Personal Impact from the “4 U’s” of Copywriting

You read the tweet. You read it again. It sounds smart, but it doesn’t make sense. You look up the words, because you are curious. Still nothing. Is this guy brilliant? Why don’t I get it?

Every once in a while I am faced with this problem. I read something. I think, “Hmmm, seems profound. Why don’t I get it? Why did the writer use outdated words or words from another language?”

This week I started reading The Copywriter’s Handbook: A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Copy That Sells by Robert W. Bly. A key passage I read was the “4 U’s” copywriting formula developed by Michael Masterson (p. 29). The “4 U’s” are:

1. Urgent
2. Unique
3. Ultra-specific
4. Useful

How can I use this to improve my communication? When I think about the worst things I read, the authors are:

 Beating around the bush to get to the point.
 On the bandwagon, preaching the same message as everyone else.
 Providing no value.

Though I can’t control what others write, I can control what I read. Even better, I can control what I write. I’m looking at these “4 U’s” and thinking I need to better apply them to the material I send out in the universe. I need to be:

1. Urgent. Look, I believe you need this material right now. I am not going to send you down a rabbit-hole of links, make you do unnecessary research, or google translate parts of my message. Here it is, one-stop shopping.
2. Unique. Yes, I take a lot of words from other authors (hopefully all credited), but this is my voice. These are my thoughts. If I quoted someone else, then here is my interpretation. Not a puppet. I am trying to blaze my own trail, baby.
3. Ultra-specific. Right to the point, this is what I am saying. I am using the simplest language I know to get the point across, so that when I send a broadside cannon shot, all will get the grapeshot (i.e. the little pellets). Send/Receive, loud and clear. No Dickens’ length sentences. No Victor Hugo 4 page paragraphs. 
4. Useful. My intention is to not waste your time. The 3-4 minute read is still 3-4 minutes, and as hinted at yesterday: time is precious and not to be misspent. I hope my words left you entertained, presented a different view, or called you to action in some way that would improve your life. If not, then what is the purpose?


Those who know that they are profound strive for clarity. Those who would like to seem profound strive for obscurity. –Friedrich Nietzsche

I am not going to be so bold as to say I am profound (maybe not yet), but I do strive for clarity. If you have any questions, or I left you a little confused, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

Note: This post is categorized under the Virtue of Justice. Why? Because the just are not charlatans. Their message is clear, you know what you are getting into. The just will not send you a [click here] to get my free product at a low cost of a lot.

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