The Sales Boosting Logic of the P.S.

image of the written word P.S.

The P.S is one of those clichés of copywriting. It seems like every sales page has one.

Maybe you think it’s outdated. Maybe you think it’s unnecessary.

Until you learn the logic of why it works.

So before we get into that, do me a favor. Say the following words quickly, and then look away from the screen for a moment when you’re done reading the list.

  • Elephant
  • Cow
  • Monkey
  • Glass
  • Window
  • Ruler
  • Buddha
  • Carpet
  • Swing
  • Stereo

OK, did you do the exercise? Before you keep reading, which words do you remember?

It doesn’t matter how good or bad your memory is.

. . .

. . .

. . .

If you’re like most people, you remembered elephant. And Buddha. And stereo.

Why those three?

Elephant was the first word, so it stuck in your brain.

As your brain struggled to remember the other words, it hit ‘Buddha’, which was unusual. Again — it stuck in your brain.

As we finished off the set of words, the last word was ‘stereo.’ Your brain was frazzled with trying to pay attention to so many words, and so it remembered the first, the last, and the unusual.

So what’s first, last and unusual in your copy?

First is obvious, right? Of course — it’s the headline.

The “unusual” part is often a story or an example.

And last? It’s the P.S.

So what do people remember?

We already covered that part, didn’t we? And since your customers tend to be people, what do you think they are going to remember?

That, my friend, is why the P.S. is so vital. Because the customer is almost certainly going to read the P.S., no matter what else they read (or skip).

So what should the P.S. contain?

Well, in effect, the P.S. is simply a summary of what you’ve just written. So the P.S. needs to state the following:

  1. What the reader stands to lose (the prospect’s problem)
  2. What the reader stands to gain (the solution you offer)
  3. The urgency factor. This could be the deadline, a limit on the number of items you’ll sell, or whatever you need to get the reader to act right away.

Not only does the P.S. do the vital job of summarizing, but because it’s the last thing that’s read, it’s also one of the three things that customers remember.

Still want to leave the P.S. out of your text?

About the Author: Sean D’Souza offers a free report on ‘Why Headlines Fail’ when you subscribe to his Psychotactics Newsletter. Be sure to check out his blog, too.

P.S.

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Comments

  1. I love myself a P.S. as well. This is one of the classic copywriting tools that will never go out of style.

    It’s critical that you never throw away the power of the P.S. and just add them in willy-nilly, however.

    Your customers will read them, many times they will read the P.S. BEFORE they read the rest of the sales letter, but if they don’t see anything of value, such as a call to action and deadline (as you mentioned) they may feel like the rest of your sales letter isn’t worth reading.

    I have been trying to be very careful with my P.S. statements lately, and only throw them in when I really have something that I want to use to get the customer off the couch.

    The P.S. is like the FORCE. Everyone knows it’s out there, but only a true Jedi Master has the power to use it wisely to his/her advantage.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

  2. Interesting tips. Usually I only remember the ‘first word’ and ‘end word’. In the market strategy is a mistake, not necessarily the first and end of which we mentioned is the best to give to them.

  3. I’m a huge fan of the ‘p.s.’ I even use it in blog posts sometimes. I think it’s fun :-)

  4. I notice that the PS was utilized at the end of this post!

    What I would like to see is a few examples of good PS’s that could be used. I understand the 3 points to mention (I think!), but sometimes examples make something easier to understand.

  5. I tested everybody in the office here (four of us) and we all remembered 3-5 items…but none of us had “Elephant”, “Buddha”, and “Stereo” all together in our lists.

    Maybe it’s because we’re Canadian ;)

  6. Great tip! It made me think of those REALLY long sales letter pages that you just scroll down to the bottom of to see what it costs.

  7. @Chad, laughing, you Canadians have to go and make everything difficult. :)

  8. Very great way to convey the power of P.S.!

    I love the last part: So what should the P.S. contain? That’s the gist I got out of this post. The formula is: P.S. = Problem + Solution + Urgency

    P.S. Are you frustrated that nobody took action after reading your email? It’s time to start using P.S. to tell your readers what you want them to do, TODAY!

    P.P.S. Are you reading this? Maybe P.P.S. works too, but don’t overuse it =)

  9. I like a good PS as well. I find myself advising clients to use it more often than not. It’s an often neglected part of any promotional content, whether a sales page, email or a blog post.

    Which reminds me… I didn’t use a PS in my post today (I’m off to add one).

