The ‘One-Up’ Copywriting Technique

I’ve been writing about different copywriting angles you can take while writing.

You can find the first two in the series here and here. Today it’s the ONE-UP lens. I found this from Neville

As the name suggests use this copywriting technique or formula when you have to one-up a claim. It can be a competitor, a popular belief, or something that everyone is already onboard with!

Here’s an example

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I love this this technique for a few reasons

  • It’s versatile- it can used as part of a homepage, blog or damn, even a webinar title (Don’t just create a community, make raving fans. Know how by attending this Webinar)
  • Let’s you attack a competitor in a subtle way or pick a fight (if they have a claim)

The 3 Positioning Maxims (With Examples)

Is it even possible to write about positioning without reading Obviously Awesome by April Dunford?

It’s the one book that was tactical, anecdotal, an absolute page turner. All in one (sorry for sounding like most SaaS tools out there).

But what stuck was- how most of the positioning was restricted broadly 3 maxims.

Here we go.

Small fish in a big pond

When you’re in a large market- solve something specific for a niche or creating a sub-segment in a large segment. Works like a charm when you’re in red ocean markets.

Zomentum – A CRM player caters only to the MSP space.

Category creation

When there’s no market leader, category creation is your route to take. Done right, this helps you own a word in the prospect’s mind. But mind you- this requires A LOT of education- about the category AND product.

Drift- is creating a lot of educational videos, academy and blogs around revenue acceleration.

Go against the big fish

Works in markets where you have established competitors, who’re ‘too big’ for smaller companies. There is going to be an audience who’re frustrated with existing solution. Or even worse, not even knowing what an ideal solution looks like. Taking them head-on (of course with the right offerings), could be good play there.

You know who this is. But, if you’ve come this far, why don’t you subscribe?


Writing Like David Ogilvy

I wanted to improve my copywriting.

I browsed thousands of examples, reading a 1 book a week, and have subscribed to at-least 15 newsletters. All this effort for one thing- improve copywriting.

Reading good sales letters like by Gary Bencivenga, Eugene, David Ogilvy and always wonder

“Can I ever mimic their writing style? Can I ever be a good copywriter?”

And Boom- I came across a solution. It happened on a fuzzy Sunday afternoon. I was lounging around in my favourite, bright red Liverpool shirt, and came across “Copyworking”

It’s the act of transcribing another writer’s work. Just copy their ad/copy on a sheet of paper. Word to word. And by hand.

The logic?

Writing by hand will help you internalize the author’s voice.

You will notice the punctuation, the flow, indents in paragraphs, cadence. Slow down the process, and you will observe more.

For example, I tried transcribing Ogilvy’s work. By hand, and sipping my coffee every 5 minutes.

  • I noticed how he indents his paragraphs.
  • How he uses simple words.
  • He asks, without actually asking.
  • How well he uses P.S.

At first, this feels so wrong. Like plagiarism.

But I realised- it’s scientifically proven.

So the next time you go ‘wow’ over an article, an ad or a content piece- bookmark it. Comeback to it 2 days.

Still find it interesting?

Do copyworking.


Advertising When It’s Done Right

99% of ads suck. They don’t convert. They look ‘markety’.

The reason?

Because marketers invent hypothesis in their heads.

Validate it with their peers, and shove it down customers throat. And the person for whom this was made (the dear customer) is nowhere in this process.

This is 9/10 of campaigns.And that’s why most of them fail.

Here’s an example of a campaign that came ONLY out of research. It was Nov, 2011. Cyber Monday was fast approaching. Every retailer was basking out mindless offers and discounts to lure customers.

And Pentagonia ran this ad. (For the uninitiated- Pentagonia as a brand believes in sustainable clothing).

“Don’t buy this jacket
Please subscribe, if you’ve enjoyed reading this. Else, come back here for another article tmrw πŸ™‚

Pentagonia knew their customers. That they’re are environmentally conscious. Outdoor loving. And a gesture like this would go well with their audience.

Boy, did it? Their sales increased by a third to $543 million (despite their appeal).

And that’s advertising done right! Like David Ogilvy says

“Advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals”


Increasing The Perceived Value Of Your Offering (And Getting Tim Cook on Your Podcast)

Imagine you would be given $1 million for

  • Getting Tim Cook to respond to your cold-email.
  • Making Casey Neistat to come on your podcast.
  • Have Bill Gates be the first guest of a new video series.

If you’re like me chances are, you’re already looking at other ways for the elusive money.


  • They get 1000s of emails (if not more).
  • What’s in it for them, anyway (exposure, seriously?).

But, how do I get them?

The answering lies in signalling theory. I recently started reading the Alchemy, where Rory states

… meaning and significance we attach to something is felt in direct proportion to the expense with which it is communicated.

So what does this look in real life?

  • A video asking Casey to be part of your podcast.

Still unsure about subscribing?

  • A website for the community manager job you wanted.
It’s time to HIT THAT DAMN button and subscribe!

Makes the receiver wonder

“Damn, if they did [signalling action], can’t imagine how badly they need it”

Want something aspirational? Show it by increasing the perceived value πŸ™‚


Forget Everything You Know About Writing. This Example Will Change You As A Writer

I used to make fun of people who blog. It came out my insecurity to write.

“I don’t think I can write an article everyday. I requires a lot of thinking, and I’m not confident about my hold over the language” I told my friend, Anish.

I was panting.

Because I always walk while taking calls. I looked at my blue-strapped watch and it read “17,894 Steps”. That’s 25% more than my daily target.

Anyways, coming back.

“Are you done” asked Anish.

“Dude, you’re overthinking”

“Business writing is all about conveying concepts in a simple way. You’re not here to write poems, or a literary pieces. Your job is to explain a concept succinctly.” he said

“Emm, I don’t think…” I started.

“check your mail” he interrupted.

He sent me a link to Dilbert’s article. I opened it immediately (I was a HUGE fan of Dilbert’s comic).

I read it.

And re-read it.

It changed the way I write. It will change yours too :).

Read it here (in case you’re on mobile).

Please subscribe if you enjoyed reading this πŸ™‚


Rethinking Product Sign-up Forms

“Oh, it’s annoying. Why should I fill out 5 fields, give my card details just to see the product?” said Bill to himself.

“I am f875king giving up” he muttered as he threw away the green headphones and stopped his tool exploration abruptly.

Bill was looking for a new analytics tool. The process of filling out forms to just ‘see’ the product was frustrating him.

Why give ALL my details for a product I might not ending up buying? he wondered

We all have been in Bill’s shoes.

But, when it comes to designing our sign-up forms- we never think of Bill’s pains. I thought there was no solution.

Until I came across a pleasant experience with Amplitude. They let you experience the product before signing-up.

Once you click on ‘Explore product’ on their homepage, you go straight into the product. Make no mistake- they do ask for ALL the details. Like this

Why don’t you subscribe? Look at what people who have subscribed have to say.

I’m already inside the product, and my resistance to fill the form is lower.

A classic example of

Show, don’t tell

May be that should be the new normal?


A Framework To Write The Perfect Headlines For Your Brand (With An Example)

So, I wanted to drop an exercise on coming up effective taglines. I observed and wrote on how taglines evolve from being descriptive to aspirational.

Thought it will be a good exercise for starters who struggle with taglines (or homepage copies).

Assume I was the CMO of notion. Here’s how I would do it

Step-1 Dump your business idea

“Notion is a collaboration software. It lets teams and individuals communicate asynchronously, take and organise notes, create templates, and map out your plans. It lets you visualise your notes, plans in multiple forms that are visually pleasing. With Notion, you can do away with your project management , writing , and other collaboration tools.”.

Step-2 Trim it to a few sentences (3 max)

“Notion lets you create, organise, write and collaborate over everything that your team is working on. It’s the only tool you will need to visualise your team’s work and collaborate asynchronously”.

Step-3 Trim it down to one sentence

“The All-in-one Collaboration software for all your team’s needs. Write, plan, and get organised”

I know I could shorten it further, but – You get the drill!


4 Ways Of Showcasing Your Testimonials (And Sounding More Authentic)

Social proof– It signals people trust your brand. It’s the easiest and the most effective way to tell

“Look these people trust us, you can too”.

And I am going to explore different ways of showcasing testimonials.

The take-it-all

Brands that list 100+ testimonials. It signifies range, and the quantity builds trust like no other.

Example from Basecamp.

Did you check-out the testimonials people have given about millimatters?

The filters

Do people from my industry use this? Do people like me use this? Quash all these doubts with filters based on industry, size and persona.

Did you like this article? Do you want me to write something new?

Videos FTW

Videos speak and bring authenticity like no other. Why not embed them? Podia has this in their first fold :). A classic, ‘Show, don’t tell” approach.

Why don’t you do me a favour and share this on social? Please?

Authentic nerds

Things can’t get more real when you embed ALL good things people tell about you on social. Example from a favourite tool of mine- Notion.

Why do these work?

Because exhibit authenticity, clear prospect’s doubts, validate your claims in a relatable way. They don’t sound ‘markety’.


Writing An Elevator Pitch For Your Brand

Taglines are elevator pitches for your brands.

They tell what the brand does

What the brand stands for.

And most importantly- it becomes the ONE THING consumers associate themselves with.

A look at some of BEST brands πŸ˜‰

You know it doesn’t hurt to subscribe. You’re just a button away. Look left (if you’re on desktop) or click on the 3 lines in top right (if on mobile).

These tag-lines didn’t come out of the blue. Apple didn’t say “Think Different” or Nike didn’t say “Just do it” when they were nobody. Like all else, taglines evolve with the brand.

And hence, I wanted to go through an exercise showing the evolution.

Let’s take the example of a design agency going through various stages of growth.

Thanks for reading this :). But beware, there’s going to a pop-up right when you exit πŸ˜‰ .

The tagline evolves from descriptive to aspirational as the revenue (& brand) grows.

Your values, visualised” makes no sense to a consumer if you’re making $100. At that stage the consumer ONLY cares about- what can you do for them?

This post was inspired from an email I received from Neville of Kopywriting Kourse.