Free Tips for Successful Copywriting

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Why Neophyte Web Marketers Fail...

In this issue:

  • The “build it and they will buy” trap …

  • Claude Hopkins, rolling over in his grave …

  • The secret to online marketing nirvana …

  • And much more!

Dear Web Business Builder,

Whoever said knowledge is power, was wrong …

Web marketing junkies desperate to break into the biz are buying the latest, greatest info-products like they’re going out of style … reading the manuals … listening to the CDs … watching the DVDs.

But few actually do much with the knowledge.

Why do you suppose that is?

In one word, FEAR!

See most people just can’t stand failure, abhor risk, and are petrified of losing the security blanket today’s soft, undisciplined society has handed them.

And Internet business — like any other business — demands you face down these demons and wrestle them to the ground. Most people just don’t have the guts to do it.

Of course, FEAR comes in the guise of all sorts of denial …

The “build it and they will buy” trap …

Just the other day, I had the pleasure of sitting down to lunch with a few people I met at a local conference. Two of them happened to be on my list. While we were waiting for our food to come along, I asked one of them what she was doing with the information I had been providing.

I listened attentively as this person (let’s call her Sally, not her real name) told me about all of the different information she’d been consuming from various people … all of the different courses she’d bought … and how she’d spent the last 18 months or so creating a membership site to help other entrepreneurial women.

So I asked her encouragingly, “How are you marketing your business?” Sally told me she was blogging … and micro blogging on all of the social networking sites … and submitting articles to different e-zines in an effort to build “buzz.” And with great pride she told me about all of the incoming links she’d been able to generate, and how well she was beginning to rank in the search engines. Her speech was peppered with so many buzzwords I’m sure my eyes were beginning to glaze over.

And then she leaned in a little and said, “I’m having a great time getting to know people and I’m learning so much, and I really love what I’m doing, but I’m not getting many paid subscribers.”

Can anyone spot Sally’s problem?

Claude Hopkins, rolling over in his grave …
Sally is drinking the Web 2.0 Kool-Aid. She’s lost sight of the prime marketing directive — selling stuff — and is focusing exclusively on building community and relationships and optimizing her site for the search engines.

She believes that in this brave new world people will stumble upon your site, go gaga over your free content, sign up for your feed, and eventually buy from you just because you’re their online pal. Somehow, it’s become impolite to ask for their money. Now you just sign up on the social networks, make “friends,” and sooner or later you can become a “maven” and people will buy from you.

Of course, all of this “busy work” fits in perfectly with her FEAR-based mentality. By avoiding actions that tie too directly to the ultimate test of her business, Sally’s self-esteem is protected, and her pride is immune to the stinging pain of failure. At least for the time being …

See, it’s one thing stringing your spouse along, telling him or her you’re making progress in the search engines and so on, continually pushing off the only real measurement that counts into the sunset. It’s another thing entirely to admit you took a chance on something and lost. But that’s exactly the mentality of a winner.

Neophyte online entrepreneurs fail because they shrink from risking their time, energy, money, and ego on activities that are expected to yield an immediate return on investment. They figure if they can just hitch their wagon to the latest “Internet revolution,” everything will be OK.

They measure things that are as many steps removed from making sales as possible. And they avoid activities that could lead to unmistakable failure, such as actually buying some traffic (oh my God) to see if their web site converts.

So I turned to the other subscriber, and I asked him the same question. “What about you Tom (not his real name), how do you market your business?” He told me he’s not interested in spending months developing a product … blogging incessantly … or schmoozing on the social networks. Instead, he’s busy buying traffic, making joint venture offers, building his e-mail lists, and selling stuff — often before that stuff is even created!

Who do you think is making more money, Sally or Tom?

Now don’t get me wrong. Long range planning, building community, relationships, and brand are all fine, but when you’re just starting out, you need immediate results. You need to be able to expend resources to put your sales message in front of potential buyers today, and see the results later this week, knowing full well those results may not be the ones you want. You’ve got to fail fast, not slow.

The secret to online marketing nirvana …
Success is a matter of getting your sales message out there for better or worse and tweaking it as you go, knowing full well you’ll get your teeth kicked in a few times. Try something that bombs, great, you’ve just learned something — don’t do it again. Pick yourself up. Dust yourself off. And keep trying until you find something that works. Then keep doing it until it no longer works.

It’s these short term, “repeat or don’t repeat” sales experiments that will lead you to online marketing nirvana. Gradually the successes pile up and your profitability soars!

Hey, maybe I’m a freakin’ pre-Neanderthal, I don’t know. I’ve got all of these invites to join twitter and fritter and Facespace and Mybook piling up on my computer. I just don’t have time to look away from operation money suck long enough to even log in.

Is it really possible a new Internet revolution can come along every couple of months?

Do things really change that quickly?

Perhaps, but you can bet your bottom dollar it’s the sly fox who finds a way to spend a dollar today and see that dollar coming back to him or her in multiples next week who’ll win the prize. Not the crybabies who go running from one new fad to another …

People have been saying opt-in rates are down, click through rates are down, and that e-mail marketing is dead for years. But my list is growing faster than ever, my conversion rates are higher than ever, and I’m making more money than ever doing the same old things I’ve always done. I’m just doing them better.

If you’re just starting out online, keep your eyes open, learn as much as you can, but remember this: The only metric that really matters is the money that’s flowing into your merchant account. If what you’re doing today doesn’t promise to make you more money next week, why are you doing it?

I’m serious. I’ve seen far too many people spend months and even years burrowing their way down one rabbit hole after another, simply because they’re afraid to step out of their comfort zone and try things that might lead to obvious failure.

They refuse to set aggressive, “do or die” product development deadlines out of a misguided desire for perfection. They won’t reach out and make partnerships with the people who can help them for risk of rejection. They don’t advertise, or test their sales copy, because they don’t want to lose money. And on and on the excuses go.

The cure is simple. Take actions that are immediately measurable in dollars and cents. You can always twitter yourself in the off hours.

Until next time, Good Selling!

Daniel Levis is a top marketing consultant & direct response copywriter based in Toronto, Canada and publisher of the world famous copywriting anthology “Masters of Copywriting” featuring the marketing wisdom of 44 of the world’s greatest copywriters, including Clayton Makepeace, Joe Sugarman, Joe Vitale, Bob Bly and dozens more! For a FREE excerpt visit the link

Be sure to sign up for THE TOTAL PACKAGE, and receive Daniel's excellent weekly ezine "Web Marketing Advisor" absolutely FREE!

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Monday, February 25, 2008

How to Structure A Winning Sales Argument!

Last time we talked about the importance of the “lead” or opening few paragraphs of your copy and its primary job: To open the mind of your prospect to giving your sales argument a fair hearing.

This time, I want to talk about the argument itself: The reasons you put forward that prove: a) that buying your product will change your prospects life for the better… and b) that NOT buying it right now would have to be about the dumbest thing he could possibly do.

An argument is by definition, evidence and reasoning. As a persuader, you offer facts (evidence), and you show what they mean (reasoning).

By applying sound reasoning to agreed evidence you have the power to take your prospect’s thinking to a new vantage point, from which a new path becomes visible.
And when the appeal of that new path is demonstrated, you have taken your prospect to the threshold of action.

What a sales argument is, and what it isn’t …

An effective sales argument is not a confrontation, as the word “argument” infers. It is in fact just the opposite.

To create genuine conviction, you must gradually transfer ownership of the persuasion process to the prospect. Little by little you hand it over to him, as he digests the facts, and assents to the reasoning you’re feeding him.

