Gary Bencivenga

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Gary Bencivenga

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Gary Bencivenga is one of the greatest copywriters who ever lived. And he's also one of the nicest guys I ever met.

He's retired now, but his copywriting wisdom is timeless.

I'm going to start this topic by posting excerpts from his "Bencivenga Marketing Bullets" which was a series of articles he posted on his website http://marketingbullets.com/

If he ever deletes the website I'll come back here and post the entire series of articles (with permission of course) so they will not be lost for eternity.
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The Credo Technique

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BULLET #1

The Credo Technique
Stand for something and you'll never stand alone.

Credo (pronounced CRAY-doe) is Latin for "I believe."

The Credo Technique is much more than a technique. It is an expression of your most strongly held core values which serve as a clarion call to gather the like-minded faithful of your marketplace.

You'll find that when you clearly stand for something, you will never stand alone. Indeed, standing for something special in your overcrowded marketplace sets you apart from armies of me-too competitors who try to be everything to everybody, and wind up meaning nothing special to anyone.

Using the Credo Technique is the surest way I know to attract and bond with your kindred spirits, your true believers, your most loyal comrades in arms, your best clients and friends, as I hope I have found in you.

In your copy, especially your Welcome Letter, never be afraid to say with clarity and boldness precisely what you believe and specialize in.
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Apply the 80/20 Rule

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BULLET #2

Apply the 80/20 Rule

I am a strong believer in the Pareto Principle, otherwise known as the 80/20 rule, or the rule of the vital few and the trivial many.

In any human activity, just a small group of factors is responsible for the lion's share of success.

For example, just 20% of the salespeople earn 80% of the commissions.

20% of the authors sell 80% of the books.

20% of your daily activities generate 80% of your success and income.

And so on.

This certainly applies to the factors governing advertising success.

As a result, you don't need to master scores of rules and learn hundreds of secrets. Just a few—the right few—will bring you outrageous success.

In short, you will succeed by mastering the vital few, while others squander their time on the trivial many.
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The Two Most Powerful Words in Advertising

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Bullet #3

The Two Most Powerful Words in Advertising (No, they're not FREE and NEW.)

The problem is, words like FREE and NEW and the big-claim style of advertising they reflect, have been so overused, they have become bright red flags that instantly scream to your prospects, throw me away!

Just ask yourself, do you get overly excited when you encounter an email or direct mail package trumpeting free or new or some fantastic claim to make you rich, change your life overnight or grow body parts bigger than you ever dreamed?

Of course not.

You have heard such claims too many times. Your own exquisitely sensitive mental spam filter rejects all such messages instantly, as you think to yourself, YEAH, SURE.

Get rich quick! Yeah, sure (toss it).

Lose weight fast! Yeah, sure (toss it).

Make $1,000 a week stuffing envelopes! Yeah, sure (toss it).

Elect me and I will make the world safe, cut your taxes and give everyone universal health care. Yeah, sure.




One of the easiest ways to bypass the "yeah, sure" is simply to avoid like the measles phrases so overused, they instantly trigger the Yeah, Sure response, phrases such as get rich quick ... lose weight fast ... and, yes, become a millionaire.

Another way is to sandwich your big promise inside an IF ...THEN construction in your headline.

When you say IF (followed by a requirement your prospects have to meet), it seems to magically switch off and bypass their Yeah, Sure alarm and usher you right in their front door to sell.

Surprisingly, it even works when you make the requirement easy to meet.

If you've got 20 minutes a month,
I guarantee to work a financial miracle in your life.


If you've got 20 minutes a month,
I guarantee a thinner, healthier you.


I know, the promise still seems so big and hard to believe. But that is the power of the IF...THEN construction. For some reason, it seems to put the universal "Yeah, Sure" alarm to sleep.

The formula: a reasonably easy requirement, followed by a strong promise. Think up ways to use this for your own product.
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The Most Important Advertising Question

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Bullet #4

The Most Important Advertising Question

Asking this simple question is the easiest way I know to get yourself and your staff to think outside the box. It can literally make you wealthy and establish your reputation as a marketing visionary with a Midas touch.

Here's the question:

What are we really selling?

