Today, the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything…
Rainmaker, today’s lesson is one of the single-most valuable lessons you could learn in high-stakes copywriting… But it really applies to all copywriting, marketing, and selling.
It’s Monday… And do you know what that means?
That’s right, that means today is the day I dig into my mailbox at [email protected] and see what kind of questions YOU want me to answer!
Today’s is a great one! And if you want your great question answered, send it to that email address and I’ll add you to the queue for a coming Monday!
On to the question…
I have a question for you…
The Makepeace outline you sent me is really helping me internalize the structure of a great sales letter. And right now I’m studying a number of successful packs from here in Oz and AF and marking out the Makepeace outline. In other words, I’ll read the copy and make notes on where the writer is supporting and expanding on the headline, establishing credibility etc.
The question i have concerns step 5 — Deliver value.
It may be the terminology of ‘deliver value’ that’s got me in a pickle but I’m a little confused as to HOW you would deliver value in a sales letter.
Do you have an example that might clear this up for me?
Blake, you don’t even know how important this question is!!
Once upon a time, I emailed one of my biggest heroes, copywriter Gary Bencivenga.
I’d heard a rumor that once upon a time, Gary wrote a promo that mailed 100 million copies.
Just for comparison’s sake, a promo is considered a big success if it mails 1 million pieces. It’s considered a HUGE win if it mails 10 million. 10X that? There are only a few promos in the history of direct mail marketing that have ever come anywhere close.
(And the Wall Street Journal letter hardly counts. Because if you read Gordon Grossman’s book, the reason that letter mailed so many pieces is because 1. The Wall Street Journal was a household name that needed almost no selling and, even more importantly, 2. They never tested anything against it so its survival was based more on lack of competition than actual superiority. It’s a great direct mail piece, yes, but nothing compared to promotions that have survived and thrived in the face of nonstop barrages of competitive tests. But that’s enough about that!)
Anyway, I’d heard about this promo that mailed 100 million pieces… And the $.05 per piece mailed royalty bought him his retirement house.
I simply wanted to know which promo it was, so I could see if I could track it down.
Gary Bencivenga responded to my email… Answered my question… And then totally over-delivered!
Here’s Gary’s email to me…
That promotion was for a Rodale book, “New Choices in Natural Healing.”
My direct mail effort excerpted lots of great nutrition tips from the book and interwove them with my sales pitch, all in the form of a paperback book (not a traditional direct mail envelope package).
As a paperback book, the promotion was one of the first to bring to the world of book promotion two of my favorite precepts for direct mail: (1) Make your advertising itself look, feel, and actually be valuable to your target audience, and (2) In direct mail, your format IS your headline (i.e., the first thing your prospect notices and thus is the most important influence on whether he/she will read it or toss it instantly).
Prospects are reluctant to toss away on a snap judgment a valuable paperback book on a subject of high interest to them. That’s why it was so successful. This thinking can be applied to any advertising medium.
All the best, Roy,
WOW! And as you can see Blake, this plays right into your question… How can we “deliver value” in our advertising?
And Gary’s note is exactly why I say you have no clue just how valuable of a question this is.
(By the way, you can buy actual physical copies of Gary’s now-legendary direct mail piece off Amazon here. As I write, there are 12 copies available.)
Before I tell you HOW to deliver value, I want to share WHY YOU MUST…
Today, more than ever before, your prospect is DISTRACTED.
Phones. Smart watches. Smart appliances. 24/7 internet access. 24/7 news channels. Unlimited media available. Plus print media. In-person ads everywhere you go.
The whole world is fighting for your attention.
And even if you’re not interested in giving it to most of the world, they’re pretty good at distracting you for even just a moment to decide to screen them out.
It’s no wonder that Ad Blocker technology is getting such attention in the media now. When you have thousands upon thousands of advertising messages being directly pumped into your senses every day, any little help you can get to ignore some of them is welcome.
