Well let’s just dive right in and pick up where we left off in part 1 of this post, the secret to writing persuasive sales copy…
Last time we ended with the age old proverb…
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.
What is SEO writing?
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…
Of course the only way to know for sure if your sales copy is effective is to test it and measure the results.
But there is a way you can pre-test your copy to give you a better than average chance that it’ll be good…
Have people read your copy before you put it out into the world.
In fact, have as many regular / average people as possible read it before you put it out into the world.
If you work at a company, show it to the non-advertising people. Show it to the mail clerk, show it to the maintenance guy, show it to the person who brings you coffee in the morning…
If you don’t work for a big company, then show it to friends, neighbors, or family members. Hell, you can even show it to the mailman if you get the chance.
And here’s the key to this whole process…
There’s an old saying that goes… “The enemy of my enemy, is my friend”.
And when it comes to writing great sales copy this can be a very powerful thing for you to remember.
When writing copy, if you really want to rally the troops behind your cause, few things sell better than a little outrage at a common enemy.
If you and your target audience share resentment towards the same institution, corporation, or deity, then you’re already on the same side. And when you’re on the same side, it’s easy to get people to pay attention to you when you speak out against the enemy.
In religion, it’s the devil trying to get your soul…
In finance, it’s the big banks or the government that wants to steal your money…
In the health industry, it’s bogus medical claims from the other guys, or it’s big pharma and the FDA that’s corrupt, and they’re the ones who are keeping you fat and sick…
In many retail sectors it’s the big box stores, or Amazon that’s destroying the livelihood of small business…
By drawing on a common enemy, you create an emotional reaction in your reader. (the most likely emotion is “fear” or “outrage”).
And invoking emotion is the holy grail when it comes to copywriting.
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…
I was having a chat with a friend of mine (who’s also a writer) and after a little while, the conversation came around to the topic of syntax, and context in writing.
(yeah, I guess that probably makes us a couple of nerds. But this is the kind of stuff we’re interested in. So it’s not that weird for us to talk about advertising and copywriting)
Anyway, I thought I’d share the highlights of our conversation with you.
If you’re interested… then read on.
If you’re not interested… then I guess you can go nerd out somewhere else?
First, let’s start with a quick definition of syntax, just to get the ball rolling…
Basically, “syntax” in writing refers to the order of the words you use.
By using the same words, in a different order, we can completely change the meaning of the message.
Take this next sentence for example (Warning: cheesy example coming up…)
“The dog bit the boy”
Now, let’s change the order of the words…
“The boy bit the dog”
See how that works?
Same words, but the sentence now has a completely different meaning. Especially for the boy (and the dog)
So how can this syntax thing help you with your copywriting?
Let’s say you have a bonus offer with your product, and you want to add a touch of scarcity to your call to action.
The way you word it can have a huge impact on how it’s perceived by your audience.
Take this next example…
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”?
Storytelling to engage consumers…
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…
December 23, 2019 in General
– You need copy that sells, but your current sales copy isn’t getting the job done
– You’re doing a dozen other things in your business, and you don’t have time to do everything yourself
– You’ve hired cheap copywriters from freelance sites, and just ended up wasting your money
– You’re ready to get serious about bringing more sales to your business
If any of these things sound familiar, then it’s time to hire a professional copywriter.
You don’t need to spend tens of thousands of dollars on some corporate ad agency… But you also don’t want to hire some $50 content spinner who’s never sold anything (except for $50 copy, to you).
No, you need to hire a professional copywriter who…
1. knows the “power of words”…
2. charges reasonable rates that bring you a solid ROI…
3. knows how to sell from the written word, and knows what they’re doing when it comes to bringing you more sales.
Now to be fair… Some businesses simply don’t need professional-grade sales copy.
If all you need is inexpensive content to fill your website with articles or blog posts, then there’s millions of low priced content writers on the low end freelance sites. And many of them can serve your purpose quite well.
