How Do I Get People to Want What I Sell? Part 2

Vision USP

Don’t forget to read Part 1.

The Main Qualifier

Whether they’re aware of it or not, every single person on this planet is on a quest. This quest is defined by the person’s vision of his life, both how he interprets his past and imagines his future. It’s the lens through which he sees himself and his place in the world.

This quest can take all kinds of shapes. To be a millionaire living on a tropical island by the age of 35. A mother of two beautiful children. To be respected by his golf buddies. To “just fit in,” or to stand out from the crowd. To rock and roll all night and party every day.

Please understand, persuasion isn’t about building a vision for its own sake. The images you create with your sales and marketing messages have to complement the hearer/reader/viewer’s vision for his own life. They have to fit that vision and expand upon it. Clarify it. They have to move the hearer further along his life-quest.

For example, painting vivid mental pictures of arthroscopic knee surgery won’t convince anyone to undergo the procedure. (That would probably have the opposite effect, wouldn’t you say?) Rather, images of pain-free movement, the ability to participate in activities you’ve missed out on for years, the enjoyment of an energetic, uninhibited life – that’s what sells.

“That’s Not How I See My Life”

A number of years ago, my wife and I had a disagreement over observing a particular tradition. I wanted to abstain from observing it. She plainly informed me that she would not be married to someone who wouldn’t keep this custom. “That’s not how I see my life,” she explained.

My bride had a vision for what her life would look like. She had a strong drive to make the vision a reality.

I was driven by the way I saw the future, too. I envisioned myself as a happily married man, and I was just as motivated to make my vision reality. Needless to say, the aforementioned tradition hasn’t been interrupted since that conversation.

That’s the importance of the quest.

Our quest dictates our priorities (in large part); our priorities determine our decisions, including what we buy.

Knowing and Playing Your Role

The kind of heroes people want are the ones who assist them in making their dreams come true. We want heroes who help us become the heroes we envisions ourselves as becoming on our life mission.

Remember: your customer is the protagonist of his own story. You’re a role player helping him overcome the conflict and reach ultimate victory. It’s your job to talk/write your way into the plot of his story.

The question is, how do you do that?

1. Get the attention of people whose story you can transform in a unique way: Your business won’t fit into everyone’s story. That’s cool because you don’t want to get involved in everyone’s story. You need to have a) a clear understanding of the value you can create for your customers, b) who those customers are, and c) how to gain their attention.

2. Paint a picture of the problem: If you talk about the “good life,” people who don’t have it will feel the sting. Alternatively, you could talk about the problem itself. Your message will resonate with those who are struggling through the challenges now, or those who have already given up in despair. If you can use language they’d use to describe their experience, you’ll really strike a chord. They see that you understand them and their difficulties. It’s much easier to trust the advice of someone who knows what you’re going through.

You can inspire those individuals that there’s still hope, and you’ve found it. You’re also the best person to lead them to the source of that hope.

3. Paint a picture of progress: When you build vision in your prospect’s mind of the progress he’s looking for but doesn’t yet have (or doesn’t know how to get), his desire intensifies. It takes on a definite shape, like liquid poured into a bottle which you design. He’ll probably feel it in his gut. He wants that progress, and if you do it right, he’ll see your solution as the best way to get it.

Last week I shared a quote from Gene Schwartz’s Breakthrough Advertising. Let me share another excerpt as an poignant example. It’s a bit lengthy, but compelling. From the Preface to the Boardroom Edition:

This book was first published in 1966…it only sold a few thousand copies. But since it was published I have had people coming to me regularly to tell me that they directly credit reading this book with their making millions of dollars.

… Here is a book that is called Breakthrough Advertising…and yet was used by men who were not in the business of advertising at all, to make more money than most of us ever dream of accumulating.

How did this happen? Why was a publisher, a financier, a manufacturer of novelties, able to make so very much money with a book that is about putting sentences together? (The financier told me that, within one year of obtaining the book, he had raised his net worth from $100,000 to $10 million). Are the sentences contained in the pages that follow actually that powerful? Can they change the fortunes of men so radically? Are they far more universally adaptable than I had first thought…so they are no longer about advertising products, but literally about opening whole new markets for them?

There is a way to develop an entirely new market for a new or an old product. That way involves a certain number of clearly-defined step. And in this book I show you every single one of those steps…

We are, in a phrase, “Market Makers”…

So, this book is not about building better mousetraps. It is, however, about building larger mice, and then building terrifying fear of them in your customers. In other words, it is about helping to shape the largest and strongest market possible, and then intensifying that market’s reaction to its basic need or problem, and the “exclusive” solution you have to offer it.

Ask Rodale Press–for whom I sold over twenty million dollars of a single book…

Creates some nice images, right? After reading the preface, it’s hard for an entrepreneur or marketer not to be excited about reading the rest of the book.

