Hello and welcome to another Mailbox Monday!
Today, a question I know a lot of beginning copywriters and marketers have on their mind — especially when faced with some of the balls-to-the-wall promises you read in top copywriters’ copy….
Let’s dive right in…
Hey Roy –
You asked, so here’s the million dollar question that I think would help me most – and I doubt you get this one much.
First, I graduated with an Economics degree last December, and quit door-to-door sales to get a job my mom would be proud of. Ha ha bad move. No, I like it a lot, but I still burn inside, you know? I’m doing “marketing” for a large tech company that hasn’t quite got their act together yet on marketing. It’s slow going, but I need to push through and make a blockbuster win. Anyway, my question is about getting out and onto my own online business. In researching that, I’ve come to this question and concern:
Can I make it in life, selling my own products or somebody else’s, by simply and purely overdelivering and making it easy on people, instead of using NLP and all sorts of other crazy stuff to shame and confuse people into buying?
That honestly is my question. I’ve followed so many trainings now, and I keep getting frustrated to see that all the big guys, once you get through their funnel and get to the real stuff where they talk frankly—they all teach linking your prospects problems and dreams, etc etc to your product. Problem is, I haven’t yet found a transformational product—marketers are like therapists – they promise but don’t deliver!!!
How do I get past this mental block? I know I need to ‘believe’ that I just haven’t found the ticket yet, or that I just need to work harder, etc etc. I know I need to sell to benefits and sell to problems and pain points, but man, I just hate this “and I’ll give it to you right now, but first…..” crap that keeps you on a 90 minute webinar or reading through a long long copy email just to get to the win. Why can’t I send an email with 3 sentences “Hey, if you’re like most of my clients, the internet marketing world is confusing and frustrating. One of the biggest challenges is getting good traffic – people onto your website. Here’s the number one technique I use (10 minute video). Hope you enjoy it. If you get any crazy results from it (and you will, I have no doubt) – do let me know!!” etc. Do that three times, then offer them a course, and they already know I’m the man at it?
Do you think I could succeed with that approach? (By succeed, I mean make better than $120k a year, long-term, sustainably, within 2 years from now).
Dunno if any of that made sense, but I’d love your input. Also, can you point me to any of the “good guys” in the online world who are actually successful? So far everyone I hear say “I just want to help people” stays a broke nobody, but all the successful guys mention helping people almost like a happy byproduct, if it happens at all.
So… The short version of your question is, “Do I need to be a lying, manipulative SOB to be a success?”
I think you’ve got the question wrong, and it’s a result of not being in the industry for very long.
So I’m going to try to answer it and address it from a handful of different angles to give you a more nuanced understanding of what goes on, and what it takes to be successful.
First, the 3-sentence email question…
If you sell a very simple product, you may be able to sell it in three sentences. When we buy paper towels, a commodity product, we look at whether it tears into the small rectangles. A phrase or sentence is needed to tell us that. We then look at how many rolls are included (including the “same as” claim where 8 big rolls are the same as 16 regular ones). Another phrase or sentence. Then we look at price. One more phrase or sentence, if that, to give us that information.
Three sentences are all that are needed to help us choose to buy a specific low-priced, commodity product on minimal differentiating factors.
Do you want to sell low-priced, commodity products?
Then three sentences are probably enough.
Do you want to sell something that doesn’t sit on a shelf with 15 other items just like it, that commands a higher price, and gives you higher profits? Then NOBODY will make the decision to buy on 3 sentences.
(Admittedly you DID talk about linking them to multiple 10-minute videos. A 3-sentence email might be enough to sell them on pressing play on the video — but then that video better do a good job of selling or else they won’t buy.)
The first company I did marketing for sold training videos for information technology professionals, and the owner insisted he didn’t need long copy to sell the videos…
In fact, he’d built the company up to multi-millions with fairly short product descriptions selling even $1,000 packages of training.
How was he able to pull this off?
It was because, to some degree, he was in the commodity business.
All his training mapped to specific exams that IT pros would take to get certifications from big companies like Cisco, Microsoft, and others.
And so most of the selling was done for him.
When a guy or gal wanted to get a job in the industry, they were told they needed a CCNA or MCSE certification. Why? Because Cisco and Microsoft had sold that company already on the value of hiring someone who was trained and had a tested proficiency on the software and hardware.
