One of the best ways to make more money is by “converting” your visitors into BUYERS!!! …And the following “Dirty Little Copywriting Formula” will teach you how to do just that!
Introduction: Welcome to the Dark Side…
Have you ever come across a sales page, decided up front you didn’t need the product, but then decided to read the letter anyway? And then not five minutes later you were shocked to find a Paypal receipt sitting in your email inbox ….and you’re sitting there with a somewhat hazy recollection of what just happened.
If that’s never happened to you, just wait. It will. You simply can’t escape the deadly grips of a skilled copywriter.
Think about it for a moment. Have you noticed how much attention is given to “buyer’s remorse” in the marketing field? Just as the name implies, this is when buyers second-guess their buying decision, and perhaps feel bad about it. This remorse can easily lead to a refund request.
So why would a buyer ever purchase something they’re not even really interested in, or something too expensive, or something that will otherwise lead them to regret their buying decision? That’s simple: a slick copywriter grabbed them by the throat, dragged them down to the order button, and almost forced them to buy.
It’s like waking up next to someone in bed, and wondering who she is and how she got there. It’s the “morning after” regret one feels when the excitement of the night is over and the buzz has worn off.
Indeed, a copywriter can make a prospect feel a little drugged …a little buzzed …and a little high. And not only can a skilled copywriter do it – he’ll do it on purpose. He’ll make the buyer believe she’s madly in love with the product and that she must have it – now. He’ll toy with her emotions like a cat playing with a semi-conscious mouse.
And when it’s all over she’ll be left wondering just exactly how he seduced her so completely.
Would you like to learn these dirty tricks too? Then read on…
Dirty Secret #1: Copywriters Are Spies
You might not catch the copywriters going through your trash or rifling through the secret drawers in your house, but you can bet you’re still being spied on.
Marketers are collecting data on your computer to find out about your buying habits. Copywriters are infiltrating your clubs and organizations to find out what makes you so passionate. They’re going undercover on forums and blogs, eavesdropping on your conversations. Sometimes you might even give them permission to spy on you, as the case might be if you agree to complete a survey.
If you want to be an expert copywriter, then you need to do the same thing.
You see, it’s not enough for you to know a thing or two about your buyer. You can’t just skim the surface and expect to be an effective copywriter and sales person. Instead, you need to get inside your buyer’s heads. You need to get to know them. You need to be able to draw up a full profile of your ideal buyer, from her age to how much money she makes to what she eats for breakfast in the morning.
And don’t stop once you know all the demographics. You need to dig in deep to discover what motivates your buyers. You need to know what’s important to them.
Let’s suppose you’re a car sales person, and you see someone strolling onto your lot. Do you make assumptions about them and start pointing out the features of the nearest car? Of course not. You need to find out what’s important to this person, and then sell the vehicle based on their wants and needs.
If your buyer is a young male who wants to impress women, you don’t pull him over to the Volvos and talk about safety features. That’s not important to him. Looks and speed are at the top of his list, not safety and reliability.
Likewise, if the stereotypical “soccer mom” comes onto your lot and tells you she needs a vehicle to chauffeur the kids around in, you don’t show her the two-seater sports cars.
Now here’s where profiling comes in useful. Sometimes a person doesn’t have to say a word and you can get a feel for the type of car they might be interested in.
For example, imagine a young person wearing casual, almost “hippie-type” clothes. She’s thin, fit and tan, obviously someone who enjoys being outside hiking and the like. Her t-shirt proudly proclaims she’s a member of PETA (people for the ethical treatment of animals), which gives you a pretty good idea that she’s probably a vegetarian too.
What does any of this have to do with her buying a car?
For starters, it means you’ll probably be directing her to more of the “green” fuel-efficient cars like the hybrids. She seems to be conscious of animal rights, which means there’s a good chance she has environmental awareness.
Secondly, you will ensure you do not show her a car with real leather seats, as you will not only quickly offend and horrify her, she will likely immediately leave your lot due to your insensitivity. She probably doesn’t eat meat, so asking her to sit on a dead animal every day will obviously disgust her.
