Nothing happens in a vacuum. Everything happens in context. People have different perceptions, and those perceptions are based on their self-image and their outlook on life and the world.
Perception is reality.
You can either create the context, and direct perceptions… or you can try to communicate in the existing context.
[IMPORTANT: This article is the longest read ever…on this blog…get coffee…get comfy…it would be worth your attention]
In niche marketing – especially the way we do it. We do research beforehand so we understand the general mindset of the target market. We know more or less what they are thinking. We can then craft the message to have the greatest impact with the majority of the people who will be exposed to the message.
One thing that is perfectly clear is that you get predictable responses when you do things in a certain order, and when you say things in a certain order.
You can use these triggers and language to create a buying context. This is only effective (in writing) if your target actually reads it and processes it. So your very first objective should be to grab your target’s attention as soon as possible by saying something outrageous (telling them what they are goingto get and describing what it will be like… i.e. hitting the “self interest” hotbutton).
It will have a bigger impact if you use trigger words that people can’t resist…
“Secret” “Top Secret” “Little-known” “Forbidden” “Short Cut” “Hijack” “Control” “Controlled” “Controversial” “Stealth” “Tactic” “Strategy” “Strategic” “FREE!” “Underground” “Covert” “Leverage” “Maximum” “Top” “Classic” “Classy” “System” “Technique” “Method” “Advanced” “Unique” “Streamlined” “Effective” “Efficient” “Exclusive” “World Class” “Natural” Naturally” “Easy” “FACT!” “Amazing” “Brilliant” “Sensational” “Hypnotic” “Hypnosis” “Magic” ”Magically” “Automated” ”Automatically” “Legendary” “Famous” ”Infamous” “Guaranteed” ”Outrageous” “Obnoxious” “Obscene” “Disgusting” “Undisputed” “Authority” “Scientific” “Proven” “Scientifically Proven” “Mathematically Impossible”, etc.
You have to figure out ways to work words like that into your headline and/or opening paragraph to get people’s attention. You need to hijack their train of thought for a second and then immediately get them to imagine experiencing the outcome for themselves.
Giving ideas or concepts dimension… bringing them to life
You do that by describing it in detail. (Jay Abraham uses the word “Dimensionalize” which is brilliant. It’s like you are bringing a 2D idea into 3D reality. You are making it real by describing it… giving it dimension.)
When you describe something in detail, you should write from the reader’s perspective in a conversational tone, and you should use sensory language.
Most people, who have read copywriting books or anything to do withpersuasion, or influence, or even sales, know about using sensory words intheir language. (e.g. “Sounds like you need …”, “Can you see yourself…”,“Let’s just focus on…”, “What would it feel like…” etc.)
However, not many people know how to use it properly for maximumeffectiveness. People who don’t know what they are doing are usually too overt.
To me, it looks like they simply can’t see the big picture. I feel that they aren’t able to see the trees for the forest and just copy each other blindly. They should really go inside and think about it. When you stop to think about it, doesn’t it sound like these people should really get more training before they try this stuff? It’s really embarrassing to try to do this – and then fail because you haven’t had proper training that you need.)
The words in italics are sensory words, and the underlined words are embedded commands. I could try to make it more subtle, but that would take too much time. And besides, I’m sure it would have a much bigger impact if you could think up your own examples. Don’t you think? What would it feel like when you discover that you actually understand this and you really get it?
Look at the two previous paragraphs and notice how I have underlined the word “try”. “Try” is a loaded word. “Try” presupposes failure in the same way the word “confidence” presupposes that something is difficult and there is a chance you could fail. Confidence is fake. People force confidence… theytell themselves “I am confident” when the reality is that they are really nervous about sucking… and being confident allows them to push the nervousness aside while they “perform” the task that they are confident about. You don’t have to try to be confident if you are naturally good.
You could try to figure this out on your own, but it will be easier if takemy training because then you can skip all the trial and error and go straight to the effective stuff that actually works. It’s a short cut to success.