He sees the merit of your argument, he associates himself with it, and his ego is affirmed by it. In saluting the validity of the facts you lay before him, and embracing your reasoning as his own, his wisdom is confirmed. He likes what he is doing.

Frequently, my clients ask me to “critique” their online sales pieces, and often, the sales arguments that are put forward are weak. I read meaty, bold headlines that shock and excite, only to find hamburger helper in the body copy. There’s not nearly enough substance to substantiate the initial premise put forward in the headline. The writer failed to connect the dots.

Let me reiterate the point I made earlier because it is important to understand: A sales argument is not a debate. We are not talking about two sides, vehemently opposed to each other’s point of view attempting to “win” the argument, but you must prove your case. You must walk your prospect through a sound chain of logic.

If you’re targeting your prospects properly, most of them should already be biased toward embracing the conclusions that you need them to accept. Your sales argument’s job is to validate those conclusions to such a degree that your prospect feels imminently confident, and is therefore empowered to act.

Your sales argument is the vehicle that dispels doubt, and solidifies his inclinations.

An effective sales argument is charged,like an electrical circuit…

Here stands an electrode. On its own, it seems to be dead. But bring another seemingly lifeless electrode close enough and we sense that something is going to happen. Suddenly a crackling flash joins the two. A spark leaps the gap. The circuit is completed, and energy is released.

This is exactly how our minds work. One fact alone appears inert, mere information. But couple it with another and show what they mean, and “zap”, you have created a spark of reasoning that jumps the gap, completing the circuit. A conclusion is reached.

Naturally any argument is built upon a number of subordinate conclusions, each one becoming a new fact on which to build the next conclusion, until the end game is reached …

Gradually your prospect’s casual bias toward solutions like yours is transformed into rabid conviction that YOURS is for him, and he acts!

So we have established the context of the sales argument, and its purpose, but how do you entice your prospect to consume it? How do you tie it effectively to your headline and your lead?

Reverse the polarity …

While the object of your sales argument is to inspire conviction and belief, it is just the opposite sentiment “doubt” that will drive your prospect to consume it. Doubt is a magnetic force that draws him in… Why?

Because doubt is an uneasy and dissatisfied state, while belief is a calm and satisfied one. Therefore doubt compels the mind to inquire, and continue doing so until doubt is dispelled, and resolved into belief.

So one of the best ways to draw your target prospects into your sales argument is by articulating their common doubts and uncertainties about the subject matter at hand, and promising to dispel them. It’s a proven way to tie your headline and your lead to your sales argument.

Here are a few headline examples that articulate doubt and uncertainty to set up the sales argument, and lure the reader into the body copy …

Is Your Home Safe From Burglary? Take This Test to Find Out!

Had a Hunch Vending Was Lucrative? You’re Right!

A surprising new discovery for those who’ve always suspected they had the “right stuff” to succeed in their own businesses… but who haven’t yet quite got going!

Do You Make These Mistakes in English?

Right and Wrong Farming Methods — And Little Pointers That Will Increase Your Profits!

What Everybody Ought to Know… About This Stock and Bond Business!

This FREE Sample Lesson Will Prove That You Can Become An Expert Accountant

Gee… I’d Like To Have He Man Muscles! So Would I, But It Takes A Long While. “Bunk!” Says Charles Atlas, “I’ll Prove in the First 7 Days You Can Have a Body Like Mine!”

Do you see the connection? Each one of these headlines targets a doubt that is:

a) preventing the prospect from taking action, or

b) causing him to worry about some lack or problem in his life.

Now let’s take a look at how a skillful sales argument is built and presented...

Here’s some copy from one of Clayton’s promotions for SAFE MONEY REPORT.

The central selling argument is this: Tech stocks are about to crash. If you own them, now is the time to take immediate action to safeguard your wealth by reallocating your portfolio to investments the editor believes will rise in value as techs wreck.

The headline reads …

Shameless Two-Faced S.O.B.s!

While urging you to buy their shares, top executives at MICROSOFT… CISCO… GENZYME… SYMANTEC… SIEBEL SYSTEMS… RED HAT… YAHOO… and many other high-tech companies …

… are quietly dumping BILLIONS of dollars worth of their companies’ stock!

What’s important to understand about this promotion is that the people who received it are by nature distrustful of the establishment. They have no problem buying into allegations of corporate and government misdoings, and at the time they received this promotion, many were no doubt already looking for reasons to dump their tech stocks.

They were in that uneasy and dissatisfied state known as doubt, and longing to get re-acquainted with the calm satisfaction of belief.

As it’s primary evidence, the central argument points to tech insiders selling their own stock. The first order of business however, is to establish a minor supporting sub-premise: That insider trading is commonplace.

This subordinate argument cements a belief the target market already suspects to be true.

Let’s take a look at the interplay of fact and reasoning that comprises this masterful sales argument …

Anyone watching this year’s Martha Stewart debacle might mistakenly assume that insiders are forbidden to use their intimate knowledge of the company to buy or sell their own company’s stock.

Nothing could be farther from the truth!

FACT: Corporate insiders — who generally know their company’s better than anybody — are certainly allowed to own their company’s stock.

REASONING: So it would be idiotic to assume that they ignore everything they know about their companies when deciding whether to dump their company’s stock or to buy more!

And right now…

Now the central selling argument is introduced …

FACT: While top corporate insiders are talking UP their company’s stock — urging you to buy every share you can …

… Those same insiders are DUMPING their OWN shares in private… like there’s no tomorrow!

It’s a fact: The Securities and Exchange commission reports the purchases and sales by company insiders of their own company’s stock on the second business day following the transactions.

And according to these reports, we are now witnessing one of the greatest insider STAMPEDES out of their own company’s stocks — EVER — especially in the tech sector.

Clayton goes on to provide a mountain of evidence of insider selling far outweighing insider buying (not just in tech, but in other sectors as well), including specific company examples… and then brings in the second electrode (reasoning) to complete the circuit, beginning with this sub-head…

What do these insiders see
that you don’t?

REASONING: (Note the sub-head is phrased as a question, involving the prospect in the reasoning process, and beginning to hand over ownership of the conclusion…) First they see interest rates turning up, threatening to end one of the greatest consumer borrowing sprees of all time. So they’re starting to dump their own shares in companies that have profited the most from consumer lending and spending: companies that make things like cell phones and personal computers, mortgage lenders, sub-prime lenders, home building companies, real estate investment trusts, and more.

That’s why shares in these companies tumbled dramatically in April. And that’s why bankers and others are exiting their shares.

FACT: Second, many tech company executives were seeing their profit margins crashing even BEFORE interest rates began to turn higher.

To entice their buyers, they’ve had to slash prices to the bone. The utterly predictable result: Profit margins have plunged.

In fact, during 2003 and early 2004, many tech companies used every gimmick in the book to artificially goose up sales: Massive discounting, zero percent financing, giant rebates, dealer credits and more. All while manufacturing costs climbed!

Clayton goes on to provide further evidence of declining financial results with company specific examples … and then hands the argument completely over to the prospect later on in the copy at this sub-head …

The AVERAGE Nasdaq stock is
ONCE AGAIN selling for
more than 100 time earnings!

REASONING: Let me ask you this: If YOU were a Sony insider and owned several millions dollars worth of the company’s stock … and you saw earnings vanishing before your very eyes… what would you do?

