The Power Of “Because”

Few words in English have more power and importance than “because”. We are literally conditioned to respond to this word. That’s because, when we were children, and our parents told us to do something, we might have whined, “Why do I have to…?” And usually the response would be, “Because I told you so!”… and that would be it. You’d do as you were told.

Also, the human mind constantly seeks the reason for things. When we were children we might have frequently asked why this, and why that. As adults, we might not ask those questions quite as much, but we still often want to know why. What’s more, having a reason gives us an excuse for accepting the request.

Why am I telling you about the power of because? It’s because this knowledge will help you sell more, and get what you want more often. (And I’m guessing that might be of interest to you?)

Let me give you a solid example: Persuasion expert Kevin Hogan made a tiny change to a one minute telemarketing script for a charity, and increased the response rate by nearly 30%.

Maybe you’re wondering, “What was that tiny change?” He altered the ending of the script from “please donate”, to “please donate… because it’s important.”

Bam. A nearly 30% increase in response. That’s the power of because.

Give people reasons to comply with your request. Not only does it satisfiy the rational part of their mind, it gives them the excuse to comply.

“Buy now, because the sooner you start, the faster you’ll get results.”
“Place your order now, because your business is important to us.”

And while you’re here, make sure you subscribe to this blog, because I’d like to share with you more tips on getting what you want on a regular basis, and because you’ll want and need these tips to have more and greater success in writing, copywriting and in life.

Preselling – How To Presell And Get Visitors To Accept Your Sales Message

I was just reading an article over at AWAI Online entitled, “7 Words That Instantly Launched My Six-Figure Copywriting Career…” Go and read it, and then come back here, because I want to talk to you about how that article used the concept of preselling in a smart way.

The story was a clever example of preselling. Basically, the article talked about how the author (Jay White) met famous marketer Alex Mandossian at a copywriting seminar, and how that encounter led to him writing copy for Alex, and to getting other work from “several million-dollar clients worldwide”.

However, the story functions as a presell for his advice near the end of the article, which is to attend AWAI’s copywriting bootcamp.

The story is “preselling” because it wasn’t directly “selling” the seminar. It was designed put the reader in the right frame of mind to accept the sales message. By the time the reader finished the story, they might be thinking, “Wow, could it really be that easy? So it’s just a question of being in the right place at the right time?”

Over on my blog at PaulHancox.com I wrote an article about preselling, and I used this analogy:

If sex is the sale, then I was going to say that preselling is the foreplay. But it’s not even that. Preselling is the teasing, flirting and playful touching that gets ‘em in the mood in the first place!

That’s what Jay White’s story did. It got readers in the mood. They heard his story of meeting Alex Mandossian at a copywriting seminar, and it got them thinking, “Wow, I wouldn’t mind some of that!” And only after telling his story, did he suggest that’s why they should go to AWAI’s latest copywriting bootcamp.

Think about it. He could have started his article by saying something like, “Here’s why I think you should attend the latest bootcamp.” Instead, he presold them on the idea with his story. He engaged them in the “teasing, flirting and playful touching” that led naturally to the outcome.

We’ll talk more about the power of preselling on this blog here at copySnips.com, so please… whatever you do, don’t miss out – grab yourself a free subscription to this blog and keep all these things fresh in your mind. If you’re feeling generous to your Twitter followers, you may even want to retweet this blog post and share it with them.

6 Reasons Why Every Freelance Writer And Copywriter Should Be Blogging

Blogging can be hard work at times, there’s no denying it.  However, I think it’s worth it! Here are 6 reasons why I recommend that every freelance writer and copywriter should have an active blog to which they regularly post:

(1) Blogging establishes your authority and expertise.

Your clients want to be confident that you know what you’re doing, and you’ll do the best possible job for them. You can use your blog to demonstrate in advance that you “know your stuff”, as it were.

(2) Blogging can pre-sell.

“Pre-selling” is about getting prospects warmed up for your offer, product or service, but not directly selling it.

