3 Rules for Making Offers

June 2, 2008

You probably notice at times I run special offers here in this blog and my email lists. I run limited time specials when each new product is released. I’ll also run other limited time specials at times.

If you’re not doing the same, you’re missing out on a good portion of your blog and list profits.

There are always at least three parts to any special offer.

If you don’t have all three of these in place, your offer won’t produce the results you’re looking for.

Here are the three key areas:

1. Big Additional Benefit

You might offer a discount off the normal price (most of my product launch specials are this type). You can also offer additional extra bonuses, payment plans, package deals with other products, etc. What is the big incentive people will receive now that they can’t get later?

Most of my product launch specials are 50% or more off the normal price which is obviously a huge benefit to jump in then. Other specials I’ve run have included several products together for the price of one and add-on bonuses (such as a web review along with the product purchase).

2. Scarcity

If people don’t have to take action now, they won’t. They’ll think about it. And eventually they’ll forget about it.

There has to be some deadline to make them take action now. I’ve spoken to many workshop promoters who’ve said the largest number of attendees sign-up within 2 days of a price increase. You’ll also notice the majority of the blog specials here are 1 to 3 days in length (and the shorter ones have often done better in my tests).

You have two options for scarcity. You can limit the time frame of the special or you can limit the number of packages available at a certain price. Or you could combine the two as I did when I released the Internet Lifestyle Retirement System.

I limited elements of the special to the first 200 customers and then we also had a hard deadline of one week for the next part of the special. It worked extremely well for each part. After the first 200, the price when up. At the end of the special period, the price went up again.

Are you limiting your special offer by time or by number?

3. Reason Why

Why are you offering this incredible deal?

I learned from Jay Abraham a long time ago to always tell your customers why you’re offering a special. In the case of a new product, it’s because it’s a new product release you want to share with your loyal subscribers and customers. Or it may be because you want more testimonials. Or it could be because you’re celebrating a birthday.

Maybe You had 15 returns that you can’t sell as new so you’re going to release them at a deeply discounted price in a scratch and dent sale. In fact, I know of a couple of businesses which had such success from their scratch and dent sale they dented a few more items.

Or perhaps your friend gave you 100 books, coupons, bonuses, etc. that you are including with the package (obviously you only have 100 available if that’s all you received).

Other Elements

There are other elements we can add in as well such as risk reversal (full money back guarantee completely spelled out) or social proof (testimonials, endorsements from well known authorities, etc.).

I would recommend these in a majority of your promotions, but the BIG 3 are the basics you must always have in every promotion. You have to give people a big benefit for purchasing now. You might give them a $100 discount or a 25% discount. You might give them an additional bonus not available at any other time.

If you’re doing an affiliate promotion where you’re promoting someone else’s product, you may be giving an additional bonus you add in with the package. No matter what you’re offering, there needs to be some benefit customers receive for purchasing now that they won’t receive normally. They can’t get this if they wait till next week for example.

Next, there has to be a scarcity to what you’re offering. You may only be making this offer for the next 3 days OR it might only be for the first 50, 200, or 500 who take
advantage of it. Whatever special you’re offering needs to be limited or else it doesn’t provide people any incentive to take action right now.

Finally, there has to be a reason why you’re offering this incredible deal. It may be because you purchased too many of the product and need to get rid of this excess inventory. It could be because an affiliate negotiated with you until you ran the special. It may be because it’s tax time and you have inventory tax coming up. It could be a scratch-and-dent sale where you’re offering a special discount because the merchandise has blemishes on it. No matter what you use…there has to be a real reason why you’re making this incredible offer.

This post is an excerpt from the “The Beginner’s Step-By-Step System to Building and Profiting From Your Own Email List” Are You Sick And Tired of All the Internet Marketing Hype?
Finally Discover the Truth About Building a List, Growing Your Relationship With Your Subscribers, and Turning It Into Instant Money-On-Demand at http://www.myemailmastery.com

Conversion Rap

April 25, 2008

One of the lessons I’ve been sharing lately with you has been the importance of conversion. Having a lot of visitors to your website is nice. Having a lot of buyers at your website is our goal.

Track where your buyers are coming from. If one form of marketing generates a 1,000 visitors and 2 buyers and another generates 200 visitors and 7 buyers, which one is more effective? That’s a very simple question to answer.

It’s the tracking that’s important. At the bare minimum all your sites should have Google Analytics or another traffic tracking tool in place. And take the time to setup GOALS so you can see who reaches your subscribe pages and your customer thank you pages.

Instead of writing about this subject again, I thought I’d try something different to explain this message.

Listen to this rap by Chuck from Pop Labs.

My favorite quote:
“I’d rather get 100 clicks and close 35,
than get a 1000 clicks and I only close 9.”

Special thank you to Brian Terry for sending this over to me.

Traffic And Conversion

April 14, 2008

Almost every new internet business owner I meet asks one of two questions:

1. How do I generate more visitors to my site?
2. How do I add more subscribers to my list?

Those are both great questions, but almost never does any new marketer ask me the most important question until I bring it up. How do I increase my conversions of visitors into buyers and subscribers?

Conversion and traffic go hand in hand. But what good does traffic do you if they don’t buy? I don’t care if you generated 30,000 visitors to your website last week through the social media sites if you didn’t make any sales.

I know very quickly when I’m talking with a more series business owner. They immediately start quoting stats like the opt-in conversion rate, sales conversion rate, income per visitor, and shopping cart abandonment percentage. They KNOW these numbers in their business. Do you?

There is no such thing as “real free traffic.” No matter how you generate your traffic, it’s going to cost you something. It costs you money to run PPC ads. It costs you time (or money for a team member) to produce content for the search engines or social sites. It costs you time and contact packages for JV partners and affiliates.

All traffic will cost you something. Once you have a successful internet lifestyle business you’ll know that time is much more precious than money.

What is your return on that investment?

Look at it this way. Let’s say I’m running PPC ads and I’m bidding 50 cents per clickthrough. Out of every 100 visitors, 3 of them buy my $20 product. That means I’m selling $60 to those 100 visitors, or I’m earning 60 cents per visitor. Unless I have very low margins I may be in trouble paying 50 cents per clickthrough.

How can I change those numbers so it’s safe for me to bid 50 cents or even $1? First of all I have to get those conversion rates up. If I’m selling 5 visitors instead of 3, my visitor value jumps to $1 per visitor. What if I add an upsell or an immediate backend offer (could even be from a related affiliate program), and my average income per visitor goes up to $30? Now I’m earning $1.50 per visitor.

Now I can afford to even increase my bids to a $1 or more. Immediately I jump above all those other sites who are bidding less than me because they have a lower visitor value.

What if I install an email follow-up series both for the non-buyers and the buyers to start selling additional items? My visitor value continues to go up. I could potentially spend $1.50 or more per visitor, because I’ll be making money from products they buy later on.

Can you see why Adwords is getting “so expensive” in some markets? They’ve found ways to increase their visitor value by improving conversion, adding upsells, and increasing the lifetime value of a customer. When there are a large number of bidders with high bids, that means there is money in the market.

You may say, “But I don’t do Adwords.”

So what? Do you think your affiliate partners want to promote a site with a poor conversion? Would you send your visitors to a site earning you 50 cents per click when another one gives you $2?

What if you get your visitors the “free ways?” Do you really want to work 4 times as hard to get the same number of sales because of your low conversion?

Running a lifestyle business means you must have high conversion at your sites to reduce the work you and your team have to do for your sales.

I feel this key is one of the truths that really helped me succeed on the Internet early on when so many other people were failing. My first direct marketing teachers weren’t internet experts. There weren’t any back then. My first teachers were marketing consultants and copywriters like Gary Halbert, John Carlton, and Jay Abraham.

They drilled you over and over again how important your entire sales system was. They told you to study copywriting from the original masters like Claude Hopkins, David Ogilvy, and Robert Collier. Copywriting really is the million dollar skill. If you master it for your business, it’s only a matter of time till you reach the success you’re reaching for.

Here are just a few of the big copywriting tips that changed my life.

1. Collect and Write out Successful Sales Letters

Always be on the lookout for great sales copy. When you find a website that’s been successfully selling online for years, print it out. When you get “junk mail”from the big direct marketers like Agora, save it. I’ve even went out of my way to purchase full collections of sales from some of the copywriters I most admire.

After you create your collection of sales letters, STUDY them. I don’t mean just lightly read them. Program them into your brain. Pull out a million dollar letter that really resonates with you and type it all up yourself. While you’re typing it out, think about what is going through the head of the writer and the prospect at each step in the delivery.

Tomorrow do it again, with the same letter. If your goal is to become a writer, keep this up for the next several months. Every week choose a different letter and work on it for one hour a day.

Don’t neglect this secret I just handed you. It’s simple. It’s not sexy. It’s not the new $2,000 product launch that promises to solve all your problems by pushing two buttons. But it works. And isn’t that what you really want?