For example:
  • You are not selling grass seed. You are selling a greener lawn.
  • You are not selling boilers and BTUs. You are selling warmer, cozier winter nights at a 27% fuel savings.
  • You are not selling baseball tickets. You are selling memories of sunny afternoons that a father and his children will cherish forever.
A hundred years ago, the railroads dominated the American economy. If you had asked the railroad moguls of the day what business they were in, they would have replied, "The railroad business, of course."

But had they raised our 5-word question, "What are we really selling?", they could have realized they were in the transportation business.

And that simple insight could have allowed them to dominate whole new transportation industries that would soon emerge—automobiles, airplanes and trucking, whose revenues would dwarf those of the railroads. But the railroad tycoons never saw these upstarts coming. They were blindfolded by the familiar. They were in the railroad business.
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The Secret of the Red Shirts

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Bullet #5

The Secret of the Red Shirts

This secret is remarkably simple. In the next 60 seconds, it will empower you to open your eyes and see the world in a new way. It will let you uncover many of life's treasures hiding in plain sight, and can be used to obtain anything you desire far more easily.


Let's imagine that you and I are sitting in a large stadium, watching a baseball game on a sunny afternoon in mid-July.

I say to you, "look around the stadium. Take a good look and then close your eyes."

You do so.

Eyes closed? Okay.

I then ask, "how many red shirts did you notice?"

You think for a moment and reply,"Why, I really didn't notice any. I was looking at the crowd."

Just what I thought. When it came to noticing red shirts, your eyes were wide open but you were still asleep.

Alright, a second chance. Scan the crowd again, but this time, look for the red shirts.

You do so and suddenly notice more red shirts than you can count.

Instantly, you have just experienced a quantum leap in your ability to perceive red shirts.

That's cool, you think. But why is this such a powerful secret for mastering marketing ... or anything else in life?

Simple.

For the words, red shirts, substitute blockbuster headline.

Or irresistible offer.

Or product that will make you rich.

Or new report that will sell like wildfire.

You won't likely stumble across any of these things by going through life staring blankly at the crowd. But you will spot them unfailingly once you look specifically, exclusively and persistently for each.

In short, intention facilitates perception.
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The 7-Letter Word That Instantly Multiplies Your Creativity

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Bullet #6

The 7-Letter Word That Instantly Multiplies Your Creativity

The 7-letter word is SCAMPER.

Never heard of the SCAMPER secret?

This one is a real beaut. It will single-handedly let you generate more breakthroughs than you ever imagined, and you'll do so with an ease that will make others think you must have dropped your hair blower into the tub and zapped your brain to a higher level.

SCAMPER is an acronym created by Alex Osbourne, the father of creative problem solving.

Each letter stands for something simple you can do to get a fresh take on anything—a headline, offer, product, market, layout, anything. It instantly gives you easy ways to multiply your number of new solutions.

Whenever you're trying to solve a marketing problem, just start playing with each of the capitalized words in the following list:

S = SUBSTITUTE (a new, surprising or more contemporary element for a tried and true one).

C = COMBINE (successful elements from two or more different sources).

A = ADAPT (a winning headline, product, offer, etc. from another product category).

M = MODIFY, MINIFY OR MAGNIFY (any element).

P = PUT to other uses (who else can use this and why?)

E = ELIMINATE (one or more of the elements that have always been included, and see what happens).

R = REARRANGE, REVERSE OR REDEFINE (any part or the product, selling process or problem you're confronted with).
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Can You Pick the Winning Headline?

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Bullet #7

Can You Pick the Winning Headline?

Which headline was the winner for an aspirin company giving away a free sample bottle?

Headline A:
Tension Headache?

Or Headline B:
When Doctors Have Headaches,What Do They Do?

Hint: Which headline promises the reader more proof?

Of course, it's Headline B, which ties the implied promise (a headache remedy) to a strong proof element, doctors.

When John Caples tested these two headlines, Headline B won by a fat and happy 71%.

It's also a classic formula I've seen used with great success many times, for many health products and services. The single word "doctors" automatically raises response because it raises the level of proof.

Far too many copywriters and marketers focus on just the promise (the flashy, fun part), and ignore the more demanding challenge of building belief. But without belief, nobody buys.

