Copywriting Sample – Video Sales Letter Lead – Male Health Supplement

As consulting Lead Copywriter for an ad agency, I needed to improve the response from a Video Sales Letter that the agency had paid a top VSL writer to produce.

It wasn’t converting well and I felt the copy overall was strong but the lead (the introductory attention grabber) seemed to lack empathy with the audience.

I completely replaced the lead section.

Here are results of the split test on the Video Sales Letter version using the old copy against my new copy.

(Coloured screenshots come from the video analytics software showing engagement levels of both variants)

Original lead variant: 25% retention past the lead.


My new lead variant: 44% retention past the lead.


This meant the new lead increased engagement by… well, a lot depending on which stat you calculate from. 🙂

Here’s the copy, slightly modified for use as the long-form transcript of the VSL:



I was offered this report while searching for something more comprehensive and more reliable, than all the popular health supplements that get bandied about online like candy…

You may know the one’s I mean. Maybe you’ve tried them out yourself…

And sure, I got great results in the past from things like Omega-3, CoQ10, Resveratrol… even Algae Powder.

(my wife got me onto that awful stuff after I started suffering with erection problems hoping it would fix me)

…and I was looking for something all-inclusive… something for complete masculine health… and specially designed for men over 40.

Something that could literally be felt in every area of my body, for all areas of my life.

From ‘Balls-to-Bones’, so to speak…

And after days of searching, a trusted health advisor who I interviewed by phone offered to send me a 30-page report chock-full of his research.

And What I Read Changed My Life Forever


“…multi-billion dollar research by the U.S. Army revives the health of our soldiers for peak performance — at any age!”

Dr. Dan Johnson of The Comprehensive Fitness Program of The U.S. Army announced: “The U.S. Military has a strong interest in the potential health benefits of this formula”

“…Restores your ability to carry out complex tasks, both physically and mentally, allowing you to function in all areas of your life with peak performance.”

“What the Army calls Executive Function”

Believe it or not, that was just one of the tips I learned.

The Report Covered Everything I Feared About Aging


I felt like I’d struck oil!

And my wife’s expression was priceless after my bedroom performance just a matter of weeks later.

It all begins with shocking insight about:

[the original script continued from here]

The Causes Of Decline For Civilian Men Age 40 And Over

Video Sales Letter (VSL) Copywriter

In this article:

  • My first Video Sales Letter
  • Video Conversion Funnels
  • Video Sales Letter Length
  • Video Engagement
  • Video Sales Letter Copywriting
  • Multi-Part VSL Launch Sequence

My first Video Sales Letter…

Converting at a huge 8% back in 2008 it was about 12 minutes long and sold an info product on ‘how to get organized’.

You can watch the entire thing if you’d like, right here:

 VSL Conversion Funnels

The most successful VSLs I’ve been involved with or know about are very simple in appearance, on a very plain webpage, typically with no navigation on the page.

However, sending traffic straight to that VSL page may give you a lower conversion rate than if you send them initially to what’s known as a pre-sell page.

A pre-sell is an article that positions the video to help ensure the visitor has anticipation for the value they are going to receive by watching the video. This often involves highlighting pain points around the topic, such as health problems, or lack of success in the relevant area of life that an information product relates to, such as relationship problems.

‘Top 5 Reasons Why Men Pull Away During Early Stage Relationships”

“5 Causes Of Weight Gain That You Can Avoid Starting Today”

These headline examples suggest the person learning a solution to a problem that is causing them pain.

The pre-sell article then links in multiple places over to the video.

Video Sales Letter Length

Over the past few years the length of VSLs has stretched to 45 minutes or more, particularly for consumer products including information products and health supplements. My approach with VSL length is to consider:

  • The placement of the video (whether it accompanies a full sales later or is part of a piecemeal launch sequence),
  • The sophistication of the market (is it a commodity product in a sea of competition or something unique and special) and
  • Desire of the audience for that particular type of product when they land on the page (why go into extensive background detail and personal story building credibility and riling up their emotions if they are already super keen to buy a product of that type).

Case in point:

The 12 minute VSL for the ‘get organized’ product above. Back in 2008 there was less competition for such information, and my traffic came from people who had searched for terms like ‘how to get organized’. So the product was desired and competition was low. The price difference compared to the alternative of hiring a professional organizer was clear, reasonable and compelling. So 12 minutes was plenty of time to make the sales presentation to a relatively low buyer resistance.

However, if the product is new and unfamiliar with a potentially high perceived price, a full length VSL will generally help maximize sales to the widest possible market.

Here is the introduction script for a full length VSL I wrote promoting an innovative training system for American Football Quarterbacks. If you are familiar with the QB position, you will see how well this matches the dreams and frustrations of a QB, ensuring that they’ll stick around for the rest of the VSL.


(click to open the script)

But how do we maintain engagement through a full 45 minutes..?

 VSL Engagement

It’s generally true that ‘the more you tell the more you sell’.

