If your a marketer, you will know that copywriting is probably the most important thing to drive results.

And nobody has driven results more consistently in direct response marketing for as long as Agora Publishing has.

To outsiders Agora is know as the billion dollar company that nobody has ever heard of.

To insiders it’s a company known by all the best marketers to be a world leader in hyper-effective copywriting.

They use this copywriting to communicate exclusive cutting edge research about finance and healthcare to clients.

So when a message was delivered in the inbox one day inviting me down to the Agora copywriting camp being hosted at their London offices it was an offer I couldn’t resist.

Designed to give attendees unfiltered access to the largest volume direct response marketing campaigns in the world and condense 10,000 hours copywriting knowledge from the sharpest minds into a couple of weeks of high intensity hands-on training.

This was the first of it’s kind being ran in the UK, and has previously been ran across the pond being described as have “Navy SEALs” intensity.

Working everyday until our brains were fried, the agenda followed as such:

• Learning principles in the morning.

• Using the principles to write around topics during the afternoon.

• Doing copy reviews on the writing until the evening.

… Rinsed and repeated. All day, everyday.

In what can only be described as a software upgrade on writing killer direct response letters here are a few pieces of the training that could help you achieve more..

The fusion of an idea and it’s expression

Agora is the old greek word for marketplace.

And Agora Publishing revolves around it being a market place of ideas.

The idea or ‘angle’ that you revolve your copywriting around is the first key principle.

The idea is viewed as being that important that the whole company is founded behind this principle.

Ideas are required to be actionable, urgent and new. As no piece of copywriting will cut through the attention economy faster than an idea fitting those criteria, who’s time has come.

On the same note, if the idea doesn’t fit this criteria, even if the expression of the idea is done in the best way possible it won’t generate response.

Just like David Ogilvy said “Unless your advertising contains a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night.”.

Lead Types

The following chart was burned into our retainers so often that it was even suggested that one might want to get a tattoo of it for a reminder of it’s importance.

To understand the charts depth I strongly recommend reading Great Leads: The Six Easiest Ways to Start Any Sales Message by two of Agora’s founder Mark Ford and John Forde.

In it’s essence though, a lead is how you introduce any given product, service or informational product.

Typically that’s the first 2-4 pages of a sales letter of landing page.

And because all great copywriting starts with the customer, by reverse engineering where they are in the buying cycle and level of awareness to your product or market, it will instruct you to how you should begin the lead.

Mark and John’s diagram is an advanced version of that found in Gene Schwartz’s book breakthrough advertising. Because you would change the message based on the level of your products awareness. For example if you are targeting a message to a completely unaware audience, then the best way to lead it is with a story. On the opposite end of the spectrum if your audience knows about you, knows what you sell, knows the competition and products in the market then starting directly with a right hook on an offer if the most effective.

Headlines

Once you understand what lead type is going to be used. Knowing how to capture that initial attention from your headline is probably then the single most important factor of the sales letter.

With the average consumer seeing around 3,000 advertising message per day the headline has to fight for the readers attention.

It should stir curiosity, provoke an emotional response, stimulate desire and pull the prospect into the rest of your lead.

This was also that important that we spent days on learning about the various components of a headline complex, different headline types, the four U’s of a headline and analysing the best result producing headlines in Agoras 40 year history.

The anatomy of a sales letter

It’s not just about knowing how to produce the right words that work, but the the right words that work in the right sequence.

Here we learn’t all the in’s and out’s of using the various different kinds of proof (the most important element in any persuasion equation), the golden thread, design, offers, premiums, false closes, pictures and promises, closes, calls to action, guarantees, risk reversals and the small but powerful P.S closers.

One of the most important thing I learnt here was the rule of one. Landing pages should stick to just one key idea and driving that idea with one key emotion.

As simple and easy as that sounds it was probably the hardest thing to execute on.

Lead Generation and Special Guests

Towards the end of the camp the Agora integrated marketing team came over from Ireland to show us the front end of how they drive traffic to all the copywriting and the art of making sure that the traffic, the landing pages and prospect follow up is all aligned. Additionally one of the founding team members of Agora dropped in to share his past experiences of how copywriting has developed over the years he has been working in the space.

If you’re interested to see some of the ideas and copywriting that Agora produces you can check them out in the following links: