4. Be credible

If you’re writing to persuade, you have to hit the gut before you get anywhere near the brain. The part that decides “I want that” is emotional and often subconscious. If your premise doesn’t work emotionally, logic will never get a chance to weigh in.

If you flip that emotional switch, the sale (or other action) is yours to lose. And I mean that literally. Because our logical minds do eventually step in (usually in a way that makes us think we’re actually driven by logic in the first place). If your premise is not credible (as in it’s too good to be true) you fail. That doesn’t mean hyperbole never works, as long as the prospect wants to believe you bad enough.

That’s how some desperate people in certain markets are taken advantage of.

But belief is critical in any market, with any promotion. And that’s why credibility is the final key to a winning premise — people must believe you just as your premise must match their beliefs.

Remember, the more innovative your idea or exceptional your offer, the more you’re going to have to prove it. This brings us right back to an unexpected, simple, and tangible expression of benefit in a way that’s credible.

Every box of Total cereal contains the cold hard data about the nutritional content. Art Silverman’s popcorn claims were backed up by solid scientific facts about saturated fat.

The kind of proof any particular premise requires will vary, but the more credibility that can be baked into the premise itself, the better. More on proof in a bit.

Premise Step Two: Execute with the 5 P Approach

Now you’ve got to execute. You’ve got to tell the story in a way that works, and with a structure that succeeds.

A popular copywriting structure is AIDA (attention, interest, desire, action), which dates back to the early days of mass media advertising. AIDA is a useful framework, but it leaves too little room for a true understanding of what each element is intended to include.

The 4 P structure, on the other hand, consists of promise, picture, proof, and push in place of the four elements of attention, interest, desire, and action.

The 4 Ps provide more expansive elements than AIDA, which is why it’s a favorite of many top copywriters.

But there was still something missing. Luckily, the missing element also started with a P:

The premise.