But, if persuading your audience to spend their money with you is important… Then you need someone who specializes in Direct Response Copywriting.
Think of it this way… You wouldn’t hire a cashier to be your accountant, would you?
Sure, they both serve an important purpose. And they both handle financial transactions. But they are two very different specialties.
So if it’s time for some new copy, to help you increase your sales…
Here’s 3 reasons why it’s well worth your investment to hire a professional copywriter who knows what they’re doing…
When selling through the written word many writers are tempted to only talk about everything that’s great with their product.
Which makes sense at one level, because if we only talk about the good stuff it will cause our reader to only think about the good stuff, and they’ll be more likely to want it… right?
At least that’s the theory… But the reality is quite different…
The truth is… People are skeptical of marketing and sales pitches in general. And everyone knows that even the best products aren’t perfect.
So when we only talk about the good stuff, there’s a little voice in the back of your readers mind (sometimes it’s a big voice in the front of their mind) that’s wondering “What’s the catch? There’s always a catch! Because if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is too good to be true”.
That’s why when we dismiss or ignore objections, and try to hide all the flaws in our offer, many people become even more skeptical. And they start to think of all the things that could be wrong with your product, and all the reasons they shouldn’t buy what you’re selling.
It’s not that they don’t want to trust you. But they’ve been burned before, or they heard about someone else who got burned, and so they naturally resist being marketed and sold to.
If your product isn’t perfect, never believe for a second that if you only highlight the good qualities, that the bad qualities won’t be noticed.
Consumers are very sophisticated these days, and online shopping has made it relatively easy for them to comparison shop without having to leave their homes or visit multiple stores.
On top of that, some sites even have reviews of products that tell consumers what they can expect from a product and what makes one different from another.
Quite frankly, it’s a bit foolish and naive to think that in this day and age you’ll have a totally uninformed consumer show up at your store.
So what do we do about the natural skepticism of today’s consumer?
This is part 2 of my post on “Keeping Your Audience Engaged With Your Copy”.
As always, I’m going to pack a lot of info onto this page for you (while still keeping a reasonable time limit). So make yourself comfortable, and prepare yourself for a few minutes of education and entertainment (I guess we can call it “edu-tainment”?)
In Keeping Your Audience Engaged – Part 1 we talked about staying focused on your audience, and staying focused on 1 main idea per piece. In this lesson we’re going to talk about structure, word usage, and flow of our copy.
Note: We’re going to primarily talk about online copy throughout this lesson, but aside from a few structural differences most of the concepts apply to offline as well. And with some minor adjustments much of it applies to audio and video scripts too.
So let’s just dive right in and I’ll do my best to make the next few minutes of your time as edu-taining as possible…
Rule #3 – Making it easy to absorb your message
When it comes to keeping our audience engaged with our copy, there’s a few key concepts we need to remember about our average reader… This isn’t meant to be derogatory, and it doesn’t apply to everyone, but these things are nearly universal for the mass of our average audience…
To begin with, the attention span of your average reader is short, and getting shorter all the time. Thanks in no small part to the sheer amount of distractions, and information overload available to us on the internet, there seems to be an exploding trend of what I refer to as “electronically induced ADHD”.
So in order to counteract this trend we not only need to make our copy interesting, but we also need to make it as easy as possible to absorb.
Of course, if our product is vitally important to our audience, like the last bottle of water in the desert, then their own self interest will do wonders to keep their attention focused on what we have to say.
But in our busy society, when a curious or only partially interested reader first sees your copy, one thing that goes through their mind is whether or not they have time to sift through your message.
Assuming your headline brings people into your copy (because if it doesn’t then the rest of this doesn’t matter anyway), and your lede gains some interest…
… As your average reader, I’m going to quickly skim or scan the entire page before deciding how much time to give you.
Your audience is looking for two main things at this point…
Authors note: Throughout my teachings I use the terms “client” and “customer” interchangeably. I also use the pronouns “he” and “she” interchangeably, and also the words “product” and “service”. So whichever word I write on the page just know it represents both.