This is your prospect. They really don’t want another advertising message — no matter how relevant.
And most prospects have gotten really good at filtering out advertising messages. It’s a psychological survival mechanism. We learn to ignore ads (and all sorts of other things) because we don’t have the mental bandwidth to give them our conscious attention.
As an advertiser, marketer, copywriter, or salesperson, your biggest challenge to getting response is to first get attention.
Given an equally compelling offer presentation, the sales message that gets the attention of more qualified prospects will make more sales.
Which leads me to this…
Today, the single-best way to attract the attention of your target audience is to give them something they will find valuable!
Which brings me back around to the Makepeace outline. I’m going to list the first 6 steps…
- Grab ‘em by the eyeballs.
- Support and expand on your headline.
- Establish credibility.
- Bribe him to read this.
- Deliver value.
- Present your “Big Promise.”
As you can see, Clayton puts delivering value actually ahead of making a big promise about your product. While most of the rest of the promotion will be about the promise and how your product will fulfill it, Clayton teaches that you have to get the readership or viewership first.
But what’s he talking about?
Well, there are actually a TON of ways to deliver value in your marketing.
And there are a ton of ways to measure value. Is it entertaining (and by that I don’t just mean funny)? That’s one kind of value. Does it tell them something they didn’t know before? Does it introduce them to an opportunity they didn’t know existed? Does it help them solve a problem, or at least move a big step closer? Those are all ways to deliver value.
Ryan Levesque actually does this in a brilliant way, in his book Ask. Ryan uses quizzes that help you understand your need, problem, or challenge better — as a first step to setting up a sale.
“1 weird old tip for a flat belly” — the bane of the internets — is a great ad that teases something valuable. By actually giving the reader that tip in the ad, it bought readership, tied them to you, and got them a lot more interested in the rest of what you had to say.
It doesn’t necessarily need to be a lot. In fact, online I think the trend toward one really interesting tip or piece of value is on-point. For better or worse, people like ONE solution.
It is a tight-rope act, though…
The last thing I’ll say about this is that you can definitely do too much. (And I’ve been guilty of this myself.) You want to deliver value that hooks the reader in.
But you don’t want to prevent sales. Either by boring them to death with an academic treatise that attempts to solve all their problems in a single sales letter. Or by over-delivering on any one piece of value, such that they feel like they no longer need to buy.
The goal is to give them just enough to whet their appetite, but maybe leave out an important ingredient that will get them the result they’re really after.
For example, in a financial promo, you might reveal this new industry or technology that represents a huge investment opportunity. You might even name the biggest companies that are making headway in the space, and mention that they could deliver incremental profits as a result (but really they’re too big for this little part of their business to move the needle). But if the reader wants the one tiny company that’s about to take a moonshot because they own the most important patent on the tech, they’re going to have to buy your newsletter.
Or for a health promo, you might mention a specific supplement that will help your body naturally fight a specific disease. But if they want your recommendation for the single-best way to buy it, as well as what dosage is recommended for best results, they need to get your book.
For business and marketing, these essays are one way to deliver value. It’s very long-game, and overly-focused on the value end of the equation. But if someone is considering hiring me as a consultant or copywriter (though I should mention I’m already booked for half of next year), they’re getting a lot of value in understanding of my approach. And yet how I’d apply that in their business is reserved for when they actually fork over my fees.
Apply this in all selling, see your profits increase…
I mentioned at the outset that this was “one of the single-most valuable lessons you could learn” about selling. In any format, in any media. Including in-person.
Dean Jackson has a great way to position this, that I’ll leave you with.
Your prospect is a mouse. They are hard-wired to avoid cats’ whiskers, and to go to cheese. What can you do to make your selling messages — especially early in the selling process — look as much like cheese as possible, and to not look like whiskers at all?
Remember cheese and whiskers, and make your selling messages look and feel more like cheese…
And you see breakthroughs in results.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets