People buy on emotions and then justify the decision with facts.
And more than 20 years of sales experience has taught me it’s true about most people (Probably everyone, but I try to steer clear from making absolute statements about people. Especially when it comes to personality traits).
So most people buy on emotion and justify the decision with logic. And most marketers understand selling on emotion.
But I still see a shit ton of copy out there that neglects the “logic” part…
What’s the secret to writing persuasive sales copy?
Simple enough question… with a simple answer…
THE ANSWER : I do not know… and neither does anyone else.
That’s because there is no “secret” to writing persuasive sales copy.
No secret sauce… No magic formula… No two thousand year old discovery that can show you how to instantly get a 100% response rate…
There’s only fundamental salesmanship that can be tweaked and tested to fit different situations.
The truth is, nobody knows what copy will get the best response, before it goes live. The last 100 years of direct response have proven that great looking copy can flop, while mediocre copy, delivered at the right time to the right people, can knock it out of the park.
Now in all fairness, many good books have been written on the awesome power of selling through the written word. And you don’t need me to write another cookbook just to reheat yesterday’s leftovers.
But my hope for this post is by sharing a small taste of my own personal thought process, it might resonate with a few more people.
And who knows, maybe it’ll even help someone up their game a bit.
Simple definition… SEO writing is content that’s Search Engine Optimized.
Which basically means having the right format, and density of “keywords” or “keyword phrases” in your writing, so the search engines know how to index your pages.
When we get the SEO right, our web pages show up at the top of search results.
And that’s what we want, right?
Well, yes… and no.
Yes, we do want our content to be Search Engine Optimized, so it has the best chance of showing up at the top of search engines.
But the problem starts when we write content with SEO as the main, or only focus. It might get us to the top of the search engines, but here’s the caveat…
Search engines don’t buy anything! People do.
What good is having your content show up near the top of google, if no humans actually want to read it.
Always remember, people use search engines to look for a particular phrase because they want to know more about it, or because they want to buy what you’re selling.
If your content reads like it was written by a robot, for robots, then you can pat yourself on the back for getting to the top of google. And when you’re done patting yourself on the back, you can spend the rest of your day wondering why your bounce rate is north of 98%
That said… There is a balance between SEO content, and HUMAN optimized content.
And that’s what we’re going to look at right now. How SEO copywriting can destroy your content (and possibly ruin your brands reputation at the same time). And what we can do to avoid this mistake, while still ranking in the search engines…
Have you ever wanted to buy something, so you decide to do a little “due diligence” in order to find your best choice? Only to discover that the more you learn – the more confusing it gets to make a decision?
Who knew there were so many different types of earbuds for my mp3 player?
I just wanted a pair that sounds good at a reasonable price. So I headed over to Amazon only to discover 400 pages of earbuds for sale!!!???
Holy crap!!! (I thought this was going to be an easy purchase, but now I don’t know which ones to buy)
Do I want sound dampening? (whatever that means?)
Noise reduction? (No, I want them to make noise. It’s kinda the whole purpose)
Wide ones or skinny ones? Rubber tips or plastic tips? Over the ear or not?
And what the hell are “Airpods”???
Now I’ve got a headache, when all I wanted to do was buy a pair of earbuds for my mp3 player.
Of course, that was Amazon where we expect to find a massive variety of choices for sale.
But there’s a valuable lesson here for all of us smaller marketers…
If you’ve ever heard a good story, or got caught up in a great movie, then you already know the power that stories have to enchant an audience.
One reason stories captivate us so much is because, as humans, for thousands of years it was the way we taught lessons and communicated ideas from one generation to the next.
So basically humans are hard-wired to tell, and listen to stories. And they’re an essential part of human communication.
Another reason stories work so well is they have the ability to create empathy with the characters. They can stir up our emotions and cause us to create a bond with the main characters and their situation.
As copywriters we can tap into this natural urge for stories and draw customers into our message, and into our brand.
In fact, stories can be one of the most powerful marketing tools we have, because when used properly stories can influence our emotions, behavior, and ultimately our buying decisions.
So the real question is… “How do we use stories to sell our products”?
One copywriting staple that belongs in almost every offer is the “guarantee” (I say “almost” every offer because some offers, like clearance sales, or going out of business sales, or private sales, might be “as is, as seen, no guarantee” offers)
But for the most part, if you plan on making a lot of sales, a solid guarantee is a must have to relieve the natural skepticism from consumers.
If a company is willing to guarantee their product, then it must be pretty good… right? And if you’re willing to refund my money then there’s no risk to making the purchase.
So a solid guarantee can remove some of the hesitation from the purchasing decision.
Of course, nearly every product has a guarantee or warranty of some kind. But not all guarantees are created equal.
For example, most products will at least have a generic guarantee that looks something like these…
– Try it risk-free for 30 days.
– If you’re not completely satisfied, we’ll give your money back.
– Simply return the product within 90 days for a full refund.
Now technically there’s nothing wrong with any of these guarantees. And while it’s true that all of them make the purchase seem less risky, and might instill a little more confidence in the product, the problem is they all look exactly the same as the guarantee everybody else (aka. your competition) is offering.
I’ve said it 1000 times before and I’ll say it again…
In the past, marketers have tried to hype up and even glamorize their products or services to make them sound more exciting and irresistible.
And technically there’s nothing wrong with that way of thinking, because we all need to make our offer as exciting as possible, so our visitors will want what we’re selling… right?
Unfortunately too many advertisers took the hype too far, and now most consumers have caught on and are becoming immune to all the dubious claims and hyped-up B.S.
