Category Archives: Copywriting

Ask PW — Do you think long web pages are still the trend?

Sara submitted this question to me via email (thank you Sara!) and I’m quite excited about it because I think what Sara (and any of you who are wondering about this too) are actually asking is a different question.

Yes you are asking if you need to write long web pages. But the deeper question here is “do you have to do all that direct response ‘hype’ in order to be successful?”

And that means there are 2 answers — yes, long web pages still work (I don’t know if I would call them a trend, but they do work because you need space and time to give someone enough information to actually make a decision whether to move forward with you or not) and no, they don’t have to be hype-y for you to have them work for you.

What I’d like to propose is a reframe — rather than focus on the length of sales letters (or emails or opt in page or really anything) let’s focus on making them interesting, relevant and maybe even entertaining for your ideal prospect.  Let’s focus on crafting an invitation to your ideal prospects to step up and become your ideal clients. Let’s focus on creating an online showroom your ideal prospects and clients will love to hang out in, getting to know you and learning if what you offer is what they’re looking for.

Ahhhh. Doesn’t that feel better?

So what are your thoughts about long web pages? Please share below in the comment section. Or if you have a question about marketing, business or writing copy, feel free to put in the comment section and I’ll answer those in a future Ask PW column.

Is a new website in your future?

if you’re someone who is not happy with your website, I’d like to take a moment and chat with you.

You see, I’ve been in your shoes. I too had a website I wasn’t happy with a few years ago. And that website was one of the main reasons why I suffered with a feast-famine biz.

There’s no question you can limp along with a bad website (which is probably why you haven’t taken the time to fix it yet — because there are so many other things you feel like you need to be doing other than dealing with your website). But the reality is a bad website can affect EVERYTHING in you biz — and if you don’t like what you’re seeing (your leads, your sales, your cash flow) then it’s time to sit down and get serious about fixing your website.

Think about it — if energetically you know your website isn’t up to snuff, are you REALLY going to spend time and energy to market yourself? Because deep down you know the more you market yourself, the more people are going to go to your website, and there’s a part of you that really doesn’t WANT anyone seeing your site.

And it’s actually worse than that because if you already suspect your website isn’t actually converting visitors to leads and clients, then why on earth would you spend time, energy and money to send folks there?

So your marketing suffers.

Which means your biz suffers.

If you see yourself here, then I’d like to invite you to join me in my brand new program “Websites that Go Ka-Ching! How to Write a Website You Love – AND that Gets You Results.”

Skip the reading and go here to sign up now.

I designed this program to give you everything you need to create an awesome website that attracts your ideal clients to you without being hype-y or sales-y. You’ll love your site AND your ideal clients will too. (Imagine — your biz thriving with the perfect ideal clients who you love working with and they love working with you. That’s what finally taking the time to fix your website can do for you.)

And right now, you can get in on Early Bird Pricing and a special 3-pay plan.

Here’s that link again where you can read success stories from some of my previous clients who have used my teachings to ramp up their results – and where you can get the details on “Websites that Go Ka-Ching! How to Write a Website You Love – AND that Gets You Results.”

 

Website Critique (aka Paranormal Investigation of Websites by Michele PW Monster Hunter)

This paranormal investigation report covers my findings for the website at http://www.TheProsWeightLossCorner.com.

I chose that site for a couple of reasons — first because it shares many of the same “monster signs” I discovered on other sites, and second the owner wrote a nice note to help convince me to choose her site. (Note — never underestimate the power of a nice note to make things happen in your life.)

If you go to the site, you’ll see it’s new and it’s based around promoting her new podcast. So here are 2 things I would do differently to keep the Website Killer Monster from turning it into a haunted site:

1. The banner is too big. Actually it’s more than that — there’s nothing on the banner that would cause you to scroll down. There’s no subhead or language that speaks to her ideal client so they know they’re in the right place, there’s no picture of the host (so we can start to build a personal connection), there’s no indication this is even a podcast and there’s no place to collect an email.

Whenever possible I like to build an opt in for a gift in the actual banner itself — that way it’s right there at the top of every page. I also like to have language that immediately lets your ideal clients know they’re in the right place if they want a solution to what’s keeping them up at night.

2. Speaking of ideal clients, really sinking into who they are and crafting copy that attracts them and creates a buying environment where they feel heard and understood is a very important part of keeping the Website Killer Monster at bay.

Right now it feels like the site is only to speaking to “people who want to lose weight” which is waaaayyyy too big to talk to. “People who want to lose weight” covers everyone who wants to lose “just 5 more pounds” to those who just got diagnosed with a disease and want to lose weight for their health, to women who suddenly gained 20 pounds when they hit 40 to those who have struggled with their weight their entire life and more.

All of them have different conversations in their head and different things that are keeping them up at night, which is why the message needs to be personalized to each one.

My advice is to sink into one ideal client group and really write to them. (I can see glimmers of who I think she wants as her ideal client but it’s not quite there yet.) And if this is something you want even more help around, make sure you join me for my FREE training on Thursday at 11 am Pacific/2 pm Eastern “Is the Website Killer Monster Haunting Your Website? 3 Steps to Banish Him for Good So You See More Leads, Clients and Money From Your Website.” You can sign up for it here: http://www.MichelePW.com/monstercall

(Plus there’s still time to submit your site for a paranormal investigation after you sign up.)

Here’s that link again: http://www.MichelePW.com/monstercall

Copywriting 101: How to Get Your Customers to Take Action

If you want people to buy, you gotta ask for the sale.

Truly, it is that simple. Yet I can’t tell you how many ads, Web sites, brochures, sales letters, etc. are floating around out there that aren’t asking.

So, what is a call to action? It’s telling people what action you want them to take. Typical calls to action include:

Hurry in today.
Buy now.
Call now.
Visit now.
Click here now.

Nothing terribly sexy, I agree. However, if you want to see an increase in your customers, leads, income, etc., this is an essential component.

But, you might be thinking, isn’t it obvious? Why else would you be running an ad if you didn’t want people to buy what you’re selling?

Good question. And it’s true, people do know (if they stop to think about it) that you would probably like them to buy from you.

However, the unfortunate truth is your potential customers aren’t going to spend that much time thinking about it. People have too much going on in their lives to spend very much time and energy on your business. If they do read your ad or promotional material and it doesn’t contain a call to action, they’ll likely say, “Oh, that’s nice” and go on to the next thing.

And even if they were interested in purchasing your offerings, they may not know what their next step should be. Do they pick up the phone? Go to a specific Web page? Visit a store? And if they don’t know what they should be doing, chances are they won’t do anything at all.

So you need to tell your potential customers what you want them to do. (Remember, people are busy, and if you don’t make doing business with you easy, they probably won’t do business with you at all.)

So, back to the above call to actions. Did you notice they all had something in common? The word “now” (or, in the case of the first one, “today”).

If people think they can buy from you anytime, they’ll say “oh, I can do this later.” And later rarely comes. You need to give them a reason to buy from you right now, while they’re interested. Adding the “now” or some other urgency or scarcity technique (maybe a limited time offer or few copies left statement) is a great way to push people into doing what you want them to do right now and not later.

While we’re on the topic of calls to action, I want to talk about one other type of advertising campaign where you rarely see calls to action. These are called branding campaigns. Typically they’re shown on national television by big corporations (MacDonald’s, Nike, Starbucks, Target). In those instances, the businesses are building a brand that will cause you think of that business first when you’re interested in purchasing their products. For instance, when you’re hungry, you think MacDonald’s. You need new athletic shoes, you think Nike. You’re dying for that cup of joe, so you think Starbucks, etc.

While there’s nothing wrong with branding campaigns, they are tougher to track than campaigns with a specific call to action (Sale ends Saturday, call before Friday to receive your free gift, etc.) Those campaigns are also called direct response because you’re asking the customer to respond directly. Direct response campaigns can be tested, so you have a good idea what’s working and what’s not (and can tweak the campaign accordingly). And, if the campaign doesn’t require getting a salesperson involved (i.e. if the call to action is for the customer to whip out his wallet right there) the campaign will just run itself (and make money all by itself).

(One note: You do need to do more than add a call to action to have a strong direct response campaign, but that doesn’t negate the power a call to action can bring to your campaigns.)

Branding campaigns are nearly impossible to test, track and tweak. They either appear to work or don’t appear to work. And if they don’t appear to work, it’s very difficult to start tweaking to improve the response rate.

However, branding is still very, very important. As a business owner, you need a good brand and you need to communicate that brand effectively. And sometimes it makes sense to run a branding campaign.

However, my advice for most situations is to combine branding and direct response. Your brand is clearly communicated in your ads and promotional materials, but you also take advantage of some direct response techniques at the same time.

If nothing else, make sure you don’t forget the call to action.

Exercise — Write Your Call to Action

Want to include a call to action in your promotional materials but don’t know where to start? Here’s an easy step-by-step formula:

1. Figure out your purpose for the ad or promotional material. Why are you running this ad, creating this Web site, printing this brochure? (And no, an acceptable answer is NOT because everyone else has one.) Is it to generate leads? Get your name out there? Get people to buy? Or what?