2. Find the Big Hook

If you follow what I’m teaching you, you’re going to go into some competitive marketplaces. What’s your advantage? What’s your big hook that’s going to grab your visitors, and really force them to read your copy? How can you create such a curiosity in your prospects that they can’t just exit your website? If they do, they’ll be thinking about your headline for the rest of the day.

Do your research. Investigate the competition. What advantages do they have? What weaknesses do they have? Examine your own product. Write down every benefit you can come up with about it. Examine all the survey results. Did anyone say something that just jumps off the page at you?

Call up a few of your current customers to ask them why they bought or anything that grabbed their attention. Most of my best ads are the result of something one of my one customers told me. For example, if you read the main letter at Internet Lifestyle Retirement System, you’ll see me refer to the bonus DVD’s as plug-and-play. I didn’t first say that. One of my first beta testers refer to them that way as the reason he loved them. Don’t ask me why I didn’t think of it!

Once you have your hook, your big story, the rest of the salesletter, website, or email just falls into place. The real work of a copywriter is being that detective that collects all the evidence or that reporter who sniffs out the big story.

3. Write Like You Talk

Don’t write like a college textbook. It’s snooze button time! You’re not being graded on perfect grammar. This isn’t an excuse to sound like an idiot or run dozens of spelling mistakes, but I sure don’t want anyone correcting all my grammar. A few suggestions are OK as long as you don’t expect me to accept them all.

Write that email like you’re writing it to your best friend or your mother. Write that web page the same way you would talk if you were speaking to your audience live. If uptight writing is so ingrained in your mind from school, then you might have to use the voice recognition software to overcome this hump.

If you can talk, you can write. We just need to get those demons from your 10th grade teacher Mrs. Sourpuss out of your head. Practice daily. And then just do it.

The Big Idea: Test Everything. You might write 5 different headlines and one of them improves sales by 350% over the others. And you can’t know the winner until you test! This used to be a difficult process with split testing everything you did, but it’s easy now with free multivariate testing.

I’ve used several different multivariate testing programs. My favorite is Google Optimizer. If you have an Adwords account, you have access to Optimizer. Notice what I didn’t say. You don’t have to be spending any money in your account. You just have to have one.

If you don’t have an account, go over to Google right now and set one up. You’ll need to pick at least one keyword phrase and write a quickie ad. Then pay them their setup fee (was $5 last time I checked). Once your account is up, you can immediately pause that campaign so it never runs. Now you have a Google account and can use Optimizer.

Where do you start with testing? I’d suggest beginning with the headline, the intro paragraph, the price, a photo with caption, and the primary closing offer.

Why Are You Making This Incredible Offer?

November 26, 2007

You’ve designed your powerful offer, but now you have to get over the next hurdle. Why should anyone believe you? You probably heard the same statement I heard when I was growing up, “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You would think that people would jump at the chance to get a totally free lunch, but no one believes you. Everyone of us has been lied to and cheated enough times by other businesses not to believe everything we hear or read. People will think you have some ulterior motive to whatever you’re giving away or that you’re not telling them the whole story.

If you don’t believe me, try this test. Put a classified ad in the paper. Tell people to send $10 to a fictitious business name at some PO Box. Tell them you’ll send back $100 bills to everyone who replies. See how many people take you up on this offer if you don’t provide them with any other information. Would you reply? I’ll bet you wouldn’t. You wouldn’t believe it no matter how good the offer was. You’d need a lot more proof before you’d take action.

Whenever you make any great offer, you have to tell your prospects and clients why you’re making this offer. You’re giving away a free lunch, but why should I believe you. What’s your angle? Here’s a novel concept. Tell them the truth!

Tell them you’re giving away free lunches because your restaurant is brand new to this area. You know that a large percentage of people who try your food will love it. They’ll say it’s the best Mexican food they’ve ever tried. They’ll become regular customers. So instead of requiring the customers to bet on your restaurant, you’d take all the risk. They get a free meal and you’ll only profit if your food is so good they can’t resist coming back in the future.

You may be holding a grand opening sale with prices so low you won’t make a dime. The reason why you’d be willing to do this is to generate customers who you know will come back once they see just how high quality your items are. You may be having a car sale with every car priced under invoice because its tax time and you have to pay extra for every car still on your lot. You may be having a private sale for your clients because you know how much they’ll appreciate it and you just received 75 new dresses from France – and you know they won’t last long once they go on the floor.

The more you tell, the more you sell. Tell your prospects and clients the whole story. You may be having your sale because new inventory comes out next month. You have $100,000 tied up in the current inventory and you’re letting everything go for 50% off of what people would have paid only 1 month ago. Tell them how high quality the items are and how you love to keep selling these same garments, but you have to make room for the new inventory. Your loss is their bargain.