For instance, let’s say you sell a writing service for other blogs, and one of your specialities is creating blog posts that compel people to subscribe. On your own blog, you could write a post that pre-sells this aspect of your writing, i.e. “5 Reasons You NEED Compelling Blog Posts That Suck People In”.

If the reader agrees with the premise of your post (that they need compelling blog posts), you’ve pre-sold them on a particular feature of your writing service. We’ll talk more about pre-selling tomorrow, and I’ll share some of the secrets I’ve discovered about using this technique over the past 10 years.

(3) Blogging saves you repeating yourself.

If you find a lot of clients are asking you the same question, write a blog post on the subject! Rather than having to explain yourself over and over again, simply point them to your blog post which talks about it.

(4) Blogging brings you traffic.

Search engines love good quality blogs, because blogs often supply fresh, bite-sized content that is perfect for search engine users.

For that reason, you’ll want to make sure your blog is “optimized” for search engines. Matt Cutts of Google recently spoke at WordCamp San Fransisco, and shared some great tips on how to do this. (You can watch the video here. It’s long, but well worth it.)

Combine this with blog commenting, being a guest writer on other blogs, and having an active, interesting and relevant Twitter stream where you actively engage with others, and you have a smart “visibility” strategy that will bring you traffic, and potential clients.

(5) Blogging is a reminder and source of inspiration… TO YOU.

Copywriting involves using many skills, techniques and pieces of knowledge, and blogging about them on a regular basis serves as a reminder to YOU, as well as being helpful to others.

That was precisely the inspiration behind my last post on the topic of the puppy dog close. I wanted to test the technique again (it had been a while since I used it), and decided to write a blog post both to remind myself, and also to share the technique with you.

Whenever you learn something new and profound, if you write about it, you’ll find it sinks in even deeper – and you might be surprised at other ideas you generate from the original core idea.

(6) Blogging gets you clients.

If you treat your blog as a brand, and have a blog that brings in traffic, demonstrates your authority and expertise, and that pre-sells the things your clients need and want, then you have a great vehicle for getting you new clients.

So keep on blogging… or if your blog is currently gathering dust… kick it into action again, and turn it into your very own Client Capture Machine!

Puppy Dog Close – Do You Use It In Your Sales Letters?

The "puppy dog close" can increase sales

The "puppy dog close" can increase sales

I’ve known about the “puppy dog close” for a while, but sometimes I forget to use all the stuff I know, so here’s my chance to share it with you, and at the same time, remind myself of what I need to be doing.

First of all, here’s the pyschological principle behind the technique, and then I’ll reveal the technique itself.

People are more likely to finish something when it is framed as something they have already started, rather than if it’s framed as something they have yet to start.

For example, let’s say you go to your local bookstore, and they give you a leaflet. On it, there is room for 5 stamps, and every time you buy a book from them, you get a stamp. When you reach 5 stamps, they give you a free book of your choice.

Now, here’s what researchers discovered:

You are more likely to complete the book of stamps if it has already started to be filled in. In other words, if you’re given the leaflet and it already has a stamp on it, you’re more likely to get the other stamps, than if you’d been given a leaflet with no stamps!

What’s more, you’ll also complete the collection of stamps more quickly when there is one stamp already on it (even after taking into account the obvious fact that you’ve been given the first stamp).

Here’s how I’ll be using this principle. I’m about to do a marketing test for my report, Write To More Money.

What I’ll be doing is allowing people to read some of it without having to pay. There are two reasons why this should increase sales. First, it’s like the first stamp in the leaflet – if people have started reading it, they are more likely to want to continue, than if they haven’t started at all. Second, the content of the report should hopefully convince people to want to keep reading.

This is similar to what salespeople call the puppy dog close, where you give people the product to try out for a few days. After all, who could resist buying a puppy dog if they had a chance to take it home and look after it for a couple of days?

In the case of giving away part of an information product, one thing you can test, if possible, is just how much you should let them read. Common sense would say, give them as much as possible… but marketing doesn’t always conform to the laws of “common sense”. Since my report is over 90 pages long, I might test 10, 20, 30 and 40 pages and see which results in the highest sales.

