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!

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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