For a continuity offer, you could simply say you have all these tree trimming workers who you have to pay 40 hours a week. You often end up with large surges of business at specific weeks of the year. By offering your clients the 4 times per year deal you’re able to schedule your workers to more consistent hours. So you’re willing to charge much less for this deal since you save money on it yourself.

Below are 8 possible reasons why you could be making such a wonderful offer. You’re not limited to just these methods. They are simply idea generators. Every offer must include a unique benefit, scarcity, and a reason why. If you get these items in place, your ad copy is already mostly written for any sales piece. Neglect these steps and the best copywriter in the world won’t be able to produce for you.

Reason Why #1: Grand Opening or Generating New Customers/Clients

It’s the grand opening sale or the new customer/client drive. You’re making your incredible offer to generate new clients for your business. You understand the value of every client in your business, and you’re willing to make their first purchase an experience they’ll remember. You’re willing to lose some money upfront and invest in them. Once they try out your “product/service” they will have to come back for more. They won’t get a deal like this anytime soon.

Reason Why #2: Customer Appreciation

You appreciate your loyal customers. They’re the ones who have made you successful in your business. You’re making this deal available only to your best clients as a thank you for shopping or doing business with you. They shouldn’t share the letter, postcard, or coupon you’ve sent them with anyone else. It’s exclusively just for them. You may have just received one hundred new items into your inventory and you know how much they enjoy high quality widgets.

Reason Why #3: Need Surge of Income

Your business needs a surge of income. You’re making this offer available to generate the income you need to do ____________. It may be something in your personal life such as paying for your eighteen year old child’s college education. It could be your wife wants a new kitchen or your husband wants a fishing boat. It may be that your business needs a new truck or to expand its location.

Reason Why #4: Going out of business or Clearing Out Inventory

Going out of business sales and inventory clearance sales are extremely profitable. These are powerful “reasons why” that appeal to all bargain shoppers. Clothing stores sell seasonal merchandise or fashions while car dealers sell off last year’s models. All types of stores clearance off discontinued products. If you mess up and order too many of something, you can hold a liquidation to clear out that inventory. Be honest with your customers/clients and tell them why you’re making the offer.

Reason Why #5: Inventory tax time

Inventory taxes (or inventory time) are coming up. Whatever you don’t sell, you’ll pay additional taxes on. If people buy now, you’ll pass on the savings to them. A variation on this could also be that you just were hit with a large tax bill because your accountant made a mistake. You must pay the bill immediately or you’ll face stiff fines and interest. Your customers save from helping you out quickly.

Reason Why #6: Scratch and Dent Sale

A mail order company may sell products which were returned for a discount price. The appliance dealer had a poor delivery person who put small dents in several items which now can’t be sold at full price. The furniture store had heavy winds and a hole in the roof let rain in causing slight damage to several items. Some items at the retail or clothing shop may not measure up to their exacting standards.

Reason Why #7: Need Testimonials and case studies for new product/service

You may have hundreds of testimonials in your overall business, but you’re launching a brand new product/service. You want to get a “test market” of people using it and giving you feedback. For people to receive this special offer, they must give you back feedback on the exact results they get from using it. The “marketing test” reason why is another variation of this. You’re making the offer as a marketing test because a marketing coach named Terry Dean suggested it and you simply don’t know what kind of results you’ll get or how busy you’ll be.

Reason Why #8: You want to Celebrate

It’s your 30th anniversary. Your daughter just graduated college. Your dog had its first litter of puppies. Your girlfriend said yes when you asked her to marry you. The high school team won the state championship. The Indianapolis Colts won the Superbowl. It’s a celebration. You’re excited about what happened and you want to share it with your customers by giving them a special, “She Said Yes” event. This technique makes you seem more real and personable as a business owner.

Honest Business?

September 12, 2007

Ryan Healy published a post called, Honesty Sells, Overconfidence Kills over on his blog.

Ryan says, “There is probably no faster way of building trust than admitting your own weaknesses.”

I agree completely.

One of my successful sales letters (which did $30.15 per visitor to a targeted prospect list) was about running a business, and it broke the normal “copywriting rules.” One of the normal copywriting rules is to not use the word, “work.” It’s considered a negative that pulls down response because people don’t want to work. They want easy “no sweat” results.

Knowing this was a bad word, I used it 4 times in the first few paragraphs of the letter. Not only that, but I also didn’t guarantee my buyers to make any money!

