#1 Non-Negotiable Rule to Follow Before You Write Anything

#1 Non-Negotiable Rule to Follow Before You Write Anything

When’s the last time you reached out to a friend who wasn’t “super busy”?

Truth is, no one brags about doing one thing. Because that sounds lazy and unproductive.

We take for granted no one has time for anything other than running in a thousand different directions, multitasking like a crazy person.

Ironically, research shows our brain isn’t able to truly multitask. We simply flit from one thing to another quickly without fully investing in any one thing.

In the end, nothing (or very little) gets done.

This also pertains to copywriting.

The Rule of One is a simple concept to grasp, but it takes research and brainstorming to get it right.

Each page or email you write should follow this rule.

Here’s The Rule of One defined… you have:

  • ONE reader
  • ONE offer
  • ONE big idea
  • ONE promise

If you’re unclear on who you’re talking to, serve up a multi-faceted, confusing offer that doesn’t succinctly state why your solution is the answer they need, and don’t give them confidence in your promise, they’ll bounce.

Let’s  break it down…


Our first non-negotiable rule is this: You’ll need to be able to describe your reader as if you were writing their bio. 

You’ll need to know all about their biggest challenge — what is it? 

When does it become a problem most? 

What have they tried? 

Why haven’t they found a solution yet? 

What other solutions currently exist?

What’s their stage of awareness?

What’s the market sophistication for this product?

— and more.

Paint a picture of them in your mind so they’ll know you understand them. And they’ll trust you.


Your one offer is what your customer buys.

But it goes beyond a simple widget or program.

Your one offer tells your reader what they can expect to gain from purchasing your offer / service / product. 

For example, if you’re a SaaS business, the main offer may be to upgrade to a VIP plan in order to keep using the service and getting results for your team. 

If you’re an e-commerce Jam of the Month club, the basic offer may be to subscribe to an annual plan and get two free jars of kumquat preserves bonus.

But that’s just the beginning of a slam-dunk, can’t refuse, offer.

What else can you add to make it irresistible?

Be crystal clear: How long? How much? When does it end?

Also, include a detailed refund or cancellation policy to act as a risk reducer to their decision. 

“Satisfaction guaranteed” is not clear enough. What should they expect to experience? For how long? 

How should they use your product to get the most out of your offer. Such as use it once a day for 30 days. And then what they should do if they don’t achieve the results you promise.

Set expectations up front to avoid misunderstandings later.

Fine tune your cancellation policy by specifying how long they have to make a decision. Do they get a refund? Credit? How can they use their credit? Etc.

This helps them feel they’re covered should they not like or get results from your product. 


This one’s the toughest Rule of One to nail down. 

The one big idea focuses on your one reader’s motivation. How is the world weighing in on that motivation? 

And what does your product have to say about all of that? Why is your product an important part of that conversation?

Your One Big Idea must fulfill three things:

  1. The reader desires it in a way they can feel viscerally
  2. It’s stated in a way the reader had not heard it before
  3. It draws the reader in and makes them want to learn more

Take a look at this ad:

The motivation for this one reader is to get rid of the foot pain she feels every day from wearing heels. She envies people like nurses who can wear soft-soled shoes every day and don’t have this foot pain.

So the promise from these insoles, “Turn Your Heels into Sneakers” meets all three criteria for a Big Idea: The reader desires it, it’s worded in a new way they haven’t heard before, and it draws the reader in.

The best way to uncover a Big Idea is to listen to how people talk about the issue. Pay attention and look for sound bites that come up naturally that pinpoint your Big Idea.

The end result should sound natural, like part of the conversation. 


Your one promise can be easily established once you’ve worked on your one offer and cemented your one big idea.

So start with your one offer and one big idea.

Once you’ve established these, brainstorm the best outcomes you can imagine by listing them with  “we promise…” in front of them.

We promise… you’ll feel like you’re walking on clouds

We promise… you’ll fall in love with your heels again

We promise… you’ll be a better mood at the end of the day now that you’re not in pain

Then choose the strongest one. 

Just use caution if you’re promising something measurable. Legally, you’ll need strong support for making such claims. In those cases, consult legal guidance to review and write microtype for it if necessary. 

Start everything you write with these steps in mind and your message will always land on target.

Other posts you may enjoy:

3 Ways to Instantly Improve Your Copy 

Use This Copywriting Formula for Everything You Write

How to Use Words to Persuade

Write this way,

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