Archive for October 2008
From the desk of Roy Furr, October 15th, 2008
I popped over onto Michael Fortin’s CopywritersBoard this morning and saw a hot thread going in the forums there. The question from Steve aka. Ravedesigns was:
So I’ve been wondering for a while which is the best approach to take when writing sales copy – talking mostly about what prospects gain from using your product or service – or about what they lose by not using it?
Personally I’ve never been a big fan of advertising that says in effect “all these bad things will happen to you if you don’t take advantage of what we have to offer” so I’m not crazy about writing stuff that’s mostly negative – but I’ve got to wonder if one approach works better than the other?
Have you come across any tests to indicate which is best, or do you know of any marketers/copywriters that say one works better than the other? Do you have any personal experiences using one or the other approach?
I’m curious to know your thoughts – thanks!
Here’s the answer I came up with — what do you think?
This reminds me of an interesting study I heard about that analyzed how people valued items — both when they didn’t “own” them yet, and after they did “own” them. (I use quotes because it’s hard to simulate ownership in a lab… regardless, keep reading.)
Participants were split into two groups. Each person in the first group was not given a coffee mug — they were just told to sit in a room. Each person in the second group was given a brand new coffee mug as a “thank you” for participating and also told to sit in a room.
Here’s what happened.
The First Group: For those who were NOT given a coffee mug, they were told to approach one of the researchers with the same style of new coffee mug, and try to buy it from the researcher. In order to buy it, they’d have to set a fair price. The group who did not yet own the coffee mug set an average value of $3 on the coffee mug as they tried to barter for it.
The Second Group: Those given a new coffee mug were approached by a researcher who wanted to buy their new coffee mug off of them. Asked to set a value for the mug, this group’s average value for the coffee mug was $20 — nearly 7 times what the first group valued the mug at.
Something that is “owned” is valued much higher than something which can be gained. Which ties back into fear of loss and desire for gain because fear of loss applies to something which is already owned, desire for gain doesn’t. So from this research (and others cited above) fear of loss is the winner — no matter how we as copywriters feel about it.
Of course, testing is always in order. Because maybe you just write enough better copy around desire for gain vs. fear of loss that for you, desire for gain means more effective copy.
Bonus: How to apply this in your copy…
You want to put your customer in a psychological position of ownership right away. Then, they won’t want to lose the ownership role. Here are some ways to do that:
One idea is tell the story of what your prospect’s life will be like once they’ve accepted your offer. Make them imagine themselves in a situation where they’re already the happy owner of your product — then tear away that vision and tell them the only way they can get it back is to buy right now.
Another option is to pull John Carlton’s recommendation of “I have an account open for you here, and I’ve put $50 in it. The money’s yours as long as you use it on a purchase of…”
Third, get the product in their hands using Gary Halbert’s incredible offer of “Send me a check post-dated 30 days, and I’ll send you the product right away. Take those 30 days to decide whether the product is right for you. If you don’t send it back, I’ll assume you’re happy and I’ll cash the check once the 30 days are up. If I do get it back I’ll write VOID real big right across your check and mail it back to you. Either way, you have nothing to lose by ordering now.”
Those are just some ideas, you’re a creative bunch so I’m sure you can come up with your own as well.
I wrote it fast so it’s rough around the edges… but the idea is rock-solid. Try it in your business, and let me know what you think.
To your success,
Posted in Copywriting, Marketing, Marketing Testing, Persuasion, Sales | 1 Comment »
From the desk of Roy Furr, October 13th, 2008
If it feels like you’ve hit a brick wall when it comes to business development, you may want to read this carefully. It’s not a long message, but it’s a reliable way to increase sales and grow and expand your business.
The first time I leveraged this opportunity, I created over $40,000 in new business almost overnight — in a company doing $10-15,000 daily. Not a huge bump, but big enough to get noticed. And to tell me this opportunity is worth paying attention to.
And the best thing about it is that it doesn’t require any special skills. It’s just a matter of “start doing here what already works over there.”
Let me explain.
In business development, it’s easy to relax into the path of least resistance. We get good at doing our thing, in our area.
