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How to make your selling points as subtle as a punch to the face

or, how to stop watering down your own benefits

Too much marketing dances round the point. It might touch upon the key benefits, yet fail to drive them home.

So, I’ll share my format that makes each selling point as subtle as a brick to the face.

Or for an analogy...

Let’s imagine you ran a local store. Everyone who tried it freakin’ loves your chocolate covered bacon. They tell all their friends, so you do pretty well through word of mouth sales.

Note: Apparently chocolate bacon is actually a thing. I might have to try this recipe

Yet, you wonder why you don’t get anyone coming in off the street. The only customers seems to be people who’ve heard about it from a friend.

Most websites would be equivalent to having their biggest customer draw mixed in with a bunch of other products at the back of the store. People fail to notice it's there unless they've been told in advance.

Instead, we want to make a great big ‘New York's Original Chocolate Covered Bacon!!’ sign in the window, with a dedicated shelf by the entrance. This way even a casual observer will know at a glance what makes your store popular.

It’s only through clearly displaying the most popular aspects of the store that we could help to draw in passing traffic and it's the same with your product or service.

Why you've got to drive each point home

I’m going to start with two assumptions about your prospects:

  1. They don’t want to figure out what your offering. If they have to re-read something, you’ve lost them
  2. They aren’t going to read every word, so any info at the end of a paragraph won’t get noticed

You’ve probably had a ‘well, duh!’ reaction to this. Yet, I’ve seen big companies fail to consider it.

A common cause is trying to stuff as many selling points as possible into a section. By jumbling them all up together, you give your reader the responsibility to sift through the pile. It becomes their job to make sense of it all, which they're unlikely to do.

One section, one goal

As an example, here’s a section from Square’s homepage. For context, they’re a $bn startup offering point of sale systems.

Square mixing together selling points

Note: Notice how their subhead makes two promises, both of which need supporting in the body copy

It’s a bit of a mix of points that feels a bit vanilla. It doesn't really make a big 'dang, I gotta have this!' promise.’s all about payments. But, ‘payments’ isn’t a key selling point.

As I’ve highlighted, it's trying to address two separate selling points. The section has to juggle the transparency and the speed of payments aspects. That splits its attention, stopping the section from really hitting a home run on either point.

There’s even two mentions about PCI and chargeback that just seem thrown in. The odds are the reader won’t notice them, so I hope they’re not important.

Now, I heard that bait-and-switch pricing was a big complaint about competing systems. So...let's imagine a section that purely focuses on that.

Note: Here's my version that stays focused on one promise

Does that sound any more compelling to you?

There’s fewer claims, but now they all work towards one goal of how Square’s pricing is transparent.

Stake your claim and build your argument

So, now let's see what to do instead.

For a section like this, I follow a basic structure of

  • Promise
  • Detail
  • Proof

Or to show it laid out:

How to lay out a section of copy

This ensure all the copy is working to communicate one point. Every element builds on the same idea instead of trying to cram in different benefits.

DIY Time!

Now it’s time to do your own version. Before writing any copy, try and fill in the following:

Proof 1:
Proof 2:
Proof 3:

Leave out the marketese for now. If your points are strong, you won’t need to dress them up.

As a silly example, let’s pretend we have a sandwich shop. Many people come for our PB&J sandwich, so we want to dedicate a section to it. We might prep for it with...

Promise: The best PB&J you’ve ever tasted
Detail: This isn’t your usual generic PB&J. We’ve fine tuned every flavour aspect.
Proof 1: All our preserves are home made, only using locally fruit picked at their best.
Proof 2: Each peanut butter is mixed to compliment a specific batch of jam
Proof 3: Obama cried when he ate one. We then used his tears as seasoning.

The section the becomes a delivery mechanism to communicate these (and only these) aspects. For the PB&J example, we we'd avoid watering it down by also throwing in a mention of our awesome brownies.

Show me your working

If you aren't sure you've implemented this idea correctly, you're welcome to show me your writing.

Just drop a link to and I'll give you some feedback on tightening up the messaging

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