If you’re selling an information product, let people read a certain portion of it without having to pay. Get them hooked into the content. If you’re selling a membership site, give them a trial subscription period. If you’re selling software, let them download a trial version. If you’re selling a service, give them a sample that gets them hooked on buying from you. (For example, write them Part 1 of a 3 part series, as the sample! If they want the rest, they need to buy from you.)

Let them “take the puppy home”, as it were. Let the sample be the cute little puppy that nobody can resist!

Blog Branding – 3 Reasons To Brand Your Blog

The famous logo of Apple, Inc

The famous logo of Apple, Inc

I’m sure you’re familiar with branding if you’ve heard of companies like Coca-Cola, Nike or Apple. But is branding just for the big boys? Or can we humble bloggers, writers and copywriters use branding as well?

Here’s three reasons why I think not only can we use branding, we MUST use it if we want a piece of the action:

(1) Branding makes you easy to find.

Many of the top bloggers are already using branding, to get themselves more subscribers, traffic and clients.

For example, think of some of the better known blogs: Copyblogger, Problogger, Lifehacker, Shoemoney.

What do they all have in common? A brand that is easy to remember, and therefore easy to find. For instance, if you hear someone talk about Problogger, all you do is type problogger.com into your browser, and you’re done!

However, if you happen to be blogging from john1862.blogger.com, it’s highly unlikely anyone’s going to remember this web address. So it certainly helps if you have a brand name that matches up with an easy to find domain name.

(2) Branding makes you memorable.

This is one of the reasons companies relentlessly repeat those messages and annoying jingles on TV. They’re not always trying to directly sell you the product. They’re doing it so that, when you next go into the store, their brand is the first thing that pops into your mind.

Now, you might not have the luxury of that kind of media exposure, but by having a memorable brand, you can “stick” inside the mind of your potential clients.

For instance, if you were looking for blogging tips, what’s the first site that pops into your mind? For me, it’s Problogger. Quite apart from the good content, the name Problogger is easy to remember. It’s memorable.

(3) You can create and reinforce your brand’s image.

Ultimately, what makes a brand is the product or service behind it. As I like to say: Without the Mac or the iPod, Apple is just a fruit! (Click here to retweet this on Twitter.)

So make sure that every time you mention your brand, what you have to say is consistent with the image you want your brand to project.

For example, I enjoy commenting on other people’s blogs. When I do so, I always use “Paul, copySnips.com” where possible, because that reinforces my “copysnips” brand; and I aim to provide useful, insightful comments. (Admittedly, I don’t always achieve this, because sometimes my mind just goes blank.)

So even though you don’t have the marketing budget of Coca-Cola, you can still use the power of branding to make your blog and business more memorable, easier to find and to create and reinforce the image you want to convey.

In tomorrow’s post I’m going to share with you a simple, easy and effective technique for increasing your sales (or your clients sales) that I’m going to be testing – so make sure you’re subscribed to this blog and don’t miss out. If you enjoyed this post, click here to retweet it to your Twitter followers.

Persuasive Writing Techniques They Didn’t Tell You At School

persuasive-writing-techniquesIn this series I’ll share with you persuasive writing techniques they didn’t tell you at school. Or college. Or much of anywhere else, apart from this copySnips.com blog of course.

Being persuasive is almost like having superpowers, because most people just aren’t that persuasive. But for you, it will mean you can get what you want much more often. (Sadly, you still won’t be able to fly.) And I’ll be adding regularly to the Persuasive Writing series right here on this blog.

Before I tell you these secrets, understand that persuasion techniques have been around for a very long time. Over 2,300 years ago the Greek philosopher Aristotle taught persuasive techniques, so that people could win elections – some things never change.

Anyway, he came up with the three main persuasive writing techniques, which are:

ETHOS. Who is doing the persuading.

Just imagine yourself living back in the days of Aristotle, when one city might go to war with another. It was important to stir the people up to want to go and fight in the first place. Otherwise they’d just be sitting around, enjoying themselves and being all peaceful.

