Selling and life have a big thing in common.
When it comes to goals be it a slim and sexy body … or a bank account that makes them grim every time they look their statements … or a happy loved filled marriage combined with the sex life of “Fifty Shades of Grey … most people think that these goals will come easily to them, that the entire universe conspires to make them fit, rich and sexy.
After all, it is an easy enough belief to fall into – it appeals to our desire of instant gratification and after all, why work for something when at least theoretically, if we desire it long and hard enough, it will come to us?
So it is how beginner copywriters treat selling.
You see, your prospect doesn’t want to have anything to do with you. He’s not your friend. If anything, you are a problem. Before he knew about you, he was happy in his ignorance that there is no solution to his problem. Now, he knows about you and sees you as an obstacle to whatever he desires.
Before he thought that he can achieve his desired outcome just by wanting it long enough, that things are going to solve themselves out. Now he must pay $499 for your course to do so. By coming into his field of view, you’ve broke his fantasy that some miracle will happen and he hates your gut for this – as ignorance isn’t bliss anymore.
That being said, if you approach copywriting as you’re talking to someone who sees you as a troublemaker, not as a savior, everything changes. In his life, you are maybe like a dentist. He doesn’t want to see you nor go through the pain but he knows that if he doesn’t take some action, things are going to be worse in the long term. If there was any way of achieving the goal he desires without paying you, he’d gladly take it so. If there is any way of escaping responsibility of paying you, he’ll take it without thinking twice.
Think of a girl caught in a date with someone she doesn’t like. That’s your relationship with the prospect. He’s constantly looking for ways to “go to the bathroom” and never return. He’s willing to say “I’ll skip” for whatever rational or irrational reason he can come up with, price, terms, bonuses, format or any other objection. He’s going to bitch and complain about everything. No matter how much of a good deal your product is, he’s going to find it too expensive.
If it is not too expensive, then it is too hard to use. If it is not this, then it doesn’t have a long enough warranty. If the warranty is long enough, then he likes it but doesn’t have the money to buy it now. Take my word, a prospect is first motivated to look for everyday to procrastinate or even downright refuse purchasing your product. Even if he knows that he must solve the problem now, he’ll look for ways, for excuses to spend more time researching, to analyze the competition better, to get to know more about you, anything so he just doesn’t pay.
Is it always so extreme? In most cases it is but even if it is not, treating it like this makes you a far better copywriter. I’m saying this because when your prospect is like a husky that wants to find a way to climb out the cage or dig under it or squeal until you let him out, then your copy will be far more disciplined and far more persuasive than if you treated your prospect looking to make a casual buy.
Most products sold through direct mail and sales letters in general are not products that are naturally wanted. They’re acquired taste. You don’t need a sales letter to sell chocolate cookies because we naturally want them. However, you need a strong logical and emotional argument to sell a weight loss product.
Therefore, you must make sure that you don’t let him out. He’s going to come with 100 objections. If he thinks the price is too high (and he will) then justify the price in terms of how much money he’ll save in the long term. If he thinks that it is too complicated, explain how this is broken down in step by step pieces and he just needs to take a simple decision, follow the next step. If he wants to take action later, tell him how this great bonus that is worth the price of the product alone is only available now. If he thinks that his friends will think of him that he’s a sucker for buying such a product, give examples of how people will appreciate him and his good decisions.
Find ways to make sure he doesn’t escape. Cover every hole and bar every window. Don’t let him leave the page without paying for your product because chances are that once he’s gone, he’s gone forever. People don’t really return when they say “I’ll think about it”. There’s something like a 10% chance of a prospect who says “I’ll think about it” to buy in six months following his decision.
Your prospect is going to be whiny. That’s a fact.
You can say that this product is 50% discounted and he’ll say “okay, that’s great BUT I don’t have a budget now”. You can say that if he doesn’t buy now, he’ll miss out on the bonuses and he’ll say “okay, I want the bonuses but I need to really think about it”.
I’m not saying to bully your prospect. I’m saying to make your argument tight so his only real decision is to buy. After all, a copywriter’s job is to sell the product. It doesn’t matter how good the copy is if it doesn’t convert. I’m saying that each time he wants to leave, to have a way to make him come back. I’m saying to get him to agree that he needs the said product and that not buying later would go in contradiction with his prior made decision.
This is not so much about techniques as it is about a mindset. If you approach copywriting with a mindset of “well, if he buys fine, if he doesn’t, it is his loss” then you’ll go bankrupt really fast. You must instead approach it with “while I can’t ultimately decide if he buys or not, I’m going to use every tool at my disposal that is legal and ethical to incline him towards a positive buying decision”.
You would not get into a boat with holes. No matter how fast you’re going, as long as there’s water coming in, eventually the boat will sink. So you shouldn’t write a letter with holes that the prospect can use to escape the responsibility of taking a decision. And this escape is not “no”, it is “I need to think about it” in about 90% of the cases. It is delaying something he knows he must do because spending money and starting something new is hard.
We all do this. I’ve delayed 20 weeks to wake up at 05:00 AM after deciding to do it. I’ve delayed for months to go for a dental check-up after I’ve noticed that there might be some issues. I’ve delayed buying new gym clothes for weeks even if I needed them. These are small decisions and I’ve delayed because of the effort involved.
What do you think goes into the mind of your prospect with a $99 … or a $499 … or a $997 purchase? If you’re giving him ways, he’s going to “think about it” until he’s old and can’t even remember about the problem anymore. Selling isn’t the game where you play it cool. It’s not like dating where backing off and making the other person miss you plays in your favor. Selling is like fishing. If you don’t reel the fish in when it bites the bait, you’ll have a satisfied fish and no catch.
Of course, there are ethical and moral implications to selling and this can be used both for actions and products that are a must (like getting an overweight person which is risking a heart attack to improve his fitness level) and products that are trivial (a piece of software that marginally improves things).
The general rule is that if you sell hard, then your product must be good enough. Over promising and under delivering leads to poor customer lifetime value and that’s where all the value lies in. Persuasion, copywriting and sales funnels are tools – just like fire, just like a scalpel, just like a crane. They can be used to heal and build or to hurt and destroy. I hope that when you’re employing these principles, you’re doing it for productive purposes.
Even if you don’t though, the free market will eventually work against you, as you will be unable to sell a second time and it’s hard to make money on the front end.