Learn how to write sales-oriented bullet points that hit all hot buttons and turn casual readers into rabid buyers.
What You Will Learn
Bullet points are one of the most powerful weapons in the copywriter’s arsenal. Yet they are one of the most underestimated and under utilized, too.
Of course, bullet points can (and should) be used in all kinds of writing. They are fantastic for breaking up lumps of text into easily-digestible chunks. They make it simple to communicate many nuggets of important information in a way that is easy to understand.
However, in this article we are focusing on the area where bullet points have the most dramatic impact - in writing sales copy. Top copywriters understand that learning the craft of writing super-powerful bullets is one of skills that sets them apart.
Also known as ‘fascinations’ in the copywriting world, killer bullet points have the power to make the sale all on their own. In fact, a single bullet point may be the convincing factor that encourages people to click the ‘buy’ button.
That’s why the world’s most highly-paid copywriters write up to 500 bullet points for each sales campaign they work on. Then they whittle the number down until only the most compelling bullets are left.
Parris Lampropoulos, one of the most successful direct response writers of all time, spends 80% of his coaching time teaching students how to write bullets. That’s how important they are!
Why Bullets are So Important
What can you actually achieve with bullet points? A heck of a lot! Here are some answers to that question...and they are in bullet form, of course:
Bullets from the Best
Before we look at some of examples of truly great bullets, let’s clarify the kind of bullet points we are NOT talking about. We are most definitely not discussing the kind of Death-by-PowerPoint, deadly dull bullets that comprise most business presentations - coma-inducing vagueness such as:
Ouch! We’ve all seen these kind of bullets far too often, and we know they don’t work. So what are we talking about? We are concerned with powerful, carefully-crafted bullet points that are designed to have real impact and make sales.
Ones like these, from master marketer Frank Kern:
Here are some more outstanding examples from another legendary copywriter, Gary Bencivenga, writing to sell his own seminar for copywriters and marketers:
The easiest way to control the process of persuasion rather than merely guess at it. You’ll learn that persuasion, like music, comes down to a few simple notes. Master them, and you can play an infinite variety of melodies that are music to your prospects’ ears.
So what’s going on here? The word ‘easy’ is a trigger that hits our desire to have everything the ‘quick & easy’ way. He promises a solution (no more guesswork) and delivers a metaphor that is simple to understand. Finally he creates a ‘mind movie’ of a happy customer - the exact outcome his audience wants.
You will dissolve price resistance and may even be able to double or even triple your original price point because your product will create such white-hot demand from the core of your market.
Another big promise here, and one that solves a major problem his audience faces. This promise is designed to deliver a fantastic outcome (the ability to charge much higher prices).
killer bullet points have the power to make the sale all on their own. In fact, a single bullet point may be the convincing factor that encourages people to click the ‘buy’ button.
The language emphasises the message very clearly (what marketer doesn’t want white-hot demand for their product?)
The best defense against being cheated in a performance-based agreement is to do this...
Here he focuses on one of the biggest fears of professional copywriters; being cheated out of money that is rightfully theirs. And he hints at a way to prevent this loss from happening.
Other successful copywriters are equally talented at writing bullets. Take John Carlton, for example. Here are some of his best bullets:
How to use a little-known “positioning secret” to completely cancel out the superior size or experience of your attacker! (Size and strength are meaningless when you know this secret!)
Here John promises special insider knowledge that gives you a real advantage. He counters the obvious objections to make his claim credible.
The Real Reason people choose to buy anything — the secret truth long known by master salesmen, sociologists and “con men” finally revealed!
Here we have more hidden information of real value that will only be revealed to buyers. He uses the authority of ‘master salesmen’ and ‘sociologists’ to build credibility - then surprises us with the reference to ‘con men.’ That’s sure to get attention!
The 7-step formula that even an illiterate drop-out can use to write advertising copy 100 times more potent than the best Madison Avenue ad agency!
The numbered ‘listicle’ formula is a sure-fire winner, and the bullet shows a path anyone can follow to become successful. The contrast between the ‘illiterate drop-out’ and the ‘best Madison Avenue ad agency’ highlights the amazing possibilities.
Types of Power Bullets
Now that we have seen the kind of sales-generating bullets we are talking about, let’s get into the specifics of how you create them. There are many different types of bullet points, and you should get good at writing all of them.
The time you invest in practising writing all of these bullets will be repaid many times over when you start writing copy that sells on steroids. This is probably not an exhaustive list, but it will certainly give you plenty of options to work on.
1. The ‘How-To’ Bullet
Let’s start with the easiest and most obvious one. The ‘how-to’ construction is a staple copywriting for a good reason - it nearly always works!
