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One Secret To Beating The Pants Off A Control


[Note: If you really study this blog today, you’ll be pleasantly delighted to discover a true secret to creating a winning, control-beating piece of copy.

Unfortunately though, I’m NOT going to lay it out on a silver platter for you.


You know what will happen, right? It’ll quickly be swiped, turned into some 3-step formula, blog or top ten listicle. Ad nauseum.

However, if you’re a marketer or copywriter and you’re serious about beating the pants off the competition, a true breakthrough awaits you today.

Let’s get started…]

It’s Friday night, and I’m coming off a pretty good week…

  • With a major Client in a ruthlessly competitive weight loss market, the piece I’ve written for them is breaking records in every way imaginable. Between their in-house list and JV lists, their average upfront conversion is over 10%, the upsells are averaging 20%.

While the Client is frantically trying to handle the influx of new business, in the heat of the moment, I had to remind him “These are good problems to have…”

Cold traffic is in the wings…

  • A major supplement company just reported the piece I’ve written for their beauty product is beating their current control by a comfortable 30%.

And we haven’t even started optimizing.

  • And in the dating market, a launch I’m involved in reported conversions of 3.5% on average and as high as 6%. With as much as $2.00 EPCs. (As you may be aware, 2% conversions and $1 EPCs are considered very good.)

I tell you this not to brag. (We British find bragging uncouth.) I share this with you because in my heart, I want you to know the joy of writing winning copy.

So now the obvious question you may have is…

“How do you do it, Matt?
What’s your secret?”

Like I said in the beginning, I’m sure a formula would be appreciated right now. But that’s not on the cards. That would actually be counter productive to you.

Let me start off by saying this:

Much of my day is spent studying my Client’s competition.

Why? Well to be really straight about it, NOT because I want to be more like them.

I must admit, they are in an enviable position.  I respect what they’ve achieved.  And I want my Client to experience the same success they’re having.

Like it or not, my competition has climbed to the top, and become King of a VERY crowded hill.

My job, my ultimate goal as a copywriter, is to knock the competition off their well-earned perch. To me, they’re a worthy competitor, a worthy opponent.

Now in order to beat them, most copywriters try to accomplish that several different ways.

One rather common way is to swipe what the competition is doing.

This strategy, as you might be aware, is rampant on the Internet. By and large, it DOES work to create copy that converts.

Have I done it?

Sheepishly speaking, yes I have. But it’s been a long time.

In your apprentice and journeyman years as a copywriter, you (falsely) think “all I have to do is produce a piece like that.”

So you copy. Steal. Swipe. Whatever you want to call it.

But as I’ve discovered, while it may make the client happy and it may give you nice conversion numbers, breakthrough copy ISN’T written that way.

Based upon my experience, that strategy will not come anywhere near beating the existing control.

Yet, I’m fanatical about studying my competition.

Why you ask?

Am I looking for their copywriting formula? For the underlying structure of their persuasion strategy? For the regurgitated benefits and bullets every other piece in the market has swiped from them?

As a copywriter, I can’t help but appreciate things like this, but no. That’s not what I’m looking for either.

At this point, I’ll let Neo from the Matrix take over and explain…

Trinity: “Neo… nobody has ever done this before.”

Neo: I know. That’s why it’s goes to work.”


To beat a control, you must do something different.

In my case, I’m trying to do something RADICALLY DIFFERENT from the competition.

Risky? Not really.

“That’s why it’s going to work.”

That may sound brash. Or overconfident. It’s not.

It’s a strategy that works consistently.

You have to understand the mindset of people on the Internet. Your market. They are constantly on the look out for things that are new, different yet still relevant to them.

That’s extremely good news if your job is creating breakthroughs.

So where do you start? HOW do you come up with that coveted breakthrough exactly?

Again, as paradoxical as it may sound, you START by immersing yourself in the competition.

I’ll have more to say about this in the future, but for now, here’s a quick list of I do:

  1. Get yourself something like Religiously start building an online swipe file of their promotions. If they do VSLs and videos, get them transcribed on (As impromptu as they may seem, there’s magic going on behind the scenes of VSLs.)
  1. Next, pull out your credit card and buy your competitor’s products. Study them. Go through their funnel and document it. Experience what it’s like to be one of their customers. This also gives you the added benefit of getting on their mailing list.
  1. Then, reach out to your competitor’s market. Facebook, forums, Meetups, live industry events are invaluable for immersing yourself.
  1. And don’t forget to analyze the sources of traffic. This is often overlooked. Many times a control wins because it’s targeted and optimized to a specific traffic source. Odds are, the same control directed at a different source of traffic will flop. It’s critical you understand the traffic source and its implications.

That list should turn into a neverending source of inspiration for you.

From there? Imagination, creativity and innovation (and yes, a little hard work) are your best friends.

Not to worry, I’ll have more to say about this in the future, but this should get you started…

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