In this session we’re going to talk about keeping your audience engaged with your copy.
And a lot of it has to do with the structure and flow of our copy, and how it relates to the readability of our writing.
We all know the importance of an attention-grabbing headline, and we understand that it needs to call out our ideal audience and pull them into our copy.
Now we’re going to look at how to keep things flowing beyond the headline so our writing not only communicates with ease, but so each element of our copy keeps the reader engaged right through to the conclusion.
First, let’s start with some guidelines. And then we’ll go deeper into each one…
Rule #1 – Stay focused on your audience
First and foremost, always focus on the reader and what’s in it for them.
If you want your reader to stay engaged with your copy, then we need to make sure they know exactly why they should care. And one thing that nearly everyone cares about is… themselves.
In sales copy make a big bold promise early on (with your headline and your lede) that tells the reader what’s in it for them and why they should care. Then make sure you give them a reason to stay with you.
And the best reason is because they feel they’re getting something in exchange for their time, and money.
One of the easiest and most obvious ways to make sure your copy is focusing on the reader, is a simple method I have my students do when they evaluate copy. The only criteria for this skill is you must be able to count.
I can almost hear you asking… “what does counting have to do with writing persuasive copy”?
Well, you’re about to find out…
Welcome back –
So in part 1 we touched on a few powerful ways you can improve the performance of your headlines. In this next short lesson we’re going to go over some common powerful headline formulas.
If you study a lot of winning sales copy you’ll probably recognize these formulas, and there’s a good reason they get used so often… Because they work!
Rather than having me go into a long introduction for this post (because if you read part 1 of this series then you’ve already been primed for what’s coming next), what do you say we just dive right in and get to the good stuff, OK?
1 – The Big Bold Benefit Headline puts your biggest, most compelling benefit right up front.
These headlines don’t beat around the bush, they get right to the point with a compelling benefit.
“Earn Up To $5,000 In 7 Days From The Comfort Of Your Home”
“Lose 17 Pounds in Just 2 Weeks Without Dieting Or Strenuous Exercise!”
“Clear Up Your Acne In Just 3 Days”
As you can see, this type of headline doesn’t try to swoon, persuade, or cajole you into anything. It simply presents a compelling offer. And if it’s something that interests you, then you’ll stop to see what it’s about.
2 – The News-Style Headline sounds like an editorial or a news story headline.
These headlines work great for advertorial style copy where the entire ad has the appearance of a news story.
To get the most impact from this style of headline it helps if you can tie it into some legitimate news that’s happening in the current news cycle. But if you can’t tie it into a news cycle it can still be made to look legit, for some powerful results.
A couple examples would be…
Whether you’re writing a blog posts, sales letter, email, or any kind of copy where you want to engage your reader…
… If you want your copy to perform well, you have to start with an attention grabbing headline.
In this short post I’ll show you how to capture the attention of your ideal audience, and pull them into your copy.
This lesson is crucial because if your headline doesn’t bring people in to your copy, then it doesn’t matter what you’re selling or how great your offer is. Because few people will ever see it.
The late, Great David Ogilvy was quote as saying
“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”
Which makes sense, because if 100 people see your headline, but it doesn’t peak the interest of 80, then that’s 80 people who will never read the body copy.
I guess you could say a bad headline can kill your copy, before it ever gets a chance.
So, how would do we minimize the chance of writing a bad headline, and maximize the chance of creating a winner…?
Well, that’s what we’re going to talk about right now…
September 15, 2019 in Copywriting Fundamentals
Mindset (overcoming your readers initial resistance)
OK, in this last session we’ll start to move away from the techniques and methods, and focus on the mindset of our average reader.
Understanding “what” to do, and “how” to do it is crucial for the success of your sales copy. But understanding “why” is just as important (maybe even more important). Because when we understand why something works, we can more easily decide which elements are prime for tweaking and testing, to increase response rates.