You could try to figure this out on your own, but wouldn’t it be easier if you could bypass all of that ridiculous, time-consuming… and frustrating trial and error…. and go DIRECTLY to the stuff that actually works in the real world? It’s the most direct short-cut to the result you want.
You could spend a week and search for the answers on Google by yourself… and you could try to figure out a weight loss program that might be right for you.
But when you think about it, would you rather spend a week looking at all those confusing and contradicting websites… or would it be better if within 7 days from RIGHT NOW you had already lost 5 pounds and canalready see a noticeable increase your energy? Can you imagine what that would feel like? You would feel a real sense of accomplishment and that would motivate you to keep going.
See, I was where you are, I know how frustrated you feel about your weight… and that’s why I know exactly what you need. I’ve made it easy for you. I’ve laid it all out for you in simple steps that anyone can follow.
I’ve even compiled a shopping list (for different budgets)…. so that isone less thing for you to worry about.
All you have to do is go through the different sheets – one day at atime and when you’ve completed all of them, you will know exactly what it feels like to look in the mirror and see a six pack for the first time.
Imagine that. Go ahead and picture yourself with a six pack.
It’s really possible and I guarantee it.
I know that you really want to believe me and you’re trying to beskeptical right now because there are lots of false claims on theinternet, and I don’t blame you… but that will change and it will become clear to you how effective this really is once you do it andexperience it for yourself.
And because I know this WILL work, I’m going to do somethingoutrageous. You can go ahead and… download everything right now…for free. Use the material and get results. You will begin to see for yourself what it feels like when the fat simply melts off your body.
If you want it, all you need to do is click here.There is a small processing fee of $4.95… it covers my costs to get the stuff to you. If you decide to keep it, we’ll charge your card for the balance of $30.00 in 30 days time. If however, you have not lost 10 pounds… and youdon’t have ten times as much energy as you have right now, simply email me and we’ll cancel your order. You won’t be charged a single penny… I’ll even refund the processing fee. Everything is stacked inyour favor because I want to make it easy for you to say yes and experience dramatic results for yourself BEFORE you pay me anything.
You can even keep everything I send you as a thank you gift for takinga chance. It’s as simple as that – you either lose weight and gain energy, or I don’t deserve to keep your money.
I’ve laid it on pretty thick those examples – but that is only for you. (“Only for you”… implies exclusivity. A powerful phrase if you can work it into yourcontext naturally and in a non-creepy, non used-car salesman way.)
You should probably be more subtle when you do this for yourself. How amazing would it be if you did this and saw an immediate increase in sales?
I’ve used another important tactic in that last example. Did you notice how I manipulated the tense? It transitions from past, present to future. Look atthis section again:
…or would it be better if within 7 days from RIGHT NOW you had already lost 5 pounds and can already see a noticeable increase your energy? Can you imagine what that would feel like? You would feel a real sense of accomplishment and that would motivate you to keep going.
In addition to:
- Describing outcomes in detail…
- And using sensory language…
- And using tense properly…
…you should also use graphics and images whenever you have the opportunity. Because people think in pictures and images gives them an instant reference so they don’t have to do it themselves. It doesn’t give them the entire thought… it sparks their imagination and gives their thoughts some direction. You then use your copy to direct their thoughts.
The power of pictures
When you think of something, you either remember it (access a reference), or you have to create new pictures (i.e. you have to form an image withouta reference.)
Photographs or pictures create a reference and sparks the imagination. It also makes it easier to suspend ingrained beliefs and for a brief moment, itlets people attach the outcome to their self image. It’s that brief moment –when coupled with the context of your marketing (i.e. all the content on your website) that creates a strong desire to buy.
Pictures eliminate the need to “create” the reference yourself.
That’s why most people would rather watch a movie than read a book.
How to create a buying context
I would like you to stop right now and take a second to think about the context or mindset of reading a salesletter online.