2. Now write it down.

3. That’s it. That’s your call to action. Whatever the end result you want for the campaign is what you should be asking people to do.

Do those long-copy sales letters actually work?

This is one of those questions I get ALL the time.

“I never read those long-copy sales letters. They can’t possibly work, can they?”

“MY target market doesn’t read those long-copy sales letters, they want shorter letters.”

“I can’t imagine anyone reading that much.”

And so on.

Okay, before I get around to answering the question, let me quickly explain what a long-copy sales letter is. It’s those sales letters that are dotted across the web where you have to scroll down and down and down before you finally find the price.

Yeah. You know the ones.

So do they work? Yes they do — IF they’re done right.

Here’s the thing. The reason they work is NOT because they’re long. Length doesn’t equal sales. What DOES equal sales is if you properly answer all of your ideal client’s questions and objections and demonstrate your product/service/program will solve your ideal client’s problems.

And all that takes words. How many words depends on how expensive an investment your solution is.

Think of a conversation. Let’s say it takes you 30 minutes to have a sales call with a prospect. Well, if you take that call and transcribe it, it’s going to be around 10 pages long depending on how fast you talk. And that’s just one person.

Now you have a call with another person selling the same program. That person asks different questions, but it’s still 30 minutes. Now you have 20 pages worth of transcripts.

Are you starting to see how the long-copy sales letter gets so long?

Granted you’re probably not going to hear completely different questions time after time. But you can see how the pages will start to add up. (The reality is, a sales letter is actually much shorter than any of your one-on-one sales calls.)

Okay, so now you understand how these letters get so long. But what about the whole “you-don’t-read-them-or-your-ideal-clients-don’t-read-them?” Well, I have 2 reasons why that happens:

1. You’re not the ideal client. I don’t care how great or how poor the sales letter is, if you’re not the ideal client, you’re going to have very little interest in reading the letter. (And here’s the kicker — reading is a hypnotic activity, which means you don’t remember when you ARE reading but you DO remember when you don’t finish something. So you’re going to remember all those half-read sales letters much more clearly than the ones you actually finish.)

2. The sales letter is poorly written. This is probably even more common than the first one. Look, you can’t bore anyone into buying anything. And there are a lot of people who don’t understand the long-copy sales letter, so they simply throw a lot of words on the page and hope for the best. That is NOT how to write a sales letter. You need to connect with your ideal client and do it in such a way that they feel compelled to keep reading. A whole bunch of words ain’t going to make the sale (especially a whole bunch of boring words that don’t inspire anyone to do anything).

Bottom line — studies have shown over and over again that long-copy sales letters sell more then shorter sales letter. (Just as long as they’re well written.) So, even if you don’t completely understand it, don’t worry about it. Give your ideal clients what they want to make a decision to invest with you — a well-written, interesting long-copy sales letter.

 

Ask PW — “What’s the difference between features and benefits?”

“Hi Michele,I’m working on getting my head around the difference between features and benefits. You explained in Conversion Secrets that If you’re talking about the features of a red pen, you say “the pen is red.” If you’re talking in benefits, you say ” the pen is red so if I drop it in my purse I can find it easily.”

The features of my business:I help you follow-through, by getting you to do the stuff you say you want to do but can’t seem to get yourself to do. <—-That’s red pen talk, right?

The benefits:When you actually do what you say you want to do you feel a huge sense of pride. You actually achieve a goal you set out to achieve. You actually take the steps that were necessary to create the income you wanted to create? I’m not getting how to write the benefits very well. Would you help me apply this better? I can see that it’s important but I’m not quite grasping it.

Thank you so much,Rachel, ProNagger.com”

Hi Rachel — this is a great question. And you’re close on the benefits, but let me give you another way to look at it.

It can be easier to tie benefits to the pain your ideal clients are having or what’s keeping them up at night. So while yes they undoubtedly will feel a sense of pride once they finish their to-do list, they aren’t laying awake at night wishing they felt pride because they were getting things done.

So my first question to you is what’s keeping your ideal clients up at night? What’s the pain they’re having they are willing to pay you to solve? What’s the transformation they’re looking for?

If they struggle to stay focused are constantly stressed about not getting things done, you can paint a picture for them where they can imagine themselves staying focused effortlessly, their to-do list gets shorter, their business grows and they feel at peace.

So what are your thoughts about features and benfits? Please share below in the comment section. Or if you have a question about marketing, business or writing copy, feel free to put in the comment section and I’ll answer those in a future Ask PW column.

 

The Secret to Writing Memorable Sales Copy

Want to know the secret to creating MEMORABLE promotional copy? Sales copy that actually stays with your customers long after they’ve finished reading it?

Then master the art of using words to create pictures in your customers’ heads.

If you can describe your products or services in such a way that it forms images in your customers’ heads, well, then you’ve just created something that will last long after the marketing is over.

Why else do novels stay with us for so long? Those “pictures” we see draw us into the world of the novel, and those pictures stay with us long after we’ve closed the book. If you can create that kind of staying power with your marketing materials, think about how much ahead of your competition you’ll be.

So, how do you get started? Below are three tips. (Note how all three tips have the word “specific” in common. Be specific whenever you can. We don’t think in generalities, we think in details. The more specific you are, the stronger the pictures.)

1. Use specific nouns. Quick — what springs to mind when I say the word “bird”? Now erase that image. What pops into your head when I say “cardinal”?

When I said bird, you could have pictured any number of bird species or maybe even some sort of generic bird (something brown with wings and feathers). When I said cardinal, I bet you saw a bright red bird with that distinctive triangle head.

See the difference? Cardinal is specific and it brings a specific picture to mind. Bird is generic, and it brings a generic picture to mind.

Whenever possible, use the most specific noun you can. (However, if the most specific noun is something most people wouldn’t know, say some rare exotic insect only found in the Amazon jungle, then make sure you describe it as well.)

2. Use specific verbs. Verbs breathe life into your copy. They’re the difference between words lying flat and comatose on the page or jumping up and dancing a jig.

Verbs bring movement to your copy. They tell your readers if someone is walking, jogging, sauntering, skipping or crawling. Or maybe that someone is exhausted and has decided to lie down for a bit.

Now, when I say verbs, what I’m NOT talking about are “to be” verbs — am, is, are, was, were, etc. Those verbs don’t paint a picture. Not like hug, skate, sail, run, fall, spin, flip, etc. See the difference?

While “to be” verbs are necessary, the idea is to use them as little as possible. In fact, I have a fiction-writing friend who has a “was/were” rule. Only three “wases/weres” per page.

Yep, you heard me right. Per page.

Yes, it can be done. I didn’t think I could do it either in my novels. And let me tell you, when you start pruning those “wases/weres” out of your prose, it’s amazing how strong your writing becomes.

3. Describe specific situations. Compare:

“Our bookkeeping service is the best in the area. We can take care of all your bookkeeping needs, from invoices to paying bills to reconciling your bank statements.”

To this:

“Do your invoices go out late because you can’t stand the idea of sitting down to do them? Does your cash flow suffer droughts each month because no checks arrive in the mail (because your invoices went out late)? How much hair have you pulled out over the years because of accounting mistakes? Never fear, those days are over when you hire us to do your bookkeeping.”

The first example is generic (take care of bookkeeping needs). The second example shows you HOW the business does it. (In fiction we call it “show, don’t tell.” Good advice, even for copywriters.) You can actually “feel” those business problems — late invoices, cash flow droughts, loss of hair. It’s the difference between something cold and impersonal that really has nothing to do with you and something that wakes you up with a spark of recognition (“Hey, that’s me. I need that.”)

Writing Exercises — See what others are doing

Pick a piece of copy. Something with meat — at least 300 words or so. No, it doesn’t have to be something you wrote either. In fact, this exercise might be easier if it isn’t yours.

Now analyze it. Look at the nouns. Are they specific? Or are they a bit too generic? What about the verbs? Could they be stronger? And does it describe a specific situation, something that you can actually feel and touch?

Try this with a variety of writings — novels, nonfiction books, newspaper articles, Web sites, sales letters, etc. Look at both “good” and “bad” examples. (Although good and bad are somewhat subjective, follow your gut.) See what trends you discover.

By analyzing what others are doing, you’re better able to see the strengths and weaknesses in your own writing.

3 Tips On Engaging Your Ideal Prospects Using Copy

You’ve done all this work to get people to visit your website, only to have nothing happen.

No sign ups for your newsletter, no inquiries about your products and services, no sales, no nothing.

So what’s the problem? Chances are it has something to do with your copy not engaging your ideal prospects so they want to become your customers and clients.