I mean let’s face it… Not EVERY product can be the “All New Amazing Solution” to every persons dreams. (no matter how fast, easy, safe, and “scientifically” proven you claim it to be)
Consumers are pretty savvy these days and most of us have grown weary of all the “over the top” claims made by advertisers and promoters.
As a result; Our bullshit detectors have been set to high and we’ve learned to ignore (or just roll our eyes at) the hypey claims coming from the advertising world.
Those types of ads might still make a few sales, mostly because there will always be new people who haven’t seen them yet, but they don’t engender trust among the masses. And they will never give you a reputation for being sincere or trustworthy.
The way to generate trust is not to make outrageous claims that can’t be believed. But instead we need to be authentic with our product. Here’s why…
The year was 1994 and I had just walked away from the last official J-O-B that I would ever work at. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, but I knew that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life working for peanuts, just to make someone else rich.
On top of that, after 2 years in the army followed by 7 years working at that sawmill; My 30 year old self was all done taking orders from idiots.
So off I went, headstrong and unsure what the future would bring, but cocksure that I could do it better on my own.
I tried MLM for a while (because someone told it was an easy way to make big money, in a short amount of time). After a little more than a year, I was beginning to suspect that my MLM recruiter wasn’t completely honest about how easy it would be. So I started a small home improvement business.
After about 2 years on my own (the time it took for me to blow through most of my savings) I began to realize that I didn’t know diddly jack squat about running a business.
I was good at face-to-face selling, and a friend was taking care of the bookkeeping for me, but without a steady flow of customers my business was like a truck with no fuel.
That meant I had to get good at advertising and marketing, in a hurry. Otherwise I’d need to choose between finding another job… or getting really drunk and driving my car over a cliff. (and both of those options had about the same appeal to me)
So I started learning everything I could about advertising and marketing. And as I implemented what I learned, my phone started ringing more and more. Pretty soon I was flush with cash, and I was hiring my first few employees.
Now as powerful as all types of marketing can be, the one thing that that drove my fascination the most, was the magic I saw happening whenever I changed a few words in my sales copy. Simply changing a few words, or shuffling them around, often made the difference between a trickle of response, or a flood of leads pouring in.
And that was it… My love affair with words was born, and I began devouring everything I could find on the topic of copywriting. My girlfriend at the time told me I was becoming borderline obsessed, but she was too late… I had already crossed over that border.
Over the years, I owned and operated a few more small businesses. And I continued to learn and test different copywriting styles, until eventually I began writing and consulting for other business owners. And that brings us to today…
OK, I know that was a pretty long introduction. And I thank you for sticking with me this far. But I imagine you’d like me to just get on with the 4 Things I Wish I Knew, when I first started writing sales copy… Like I promised in the headline of this post?
Well OK then, here we go…
(note: I did not make any of these things up on my own. I learned these lessons over the years, and as I learned them my copy got better and better. These lessons may sound familiar or obvious to some of you, but based on a lot of the sales copy I see these days, there’s many people out there who still need to learn them)
So here we are, back for part 2 of some really cool persuasion secrets of a con artist, that you can adapt to your sales copy.
Before we get started I’d like to thank everybody who sent me positive feedback on part 1 of this article. (I suppose I should also thank the two guys who sent me snarky feedback…? Naw, screw those guys. I’m just gonna thank the positive folks this time around)…
And just a reminder, when you’re logged into the community you can always post your comments right here on this page instead of trying to message me.
Anyway, I got enough positive feedback from part one; so as promised, I’m delivering part 2 for your education, and entertainment. (Hmm, I guess that would make it “edu-tainment”?)
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s continue with part 2 of our story…
When I was younger I had a friend named Mark M. (for privacy reasons I won’t use his last name here). Mark was an interesting character, and a lot of fun to hang out with. And he was also one of the smoothest con artists I ever knew.
30 years later I can still remember the day we went to a local shopping mall, just to hang out.
We walked into that mall with less than $20 between the two of us. And a couple hours later we walked back out with full bellies from one of the restaurants, and Mark had shopping bags with over $200 worth of brand new clothes. (not stolen… these clothes were “given” to him by the shop clerks) And this was just another average day for Mark.
Over the years, we lost touch and I don’t know whatever happened to my friend. I figure he’s either a multi-millionaire by now… or in prison (It could’ve gone either way). But watching him in action always fascinated me so much, that it eventually led me down a road of studying social psychology, social engineering and persuasion. (I never wanted to be a con artist, but I did become obsessed with understanding how that shit worked)
Which brings us to today.
Today I’m going to share a few tricks of the con-artist trade that also resemble “honest” tricks of the copywriting trade.
So if you’re ready, let’s dive right in…
WARNING! The following list of techniques should ONLY be used for good (not evil). If you’re clever enough to merge them into your copy, you will see higher conversion rates. But if you choose to use them to deceive people it will probably come back to bite you in the ass. And any legal troubles you get into are your own fault. So don’t blame me… and consider yourself warned.
The importance of using articles to help promote your website, cannot be overstated.
Not only can they add useful content to your online presence, which gives people a reason to visit your website, but articles can also promote you and your company as being a knowledgeable authority in your industry.
But, it’s not just about stuffing your site with articles for the sake of having a lot of content.
Cheap content might fill up your website, but if you become known for having a website full of useless garbage, it will do more harm than good to your company’s reputation.
On the other hand, a well written article will catch the eye and interest of your customers and keep them coming back for more. And they may even recommend your site to other people.
Here’s a couple basic tips to help you make your articles better…