To do this, Aristotle knew it needed not only a persuasive speaker, but also someone to whom the people would listen. If Warren the Warrior had just come back from the battlefield and scored a victory, he might do a better job of convincing the people to fight than Cuthbert the Coward. Warren the Warrior had credibility and a good reputation and knew what he was talking about when it came to war.

The same is still true today. We’ll be more persuaded if our dentist tells us to use Brand X toothpaste, than if our Aunt Ethel does. It depends on who is doing the persuading.

LOGOS. Logic and reasoning.

This means saying things that make sense and that sound logical to the reader, that are backed up by facts and figures, and making one statement follow another in a logical way.

Imagine mighty Warren the Warrior, rallying the people of Athens and shouting, over the wild and crazy cheers of his audience, “We won the first battle against our enemy, so we can do it AGAIN!”

The first part of his statement is a FACT, and so the listeners are more likely to accept the second part as true, just because it’s linked by the word “so”. It’s also harder to argue against this kind of logic when we’re in the grip of…

PATHOS. Emotions.

This is about using emotional appeals. If you’re reading this, you’re probably human – so you have emotions, like me, and the rest of the human race.

Have you, like me, ever found yourself crying at a movie? What’s funny is, you KNEW the story was made up… but it still made you cry, didn’t it?

That’s because we got caught up with the characters, and we shared their emotions. A good movie can do that to us, and the same is true of persuasive writing. People are more likely to take action when you can stir their emotions.

It’s hard to imagine Warren the Warrior moving the city to go to war with a boring speech. No, he would probably remind them of the need to FIGHT BACK, the need for JUSTICE, and the need to DEFEND THEIR FAMILIES… and there would probably be lots of shouting and chanting… all things that would appeal to the emotions of his audience.

An Example Using These 3 Persuasive Writing Techniques

Combining these three techniques – ethos (who I am), logos (logic and reasoning), and pathos (emotion) – let me give you an example of their use, which will hopefully make a strong case for signing up to my blog:

Being really persuasive takes skills and knowledge, the kind of skills and knowledge I’ve been sharing with you right here, and will continue sharing with you. There’s much more to know, so you’ll want to sign up to read this blog (which won’t cost you anything) on a regular basis, and get really good at persuasion.

Just imagine what you’ll be able to do with the persuasion skills you’re about to discover! And it’s not just about getting your own way, it’s about helping others as well… people who are less persuasive than you. Doors of opportunity will open to you as you become good at this by signing up to read this blog regularly. I hope you’re as excited as me to read more about persuasion!

I’ll share more persuasive writing techniques with you another time, so sign up to this blog. It won’t cost you anything, except a better life. And if you don’t, I’ll send Warren the Warrior to come and take your city.

Perfect Copy – Why It Doesn’t Exist

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m a perfectionist. Maybe there’s a perfectionist lurking inside of you as well. Like me, you want every single word to be lined up like disciplined soldiers, complete with polished black shoes, immaculately pressed uniforms, ready for their marching orders.

You don’t tolerate any lack of discipline in your word army. In fact, it took me 10 minutes just to write (and rewrite) that last paragraph, after I decided to use an army metaphor.

Let’s be honest with ourselves. Perfect copy doesn’t exist.

My definition of perfect copy is copy that “closes” 100% of our visitors, every time. In other words, every visitor takes the action you’re aiming for in your copy – whether that’s a sale, a subscription, or simply a “click” to give them further information.

The truth is, the average Internet sales letter converts an unremarkable 1% or 2% of their visitors into buyers. For many, even a “squeeze” or “landing” page, where you’re trying to convince a visitor to opt-in to some free newsletter, with some nice bonus reports thrown in, might only get 10% or 20% of visitors to sign up… and that’s for something free!

Your copy will never be perfect, and here’s why…

In the invisible and infinite world of possibilities, there is almost certainly some change you could make to your copy that will boost the response rate. (Unless you’ve already achieved a 100% response rate.)

