Stats, Humor, Heart

Stats, Humor, Heart

Stats, humor, and heart ("humour" is far too long to type so we'll use the "humor" version here). That’s what it takes to write a copywriting letter of swag. It shouldn't be complicated. But even the simplest of genius copy takes hours of craft and hard work.

Here’s our quick template to copywriting genius:

  • Put stats of what you accomplished OR stats that define a problem.
  • Add a shot of humor.
  • Appeal to the strings of the heart.
  • Ask directly for next steps, contribution, or involvement.

You can apply this model to an email, a newsletter, a Facebook post, an investor pitch, anything really. The key is to be genuine in your motives and your writing.


This is the easy part. Find something with backed up figures that supports your cause. Like, "According to the Kauffman Foundation, 3 in 4 startups fail, come learn from the top 25% who didn’t, come to our event."

Or how about the non-profit world: "According to UNICEF, 1 in 5 Zimbabweans lacks access to clean water. Help us get 2 new wells drilled for orphan kids."

This is the easy part, it merely takes a whopping 5 minutes of googling and/or other research to do it well. And like my Financial Management professor used to say, “86% of all statistics are made up” (he made it up). So find stats that have a strong source. The stats also include your own goals: who are you going to affect and how many people could potentially benefit from this project or goal?

Appeal to the Heart

We receive dozens of emails daily that are so boring, non-emotive, and bland side of things. It's like the sender is writing to a machine that has a top hat and never smiles. Do you even have a personality Mr. Email Sender? Don’t lose your personality when you’re writing email—have fun with it. Each and every email you send is an excuse to make someone’s day.

Tell a short story in your email before you ask for something. For example, rather than asking people to come to your event, cast the vision of why you’re having the event in the first place, then invite them.

“We wanted to put the brightest entrepreneurs in the room and see what happens. We’ll have live music, great food and drinks, and a bunch of current and former CEOs of startups like yours. We’re not sure what the outcome will be, but we think it’s going to be great and a lot of fun. And hey, who doesn’t like good food?”

Versus this form letter that is often sent:

“Please your Honorable Greatness, read this and get excited about our event because we are thinking bigger than anyone else and it's a viable opportunity that is not one to be missed out on, see the flyer attached below. There will be a cash bar where you have to pay and maybe we’ll have people there and they’ll all be wearing dignified suits…We humbly request your presence. Please cordially communicate with us if you are or are not gracing us with your gracious presence.”

Delete. Don’t send emails like that!

The Ask

The final element to any great letter, marketing piece, email, or copy of any kind is The Ask.

Don’t skirt around the issue at this stage, get right to the point. “We’d like to ask you to invest…” Scrap that and try this, “We’re seeking $100k for 10%, would you like to invest?”

The Statement-that-should-be-a-Question is too formal and dodgy. “I was possibly thinking of asking you…” Just ask and be clear, stop wasting time and get to the point.

"We’re trying to raise $40k for this project and are looking for like-minded blah blah blah"…just ask!

“We’re raising $40k for this project, would you consider giving $20k?”

“No, but I’d do $5k.”

“Great! Now to be clear, that’s $5k a month, right?” (Smile on the last sentence, it’s a joke! Everyone laughs.) “Haha, no, I’m joking. $5k is amazing, thank you so much! We’re very excited about this.”

There you have it. Great copywriting takes time and a lot of thought, but you can do it. If you’re seeing low response rates from your emails or Asks, then consider working harder on what you’re writing. Our first draft is never the one that gets shipped on anything. Refining is important when copywriting.

Stats, humor, and heart. The stats blend simple research with a good storytelling angle. The humor comes out of your personality (if you don’t have a personality, then who are you?). Heart is who you are and what you’re trying to accomplish (or who you’re reaching). Be open, be honest, be genuine.

Endnote: this is not a full primer on copywriting nor is it meant to be. There is a plethora of copywriting content on the web (The 7 Steps to this, the 18 lists of that), we can’t remember all that. For simple people like us, the above post helps ground us on what are we trying to accomplish before we write anything. And we write a lot…too much actually, but that’s a different post altogether.

(photo via prsimoes)