PowerPersuasion

How a Few Simple Words Can Explode Your Conversions

Another element you’ll want to include in the body of your sales letter is the “risk reversal,” which in most cases is simply known as the guarantee policy.

The stronger your guarantee, the better. That also means that the longer your guarantee, the better.

You see, if you have a short guarantee (such as one week,) some people will refund after only a few days because they may not even have had a chance to try out your product yet. So to be safe, they’ll refund for fear of missing the one week deadline.

Now you give a guarantee that’s three months, six months, 12 months long — or even a lifetime guarantee – and you’ll find people aren’t in any hurry to ask for a refund. Most of the time, your conversion rates increase and refunds decrease with the strength and length of your guarantee policy.

While increasing the length of your guarantee makes it stronger, there are other ways to make it stronger. For example, assure people that it’s an unconditional, no-questions-asked guarantee. Or if applicable in your case, you can offer a “satisfaction guaranteed or double your money back.” Now that’s a strong guarantee!

Another way to frame your risk-reversal is not by offering a guarantee, but rather by offering a free trial up front. This works really well with membership sites, software, and similar products. You give prospects three days or one week or a month free to try out the product …and only at the end of the trial period are they charged.

This puts 100% of the risk on you, as they get to truly try out the product for free. As such, they don’t have to worry about refunds not being honoured and similar fears. Your conversion rate will increase using this method and your refund rate will basically be non-existent since consumers try before they buy.

PowerPersuasion

How to Remove Sales Hurdles

You’ve created an attention-grabbing headline and an opening sentence that sets people up to go down your “slippery slide” from paragraph to paragraph, right through your benefit-laden bullets, through your emotional and logical “arguments,” right down to where you prove your case.

And yet as the reader goes through your copy, she is bound to have questions and objections. If you were in a face-to-face sales situation, it’d be easy to handle these objections because you answer them as the prospect raises them.

It’s a little more difficult in writing, since you have to anticipate their objections.

For example, if you have a large piece of exercise equipment, one objection that is likely to be raised is, “will this fit in my home?” To that end, you need to tell the reader the exact dimensions of the equipment, as well as mention its space saving design.

One common objection is likely to be the price. The person is probably thinking, “Can I afford this?” To counter that objection, you can take the price down to its smallest increment.

For example, instead of saying that a service is $27 per month, you can say that it costs just 90 cents per day, less than a cup of coffee at McDonald’s.

So how do you discover other objections? Talk to a few people from your target market and try to “sell” them your product. Take note of what questions they ask you.

If even one or two people ask a question, chances are, others in your market will ask that same question as they read your copy.

PowerPersuasion

Pure Persuasion

How to Prove Your Case

So far, you’ve crafted a letter that’s pulled the reader into the copy, right down to your list of benefits where you intend to do some hard-core selling. But let’s face it, in the back of your prospect’s mind, she’s probably saying, “Yeah right, this is too good to be true.”

And even if it’s not too good to be true, some people simply won’t believe you. After all, anyone can put a letter on the Web and make whatever crazy claims he/she wants to make.

That means as you build your case, you need to do a few things: Prove your case using facts and figures, be specific to increase credibility, and get testimonials from others. The first and second item on this list may go hand in hand to further increase your credibility.

So what do I mean by “facts and figures?”

Consider some of the examples you see in other advertisements. For example, you’ll hear a statement that “four out of five dentists prefer this brand of gum.”

AquaFina bottled water recently created a television commercial that talks about how many times they filter and purify their water.

Dove soap talks about being . moisturizing cream and being 99.9% pure.

All of these are good examples of using facts and figures to talk about your product. You can talk about facts directly related to the product and/or how it’s made or you can talk about a measurable change people experience when they use the product (e.g., “95% of people who followed this diet lost 10 pounds in two months.)

You may even use some sort of case study or even a scientific experiment where you share specific, measurable results obtained by users. If you can get an unbiased third party to collect the data and report the findings, all the better… and all the more credible.

The second way you can lend credibility to your letter and help prove your case is to be specific.

Notice in the above Dove example that they claim to be 99.9% pure. For all practical purposes, they could call their soap 100% pure – and for all we know, maybe it IS 100% pure. But Dove chose to say 99.9% pure, as that’s a more believable figure.

Another example: Let’s suppose we go back to the example where a certain percentage of people lost 10 pounds on the diet. To increase believability, the marketer should state the exact figure, such as, “95% of participants lost 10.4 pounds in two months.”

See the difference? Ten pounds is a good number – 10.4 pounds is even better.

A final example: Let’s suppose you are talking about money. Instead of saying, “you can make up to $1500 in your free time,” be specific and say, “you can make up to $1567.33 in your free time.” Do you see how the more specific number is the more believable number?

Finally, one of the very best ways to prove your case is to provide testimonials from others.

Everyone knows that a marketer is of course going to toot his own horn about his products. That’s to be expected, and many people view this with a fair amount of skepticism. However, when an unbiased third party recommends the product, we sit up and take notice.

Think about it for a moment and you’ll see examples of this in your own life. For example, let’s suppose you saw an advertisement in the newspaper for a new pizzeria in your neighbourhood. And let’s further suppose that this new place claimed to have the best pizza in the region.

Would you believe it? Probably not. Naturally you would be skeptical since you know plenty of other places that serve good pizza.

Now suppose that you overheard two people on the street talking about the pizzeria, and they confirmed that yes, the new place DOES have the best pizza in the region.

Would you believe it? Absolutely! After all, these two people have nothing to gain by sharing their experiences. Assuming these two people really are unbiased third parties, their conversation is likely to erase your skepticism.

And so it is with your sales copy. Every time you make a big promise or talk about a benefit, your prospect is saying to himself, “Yeah, right” with disbelief.

But the more proof you can roll out from unbiased third parties, the more credible you become.

TIP: Since your testimonials can be used to back up your claims, one way to handle it is to put specific testimonials immediately following specific claims.

For example, let’s suppose your sales letter for a diet book talks about how many pounds people can lose using your program. Immediately following this claim, you can use a testimonial that supports it: Specifically, where a third party talks about exactly how much weight they lost in what time frame.

Another example: Let’s suppose you talk about how easy the weight loss program is to follow. People think diets are difficult, so they’ll be skeptical. This then would be a good place for you to place a few testimonials from people raving about how easy it is to follow the diet.

PowerPersuasion

The Secret of Bullets that Sell

Nearly every sales letter you come across will include bullets that highlight the features and benefits of the product or service. The reason you see bullets is because this is another way to draw the skimmers into your copy.

Imagine instead that you listed your main features and benefits within regular paragraphs. Sure, the few people who read every word of your letter would be pulled from the headline right down to the order button, and they’ll read everything in between.

But those who skim would see the headline, subheads, a few bold words, and the P.S. They are likely to miss the benefits of your product if they’re hidden in a paragraph rather than put in an easy-to-read list.

And if the reader doesn’t know how the product benefits him, he won’t buy.

As such, the bullets are another extremely important part of the letter.

Much of the selling happens within your bulleted lists of benefits.

This is the part of the letter where you are really able to stir desire in your prospect, because he can really see what your product will do for him.The bullets are so important that you should spend a great deal of time crafting this list of benefits. Indeed, you can consider each bullet like a mini-headline where you use your “power words” and promise a benefit in each bullet. If you list a feature of your product, try to weave in the benefit.

For example, a feature of a computer might be that it includes two gigs of RAM (memory.) The benefit of this RAM is that you can be sure all your software will run smoothly on your computer.

Another example: If you’re selling a report, one feature is that the report is short, perhaps only 20 pages. The benefit is that it’s a quick and easy read for busy people – no fluff!

A final example: One of the poodle’s features is that they don’t shed. The benefit of this is that the owner doesn’t have to spend an hour vacuuming the dog hair off the sofa.

In addition to weaving together benefits and features in your bulleted list, you’ll also want to arouse curiosity whenever possible. If you’re selling a book or other information product, this is extremely easy.

For example, you can have a bullet that looks something like this:

- See Page 87 to Discover Which Diet Aid Doctors Everywhere are Calling the ‘Miracle Fat Burner!’

The reason the above example is so compelling is because it’s specific (see page 87); it uses power words (“discover”); it’s backed by an authority figure (doctors); it uses social proof (“doctors everywhere”); and it arouses curiosity.

If you were looking to lose weight quickly, chances are, a bullet like this would certainly arouse your curiosity and increase your desire to buy the report.

Now think about your own product and how you can create benefit-packed statements and bullets that create desire and arouse curiosity.

PowerPersuasion

How to Create an Amazing Call to Action

You’ve sparked the interest of your reader and held this interest all the way through your copy. You’ve made your case, and you’ve even proven it.

Now what? Simple: you need to ask for the order.

This step –asking for the order– is simple and obvious.

Yet amazingly enough, many marketers fail to take this crucial step.
Imagine if you went to buy a new car. The sales person tells you all the benefits of the particular model. She stirs your desire for the car. And then suddenly, the sales person stops talking, turns on her heel, and walks away.

You get left standing there, a bit perplexed about what to do next. If you’re only mildly interested in the car, you may just leave the dealership. If you’re extremely interested, you’ll likely go looking for the sales person to ask how to purchase the car.

But here’s the thing: even if you were only mildly to moderately interested in the car, had the sales person asked for your order, you probably would have made a deal on the spot.

The same goes for your sales copy. Once you’ve aroused interest and made your case, you need to ask for the order. You need to tell the reader exactly what you want them to do. This is referred to as the “call to action.”

If you want them to phone in their order, then specifically say, “Pick up the phone right now and dial 1-800-xxx-xxxx to place your order….”

If you want them to order online, tell them exactly how to order (e.g., “Click the “buy” button below right now to reserve your spot….”)

Marketers have actually tracked their conversion rates. Those that have a direct and specific call to action outperform those without a call to action.

That means you don’t just say “Order now,” but you tell them exactly how to order now as described in the above examples.

Being direct and specific does two things.

First, it increases conversions because there is no guesswork on the prospect’s part. You’re telling them what you want them to do, and exactly how to do it, and when to do it (“right now.”) Prospects aren’t left wondering how to order.

Second, the call to action is important because it’s all part of “assuming the sale.” Indeed, your entire sales letter should be written from the viewpoint that you’re already assuming the person is going to buy.

For example, a good telemarketer or face-to-face sales person never asks if you’d like to order. They assume you are going to order. So instead of giving you a choice between ordering or not ordering, they give you a choice between paying cash or putting it on your credit card.

Another example: Have you ever bought shoes at a shoe store where a sales person serves you? The sales person never asks, “Would you like to buy these?”

That gives you the opportunity to say no.

Instead, the sales person assumes you are buying them and asks you, “Would you like me to wrap them up, or would you like to wear them now?”

You need to use this same technique in your own sales letter, and especially when you ask for the order. Assume they’re buying. Don’t ask a question that can be answered “no,” and thus, kill the sale.

Don’t use weak language such as, “If you’d like to order….” That gives your reader an opportunity to think that perhaps they wouldn’t like to order right now. Instead, assume the sale and say, “Click the buy button right now…”

Do you see the difference?

Be confident in your letter and in your call to action.
People will follow you if you project yourself to be a strong and confident leader.

PowerPersuasion

The Secret Ingredient For Cash Pulling Sales Letters

Here’s one of the big secrets to creating compelling copy: People buy because of their emotions and justify their purchase based on logic.

For example, do you suppose that people buy Rolex watches because they keep exceptionally good time? Of course not. They buy Rolex watches because of the prestige.

A person who buys a Rolex isn’t pouring over the mechanical features of a watch to see what makes it a better watch than, say, a regular watch you can pick up in a department store for less than $100.

Instead, he’s imagining what his friends will say when they see that shiny Rolex on his wrist. He’s imagining how women will flirt with him when he’s wearing that watch. Maybe he’s even imagining himself feeling an air of superiority over some of his business colleagues because this Rolex is a symbol of his massive success.

It’s that emotion that makes him buy this watch… and he clicks that order button.

But then his logical left brain kicks in.

His left brain has no use for something that impresses women or business colleagues. In fact, if the customer really sat down and thought about WHY he wants the watch, he might feel a little uncomfortable. Let’s face it, buying something to make others feel inferior isn’t something we like to admit.