So what are readers thinking when they first see our sales copy?
Of course at the top of the list is the old acronym WIIFM (What’s In It For Me). Because the truth is, nobody cares about what you’re selling until they know how it will benefit them.
That’s why we always need to think about the benefits to our audience whenever we sit down to write anything. Keeping this one thing in focus assures us that we’re always moving in the right direction.
We also need to remember that we’re competing against some natural, and very powerful obstacles working against us right from the start.
A few of these obstacles are…
1. Advertising Clutter:
People are being exposed to hundreds (even thousands) of advertisements every day.
There’s radio and T.V. ads, billboards on the roads we travel, promotional signs in the stores we shop at, email promotions (and spam), ads on nearly every website we visit on the internet… And the list goes on…
As a society most of us have learned to “tune out” the Advertising Clutter, and we only pay attention to the few things that are interesting or important to us.
OK, I can almost hear you saying… “But I don’t see thousands of advertisements every day.”
And that’s exactly the point… They are everywhere, but we tune 99% of them out before they ever get the chance to register.
The next obstacle is preoccupation…
People are busy with their own daily lives. They have their own problems, desires, anticipations… And nobody asked you to interrupt their day with your sales pitch.
So they’re not only unaware that your ad is about to show up, but they also don’t care about it. Unless it attracts their attention with something that’s important, or interesting to them.
And then we have skepticism…
Simply put… They’ve heard it all before and they’re not only wary of your claims, but they’re actively skeptical or even cynical about sales pitches in general.
All of this, and more, is working against us before our copy even gets in front of people.
That’s why things like our Headline, and Lede need to grab attention and pull people into our copy. And we need to anticipate resistance so we can address it quickly.
Let’s walk through a typical thought pattern when someone first sees our copy…
August 27, 2019 in Copywriting Fundamentals
OK, in this session we’re going to talk about formulas for writing persuasive copy.
One thing we rarely see when someone shows us a copywriting formula, is the acknowledgement that they should only be used as guidelines to writing more compelling copy.
Because not every formula will work the same for every offer.
In fact, at last count my archives had around 30 different “formulas” for writing copy. And while most of them have similar concepts, trying to follow them all at once would leave us lost, and turn our copy into unmanageable mess.
So in this post we’re just going to cover a couple of the common elements held by most of them.
Let’s start with the most basic copywriting formula, and expand on it a bit with some standard checklist items…
August 19, 2019 in Copywriting Fundamentals
Authors note: This post belongs to a multi part series called the fundamentals of copywriting , and it holds the most value when the entire series is read in order, starting with part 1 Understanding the product .
In the last lesson we went over some of what makes a compelling headline more powerful. This time we’re going to look at the layout and readability of our copy.
Making your copy easy to read, and with a certain cognitive flow, will keep more people glued to your words and engaged with your message. And the longer people stay engaged with your message, the better chance we have to bring them closer to the sale.
The actual structure of your copy will vary, depending on where it’s being used.
For example: Online; the layout of email is different from a full sales page, which is different from a lead magnet opt-in page. And offline there’s even more differences.
But many of the same readability elements still apply.
Most of what we’ll talk about today will relate to the online world. Because even though I began copywriting 20+ years ago in the offline world, I understand and accept that these days most people are interested in online copy. So that’s what we’re going to focus on for now.
And with that short intro, let’s dive right in and talk about the basic layout and readability of our copy…
August 12, 2019 in Copywriting Fundamentals
And now we’re going to begin tying the two together so we can present your product or service to your target audience in a way that means something to them.
Of course the first thing we need to do is get the attention of our ideal clients.
Because if we don’t get their attention then it doesn’t matter how good our offer is, because they’re never going to see it.
And that’s why today we’re going to start at the top of the page, with our “headline”.
Our headline can often make or break our offer, because It sets the tone for the rest of the copy.
