Life’s Most Persistent Question

Martin Luther King marketing

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is,
What are you doing for others?”

Here’s a corollary: are you persistently offering your uniquely valuable brand of help to people in your marketing

People visit your website or brick & mortar store looking for something. They sign up for your mailing list because they need your expert insight and help with something they’re dealing with

Your emails are helpful. Your offers are helpful

Are you holding back?

Chances are, you’re not reaching out to your prospects, current or past customers enough. They need your help and you’re not offering it to them.

What would Dr. King say about that?

Here’s what I suggest:

  • Clarify my appreciation of your unique value and your understanding of your audience’s needs and desires
  • Confidence develops as a result
  • Commit to being a leader for your tribe, even when you feel like Moses in the desert…
  • Communicate like a leader, consistently and as compellingly as I can
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The Cover Said “Read This or Die” (Copywriting Tip #7)

Quick Copywriting Tip #7: Clarity is Critical.

Entrepreneurs often spend their energy building a “better mousetrap” and promoting it as such.

The most effective persuasion, though, starts by building bigger mice (to borrow a line from Breakthrough Advertising).

Why?

Your reader may already see the symptoms, but it’s up to you to make sure he knows what those symptoms mean.

It is important to understand the details about your product/service/solution. It’s usually more important for him to have  clear understanding of the reality, severity and immediacy of the problem he’s facing — and a clear picture of what’s at stake if he ignores you or procrastinates too long.

copywriting tip clarity rutz

Beneath the headline of the Jim Rutz’s “Read This or Die” promotion, you learn that “Today you have a 95 percent chance of eventually dying for which there is already a known cure somewhere on the planet.” If that statistic is anywhere near accurate, don’t you almost HAVE to read more?

There is no question what’s at stake. If you don’t heed the warning, you know exactly what’s going to happen. No alternative interpretations are possible.

Rutz then takes 52 pages to prove his point, build trust and offer a no-brainer solution.

Is your marketing message THIS clear? Do you address the problems your potential client is facing THIS plainly? Are you willing to be bold enough to tell the whole truth?

Naturally, most businesses don’t deal with life-and-death situations. But every business does solve a problem or relieve some kind of pain. You can still spell out reality, severity and immediacy of the issue, as well as the consequences of inaction in vivid detail.

We’re not in the business of scaring people. But it’s our responsibility to warn people about difficulties we can help them avoid.

Read all 13 Quick Copywriting Tips.

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Writing Copy to Sell Your “Crazy” Offer

Yesterday we talked about turning your prospects into paying customers by making crazy offers. Did this concept haunt you the way it’s been haunting me? I hope you spent a good deal of time coming up with an almost too-good-to-be-true offer you can use to move potential clients from interest into action.

Ideally, you will come up with an offer so crazy, so compelling that you don’t need much sales copy (or pitching if you’re selling in person or over the phone). Start with a winning product or service and create a very valuable offer and you’re already most of the way there. Now the copy has an easy job. (Confidentially, this is one of the big reasons copywriters are picky about which projects they work on.)

But no matter how strong your offer is, you should still…

…Sell the Heck Out of It Anyway

Even though making the right offer to the right prospect is 80% of the battle, persuasively-written sales copy can improve response by 10, 100 or 1000%.

Here are 4 qualities that will add extra oomph to your copy:

Identification

Your message should aim for the heart of who your target customer is and how he sees himself.

Nike could talk about comfort, but their customers are athletes concerned with performance, so that’s what their marketing highlights. Lexus could talk about performance, but Lexus buyers are thinking about status. That’s what they showcase in their ads.

What causes one person’s heart to race may not excite the next person at all. Know your customers. Write copy that appeals to their sense of who they are and who they want to be.

Clarity/Specificity

Don’t be the least bit vague about what you’re offering. Tell them exactly what they’ll get, how long it’s available for, how they’ll benefit from their purchase, what to expect next, etc. Clarity creates vision; without vision there is no action. On the other hand, confused people generally don’t buy.

Bold Claims

The idea of under-promising and over-delivering seems to make sense, but it can be suicidal when it comes to marketing. These days, with so many sales messages begging for our attention, you can’t afford to be shy.

Don’t be afraid to make big claims, as long as you can back them up.

People are searching for the best answers to their questions, the best solutions to their problems. Imagine a dentist who marketed his services as getting your teeth “pretty clean.” How long will he be in business? Even if he’s the best dentist in town, marketing like that will ruin him.

Sincerity

Skepticism is at an all-time high. So is the volume of hype-filled sales pitches we see and hear every day. People are looking for providers they can trust. Any hint of dishonesty or shadiness will send most potential buyers running.

Sincerity is like a breath of fresh air. Almost no one is using it.

The less you seem to hype up what you’re doing, the more believable you are. You come across as honest and helpful instead of desperate and opportunistic.

Your Action Steps

1) If you haven’t come up with it yet, keep working on your crazy offer.

2) Write the first draft of your sales copy ASAP.

3) Test out your offer. Don’t be scared.

If I’ve ever shared anything on this blog that I think you should act on right away, this is it. Don’t let another day go by without considering the immediate and long-term effects this “crazy offer” concept can have on your business.

And get moving!