What can you do to fix that? Well, the simple answer is your copy needs to connect on a deeper level to what your ideal clients find important. The difficult answer is how exactly do you do that. Below are 3 tips to get you started:

1. Know EXACTLY who your ideal clients are. Look, you’re not going to be able to connect with them on a deep level if you don’t know who they are, what keeps them up night and what’s important to them. This is why you need more than just the demographic stuff (age, income level, etc.) you need to know WHY they’re struggling, what they most want in the world, what their values are, etc.

The more you actually know your ideal clients on this deep level, the more you’ll be able to use the words and phrases that truly engage them.

So how do you get started finding your ideal client? Ask yourself this — who are your favorite clients? Write down a list of your favorite clients and compare them. (If you’re just starting out and haven’t had any clients, think about the other people in your life you enjoy working with and describe them.)

Why are those clients your favorites? What do they have in common? (Look beyond the external descriptions such as gender and age, and instead think about mindset and values and beliefs.) Start there and see where it takes you.

Then once you have a picture of your ideal clients in your head, it’s time to look at tip 2.

2. Don’t write to a group (even if it’s a group of your ideal clients). Instead, pick one person and write to that person. When you do this, your writing will naturally sound more intimate. In fact, I would take it one step further and imagine yourself writing a letter to a friend. Your friend has a problem, you KNOW what could really help them, wouldn’t you try and write an engaging, persuasive letter because you REALLY want to help your friend? That’s the way you’ll really start to connect with your ideal clients.

3. Use THEIR language, not yours. In other words, don’t spend hours and hours trying to figure out a cute way to describe what you do that means nothing, or worse, requires a great deal of explanation before anyone even understands what you’re talking about. The best (and easiest) way is to use the same words your ideal clients are using.

Now, you may be wondering to yourself, how do you find out what words your ideal clients are using? Ask them.

Do a survey or ask a question on social networking forums or groups. See what language THEY use to describe their problems and what they’re looking for to solve it. Then use their words in your marketing copy. (Yes, honestly, it really CAN be that easy.)

4 Keys to Creating Results-Getting Emails For a Small Mailing List

by Guest Blogger, Milana Leshinsky

If you’ve been doing business online for more than a week, you probably already heard this very common expression: “money is in the list.” True, the more people you have on your mailing list, the more people will read your e-mails, and the more products and programs you will sell.

But did you know that even people with thousands of subscribers may still be struggling financially?

That’s because the secret is not in the SIZE of your list, but in the QUALITY of your communication with your subscribers.

Yes, it’s certainly easier with a bigger list. But until you master these 4 critical keys of communicating with your list, you may find yourself struggling for cash and clients regardless of how big it is.

Here are the 4 secrets to creating great results with your small mailing list:

1. Relevance
Starting with the subject line and ending with the P.S., your e-mails must be highly relevant to your subscribers. In order to send highly relevant emails to your small mailing list, you need to know what their biggest challenges are. For this reason I highly recommend sending out a survey and reading results carefully. One of the big reasons people unsubscribe or ignore e-mails is because they’re not relevant to their biggest challenges, goals, and dreams. As Dan Kennedy once said, you must enter the conversation already happening in their mind!

2. Specificity
General success e-mails are very common and can be easily ignored. Specific information with unique angles are the types of e-mails that get opened, read, and acted upon! For example, instead of giving people general career advice, narrow your e-mails down to specific pain points: creating a resume that stands out, answering tough interview questions, asking for a salary increase, and so on.

3. Personality
Be interesting, fun, personal, and real. Don’t be afraid to take a stand and share your opinion in your e-mails! Remember, people can find information anywhere – it’s your take on it and your leadership they crave. If you believe in your approach, tell people why. Don’t rehash information you assembled from other sources. Coincidentally, these kind of e-mails are much easier to write, since you don’t need to  do much research!

4. Action
You can’t change lives with a single e-mail. That’s why it only makes sense to give people a resource, where they can get more help with the issue you’re writing about. Include a link to your product, program, blog post, video, or audio, and invite them to click on it. It seems obvious, but results show that asking people to take specific action will get more people to actually click. Don’t be afraid to make an offer in your e-mail. As long as it’s relevant to the topic you just discussed, and can help your readers succeed, it’s critical that you give them the next step!

Use these 4 keys consistently, and you will be able to generate great income even with a small mailing list!

On Tuesday, May 22 I’m holding a FREE 60-minute teleclass called “Small List Big Money”, where I share more of my biggest secrets to show coaches, consultants, speakers, and information entrepreneurs how to turn a list of 500 subscribers into a 6-figure business. Join me at http://tinyurl.com/89g32sk

—Milana Leshinsky has been called the “MEGA Coach” of the industry. Today she works with entrepreneurs and service professionals helping them uncover hidden profit centers, maximize their existing revenue streams, and create a business that supports their lifestyle. Milana reached six figures with a list of only 2000+ people, and will teach her best strategies on her FREE teleclass Tuesday, May 22: http://tinyurl.com/89g32sk

Ask PW — “Got any tips for writing copy specific to inviting people to live events?”

Karen Keeney (KarenLKeeney.com) sent me this question and it’s perfect since this is event season. (Actually sometimes it feels like it’s always event season but that’s beside the point.)

Getting people to an event is probably one of the most difficult of all marketing tasks. Not only do you need to convince them to plunk down their hard-earned money for a ticket but they also have to pay for all their travel expenses AND they have to carve out valuable time to actually show up.

So how do you do all that?

First off, make sure you’ve done a good job explaining what your event promise is. (Your event promise is the transformation and/or learning people will get after attending your event.) If people don’t understand what their takeaway is going to be they won’t come.

Also, this is NOT the place to sound like every other event out there. Take the time to really figure out why they should choose your event above all the rest. And if you find yourself using vague or non-specific language, go back to the drawing board.

There are many business-building events out there, which is NOT to say the world doesn’t need yours. What this IS saying is you need to really have a strong grasp on how attending your event is going to solve a problem that is keeping your ideal clients up at night, and how your event is going to accomplish that faster and better than any other event (or even home study course).

It’s also never a bad idea to point out the very real benefits for attending live events. They can be hugely beneficial and very much worth the time, expense and trouble of attending, but those benefits can be easily forgotten. Reminding your ideal clients about why it’s good to get out of their office and/or house is always a good thing.

So what are your thoughts about writing copy for events? Please share below in the comment section. Or if you have a question about marketing, business or writing copy, feel free to put in the comment section and I’ll answer those in a future Ask PW column.

 

Why Upsells and Downsells Could be the Ticket to Your Business’ Online Success

First, some context. What exactly is an upsell and a downsell and why is it so important to your business?

An upsell is when your prospect has already said “yes” to buying something from you, and then they decide at the same time to buy something else. The classic example of this is the MacDonald’s “Would you like fries with that?’ The customer has already bought a hamburger and now the employee has nudged them into buying something else.

A downsell is when your prospect has said “no” to your initial offer so you present a second offer. Typically the downsell is less expensive than the original offer.  So, for instance, the customer decides the MacDonald’s hamburger is too expensive and decides to buy just an ice cream cone.

Now clearly this can and does happen in face-to-face situations. But did you realize this can also happen online?

So for instance, someone buys a product on your web site. Your web site can immediately present them with a second offer, the upsell.

And if the prospect clicks away, because they’re not interested in buying your product, your web site can also present them with a second offer, a lower cost offer than the one they were looking at.

So you’re probably thinking, this sounds a little complicated and I haven’t a clue how to start. Why would I want to do this?

Two reasons —

1. You’ll make more money. When you start using the upsell, you’ll increase your overall purchase amount. For instance, say your product is $100 and you offer a $50 upsell. Let’s say 20% of your buyers take you up on it. Now you’ve made an additional $50 on 20% of your purchases. (This can add up after awhile.)

Now, for the downsell, you’ve saved a sale you’ve probably lost anyway. Let’s say your product is $500, when someone clicks away, you pluck a piece out of the original product, say an ebook, and offer that for $97. Now you’re giving your customers a lower cost alternative, a chance to try your product out before spending a lot more money.

2. If you offer an upsell, you’ll increase customer satisfaction and decrease returns. Yes you read that right. Upsells can actually make your customers feel more satisfied doing business with you and less likely to want to return the product. Why? Because you’re helping them “skip” over buyers’ remorse. We all have buyers’ remorse after we buy something, which is when we regret our purchase. The intensity and the length varies depending on the buying situation. But if you immediately jump into and offer a second purchase, your customers are busy figuring out if they want to make that second purchase versus feeling bad over making the first one. And if they DO buy, then they’re that much more invested in you and your business and they WANT what you sold them to be what they’re looking for.

And the best part of this whole strategy? It’s automatic. You set it once and it keeps on doing it, over and over again. What could be better?

One final note to chew on as you make up your mind if it’s worth it or not – do you know what the most read page on a web site is? It’s your thank you pages. The page your prospects go to after they sign up for something or buy something. Don’t waste this valuable real estate – put an upsell on that page and watch your bank account grow.

