25 Questions That'll Fill Your Copy with Sales-Building Specifics

This will help you go beyond the obvious
You've heard it over and over: specifics sell, generalities don't. That's the mantra of Herschell Gordon Lewis, a veteran marketer with a record of success. But how does a time-starved marketer dig deep when he or she's juggling competing projects and different products or services?

A crib sheet that'll help you dig deep
Use a 25-question crib sheet developed by top copywriter Russ Phelps. Watch out, though. If you weasel out of answering the questions you could be looking at a "marketing accident waiting to happen." Why? It's always tempting to start writing without enough homework. Yet that can result in puffery instead of power and generalities instead of specifics, he says. Before Phelps writes a word of copy, he asks routine questions about the typical prospect, the product or service being offered, its main benefits and the specific problems it solves. But the test also includes less common questions like:

  • Who are the secondary prospects? What concerns do they have?
  • Taboos. What must never be said or promised?
  • External and internal competition. Who are they? Where are you strongest and weakest? Phelps also wants to know if there are in-house competitors (like another launch, another product) that may affect positioning.
Adapted from "Winning Copy Needs Deep Research" by Russ Phelps, DM News, 10/18/04, www.russphelps.com (A free marketing tips e-mail is available)

Crib Sheet
Click: You can read all of Phelps' 25 questions at

Reprinted with permission from
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