Wait – let me add one more piece to the puzzle before you answer: Despite the massive decline in earnings, your Sony stock is still selling at a mind boggling 458 times earnings. Now…what would YOU do?

Do you see the awesome power of summing up your sales argument with a question like this? A wise man once said, “the only conclusions any of us truly accept, are our own”. He was right!

Right: Any exec with an IQ greater than his shoe size would dump every share he could get his hands on!

The simple truth is, insiders are dumping their stocks because they know how wildly overvalued they really are relative to earnings!

Heck, even in the best of times paying such exorbitant prices for stocks would be like BEGGING to get skinned alive. But doing so now — as profit margins plummet and in today’s increasingly hazardous economic environment — Is downright masochistic.

Think of it: At current earnings rates, you’d have to wait at least a CENTURY—100 l-o-n-g years — before the average Nasdaq company could accumulate profits equal to the amount you invested! Again, by prefacing this statement with the words “Think of it”, Clayton invites the prospect to participate in the reasoning and take ownership of the conclusion.

That was pure brilliance, don’t you agree? If you’d like to get a full color pdf copy of the entire promotion, click here.

Now, allow me to point out a few more things …

Note this is not a bulletproof argument. It is not flawless Aristotelian logic. It doesn’t have to be. That’s not what this is about.

The argument is rational, it is convincing, it is electric in its simplicity, but it is not intended to convince a died-in-the-wool tech bull. Its goal is to strengthen the conviction of those who are already leaning toward the same conclusions.

In a lot of ways it is a veiled emotional appeal that radiates the conviction of the ersatz author. He is so emphatic in his expression of the argument that he literally infects the prospect with a similar strength of conviction. Therein lies its true power …

The secret sauce!

We humans are a sympathetic lot. When we see someone smile, we smile back. We laugh at dead duck jokes on sitcoms when the laugh track plays. When someone beams with excitement as they tell us a story, we can’t help but be all ears and get excited too.

When two people talk, their speech rate and timbre gradually harmonize. Even the volume and pitch of their voices fall into balance. So does their latency, the time between when one person stops talking and the other starts.

And so it is with the written word. One of the things that Clayton has obviously discovered is that the conviction of the ersatz author can literally jump off the page and infect the prospect with a similar belief. And that strength of belief is exactly what’s needed for the prospect to give in to the impulse to buy now!

Go back and read Clayton’s copy again with this in mind, and you’ll see exactly what I mean. Pay attention to the exact phrases that make the ersatz author seem so utterly and totally convinced that what he is saying is that absolute, god honest truth.

If you want to create powerful conviction in your prospect that sets his heart on fire with confidence… don’t dance around your conclusion as though you’re committed to demonstrating how fair and objective your sales argument is… as so many do.

Instead, light your ersatz author’s hair on fire. Spike your sales argument with emphatic evangelical fervor. And watch your conversion rates soar! Until next time, Good Selling!

Daniel Levis is a top marketing consultant & direct response copywriter based in Toronto, Canada and publisher of the world famous copywriting anthology “Masters of Copywriting” featuring the marketing wisdom of 44 of the world’s greatest copywriters, including Clayton Makepeace, Joe Sugarman, Joe Vitale, Bob Bly and dozens more! For a FREE excerpt visit the link

Be sure to sign up for THE TOTAL PACKAGE, and receive Daniel's excellent weekly ezine "Web Marketing Advisor" absolutely FREE!

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

How to Peel the Emotional Paint Off Your Prospect’s Mind and Make Your Sales Argument Stick!

Today’s issue is about opening your prospect’s minds to receiving your sales argument …

The Secret Structure That Forms The Bedrock of Every Successful Persuasion Attempt …

Your selling efforts online in many ways resemble those of a trial lawyer in a court of law. The jurors are your prospects, and the verdict is the decision to buy, or not.

This may come as a surprise to you, but one of the overriding factors that determine a trial lawyer’s ability to win a case in a court of law is the human bond or connection he or she is able to establish with the jury.

While it may seem that the verdict is the product of cold, hard fact and logic, this is almost never the case. The trial lawyer’s first job is to prepare the jury to give the facts and logic to be presented a fair hearing. There is in fact no such thing as pure logic. For proof, look no farther than OJ’s glove.

Why Emotion Comes Before Logic …

The minds you are trying to influence are emotion driven systems. Even in what looks like a purely logic driven exercise — A leads to B and thereby proves C —you are most certainly dealing with minds that reject “A” or “B” for emotional reasons. Reasons your prospects may not even be aware of. Thus emotions steal their way into even the most cut and dried arguments.

Presenting an argument is a little like painting a house. If your first step is to open the can and start plastering the wall with paint, you might as well pour it down the sink. You may be ready to paint, but the wall isn’t. Before you can expect the paint to stick, it’s critical that you prepare the surface by scraping, sanding, and priming the old surface. Otherwise, it simply won’t take the new paint.

The human mind is like that wall. It won’t “take” an argument until it’s ready. You may be ready to present an airtight case that fits together with the precision and power of one delivered by Clarence Darrow himself, but if the reader is fighting you, and emotionally recoiling from the premises on which your sales argument is built, nothing is going to happen in the only place that counts — the mind of the reader.

That’s why a skillful trial lawyer is trained to begin his or her persuasion attempts with introductory remarks that are specifically designed to prepare the surface of each juror’s mind, thus ensuring the ensuing facts and reasoning will penetrate the interior.

These opening remarks are carefully designed to crowd out any pre-existing sentiment that may create resistance to the arguments put forward to prove the case. The goal is to replace negative sentiment with positive sentiment.

In the world of copywriting, this element of persuasion is analogous to what’s known as “the lead” or opening: The copy directly following the salutation.

What Every Great “Lead” Must Do …

What are the devices available to you in your efforts to gain a fair hearing for the sales arguments you’ll put forward in your copy?

No one will be surprised to hear that one way is through respect and trust. The personality of the ersatz author is of prime importance, as are his or her achievements. Your role as a copywriter is to strengthen them, as they enter the persuasion drama. As your prospect is reading your opening paragraphs, she’s thinking: Why should I listen to you?

Naturally the reader’s decision to continue reading your copy beyond these opening paragraphs is due to the strength of the promises you've made. But promises on their own are not enough. Without a strong character behind them, they lose much of their power.

Your prospects are unconsciously looking for certain qualities in the people they buy from. They are looking for someone who displays subject mastery, confidence, ability, empathy, and candor.
Therefore, facts that demonstrate the character of the ersatz author, and statements that imply his or her genuine concern and empathy for the prospect belong in the opening paragraphs of your copy along with the strongest promises you can muster.

Similarly, the ersatz authors ability to communicate these things clearly and in a way that is easily understood in the “lead”, is in itself a way to inspire a fair hearing of the sales argument that follows. The composition of the copy itself is evidence of the ersatz author’s character.
Let’s look at a couple of exemplary leads to observe these fundamentals in action …

This first one is from Clayton Makepeace’s legendary Health and Healing promotion for Phillips Publishing …

As a doctor, I’m concerned — no make that worried — that you’re not getting the quality of medical care you need… or deserve.

It’s an old saying that nothing’s as important as your health.

But if you’re like most people, you’re not getting vital information that can help you avoid disease, have more energy, and even get rid of health conditions you have.

It’s my job to care. In fact, it’s much more than a job. It’s a lifelong dedication, a passionate commitment to help you live a healthier life than you ever thought possible.

That’s why I’ve sent you this urgent report. It contains dozens of things you can do now to feel better, and live longer. They’re taken from my “Health and Healing” newsletter and from “99 Secrets For a Longer, Healthier Life” — a free report I want to get into your hands as soon as possible.

These advances are based on a discovery that’s revolutionizing the practice of medicine in America. It’s by far the best health news of the 20th century:

Directly beside this opening copy is a picture of Dr. Whitaker, the ersatz author, decked out in his smock and stethoscope.

This picture positions Dr. Whitaker as a powerful authority figure. Years of potent social conditioning are evoked through that image, transferring instant credibility to his message.
Looking you straight in the eye, he expresses his concern and worry for your well being… he tells you this is much more than a job to him… he pledges his lifelong dedication and passionate commitment to your health.

And then he does something else that triggers another conditioned response. He offers you something free, further opening your mind to at least listening to what he has to say.
In these first few sentences Whitaker is making a friend, and a whole series of powerful promises.

Skillfully interleaved with Whitaker’s character oath is a promise to give you vital information you don’t have now. Information that will help you avoid disease, have more energy, feel better, get rid of health conditions, and live a longer, healthier life than you ever thought possible. That’s quite a list, and it’s presented in a way that’s very easy to understand. The clarity of communication implies that the arguments that follow are likely to be sound and well worth considering.

He is demonstrating the qualities of the persuasive persona, opening your mind to the central selling argument that follows.

And of course the last sentence is pure curiosity, pulling the reader into the “reason why” copy that follows by begging the question: What’s this discovery he’s referring to? That discovery is in essence the central premise of the sales argument: Getting Sick Is Neither Natural or Unavoidable. The sales argument begins with that sub head. Pure brilliance.

Let’s take a look at another great Makepeace lead. This one is from a Weiss Research promotion. The theme was ‘INVEST WITHOUT FEAR, even in these anxious times …”

See if this sounds familiar to you.

You long to be financially independent, but you’re not there yet, and that means you have no choice but to keep your wealth invested. So, like nearly 100 million other Americans you’ve got money in the stock market.

You’re cautiously optimistic. Nevertheless you hope that your stocks won’t be among those that get hammered as the Fed continues jacking up interest rates, or as the economic recovery falters. You pray that your stocks won’t be vulnerable to awakening inflation, rising energy costs, or God forbid, the widely anticipated Al Qaeda strike before the inauguration in January.
At the same time you’re painfully aware of the well-hidden land mines that may lay in wait for you along the road ahead. You want to trust the big Wall Street brokers who gave your stocks their “buy” ratings. You hope you can trust the CEOs who oversee your stocks’ earnings reports.

But still, you have serious lingering doubts. After all: They lied to you before, and it cost you. And you know by painful experience – that if they’re lying again – all it would take is one more earnings scandal… or brokerage scandal … to wipe away all your recent gains.

So, some nights, you toss and turn. Other nights, you can’t sleep at all.

This lead is pure empathy, with very little in the way of overt promise or any attempt to convey facts and figures that build up the credibility of the ersatz author. In this case, after making the big promise in the headline and deck copy Clayton chose to hunker down with the prospect and prove to him that he knew exactly what he was thinking, and how he was feeling. This is the pure empathy lead, but its aim is the same.

Its sole purpose is to open the mind of the prospect to consider the sales argument without prejudice. It answers the question, “Why should I listen to you?” through a profound demonstration of empathy.

By expressing in words what the ideal target prospect is feeling, a powerful bond is formed, and a bridge of common understanding is built. This is the secret sauce that allows the prospect to consider the primary premise of the sales argument that follows purely on merit, and without emotional resistance. The sub-head moving into that argument is… “At times like these, it pays to ONLY own the strongest safest-rated stocks!”

In the words of Abraham Lincoln, perhaps the greatest persuader of all time: “If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend. Therein is a drop of honey that catches his heart, which is the high road to his reason, and which, when once gained, you will find but little trouble in convincing his judgment of the justice of your cause, if indeed that cause be a just one.”

That’s why the “lead” is one of the most challenging and crucial parts of any promotion. When done right, it greases the wheels of your sales argument, and makes the whole selling job infinitely easier.

When you miss the mark, you can put forward a preponderance of proof, a mountain of airtight logic, and a thousand sound reasons to buy, all to no avail. The prospect must first WANT to believe you.

Until next time, Good Selling!

Daniel Levis is a top marketing consultant & direct response copywriter based in Toronto, Canada and publisher of the world famous copywriting anthology “Masters of Copywriting” featuring the marketing wisdom of 44 of the world’s greatest copywriters, including Clayton Makepeace, Joe Sugarman, Joe Vitale, Bob Bly and dozens more! For a FREE excerpt visit the link

Be sure to sign up for THE TOTAL PACKAGE, and receive Daniel's excellent weekly ezine "Web Marketing Advisor" absolutely FREE!

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Are You Violating These 3 Sacred Online Marketing Commandments?

In my last article you and I talked about the holy trinity of web marketing.
  • Having a powerful offer.

  • Communicating it to a starving crowd who've ALREADY proven they want and can afford what you're selling. And

  • Communicating with your starving crowd in a way that effectively moves them through the Attention, Interest, Desire, Action continuum.
Now, if you've got the first two down cold, here are the three deadly sins you want to avoid like the plague on the home stretch. That all important point of impact... where your dream prospect collides with your copy ...

The Claude C. Hopkins landing page acid test...

Claude Hopkins, one of the Godfathers of direct response marketing and copywriting said, and I quote ...

"There is one simple way to answer many advertising questions. Ask yourself... 'Would it help a salesman sell the goods?' 'Would it help me sell them if I met a buyer in person?' A fair answer to those questions avoids countless mistakes."

Let's explore this in the context of web marketing.

You just clicked through to a website. What are the first things you see?

A company logo, a product name, facts, figures and features about the product.

Would that help a salesman sell the goods? At first blush you might be tempted to say yes, but you'd be wrong ...

Is your landing page a little wet behind the ears?

A web page like this is analogous to a raw rookie salesman 'showing up and throwing up' in a prospect's office. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it has nothing to do with vomit. It means prattling on about your company and the features of your product AT EXACTLY THE WRONG TIME!

In 12 years of personal selling, I never saw a single sale made that way. Not one. The prospects I observed on hundreds of introductory calls didn't give a rat's ass about companies and products. They might have pretended they did, but it was almost always a smokescreen. Those things actually bored them to death.

Remember AIDA - Attention, Interest, Desire, Action? Well boredom is the opposite of interest isn't it? On the web, if you've gotten somebody to your website, you've already got their attention - momentarily. Now how do you graduate that attention to interest before it flits off into the ether?

Let me ask you. Imagine you're at a party and someone approaches you and strikes up a conversation. What's the biggest thing that determines whether you find that person interesting or not?

Check out this quote from star salesman Frank Bettger ... "I no longer worry about being a brilliant conversationalist. I simply try to be a good listener. I notice that people who do that are usually welcome wherever they go."

Profound isn't it? Frank let the other person do most of the talking. Why? Because it allowed him to illicit their buying criteria. By learning this crucial piece of information, he then knew the exact questions he needed to ask to stimulate the prospect's latent desire for his product.

And when he spoke, he spoke about the prospect's desires and frustrations… and painted word pictures that inspired his prospect's to envision a better life for themselves. He put the prospect on a pedestal, front and center. His company, and his product, were secondary. And when he did speak about those things, it was only IN CONTEXT to the prospect's self interest.

Now back to our web page. Are there things we can do with the copy that can make it behave like a star salesman? You bet!

Let's take Claude Hopkins’ sage advice. What does a star salesman do before communicating with a customer? RESEARCH AT BEACH RESORTS! Just kidding. Forgive me. What I meant was RESEARCH!

For the master salesperson, the prospect is an open book...

By observing someone, or talking to someone for just a short time, or even observing that person's home or car, a great deal about that person's attitudes can be inferred. And based on those attitudes, the salesperson has a starting point from which he or she can safely begin asking the questions that illicit the prospect's buying criteria.

On the web, we are handicapped in terms of executing these selling tasks. We cannot see and interact with individual prospects, and we cannot adjust our sales presentation based on the answers to the questions we pose.

However, what we can do is find an ideal prospect, or an existing customer and conduct a corollary investigation. That means putting on your Columbo hat, and doing due diligence. Your first job, without writing a word of copy, is to uncover the dominant desires, fears, and frustrations of the prospects you want to communicate with. So you can speak "as if" you know them, and appeal to their self-interest immediately on your landing page, much the way an effective salesperson does on meeting a client for the very first time.

And when you do... For god's sake be human. Have a personality. The master salesperson is a charmer and a showman. He doesn't talk in the "royal we" when he addresses a prospect, not if he expects to develop any rapport.

The 4 secret rules of the master closer...

One of the things I always kept firmly in my mind when I was selling, and it meant tens of millions of dollars in sales to me, was this simple mnemonic, Like -> Listen -> Believe -> Buy.

Whether in a live selling situation, or with the printed words that appear on a web page, that's what has to happen. Let me explain ...

Before someone buys anything, trust is a prerequisite. Before trust can be established, the prospect must listen attentively to the seller. Before the prospect will listen to the seller, there must exist at the very least "rapport", or liking. Here are the rules ...

Rule A - For a prospect to like the salesperson, the salesperson must first like the prospect.

Now, at first blush you might think this has no parallel to copywriting and web marketing, but you'd be dead wrong. It's everything.

If you inject personality into your writing, prospects will make judgments about the ersatz author. If prospects agree with the ideas put forward in the copy, and more importantly, feel the ersatz author understands their situation, a bond will be formed. And believe it or not, just as in a live selling situation, your prospects can detect insincerity in a heartbeat.

That’s why as a copywriter, you need to fall in love with the people you're writing to. You need to feel their pain, and you need to care enough about them to pull out all of the stops to convince them to go for a better life. You have to be passionate about that, and be 100% convinced in the quality and efficacy of the product you're selling. To be convincing, you must first be convinced. If you are, it will shine through in your copy like a starburst.

Secondly, you need to communicate your empathy for the prospect. We take a liking to people who are like us, so the best way to get the prospect to like the ersatz personality, is by relating a personal story about how that person experienced the prospect's pain and overcame it. You don't want to bore the prospect with a life story, just the parts that tie in directly with the self-interest of the prospect.

Rule B - If the prospect likes the salesperson, the prospect will listen attentively, and with an open mind.

Injecting your copy with personality, and displaying empathy for your prospect’s fears, frustrations, and beliefs (as uncovered in your research) has this effect. Readership will go up dramatically if you get this right.

Rule C - If the prospect listens to the salesperson and the salesperson is enthusiastic about the results he hopes to help the prospect to achieve, the prospect will believe the salesperson.

Just as in a live selling situation, selling online is transference of energy, passion and enthusiasm. If you’re truly pumped about what you’re selling, it will shine through in your copy and infect your prospect, making him or her want to believe what you’re saying.

That last point was critical for you to understand, so I’ll repeat it. Regardless of the strength of your proof, the prospect must “want” to believe. And this is a function of liking, and your own conviction about the product (or service) you’re selling.

Rule D - If the prospect believes the salesperson, the prospect will buy.

If you can’t open, you can’t close

To summarize, understand that the key to getting more prospects to take action on your landing pages is to open a bridge of common understanding and personal rapport, before pitching your product, or your company.

If you follow Claude Hopkins’ sage advice, and these 4 rules of the master closer, you can increase your conversion dramatically.

Keep these things in mind as you work on your copy.

Until next time, Good Selling!

Daniel Levis is a top marketing consultant & direct response copywriter based in Toronto, Canada and publisher of the world famous copywriting anthology “Masters of Copywriting” featuring the marketing wisdom of 44 of the world’s greatest copywriters, including Clayton Makepeace, Joe Sugarman, Joe Vitale, Bob Bly and dozens more! For a FREE excerpt visit the link

Be sure to sign up for THE TOTAL PACKAGE, and receive Daniel's excellent weekly ezine "Web Marketing Advisor" absolutely FREE!

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Zen Master Secrets for Faster, More Profitable Web Copywriting!

This is an article about writing for the purpose of extracting money from people who habituate the Internet. If that offends your delicate sensibilities, then you might as well stop reading right now.

On the other hand, if you're looking for ways to either turn that beautiful whiz bang web site of yours into a money sucking monster... or get paid big bucks to help other web entrepreneurs do the same, then listen up ...

Horse Puckey and Hocus Pocus

There's all kinds of B.S. out there about how "different" a media the Internet is... complete with hair-brained ways to extend the dumb, money flushing tendrils of brand advertising into this exciting new realm.

Don't fall for them. Just as with any other medium of mass communication, marketing success online (defined very narrowly here as "selling more stuff"), boils down to 3 simple principles ...

A) A powerful offer...

B) Communicated to a starving crowd that's proven it wants your product and can afford to pay for it... and

C) Copy that effectively processes those prospects through the Attention, Interest, Desire, Action continuum at point of impact.

That's it! The rest is Madison Avenue foo foo dust.

OK, there are some differences between the Internet and traditional media. Here's one that matters ...

Online, the cost per word is drastically lower than any other media known to man. Once you've got a prospect on your website, you've got virtually unlimited space to tell your story. What does this mean?

It means YOU, as a marketer can afford to put MORE copy into the marketplace. And as anyone who's actually lived by the results of their advertising knows, (all things being equal), the more you tell, the more you sell. Glitzy image ads with clever sounding 5 to 10 word slogans posing as copy don't sell squat.

So the rest of this article is aptly dedicated to helping you write more great web copy FASTER... so you can flood the Internet with a tireless army of relentless salesmen-in-print... dramatically increasing the profitability of your business.

5 Zen Master Secrets for Increased Copy Output

Copy, like speech, is a function of vocabulary, but I'm not just talking about individual words here ...

Your copy vocabulary is your subconscious assimilation of selling words, phrases, concepts, and structures. The strength of that vocabulary... and therefore your ability to write copy quickly... is the result of the depth of your assimilation of the words, phrases, concepts and structures contained in the copy you've studied.

You see, we humans are like chimpanzees. We learn by imitation. And when we assimilate and internalize large quantities of information at a cellular level, it's just natural for us to begin combining the bits and pieces in new ways when we express ourselves. The end result is an increased ability to write copy ...

I’ve assembled a few strategies here for you to use that I’ve found to have a profound influence on writing ability. They’re very powerful. Use them only on well-known, long–standing controls (ads that mailed or appeared profitably in print for extended periods).

Let's begin ...

Examine Controls with the Zeal of a Forensic Scientist

Read at least one piece of world-beating copy daily, but don't just read it. Examine it. Put it under the microscope, asking yourself questions as you read each word, sentence, paragraph and section.

What was this master direct response copywriter trying to achieve in each element of the copy? Why did he write what he did? What was the logic behind the order of the various elements? How did he keep you engaged? What was it about the copy that made it believable? How did he reduce the complex to the easily understood? And so forth ...