So… as long as the sales copy is RELEVANT to the audience, then providing you can make it sufficiently entertaining and fast flowing, the VSL can be ‘long’ (45+ minutes) and you’ll hold the attention of your audience and thus maximise conversions.

8% is a very high conversion rate. You may be looking for 2% to make a Video Sales Letter a big success and very profitable. Think about it. That’s just 2 to 8 people out of every 100. So you don’t need ‘everyone’ to want to watch a long VSL. Just a relative few.

The trick to keeping those few engaged is to craft a compelling message.

Here’s an example of an introduction to a full length VSL I wrote for the weight loss market (a massively sophisticated market given the history and level of competition). In this introduction I am to grab viewers attention by immediately calling out the ‘fads’ being marketed in the industry at the time, thereby differentiating this video and increasing engagement.

I’ll get into that a little lower down, but first we need to touch on…

Video Sales Letter Copywriting

So how do I do it?

My process involves [with more detail coming soon]:

  • Gathering Insight – Take a detailed brief from the client to understand the product and the audience (including where the traffic will be coming from). Watch competition VSLs for related product.
  • Developing a persona or avatar (an ideal customer description) including their major pain points as relates to the product and then write a bunch of potential positioning statements, headlines, and bullet points that speak to the audiences major pains with the promise of the product as a solution to their problem(s)
  • Writing a number of possible creative connections between the product features, the product background (how it came to be), the pain points (this is a copywriters secret sauce)
  • Using a series of best practice points from a template I have pieced together over the years to help ensure I hit all relevant selling points throughout the script
  • Leaving it for a day or so and then starting a ruthless editing process of removing sections that are clunky, boring, confusing, or lack credibility. All the while strengthening what remains by making it conversational, succinct and emotionally gripping

Multi-Part VSL Launch Sequence

A very significant approach to the use of a VSL is to break it down into sections and deliver them throughout a gated sales funnel. The gates may be actions the visitor must take, such as opting in by email to gain access to another segment of the video, or gated by time, as in a drip-campaign via email.

Here’s the homepage video (just 2 minutes in length) to introduce a relationship advice membership program:

Hiring A VSL Writer

A VSL Copywriter charges anywhere from ~$3,000 to ~$25,000 for a full VSL script plus royalties.

In a VSL split-test with a $25k copywriter’s original intro against a new intro that I wrote, my version increased engagement by 3 times. But don’t worry, I won’t charge you 3 times his fee 🙂


My new Headline for the replacement introduction copy I wrote to split-test against the original copywriters version.

You can see the new copy here plus the split test result. And see below for details on hiring me as your next VSL writer.

Video Sales Letter Copy Sample for Sports Training Equipment

This VSL is to launch an innovative training equipment for Quarterback training. The product is in design and development so I can not reveal the complete script.

Here is the entire lead section of the VSL file that is sure to get any QB absolutely hooked on watching the rest of the sales video.

I’m not myself a football fan. So how could I possibly write compelling and relevant copy for the target audience?

Because, as many hall-of-fame copywriters have said, top performing copy is produced via 80% market research and only 20% of actual writing.

I went to the subject experts, the inventor of the equipment, I watched some games and I got into the mind-set of a Quarterback sitting in his locker room before a big game feeling the stress and disappointment about the training he’s received until that point. A gut wrenching anxiety that the market can relate to strongly.

So whatever your market, providing you have something of significant value or desire to promote, I can turn your insight, gather more of my own via research, and conjure copy that nails the deep emotions of your market, compelling them to take action and engage with your brand.

Here is the entire lead section of the VSL.

Open Letter to Membership Site Plugin Developers

Dear membership site developers,

In 2015 I’m going to create a comprehensive membership site… Oh no wait, I can’t yet… because of the state of current membership plugins.

I think the problem is the ‘minimum viable product’ mind set where developers create something they can sell, generally as good as the mixed bag of competitors, and then get lazy about creating something truly comprehensive.

In this way, ‘market leading’ doesnt really say much… does it…?

Off the top of my head:

  • Dashboard analytics revealing lifetime customer value metrics including retention and churn rates. (For a membership thats pretty darned important!!)
  • Payment buttons that process via whichever source the visitor came from rather than having to create entirely separate sales pages for clickbank, jvzoo, stripe, paypal, etc.
  • Internal affiliate management including campaign link tracking with the ability to integrate 3rd party affiliate systems that work simultaneously.
  • Credit-based subscription system allowing members to select the premium content they want on a periodoc basis (eg so member can choose which module she takes in month 2)
  • Member can add notes at various places throughout member content and then review them again on those pages or in a separate notes section.
  • Proper Email api integration for email providers… and not just for the usual suspects (aweber, mail chimp).

…where all of these sytems including 3rd party affiliate and email solutions work seemlessly with eachother to properly pause, cancel, enable, remove or add members to lists and product access levels.