Why most small businesses fail and what you need to know so yours won’t

Guest post by Cathy Demers

In 2007 Discover Card conducted an independent survey to shed light on the characteristics of the 22 million small business owners in the United States. The number one trait common to small business owners? The study revealed: “Independence is their prime motivation.”

While there are many personality characteristics common to most entrepreneurs, a very independent spirit is the one trait shared by each and every one. Most small business owners would not give up the freedom that comes along with owning their business to work for someone else, even if it meant making more money.

But there is a danger to being too independent. This one trait of extreme independence can be the biggest roadblock to success for entrepreneurs. No one person has all the answers. No one person can work alone and always aware of potential problems or roadblocks. Everyone has their blind spots. No matter where they have been or what they have accomplished, everyone is missing vital knowledge and experience in one area or another.

Small business owners need to seek out a trusted network. Entrepreneurs need a place where they can discuss issues with others in a similar situation. Sometimes, when working alone, it is very easy to continue down the wrong path until suddenly you discover what a costly error you have made. Working alone is like that.

Another challenge that entrepreneurs face was discussed by Michael Gerber in his classic book The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most New Businesses Fail and What to Do About It. Gerber talked about the importance of working ON your business and not IN your business.

But how do you change from being a day-to-day business “technician”, dealing with customers and putting out fires, to spending time as a visionary executive looking at your business from the outside in? The best way: schedule committed time to work “on” your business!

If you are like most entrepreneurs, who are surrounded by “busy business noise” in which it can be difficult to even hear yourself think, you will have to structure your time in such a way that the urgencies of the moment will not deter you from this important work. You and your business will benefit from a structure which ensures that you use the time you allocated for exactly what you intended, regardless of the emergency du jour.

If you are really committed to being successful by working on your business instead of just in your business – if you want to prevent failure which so many others have experienced – then join your peers for weekly education…free and only 20 minutes!

Next week at the Business Success Cafe, I will be interviewing Michele about how to craft your website so it get you results by using the real website of one of your peers as an example.

http://tinyurl.com/bskuszp

 

Copywriting — An Easy Template To Help You Sell More

In the movie, The Prestige, one of the main characters dissects the elements of a magic trick.

You start by showing the object you’re going to manipulate in some way (i.e. make disappear).

You manipulate the object, in this case you make it disappear.

Then, you bring it back. This is the prestige. It’s not enough to make something disappear. You need to bring it back.

In essence, what he’s talking about is closure. You need to bring closure to whatever you’re doing or it will feel unfinished. This is true for a lot of things in life, including your marketing and copywriting.

How do you do this? Well, let’s look at how people buy. For the most part it looks like this:

* Someone has a problem

* They look for a solution to their problem

* They determine the best source for their solution

So, to give you an example of this, let’s say someone wants to lose weight.

* Their problem — they want to lose weight.

* The solution — they want a diet and exercise program that will work for their specific solution

* The source — they look for the best nutrition/fitness person to give them that solution (whether it’s a book or a home study course, work with someone one-on-one or something else).

If you look at a sales letter, many times it mirrors this process:

* Outlines the problem

* Agitates the problem

* Explains the solution

* Emphasizes that the business writing the sales letter has the best solution

See how this works? Okay, so let’s look at another copywriting example — how you write benefits.

First, what is a benefit? In a nutshell, benefits are what people buy. It’s the “what’s in it for me.” It’s what gets people excited about buying your product or service.

As an example, if we go back to the weight loss example, people aren’t really buying losing weight. What they want is the BENEFITS of losing weight — i.e. they look good, they feel good, their health improves, etc. Think about it, if someone didn’t care what they looked like, how they felt or if they were sick or not, why would losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight be a priority in their life?

They want the benefits of being thin, not so much being thin for thin’s sake.

So, with that in mind, when you write a benefit, you can work in both the problem and the solution. For instance:

Frustrated because the scale has been stuck at the same number for MONTHS no matter WHAT you do? You’ll learn my secret for smashing through that plateau and getting back on the weight loss track.

It’s not enough to simply talk about the problem. People need to know they’re going to get a solution. They already know the problem, they want to know they’re getting a solution. You need to bring it back, show the prestige.

Now, why do you want to go through all of this? Because providing closure feels comfortable to people. And the more comfortable you can make them in the sales process, the more likely they’ll become a customer.

3 keys to crafting successful print ads

Want to create print ads that get results? Below are three keys to get you started.

