Can you remember a simple, three word sentence? It’s the essence of everything any marketer, copywriter or internet marketer will ever teach you. The magic words are: “Salesmanship in Print.” That’s it. If you want to be a master copywriter, or at least a darn good one, those three words should be etched in your mind and must be your first “resource” the moment you sit down to write your sales material. Salesmanship in Print. Let’s find out what it’s all about.
The Art Of Selling – Revisited
When you’re writing, whether it’s direct sales writing such as sales letters and promotional packages, or whether you’re simply communicating to your subscribers through your newsletter, there are a few principles to keep in mind:
* Buying decisions are based on emotions – the “needs” of your prospects, and how well you can “sell” your solution to those needs to your readers.
* People have a subconscious BS filter that automatically goes on red alert when they read a sales letter or are the target of a sales pitch. Reasoning with a prospect that already has that mental shield up will only make her resist more – you have to first prevent that shield from getting up, and failing that, you need to use an emotional bridge to get through the BS filter.
* To understand the “needs” of your prospects, you have to get into their heads to find out what they want (as in “a stronger and straighter golf swing” instead of “a better golf club”). Once you have that information, you can use it to write powerful, compelling copy that touches readers directly at their emotional core.
These principles are the essence of salesmanship, whether you are a car salesman, sales director for a Fortune 500 company, a door-to-door salesman or a copywriter looking to make his first big break. If you can’t talk to your audience on an “emotional” level, you might as well pack your bags and forget about making any serious money. Now that we’ve laid down the basics, let’s get some “advanced copywriting strategies” into the mix. In fact, when you read the rest of this lesson, you’ll be surprised at how simple the advice really is. The hard part in copywriting isn’t in knowing what to do; it’s about making the effort to put your own writing under the microscope and ensure that every word, every sentence that you put on paper is working directly and only towards making a sale. If it isn’t, you’re wasting your time.
Once Upon A Time…
Take a minute to consider a hypothetical situation regarding two marketers selling laptops:
– The first marketer gives you information, knowing fully well that you’ve come looking for a solution to your problem and not to be “sold”. He’s good at what he does, so he builds your interest in buying his product by sharing with you the experiences which have made a laptop a must-have for people on the move. He allays your concerns on the spot, and has the almost-psychic ability to anticipate your fears about such an expensive purchase by focusing on the long-term “benefits” that you will get out of this purchase.
– The second marketer starts off well by using attractive openers to get your attention, but the whole process turns into a long, drawn-out sales pitch where you’re constantly bombarded with feature after feature, without any answers to whether this particular laptop is “right” for you or not (or even if you really need a laptop).
Which one of those two would you buy from? The first one, obviously. In this hypothetical situation, you’ll notice that the first marketer builds an emotional bridge between him and his prospect, thus breaking right through the BS filter. He does that by “sharing his experiences” – essentially by telling the prospect an interesting, insightful story about how the product is a “necessity” – knowing fully well that the prospect is part of a targeted audience – in this case, entrepreneurs who are looking for the freedom to “take their business” with them wherever they go.
The “story” is the most powerful tool you can use in sales writing. Instead of forcing your sales pitch down the throat of your reader, you’re telling them something interesting and unique that will be able to help them fulfill their needs (be it a need to lose weight, gain search engine rankings or increase their self-confidence). Instead of going up to your prospect and saying: “Hey, I have something you should buy”, you are saying: “Hey, check this out.” and proceed to show them the benefits of your product, all without trying to “sell” by saying “Hey, you need this, buy this, it’s really cool!” It’s surprising how many people refuse to follow this line of thought. As people, we hate being “sold” to. It’s an invasion of our personal boundary, and nothing evokes anger like the uninvited sales pitch. It’s the same principle in sales letters and copywriting.
The Best Marketers Cheat
Yes, you read that right. All of the top marketing gurus you’ve heard of resort to cheating while writing their blockbuster sales letters. Every top marketer has a secret resource to “help them cheat” – a swipe file, a collection of top sales letters and ads, plus scores of lists contain words and phrases that are proven emotional triggers (review Joe Vitale’s “Hypnotic Marketing” package for an example). If you write, and you don’t have your own swipe file, I urge you to start one right now. It is by far the most important resource a copywriter can have. Not only will your swipe help you by showing you the right phrases and words to use to invoke emotional responses in your readers, but by studying the work of experts you’ll discover the different strategies you can easily adapt for your own sales material. The easiest way to start building your own personal swipe file is to get hold of a package like Joe Vitale’s that provides you with enough ammunition of “emotional triggers” in the form of words and phrases to work into your own sales writing. However, the best resource to learn copywriting is to get your hands on sales material written by the experts (Dan Kennedy, Gary Halbert, etc.). These are usually harder to come by, but just by reading up on a couple of these “stellar” sales letters (I’ve given a few links at the end of the lesson) will help you a long way towards learning how to effortlessly tap into the emotional well of your prospect and using proven “guru” techniques to sell your products. There are two more “advanced” techniques that I want to share with you – each of these has helped me enormously in my writing, and will definitely supercharge your sales letters as well.
Copywriting Tips From Gurus
In his products and seminars, Jay Abraham repeatedly emphasizes on asking readers and attendees to create and sharpen a 30-second sales pitch within the following scenario: “Imagine that you were standing in the middle of a large stadium filled to the brim with people. Now imagine that you had 30 seconds to present your product to your ‘audience’, keeping in mind that anyone can leave at anytime if they are not interested.”
How will you get their attention? How will you keep their attention? What can you say to make them “want” to listen to you? The only way to do all of the above is to get inside the head of your audience, figure out what they want and what interests them, and then give them that, tied in with your product. Play to the demand. Once you’re clear on that and you understand that you’re fulfilling a demand (as opposed to selling a product), you’ll be ready to develop your personal 30-second sales pitch. And once you have your ‘message’ ready, it will be the core of your sales material. What If I Put A Gun To Your Head? Don’t worry; I’m not going Postal on you. In fact, it’s a simple technique I learned from John Carlton that is remarkably effective in helping writers “get started” and break out of the “writer’s block”. Writing isn’t a fairytale (otherwise we’d all be good at it). It takes effort and persistence. However, by following this technique, you can sidestep most of the problems that come up before you start writing.
“Gun to your head” writing gives no quarters – it automatically assumes that you are under a binding, almost lethal deadline and that deadline just expired. Now, you must start writing instantly; no matter what you have in your mind, put it down on paper. Start writing and whatever you do, don’t stop. As if someone was holding a gun to your head, threatening to shoot you if you stopped writing. It might sound silly, but it works remarkably well for a specific reason – once we start writing, we automatically push our brain into “writing mode” even if it is actively resisting (and subconsciously wants you to watch another football game). You might not write something “good” at the start, but whatever you put down will help your mind clear the rust. Within a few minutes, writing will become a lot easier.