So his left brain justifies the purchase. What a great warranty! Look at the quality craftsmanship! And my oh my, do these watches keep exceptionally good time!

Later on when he sees the bill for his watch on the credit card statement, he can justify the expenditure since he’s had so many watches that quit on him over the years. But secretly he knows he really bought the watch for all those emotional reasons listed above.

And so it is with your prospect, no matter what you’re selling. You need to put your reader in the right emotional state. Make them get emotional as they envision using your product.

And then yes, mention the features of the product too so that their logical brain can justify the purchase.

Let’s take a weight-loss product for young women, for example. The logical side of the brain wants to lose weight for health reasons. Yet if pressed, there arelikely plenty of young women who feel invincible and can’t even imagine health problems at their age. Still, it’s a good way to justify spending a fortune on diet pills or other aids.

At the moment she’s buying, however, she’s approaching that “buy now” button in an emotional state. Maybe she can see the look on her ex-boyfriend’s face the first time he sees her new drop-dead gorgeous body. There are some women who’ll pay a fortune in hopes of living out that very fantasy.

Or let’s take a cookbook as another example. Logically, you’d buy a cookbook so that you have a variety of meals to serve your family. But emotionally, there’s a part of the prospect who enjoys the praise he or she imagines receiving after cooking a particularly delicious dish.

Keep this in mind as you craft your letter. Your goal is to get the prospect to imagine herself receiving the promised benefits of using your product… and whatever emotions she’ll feel as she does so. As you make your case and put your prospect into this emotional buying mood, be sure to give the prospect enough information so she can back up her buying decision with logic.

PowerPersuasion

How to Get a Skimmer’s Attention

While we hope that all prospects will read every word of our letter, we also know that in reality, it doesn’t always happen that way. There are those who merely skim a letter before deciding whether to read further and/or order. Your letter must cater to them as well… and you must get them going down the slippery slide of your letter as well.

How? Simple: By drawing their attention and their eyes into your letter whenever possible. And you do this by sprinkling sub-headlines throughout your copy, plus emphasizing phrases with bold lettering, bigger font, colored font, or highlighting.

Don’t overuse these elements, however. If you emphasize too much of your copy, not only does it look like a big mess, it ends up that you are not emphasizing anything at all.

What you do want to accomplish through subheadlines and emphasis is to give those readers who skim the page a good feel for what your product can do for them. And as mentioned before, you want to grab their attention so that perhaps they’ll start reading your copy more closely.

When you are finished writing your copy, look at it from the viewpoint of someone who skims it.

Do you have bold words, text in “break away” boxes, and sub-headlines that convey benefits to the reader? Can you both convey benefits and arouse curiosity to bring the skimmer into your copy?

If not, tweak your sub-headlines until they tell their own story about your product, and arouse enough interest to bring the reader into the copy.

Monday Money

How To Find Your Perfect Business

Choosing A Business That’s Right For You 

I always compare starting a business to jumping into a pool of freezing water. There are typically two types of entrepreneurs who take the plunge.

The first are the “Toe Testers.” These are those cautious folks who just stick their big toe in the pool to gauge the temperature of the water. It is for these careful entrepreneurs that the phrase “testing the waters” was coined.

Toe Testers enter the business pool slowly, a little bit at a time. The lesson to be learned from Toe Testers is to start slowly and don’t feel like you have to wade in too fast.

Ease into the business pool gradually to make sure it’s right for you. Remember, many entrepreneurs realize that the business world is not right for them only after they are in it up to their necks. And that’s when the term “sink or swim” takes on a whole new meaning.

The next type of entrepreneur is the “High Diver.” These are those fearless souls who climb the ladder and dive into the business pool head first without worrying about the depth of the water or the dangers that lurk beneath the surface.

It is for these entrepreneurs that the phrase “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” was coined. Quite often these entrepreneurial daredevils find themselves drowning in unknown waters or end up with their heads buried in the bottom of the pool.

Both types of entrepreneurs may find success, depending on how well equipped they are to handle the water they are diving into. Here are a few ideas to help better prepare you for the plunge.