So you can see by this example that knowing a little bit about a person – profiling them and getting into their head – will help you be a more effective copywriter.
That’s why it’s so important for you to find out everything you can about your target market. Don’t just stop at the demographics, but dig down. What do they do in their free time? What topic of conversation could they talk about for hours? What do they spend their money on? What pains them? What gives them pleasure? What organizations do they belong to? What are their biggest problems and their biggest complaints?
If you don’t know the answer to these questions, then find out. While you can do some market research (such as conducting a survey or analyzing statistics collected by other marketers), some of the best research you can do is to infiltrate the target market.
Go hang out where you target market hangs out – online and offline – and start talking to them. If your target market includes young males age 16-24 who lift weights at least three times per week, then go to the gym and find out what motivates them. If your market includes senior citizens, then get yourself to your community senior citizen center.
You may also talk to other marketers who serve your niche. For example, talk to the gym owners or the bodybuilding supplement sellers to find out their opinions on the market.
Get online and visit blogs and forums where your market is actively discussing issues important to them. Eavesdrop all you want …and maybe even become a member and thoughtfully join the discussions. Ask questions. Dig for answers.
You can also cheat by letting other marketers do all the work for you. For example, read the niche newspapers, magazines, web sites, and other publications run by successful, well-funded businesses. They’ve probably already done their market research, so they likely know what issues are important to your market.
Suppose you wanted to learn a bit more about senior citizens. You could read the AARP web site, which covers all sorts of issues important to seniors. And since they’re a well-established organization, there’s a good chance they’ve poured tons of money into uncovering what their market wants and needs.
You can also read some of the long-running advertisements and other sales copy in your niche. If you’ve seen the same ad running for months or maybe even years, chances are it works. Study the copy. Figure out why it works. Put it in your swipe file to use as inspiration.
Bonus Dirty Copywriting Trick: Copywriters encourage swiping! The beginning copywriter might assume we’re talking about outright stealing, but that’s simply not the case. Besides, who wants to get busted for copyright infringement?
Instead, good copywriters swipe for inspiration. When they see a killer headline, they put it in their “swipe file.” When they see a well-worded guarantee or an awesome p.s., into the swipe file it goes. Interesting bullets? Swiiiipe! Sometimes they throw entire sales letters into their swipe file.
The reason you see similar headlines across different niches is because copywriters are swiping from each other and using these swipes to inspire their own sales letters. They also swipe from classic sales letters. For example, headlines that begin with “Who Else Wants to…” are swiped from classic ads.
Go ahead, start a swipe file. And the next time you’re stuck on creating just the right headline, start reading through your headline swipes for inspiration. Don’t copy. Just get inspired.
Dirty Secret #2: Copywriters Know How to Make Grown Men Cry
Not only can copywriters make grown men cry, they can make them quiver in their boots like little school girls. Are they doing it on purpose? You bet they are.
You see, a good copywriter knows that people buy based on emotion, and then justify the purchase with logic. That means a good copywriter’s goal is to make the buyers FEEL something. If they don’t feel anything, the chances of them taking out their credit card are slim.
So how can you use this dirty secret to your advantage?
If you’ve already followed up on the first secret in this report, then you know what motivates your buyer. You know where her hot buttons are. Now it’s just a matter of pushing them.
Your job is to make her feel the depths of her pain, her humiliations, her failures and her shortcomings …and then snatch her from these sullen depths to show her that your product is the “cure.” Your product paves the way to her triumphs, her smiles, her best days.
In that sense, you can see that you are not really selling a product at all. You’re selling a way of life, a wish, a hope, a dream, a feeling …or even just a bit of entertainment. The product is really secondary.
Consider a product like perfume. What are you really selling to a woman when you’re selling perfume? Certainly not a scent, that’s for sure. And certainly not any sort of “hygienic” product.
Instead, you’re selling sexual seduction in a bottle. The woman who’s reading about this perfume isn’t particularly interested in the ingredients …and focusing on ingredients would bore her to tears. But if you can get her to imagine wearing this perfume and turning heads of handsome gentleman, you’ll have her eating out of the palm of her hand.
For confirmation – or to get a better idea of how this is done – you need only examine some of the current perfume ads. They’re full of mystery and seduction and flirtatious glances. The woman wearing this perfume is the most alluring woman in the world …and she attracts the most handsome, seductive men.
That’s what you’re selling – seduction, allure, mystery. A feeling. A sidewise glance. Hearts pounding. Your breath quickens. A hand brushing on your thigh, sending shivers through your body.
See what I mean? People don’t buy products. They buy feelings, hopes, dreams, entertainment, and other intangibles.
Now suppose instead of perfume you were selling a weight loss product. You can start out your sales letter reminding her of her humiliations about her weight, such as being able to go on the fair ride because she was too heavy, or being ridiculed in the locker room after gym class in high school.
Then you can take her emotions the other way, and show her how your weight-loss product will improve her life. Now you have her imagining the jealous glances from other women, the joy of fitting into expensive Parisian designer clothing, the jaw-dropping look of disbelief from an old flame whose lust is glaringly transparent.
And so once again you’re using her emotions to get to her. You made her feel the pain of being overweight, and then you made her imagine the joy of being sexy and attractive. And the only bridge she needs to cross to go from despair to ecstasy is through purchasing your product.
Fear of Loss
In addition to evoking emotion surrounding the buyer’s pain and the pleasure the product will bring, a skilled copywriter also works to ensure the buyer is scared she won’t be able to order the product. In other words: just at the moment that the buyer is pretty certain she wants the product, the copywriter scares the bediddles out of her and creates a fear of loss.
Why would a copywriter scare someone just before they’re about to buy?
Simple: because if the buyer isn’t scared she’ll miss out on the product, then there’s no sense of urgency to buy it. That means she might set it aside with the intention to buy it later.
But a-ha, I’m sure you know what happens next. If she sets it aside, she could very well forget about. Certainly all that emotion the copywriter stirred up will fade away, leaving the buyer to think about the product from a logical, rational perspective.
At this point the prospect can simply talk herself out of the purchase. Since the emotions faded hours ago (and since she hasn’t re-read the sales letter), now it’s just her logic talking. And her logic is saying the product is too expensive, or that she doesn’t need it, or any number of reasons.
Maybe a part of her still wants it. But the longer she sits on this decision, the less likely it is she’ll remember to return to the sales letter and order it. Copywriters know this, which is why they pull out all the stops to get prospects to buy BEFORE they leave the sales page.
So how can you create this urgency and fear of loss?
One way to do it is to put some sort of limitation on the number of copies of your product being sold. For example, perhaps only 500 slots are available.
Of course if your plan is to sell this product in infinite numbers, that won’t work. In that case, you may consider offering a bonus to a limited number of buyers. For example, only the first 500 people who buy now will get your exclusive, very valuable bonus.
Or if you’d rather not create a limited bonus, you can instead offer a discount to early buyers. Or do both – offer a discount and bonus to the first X number of buyers who order.
Instead of placing physical limitations to create a sense of urgency, you can offer time limitations. For example, the product may only be available on the market for a few weeks or few months. Or a bonus is only available during launch week, and introductory pricing is only good through tonight.
Obviously the more urgent you make your offer, the more likely it is someone will have that fear of loss. So a buyer who knows there are 300 copies left won’t feel that same sense of urgency as the buyer who realizes there are only three copies left.
You can also play into buyer fear at the end of a sales letter by showing them the consequences of not buying immediately. For example, if they buy now they can be one of the first to own this particular product (this tactic works particularly well for ego-drive consumers and early-adopters).
You can make conformists fear that they’ll be ridiculed or somehow lag behind if they don’t get the product (e.g., “all your friends will have washboard abs on the beach this summer …and you can too. But if you don’t get this product now, you’re destined to be labeled the “funny fat guy” again this year…”).
In short: scare your prospects into buying right now.
Dirty Secret #3: Copywriters Use Magic
Most copywriters use formulas that work like magic. These formulas are passed down from generation to generation – and they’ve consistently worked, from the first sales copy in print newspapers, to the sales letters you see online today.
To grab some of this magic for yourself, all you have to do is memorize “AIDA,” which stands for attention, interest, desire and action. This is the simple formula you wrap your sales letter around …from the top where you get your reader’s attention, right down to the bottom where you get them to take action by buying your wares.
Let’s go through the parts of the typical sales letter and how they relate to AIDA…
First off you have your headline at the top of your sales letter, usually bold and in big font, and in quotation marks (yes, the quotes tend to increase conversions – test it yourself and see!). Just based on the emphasis, you already know the headline is the most important part of the entire sales letter. Indeed, if you don’t get your headline right, your conversions suffer greatly.
The headline’s job is simple: to get your target market’s attention. You needn’t sell them in this short headline. All you have to do is attract their attention. Your headline should say “hey, look at me! I bet you want to keep reading!”
How does the headline accomplish this? By making a big promise (i.e., promising a benefit) if the prospect keeps reading. And ideally the headline should not only attract attention, but pique curiosity as well.
Once again, if you’ve followed up on secret number one (profiling your market), then you already know what’s important to them. You already know what they would consider the biggest benefit of your product. This is what you should state in your headline.
Now that you’ve grabbed their attention, you need to pull them into your copy by their shirt collar. You need to grab and hold their interest. This is what you’ll accomplish in the opening paragraphs of your copy.
It’s in these lines that the sneaky copywriter starts playing with the reader like a cat stalking it’s prey. At the top of the sales letter you identify with the reader, telling her you know her pain …and then pull her in so that she’s experiencing it too. One good way to do this is by telling an emotionally laden story where the reader can easily picture herself in the starring role.
As mentioned before, after you’ve agitated whatever problem she has by encouraging her to imagine her pain, then you rescue her. This is where the letter turns from getting her interest to stoking her desire. Indeed, when you show her that your product can deliver her from her pain, and when she can imagine the emotions she’ll feel using your product, you’ve efficiently stoked her desire.
It’s as if her logical brain almost shuts down, and she’s running purely on emotion. If you’ve done your job, she’s not thinking about your copy, and she’s not even really thinking about the product. Instead, she’s thinking about the benefits she’ll receive when she uses your product, and all the emotions attached to those benefits.
And that’s an important part… while your product is likely full of features, most prospects are primarily interested in benefits. That means you can’t list the features of your product and ask buyers to make the logical leap that translates those features into benefits. You need to do that. And not only list the benefits, but list the outcome of those benefits, too. Let me explain…
Let’s suppose you’re selling a dog bed, and one of its features is that it has a canvas cover. Perhaps that doesn’t mean much until you explain the benefit of the cover – namely, that it makes the bed durable and protects against dog nails and dogs who like to chew. The outcome is a bed that lasts longer — thus saving the buyer money from not having to buy a new bed every few months.
Another example: run and grab a bottle of shampoo. See all those crazy ingredients that you can’t pronounce? The ingredients themselves are features of the shampoo. However, the benefits are what those ingredients actually DO – such as make your hair softer, more manageable, and shiny. And of course all of that translates into the outcome of the user becoming more attractive and sexy.
So how do you talk about features, benefits and outcomes in your sales letter? Since this is such an important part of the sales letter – indeed, it’s the place where you cinch the reader’s desire for your product and compel them to take their credit card out – you want to draw massive attention to the benefits. And the easiest way to do this is to draw out all the benefits in a bulleted list.
Now when you make your bulleted list, the best way to do it is to list a feature, state it’s benefit …and if possible, arouse some curiosity at the same time. For example, a bulleted statement for a cooking ebook might look something like this: “Now you can discover the secret ingredient French chefs use to make meat so tender it falls apart – watch your dinner guests’ eyes light up!”
The feature of this ebook is that it reveals a secret ingredient. The benefit is that this ingredient makes meat tender …and beyond that, the outcome is that you’ll delight your dinner guests.
Up until now the expert copywriter has been gently molding the reader to a certain line of thinking. He’s taken her from attention to interest to desire. Now at last we come to the close of the letter where the copywriter places a call to action.
Sure, there will be a few other features along the way in the letter. For example, the copywriter takes the risk off the reader by created a well-worded guarantee policy (this is called risk reversal). He’s already presented the product as a knight in shining armor rescuing the reader, and now the guarantee is like putting a protective arm around the reader and saying, “don’t worry, you’re safe with me.”
Do this right, and it’s another emotional trip for the reader, where she feels soothed and safe.
Now it’s time to close the deal. In the last few paragraphs of your sales letter you’ll close the deal by reiterating all the benefits, and then telling the reader the price of the product. But don’t just blurt the price out once you’ve reconfirmed her desire for the product. Instead, take it to the lowest possible price.
For example, let’s suppose you’re selling one year memberships into your content site for $197. Two hundred smackers might sound like a lot. But if this is a year-long membership, then you can instead point out that the price is 54 cents per day.
Suddenly that’s a whole lot easier to justify in the prospect’s mind. Fifty four cents a day sounds like peanuts. All she has to do is get a small latte instead of a large latte every morning, and she more than saves enough to cover the cost. Heck, if she rummages around under her couch cushions right now, she’ll likely find that 54 cents.
Now that the prospect wants your product so bad she can taste it, AND she’s justified the cost in her mind, it’s time to close the deal. And that means you need to tell the reader exactly what you want her to do. If you want her to opt-in to your newsletter list, then tell her exactly how to do it. If your sales letter is for a product, then tell her exactly how to order the product – and tell her to do it right now (add in a fear of loss such as limited availability for better results).
Here’s a dirty copywriting trick: assume the sale. That’s right, with every line of your sales letter, you should be writing as if the buyer has already made the decision to buy.
For example, don’t be wishy-washy by saying things like, “if you want to order.” That’s weak! Remember, your prospect wants to be led by a confident leader …and you should be assuming the sale. So instead of weakly whispering “if you want to order here’s how to do it,” you can proudly command, “Order right now by clicking here!”
As crazy as it seems, you need to be as explicit as possible. Don’t assume that the reader knows enough to click the order button when she’s ready to order. Tell her to click it, and tell her to click it now. Be confident and lead her right to the order button.
And although this is also glaringly obvious, we need to state it anyway since people still get it wrong: make the ordering process easy! Don’t make the buyer be required to register just to order. Use a simple interface if you’re using a shopping cart. Don’t make her jump through hoops. Indeed, whenever possible use a payment processor that lots of people are familiar with, such as Paypal.
Finally, you need to sign your letter and end with at least one “p.s.”
Tips from the Pro’s: Ok, copywriters know their prospects aren’t stupid. And yet you’ll see that even online, sales letters tend to be signed with a handwriting-type font, usually in blue. In other words, it looks like someone came along and signed the letter with a pen.
Totally silly, right? Maybe. But it works. It makes the letter seem more personable. Go ahead and test it yourself – you’ll see.
The “p.s.” is another important part of your letter, perhaps second only to the headline. And that’s because there are skimmers out there who glance at the headline, let their eyes fall down the page (taking in all subheadlines as they do it), and go straight to the bottom of the page. It’s like they go to the bottom to get the “bottom line.”
And that’s what your p.s. can do – it can give reader’s the “bottom line” by reiterating one of the biggest benefits of your product. You should also use that space to make another call to action. That way skimmers will not only catch another benefit, they’ll know where and how to order.
Formula Magic Summary: Easy, isn’t it? AIDA – attention, interest, desire and action is the almost magic formula that copywriters have used practically since the first sales letter was penned. This simple formula is wrapped inside the parts of a normal sales letter — your headline, your body copy, your bulleted benefits list, your close and your P.S.
Now sometimes beginning copywriters say, “I’m not a conformist! To heck with that – you won’t see me spewing out some old and tired formula!”
So they try to reinvent the wheel. They don’t write sales letters, but rather use descriptive paragraphs. They don’t evoke emotion so as not to appear manipulative and seductive. They refuse to use AIDA because it seems so …well, formulaic.
But wait. A few weeks, maybe a few months later they come crawling back to the standby sales letter and the AIDA formula. They couldn’t make it in sales without AIDA. Let’s face it, she delivers almost every time.
Be good to AIDA, and she’ll be good to you.
Dirty Copywriting Secret #4: Copywriters Can Read Your Mind
A face-to-face sales person has the luxury of an interactive environment. A prospect can ask questions, and the sales person can answer. The skilled sales person watches the prospect’s body language. Is she crossing her arms as if being guarded. Did that last benefit mentioned make her eyes light up?
As a copywriter you don’t have that luxury. You can’t answer her questions without putting some sort of delay on the process (e.g., such as by having her email you or call you). And certainly you can’t watch her body language and facial expressions to use as a gauge of how well you’re doing selling this product to you.
Instead, you need to be able to read her mind. You need to get inside her head and think like her. You need to be able to answer her objections precisely at the moment she thinks of them.
Again, it all goes back to secret number one – profiling. If you’ve profiled her, you’re already inside her head. You know what makes her tick, what motivates her, and what scares her. You know what issues are important to her …and by extension you know what issues she’ll bring up regarding your product.
And if you’re still not sure, then you need to find out.
For starters, ask members of your target market to read your sales letter. Give them the product for free if they’ll review it for you. Ask them what questions they have after reading it. Would they be compelled to buy? What would stop them from buying? What points get them fired up about the product?
You may also considering “pitching” your product to members of your target market in person (instead of having them read a sales letter). This is practice before you ever pen the letter. What objections do they raise?
You can also survey your real prospects. For example, post a survey on your site that only becomes visible when someone is exiting your page. Ask them why they didn’t buy. Don’t use multiple choice, as that’s too constricting (why ask if you think you already know the answer?). Instead, use open-ended, fill-in-the-blank questions.
Make it easy and short so they’ll answer. Maybe offer them a free report in exchange for their two minutes of time. Certainly it’s worth it to you to know why people aren’t buying, and what it is about your offering that they’re objecting to.
For example, perhaps you have the majority of prospects saying your product is “too expensive.” But is it really? Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps you just didn’t do a good job of expressing the benefits – in other words, people aren’t coming away from your letter with high perceived value and they can’t justify the price. If you know you’re offering people a good deal, then your sales letter needs to show it.
Or perhaps people are concerned about how long the product will last. If so, you need to not only pump up the benefits related to durability, you also need to emphasize your solid guarantee.
Reading people’s minds means easing their mind when the natural skepticism pops up. If you’ve just made a bold claim in your sales letter, you can bet your reader is saying, “yeah right.” Doesn’t take a mind reader to know what as it’s common sense.
The solution? At the moment where your reader is saying “yeah, right” offer proof. Do you have a video or screenshot for proof? Testimonials from unbiased third parties also work as a great way to break down any objections. After all, the reader expects you to praise your product up one side of your letter and down the other. But when an unbiased third party gives a glowing testimonial, that serves as proof that your claims are legit.
Conclusion: You Have Great Power…
Now you know some of the best-kept dirty secrets of the professional copywriters. You know how to profile. You know how to play with your reader’s emotions, and mold your prospect masterfully to your way of thinking. You’re the seductress, the magician, the pickpocket …the puppet master pulling the strings. You have power beyond belief.
Harness these secrets, apply them – and your words will persuade, sell and make you money…bringing YOU the lifestyle you’ve always wanted.
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