Copywriting Secrets That Have
Made Me Over $4 Million
Writing For Nutritional
A rare and revealing interview of MIKE PAVLISH, superstar copywriter for nutritional supplements (conducted by Michael Senoff)
Mike Pavlish has made millions of dollars as one of the world’s top copywriters for nutritional supplements and newsletters. Established in 1988, he’s written over 300 promotions for direct mail, print and online
He has written winning copy for clients like Hampshire Labs, Proctor & Gamble, Healthy Habits, RGarden, Healthier You, Natures Aid, Agora, Health Laboratories, Jenasol, SmokeAway, Health Direct, CortiSlim, FC&A, Botanic Choice, Gero Vita, Prentice-Hall, Aloes International and many others.
Mike knows the secrets and tips that create high-profit new control copy. And he’s found that today’s market is significantly different than it was even just a few years ago. In fact, he says much of the advice given nowadays is not only outdated and wrong– but it’s costing entrepreneurs serious lost money.
So in this interview, you’ll hear how to make sure your copywriting is current for the consumers
of today. These consumers have grown skeptical about overly hyped products and outrageous claims.
They also don’t have time to read through mountains of copy, especially if it sounds like something
they’ve already heard before.
Fortunately, though, there are specific techniques that appeal to this new generation of
consumers, and in this interview, Mike’s going to reveal what he’s learned over the years. Here’s what’s waiting for you in this interview
• The secrets on how to write the headlines that stop readers in their tracks. • How to work your copy so it’s fresh for today’s market – consumers avoid the same old, same old – and so should you
• How to use a focus groups to discover hidden objections about your product.
• How to use the internet to uncover what people really want
• What’s most important for winning promotions - it’s NOT the headline, offer or the list. • How to pay a top copywriter so you maximize your profits
• Sneaky little tricks to increase your response from direct mail
• And much, much more
Welcome.. It’s Michael Senoff with Hard To Find Seminars. Mike Pavlish has made millions of dollars as an A list copywriter for natural health supplements and publications If you are a direct marketer, follow Mike Pavlish’s advice and it won’t be long before you’re way ahead of the competition. Now, let’s get started.
Michael: Mike, how successful is your copywriting for natural health marketers? How much do you earn as a copywriter?
Mike: Well, to give you an idea, in recent years, I’ve paid taxes on income of over $4.2 million
dollars from my copywriting for other marketers.
Michael: Now, I’m sure when you first started, it wasn’t always like that. I want you to take me back to the beginning. How did these all started?
Mike: I started copywriting in 1978 and the reason I did was, as an entrepreneur, I owned
businesses that relied heavily on sales and marketing. I had to sell my own products. Michael: I’m going to guess, that’s where - maybe you’re introduced to Jay Abraham and Gary Halbert and all those guys.
Michael: Were you studying any of the copywriting masters?
Mike: I was studying John Caples. I still think he has the best books for a person who wants to
become a great copywriter. I also learned a lot from scientific advertising by Claude Hopkins Michael: What do you think of Gary Halbert’s stuff? Did you know him ? Mike: Yes, I knew Gary for many, many years.
Michael: How were you introduced to him?
Mike: I was introduced to Gary by Tony Keyes who had a company in Las Vegas. Actually, what happened with Gary Halbert was funny. It was right before my wedding in 1990. He wanted me to speak at one of his seminars in Marathon, Florida where he lived.
I think I was going to speak four days before my wedding and I told him that. He said, “Screw the wedding, this is important.” So I came down and spoke there. My wife got to relax before the wedding, so it worked out good. And then I spoke at his seminar of the century in Los Angeles. Michael: Did you study his stuff and read his newsletter?
Michael: Where you impressed with his skills as a copywriter? Did you learn from him? Mike: Yes, most definitely.
Michael: How about Ben Suarez, did you ever meet him?
Mike: Yes, I have. I’ve written for him and his companies.
Michael: You’ve written for him, okay. Is Dan Kennedy from your area, too? Mike: Yes. I just saw Dan Kennedy a couple weeks ago. Dan is only about 20 miles from me. Michael: How else did you improve your copywriting?
Mike: I try to be on every mailing list in the natural health field. I get tons of direct mail and email from marketers. When I see the same ones over and over again, I know it’s a winner and I study
it. A lot of what is being told to direct marketers today on copywriting to sell their product is a bad
advice to put it mildly and just wrong, to put it bluntly, and it’s going to cost them a fortune in lost revenue. What works in copywriting, now, in a more competitive market … is totally different from
what worked best in copywriting even just a few years ago!
Michael: Let’s talk about some of those differences. What do you see that others teach about copywriting that is wrong? And based on your experience, your long track record of legendary
success, what really works best today?
Mike: Let me start with headlines. Common advice is headlines should use so-called power words and give outrageous promises to get people’s attention and interest. Their theory is the louder you yell, the more you’re going to sell. Well, the truth is people have a built-in “Bullshit Detector” these days, so the more hyperbole and power words you put into a headline, the worse it will do!
Let me give you a couple of actual examples. This headline is for a pain relief
supplement. There are two headlines that were tested. The first was, “This amazing pain eliminator
instantly erases back pain from your body with no drugs and no surgery,” and the second headline was,
“The new way to end your back pain.” The first headline is chosen as the winner by most people, but
it lost in an actual test. The second headline got 237% more orders. The reason is it has the news factor to it. People want to hear what’s new and news. And it doesn’t use the so-called power words. It is more believable.
There’s another thing I want to bring out before I give you another example. I call it the “differential transformation element.” These days, you have to immediately say in your copy what makes your product better, different or unique. People aren’t going to even read a promotion it if they
think it’s the same old stuff they’ve read about before. Like if you’re trying to sell them, let’s say a
pain relief supplement that has glucosamine and MSM in it, because that’s what every other pain relief
supplement in the world contains. You have to tell them right up front what’s new, what makes your product unique, different and better to gain their readership.
Michael: Yes, that makes sense. You’ve got to do your research to stand out compared to everything
else out there.
Mike: Yes, bingo. The key word there is research. That’s what copywriters and direct marketers
don’t do enough. You must research to find what the market wants the most, and what they’re not
getting now that you can give them. This can only be done through hard painstaking research and it
takes dozens and dozens of hours.
Michael: I’d love to know your process on the research. Take us to through your process. Mike: I do copywriting in the natural health supplement field with anti-aging, pain relief, men’s potency issues, prostate issues, memory, et cetera. Today I’m working on a project from an old client
for a vitamin B-12 and folate patch. My experience tells me, if I try to sell another B-12 product, it’s just too vanilla, too common and people don’t see the need for it, or they can just buy it at Wal-Mart. So I researched and found out the nutrient folate has to be added to vitamin B-12 in the right dosages to make it most effective.
I then researched the medical journals to find studies that made my case about the deficiency and why folate needs to be included. I researched further and found all the different health problems that are affected by vitamin B-12 deficiency. All this research led me to a concept that
there’s a link that brings all these health problems together, and now you can relieve these health
problems with this product.
Michael: Are others selling a similar supplement?
Mike: Sure. But nobody else was using the unique hook I discovered from research. Michael: So you research supplement ingredients and also how competition is selling the product? Mike: Yes.
Michael: All right. So you knew the competition. This project you’re working on, is it a direct mail
letter or space ad?
Mike: It’s going to be a 12-page sale letter for direct mail. It will be used online also. Michael: Are you trying to position your product differently?
Mike: Absolutely. You have to!
Michael: There are some medical studies that are not that credible. How do you know which are the credible studies?
Mike: Well, the most credible studies are those published in a major medical journal, double-blind and placebo-controlled.
Michael: How does all your research come together for this product?
Mike: This is rough, the headline will be “new medical research reveals the natural missing link
solution for fatigue, memory loss, weak brittle bones, joint pain and other health problems.” Michael: You also use live focus groups for your research. Tell me what a focus group is and how
you use it in your research?
Mike: I have a group of 10 people that are in my office complex that I bring together about once a
week and buy them lunch. They are my focus group for an hour. I show them headlines, ask them questions, ask them what they’re objections about the product would be, and things of that nature. And then, if I need to, I’ll go to a larger focus group.
Michael: So, have you been doing this for many years?
Mike: Yes, for about 20 years.
Michael: Just to get outside opinions.
Mike: I want to know what the average person, my prospect, is thinking about my product and the
issue it deals with.
Michael: Can you give me an example how one of your focus groups helped your copywriting results?
Mike: Sure. When my focus group learned of the study results, they seemed very interested in the
product. So I asked how many take a vitamin B-12 supplement now. None did. I asked; “Okay, why don’t you take one?” And the consensus was “Well, I think a deficiency would show up in my exam
with my doctor from my blood test results.” Aha! That tells me it’s an order-stopping objection I have to address right upfront in my copywriting.
Michael: Did that come up for real?
Mike: Yes. People don’t want to pay for a B-12 supplement because they think if they were deficient in it, their doctor would tell them because it would show up in their blood test. Michael: So, let’s go back to the research, your focus group, scientific journals that published studies
and you mentioned online news group. So, I mean, how are you using the online discussion groups for
Mike: l find it valuable to read the discussions from common, everyday people about the product or service I’m selling. I find many golden nuggets here I use to make my copywriting more effective.
One client told me he pays me the big bucks because I don’t guess. I find out for sure what people want and I give it to them. I mold the product as much as possible to what the prospects want
most. And I overcome their objections. I may not be the greatest copywriter, but I outwork my
competition that’s why I win most of the time. I do the work.
Michael: And the hard work is the research mainly, right?
Mike: It’s the research, then the very hard mental work of figuring out what concept will pull the
most orders, and how most effectively to present it.
Michael: Lots of copywriters say the headline is the most important element of success, do you
Mike: It’s not that simple. First, I would say the most important thing if you want to make
millions of dollars from direct marketing your product or service is that you choose the right market
and the right product. You can make a fortune in certain markets, but other markets and products are a
long uphill battle.
Michael: What are your favorite markets to write copy for?
Mike: I’m a specialist in the nutritional supplement market and natural health publications. Michael: There’s an inherent risk in being involved in that type of industry where you’ve got to be
real careful with claims, right?
Mike: The two key things are number one, hire a copywriter that is experienced in that field. Number two, have an attorney that specializes in direct marketing law for natural health
supplements review the copy, and sign off on it.
Michael: On your website samples, I saw the Berry Trim diet promotion and I know that was a huge success. The mailing in its various incarnations over five, six or seven year period was probably the
most mailed diet promotion ever in the United States. Gary Halbert wrote the original version. What was your involvement in it?
Mike: My involvement was to beat the control.
Michael: Did the client come to you?
Mike: Yes, and I beat the control and it remained the control for over two years. Michael: How did you beat the control mailing?
Mike: I used the news angle. I went with more of a news angle and my headline was: Doctors
and TV star reveal how a new discovery from Asia helps overcome the chemical imbalance that keeps
Michael: How much did your copywriting beat the control by?
Mike: My copywriting beat the control by 32% if memory serves.
Michael: Wow, that’s significant, especially when you’re mailing millions of pieces a year. Michael: Give some on the idea of the volume of direct mail pieces mail per year on a huge winner
Mike: It mailed 25 to 30 million pieces a year.
Michael: I know your copywriting for Agora has made them millions of dollars. Mike: Yes. Nina Rose from Agora gave me a testimonial that says “Mike Pavlish’s copywriting
has been extremely profitable for us over the past seven years, one promotion after another. He consistently beats the best copywriters in the world that we hire.”
Michael: That’s very strong.
Michael: How much do you charge for your copywriting? What are your fees? What have you found the best fee structure for yourself and your clients?
Mike: I usually work on a base fee against a royalty if my copywriting is successful. But I also
offer a flat fee if that’s how the client prefers it, or if I don’t know the client well enough yet. Michael: What royalty do you charge if your copywriting proves successful? Mike: For direct mail, my standard royalty is $50 for each 1,000 mailings the clients sends out. Michael: Why do you think your fee structure is best for your clients also? Mike: A copywriter is a salesperson, and like any salesperson, he needs to be incentivized and
motivated to succeed. Clients who won’t do this are saving pennies, but losing dollars. The smart and
most successful direct marketers all like to pay royalties. They treat me like gold and are happy to pay
me large royalties because I bring in the money. Every $1 they pay me the copywriter in royalties is
because I made them $2, $5 or $10 profit they wouldn’t otherwise have.
Michael: How should direct marketers look at copywriting fees?
Mike: Well, great copywriting that works costs you nothing and in fact makes you lots of money. It’s not a cost – it’s an unbeatable return-on-investment. Second, great copywriting is not a commodity
you can shop by price like a bag of potatoes– you get what you pay for. What seems most expensive at
first usually turns out to be the cheapest and the best return on investment. In fact, the most expensive copywriting you can buy is “cheap” copywriting that does not work!
Michael: Let’s talk about list brokers. There’s not much information out there on list brokers. Mike: Yes, they’re secretive little bunch, aren’t they?
Michael: Yes, they are. What advice could you give entrepreneurs about list brokers compared to
maybe getting a subscription to the SRDS direct mailing list and doing your research on your own? Is
it good to have a list broker?
Mike: Well, I have a theory that only 2% of people in any business are really very good at it – I mean exceptional. If you find that 2% in a copywriter and the list broker, it’s gold. Yes it’s very important because there are a lot of tricks to direct mail lists. For example, you can sometimes make deals where you are the first mailer that can mail a certain list, and a competitor can’t mail it until x number of days after that. So, it’s fresh name and he hasn’t been mailed to 20 times before. Michael: So, for instance you will see a list with hotlines and you’ll negotiate for first position? Mike: You’ll have a huge advantage.
Michael: That’s a great secret.
Michael: Other than your copywriting business, do you have other entrepreneurial ventures going Mike: Yes, I have two direct marketing businesses now.
Michael: Do you like that better than the actual copywriting business? Is it more profitable? Mike: Yes and no.
Michael: You hear people say “if he’s such a great copywriter then why doesn’t he write his own
copy and get rich instead of for other people?”
Mike: I do write copy for myself and sell my own products. Marketers should ask that, yes,
absolutely. But the other side of the coin is, just because a copywriter does not sell its own products,
that does not mean he’s not a great copywriter. A completely different skill set is required for success. Michael: When you’re trying to beat a control, do you write new copy and build a new concept? Or will you look for weaknesses in the existing control and try to improve on what’s already working? Mike: It depends on what I think is necessary to come up with something that makes millions of
dollars in profits. I would say half of time I do new copy, half of the time I do more of a “tweak”. Michael: Do you guarantee your copywriting? Do you charge for revisions? Mike: I always offer 100% satisfaction guaranteed. I guarantee the client will be pleased with my copy before they test it or I’ll make revisions to their satisfaction for no additional fee. Michael: Do you have clients you’ve written for long term?
Mike: Yes, I do. Most of the copywriting I do now is for clients who’ve been hiring me for over
10 or 15 years and more.
Michael: Let me ask you this question. How do you handle the copyright issues? Do you keep control of the copyright and license the client to use your copy?
Mike: No, my client owns everything.
Michael: Do you do consulting and what are your fees?
Mike: Yes, and it’s $450.00 an hour plus expenses. I consult on direct response marketing
success including product development, business development, new product ideas and the like. Michael: I hear you are often booked up for months in advance?
Michael: So, once you get in, and you deliver a great result, that’s what can happen? Mike: Yes.
Michael: I appreciate all the copywriting secrets and tips you revealed to me from a true copywriting
legend. How can the listeners find out more about your copywriting?
Mike: On my website, there’s samples, helpful articles and more at
www.ProfitBoostersCopy.com If a marketer meets what I’m looking for in a client, they can call me at (330) 963-0330 or email MikePavlish@ProfitBoostersCopy.com