Let your experience be your guide

Start with what you know. If you have spent twenty years working as an accountant or you love to build wooden toy trains as a hobby, consider how you can take that experience and turn it into a successful business. You might also find a great business idea right under your nose. Look around your workplace. Do you see needs that are going unmet or can you think of a better way of doing something? If so, you might have the seed for a profitable business.

Do what you love and love what you do

I can’t emphasize this enough. Many people start a business for the wrong reason: to get rich. While it is true that many millionaires in this country made their fortunes from their own business ventures, that should not be your sole motivation for starting a business.

If you don’t enjoy what you do, you will not be successful, at least not from a mental point of view. Sure, the monetary rewards can be tremendous, but the mental anguish of working in a business you don’t enjoy is a high price to pay.

I talk to entrepreneurs all the time who are running successful businesses, but are so unhappy as a result that they literally make themselves sick. If you don’t enjoy what you do the business will become a chore, not a joy.

Don’t reinvent the wheel, just make it better

Many first time entrepreneurs assume that they have to come up with a new business idea to be successful. That simply is not true.

Most successful businesses are born not of innovation, but of necessity. Instead of trying to come up with an idea that changes the world, take a look at the world around you and see where there might be a void that needs filling or a business concept that needs improvement.

Many successful businesses have been built by taking a traditional business and making it better. Domino’s Pizza was certainly not the first to offer home delivery of pizza, but they were the first to guarantee it would be delivered piping hot to your door in 30 minutes or less. Amazon.com was not the first company to sell books, but they were one of the first that would let you buy books from the comfort of your own home while sitting in your underwear.

Focus on a niche

Many businesses have gone broke trying to be all things to all people. The ability to offer a gazillion products under one roof is all well and good for Wal-Mart, but not for most new small businesses.

Try to identify a niche that you would enjoy working in and think about starting a business therein. If you love to work outdoors, consider starting a landscaping business. If you enjoy working with numbers, think about becoming an accountant or CPA. When’s the last time you had your gardener do your taxes? You get the idea. Focus on a niche and become an expert in your field.

A franchise might be an option

Many new entrepreneurs consider buying a franchise operation instead of starting a business from scratch. Franchises are a good way to jumpstart the process because they have already done much of the hard work for you. They have proven the business model, established guidelines for running the business, spent millions of dollars on establishing the brand, etc.

Buying a franchise is typically a very expensive and involved process that is beyond the scope of this article. The best thumbnail of advice I can give you is to thoroughly investigate the franchisor and the opportunity, use your own attorney to do the deal, and read the fine print in the franchise agreement.

It’s hard to swim in a crowded pool

If the business pool is already filled with other companies doing the same thing you want do, chances are you will fail in the face of established competition.

To succeed in such a crowded pool you will have to do something to stand out from the crowd (and I don’t mean greeting customers while wearing a bright red Speedo).

If you can’t quickly and easily differentiate yourself from a large group of competitors, you’re better off choosing another business.

Above all, take your time 

Whatever business you choose to start, I encourage you to take the time required to make an informed, intelligent decision.

Think about starting part time while you still have your current job (and income) to fall back on.

Talk to friends and associates who use the product or service you will provide to see if they would consider become paying customers.

Remember, in business you can end up swimming in success or sinking in failure. The key to your success might just lie in the sensitivity of your big toe.

PowerPersuasion

The Secret of Sales Letter Riches

How to Make and Prove Your Case

While the body of your sales letter has many components, it has one overall purpose: To make your case.

In other words, this is where the selling takes place – where you prove that your product is indeed the perfect solution to your prospect’s problem.

If you made a bold claim in your headline, it’s in the body that you prove the claim.

It’s here that you describe the benefits and features of your product, stir desire in the reader, and perhaps put them in an emotional state. It’s in the body of your letter that you provide testimonials (further proof,) include a risk-reversal guarantee, and answer any objections the prospect may have.

We’ll talk about all these and more in the following pages. But first, let’s get an overview of the looks and mechanics of an average sales letter.

How to Structure a Profitable Letter

Writing the sales letter is part art and part science. As such, you’ll find that most successful sales letters follow a standard format as described below.

We’ve already talked about the most important part of the letter, the headline.

That along with any pre-headline, and perhaps even a sub-headline, is at the very top of the letter.