The main purpose of our headline is to get the attention of our target audience, and offer them the promise of a better future (either take away their pain, or move them towards pleasure)
It’s the first touch-point from our offer. It gets our target markets attention by calling out and saying “Hey, here’s something of interest to you”.
And once we get peoples attention, then we’re off to a great start.
So if you’re ready to build an attention grabbing headline for your copy… Let’s get started…
August 4, 2019 in Copywriting Fundamentals
In our last session we talked about understanding your product along with its features and benefits.
But even more important than understanding the product, is knowing your audience. Because how you sell and the words you use in your copy is determined by who you’re selling to.
Simply put… unless you plan on buying 100% of your own product, it’s not about you or your company that makes the sale… it’s all about the customer and why they want to buy.
Understanding your audience Is critically important because each group of people will have different dreams and desires, and different fears, pain points, and cultural language that resonates with them.
For example: Stay at home moms have different priorities than single people with no immediate family. They may both want to buy healthy food, but one is doing it for the whole family’s sake while the other is doing it just for themselves. And you’ll need to use different language to trigger the emotional hot buttons from different groups…
If you’re selling to seasoned business professionals, you’re going to write differently than if you’re selling to first time entrepreneurs…
…If you’re selling to 20 year olds, you’re going to use different words than you would when your selling to 50 or 60 year olds.
These differences will influence the way you write your copy. And that’s why defining your customer is going to be the most important part of the copywriting process.
So let’s get started with defining your ideal customer…
July 31, 2019 in Copywriting Fundamentals
OK, so when it comes to the fundamentals of persuasive copywriting, no matter what you’re selling or who you’re selling it to, there’s a few things we always need to consider before we begin. It’s like setting the foundation for a building… The more solid the foundation, the more solid the building.
So today we’re going to touch upon one of the corner stones of a solid foundation…
Understanding the product.
We’re going to identify some key features and benefits that appeal to your audience. And we’re going to talk about understanding your offer (the product or service you’re presenting).
So if you’re ready… let’s get started…
Before we get started I just want to say for the record… I’ve never been a big fan of so called “power word” lists.
The main reason is because too many people read those lists, and then scattershot random power words throughout their writing. By the time they’re done they end up with content that might sound exciting… but has no substance.
It’s like filling your car with high octane fuel, and then driving really fast in a undisciplined direction. Eventually you run out of gas and end up in the middle of nowhere.
Personally, I prefer writing that has substance. Writing that leaves people better off for having read it.
Especially when we want people to take action from our words, having a deliberate direction is far more important than just moving fast.
So, with that as my disclaimer… I think most of us would still agree that some words have more emotional impact than others.
The goal of this post is to give you a few examples of words that can bring emotion and power to your writing.
Use them wisely, and you can embrace high impact fuel in your writing. Use them haphazardly, and I’ll call you a cab when you run out of gas…
OK, after that lengthy introduction, let’s just dive right in… Shall we…
To begin, let’s start with a couple broad based categories from some of the more powerful “Emotional Trigger” Words
(confessions from a 20 year copywriter) 4 Things I Wish I Knew, when I first started writing sales copy …
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)
May 24, 2019 in Writing Mindset
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…
May 11, 2019 in Writing Mindset
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.
Once upon a time… a long, long time ago… I met a brilliant writer with the initials CW, who taught me about something she called “The Curse of Knowledge.”
If you’re not sure what the the Curse of Knowledge is, then it will be my extreme pleasure to share it with you, as it was once shared with me.
My friend CW explained it to me thus…
May 3, 2019 in Writing Techniques
When it comes to writing effective sales copy there’s a few fundamental rules that always need to be followed (like using a powerful headline, interesting lede, compelling offer with proof, a call to action, etc.)
But this post isn’t about any of those things. Instead, I’m going to point out some of the more subtle things you can do (and not do) to make your copy more impactful, and help you power-up your response rates.