So I told them would have to work and there was no guarantee of profits. And people still bought…

One of my customers told me later, “You told me I’d have to work and that you couldn’t guarantee I’d make a profit. For the first time ever, I believed an online sales letter. I believed you were telling me the truth.”

And isn’t that one of the goals of advertising…building trust until your prospects believe you’re telling the truth?

In copywriting, this is referred to as “revealing a flaw.”

For example, let’s say you’re selling a DVD and your duplicator screwed up and misspelled the title (or you sent it messed up). Make sure you tell your prospects about this when you’re selling to them. You can’t sell it at normal price because the title is misspelled. If they don’t mind this error, they can get the DVD at 50% off.

Or maybe the DVD was filmed and the lighting wasn’t bright enough. You tell your prospects that the lighting wasn’t perfect, and it looks a little dark. The information on the DVD was top notch, and if they don’t mind the lower lighting they can get the DVD for _____.

Maybe your packaging isn’t as pretty as what is sold in stores. Could it be you’re not the cheapest in the industry, but that’s because ______? Maybe your interview is a guerilla recording…just you and the billionaire out to lunch. You hear plates rattling on the background, but it was the best place you could get them to really open up.

If you notice, all of these points reveal a flaw, but they also do something else. They turn the flaw into an advantage. Don’t shy away from your flaws and your weaknesses. Be open and upfront about them. Take a new look at them.

How could they really be seen as an advantage in some way?

Being honest is a good sales presentation.

How to Influence Others

July 23, 2007

No matter what business you’re in, you have to “sell” your ideas to others. You’re a marketer whether you like it or not. If you can’t sell other people on your ideas, your business will flounder, you won’t get the promotion at work, and your spouse won’t be convinced.

Plus, knowing basic sales techniques and skills will allow you to see through how others are currently influencing you. The more knowledge you have, the easier it is to see through anytime people are trying to “manipulate” you into anything that’s not in your best interest.

These skills can be used to benefit or take advantage of others. It’s not the skill itself that’s the problem. It’s how you use it. For example, sometimes people try to influence you to do good things such as the doctor telling you to take care of your body, your spouse convincing you to eat right, and your pastor asking you to give to the poor. They’d be more productive if they knew the basic psychology of influence.

Those scam artists use the same techniques of influence…and in most cases are much more skilled in their use. The difference is they’re using them in a selfish manner where they’re the only winner. If you’re convinced by them, you lose. Doing business with integrity means you only use these techniques where everybody in the deal wins. If there is a loser, you’re misusing your influence.

One of the books I highly recommend is “Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert B. Cialdini. It’s one of the classics about persuasion, sales, and marketing. And everybody in business should read it at least once. In it he details the 6 weapons of influence that determine human behavior.

Here is a quick overview of these 6 techniques. How can you begin using them whenever you try to influence others? You might consider them a checklist for your sales letters and websites. You might use them when networking with others in your niche. You might apply them the next time you have a disagreement with your spouse. You might use them when you ask for that raise.

1. Reciprocation

This rule states that we should try to repay, in kind, what another person has provided us. If someone does you a favor, you want to do them one in return. If someone buys you a present, you feel the need to buy them one. You feel obligated to future favors, gifts, invitations, etc. I made note of this in my last post. I received a gift, and now feel the need to give back.

Another way this can be used is the “rejection-and-retreat” method. This means you make the higher offer first. If it is refused, you retreat to your lower option. For example, a pool table dealer found their average ticket sales were much higher when they offered the $3,000 model first and then the $329 option than if they showed them the other way around. The same method can be used to get referrals. If someone refuses your offer, they may be willing to refer others who would be right for your offer.

2. Committment and Consistency

Once we have made a choice or taken a stand, we will encounter pressure to behave consistently with that decision. This is especially true if we make a statement in public. This is part of the reasons you want to write down any goals you have. It’s part of the committment process. You’re even better off if you show your written goals to others.

If you’ve ever wondered why companies go to such lengths to get testimonials, it’s a combination of this influence secret along with the next one. If you create a written testimonial that may be made public, you don’t want to go back on your consistency. You’re much more likely to stay loyal to the company and continue to feel good towards them.

3. Social Proof

People do what they see others doing. Most successful websites are loaded with testimonials…even better if those testimonials come with pictures, audio, or video. Many poor TV comedies use canned laugh tracks to convince you something is funny (because if they didn’t you wouldn’t laugh at their poor jokes). Any seminar speaker knows that if they can get a large group of the audience at their product table, they will make more sales irregardless of why they went there.

