hope

How to construct persuasive sales benefits

Whether selling through written word or speaking, people respond better to your sales presentation when you sell them on the benefits of your product or service.

There are lots of ways to communicate a benefit but the most persuasive sales benefit I’ve ever seen looked like this (and I’ve written it for a real estate investor but it applies to anyone)…

“Discover the 3 steps you need to take within 45 minutes of investing in a property to increase its value by 25% immediately”

Let’s deconstruct this benefit to see all of the parts:

  • Strong, compelling action verb: Discover…
  • Easy-to-implement action: …the 3 steps you need to take…
  • Timeframe to perform the above action: …within 45 minutes of investing in a property…
  • Measurable benefit: …to increase its value by 25%…
  • Timeframe to realize the benefit: …immediately.

(For more reading on the topic, check out: 37 ways to improve your sales skills).