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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The Low Cost Leader’s Precarious Position

Competing on price is almost always a dumb idea. In every case I can think of, it makes more sense to differentiate in ways other than being the cheapest place in town.

I was given the opportunity to share some of my thoughts on the futility and danger of price competition (and the fear that causes business owners to adopt that kind of pricing strategy) over at the One Hour Startup blog. There are 3 articles; I hope you check them out. The feedback has been excellent.

[[ Update: The One Hour Startup blog is being merged with NinjaHobo. These articles are no longer hosted there. ]]

3 Alternatives to Competing on Price – What Dominoes Pizza, Babiators and iPhone lovers can teach us about staying out of the Bermuda Triangle of commoditization, where the only way to win is to be slash prices.

The Wife-Approved Pricing Strategy – If price is the main way to convince a would-be customer to buy, why do people regularly pay premium prices for some products? Here’s an example from my own wife. Oh, and Aston Martin.

Pick Your Battles Strategically, or All’s Fair When Avoiding Price Wars“…what main characteristic did David possess that allowed him to defeat Goliath, who was bigger, stronger and more heavily armed? Most people will say that it was his agility or speed…More important than these things, though, was his willingness and ability to choose the terms of the fight…When your small businesses square off against entrenched competitors… ones that are bigger, stronger, better-known and better-equipped than you… you can learn a few things from the young warrior David.”

While we’re on the subject, observe Chuck McKay as he destroys the low-cost leader’s argument in 33 seconds:

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7 Guidelines for Writing Eye-Grabbing Headlines

1) Use surgical precision. Know who your prospective customers are so that you can concentrate on stopping them in their tracks with your headline. Determine which words and themes appeal to your target right now; what is he thinking about? Wondering about? Worried about?

Headlines really serve a single purpose: they use words to get your advertisement read.

Advertising forefather Claude Hopkins, in his legendary work Scientific Advertising, further explains:

“The advertisement is read only by interested people who, by their own volition, study what we have to say. The purpose of a headline is to pick out people who you can interest……what you have will interest only certain people and for certain reasons. You care only for those people, so create a headline which will hail those people only!”

A headline must not “cast too wide a net.” There is no way to appeal to everyone without decimating the strength specificity creates in capturing your target. The attempt gain everyone’s eyes is an error that is all too prevalent in advertising today. The headline will only appeal to people who are interested in the product or service offered. Readers will not waste any time investigating an ad that isn’t selling something that pertains to him. Men don’t generally care much for tampon headlines…

Keep in mind that YOU are reading this article for a reason. Most of the people surfing the web will never read this article.

2) Go for the heart! Almost any expert (and anyone who is genuinely honest about their own purchasing patterns) will admit that people base their buying decisions more on emotion than logic. Shoppers buy what they want, and use reason to justify their choices. The most powerful purchase-driving emotions include Fear, Greed, and the Desire for Love and Prestige.

3) Focus on the Customer. The headline should be more about how the customer will benefit from the product or service than about the thing itself. As the old sayings go, “People don’t buy drills because they want drills, but because they want holes,” and “Don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle.” Readers care about what you offer only insofar as they care about what they get out of it. Construct your headline with this in mind

4) Avoid hype. You will lose credibility if you rely on it. There are far too many superlatives and big promises that don’t reflect reality. “Super Awesome Cogs” sounds great, but that headline doesn’t convey any meaning to the reader, other than a setup for disappointment (which the he will protect himself from at all costs.) “New Cog DOUBLES Your Car’s Gas Mileage” better describes what the product does without resorting to hype.

5) People hate to be sold. They love to buy, though. If you can show your audience how to get something that they already want or know they need in a way that is easier, cheaper, or better in some other way, your advertisement will produce good results. Trying to convince a reader that they need something they know nothing about is a losing endeavor. Don’t fight against your target; go along with him. Help him get what he wants.

If the ad is for something that may be unfamiliar, the headline will have to appeal to a need or desire that the reader is familiar with.

6) Test Rigorously. Try different headlines. There is no need to guess at what will work. Find out with certainty by testing different word usage, benefit presentation, etc. This is a good rule in general, as each market will respond uniquely to different parts of your advertising.

7) Consult the masters. Advertising writers and marketers find instruction as well as inspiration from successful advertisements put together by others. Copies of headlines and body copy are often kept in “swipe files” for future reference. What worked well for others has a good chance of working for you.

The other aspect of learning the art of headline writing is studying classic works on the subject. From legends of the past such as Hopkins, John Caples and Robert Collier to contemporary pros like Clayton Makepeace and John Carlton, there are many lessons to learn. Discover the secrets of advertisers that have produced millions of dollars in sales. Continuing your marketing education will always be profitable, especially for a beginner.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of headline-writing guidelines, but following these seven tips is essential if you want to reap the benefits of effective advertising.

 

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