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Unexpected Insights for the Christian Entrepreneur Pt. 6

The Necessity of Copywriting for Christian Entrepreneurs in Spiritual or Secular Businesses

“If you talk to people in a language they don’t understand, how will they know what you mean? You might as well be talking to an empty room.”1 Corinthians 14:9

Unexpected Insight part 5 was about writing for ministry purposes. I want to get back to talking about business.

One of the most important qualities of strong copy is clarity.

As a writer, you should be easy to understand, and you should attempt to make the world easier to understand through your writing. No one wants more complexity in their lives. Colin Powell is quoted as saying “Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers.” Donnie Bryant says that great writers are almost always great clarifiers.

Have you ever visited a website that made absolutely no sense to you? Read a letter that confused you instead of answering your questions? How does that experience make you feel about the other party?

Yet so many businesses I know spend as little time as possible putting together their messaging. They see it as a chore to get out of the way. “Let’s get to the selling!”

But confused prospects never buy.

Weak copy doesn’t answer questions, overcome skepticism, or demonstrate value.

What would happen if prospects were smarter and better-informed just for having visited your website? How much more likely are they to trust you over the guy who just threw some words on the page? How much more likely are they to believe that you understand them? How much more likely are they to connect with you and buy from you?

You must be able to write copy in an engaging, easy to understand way. Avoid trying to impress your readers. They’re not reading your message to admire your vocabulary or sentence structure. Gene Schwartz said that if someone read an advertisement and their response was “that was a great ad,” the ad was a failure. Instead, the reader should come away with a greater appreciation for, understanding of and desire for the product and the benefits that come with it.

This isn’t poetry.

Horace Greeley said that “The best style of writing, as well as the most forcible, is the plainest.” Say what needs to be said in the most consumable way possible.

You will lose a lot of readership by using big words, convoluted sentences and ambiguous statements.

Write and speak to be understood, not to impress. Not to make yourself feel smart. The Bible says that if the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who will prepare himself for battle (1 Corinthians 14:8)?

Let there be no uncertainty in how you write. Business is no place for poetry or ambiguity. Clarity is of the utmost importance.

Spend the time necessary to write clearly and convincingly. You’ll never regret doing so. Or, enlist the help of someone you can trust to do a great job writing for you.

What’s the point of communicating if the reader doesn’t know what you’re saying?

—–

If you missed them, you can read Parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 of this series.

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Small Restaurant, Big Lesson

Just Turkey Sign - Calumet City

It only takes half a second to know exactly what this restaurant specializes in. You already know what they’re about, even though you’ve never been inside. You’ve never seen an ad for the place. In fact, most of you have never even heard of this joint. But you can tell a whole lot from the sign.

Question of the day: do your prospective customers know what you do? what you’re about? How clear are they about what you have to offer?

What condition makes for a better customer: confusion or clarity?

(This picture was taken at a restaurant not too far from my home in Calumet City, IL.)

Related Post

Pork Chops and Big Promises

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5 Ways Twitter Improves Your Writing Skills

People keep telling me that the internet is making people dumber. To be honest, I don’t know whether or not that’s true. But did you know that Twitter can make you better writer?

If you are purposeful in your how you approach your use of any microblogging platform, there are 5 ways that you can they can skyrocket your writing ability.

1. You learn the value of every word — no, of every character. In writing, especially for marketing and sales, the tighter your message is, the better. When you have only 150 characters to work with, each letter has to earn it’s place. It has to pull it’s weight. This forces you to think carefully about your choice of words.

If you’ve ever gone over the character limit and had to edit your tweet, you know what I’m talking about. “How can I say what I need to say in the allotted space?” You have to be ruthless. If that comma isn’t serving a purpose, it’s gotta go!

2. You begin to break free from some of the “rule” forced on you by your English teachers.  The best writing is the plainest.  How many people do you know that speak with perfect grammar 100% of the time? In my neighborhood (Calumet City, IL, in south suburban Chicago), it’s probably less than 10%.

When you are communicating via the written word, sometimes there’s a desire to be super-formal.  Believe me, that’s not the best way to get your message across to the average audience. Unless you’re talking to English professors…

George Orwell’s sixth rule for good writing is to break any of  his other five rules before ”saying anything outright barbarous.”

Writers need to have the freedom to say what they mean, forsaking the rules when necessary.

3.  You have to learn to communicate in such a way that your reader will understand exactly what you mean. How many people do you know who don’t quite understand this principle? I see plenty of tweets that have no clear meaning, or that can be understood in multiple ways. Thoughtful writers will take the restricted amount of communication space to heighten their concentration. ”How can I eliminate any ambiguity and say what needs to be said so that the message is plainly understood?

This is great focus training for any writer.

4. You are forced to choose exactly what you want to say.  In an age where noisy chatter is constant, a Twitter message makes you strip your message down to the core. The way it should be. There’s no room to go off on tangents or talk about about non-essentials.

When brevity is required, you see who really knows how to communicate, and who’s just talkin’.

5. Twitter can give you extra writing practice. Tweeting is writing on a small scale. More practice is always a good thing. A high percentage of Twitter users access the social network with their cell phones. So even if you don’t have a pen and paper, you can practice crafting clear, compelling messages.

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