Please mull that over again, slowly enough to let it seep into your marketing memory.

Without belief, nobody buys.

Today, ask yourself how you can make your advertising more believable. Be ruthless—push yourself hard on this. Be a "yeah, sure" skeptic when you read every sentence and see what you'd change to make your copy almost impossible to refute. Ask yourself, "What proof would I need to persuade a fair-minded jury beyond a reasonable doubt that my copy rings true?"
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The Secret of How to Turn a Setback into Triumph — in Marketing or in Life

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Bullet #8

The Secret Is This...

Every adversity carries within it the seed of equal or greater benefit. If, in the grip of defeat, discouragement or heartbreak, you look for that seed and nourish it, you will lay the groundwork for great triumph.

At first, you may think, as I did, that this may be just Pollyanna claptrap, rah-rah "positive thinking" that collapses, like a cheap folding chair, under a two-ton challenge. But you'd be wrong to think that, as I was.

Over time, I found this Silver Bullet proved to be one of life's most remarkable and reliable secrets of success and happiness

How to Apply This to Marketing

My biggest successes and advances in direct marketing have universally come from defeat. Earlier in my career, whenever I lost a split run test against someone else, I hated the experience. I despised it with a passion.

My only consolation for having to swallow such poison was to turn it into medicine—somehow find the good. I learned to ask, "Why was I beaten on this? Why did my copy fail?"
Once I figured out the answer, I vowed, "this will never happen to me again!" And I was that much tougher to beat the next time.

Michael Jordan and Bill Russell, perhaps the two greatest basketball players ever to step on the court, both had difficulty making their high school varsity teams. But they transformed their frustration into fierce determination and prevailed.

You can emulate their attitude every time you experience a setback in your own marketing. Mark my words—your setbacks will yield the secrets of your greatest breakthroughs!
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The Most Persuasive Tool in Advertising and How to Use It

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Bullet #9

The Most Persuasive Tool in Advertising

"How can I sell more product?," is the marketer's eternal question.

If you sincerely seek the answer, just follow my suggestion.

When it comes to creating advertising, most advice is for the birds.

But the greatest secret of success can be found in two little words.

No, they're not, as some have written, those standbys NEW and FREE.

Neither are they NOW and SALE, or even YOU or WE.

No, to open minds and wallets and have prospects eagerly buy,

The most persuasive words in advertising are simply, REASON WHY.

Whether you spread your message on TV, the internet or by letter, you must explain the REASON WHY your product is much better. And while you're at it, don't forget that your audience won't believe you unless you give the REASON WHY what you claim is true.

To close the sale, these two little words once again point the way.

Just give me another REASON WHY I should act today.

There you have it, clear as day. If you want to sell, here's how:

Give good reasons for these three questions—why you, why true, why now?

This little secret works like magic, for all products, in all seasons.

If you want to sell like a superstar, just boldly state your reasons:

First, the reason yours is best. Second, a reason to believe,

And third, a reason to act right now—give these and you'll receive

More sales than you can imagine, gold and riches heaped on high.

The world showers you with treasure when you give the REASON WHY.
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The Secret "Trigger Word" That Makes More of Your Prospects Say Yes

Post by SARubin »

Bullet #10

The Trigger Word That Secretly Persuades People


This Bullet is the companion of Bullet #9, which described the awesome persuasive power of giving compelling "reasons why" in your direct marketing copy.

I'm going to share what I'm convinced is the single most powerful trigger word that makes your "reasons why" hit home with much greater persuasive force. It is the overlooked word that causes more prospects to say "yes" than any other word in the English language.

Why is it so powerful?

. . .Because it triggers an automatic and favorable response in the overwhelming majority of your best prospects

. . .Because it secretly "anesthetizes" the skeptical part of your prospects' brains, seducing them into deciding emotionally, often with little or no critical thinking.

. . .Because you can use this magic word any time you want to persuade almost anyone to do almost anything

Interested? If so, you are already coming under the spell of this magic word in this message because I always use it throughout my copy. (In fact, I just used it in this paragraph and you probably didn't even notice. That's how it works—invisibly.)


If you want to boost your results by very significant numbers—virtually automatically!—start filling your copy with more "becauses."