1. Write for the eye. Print ads are visual. Therefore, craft ads with the eye in mind.

Eyes are kind of picky, though. So, here’s a checklist of what eyes like and don’t like:

  • A catchy headline that encourages them read more.
  • Art, such as photos, illustrations, clip art, shapes, etc. Eyes like art. When you create the ad, create words AND the visual at the same time. Words and visuals should work together
  • Designed in an interesting, intriguing, attention-getting manner. Eyes like that. Remember, graphic designers are your friends. If you don’t have training in graphic design, I strongly urge you to hire a graphic designer to create your ad. The results will be well worth it.
  • White space (blank space in the ad). Eyes like white space. Eyes don’t like print ads stuffed with words and/or art. Those ads look way too difficult to read and comprehend. So eyes will skip over those ads and find other open, clean ads to look at. (And if they do, you might as well have never bought the ad in the first place.)

2. Write for the busy eye. Nobody is reading a newspaper because they want to see your ad. (Okay, your mother is the exception.) People are reading the paper because they want information. Reading your ad is an afterthought. So, they aren’t going to spend a whole heck of a lot of time on it.

A common mistake is asking print ads to do too much. To be successful, print ads must:

  • Capture the attention of your potential customers,
  • Encourage those potential customers to remember what you want them to do,
  • Then persuade them to actually do it.

That’s a lot to ask for one little print ad.

Print ads should have one message and one message only. The more “extras” about your business you start throwing into the ad, the more convoluted the ad is going to become, and the less likely your potential customers will act upon your ad.

Now at this point you may be thinking “Okay. We need one message. That message should be to get my potential customers to buy something, hire my services, donate money, become a volunteer, etc. Right?”

Well…

For one thing, that’s a pretty big leap for your potential customers. Getting potential customers to buy without first developing a relationship with them is, again, asking an awful lot for one little print ad. You might be better off inviting potential customers to take one small step in the buying process. For instance, stopping in the store for a free gift, logging on to your Web site to enter a contest, putting their names on your mailing list, trying a demo version of your product, etc. Let them get to know you.

3. Keep your target market in mind. Your message should be focused on your customers’ needs, not your own. Getting customers to buy your products and services is YOUR need. How your products or services solve your customers’ problems is THEIR needs. See the difference?

That’s why so many retail stores have sales. They’re effective because they’re solving a need (saving customers money). But saving money is not the only need. There are many others.

You should also think about ways to add value without bargaining on price (this position can backfire). Contests, free gifts, free reports, free food — stuff like that. Think outside the box. And use that value as a way to set yourself apart.

Learn by example

One of the best ways to learn how to craft successful print ads is to study what’s out there.

Get out a newspaper or a magazine and open it. See where your eyes go. What ads attract your eyes? What ads drive them away?

Which ads have headlines that intrigue you? Graphics that capture your attention? Copy that encourages you to find out more? Why?

Now look at ads that do nothing for you. Why don’t you like them? Are they too cluttered? Too difficult to understand? Have a headline that makes you yawn?

Sometimes you can learn as much, if not more, from bad examples as you can from good ones.

Ask PW — “Is there a way to write great copy without being overwhelmed?”

Copywriting seems like such a huge daunting task when it comes to looking at my website, one that makes me feel overwhelmed just thinking about how to learn how to do it better.  Is there a trick to breaking it down into small stages so you can eliminate overwhelm yet make progress towards having all your copy be better?” Lisa Larter, www.LisaLarter.com

Great question Lisa! And yes, you’ll be happy to know there is a way to break your copy project down so it’s not so scary and overwhelming and it still gets done. I’m going to share with you a few tips to get yourself started (note — these are the same tips I share with my Juicy Online Marketing Essentials Bootcamp students).

First off, start with your foundation. Once you have a full grasp of that, the rest of the copy will flow pretty naturally.

So what is your foundation? It’s knowing:

• WHO your ideal client is (and what’s keeping them up at night)

• WHAT you’re selling (but deeper than that — your uniqueness, what makes you different than anyone else even other people who could be considered your competition)

HOW your solution will help your ideal client sleep better at night

Once you “get” this, writing the copy will be much easier.

If you still struggle or it still feels overwhelming to you, then I would suggest writing “pieces” of it, then putting it together at the end. For instance:

1. Just focus on writing headlines

2. The headlines you reject as the main headline, you may find will work perfectly as subhead

3. Just focus on writing benefits of your solution

4. Just focus on answering objections

And so on.

Once you have the pieces done, then you just need to assemble them, add transitions and testimonials and you’re ready to go!

So what are your thoughts? Do you have any “copywriting” tricks to share? Comment below — or ask a question about marketing, business or writing copy (I’ll answer those in a future Ask PW column.)