If you start hearing about how successful a site is, you begin believing it. If a business looks busy, you want to know why. You’re nervous to pull into the restaurant parking lot if they’re no cars there. Yet, people wait in long lines for the busy restaurant even if they’ve never had it before. In an audience, people will often look at others before they begin laughing. They want to go along with the crowd even if they talk about being an individual (this is even true of teenagers).

4. Liking

People buy from those they know, like, and trust. That’s no surprise. Influence comes into play in how it is used. This is the basis of home parties such as Tupperware and others. The “host” invites their friends and gets some prize or gift for hosting based on the purchases. The attendees all know this, and are much more willing to open their pocketbooks since it will benefit their friend. The same tool comes into play when you follow-up on referrals…and tell them you were referred to them by one of their friends.

Joe Girard, the world’s greatest salesmen, sent out monthly greeting cards to all his customers. The basic message simply said, “I like you.” That’s all. He was building a relationship. The sales principle of modeling works on this same basis. People like those who are most like them. They like those who dress like them, talk like them, and act like them. If you write sales copy, you know a key principle is getting to know your customer and writing to them in their language.

5. Authority

People obey authority figures, even if they don’t completely understand the request. They recognize and respond to titles such as professor, PHD, doctor, etc. Always let people know your expertise and authority on the subject. It may be because of a title, but it’s even better when you’ve achieved certain results and let people know about it.

Not only does this apply to titles, but it also applies to clothing. “Uniforms” such as the military, clergy, or police obviously affect people and their reaction to the wearer. But people also look at other clothings such as expensive suits, laidback outfits, etc. They judge the person and view them by what they’re wearing.

It’s interesting that “suits” don’t produce as well in my pictures compared to much more laid back forms of dress. As mentioned by one of my clients, when I have more laid back pictures it speaks about “freedom” which is what many are looking for. What is your outfit saying?

6. Scarcity

People want things when the opportunity is limited. If anybody and everybody can have it, you don’t want it. You want exclusive opportunities that are only available to a limited number. This is constantly used in marketing. There are only 100 of these available or the deal is only good for the next 3 days. We can give you this price if you make your decision today.

All collectibles are based on this principle. There are a limited number like this. The low number available gives the product value. We want what others want (social proof), especially when there aren’t many available. For a long time I’ve taught people that every offer needs to involve scarcity in someway…either by limited number or time. Otherwise, people will wait to make a decision later. The key here is to be honest and use a real scarcity.

For example, on Wednesday I will make an offer here that is limited in number (only 100 available because I only have 100 of one of the parts to the offer) and limited in time. I’ll be making a major discount (more than 75% off), but it will be for no more than 48 hours at most. It will be truely limited because the sale will be over on time no matter what…nobody will be able to get the same price later.

Do You Grab Your Audience’s Attention?

May 14, 2007

At Michael Penland’s last event, I watched Glenn Turner hold an audience spellbound. You could see people leaning forward, hanging on his every word. While he was a good speaker and had good content, he didn’t excel over the rest of the speakers in those areas.

A few of the other speakers had better more instantly usuable content in my opinion. Some of the best Internet marketers were there…and I was shocked at what a few of them shared for the price (find out more about Michael Penland’s next event here which I will be speaking at again).

What did he have that held attention better than the top Internet marketers? He told simple stories…about himself, about animals, and about those around him. He is a master storyteller. I watched every minute he was on the stage holding attention like none other.

Not only do stories hold people’s attention better than anything else, they also get the point across. You might forget the speaker’s three points within a couple of hours. You remember the story that resonates with you.

Tell me a story if you want me to pay attention to what you have to say. This applies to every form of content you create, including:

Sales Letters
Websites
Emails
Blog Postings
Public Speaking
Teleconferences
Webinars
Videos

Tell stories if you want people to pay attention. I take on a few copywriting clients at times (it’s not my main business although I enjoy taking on a very profitable project now and then). A key element to copywriting for any client is to look for the story. You become a detective. You interview the business owner, their employees, and their clients. While you’re picking up other information along the way, your goal is to find the story.

What happened? Why was the product or service developed? What is an authentic story that created the business? What results have people achieved?

What’s the attention grabbing story that makes people pay attention?

Not only do stories hold people’s attention better than anything else, they also get the point across. You might forget the speaker’s three points within a couple of hours. You remember the story that resonates with you.

That’s why you see me tell about how I lost one job after another before I started online. I talk about delivering pizzas for Little Caesar’s. I tell about how my wife and I looked through the couch for change to go to McDonalds. I talk about all the failed business opportunities, door-to-door selling, and network marketing that buried us in debt.