Unfortunately for you, you don’t know what it is… yet. Otherwise, you’d already have factored it in to your copy.

That’s why we split test, where possible, or we encourage our clients to do so. Even with just 10 visitors a day, you can still split test, as I demonstrated in this free split testing report.

That’s also why, as copywriters, we shouldn’t be too “in love” with our own copy.

We haven’t created something to be put in a frame behind a pane of glass and hung in a gallery for all to admire. That’s called art.

Sure, there’s an art to writing sales copy, but if your clients split test the copy you gave them and find a headline that works better than yours, be happy for them!

So stop striving for perfection. The only perfect copy is copy that gets 100% response.

Instead, do the best you can.

And then encourage your clients to take what you’ve done, and split test different elements of it.

Artists strive for perfection. (And then society wonders why they only become famous after their death!) Copywriters strive to give birth, and then to help their clients nurture their “baby” further.

And on that note, I’ll stop, before I think up yet more metaphors, and double the size of this post. Just be proudly imperfect!

3 Copywriting “Traps” You Must Avoid…

It’s quite easy to fall into one of the three copywriting “traps” I’m about to share with you. I’ve done it myself more than a few times. What’s important is that you’re aware of them, so you can pull yourself out of the trap quickly. Without further ado, here are three common copywriting mistakes I see a lot, and what to do about them:

Fatal Trap #1: Thinking the reader cares firstly about YOU.

It’s amazing how many corporate sites still make this glaring mistake, where the first thing they talk about when a visitor hits their site is THEIR 28 years experience in business, or how many awards THEY have won, or how great THEY are.

Most visitors don’t care how great you claim to be – at least, not at first. What they do care about is whether their wants, needs and desires are going to be met, and whether you can demonstrate that you understand their wants, needs and desires in the first place.

Only once the reader has established in their mind that you care more about THEM than about yourself, will they entertain the possibility of doing business with you.

In other words, focus on the reader and their wants, needs and desires – because that’s what they’re going to care about most of all, at first.

That’s not to say your “28 years in business” claim isn’t important. It’s a useful selling point, but only once you’ve established that you truly care about the reader and want to help. Without this, it just sounds like bragging.

Fatal Trap #2: Showing off your writing skills.

I have nothing against creative, expressive and even flowery language – when I’m reading a novel. But the copywriter’s job is NOT to show off their language skills. Their job is to help the reader to take some action, such as to hit the order button, or to subscribe.

If the reader has to shoot off to find a dictionary, just to even understand what you’re talking about in your sales copy, then you’ve just placed an unnecessary hurdle in the way of them buying or taking the action you want them to take. Save your flowery prose for that next novel, or at least for the report they receive once they’ve purchased.

Fatal Trap #3: Selling features rather than benefits.

This is a big mistake made especially by those selling services. For example, it’s great to be able to boast about “28 years experience in the business”, but as it stands, it’s really just a FEATURE of your business. It’s going to have a much bigger impact if you can explain to the reader why this will BENEFIT them. Ask yourself what having 28 years experience means to the reader – and then convey this in your copy.

“Our 28 years experience in business means you’ll have access to some of the best and most established contact lists and resources in the industry, resulting in much more profitable connections.”

Can you think of any more common mistakes made by copywriters? What do you think of these mistakes? Are there circumstances in which putting YOU first, or showing off your writing skills, or selling features rather than benefits might help? Or just let me know what you thought of this post… in the comments section below.

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How To Become A Copywriter (Part 8 – Salesmanship In Print)

Many copywriters are familiar with John E. Kennedy’s famous words that copy is basically “salesmanship in print”. The key word to note is SALESMANSHIP.

“Print” is just the medium (although nowadays it could equally be the computer pixel) – so as a copywriter, you are also a salesperson; or more correctly, your sales copy will the online equivalent of a salesperson.

I’ve worked in face to face sales (called “direct sales”), and there was a lot involved in direct selling. Among other things, we needed to overcome the potential client’s initial skepticism, and cynicism towards salespeople in general; we had to provide a compelling and credible reason for them to buy from us today; we had to overcome all of their objections (although nowadays I prefer to eliminate them in advance using the Objection Eliminator Method); and we had to “close” them effectively (which is basically about getting the potential customer to say, “Yes!” to the sale).

All of these things are also true of sales copy. Your visitors may initially be skeptical and cynical. They will have objections, such as “I can’t afford this”. They still need to be “closed”.

In fact, these things are even more important in a sales letter, because, for example, if a customer has the objection, “I can’t afford it”, they’re probably not going to tell you – they’re simply going to close their browser window or tab, and move on!

So one of the best ways of getting good at the “salesperson” hat needed for copywriting is to actually become a salesperson for a while! I found it a truly eye-opening experience.

Alternatively, I could point you to many sales books, but it’s never quite the same as experiencing it in real life. Besides, many of the best sales books are written for “direct sales”. That’s why I wrote The Secrets Of A 10% Conversion Rate which shows you how to apply the techniques I learned in direct sales, in a copywriting context.

In this series we’ve discovered all the different “hats” a copywriter needs to wear, but the question remains: How do you acquire all of these skills in the first place? I’ll tackle that important question tomorrow.

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How To Become A Copywriter (Part 7 – Feature Converter, Desire Magician)

We’re nearly through with the list of “hats” that a good copywriter needs to wear. In this post, we’re going to look at the “Feature Converter” and “Desire Magician” hats, and what they mean. In the next post, we’ll come to possibly the most important “hat” of all.

Feature Converter

A good copywriter can convert FEATURES and ADVANTAGES into BENEFITS as easily as a professional translator might convert one language into another.

FEATURES are just what something has (i.e. “four wheels”), ADVANTAGES are what the feature can make happpen relative to not having it (i.e. “get there quicker”), and BENEFITS are what the customer will get out of the advantage; how it will help them.

Typical benefits might include…

  • It makes them money.
  • It saves them money.
  • It saves them time.
  • It makes their life easier or better.

So a copywriter needs to know how to convert every feature into a benefit, and convey that benefit in their copy.

Features may be important to some groups of people (i.e. people who always want the latest, cutting-edge technology and gadgets), but people often buy because of the benefits derived from the features.

At least, they do on the surface. But as we discussed in Part 2, there are often deeper reasons for buying, to satisfy their “core desires” as it were. Understanding this is part of the skill of the…

Desire Magician

A good copywriter is also a Desire Magician, building desire for the product. It’s about understanding what they REALLY want, deep down – and then appealing in some way to those desires.

Building desire involves getting them to IMAGINE and ANTICIPATE what it would be like if their problems were solved, or their needs and wants were satisfied, as a result of buying the product.

It’s also about TEASING them with the information or features provided by the product, and the benefits they will receive when they buy the product.

In this regard, I consider BULLET POINTS to be effective as what I call “desire hooks”. Each bullet point should take a feature, and convey the ultimate benefit from having that feature, or the ultimate consequence of not having it. For example, here’s a bullet point from my sales letter at WriteToMoreMoney.com for all non-fiction writers:

  • Invisible Selling. I’ll reveal my secret “Invisible Selling” technique to you right here. Get this… just this one technique by itself could have clients lining up to use your services… when you have this, and use it. (p34-37)

I currently have 19 bullet points in that sales letter. If that one got you even mildly curious, the idea of multiple bullet points is to raise the level from curiosity to wanton, drooling desire that makes you say, “I MUST get this!”

I made each of them by taking a piece of information from the product, turning it into a benefit (in this case, the possible ultimate outcome of using the technique) and – hopefully – getting people intrigued enough to want to find out more. I also mix up the language (so they’re not simply a list of 19 “How To…” statements) and add some other elements to build desire, which I explore in great detail in Video #10 (the “Bullet Builder” Technique) of my video copywriting series.

In the next post, I’ll share with you what I consider to be the most important copywriting “hat” of all, so make sure you’re subscribed to this blog to find out what it is, and why it’s so important.

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