Free Tips for Successful Copywriting

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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