  10. well its really amazing dude , i even like PS , and i could notice that PS was used at the end og this post

  11. Thanks Sean, your post could not come at a better time as I am working on sales pages and emails all week.

  12. Sean,

    In my MA in Communication program we studied the science behind this. It’s called the primacy and recency effect. Or, what you hear first and last will remain most salient. The P.S. (post script) becomes the last thing we read, so it tends to remain at the forefront of what we’ve gleaned from the letter (sales page). See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_position_effect

  13. That was really interesting!

  14. Steve, I was just about to mention the vast psychological research on memory related to primacy and recency in response to Chad (I like Canadians a lot, but maybe you guys are a bit different ;) )

    As for the middle thing, it’s the one that’s hard to remember (remember Otto from A Fish Called Wanda?). So that’s why Sean employed novelty (another prime psychological influence on memory) by throwing in a unique (and hopefully memorable) list element that was unlike the others in order to get it to stick.

  15. Haha…we Canadians are indeed a strange bunch. But I’ll admit – I do typically remember headlines, stories, and P.S…just weird that it didn’t come through on the list.

    Love the illustration though, Sean. You always do such a great job of pumping your articles full of fun!

  16. Matt Pattinson (copywriter) :

    Great post. Love the interactive element – adds a light touch to the article.

    thanks

    Matt Pattinson

  17. Good thought! It emphasizes why we work to hard on our headline and our last sentence in an article. It also brings home why we should put something in our articles that will be remembered. Just remember this when you are writing your next article.

    Don McCobb

  18. I’ve always used a P.S. in sales pages and sometimes in emails but never in a blog post…time for a change, me thinks.

    Nothing to lose…

    ANdrew

  19. Sonia Simone :

    @Andrew, might be good to ask for an RSS subscribe or to add to an email newsletter.

  20. great idea. I’m going to give it a whirl.

    And… How do you – copyblogger – make money if you give away your 20 part course? I finally figured out something to give to subscribers in a recipe fashion (and thanks for your tips…they really helped) but i still don’t understand how that’s going to bring the moolah. Or is the point to convert more readers into subscribers so you have a bigger list to sell things to eventually?

  21. I’ve never used a PS as a kind of recap.

    I have used PS to make completely tangential offers along the lines of “Oh, BTW, here’s something cool [link].” I get conversion, but I don’t believe I have enough data to run a valid test. And right there is the value of this article for me:
    1. I need to start thinking very seriously about testing,
    2. I have something very cool I want to test.

    Thanks, Sean.

  22. We even use it on our home page. The home page has an embedded P.S. instruction ;)

    – Sean

  23. I love the test. Fun stuff. I got the elephant. I chuckled at the Canadians above who missed it! :) That was funny.

    I use P.S. sometimes, but often I will use a Summary to tie things up, especially if it’s a long post or I want the key points to stick. Nothing about elephants though. Who knows, there might be a story there…

  24. This was a great exercise! I did remember elephant and Buddha, as well as monkey and glass, but not stereo. Such a simple way to teach a lesson!

  25. Here’s an intereating sidelight: The Beatles wrote a song called P.S. I love you. The whole song was about love, love and more love. Yet at the end the parting line was the line: PS I love you…I wonder why. ;)

  26. 99 out of 100 times when I do a bulk email campaign, the link in the P.S. is hands down the most clicked on link in the copy.

    I typically have 4 links in the copy… Interestingly enough, the 1st link in the email copy always comes in 2nd place with the number of click throughs.

  27. Sonia Simone :

    @BrianJ, cool, confirmation from the trenches. :)

    @liza, the basic model is to attract attention and build rapport by giving great stuff away, build more attention and trust by giving even more great stuff away, and then when we do have an offer to make, we’ve created a great environment with our prospects. For more specifics about how the business brings in revenue, I’ll direct your attention to the ads in the upper right corner of the blog. :)

  28. I think the article was great and your point was right on, but I remembered Cow and Buddha. Is that weird?

  29. Yeah, I think I get it. Like I do in my retail store; giving good knowledgable advice, taking the time to talk to customers, giving them beautiful promo postcards or little trinkets to take home, playing with their kids, being a gracious host, not to mention writing a fabulous, beautiful blog which is totally free. I get in in “real life”. Eventually, when they are ready to buy, they come back because they’ve enjoyed the experience and they trust my curatorial eye.

    I’m just figuring out how to do it online. And for that I thank you.

    PS: need a great email promo service that does auto responder (called drip campaigns) I love and use MadMimi. They are simply the best. And they have superb tech support. MadMimi.com

  30. Funny, I used a P.S. on my blog post today (and two days ago in my newsletter too).

    :-)

  31. Urg…my PS was unclear. Let me try again:

    PS: Do you need a great email promo service that does auto responder? I found….(etc. see above)

  32. Interesting, I just now started getting into affiliate marketing and this really helped open things up for me.

  33. Long-time reader, first-time poster.

    According to Siegfried Vogele’s landmark direct mail research he conducted in the 80’s, after skimming a direct mail letter, the first block of text your potential customer will read, 90% of the time, will be your P.S.

    This is the reason why it’s critical to make certain you succinctly sum up the what, why and when of your offer in the P.S. of every DM letter you write.

    P.S. I would imagine much of this holds true for email as well, although I’ve not seen any research to back that up.

  34. ok. let me remember, ps..ps…ps… ps…
    what it really ps.

  35. I’ve definitely noticed MASSIVE benefits from it. I’m not sure why…but it works.

  36. I “remembered” monkey, cow, and grass, which was all the more amusing considering grass wasn’t even in the list. Perhaps I don’t remember things the right way. I remembered there were animals in the list so “monkey” and “cow” came right away, and I guess I went from cow to grass, mixing it up with glass..

  37. I did not know this! Somehow they forgot to teach me this in medical school. From the comments it sounds like the concept of p.s. is a fundamental writing principle. I’m looking forward to experimenting with a p.s. on my next medical blog post-hmmm. Very fun idea.

    Does it apply to how I present medical information in the exam room as well. If I end every visit with “wear sunscreen” maybe I’ll be more effective than ever before at preventing sun damage.

  38. P.S. I’m going crazy over P.S. in the comments! (There, I have my P.S. as the headline, story, and P.S.)

  39. Put an interesting “sunscreen” fact at the end.

  40. @chad – that is too funny.

    Great idea behind this post. I can see the logic even if the actual example didn’t work so well for Canadians.

    I am constantly surprised at how this site comes up with new content after all these years. Good job Brian and team.

    Ramsay

  41. I love PS’s. Quite often I find myself skipping to the bottom of an article (Copyblogger not included) or sales page to read the ‘PS’ summary or check out the price. Sometimes that’s all I need to read. Great time saver!

  42. Love the illustration, interesting tips.

  43. Excellent tip, I very rarely use a P.S. but I will surely start now. From this moment I vow to use a P.S. in my every day life.

    Thank you

    Troy

  44. @ Sonia Simone

    That’s a good idea to start with…thanks.

    Andrew

  45. Great advice, I had just recently used this on a sales pitch.

  46. that a real nice tip, thanks :)

  47. Brian Killian :

    If the reason the PS works is because it’s the last thing the reader reads (and not anything magical about the letters “P” and “S”), then one might replace the PS with a headline (or endline?), or a BTW (by the way)…or something else.

  48. Yes, I remembered “Buddha” -but primarily because I’m a buddhist. It wasn’t ‘different’ to me because the pattern had already been broken at that point.
    What I also remembered was ‘glass’ – because it was different. The first three are animals. Glass hit me as a (hard, cold) inanimate object.
    Just wondering if anyone else had the same experience.

  49. The activity at the beginning of the post was so enlightening. After I went through the list, I ended up remembering the 3 you expected me to remember, and I’m not a buddhist. Now I know why P.S. are so effective. Maybe I should use some other tactics found on those sales pages all over the web. :)

    Thank You

  50. Short and sweet post. An excellent reminder to recap or leave a takeaway. Like this article, the p.s. should also be short and sweet…followed by a call to action.

  51. Hi guys,

    I always remember the headline. Anything else that comes after that I forget.

    Kind regards,

    Sam
    X

  52. I did it!! I put a PS at the end of my last newsletter, after reading this post.

    Funny thing… when I reread my newsletter all I am aware of is the Banner (which is gorgeous by the way,) and the PS. Everything in the middle – which is an announcement of an upcoming show and really really deserves to be read – becomes blah blah blah until the PS.

    I hope this isn’t true for my readers. I had to laugh, though, when I realized how I was reading it.

  53. I got the elephant and stereo right but didn’t remember Buddha, but then I was only born in Canada and now live in Wales.

    I love your insights, Sean. Another great article, thanks.

  54. That was such a great way to illustrate your point and to teach the value of the P.S… Thanks for sharing that and I’m definitely going to remember this when writing Email Marketing messages, Sales Letters and even Sales Videos! Thanks!