Are These The Greatest Sales Letters Of All Time?

I recently came across a great little resource edited by John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing, and since he gave permission to distribute it freely, I thought I’d share it with you good folks here at the CopySnips.com blog.

It’s a 25 page PDF document called The Greatest Sales Letters Of All Time… and it contains 5 actual sales letters, written to sell products such as a subscription to Newsweek magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and a 20 volume Popular Mechanics Do-It-Yourself Encyclopedia.

These are “sales letters” in the traditional sense of the world – in other words, actual letters posted out to a mailing list. Still, regardless of whether you write to sell for the Web or in print, or even if you’re just here to learn about how to write copy, this is a great resource – you get to see the persuasive devices used by these well-known companies to sell their products through the written word.

We can learn a lot from these sales letters. You’ll notice, for example, the lack of hype. Yes, they’re enthusiastic for their products. (I’d particularly like to buy those Do-It-Yourself Encylopedias!) But they all carefully stay within the bounds of credibility. (Perhaps they can do so easily because these companies are, for the most part, pretty well known.)

Keep this resource handy on your computer, because I’ll be referring to it over the coming days and weeks, as I point out some of the specific persuasive devices being used, so make sure you’re subscribed to this blog as well.

You can download The Greatest Sales Letters Of All Time here.

In return, I’d be grateful if you could refer your friends and colleagues to this post, so we can expand the conversation about it here at CopySnips.com.

How To Eliminate Objections Using Headlines…

I recently stumbled across a headline… by sheer accident, honest!… of the squeeze page for David DeAngelo’s main dating product for men, the ebook Double Your Dating. (A “squeeze page” is basically a web page designed to collect the visitor’s email address before allowing them to go any further.)

A while back I spent some time reverse engineering his entire sales process and analyzing his sales letters to show you precisely what clever and sneaky copywriting devices he was using to compel people to buy.

Well, it seems like he’s changed his squeeze page. It’s now a video, along with a clever headline which I wanted to talk about. The new headline is…

dyd-headlineThis headline does something quite clever, because when the average guy thinks about “learning how to meet and attract beautiful women”, one of the thoughts that might pop into his head might be, “I need to be tall, rich or handsome to do that!”

So the headline immediately tackles that objection head on: “… even if you aren’t tall, rich or handsome”.

This is a great technique to use whenever you’re making a bold or remarkable claim, especially in a headline. First, think about the claim you’re making… then think of the objections people might raise to that claim… and then, reverse those objections immediately.

Let’s come up with another example. You have an information product that teaches people to speak fluent French. A major objection to this might be that a potential customer doesn’t have the time to learn. So you could tackle this objection immediately in the headline by saying something like,

“Learn How To Speak French Fluently… In Just 5 Minutes A Day”

Of course, you’ll want to make sure the product or service you’re offering can do what is promised. Just remember, your potential customers will always be raising objections to what you say, so the quicker you can address them, the greater your chances they will read on.

So can you address at least one major objection in the headline? You don’t have to be tall, rich or handsome to use this technique!

How To Instantly Transform Poor Copy Into Great Copy

One of the world’s greatest marketing experts, Jay Abraham, is about to reveal to you a superbly simple technique for transforming poor or average copy into spectacular copy just about instantly, and it doesn’t have to cost you a penny.

If you haven’t got time to watch the following 10 minute video, then I’ve provided a summary of his key points below, but you really MUST watch it… several times:

What’s amazing to me is Jay’s admisson that it took him years to figure this out, and yet here he is handing this technique out to us on a plate, in this video. So thank you, Jay Abraham.

The technique itself is deceptively simple. It involves using Amazon.com not only to do your market research, but also to get laser focused phrases you can use in your copy, that will touch your target audience and create empathy with them. Here is a summary of the suggestions, but please watch the video if you can – it will be 10 minutes well spent:

(1) Go to Amazon.com, and type in the keywords related to your niche. Look at the titles and subtitles of the products for “the big payoff”, i.e. the key benefits being offered. You can use these for your own headlines and subheadlines. (Each subheadline in your copy, every 4-6 paragraphs, should summarize the “big payoff” for the content below it.)

(2) Go to the reviews of each product. The editorial reviews usually contain good, professional copy that sells the book for Amazon.

(3) However, the customer reviews contain the polarization, where people either love it or hate it. These are (usually) real people writing their honest, heartfelt thoughts and feelings about the product. Pay attention to what people loved about it, and especially the phrases they use. Adapt these phrases for YOUR copy. Also pay attention to what people hated about it, so you can move your readers away from these things in your copy.

According to Jay Abraham, this is one way to make poor performing copy great instantly. Of course, you should watch the video because there’s even more valuable information in there than I could cover in this post. So what do you think of Jay Abraham’s “School Of Amazon” technique?

How To Earn $0.10 A Word For Your Freelance Writing

Last post we talked about why you should value your content and I showed how an article on a decent blog could easily be worth $100 or more. However, I know that many freelance writers struggle to command rates anywhere near that.

So today I want to give you an example of a writer and copywriter who has no problem charging $50 for a 500 word article (that’s $0.10 a word), and I’ll give you three key reasons why she’s able to do that (and you can do, as well). By the end of this article you’ll have some fresh ideas for your own writing service, and by the end of the series of articles (all this week) your mind will be bursting with new and fresh ideas for your writing service!

Lisa Giannetti is currently ranked #2 out of about 270,000 service providers at RentACoder.com, a place where service providers bid for jobs. (And since the top company does programming only, she’s really the #1 rated writer and copywriter there.)

Here’s an excerpt from the bidding page where she won the bid to write an article for an internet marketer (and pay careful attention to ALL the bid prices):

Article in **** niche

I need a high quality, original content article written that is optimized for the keyword phrase “****”.

View All Bid Responses

8/13/2009 9:45:50 AM *** 10 (Excellent) out of 24 ratings. $20.00
8/13/2009 12:03:56 PM *** 8.83 (Superb) out of 6 ratings. $10.00
8/13/2009 2:26:42 PM *** 10 (Excellent) out of 4 ratings. $15.00
8/13/2009 4:04:22 PM *** 9.98 (Excellent) out of 56 ratings. $15.00
8/14/2009 2:21:23 PM *** 8.33 (Very Good) out of 3 ratings. $10.00
8/15/2009 6:13:38 PM *** 9.85 (Excellent) out of 381 ratings. $15.00
8/16/2009 1:56:20 PM *** 9 (Superb) out of 1 ratings. $25.00
8/17/2009 11:48:11PM Lisa_G 9.89 (Excellent) out of 1525 ratings. $50 (was accepted)

Notice the range of prices offered before Lisa’s bid – from $10 to $25. At $50, her bid was twice the second highest bid… and yet it won!

Here’s what the client said when he accepted Lisa’s bid:

“Hi Lisa, I am very excited about this article. I have never paid more than $10 for an article before and I think the quality or lack of showed.”

You should read this comment two or three times, and really let it sink in. This guy was genuinely excited about paying more than he was used to – that is, paying no more than $10 an article and seeing a “lack of” the kind of quality he wanted. So he was ready and eager to pay more, for the virtual certainty of getting what he really wanted.

Here’s what he said after she delivered the article:

“Hi Lisa, The article is exactly what I was looking for. Thank you very much”

Now, before you jump to conclusions and double your prices right away, you need to understand the three main reasons I think Lisa is able to consistently charge more for her writing:

(1) She delivers quality.

As I talk about in my report Write To More Money, everyone says they offer “high quality” writing. But many writers (especially the very cheap ones) don’t deliver it. Instead, the client gets boring, spun and barely researched articles. (Some clients are after that, it’s true… but many want real quality, not just a rehash of someone else’s content.)

The difference between them and Lisa is that, based on her experience, she knew exactly what the client really wanted from his article, and delivered it.

(2) She has built a solid reputation.

I’d say the rating and reviews you get on sites like Elance or RentACoder are far more important than testimonials on your own site, because the rating systems on those sites are considered by clients as independent of you. After all, you can easily edit, pick and choose the testimonials you use on your site, but you can’t do that with the reviews your clients will leave you on outsourcing sites.

And let’s face it, in Lisa’s case, scoring 9.89 out of 10 over 1,500 jobs gives you a strong, credible reputation that can be trusted.

For example, here’s just one of the many reviews left for Lisa which also gives additional insights into why they picked her:

Let’s see… She is the #2 coder on RAC and has phenomenal feedback and an amazing portfolio. I lost any bargaining power when I basically bowed down and gushed over her skills before she bid. Despite that, when she did bid, it was still less than I would have expected for someone of her caliber.

Then she started on my project sooner than she estimated and also finished it sooner than she estimated. She was a pleasure to work with, easy and quick to communicate with, and even improved our layout a bit, which wasn’t part of my bid… just something that a true professional like Lisa does simply because it *should* be done.

Not sure how I can give her better feedback, but if there was a rating of 11, she would deserve it. Pretty rare in this world to find such a great partner. I guess now I know why she is rated so highly over an incredible 1,600+ jobs as I write this.

Thanks Lisa, truly excellent work – will definitely hire you again, and soon!

Scott Harvey

For that reason alone it’s worth building up a profile on at least one major outsourcing site, such as Elance or RentACoder, to enhance your credibility – and then let potential clients read your profile.

Bonus Tip: Study profiles like Lisa’s, to see exactly WHY she is so highly rated. These clients of hers are telling you, in their own words, why they were willing to pay more.

(3) She asks for more!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you don’t ask, you won’t get. Lisa wouldn’t have earned $50 for that article, had she not asked for it. Lisa herself freely admits she doesn’t win all the bids:

“I win 30% of my bids. That means my competitors win 70% all combined. But here’s the key: I work 30% as hard as they do and I make more money doing it.

If person “A” bids $10 for a 500 word article and I bid $50, and assuming it takes us each 1 hour to write it. I made $50 per hour and they made $10.

They have to do 5 times the work I do to earn the same amount. I can lose 4 bids to them and still end up with the same amount of money in my pocket.”

I appreciate it’s not easy for many writers to even consider raising their prices, which is why I wrote an entire 90+ page report on the subject of asking for, and getting more money for your writing.

Tomorrow I want to reveal to you another secret to commanding higher rates, used by the top writers, that even newcomers can use right away. So you’ll want to subscribe to this blog so you don’t miss this valuable advice – which could make all the difference to you.

Do You Value Your Content? Here’s Why You Should…

How much money is good content worth to you?

Take a popular blog like Copyblogger. According to Google, the domain has been around since February 2006. That’s just three and a half years – which makes it a baby, in the Internet world.

And yet it currently has over 70,000 RSS and email subscribers. If the founder Brian Clark were to sell up today, what do you think a blog with 70,000 subscribers would be worth?

Personally, I’d hate to hazard a guess, but I imagine $100,000 would be an insult. (I’m pretty sure someone would be willing to pay a LOT more for it.)

So what made it what it is today? First and foremost, it was, and is, the CONTENT. Without content, it wouldn’t be much of anything. Obviously it is also content that at least 70,000 people want to read on a regular basis.

Now, I don’t know exactly how many articles are on Copyblogger, but let’s say for the sake of argument that he’s posted every weekday for the past three and a half years. 5 articles a week, for 52 weeks a year over three and a half years works out at 910 articles in total.

In other words, it took 910 articles to build Copyblogger into what it is today. And if it sold for a mere $100,000, that would equate to $109 an article. (If it fetched a million or more, that’s over a thousand dollars an article!)

So each article on that blog is worth a minimum of $109. And that doesn’t include all the revenue the blog has earned him over the past 3 1/2 years.

Now, I appreciate that other factors make it valuable, such as backlinks. (Yahoo! says he has over half a million other pages linking to the blog!) And for that reason, it becomes even more valuable to a potential buyer.

But one of the main reasons people link to it in the first place is because of the content. Without the good content, it’s hard to get backlinks anywhere near that volume.

So how much do YOU value content? How much do you think an article is worth to you? I ask this question because some people think that $x or $y is too high a price to pay for an article.

For example, some people won’t pay more than $10 an article because there are… ahem… “article writers” out there who will write articles for a few dollars a pop. But do you think you’ll ever see those articles on a site like Copyblogger?

Yet if Brian Clark, the founder of Copyblogger, sold up today, he’d probably get – at an absolute minimum – the equivalent of about $109 an article. Of course, you can only get that kind of return with high quality articles. I doubt very much it would be worth much at all if he’d used regurgitated, spun out, badly written articles.

The take home lesson I’d like you to get from this post is this:

Content buyers – pay your content providers a good amount per article, because CONTENT is what creates true VALUE. It’s CONTENT that will create the next generation of Problogger or Shoemoney or Copyblogger. If you skimp on what you pay them, don’t be surprised if what you get back seems pretty skimpy.

Content writers – this post is an example of how you must demonstrate value to your clients, so they understand the real value of the content they get from you. Writers are undervalued, and content is undervalued. I’m determined to change that. Let’s all change that. (You really should read Write To More Money, it will help you a great deal in this regard.)

Paying $10 or $15 an article is not expensive, when viewed in the light of the returns you can generate from a high quality blog – not to mention the income that, for example, Copyblogger is generating each month he runs his blog.

In tomorrow’s post I’m going to show you precisely how one writer is easily earning $0.10 per word (about $50 for 500 words). I’ll reveal the techniques she’s using – so if you write for anybody else (or are thinking of doing so), you’ll want to subscribe to this blog so you don’t miss that article.

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!

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!