Why? Because it works!


And, for best results, always follow your "becauses" with compelling reasons why.
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Re: Gary Bencivenga

Post by roark »

Great post! I am really enjoying his material.
Would you happen to know where I can access his “Success Bullets” ezine? He mentions it in his 12th Marketing bullet and I’ve seen links to successbullets.com but the link doesn’t seem to be working for me.
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Re: Gary Bencivenga

Post by SARubin »

roark wrote: Great post! I am really enjoying his material.
Would you happen to know where I can access his “Success Bullets” ezine? He mentions it in his 12th Marketing bullet and I’ve seen links to successbullets.com but the link doesn’t seem to be working for me.
Hi roark, welcome to the copywriters forum.
I'm glad you enjoy the material. I do have the rest of the 29 marketing bullets in my archives, I just got distracted by life and never got around to posting them here. (I can send you the entire folder if you want to have them all)

As for his success bullets... I don't know where to find that at the moment, I might have it in my archives somewhere? But I'm not sure, and I've been unable to find it online anywhere. Sorry.

If I find it I'll post it here for us.

All the best,
Steve
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Re: Gary Bencivenga

Post by roark »

Thanks Steve! I managed to find “Success Bullets:12 Lifesaving Quotations” on Scribd. I think this might be a subset of the ezine but still interesting.
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Re: Gary Bencivenga

Post by SARubin »

roark wrote: October 29th, 2023, 9:59 pm Thanks Steve! I managed to find “Success Bullets:12 Lifesaving Quotations” on Scribd. I think this might be a subset of the ezine but still interesting.
Sounds interesting roark. I'd love to take a look at it if you don't mind sharing. My browser doesn't seem to like the Scribd website and it won't let me interact with it and I can't download the file :(
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Re: Gary Bencivenga

Post by roark »

Here ya go, Steve.
SARubin wrote: October 30th, 2023, 8:53 pm
roark wrote: October 29th, 2023, 9:59 pm Thanks Steve! I managed to find “Success Bullets:12 Lifesaving Quotations” on Scribd. I think this might be a subset of the ezine but still interesting.
Sounds interesting roark. I'd love to take a look at it if you don't mind sharing. My browser doesn't seem to like the Scribd website and it won't let me interact with it and I can't download the file :(
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Re: Gary Bencivenga

Post by roark »

I've also attached the Marketing bullets in a decently formatted PDF, for sake of posterity : )
roark wrote: October 31st, 2023, 10:04 pm Here ya go, Steve.
SARubin wrote: October 30th, 2023, 8:53 pm
roark wrote: October 29th, 2023, 9:59 pm Thanks Steve! I managed to find “Success Bullets:12 Lifesaving Quotations” on Scribd. I think this might be a subset of the ezine but still interesting.
Sounds interesting roark. I'd love to take a look at it if you don't mind sharing. My browser doesn't seem to like the Scribd website and it won't let me interact with it and I can't download the file :(
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Re: Gary Bencivenga

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SARubin wrote: October 29th, 2023, 5:11 pm
roark wrote: Great post! I am really enjoying his material.
Would you happen to know where I can access his “Success Bullets” ezine? He mentions it in his 12th Marketing bullet and I’ve seen links to successbullets.com but the link doesn’t seem to be working for me.
Hi roark, welcome to the copywriters forum.
I'm glad you enjoy the material. I do have the rest of the 29 marketing bullets in my archives, I just got distracted by life and never got around to posting them here. (I can send you the entire folder if you want to have them all)

As for his success bullets... I don't know where to find that at the moment, I might have it in my archives somewhere? But I'm not sure, and I've been unable to find it online anywhere. Sorry.

If I find it I'll post it here for us.

All the best,
Steve
Hey SARubin! I would love to get the 29 marketing bullets. Can you send them to me if you have the chance?
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Re: Gary Bencivenga

Post by SARubin »

Tobias wrote: December 18th, 2023, 11:51 pm Hey SARubin! I would love to get the 29 marketing bullets. Can you send them to me if you have the chance?
Hey Tobias, welcome to the forum.
The download that roark posted above has most of them, and I think my folder has a couple more in addition to that.
Sure, I can send them to you in a PM...
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