Then how I came online…and succeeded. It’s embarressing. Yet it’s my 100% true story…and it’s a marketing advantage because people remember it.

My most popular article of all time was the “Internet lifestyle.” It was about how you could live anywhere and run an Internet business. It talked about the cow named Oscar that was my nearest neighbor (we have since moved). People forgot the article title.

They remembered the cow. They remembered the basic message…you can run an Internet business from anywhere. The message of the story beat the step-by-step instructions. It beat the “great copywriting” in other articles. Just a simple story about a cow better shared the message I wanted people to hear…

Are you using stories in your sales copy, on your blog, and in your emails? If you’re not, you’re missing out on a good portion of your money. Your readers don’t want to be lectured. They want to be entertained. What story do you have that shares the message?

I shouldn’t have to say this, but I’ve been around long enough to know I do. Make sure you’re sharing a TRUE story…not a made up one. Some marketers find it so easy to exaggerate and lie throughout their stories. They make up stories about “leaked documents.” They add a couple of extra zeros to the amount they made or the weight they lost.

In fact, I think more marketers give up their integrity in this area than virtually any other area I’ve seen. Your copywriter might tell you…well if we just add this little detail to your story, it will sell more. I agree. Details sell. The big question is whether the detail is true or not. Is it worth giving up your integrity for a little bump in response?

Do a little investigative work. Have someone else interview you about your business. Find the selling story. Discovering this one principle will improve everything you write or produce instantly.

How to Get a Copywriting Education for Under $100

February 28, 2007

Are you ready to get an education in making money on and off the Internet…one that will last you for the rest of your life?

What if it costs less than $100?

I love information products.  I have hundreds of CDs, DVDs, eBooks, and manuals.  I’ve attended dozens of seminars.  My education has cost me at least $100,000 over the years. 

My absolute favorite information product is the simple…lowly physcial book.  Everyone is a little different in which form they prefer to learn from.  I love to sit outside and read.  It’s fun.  It’s enjoyable.  And it beats every other information format for me. 

My office is filled with books.  My wife and I also have a game room in our house with bookshelves lining the walls.  It is full of books.  Books have flowed into another room of the house. They take up a lot of room, but you won’t get me to part with them anytime soon.

I remember at a conference where another speaker was talking.  He said that if you ever get into financial problems, you call your books for cash.  Kirt Christensen leaned over to me and said, “Forget that…I’ll sell my clothes before my books!”

I wholeheartily agree.

Today I want to share with you how to get a top notch copywriting education for under $100.  Yes, there are some great courses out there for $200, $500, and even $2,000.  They often go into more advanced strategies.  But you can get started on a budget with just these resources to start.

And no…these are not affiliate links.  They are direct links to the books on Amazon.com.  I get no commission from them (although I do get royalties for my book).

Tested Advertising Methods
John Caples – $11.32

This is one of the must read classics that virtually every copywriter uses and recommends.  It shows you why testing is the only way you can really measure an ad.  It also teaches you the basic systems to get started writing.

Web Copy That Sells: The Revolutionary Formula for Creating Killer Copy Every Time
By Maria Veloso – $15.58

This book isn’t often mentioned when talking about copywriting, but I love it.  Many copywriting books talk about what you should do, but they don’t give you the How.  Maria has included in her book tools…a checklist…a list of emotional words…and more.  In other books, you would be told to pay at least $200 for a “backend” course to get the meat she gives in the book itself.

The Ultimate Sales Letter: Attract New Customers. Boost Your Sales
By Dan Kennedy – $10.61

Dan’s book contains a lot of valuable insight and a system for writing your sales letter.  There are a lot of nuggets throughout the book you can immediately take and use.  The promotion for his other courses and products is a little heavy though compared to all the other books in this list.

Internet Integrity: The Truth About How ANY Business Can Increase Profits Online
By Terry Dean – $19.95

This book isn’t about just copywriting, although a 15 step copywriting system is included.  It also covers how to generate visitors to your website and how to use email to close them.  There is also a chapter dedicated to local businesses and people who are just starting out without a product to sell.  It’s a great beginning Internet marketing education for under $20.

Advertising Secrets of the Written Word: The Ultimate Resource on How to Write Powerful Advertising Copy
By Joe Sugarman – $39.95

I could have easily listed at least 2 or 3 other books if I left this one out.  It really is that good.  It includes his 24 psychological triggers, the slippery slope, and many other strategies.  There are two additional books to the series, and while they’re good, they are not as good at this one in my opinion.

All 5 books above add up to $97.41 today at Amazon.  Get started in copywriting for under $100 with these resources.  If you master this skill, you’re on your way to success.  No money changes hands until something is sold.  Copywriters hold the key to selling on the web, through the mail, on video, and in person.

Copywriting…the Vital Business Skill!

October 4, 2006

If you’ve studied any of my Internet marketing training products, you know I focus pretty heavily on copywriting during it at some point.

My book, “Internet Integrity: The Truth about How Any Business Can Increase Profits Online” is focused on ethical strategies for improving the profits of your Internet business.  Although it covers quite a bit about how to build a site and generate traffic to it, it still has an entire chapter dedicated to a fifteen step system for writing online ad copy.

My course on how to create and profit from information products has three audios dedicated to the subject of copywriting.  My upcoming teleconference on how to build profitable email lists will have several calls where I talk about using ad copy to get people to subscribe…and then how to write effective selling emails.  A 300 page manual I’ve designed for local business people to increase their business has several sections that deal with ad copy.

Let’s face the facts of the matter.  If you’re going to have a successful business of any type, you must learn how to either write effective ad copy…or at least recognize it when you see it.  Just like any other part of your business, you may want to hire out this job to someone who’s an expert in it.  But how will you recognize a good job when you see it?  Major corporations are ripped off all the time by ad agencies who produce “good entertainment” that can’t sell their way out of a paper bag.

Knowing how to write good ads is essential to doing business online.  Let’s look at it this way.  Let’s say you have a website where 1 out of 200 or 0.5% of your visitors buys your $100 product.  This means your site earns 50 cents per visitor.  Lets take another website in the same market who follow good copywriting principles.  They start off with a 1% conversion rate but through testing are able to get their site up to 2%.  So they earn 2 dollars per visitor.  If you’re both using PPC advertising, the first site loses money at 60 cents per visitor while the second earns a fortune.  The second site can go all the way up to $1.50 for their visitors and still be in profit.  The first site is going bankrupt by this time.

You may say, “Well I don’t use PPC advertising.”  Fine, let’s use a free advertising method…an affiliate program.  The first site decides to pay out 80% of their profits to their affiliates so they end up paying an average of 40 cents for every visitor sent to their webpage.  The second site decides to be generous but not nearly as generous and only pays 50% of their overall profits.  So their affiliates end up earn an average of $1 for every visitor they send.  Which webmaster would you prefer to affiliate with…the one paying 80% for 40 cents per visitor or the one only paying 50% for $1 per visitor?

It’s obvious, isn’t it?  The one who is going to have affiliates promoting for them is the one only paying 50% because it adds up to more money for their affiliates since their website has a better conversion rate.  This same fact applies to everything you do in your business.  The business with a better Yellow Page ad gets more phone calls for the same money spent.  The opt-in list publisher earns more from the same size list because of better promotions.  If you improve your ad copy, you improve your profits and your overall business.

Please understand that when I’m talking about copywriting I’m talking about writing in a concise manner to show your clients the benefits of what you offer.  I’m not talking about tricks, scams, or hype.  If you’ve been online any amount of time, I’m sure you’ve seen these.  Someone puts up their webpage with their moving deadline, “You must purchase before Wednesday the 21st to get this deal.”  Tomorrow the date moves ahead another day through their Javascript.  There is only one answer for that kind of marketing….a scam.  I’m sure you’ve also seen enough copywriting tricks to make you sick. 

What I’m talking about are the basics of copywriting…really showing your clients the benefits, offering a strong guarantee, telling the whole story, giving the reason why you’re making the offer, and honest testimonials from real users of the product/service.  I guess I’m a little sick of the “guru club” who all go around making a testimonial about each other’s products and then tell you about the next greatest offer to ever hit the planet (for some reason those offers are always expensive so they can pay high commissions also).

Copywriting doesn’t have to be difficult.  It’s really simple.  What are your clients dreaming about and what are they afraid of?  Let them know how your products/services can help them with those issues.  “Paint a picture” with your words to describe it to them since people don’t think in words.  They think in pictures.  For example, think about the word dog.  If I say dog, do you think of the letters d-o-g in your mind or do you picture a dog you know about?  I’m sure you see the picture.  What if I describe it as a golden retriever with a big floppy tongue?  Do you see that picture?  I’m sure you can.  All you’re really doing with your copywriting is painting a picture for your clients of what their life is like right now…how it will be once they get your product/service…and how it would be without your product/service.  Then you tell them about the guarantee and remove all risk from the purchase.

If you’d like to know more on this subject, my book is already out and available at Amazon.com.  I also have several new Internet marketing products coming out this month.