What is your reaction to a salesletter? What sort of mental and behavioral patterns do you go through when they see a salesletter that looks like a salesletter? How is your reaction different when you know the person behind the salesletter, and when it is a total stranger that you have never heard of?
Your message needs to make an impact and you must get people to pay attention to it.
So you should break the normal pattern and use different ways of gettingaround the salesletter shield. Look at what other people are doing, make a note of it, and then figure out different ways of getting people’s attention and getting them to read your sales content.
In other words, figure out a way to get people to react to your sales presentation without going through their normal robotic response.
Gary Halbert used to talk about the “A pile” vs. “B pile”. Every other copywriting teacher who has a course now also talks about that.
The A pile are important letters that need to be opened… or that look like they need to be opened. The B pile goes directly into the trash can. So he would teach direct marketers to make their envelope look like a normal piece of mail. Plain white envelope, with a real stamp, and with the person’s name and address typed or handwritten in the middle. He also said thatthere should be no company logos on the envelope. Simply type your returnaddress where the return address normally goes in your country. In the US, the return address goes in the upper left-hand corner of the envelope. And in the UK, the return address goes on the back of the envelope.
He does this so that he can get his foot in the door and deliver his message.
I have my own ways of that doing that online. You have between 3 and 8 seconds of your reader’s awareness to communicate the result they are going to experience if they listen to you.
The perfect response is “Wow, sounds awesome… how can I get that?”
You should be aware of the context of the communication at all times. Since everyone uses the same format salesletter… I experimented with differentways to break their state and hijack people’s attention. Many years ago I figured out that using sequential, multi-page content websites… to PRESELL my sales pitch… works brilliantly!
And the more I did it, I realized that the more generous you are with the content you give away… the more it escalates the reader’s perception of value… and the more likely they are to spend money.
I’ve been talking about this a lot recently and I will continue to talk about it because this is a crucial concept. Sequential page sites are just a tactic. There are many ways to get the same result. The important strategy or concept you should take from this is that I am PRESELLING my sales pitch…I am escalating the perception of value through my content. I am creating an environment where people are getting value BEFORE they spend money.
Another tactic I use is to leave out the traditional headline that people are expecting when they see a salesletter. I use the product title as the headlineand then state the outcome in as vivid detail as possible in the first paragraph – but in a conversational tone… So in effect, the first paragraph does the headline’s job.
The most potent selling strategy is to start by directing attention to the problem. Then present a solution… and then link the solution to a universal desire.
Tapping into Universal Desires (Eugene Schwartz)
That phrase “universal desire” comes from Eugene Schwartz.
Do a search on Google or Yahoo for “Breakthrough Advertising”. There is a company that sells this book along with a set of DVD’s of Schwartz talking to a room full of commercial copywriters. I recommend that you buy that and spend a weekend going through the material. You will make more money from your advertising.
Universal desires are things that we all want… but not the surface stuff. It’s the stuff we REALLY want. Stuff like being admired, being envied, beingbetter than your peers… the stuff that makes you want to drive the coolest cars, have the most gorgeous looking partners etc.
Universal desires are the same for everyone… but not everyone really believes they can get it. Because it’s not part of their self-image.
Universal desires are related to Self-image.
Self-image or Self-concept is how you see yourself in the world. It’s your deep internal beliefs about where you fit into society, about your strengths and weaknesses, and what you believe is possible for you. These include your insecurities and limiting beliefs.
Self concept comes from your history and life experiences, and your emotional reaction to those experiences. Everyone on earth has a history. People walk around with 20, 30, 40 etc years of experiences. And thoseexperiences – positive and negative form their self-image. Your self-image is the way you see yourself. It’s who you really think you are… and what “type” of person you are.
This self-image or self-concept is overpowering and won’t allow you to lie to yourself. Your belief system determines what you can achieve.