If we do direct mail, we do direct mail. If we market online and through email, we market online and through email. If we’re in a telemarketing operation, we’re telemarketers.
Sure, we can get incremental improvements by getting better at what we do.
Make our current direct mail efforts better. Optimize our landing pages. Write better subject lines. Create a better telemarketing script.
But we’ll get to a point where it’s hard to get better… Maybe you’re there already.
Your direct mail works well. Your emails get opened, and read, and responded to. You close a high percentage of telemarketing calls.
So what next?
Here’s the business development secret — the most reliable way to take any one of these operations and increase sales significantly, even after they’ve been optimized.
Sell through a new channel!
If you’re in a direct mail company, try driving your customers online where you can follow up through email. If you rely on telemarketing, why not prime the pump with a first-class letter a few days before your call? If your only contact with customers is through email, why not surprise them with a personal letter in their mailbox inviting them to try your more complete solution? (That’s where I “created” the $40,000 opportunity I mentioned above.)
All you have to do is take the message that works well in one medium, and translate it to the next. The fundamental persuasive message doesn’t need to change for you to grab attention — just the way you present it!
It’ll work remarkably well, I promise.
There are a couple reasons this works:
- It catches your prospect off-guard, getting enough attention for your message that your prospect may catch and digest some of it. (Which is perhaps the most important consideration in this 21st Century marketing environment.)
- None of your competitors are using this new channel yet. You’d be surprised how many business people will never test a different selling channel because “nobody in the industry does it that way.” Dufus! (Not you or I… Just those other business people that have fallen prey to this thinking at one time or another.) That’s why this new approach is going to be so successful. BECAUSE nobody else is doing it.
So… If in today’s environment you want a reliable business development opportunity… Get out of the old, and into the new. Test a new channel for selling your product or service.
Even if nothing else has worked to increase sales, this could double your business.
To your success,
Posted in Business, Copywriting, Marketing, Marketing Testing, Sales | No Comments »
From the desk of Roy Furr, October 9th, 2008
Good sales approaches are rooted in psychology. Specifically, the psychology of the buyer.
Not, “How can we manipulate them to make them buy?”
But, “How can we map our sales process to our customer’s buying process?”
If you get this right, the sales process is simplified. You don’t have to work hard. And the customer doesn’t feel like they’ve been “sold to.” (A huge taboo for today’s savvy consumer.)
Here’s an inside look into your customer’s mind, as they buy from you (or your competitor)…
And how you can map your sales process to your customer’s buying process… and…
Make more sales with less effort!
Step 1 of the buying process: Recognizing the need/want. Neither you or I will be happy about buying something (or even shopping for it) until we know we either need or want it. Neither will our customers. So, if your customer doesn’t know they need or want what you’re offering, the first step is to inform them of the benefits of what you offer. (Or, better yet, find a hungry mob who needs/wants what you’re offering and is ready to pay for it.) Then, once they’ve decided for themselves that this is a need/want they have, they can move into…
Step 2 of the buying process: Getting motivated to buy. Getting motivated to buy happens before buying happens. It’s when you hop in your car to go to the store. It’s when you actually start reading most of the copy in that long sales letter or advertisement. It’s when you look for the order form. But getting motivated doesn’t mean you’ll buy. It just means you’re going to start taking action leading toward the sale, which leads to…
Step 3 of the buying process: The “Do It” Decision. Now you’re in the store, item in hand, heading for the cash register. You’re filling out the order form. You’re calling the sales line. But you haven’t ordered yet. And a sale is a fickle thing. So getting here is no guarantee the sale will be closed, unless things proceed to…
Step 4 of the buying process: The Convincer. Even once you’ve made the “Do It” decision, you haven’t bought yet. You’re just trying the purchase on for size. You’re seeing if it fits you. If it does, the sale is made. If the purchase doesn’t fit you — even though you’ve already made a decision — you could easily back out. Even a mind that’s made up can be changed. But once you’ve been convinced, the sale is final as long as everything happens correctly in…
Step 5 of the buying process: Reassurance. So you recognized a need/want. You became motivated to shop. You found the right product. You convinced yourself (and others may have helped) that this is the right product for you. The decision is final. Maybe. As long as you can be reassured it was the right decision. At this point you may have already bought the item. But… The store does have a return policy. The mail order company does have a 60 day guarantee. So you have to know it was the right decision. You can be reassured by yourself. You can be reassured by the sales person. You can be reassured by your spouse, your friends, your family. But you have to be reassured or the sale isn’t final. Once you are reassured though, the sale is a done deal. You’ve concluded your buying process. The business has completed their sales process. And everything is good.
An important point to consider here is that cash can change hands at any point in this cycle. But the sale isn’t final until the customer has gone through the entire buying process.
And in any selling/buying situation any one of the steps may bleed into the next, or happen so quickly you think it got skipped. Not true. This process happens in every process where someone has to “buy into” an idea, or ownership.
It’s worth paying attention to. It’s worth knowing. It’s worth trying for yourself by integrating into your sales process. And then when you see the results you can send me a thank you card, reassured that this was the right strategy for you.
To your success,
Posted in Copywriting, Marketing, Persuasion, Sales | No Comments »
From the desk of Roy Furr, October 9th, 2008
From “Ten things Google has found to be true:”
3. Fast is better than slow
In search especially, people want what they want and they want it now. Google is constantly working to break their own speed records by giving users their search results even a fraction of a fraction of a second faster.
They tested networked PCs vs. powerhouse servers and found they could serve search results faster with the networked PCs. So they use networked PCs.
The old search algorithms were being pushed to their limits, so search couldn’t work any faster (or so said others). So Google re-wrote their search algorithms.
They’ve shaved every bit and byte and computer decision away until they’ve become a lean, mean, search-serving machine. And arguably the fastest search engine on the planet.
But how does this apply to your business?
First — how fast do customers get product after they order it?
I recently was given the choice between a couple places to buy a book and my deciding factor was based on shipping time. One gave a free upgrade to priority shipping, while the other shipped ground when you paid for ground.
Guess which one I chose…
That’s right — the one that delivered my book faster.
Look for ways to deliver your product faster — even, I’d argue, if it cuts slightly into your profits. It will build customer loyalty and increase the lifetime value of your customer.
Maybe all it takes is adding an overnight delivery option, that the customer can optionally pay for. The customers that want instant gratification will pay for this premium and be happy about it.
Some service businesses may have trouble figuring out exactly how to do this.
But think of this. Some auto mechanics offer an “oil change while you wait” vs. you having to drop off your car in the morning and pick it up at lunch or at the end of the day. Some even change your oil without you having to get out of your car. Which is more convenient? If the price is the same, which do you choose?
If you’re providing business consulting services, maybe you offer an on-site intensive session early in your relationship with a client. That way, you can give them actionable strategies they can start applying right away, while you go back to your office to develop a more thorough plan for their business.
Just use a little creativity and look at ways you can give the client or customer the gratification they need sooner.
It’s worth every ounce of effort.
Posted in Business, Entrepreneurship, Google Website Optimizer, Marketing, Philosophy of Google, Website Design | No Comments »
From the desk of Roy Furr, October 7th, 2008
I don’t know if you’re familiar with Seth Godin yet. He’s not necessarily who I’d go to if I have something very specific that I need done, like writing a sales letter. But when it comes to an overarching strategy for your business, he has one piece of input that will help you slaughter your competition.
Do what you do so well, that everyone will want to talk about you. They’ll talk about you to their business associates. They’ll talk about you to their friends. They’ll talk about you over lunch. They’ll talk about you in that “filler” conversation before and after meetings. They’ll talk. And talk. And talk.
Being remarkable — doing things in a way that people want to make remarks about what you’re doing — is what creates word of mouth. And that’s free advertising. Powerful free advertising. Because usually the person who is talking about you has built-in credibility with whoever they’re remarking about you to. This is a credibility you’ll never have through your advertising. And one of the only ways I’ve ever found to leverage this credibility is through doing exactly what Seth recommends — be remarkable.
Taking it one step further, I’d recommend you become Irrationally Committed to being remarkable.