There was a TON of selling that already took place.
And then the company went out into the job market, selling the value of the certification. If you want this job, you have to get this certification.
So then this eager-beaver job seeker would go out on the internet looking at training options…
Bootcamps that ran as high as $5,000 plus travel and lodging, to get trained somewhere on-site…
Community college courses from hack instructors that would leave you job ready (maybe) after a semester, or often much longer…
OR video training that you could do this weekend, from nationally-recognized instructors, at a better price than the other options?
Because the video training was essentially a better version of what was becoming a commodity offering, it only took a few differentiating claims to make it a profitable business.
AND YET… When we used long copy that went more into the benefits, re-sold the certification, the training, our trainers, the life change it would make, and more… We sold more, too!
Good, targeted long copy outsold short copy, even in this commoditized market…
Yes, we ALSO over-delivered — which helped build the company’s reputation and customer base.
But even for products that sold reasonably well with short copy, longer copy tended to do better.
Because we could get into all the personal and product-specific reasons to buy.
And the more you can “play” with those reasons why, the better you’ll be able to sell.
Here’s a truth about humans… We want the greener pastures… We want to get away from pain…
Even mundane products — like IT training — can offer these benefits if you dig deep enough.
Why does someone want a certification that’s going to get them an $80,000 job in the basement of some big corporation? Because they believe that lifestyle is better than the one they have now.
Their nagging spouse won’t get off of them about the money worries, or hitting this month’s car payment. They’ve managed to run up credit card bills too high, and don’t see a way out of the debt. Even worse, they’ve been considering getting a part-time job, and becoming almost invisible to their kids, just to make ends meet — much less get ahead.
And yet, they’ve heard about how much money some schmuck they knew in high school is making over in tech, and damn it, that guy was an imbecile and a clown. If he can do it, I sure as heck can.
What does it take to get one of these jobs? Oh, a certification? I need training for that? Oh, I can get it from one of the guys who writes the exam questions for the test? And it’s a video I can watch at home this weekend? And there are all these others who got into the industry with this training, and who are now making that $80,000 or even more?
Where do I sign up?
Sure, it relies on actually learning from the training and going out to pass the exam and get the job… But none of that happens until they actually buy the training. And they won’t buy the training until they’re sold on what it can do for them.
If you find your prospect’s greener pastures, and the pain they want to get away from… And somehow tie that in to your (even mundane) solution, there’s a whole lot more money to be made than by simply over-delivering… Because they can’t get “sold” by over-delivering until they’ve experienced the product, but they can get sold by a persuasive message without ever seeing your product.
I guess this is a bit manipulative, but it doesn’t require lying or gimmicks…
Yes, this involves manipulating emotions. If you honestly believe your product will make your buyer’s life better though, you should be willing to manipulate their emotions to bring them to a better outcome. It’s in their best interest for you to do everything in your power to get them to buy.
That said, you don’t have to use NLP or gimmicks.
Sometimes these TACTICS can improve the response to your ads. But tactics alone don’t make a business that lasts.
If you start with a product that over-delivers, and you speak with honesty and integrity about a best possible outcome, in an emotional way… Then tactics will only make marginal improvements.
And if you’re using tactics like NLP in a way that doesn’t feel good to you, it won’t feel good to your prospects — and they won’t buy.
I’m recognizing as I finish this up that this has been kind of shotgun — a mix of smaller good responses, scattered throughout… Now for the rifle idea…
The best piece of advice I have for you here…
If I could give you one piece of advice under which all of this fits, it’s something I got from one of my dearest mentors…
He taught me…
“Sell people the dream they want, deliver the reality they need.”
If you want to build your business quickly, and to its potential, you’re going to have to get over your hang ups about using emotion to sell.
You have to be willing to hit the pain points, and romance the stone a bit in terms of finding the promises they will respond to.
But you also need a rock-solid product to back it up, and not one that simply feeds a false dream.
YES, over-deliver on your product. But that’s not enough. Because that’s not what actually makes people buy. What makes people buy is the dream of a brighter tomorrow — and an escape from their current darkness and dreariness.
I fear that I haven’t given this answer the full treatment it deserves, but I’m also up to nearly twice as many words as my normal daily article… So I’ll have to leave it at that.
If you really take this to heart, I think it can get you the results you want — and you won’t feel slimy for heeding my advice.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets