The Secret of the Four-Legged Stool

The four-legged stool technique was developed originally by Bill Bonner of Agora Publishing, strictly for selling financial newsletters.

Expert copywriter Robert W. Bly noticed, however, that these four elements also work for 90 to 95 percent of all information products.

The concept is pretty simple: a four-legged stool is very stable. If you pull one leg off, it’s only relatively stable—you can still sit on it, but not as comfortably as you would a four-legged stool.

Pull two legs off and you’re going to fall over.

The message here is that your direct marketing efforts, whether they be direct mail or landing pages, must contain all four legs of the stool for the promotion to truly succeed.

Here are the elements of the four-legged stool:

  1. Credibility: the first question people always ask is “Who are you?” If you’re Time, Inc., you are very credible. If you’re America’s Test Kitchen, you are very credible. But if you are a start-up publishing company, you have to establish credibility.
  2. Track Record: in Bonner’s case, if he has a China Stock Digest Newsletter, his track record would be pretty straightforward. What stocks did he pick and how much profit did he make? How well does the product perform?
  3. Big Idea: what is unique about your product? In Bonner’s case, with a China Stock newsletter, it’s “you’re going to make money off the big China boom”.
  4. Future Benefit: Bob says a lot of people neglect this. Your future benefit would answer: “if I buy this newsletter today, what benefit do I get going forward?”

Take a look at your next marketing promotion and make sure it contains all four legs.

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This content was part of Bob’s seminar titled “World’s Best Kept Copywriting Secrets”, which he delivered at the Mequoda Summit. The Summit Audio Proceedings are on sale now and selling out fast. Bob also has a book by the same title.


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