The Supreme Marketing Advantage (Copywriting Tip #6)

Copywriting Tip 6 Trust

Quick Copywriting Tip #6: Trust is EVERYTHING.

I got a bunch of hate mail a few weeks ago. Actually, the Vice President of one of my clients got hate mail…because of something I wrote.

Here’s one of the notes:

“I DON’T KNOW WHO YOU THINK YOU ARE BUT YOU SENDING ME INSULTING EMAILS IS UNPROFESSIONAL AND I’M GLAD I DIDN’T GET INVOLVED WITH [ client name withheld] AND THANKS TO YOU NEVER WILL.” (Emphasis mine)

The sales reps were upset that they had to deal with a barrage of emails like these.

The VP, whose name was on the offending message, had mixed feelings. Sales were through the roof (relative to the norm)…on a product that’s somewhat difficult to sell. But “potential buyers” were upset with him.

As I said to the Mr. Vice President, “The people who complain are probably never going to become paying customers anyway. This kind of reaction is how you know you’re doing it right!

Direct response involves forcing people to pick a side and being willing to lose some people along the way — if you’re doing it right.

“I’m glad I didn’t get involved with you…”

Let’s focus for a moment on the angry, all caps email I shared above.

The final line brings a crucial issue to light: you need to get good at gaining people’s TRUST.

This guy suspected that he couldn’t trust my client – and the marketing message that pushed him over the edge proved (in his mind) his suspicion was correct.

We all face this obstacle. But we don’t always use trust as an opportunity.

In the copy I wrote, my client came across more as a salesperson (which he is) than an expert or leader (which is is). And it’s hard to trust salespeople.

Everything in the message was true. Honesty isn’t enough to make people trust you. It’s just the beginning!

Earning the kind of trust that makes it easy (or at least easier) for prospects to become clients takes work.

Pillars of Proof

At a conference in Denver earlier this month, Patrick Bove, Senior Copywriter at Stansberry Research described 5 Pillars of Proof you should be using to defeat skepticism and win trust from your should-be clients. Here’s a very quick overview from a mind-blowing session:

Financial Copywriter Patrick Bove Stansberry

Proof of Character

  • Who are you? Why should I believe you?
  • What’s your track record? What achievements can verify your expertise?

Proof of Story

  • How do I know you’re not making this stuff up?
  • Are there 3rd party sources that verify the point you’re making?

Proof of Catalyst

  • Why is your story important to me NOW

Proof of Product

  • Demonstration: Don’t just tell me about your product. Show me it works.
  • Who does it work for and when? Who is it not right for?

Social Proof

  • Testimonials, case studies, etc.

Notice how testimonials are great, but they’re just not enough to convince people anymore. If you want to make trust your supreme marketing advantage, you’ll have to go much further.

The good news is, your competitors aren’t doing any of this. Once you start implementing these ideas, you’ll probably be light-years ahead.

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Check out the other 13 Quick Copywriting Tips here.

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Is Working for Free the Best Way to Start Your Business?

working for free stairs to nowhere

The idea of doing projects “on spec” (without pay) came up in one of the few Facebook groups I participate in.

To be more specific, a woman launching a new service business was offering to work for free in order to get testimonials and build her portfolio.

Is this a good way to start your business? Or is spec work a flight of stairs leading nowhere?

In business (almost) nothing is true across the board. What works for one entrepreneur may flop badly for another. In this Facebook conversation, I felt qualified to chime in and express my opinion, based on my extensive, often painful experience in a field closely related to the one being offered for free. Here is a slighly modified version of my comments:

I’m going to do something relatively harsh here…by recommending you seriously limit this offer (to work for free).

Having testimonials is great, but absolutely not necessary to launch your business. In a way, you’re postponing the launch of your business by clinging to the idea that you need “proof” of the value of your services.

Your time is extremely valuable. Especially since you have a family who likes having you around and “present.”

In all likelihood, doing content marketing for yourself will advance your business more than doing free work for other people, no matter how good their testimonials will be.

The thing is, there’s a huge need for the service you provide — but most of the people/businesses who need your skills do not fully appreciate that need. They don’t feel pain, so it’s hard to pry money from their hands, especially at a rate you deserve.

You would do well to seek people who already feel that need, that have a bleeding neck problem, to use the words of John Paul Mendocha.

See if you can get testimonials from colleagues and friends who already know you and are familiar with the quality of your work. Build up your portfolio working on your own website and marketing materials.