Gradually over time, as you engage in this practice regularly, you will begin to notice recurring underlying patterns of thought that various copywriters have expressed in their own unique style. These common structures will gradually become part of your own vocabulary, and you will have a rich variety of devices that you can call on in your daily writing.

The more ways you can interact with the copy, the more deeply you will internalize it. The following exercise will tie what you learn together, and help you to access it more spontaneously in your daily writing ...

Make Counterfeit Copies

Don't ask for an explanation why this works. It just does. Simply copying out controls in your own handwriting, or on your keyboard, accelerates your development dramatically. Here's how to make the most of it ...

As you are copying out the controls, make a mental note of how much of the copy you are storing in short term memory each time you turn your attention from the original to the version you're typing. At first it may be just a few words at a time. Make a conscious effort to grab larger and larger chunks of copy each time you transition.

Stretch yourself. Try to take on an entire paragraph or more with practice. Make mental images of the copy, as well as trying to remember the actual words themselves. If you can't remember the chunk you are working on verbatim, rewrite it, and then compare what you wrote to the original.

When you feel yourself getting the hang of this, use this next exercise to cement the most powerful copy devices even further into your psyche ...

Memorize Headlines, Leads, Bullets, Entire controls

In the previous exercise you were stretching your short-term memory. By doing so, you are feeding your subconscious with a rich vocabulary that will begin to flow spontaneously from your fingertips, as if my magic.

To take this phenomenon to the next level, it's time to drill the most powerful elements of the copy you're studying into long-term memory as well.

You have an extraordinary memory capacity. Your entire life experience is perfectly recorded in your memory. Actually a great deal of what you record finds it's way into your thoughts, conversations, and copy without your awareness.

What you want to do is intensify this phenomenon by synthesizing world-class copy elements into organized structures within your brain, so they can be effectively recalled in detail at will.

There are some specific tricks you can use to do this that I don't have time to explain in detail here, but I'll give you a couple of tips that will help you.

The memory and recall process is facilitated by synthesizing things we wish to remember with things that are already well known to us by associating, relating, and interrelating them with each other.

Since the mind thinks in pictures, try using your imagination to break the copy down into bizarre images through the filter of your own personal experience. Then sequence those images by relating them to physical objects you encounter along a well known route from point A to point B on a local roadway, or some other "path" that you're intimately familiar with.

Visualize Your Intentions

The human mind is a goal-seeking device. When writing copy, or learning to write copy, the whole process becomes emotionally charged and exciting when you remain focused on the intended outcomes.

When writing headlines and openings for example, try to see your prospect encountering your copy and NOT being able to pass it over without reading the next sentence.

Picture them becoming increasingly enthralled by the promises you make in your deck copy and opening paragraphs.

Visualize your prospects getting more and more excited about having the product or service you're selling as they approach your offer and call to action.

See them physically taking credit card in hand and ordering, and imagine in your mind's eye the royalty checks or merchant account checks arriving in your mail box.

Use whatever visualizations get YOU personally most involved and excited in the whole process. This will serve to stimulate your brain, giving you greater access to the vocabulary you've been building up.

Wake up Each Morning with Your Copy Already Half Written

All of these techniques leverage the subconscious mind to accelerate your copywriting. They dramatically expand upon the amount of input your subconscious mind has at its disposal. This last one quickly sharpens your ability to bring that fodder into the copywriting cannon when you need it.

As you drift off to sleep each night, give your subconscious mind specific instructions. For example, say to yourself, "Hey Sub, tomorrow I'm going to start working on a sales letter for XYZ. When I wake up, I want a killer headline and lead."

Be sure to keep a pad and pen on the night table beside your bed as well. Several times I've bolted upright in the middle of the night (of course my wife thinks I'm nuts) with a killer headline or concept for a campaign that was so powerful I thought I would remember it for the rest of my life. In the morning it was gone. Now I keep a pen and paper handy.

When you wake up in the morning, start writing immediately, before even cleaning the sleep out of your eyes. Just roll out of bed and start writing.

Your subconscious has been sifting and sorting all of the data you've been collecting and thinking about the day before. Just after you wake up, those connections are still fresh and available to you. You are at least 4 times more creative at that point than you will be later in the day.
Take advantage of those golden hours.

OK that's it for today ...

Grab these Zen master secrets with both hands and put them to work. I guarantee you'll notice a difference ...

Before long you'll find yourself writing more copy, faster, and supercharging the pulling power of your entire web presence for blockbuster results.

Until next time, Good Selling!

Daniel Levis is a top marketing consultant & direct response copywriter based in Toronto, Canada and publisher of the world famous copywriting anthology “Masters of Copywriting” featuring the marketing wisdom of 44 of the world’s greatest copywriters, including Clayton Makepeace, Joe Sugarman, Joe Vitale, Bob Bly and dozens more! For a FREE excerpt visit the link

Be sure to sign up for THE TOTAL PACKAGE, and receive Daniel's excellent weekly ezine "Web Marketing Advisor" absolutely FREE!

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Monday, July 30, 2007

God Bless America Home to the world's perfect online prospect!

I love Americans, don’t you? Not only are they great people, they’re great spenders. It pays to know them.

But sometimes, they’re hard to fathom …

Old, young, doesn’t matter. They love fast food, blue jeans, and loud violent movies. One day they’re up. One day they’re down. Crazy, rebellious, invincible!

In America, dreams come and go like the noonday sun. Certainty leads to uncertainty just as quickly. New discoveries go from promising to disappointing in the blink of an eye.

America is the land of limitless opportunity, of optimism, and abundance. Of Disneyland, and Hollywood, of promise, hope, and discovery. Of never growing up, and never giving in.

Americans are primed for action, and ready to tempt fate at a moments notice. You couldn’t dream up a better prospect if you tried … but what are these proud, defiant people thinking?

Why do they do the things they do? Why to do they buy the things they buy?

Worth studying don’t you agree?

I’m a Canadian, but to me, Canada is like the 51st state. I know more Americans than I do Canadians, and they make up 89% of my business, so I have more than a passing interest in trying to figure out what makes them tick. You should too, but where do you start?

Sage advice from Gene Schwartz …

Gene Schwartz, one of the greatest copywriters to have ever lived said copywriters and direct marketers should immerse themselves in pop culture, study history, and listen to people in casual conversation to try to decode the underlying subconscious beliefs and attitudes that drive them.

What makes a top-grossing movie in America? What makes a best selling book? Why is the National Enquirer some of the most expensive print advertising space in America? Why do Americans have an almost insatiable appetite for Seinfeld, All in the Family, and The Flintstones? What are the cultural imprints that are seared deep into the collective consciousness of America?

The answers to these questions offer clues to the unconscious attitudes and beliefs of American buyers. Attitudes and beliefs that underpin the real reasons they buy. Information you can’t get by simply asking…

Why focus groups are for dummies …

Ask an American why he or she bought a particular new car, and you’ll hear things like how great the fuel economy is, how well it handles, and how it has ample room for the whole family. But these things are not reasons, they’re alibis. They offer a very incomplete explanation of why Americans really buy cars. That’s why market surveys and focus groups can be so misleading.

You cannot expect to get to the bottom of buying motives by simply asking people what they are. The reason is simple. When you survey a market about its interests and preferences, people tend to give you the answers they think you expect to hear.

