Archive for May, 2008

     It’s widely known that having a deadline in your sales letter adds urgency to your marketing message – and helps increase response. But even better than just a deadline is an urgency story.

     What I mean by that is making a mini-story out of your urgency message. It’s one of the techniques I have used in over 25 years of copywriting that almost always elevates response.

     When I tell students and coaching clients  about  injecting  a story element into their sales letter, they immediately think of the opening of the letter. Actually there can, and should be, mini- stories embedded in the letter. Most of the time, instead of  stating a point rhetorically it is more effective to make a narrative out of it. An urgency message is one of those places where a short embedded narrative can drive home the urgency of acting now. Here are 3 techniques you can use  that have worked beautifully:

1) Event based urgency 
A sales letter I did fairly recently on China stocks was hugely successful. I’m convinced  one of the reasons for its success was this mini-story I wrote within the first quarter of the letter:

“But there is something else about to happen that will catapult selected stocks much higher. And that catalyst is …

…The Olympics

China would be the fastest growing country in the world even without the Olympics. But hosting the upcoming Olympic Games is like dousing gasoline on a fire, making growth even more intense than before. You see, the Chinese government is determined to impress the entire world. China’s top political advisor, Jia Qinglin, recently said, “To host a good Olympic Games is Beijing’s No.1 task this year.” So they’re on a tear – building and expanding to get things done in time. Infrastructure related companies are seeing massive profits and their stock prices continue an upward trajectory.

It’s a rare moment in history…

The biggest industrial boom of all is scrambling to meet a momentous deadline – the start of The Games.”

     So way before the call to action, this copy injected the idea that investors  who want to enjoy the the best returns would need to subscribe now and find out about those stocks. While the reader is reading the rest of the letter, this urgency story plays as a  background subtext. The letter beat the control by 300%

2) Seasonal Urgency
Putting urgency into a  seasonal context has always been effective. In a project for interior designers, I tied the first weeks of Spring with a service about window treatments. The idea was that in the first few weeks of  Spring people start looking outward, literally, and fix up their windows so they can enjoy the view.

     For designers looking for custom window treatment business, this “window of opportunity” to attract prospects while they are in this fix-up mode is brief. So there is a natural urgency for interior designers to use the service I am promoting to attract prospects during this period.

3) Competitive Urgency 
In this technqiue, you are purposely limiting the competition for those who buy your product or service. For this particular client, I limited the number of programs sold per geographic region. In this way, the people who bought were not only getting something exclusive, they could also dominate their geographic  market. So how does it inject urgency? 

a) In order to to be one of a chosen few in your geographical region to get the service, you need to order quickly before you are closed out of  the opportunity. b) I developed the story that this service is so effective, you don’t want your competition to get its hands on it before you do.

     These are just 3 out of many ways to embed  an urgency story into your sales letter.
It is important to make a little of a story out of each message. It doesn’t have to be long. But a narrative of a few paragraphs adds a great deal of  impact to the urgency message. 

     What it does is dramatize the “reason why.” When people are given a reason why they should act now, it makes it real to them. When the reason why is put into a story – that’s when response rates can really explode.
You have permission to reprint this article as long as you include the following resource information, including the hyperlinks:

Leon Altman is a Internet marketing consultant, copywriter and entrepreneur with 25 years of experience. For his free marketing ecourse, go to . For his copywriting services, go to


It’s interesting how marketing principles are so crucial to presidential campaigns.  Just take a look at what has happened with the Democrat primaries.

After the Iowa caucus Obama seized the “change agent” position. It fit him, he articulated well, and he was the first to seize it. In the debate right after, all candidates, including Hillary Clinton, tried to claim they were the real change agent. Too late. Maybe their campaign gurus never read the classic book on positioning: “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind.” If they did they would’ve realized the first one to really seize a market position– owns it.  Once that happens it’s almost impossible to dislodge the business (person) from that market positioning.

 What you need to do is find another way, another angle to capture that same market.  Now it seems that Clinton has finally found her best positioning. “I am a fighter. And you can be sure I’ll fight for you (meaning change).”  It is her way to capture the market looking for change. But as poll numbers indicate, it may well be too late.

The lesson is be very careful of the positioning you adopt for your business. If you are going after the wrong positioning it won’t work no matter how hard you try. You may need to change the message in order to capture your share of the market.

To determine the best positioning for your business, check out this workshop