Below the headline, many marketers let readers know who is writing the letter. You’ll see notations like, “from the desk of Alex Smith.” Sometimes the marketer will display their picture here as well.

Whether you do this is up to you.

The next component that’s pretty standard is the salutation or greeting.

You’ll see openings like “Dear Friend.” While that’s pretty standard, it’s also somewhat boring and can even put off those who are thinking, “You don’t know me! How can I be your friend?”

A better bet is to again qualify your prospect by addressing them directly.

Naturally, if you’re sending personalized letters, or if you’ve captured their name via a “squeeze page,” you should address them directly by name. If not, use a salutation that identifies them as part of a specific group and captures their attention, such as “Dear Internet Marketer” or “Dear Soccer Fan.”

The next part is of course your opening paragraph. Ideally, this should be short. You don’t want to make it look like work to read your first sentence andfirst paragraph. Indeed, all your sentences and paragraphs should be short and easy-to-read.

If you haven’t already pulled your reader in with a promise of a big benefit in the headline (also known as the “big promise,”) then do so in your opening paragraph – preferably your opening sentence.

The rest of the body consists of a series of easy-to-read paragraphs. This is your sales pitch that’s backed by things like bullets that emphasize the features and benefits of your product, testimonials from satisfied users and other proof, subheadings that emphasize other big benefits, a guarantee policy, a call to action, and an order button. We’ll talk about these components in more detail shortly.

Following the main body of the sales letter, you provide a closing – usually your signature. You may want to create a graphic of your signature that looks like you signed the letter with a blue pen, followed by your type-written name underneath. In other words, make it look like a “real” letter.

Finally, most sales letters include at least one P.S. The P.S. is almost as important as your headline, because people who skim your letter tend to read the headline first, and then skip down to the bottom of your page where your P.S. is located. As such, your P.S. needs to act as a little sales person by reemphasizing some of the biggest benefits and your call to action.

In short: Your sales letter will look a lot like a letter you might sit down and write to a friend. Indeed, when your prospect reads it, they should be able to feel the warm, conversational tone of your letter.

Monday Money

Wealth Creation – Does Age Matter?

Does Age Matter?

Here’s my standard answer: It depends. It depends on your health, your energy, your drive, your goals, and of course, your finances. If all those are in good shape and you have your spouse’s approval (that’s a biggie), then there is absolutely no reason why you should not start a business at your age.

In fact, the numbers are actually in the favor of the older entrepreneur. According to recent studies 22 percent of men and 14 percent of women over 65 are self-employed. That’s compared to just 7 percent for other age groups.

According to a Vanderbilt University study the number of entrepreneurs age 45 to 64 will grow by 15 million by 2006.

That’s compared to a 4 million decline for entrepreneurs age 25 to 44.

A 1998 survey of baby boomers conducted by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) revealed that 80 percent of respondents planned to work beyond retirement age, and 17 percent of those planned to launch new businesses.

The study noted, “Self-employment among American workers increases with age, with the most dramatic jump occurring at age 65.”

Older entrepreneurs may also find starting a business easier than their younger counterparts because older entrepreneurs tend to have more experience to draw from and more assets with which to finance a business.

Further evidence comes from a report released by Barclays Bank entitled Third Age Entrepreneurs – Profiting From Experience. The report shows that older entrepreneurs are responsible for 50 percent more business start-ups than 10 years ago. This amounts to around 60,000 business start-ups last year alone.

The survey also showed that today’s third age entrepreneurs (as the report calls entrepreneurs over the age of 50) don’t mind putting in the hours required to build their business. Nearly 49 percent work an average of 36 hours or more a week.

Third agers also rated holidays, lack of stress and a balance between work and home life more important than their younger counterparts.

The report further showed that only 27 percent run the business as the only source of household income, with 51 percent supplementing their pension.

Other key findings showed that third age start-ups account for 15 percent of all new businesses, and third age entrepreneurs are three times more likely to be male than female. There is a downside (isn’t there always?).

Many businesses fail within the first few years and older entrepreneurs may be less able to handle the financial loss than younger entrepreneurs.

It’s one thing to lose everything at 25, but it’s a much bigger deal to be financially ruined at 65.