It’s impossible to get someone to imagine enjoying a new experience or anoutcome (e.g. Really seeing themselves 50lbs lighter, looking and feeling great, and having endless energy, etc.) if that is not who they perceive themselves to be. It is outside of their belief system.
Not everyone believes they can make a lot of money effortlessly online. Many people have a deep rooted belief that they have to work hard for little money. On the other hand, if we look at all of the people who are sellingstuff online… we have websites that make money whether we work or not.
It is clearly possible for anyone. There are loads of people in my circle whoare doing that. That is our reality.
But it’s one thing to say that “if one man can do it, then another man can do it” and that “Everyone has the same potential”. And it’s another thing altogether to do it.
The reality is that you can’t fool an ingrained belief.
Since this is a BLOG about selling stuff online and making money, I should probably tell you why I think it’s important to know this stuff…
Here’s why: You won’t be able to change someone’s beliefs via an ad or a website, therefore you should create a new context where something entirely different to what they are used to is possible. You can create a “vibe” that connects with them.
This is a good opportunity to tell you about my mindset when I first started. I didn’t believe that this was possible because I had no previous success to refer to. There was nobody selling PDF’s. I didn’t know of anyone else who was doing it when I started.
I had no idea what it would be like – I couldn’t imagine it. No idea what“success” would look like.
I knew all about publishing newsletters and magazines… which is HARD WORK… and it never occurred to me that you could make sales, get money and deliver the product all online without ever having to deal with postage,printers, advertisers, etc.
It was a culmination of reading Jeff Paul’s Make Money in Your Underwear stuff… and an idea from “the business of magazine publishing” course I was taking at the time in college… and somehow coming across the Overture sales blip (Adwords was still a pipedream) that gave me the idea to sell an eBook.
One day I just sat down and cranked out a little report for a market where Iwas a customer. It was less than 30 pages. I put up a salesletter… put up a PayPal link for $24.95 and bought some traffic through Overture.
And like magic… within a few minutes I got a sale.
And then another.
$900 + worth of sales in the first month. I actually remember what I didwith the money… I bought Corey Rudl’s course and learned about banners, copywriting, automation, systematizing follow ups, affiliate programs, splittesting, etc. That must have been the very first edition of his course.
All of a sudden I had a reference – I had some experience and Corey’s course came along at the right time.
My experience told me that it was possible for me to make $50 or so per day from a website. I then figured… ok, one site pages $50 a day. What if I created more sites just like this?
So I did, and it worked… and I figured out more stuff as I went along.I still had a belief that my limit was selling $24.95 books and making 2 sales a day. In fact, I can distinctly remember agonizing over raising my price to $29.95.
What an amateur.
It was painful because I was comparing it to books on the topic at Borders and Barnes and Noble. The idea was that the extra five bucks would cover my advertising… and I cringed when I changed the price… but I did it anyway and sales continued as normal.
At the time I started buying IM products… $97 here, $147 there, $197 here, etc. After a while it hit me that some people are charging $97 for their eBooks… I had to make 4 sales to make what these guys make from a single sale! Hmmm…100 visitors per day, 2% conversion rate = $194 per day insales. The equivalent of EIGHT $24.95 sales… from a SINGLE website!
Hmmm…I didn’t believe it was possible, but went ahead and wrote my first IM eBook… and set the price to a whopping $97. Within 7 days it pulled in $7000 in sales… and PayPal limited my account because they had to investigate where the money was coming from. After a day or two, it was back up and I kept making sales from that site for years… from the same salesletter, from the same adwords ad, same keyword. No SEO, no affiliates, no JV’s.
So, cool… I had a reference in my head of what it is like to make five figuresa month from a single website. I had experience. It was possible for me to do that. I saw myself as a guy who can make that much money from the net.
But I had no idea, no reference that it was possible to make more than that.It wasn’t part of my self-image… but I was definitely open to the idea. I just couldn’t imagine how you would do that.