It’s not that they’re lying. It’s just that they’re responding to the question with the rational part of their brain. The actual buying process is a whole different animal, much more the product of emotion and instinct. What actually goes on in people’s heads can only be inferred by their actions.

The power of social imprinting …

I’ve often talked about the associative power of words. Understanding the potent imprints behind these associations can go a long way toward getting to the core of buying behaviour and motivation.

You see, even the most introspective among us has very little notion about why we do the things we do. We’ve been imprinted from a very early age to respond reflexively to words and ideas in ways that are consistent with the beliefs and attitudes of the culture we’re raised in.

These beliefs and attitudes operate below our conscious awareness. They are experienced as emotions, and instincts. And these experiences are at the root of our buying decisions.

The beliefs and attitudes that many Americans subconsciously harbour are expressed in popular culture. When you study it, as Gene did, you can begin to decode the motivational DNA, and come closer to connecting with the true buying motives of your prospects.

That’s not to say that ALL Americans behave in the same way, or even that certain of them behave in ways that are in fact decidedly counter to the prevailing culture. (There are indeed highly passionate counter cultures that can be incredibly profitable to market to).

It simply means that the majority of Americans run a very particular series of subroutines in their heads when it comes to buying decisions based on uniquely American archetypical beliefs and attitudes.As marketers, knowing what they are can be useful. Obviously I can’t delve into a complete discussion of them here, but let me give you a few things to think about…

Why NEW equals IMPROVED!

Americans are obsessed with youth. You can see it throughout the culture. They may respect thinkers, but their heroes are action figures. They may need to relax from time to time, but they’re more often looking for excitement. And they respond to positive upbeat themes. Knowing this explains many buying preferences, and points the way to marketing appeals that are likely to be successful.

It explains the fascination with NEW, and NOW doesn’t it? These are shop worn advertising words that will never lose their sheen because they create powerful associations that are exactly on target with the way many Americans see themselves.

Americans are people of ACTION. While the French deliberate, the Germans perfect, and the Brits debate, the American way is to act first and clean up the mess later. Corporate America has tried to defy this cultural reality on more than one occasion and it only leads to failure and frustration. The Nike slogan “just do it” strikes a powerful cord in the American psyche.

The worship of youthful attitudes and beliefs in America has enormous implications in advertising and web marketing, and impacts the sale of virtually every mass marketed product and service under the sun.

What Americans really think about health, work, and money…

Take health products for example. Ponce de Leon’s discovery of the fountain of youth on American soil was no accident. Regardless of age, Americans see themselves as forever young, and anything that supports this belief swims with the current.

To Americans health is much more than survival. It’s much more than avoiding being sick, being free from aches and pains, and being able to enjoy a sunny day. It is intrinsically tied to the idea of independence.

Americans, regardless of age associate health with the ability to take action. They associate autonomy and the ability to act independently with health. To be healthy is to make a difference in the world, to be able to complete your mission, and fulfill your purpose. When it comes to their health, Americans fear the inability to take action far more than they fear pain and sickness.

The same beliefs are evident in the American attitude toward work and career. Americans may complain about being over worked, stressed out, and underpaid, but work and career means much more to them than they admit.

Americans it seems are always seeking that next promotion, the next opportunity, the next chance for something big.

This baffles most Europeans. Why Americans work such long hours and are so career-obsessed is a complete mystery to them. They denigrate Americans as being materialistic. And even if you ask an American why he or she works so hard, they’re likely to tell you — it’s the money stupid. But is it really?

Go to any party in America and you’ll see there’s more to the story. As you mingle, they ask, what do you do? You could offer any number of answers couldn’t you? You could list your hobbies, your role as a parent, your interests in Mongolian anthropology, but you know better.

“What do you do” in America means, “what job do you do?” As if to say, “what’s your purpose?”

Regardless of what people in America say, they are motivated to get up and go to work in the morning for far more than money. Even if they detest their work, it has a far greater meaning and dimension in their lives than being something you have to do to make money.

From an early age, Americans are uniquely conditioned to believe that who they are as individuals is defined by what they do for a living. The cultural imprinting places career at the very core of identity. To be jobless, is to be nobody.

Is it any wonder Americans celebrate work and career like no other culture in the world? They even turn mega successful business people like Bill Gates and Donald Trump into pop stars. In America, what you do for a living is WHO YOU ARE!

It follows then, that products and services that promise to advance careers, heighten standing in the business community, and give meaning to what Americans do for a living are almost certain to attract attention.

An American who is ambitious and constantly striving to give more to the community through the workplace is admired. An American who fails to advance his or her career, and accepts the limitations of his or her current work is likely to feel miserable. The hopelessness of their jobs has done critical damage to their very identities. Tap into these core attitudes and beliefs, and you can make a fortune!

And what about money? What’s the meaning of money in America?

Americans believe more than any other culture on earth that no matter what your current circumstances, the only barriers to making as much money as you want are self imposed.

Lotteries are as popular in America as anywhere else, but in a very real sense, the winners become pariahs, and often squander their winnings for one very simple reason …

In America, money is much more than a means to buy things. It’s how Americans keep score. It tells them how far they’ve come in the world. It proves that they can carry their burdens.

Money, provided it’s earned, is a means of showing the world you are a good person, and demonstrating that you have value to others. Winning the lottery is like cheating.

Nowhere else in the world are people as compelled to keep working, keep striving, and keep risking failure even after becoming incredibly rich and successful.

In most other cultures, if one earns a great deal of money, at a certain point, one simply settles back on the estate, leaving the world of commerce behind. In America, you’re only as good as your last deal!

As a marketer, the success or failure of your advertising is predicated on how well it resonates with your target market. Whether you share any of the beliefs or attitudes that dominate that market is immaterial. Often, you may not, and it can be hard to connect with the core beliefs and attitudes of the markets you’re working in for that very reason. Immersing yourself in the popular culture of the masses, and the various subcultures that exist within the specific markets you’re targeting is absolutely essential to making that connection.

Until next time, Good Selling!

Daniel Levis is a top marketing consultant & direct response copywriter based in Toronto, Canada and publisher of the world famous copywriting anthology “Masters of Copywriting” featuring the marketing wisdom of 44 of the world’s greatest copywriters, including Clayton Makepeace, Joe Sugarman, Joe Vitale, Bob Bly and dozens more! For a FREE excerpt visit the link

Be sure to sign up for THE TOTAL PACKAGE, and receive Daniel's excellent weekly ezine "Web Marketing Advisor" absolutely FREE!

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Secret Force That Drives YOUR Online Sales, and Makes YOU a Kick Ass Marketer!

Why do your prospects buy from you?

I often ask my consulting clients this very question. And the first answers I get usually look something like this
  • Because we’re the most affordable

  • Because we offer the best service

  • Because our product offers the best value

  • Because we have a superior reputation in the marketplace
What do you think of these answers? All of these reasons are putting the cart before the horse, don’t you think?

They can afford it. Great! They’ll never think of whether they can afford it or not until you get them emotionally involved in wanting it!

And who cares if you offer the best service, or the best value, or if your firm has the best reputation, if they don’t want it?

Most often I’ll get several logical reasons why people buy, before I get a single reason that even smells remotely like an emotional one. But that’s not what I’m getting at here.

Today’s article goes beyond the idea that people buy for emotional reasons, and then back up their decisions with logic.

It cuts straight to the core of what gets those emotional wheels turning between your prospect’s ears in the first place, and reveals the real reason people buy.

The Real Reason Your Prospects Whip Out Their Plastic and BUY NOW!