So if you’re ready, let’s just dive right in…
March 17, 2019 in Writing Techniques
OK, I already know some of you more intelligent and experienced copywriters understand what pre-suppositions and pre-framing is, when it comes to persuasive copywriting?
So this lesson is for the less experienced sales writer, who wants to “up their game” and take it to the next level.
First, let me start with a short and sweet definition of what we’re talking about here, just to get this party started…
For the sake of this post, a pre-supposition is basically the same thing as pre-framing or “priming” the next thing you’re about to say, to put your reader in the right state of mind.
(Yes, I can already hear the grammarians among us screaming “that’s not the true definition of a presupposition!”)
Well, maybe… maybe not. But I write copy designed to sells things, not to impress my English teacher. So this is the definition we’re going with for this post.
Whether it’s an email, a sales page, a space ad… or whatever… Arguably, your headline is the most important part of any sales piece.
I say “arguably” the most important, because I’ve had a number of people try to debate me that the “offer”, or “the big idea”, or “closing / call to action” is the most important part of making a sales piece work.
And all those things are important. But if your headline doesn’t get the attention of your ideal audience and draw them into the message, then who’s gonna read the rest of your copy and see any of those other elements?
So for this article, we’re going to consider your headline as the most important… (we can debate about it later)
There are no absolute headline formulas that work everywhere (different offers call for different openings) but, certain types of headlines have proven to work very well over the years. By following the concepts (oh, let’s call them “formulas”) of the following headlines, you can give your message a winners edge when when it comes to starting the persuasion path for your readers to follow.
Note: This original article was first posted on one of my other sites, sarmarketing.net, but for those who haven’t seen it yet, I’m posting here to help spread the joy 🙂
Here’s another good writing exercise for you.
This one was introduced to me by a friend, and fellow writer, on one of the forums I used to hang out at.
BIG SHOUT OUT TO “FRED” over at the WF !!! (you know who you are… yeah!)
Anyway, It’s a pretty creative idea that could save you from the dreaded “WHITE PAGE OF DEATH !!!” (also known as writers block)
February 9, 2019 in Writing Techniques
Welcome back, my friends… In this next installment on Powerful Written Persuasion Techniques we’re going to talk about two more concepts that can help take your sales copy to the next level…
1. The concept of using pre-suppositions and pre-framing in our copy
2. The idea of getting micro-commitments from our audience
So if you’re ready, let’s just dive right in… shall we?
Pre-suppositions and Pre-framing
For the sake of this post, we’re going to combine pre-suppositions and pre-framing together. And define it as “casually implying a statement as a given fact, so we can bypass our readers critical skepticism and have our message more readily accepted.”
OK, I admit that definition is a mouthful (even I couldn’t say it 5 times, real fast). So let’s break it down a little…
January 27, 2019 in Writing Techniques
This short post is about Powerful Written Persuasion techniques (as the title would suggest).
Whether you’re writing an advertisement, a sales page, or an email… These simple, yet powerful persuasion techniques will make your job of persuasion much easier.
These techniques can (and will) help you ramp-up the power of your advertising and sales copy.
But before we get started I need to emphasize one major point… “Any” written persuasion techniques are only as good as the whole package of your offer. In other words…
- If you don’t understand your target audience, and what they want…
- If you’re presenting the wrong offer, to the wrong audience, at the wrong time…
- If you’re selling something of little to no value…
- If the rest of your copy is full of hype and B.S….
Then the best techniques in the world ain’t gonna help you sell very much.
Also, if your intent is to just trick people into giving you their money…
These techniques can help you make a few sales in the short term. But at the end of the day, deceiving people will always come back to haunt you.
So use these methods to improve your legitimate sales copy (with my blessings) or use them to manipulate people (at your own peril)
So without further ado (or further adon’t 🙂 ) Let’s get started…
January 24, 2019 in General
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Contributing articles to this community is another great way to increase your credibility, showcase your expertise, and attract new clients.
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