Maybe this kind of feedback from more membership site operators will encourage a few developers to quickly fill these gaps at the start of 2015.

The membership site industry needs these features to mature.

We’re all waiting and watching for it.

yours truly,

Gavriel Shaw
Cyclic Media

Why Cyclic Media?

In 15 years of marketing if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that progress happens cyclically.

Build it once and expect it to perform forever?

Of course not…

Our approach streamlines the process of ongoing improvement so that we can test small and scale large, providing you have sufficient resources and budget.

If you don’t, we can provide the resources from our network of partners.

And we can find a way to make your budget work for all of us.

Cyclic Media Agency has a 6-phase cycle: Strategic Preparation, Market Insight, Design & Development, Conversion Optimization, Traffic Management, Performance Tracking.

From the homepage you will find 3 possible starting points — to launch, scale or maximize your marketing.

And once the first campaign is complete, we’ll continue the cycle of optimization by choosing a new starting point.

Welcome to Cyclic Media.

How NOT to offer B2B services…

I’m searching for an inbound customer contact centre and used the live chat on one service providers website.

Here’s how the conversation went down…

Me: Nice website but the pricing table is clear as mud for me

Todd C: Hello

Me: What’s the economy plan for $29?

Todd C: My apologies. It isn’t meant to be unclear. Our economy plan is 29.00 per month for service. Every minute of operator time is 1.19 per minute

Me: ok then next to $29 it should say p/m
and it shouldn’t say ‘each additional minute’
it should say ‘per minute’
so the next one up is $109 per month and $1.09 per minute right?
do you have call agents that enter orders into your clients ecommerce platform?

Thank you for contacting us.
Your chat session was disconnected because it was idle for too long.

My email to their sales team: 

Wow, I’m instilled with confidence at your company’s ability to handle incoming customer contacts…

Moral of the story?

  • Check your own house is in order before you expect customers
  • They look like a startup so good on them for launching despite not quite being ready (rapid test and learn is fine for startup, as long as they really do optimize quickly)
  • Customers like me can indeed be pesky sarcastic British a–holes

Enterprise-Level Webinars for FREE? (bye bye gotowebinar…)

Webinars are killer ninja sales tools for both B2B and B2C alike…

But GoToWebinar costs $500 per month, with a limit of 1,000 attendees… and limited functionality.

If you can get a short turnaround budget approval (like, right now!) for a measly $300, you can get yourself lifetime access for unlimited webinars with unlimited attendees using a front-end platform called WebinarJam which works seamlessly and effortlessly with the Google Hangout infrastructure.

Sound complicated?

I guess it is. But WebinarJam makes it easy to use.

An amazing and a super cost-efficient way to benefit from enterprise level webinars (that means, super clean, professional and reliable) at a near ridiculous price.

Just $300 one-time if you order today. I do mean today only — as the promotion ends. Or, still, $300 per year, which still massively undercuts GoToWebinars yearly cost of $6,000!

Go now to WebinarJam and check it out.

5 Degrees of Consumer Sophistication

Gene Schwartz nailed 5 stages of market sophistication which helped my approach to strategic marketing to no end.

And I’ve just brainstormed an equivalent for consumer sophistication that considers the consumer a little more directly.

Which stage are your customers at? How do you appeal to them? Do you turn other customers off? What can you do to appeal to other customer segments?

5 Degrees of Consumer Sophistication

  1. Naive consumer – New to market – eager for big promises. The bigger the promise the better. “Lose 100lb in 7 days without diet or exercise!”. At this stage they’ll be lucky to select a product that works for them.
  2. Hopeful consumer – Aware of options – hopeful about purchases but impulse buy on claims (first impressions)
  3. Selective consumer – Skeptical but hopeful – needs to know and believe in mechanism of results (product quality)
  4. Guided consumer – Relationship sensitive (aware and educated of both product category options as well as mechanism credibility). They benefit from a credible source of information. Such as Dr Oz for health.
  5. Educated consumer (looks beyond hype and has opinions of what works and what doesn’t, which may be right or wrong, but they are strongly opinionated and you will need to market appropriately (e.g. financial advisors appealing to liberals vs conservatives)

First hand research in the [weight loss] market (Atlanta Georgia, here comes a copywriter!)

In relation to a weight loss award for a new natural hunger suppressant (clinically proven to significantly reduce body fat over extended periods of time… without extra exercise or forced dieting)…

I’ll be in-and-around Atlanta Georgia for the month of September conducting field research to build up an audience profile for the product, yet to be released to the public.

Full details forthcoming…

But in essence, this applies from a product launch / marketing perspective to any mass consumer market.

I’ll be:

  • Conducting interviews (recorded on the brilliant new Sony ICD SX 1000 voice recorder)
  • Building interviewee profiles to capture their unique ‘strategy’ for losing (gaining or keeping) weight
  • Forming personas from the similarities and differences that emerge
  • Building empathy maps useable for storyboarding ideal product launch programs

Then: Read More

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