Your prospects buy from you, when they sense doing so will extend or enhance their self-image in some way. Your product is a vehicle through which your prospect envisions a greater self.

The more you can help your prospects to visualize and savor that expanded sense of self worth on your landing pages, the more sales you’ll make. It’s that simple.

All of the sound, logical reasons why your product is better, and unique, are only important in context to that golden defining moment.

You see, while we may not realize it, all of us cart around a mental blueprint, or picture of ourselves in our mind’s eye. It may be hazy and non descript when we try to become aware of it. We may in fact remain totally oblivious to it our entire lives. But it is there, in living color, right down to the last detail.

This “self-image” is our opinion of the kind of person we are. It has been built up from our own beliefs about ourselves. Most of these beliefs have been formed from past experiences… our successes and failures, our humiliations and triumphs… but most of all by how other people have reacted to us, especially in early childhood.

All of this mental goulash comes together to form a “picture of self”. And once an idea or belief connects itself to this picture, it becomes true, as far we’re concerned. From that point forward, we ACT in a fashion that is consistent with that picture until something comes along to change it.

What You Must Do with Your Landing Pages to Turn Visitors into Buyers …

So the most important thing you can do with your landing pages and your copy is to create vivid images of your prospect enjoying the expanded sense of self worth he or she can acquire through your product. The images you create are like seeds that lead the prospect to create more images that are far more powerful than any you can create.

Pictures are great for setting this critical process in motion. I like to use images that are unusual, and symbolic. Since you’re on this list, you may have seen some of my landing pages featuring images of an easy riding biker copywriter, or an M16 toting marketing commando. Actually, I got this idea of using fantasy-laden imagery from David Ogilvy.

One of his most famous ads was for Hathaway shirts. The headline read “The man with the Hathaway shirt”. The picture over the headline was, as you’d expect, a man wearing a white shirt and tie. But there was something unusual about him.

Over his right eye, the man with the Hathaway shirt wore an eye patch. The ads appeared in magazines and newspapers and the patch grabbed people’s attention, and made them curious to find out the story behind the man. But even more importantly, these remarkable ads created a new development in the self-image of many of the men who saw them.

The patch symbolized adventure and worldliness, and a certain suave sophistication. Even a little bit of a bad boy pirate image, the kind women find attractive. And as a result, these ads sold Hathaway shirts by the boxcar load for years. Despite the fact the only people who wore eye patches in the 1950s, were people with facial disfigurements.

The patch had about as much to do with shirts, as a Harley does with copywriting, or weapons have to do with marketing, but these kind of dissonant images instantly grab attention, and generate curiosity. Even more importantly, they create an unconscious self-image extending fantasy in the mind of many readers, which you can then carry forward as a theme throughout your copy.

How Your Own Self-image is Both Your Secret Copywriting Weapon, and Your Marketing Achilles Heel …

One of the pioneers of self-image psychology was a plastic surgeon by the name of Maxwell Maltz. (Maltz recorded his incredible observations in the 1960 classic “Psycho-Cypernetics”, which I recommend you read.) When Maltz first began the practice of plastic surgery, he was amazed by the sudden and dramatic changes in personality that often resulted when a facial defect was corrected.

Changing the physical image in many cases seemed to create an entirely new person. In case after case, Dr. Maltz’ scalpel became a magic wand that not only transformed his patient’s appearance, but their entire lives. The shy and retiring became bold and courageous.

A “stupid”, “moronic” boy changed into an alert, bright youngster who went on in life to become a prominent executive. A salesman who had lost his touch… and his faith in himself… became a consummate closer. Literally dozens of remarkable life transformations were recorded.

It’s relatively easy to understand how the correction of a facial disfigurement could alter a person’s entire outlook and attitude toward life, their feelings about themselves, and their ability to function successfully in society. But what about the exceptions who didn’t change?

What about the duchess who all her life had been terribly shy and self-conscious because of a tremendous hump on her nose? Maltz gave her a classic schnoz and made her drop dead gorgeous, but still she behaved like the ugly duckling.

If the scalpel was magic, why didn’t it give the now beautiful duchess a befitting poise and confidence, and what about the others who acquired new faces but went on wearing the same old wounded personalities?

The answer to this question holds the key to achievement, in copywriting, in salesmanship, in life!

One of the earliest and most convincing experiments Maltz draws upon in Psycho Cybernetics was conducted by Prescott Lecky, one of the pioneers of self-image psychology. Lecky defined the personality as a “system of ideas”, all of which must seem to be consistent with one another.

Ideas that are inconsistent with this system, are “not believed”, and not ACTED UPON. Ideas which seem consistent with the system are. At the very center of this system of ideas is the “ego ideal”, or “self image”, on which all of the ideas within the system hinge.

Lecky was a schoolteacher, and tested his ideas on thousands of children. He discovered that if a child was having difficulty performing a particular task, it was often because (from the child’s point of view) it was simply inconsistent with his or her self-image. The child simply couldn’t imagine successfully completing the task.

Lecky’s response was to fortify his instruction with a healthy regimen of encouragement and praise, thereby changing the child’s self-concept. As soon as the child’s “self image” became consistent with the performance of the task at hand, the difficulty mysteriously vanished.

The lesson here is deceptively simple. Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right!

The same selling psychology you use to build up the self image of your prospects, through the copy and images you use on your landing pages, applies to YOU as you write your copy, every single day.

The juice that gets your copy written is exactly the same juice that gets people to take action on your landing pages. You are motivated by exactly the same principle. You desperately crave, want, and need to expand your own self-image. When you believe that’s what you’re doing, you’re empowered, and you ACT! When you don’t, you’re a blubbering blob of weakness and indecision.

How to Supercharge Your Creativity, Making Your Writing Time Infinitely More Productive …

Did you know that on average, you speak 5,000 words a day, and 4,000 of them are to yourself? The funny thing is, you’re unaware of the vast majority of it. If you take the time to become aware of this self-talk, you might be surprised by what you hear.

If you find yourself creatively blocked… if you’re procrastinating… if you’re frustrated with what you’re able to accomplish… there’s a good chance you’re running your brain on low octane fuel. The images you’re creating in your mind are inconsistent with your desires, and they’re stifling you.

From here on in, here’s what I want you to do. Take Lecky’s lead. When you’re working on those landing pages of yours … take conscious control of the images that run through your head. Crowd out the negative self-defeating ones with empowering, positive ones.

Keep your eye on the prize! Fantasize about how you’ll feel when your copy hits the streets and starts slamming money directly into your merchant account…

If you’re writing for others, picture the elation on their faces, and the mammoth checks they send you. Imagine the looks on the teller’s faces, when the bank manager can’t even authorize your check, and has to call downtown to a VP to get it approved.

Visualize the positive impact your words will have on your prospects… inspiring them to go for a better life, and empowering them to act on their dreams by buying your product.

Revel in these feelings while you craft your campaigns, and before long you’ll be amazed at how much more creative, productive, and wealthy you’ll become as a copywriter and marketer.

Until next time, Good Selling!

Daniel Levis is a top marketing consultant & direct response copywriter based in Toronto, Canada and publisher of the world famous copywriting anthology “Masters of Copywriting” featuring the marketing wisdom of 44 of the world’s greatest copywriters, including Clayton Makepeace, Joe Sugarman, Joe Vitale, Bob Bly and dozens more! For a FREE excerpt visit the link

Be sure to sign up for THE TOTAL PACKAGE, and receive Daniel's excellent weekly ezine "Web Marketing Advisor" absolutely FREE!

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