What exactly is a Lead? (visual guide)

It might sound strange at first, but we’ve all been gifted by our predecessors with a structure on which to hang our copy.

Meaning, all content you’ll read online and offline mostly follows a similar flow.

Look at this Medium article for example: We have a Headline, Subheadline, and then Body Text.

This universal format helps both the writer and the reader.

  • The writer knows exactly how to start the message (with a headline).
  • The reader is better able to follow a message and grab the meaning when it’s presented in a familiar way.

    Makes sense, right?

    When it comes to sales copy, Eugene Schwartz (author of Breakthrough Advertising) taught us that the best copywriting follows this same universal format I’m talking about (Headline, Subheadlines, and then Body Text)… but that good sales messages should have certain key elements to ensure that the copy grabs attention and that the product ultimately sells.
    In the copywriting world these critical starting elements make up what we now call the Lead.

    "The Lead is the start of the sales message – the first few hundred words that you write, including the headline."
    (Notice that "the Lead" is different from "leads" which are prospects you try to sell to – I wish our copywriting forefathers could have figured out a better way to distinguish these two concepts.)

    The very simple reason you want to learn how to write a Lead is because, when done right, Leads will help you better connect your BEST selling point (sometimes, but not always, your Big Idea) to your prospect’s desire… so again, well-constructed Leads ultimately help you sell the most amount of product possible.
    Now, I can keep railing on about how important (and awesome) Leads are, but it’s easier if I just show you what they are, so let’s dive into some visual examples.

Sales Page Leads

The easiest way to show you what a Lead is, is to outline them on a sales page.

The best sales pages will have 4 sections.

  1. The Lead
  2. The Sales Argument
  3. The Product Offer
  4. The Close

So, as you can see, the Lead is just the start. Its purpose is to setup everything to come.

The copywriter will transition out of the Lead (after a Headline, Subheadline, and a few hundred words of Body Text) into what we call the Sales Argument.

Example 1: Erik Kennedy’s Landing Page Academy Course Sales Page

NOTE: For all the examples to follow, a red border signals the Headline, a green border signals Subheadlines, and a blue border signals the Body Text.

Example 2: Jon MacLennan’s One Note Solo Course Sales Page

Landing Page Leads

For our purposes, a Landing Page is a shorter format page that has a goal of collecting an email address.

Landing Pages often give away something for free (like a tutorial or guide) or promise a benefit in exchange for signing up to an email newsletter.

Essentially, the whole Landing Page is a Lead, often just a Headline & Subheadline.

Example 1: Sarah Mueller’s Decluttering Club Tutorial Landing Page

Example 2: Erik Kennedy’s Design Hacks Newsletter Landing Page

Email Leads

Email Leads can either setup content or setup a sales pitch for a product.

Email Leads include the subject line (aka Headline) and then the first few paragraphs of Body Text.

You’ll either see a transition to the next sections – the Sales Argument or Product Offer – or an email might simply have a call to action to click a link.

Example 1: Jon MacLennan’s Email "Story Lead"

Example 2: Erik Kennedy’s Email "We’re Open" Lead

I hope this concept of the Lead is a little more clear through these examples.

But now, the question of course becomes, "What exactly do I put into my Headline, Subheadlines, and Body Text?"

"How do I write a good Lead that will help sell my product?"

Well, the really cool part is that there are actually only 8 effective types of Leads that you should use based on your product type and your customer.

Meaning, there are 8 different ways you can "start" a sales message if you want to sell something. And within each of those 8 different types of Leads, there are certain elements that work best in each.

What I want to do tomorrow is share those most critical elements that you should put into your Lead.

In other words, once you’ve picked 1 of the 8 types of Leads, I’ll show you what should go in your Headline, your Subheadline, and your Body Text to ensure you’ve maximized your chances of grabbing attention and making the sale.

We’ll talk about all of that tomorrow!

– Derek

P.S. I can’t stress this enough: Breakthrough Advertising is one of the only physical hard copy books I recommend all copywriters have in their possession. Especially to figure out this hyper-critical topic of your "Lead".

Eugene Schwartz pioneered the thinking on Leads and approaching a prospect based on how your product matches to their problems and/or desires.

Breakthrough Advertising is "advanced", that’s for sure, and I’d even say it will fly over your head if you’re a beginner. But when you’re ready, it will absolutely blow your mind and uplevel your copywriting skills faster than any other copywriting book you’ll ever read (I think it pays to have the book ready and waiting on your book shelf for that exact moment).

If you want to grab a physical copy, the best and cheapest way to do it is through Brian Kurtz (he has the rights to publish it from Eugene Schwartz’s estate). It sells on Amazon for over $400, but you can get it for $125 (plus a little extra for the Mastery Package which I highly recommend).

Grab it through my link here: https://breakthroughadvertisingbook.com/