But you need to be careful not to wimp out with a half-hearted bullet. Put some effort into making your bullet work hard, emphasizing benefits and leveraging specificity:
How to get an extra 1000 miles of wear out of every tire with a simple trick that costs nothing and takes five minutes to implement.
2. The ‘Truth About’ Bullet
This kind of bullet works really well in markets where there is a lot of controversy and debate. Use it to challenge your readers’ preconceptions:
The truth about Type 2 diabetes, and why it’s an even bigger risk to your health than you imagined.
3. The ‘Give Me’ Bullet
This bullet works because it makes a big promise in return for a small commitment. An ad for a webinar might say:
Give me 45 minutes of your time, and I will show you how to start a successful online business today for less than $100.
4. The ‘Single Most’ Bullet
This bullet works great when you are confident in your facts, and have something that your prospects really want to know about:
The single most effective way of protecting your home against termite infestation, as recognized and recommended by the American Pest Control Association.
5. The Contradicting Bullet
This bullet type works by challenging the reader’s long-held expectations. For example:
Exercise is the best way to lose weight, right? Wrong! Discover why relying on exercise to burn fat is a recipe for failure.
6. The ‘If-Then’ Sequence
If-then constructions are very powerful as a copywriting tactic, and they can be used very successfully in bullet points. They work by associating a desired result with an action that’s easy:
If you can write at sixth-grade level, then you have all the skills you need to become a full-time blogger.
7. The Numbered Bullet
Listicle-type titles consistently outperform other kinds of headlines in blog posts and news stories. It seems that people love numbers, and the format works well in bullets, too:
Three simple ways to legally reduce your taxes that most people have never heard of.
8. Numbered Sequence Bullets
This is a more complex kind of setup where you have a whole series of bullets connected by a common theme. For example:
The 3 Investment Mistakes that Steal Your Money
1. Putting all your eggs in one basket. Why failing to diversify is inviting disaster and how you can fix the problem fast.
2. Thinking locally, not globally. It’s a big world with lots of investment opportunities. Discover how you leverage investments in high-growth regions of the world.
3. Holding onto losing stocks. Fortunes have been destroyed clinging on to losers in hope of a turnaround. Find out how to decide which stocks to sell, and when.
9. The ‘Do You’ Bullet
This format is great for tapping into the conversation that prospects are already having in their heads:
Do you make this fatal mistake on a first date?
10. The ‘Reason Why’ Bullet
The ‘reason why’ principle is a fundamental copywriting concept. It works great in bullets, too:
The simple reason why you are not getting the promotion and salary you deserve.
11. Shortcut Bullets
Everybody wants quick & easy solutions to their problems, and shortcut bullets promise exactly that. If you can justify the claim you can get great results with bullets such as:
The weird trick that regrows all your hair in six weeks…
The sneaky tactic hedge fund billionaires use to make more money…
12. The ‘Quick Result’ Bullet
Here’s another bullet that leverages the universal desire for rapid results:
In less than five minutes, you can learn how to get genuine designer handbags at knock-off prices.
13. The ‘What’ Bullet
This bullet type is so simple that it’s often overlooked. Yet it’s perfect for making important information stand out:
What you must always do before using a public restroom.
14. The ‘What Never’ Bullet
This builds on the ‘what’ format and really taps into the prospect’s fears and frustrations. A classic example is:
What you should NEVER eat on an aeroplane.
15. ‘Secrets’ Bullets
This kind of bullet works really well with any kind of information product, allowing you to hint at really valuable information that only insiders can share:
The seven simple secrets top online marketers use to get an avalanche of traffic to their website for pennies on the dollar.
16. The ‘Little Known’ Bullet
Here’s a useful variation on the secrets theme that taps into our desire to acquire valuable knowledge:
A little known exercise you can do at home that guarantees six-pack abs in just six weeks.
17. The ‘Massive Outcome’ Bullet
If you have a really strong story to deliver, you need to shout about it at the top of your voice in a hard-hitting bullet:
How a broke college dropout used our system to become a millionaire in just 14 months.
Practice Makes Perfect
Remember that getting good at writing compelling bullet points will make a real difference to your future. Whether you are a professional copywriter or a marketer who needs good copy, you must understand the power of great bullets - and how to deploy that power.
You need to be comfortable with all the bullet-point types discussed here, and you must understand why each of the works. When you have that level of understanding, you can combine multiple bullet styles to advance the sale all the way to the checkout.
Don’t underestimate the power of great bullets. They can give you that vital ‘competitive edge’ that makes you more successful that you imagined possible.