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…
Note: Not everybody will have the same thought process all the time. But after observing, and talking with thousands of people over the decades, I’ve noticed these patterns are common more times than not.
For an example of how it works, let’s say we’re selling an exercise video…
When our target audience first encounters our offer, the first thing we need to do is break through the clutter of their daily lives. In other words… Get their ATTENTION.
That’s why our headline needs to have a good hook (Remember – call out your audience… have a unique angle… specific promise… benefit driven…)
When our headline STOPS them in their tracks, and gets them to say “Wait a minute, this is something for me”…
We have just gotten their attention…
And when our headline gets their attention, we’ve broken through the first obstacle – Advertising Clutter.
But people are still busy, and the next thought is often “yeah, this looks OK, but I’m busy. Do I really have time for this right now”?
That’s when our opening copy (Lede) needs to build interest. It needs to flow from the headline that brought them in, and quickly build interest. Because if something is important enough to your reader… then they’ll make the time to dig a little deeper.
After we draw them in and gain their interest, the next hurdle will be skepticism. And that’s when we can hear our audience say… ” OK, but I’ve seen it all before. What makes you any different from all the other guys selling the same thing? And how do I know I can trust you? There’s a lot of scam artists out there…”
This is where “proof” comes in to play. Instant proof will go a long way towards reducing the resistance from your audience.
Testimonials can be used as proof. But testimonials are really a weak form of proof these days. Because nobody knows if they’re for real, or if it’s just a close friend of yours, or if you paid somebody for the review …?
If you have testimonials or references, then by all means use them. Just don’t rely on them to do all the heavy lifting. (Unless it’s a third party that endorsement comes froma celebrity, in which case their endorsement comes with a following built right in. And that can be very powerful).
A guarantee is another good proof element. Because if you’re willing to guarantee your offer, then you must believe in what you’re selling, right?
The bolder the guarantee, the better. (1 full year guarantee… If for any reason you’re not completely satisfied just send it right back to us, and we’ll even pay for the return shipping cost…)
Better proof would be to make the advertisement itself valuable. You can offer a coupon for a free sample. Or if it’s an info product give them a taste of the info, right there in the ad.
Basically, the more proof you can offer, the quicker your readers will start to trust you. When they trust you, their defenses will start coming down. And when their defenses come down, then your message can become a welcome part of their day. And when that happens, their wallets start to come out.
So those are the first three hurdles we need to overcome in our copy. There’s more to winning copy than just that, but when you get this first part right you’ll be ahead of most marketers today, and your conversion rates will only get better.
One more obstacle that we need to overcome is a lack of urgency.
Even if someone is interested in what we’re offering, many times they’ll think to themselves “yeah, this looks good but I’m busy right now, so I’ll get back to it later.”
We don’t want that to happen. Because there’s an old saying in direct response advertising… “If someone puts down your ad, and says they’ll get back to it later, there’s a 90% chance that you just lost the sale.”
That’s because daily life comes rolling back in, and your ad is no longer top priority compared to everything else going on in your readers life.
And that’s why we need to give people a reason to act now.
The most basic urgency mechanism is a limited time offer. (only available until midnight tonight… only 10 more left in stock… the price goes up tomorrow… etc.)
One note of caution here… limited availability offers work great, as long as they’re genuine. But false urgency will make you look dishonest and manipulative and will destroy all your credibility. (i.e. – A countdown timer showing that time is running out for the offer, yet the timer magically resets every time someone visits the page)
One of the best ways to add a genuine sense of urgency is to give a “reason why” it’s limited. (i.e. – The manufacturer just raised their prices, so when our current supply is gone we’ll need to raise our prices with the next shipment)
The reason you give for a limited offer will vary with the offer, but when we start with a “genuine” reason, the integrity of our offer will remain intact.
Well my friend, Here’s where we’re going to end this short series on The Basic Fundamentals of Copywriting.
In future posts I’ll go into more detail on many of the things we covered here, but this entire series was originally supposed to be only 1 short article. (Somehow it morphed into a 6 part mini series)
Anyway, hopefully I packed some goodness into our short time together, I hope you gained something from it, and I trust you found it worth your while to stay till the end?
Here’s to writing more successful copy, more often…
All the best,
P.S. before you leave here I’d like to ask you for a small favor. It’s a simple thing, but it will mean a great deal to me…
I’d like you to reach out and let me know what kind of copywriting and advertising stuff you’re interested in. I have a vast reservoir of knowledge and experience from my 20+ years in this game, and I’m always learning more, but teaching it is only useful when it’s something you want to learn.
So let me know what ad-copy related topics you’re interested in, and I’ll see what we can do to bring it to you. Thanks.
- Part 2 – The secret to writing persuasive sales copy - April 30, 2020
- The Secret To Writing Persuasive Sales Copy - April 19, 2020
- Here’s Why SEO Writing Can Destroy Your Content (and what you can do to make it better) - March 29, 2020