Learn to recognize when you’re wrong… but when you’re right stick it out longer than anyone else has the guts (or irrationality) to do. Often that extra few days — or weeks, months, or even years — is the extra time that means the difference between another failure and a smashing success. It took years for Amazon.com to become profitable. Now if something’s available on Amazon I will often buy it there before I’ll buy it from anywhere else. That’s because Jeff Bezos and crew were irrationally committed to creating the Amazon machine.
There’s an endless stream of stories of entrepreneurs who came up with a remarkable product that fit a specific need (a need backed up by a teeming mob of hungry buyers)… and then they irrationally committed themselves to making that idea successful… and then most struggled through hard times long before they got their business in the black… until one day — after all their resources (emotional, financial, otherwise) were exhausted, they crossed the line… and now they run incredibly successful companies and lead their industry.
It’s not an exact formula for success. At the tactical level it gives you nothing. But as something to inform your entrepreneurial strategy — becoming irrationally committed to being remarkable can pay off in spades.
Posted in Business, Entrepreneurship, Marketing | 3 Comments »
From the desk of Roy Furr, October 5th, 2008
I was talking to a friend recently who told me that there are only four steps a business needs to take if they want to be successful in today’s business climate.
It seemed like a bold claim. But as he went through them, it made a lot of sense.
Here are the steps he said you need to take to be successful today:
- Create a plan for your business. Include where you want to be in one year, three years, and five years. Make sure you include how you’re going to continue to find out what customers want and are willing to pay for, and how you’re going to bring it to them. Also, include a specific marketing plan for the different approaches you’re going to implement. Include both how to get new customers, and how to get the most value out of the customers you already have.
- Set up tracking systems to know how you’re doing. If you want to lose weight, a good strategy must include weighing yourself regularly. If you want to increase profits, you need to keep tabs on the cash coming in and going out of your business. Make sure you’re tracking the results of your marketing, and only running that which is profitable. Make sure you’re hitting your sales goals.
- Get ready for some changes. Breakthroughs require — almost by definition — new ways of thinking and new ways of doing things. Change can be difficult, but when it gets you closer to the success you dream of, you need to be ready to embrace it. And finally…
- If you can’t do this on your own, get someone to help. It can be a consultant or a new partner or employee. But it needs to be someone who can help you implement your plan, track the results, and accomplish your goals. Nobody makes great accomplishments without a great team, so you should recognize even as you bring in outside help that this is bringing you closer to your goals.
My friend said that if any business is willing to follow through on each of these four steps, they can be successful in even today’s business climate.
What do you think?
Posted in Copywriting | No Comments »
From the desk of Roy Furr, October 2nd, 2008
Do you know the selling power of stories?
Here’s my personal experience — buying a used car.
When I was in college, I’d just totaled my previous car (icy Christmas Eve night and a huge snow pile blocking my view as I tried to cross a busy street). And I was out shopping for a new car.
I’d looked at a few options, but then I came on this pristine condition ’78 Chevy Nomad van… with the U-shaped couch in the back that converted into a bed… yeah, I suppose that says something about me in college!
So I’m talking to the car dealer about it, and he could have just told me it was a good condition, single-owner vehicle.
He told me how it was owned by a trucker/Harley-Davidson fanatic who was in pain just to get rid of it. (After 20+ years his wife was making him get ditch it for a mini-van, of all things!)
And here’s how he loved that van.
He only used it 2 times a year. Once a year to drive with motorcycles in tow up to Sturgis, and once a year to drive with motorcycles in tow down to Daytona.
Every other day of the year, he kept it in an enclosed garage.
No wonder it had survived 20+ years in Nebraska with minimal rust!
No wonder it looked so damn good!
But that wasn’t all…
Whenever that van needed any work, he wouldn’t take it to some hack mechanic to get it fixed. As a long-haul trucker and Harley dude he knew how to work on vehicles. And he took care of all the maintenance — he kept it running smooth like the day they first took it home.
Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it. A lot better than good condition, single-owner vehicle.
Because… it had a story.
I bought that van. I loved that van. I no longer have the van. But I still remember its story (plus a few others I added to it — but that’s for another time).
How can you use story to multiply the selling power of your sales and marketing?
To your success,
Posted in Copywriting | No Comments »