It’s also well worth your time to connect with people who might already be in touch with your target audience. Maybe you can work out a referral arrangement or a way to bundle your services together. Or subcontract work from other established people in the space you want to occupy (or an adjacent one).

Think graphic designers, etc.

And remember, don’t sell your services, as such. Instead, define the transformation you produce for your clients. How will their lives and businesses be different, better than before they hired you — or anyone else for that matter.

Define what you’ll do for them — and what you won’t. Specialize, if you can.

BTW, I’m not always right. This just advice based on my experience.

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What about you? How do you feel about spec work?

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4 Steps to No-Brainer Status

If your target market had to make an instant decision, without thinking, would they would still pick you?

The mind is always doing something, always focusing on something. We even dream while we’re sleeping. Your brain never really stops working.

My fellow Chicagoan James Ford taught me a very interesting lesson (inadvertently, through the radio). He pointed out that we often look for distractions to give our minds a break. We call that amusement. A-muse-ment is, literally, the act or state of not-thinking.

While I generally discourage the use of funny marketing messages, you should consider being appropriately amusing.

With that in mind, here are some amusing marketing ideas:

1) Make your offer a “no-brainer.” If your offer is just right, the prospect literally doesn’t have to think about it.,
It’s not good enough to have the best product on the market or to be the most logical choice as a service provider. Plenty of outstanding businesses struggle while waiting for the world to beat a path to their door to buy their better “mousetrap.” Marketing is still critically important, and the message it conveys must still engage the motivational drives and desires of the target audience.

There are several factors involved here. No matter how much a prospect wants what you sell, there are obstacles to overcome:

a) You have to be trustworthy. No doubt you’ve heard a lot of talk about getting potential clients to “know, like and trust” you. This is not only because we like to do business with people we like, but because we have a hard time doing business with people we don’t trust.

  • This is part of the reason marketers are enamored with social media, and it’s definitely the driving force behind Facebook Sponsored Stories and Google’s social search. You trust your friends, so when they “like” something, that something inherits some of that trust.

b) Your offer itself has to be credible. I imagine if you got a letter in the mail offering “Buy 1 Mercedes, Get 2 FREE.” It might grab your attention, but you’d dismiss the idea pretty quickly. We instinctively believe the saying, “if it’s too good to be true…” By all means, make the strongest offer possible, but make sure it’s believable.

c) Eliminate as much risk as possible. The plumbing in my house is not great. At one point, we had to call a plumber every few weeks. When we finally found a guy we liked, one of the biggest reasons he got repeat business from us was because his 90-day guarantee. If the toilets clogged up in that time frame, he’d come out and fix it for free.

How strong is your guarantee? Do you provide excellent customer service after the sale? Do you share additional information or resources to ensure customers enjoy every possible benefit from their purchase?

  • Make testimonials prominent. This form of social proof can be effective at communicating the fact that lots of people just like the prospect has had a wonderful experience doing business with you. What more is there to think about?

2) Get to know your audience so well that you can describe their needs better than they can, using words they’d use themselves. When people feel like you know them, trust comes naturally. Add to that a comprehensive understanding of the challenges they’re facing and the dreams they have, there’s no need for them to look to anyone else when they’re ready to buy. Choosing you is a “no-brainer” decision.

3) Find a way to make buying from you habitual, or attach your offering to the habits of your target audience. That which people do habitually, they do unthinkingly. Here are two terrific articles explaining the power of habits and how they apply to marketing and buying decisions:

The Power of Habit
How Companies Learn Your Secrets

4) Your offer must be obviously valuable. The more clearly you describe what the customer will get after he buys, how wonderful his experience will be, the less he has to justify the purchase to himself. The less internal negotiations have to take place.
The longer he argues, the less likely he is to buy. He’s also more likely he is to either ask for a refund or suffer from buyer’s remorse – a serious problem for repeat business and referrals.

Your Action Steps

1) Get to know what you really sell. Builders don’t sell structures; they provide safety, security, a feeling of family, the American dream, etc. Authors don’t sell ink on paper, but wild adventures and escapes from reality in packages that fit in the palm of your hand.

2) Get to know your prospects better than ever. Always remember, marketing is not about you – it’s about your would-be customers.

3) Speak to the soul. Go beyond having rebuttals for objections and answers for questions.

4) Work on ways to clearly communicate that the solution to your prospects innermost drives and desires is within their grasp – if they enter the door you show them. Help them see it.

5) Find effective ways to deliver that message.

This will take some work, but I can guarantee it will pay off in big ways.

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