The Argument Between My Sister And I Required Mediation

You may know my sister, Rebecca at

I’ve mentored her as she’s become a copywriter. Well, sometimes she tries to tell me, the TEACHER, that I’m wrong!

This particular argument required Michel Fortin to step in and break it up. Here’s my question to Michel and his response…

My Question:

My sister and I have been arguing about benefits in your QUEST formula.

She tends to put many general benefits in the stimulate section right before the transition section. The formula calls for more benefits in the stimulate section, but I feel like they should be more specific, so I tell her to change them. An example would be…

For say a “make money” product, she would put “leave your corporate job!” in the stimulate section. I guess I can see that works. But I might put something like that earlier (almost like a qualifier) and be more specific in the stimulate section, like “start receiving $100.00 checks in the mail!”.

Hopefully I described it well, what’s your take?

Michel’s Response:

The answer is… it depends. It depends on the market, the product, and the chosen “hook” (the platform upon which your story will be built).

In fact, this also goes hand in hand with my OATH Formula.

For instance, if your market is, say, “Apathetic” if not “Oblivious,” then you need to educate them on the problem first before you sell them. You need to qualify them a lot more, too. You might even need to drive the fear factor a lot earlier, too, to get them to fully appreciate not only the problem but also the gravity of the problem—what Dan Kennedy calls “Problem-Agitate-Solve.”

Let’s say your hook is about making money to live the life of your dreams. Your entire story is about the benefits of quitting your day job. And your market is unaware of the consequences of staying in that job (they’re apathetic). Then the benefit “leave your corporate job” (followed by reasons why) is a core benefit. In this case, I would use it much earlier in the QUEST formula.

Why? Because leaving your job is a core benefit that’s intrinsic to the “understand” section because it ties the main story to your market, and the specific situation your market is in that your solution solves. If you pontificate on the wonders of financial freedom as the main thrust in your argument, then “leaving your day job” is a frontend benefit. And it needs to be driven home much earlier.

But if it’s a lateral benefit, that is, a by-the-way benefit (or backend benefit), then it can be used further down, in the stimulate section. Because then you want to pile on the benefits. If the benefit like “leave your day job” is more like the part of many benefits of buying the product, then it’s a backend benefit. And it can and should be used in the stimulate section to cover all the bases, pile on the benefits, build more value before the close, and so on.

In fact, using it at the end like this makes it less of a benefit and more of a rational “reason why.” Remember, people buy on emotions first and then justify their decisions with logic. And giving them actual, logical justifications later on in your copy is not only good practice, but also giving them ammunition they can use and even own to justify their decisions to themselves—and to others around them.

So “leave your day job” is not so much a benefit as it is a logical “reason why.” (That said, it can be used anywhere in the copy, and I don’t want you to think that following my formula means that the structure is written in stone. Sometimes, it can be used earlier on if it’s appropriate and conducive to the proper flow of the letter.)

Anyway, here’s an example. Let’s say you sell a stock trading product, and your main hook is that there are massive market shifts going on right now that, if the customer doesn’t take action today, can be missed.

The ability to make money with the stock market (and leave your job) is a side benefit—or a more generic, overall benefit, since pretty much all stock trading type infoproducts promise the same thing).

And since making money leads to, among many other things, quitting your day job, then it becomes a backend benefit rather than a frontend one.

That said, however, if your product’s main hook is its ability to make a lot more money than any other program out there, for example, then it’s a frontend benefit, and would probably be better earlier on.

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