Then John Reese did his famous launch in 2004 and did a million bucks in a day charging an outrageous $997 for his DVD course.
So I reverse engineered what he did, read some of the discussion about the launch and then did my own launch to my list of around 9000 people… and made mid-five figures in a single day.
Suddenly I had a reference of what it was like to experience that.
And on and on.
Do you see how that works?
That’s what it’s like for your customers. Sometimes they want results, butthey have no reference or experience, so they can’t imagine how it’s possible.
So you have to create an environment where they can prove to themselves that it’s possible to get what they want… suspend belief and go through the process… and then develop confidence that it works… and after a while, the confidence will be replaced with “natural” acceptance that it’s possible for them.
Remember we spoke about self-image earlier?
Here’s a list of hot buttons that appeal to different parts of people’s self image:
- sexual attractiveness,
- family values,
- achievement (particularly in competition with other people… academics, sports, business, work, etc.)
- You can also appeal to morals… the moral high horse appeal. People LOVE to get on a moral high horse when they are given opportunity.
- People need external validation.
All of those triggers have a powerful, almost cynical root which is what we will appeal to. An example of this is the need to be in control – more specifically to control other people. People want to have dominance over other people and they want to display that dominance and power.
Sort of related to the need to be in control, you can also target people’s need to display their superiority over other people. Status and Ego.
“Buy my course and I’ll show you how to fly first class for the price of coach. Imagine what it would be like to board first… and then relax back in your seat as everyone else walks past you to the back of the plane…” etc.
It’s obvious, but the easiest way to increase the perceived value of your product is the increase the price.
Expensive = good.
And to justify high prices, you describe the value of the outcome to the reader. For example if I was selling one-on-one coaching for $10,000 I would justify the price by focusing on the return on investment. I would tell the prospect that they would make that back within 60 days… and then I would dimensionalize it by getting the prospect to prove it to himself.
It would go something like this:
I’m going to show you how to create an information product that you can sell for$97.
I will then show you how to setup an automated sales process for that product…including a follow up system that educates prospects over time. This sales process will convert around 2% of the people who land your website into buyers. I will also show you how to get around 15% of your visitors to join your list.
I will then show you how to get 200 people per day to your website. Here’s how…you will setup 20 ad groups… and write 20 landing pages for those ad groups withreal content that will grab people’s attention… and each of those ad groups will get10 of those visitors per day from AdWords.
That will give you 200 visitors per day…
So if everything goes to plan (and it will because my numbers are very conservative), you will get 30 opt-ins to your list… and make 4 sales at $97 a day.
That means you will have 900 new prospects on your list every month…. People that you can sell stuff to forever. And more importantly, you will have cash flow of around $388 a day before advertising expenses. So you should get your investmentback in less than 60 days… after which everything you make is pure profit.
Another tactic you can use is to create an ultra high priced product (like personal consulting or coaching), and then sell your product along side the ultra expensive service so there is contrast. $197 for the book that teaches your secret compared to $2,400 for personal coaching when I take you by the hand and guide you through the process.
You can also increase value by proving that the product works… or prove that you can help the reader. The combination of engagement and takeaways to increase perceived value is extremely powerful and will increase your sales.
Engagement is where you tell the prospect to perform a simple task… which has a positive result. Ideally it should be something they can do without a lot of effort. Preferably while they are sitting there reading your message.
You can achieve this effect by simply asking a question which the reader will think about.
The second part of the equation is the take away. People want stuff that is attainable, but which is just out of reach. People are unlikely to go for stuff ifit doesn’t fit into their self image – if they don’t think they could possibly getit. However, if you are selling something… and the price is right, but the quantities are limited, then the desire for that product automatically goes up.
A sneaky trick you can use is to make the product unavailable… and get people to opt-in for the next batch. Then build value via email over three consecutive days… then give them “exclusive” backdoor access to the product – but only for that one day. (Use dynamic dates and pages.)