As you can see, better words paint sharper pictures. Vivid images are the holy grail of desire intensification. Don’t slack off in this area.

In Part 3 we’ll wrap up this short course on desire intensification. Until then, think about the pictures you paint. Think about how what you’re learning about your customers’ desires can make bolder, brighter and clearer visions in their minds. Then work on improving the words and sentences you use to win your customers over.


How Do I Get People to Want What I Sell? Part 1

How do you make people want what you’re selling? I mean, that’s the point of marketing, right?

Let me clarify one thing before we get started. I don’t believe in it’s possible to create desire. Our desires are pre-existing. Your job as entrepreneurs and marketers is to create products and services that there is already some existing desire for, then direct the desire our potential customers feel toward your offer.

Now, I hear what you’re saying. “There are companies making big money selling things people didn’t know they wanted. Just look at Apple. They’ve sold millions of devices nobody even knew they wanted.”

Steve Jobs himself said that “A lot of times people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.

Jobs was dead wrong.

What about the auto industry? Henry Ford once said “If I’d asked my customer what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse.” Nobody wanted cars. But in 2012, global car sales topped 80 million units.

Believe it or not, this apparent discrepancy actually proves that marketing is about selling what people already want. People may not have wanted a car, but they did want to travel faster. So Ford gave his customers what they wanted – it just came in a different package than they expected.

The same is true for Apple. Jobs and company didn’t create a brand new desire; they channeled desires that millions of people already had into a unique new line of products.

Apple didn’t invent music and inject it into the iPod. It just made it easier to access the tunes you love and carry them with you everywhere you go. Apple didn’t have to convince anybody that carrying one multi-capability device was better than hauling a music player, camera, GPS device and a phone.

The iGadgets are products appealing those already-present desires in an attractive new way.

So instead of asking “How do I make people want what I sell,” figure out how to channel your ideal prospects’ desires toward your product and the satisfaction they’ll experience when they buy it.

Vision, The Ne Plus Ultra of Desire Intensification

The real key to directing the desires of your potential customers is to create a vision, an image in their minds. Business gurus spend a lot of time talking about coming up with your own company vision, and that’s important. But until you’re building a vision in other people’s minds, you’ll always struggle to sell your product or service, especially if you’re not the cheapest, closest or only available option. (A precarious position at best.)

Even then, you face the danger of being overtaken by someone who does inspire visions in your customers’ minds.

Feast Your (Mind’s) Eye On This


According to Roy Williams, the 7th Law of the Advertising Universe is this: “Engage the Imagination, then take it where you will. Where the mind has repeatedly journeyed, the body will surely follow. People only go to places they have already been in their minds.

Think about it. When you’re making a big decision, you’ve always imagined scenarios of how it will turn out. You’ve seen yourself enjoying the benefits of action or enduring the pain of indecision. You’ve smelled the salt air and felt the warm waves soaking your feet on Waikiki.

When you keep picturing something you want, that recurring vision heaps up desire that sooner or later you have to act on. Or go crazy.

Eugene Schwartz said this in Breakthrough Advertising:

Above everything else, advertising is the literature of desire…Advertising gives form and content to desire. It provides it with a goal. These desires, as they exist in the mind of your prospect today, are indistinct. They are blurs—hazy, ambiguous, not yet crystallized into words or images. In most cases, they are simply vague emotions, without compulsion or direction. And as such, they have only a fraction of their true potential power.

Your job is to fill out these vague desires with concrete images… your job is to show him in minute detail all the tomorrows that your product makes possible for him.

This is the core of advertising—its fundamental function. To take unformulated desire, and translate it into one vivid scene of fulfillment after another. To add the appeal of concrete satisfaction after satisfaction to the basic drive of that desire. To make sure that your prospect realizes everything that he is getting—everything that he is now leaving behind him—everything that he may possibly be missing. The sharper you can draw your pictures…the more your prospect will demand your product, and the less important will seem your price.

How Do You Score?

Are your marketing materials are delivering in these areas? Are they intensifying and directing the desires of the people you really want to do business with? Are you talking about what interests you or what interests them?

In Part 2 we’ll plunge a little deeper into this topic. In the meantime, make an effort to get to know your prospects and customers better than ever. It’ll be one of the best investments you can make.


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.


Wasting Money on Short Copy 2

“It is simply common sense that the more of your story you can force your prospects to read , the more thoroughly you can sell him. To attempt to do the same selling job in ten words, instead of a hundred, or a thousand, is to shoot craps with your clients’ money. You might as well buy only enough space to print your headline, and use the rest of the budget for repeat insertions.”

– Eugene Schwartz, Breakthrough Advertising


Not long ago, I recorded a Facebook Live video in my group, the Email Copywriting Corner, discussing a recent email marketing example of this principle.  I share some specific performance numbers and what you may be to ascertain from them.

It’s a short video…about long(er) copy.