In the podcast:
01:16 – Chasing the all-important offer
03:07 – Market, offer, then copy
04:49 – What does your copy really need?
05:49 – When looks actually do count
09:27 – Consistency in design
11:59 – Make it clear what you’re trying to solve
14:00 – It’s got to be truthful
15:45 – Do you go straight to the pain?
16:44 – Narrowing the focus
18:29 – The right way to use scarcity
24:00 – Copy audits and how they work
26:49 – A versatile operator
27:49 – The checklist that works for everything
28:30 – The role of psychology in marketing
30:41 – As a quick sign-off…
Chasing the all-important offer
He and James agree that an offer that converts is pretty much everything. It’s the hardest thing to pin down. But once you’ve got it, it can be, as James says, literally the goose that lays the golden eggs.
A good offer, Will adds, can sell despite mediocre marketing. If your offer’s not that great, you’ll struggle to sell, even with the best marketing. Or you’ll get refunds.
Today’s episode is about the meeting of the two – offer and marketing, in particular copy. If you have a good offer, or if you know that you’ve got an offer that converts, how do you talk about it in a way that gives you both a good offer and good marketing?
Market, offer, then copy
In one of our previous podcast series, James talked with Rob Hanly, who spoke of his hierarchy of things to evaluate when the business isn’t performing. He placed market first, then offer, then copywriting.
“It’s all about the people first, like who are we trying to help?”
Will is in agreement. As a marketer, he’s all about the people first – who are we trying to help? What are we trying to help them with? That ticks market and offer, and off the back of that, we try to explain how we’re going to help. That’s the copy.
James recalls Gary Halbert, who said if he could have one advantage up his sleeve, it would be a starving crowd. A hotdog stand outside a nightclub in the wee hours is going to do business. The drunk patrons are ravenous and will overlook stale buns or lukewarm sausages. Even a reasonable solution to the right market is going to be good.
“Even a reasonable solution to the right market is going to be good.”
In our last episode, however, James and Will discussed how if all things are equal with your market compared to someone else, and if your offer is roughly equivalent, you’re left with how you communicate that offer. That is where copy comes in.
So what does copy need to be effective? What is Will Wang’s essential checklist of copy elements? And will we find them on our sales page?
When looks actually do count
Will starts with something that many won’t expect: how the page looks, or copy flow. It doesn’t matter how good your copy is, Will says – if it’s chunked into massive blocks of text, if the writing is small, if it’s not punctuated properly, there’s no paragraphs, it’s really hard to read, no one will spend the time to go through it. Or very few people will.
So the number one thing Will looks at is, is it easy on the eyes? A scroll down the page will show how everything is structured. If design is good, then he’ll start actually getting into the copy itself.
James remembers how many direct response marketers used to format their sales pages – big red headline, followed by harsh black and white text. Old school 50-page, direct response sales letter, with very little approach to design. In contrast, some of the most well-funded companies, especially tech companies, have beautiful copy flow on sites that are almost joyful to read.
Some design subtleties to consider are the size and color of font. If your demographic is more advanced in years, larger font in contrasting color to the background is a good idea. Too, some people are colorblind, so the wrong colors can affect text readability.
Breaking up the text with pictures, and in some cases having the images all aligned to one side, also improves copy flow.
Consistency in design
Fonts that match throughout copy add to visual appeal. Will and his team refer to their clients’ brand guides, or use standard fonts found on ad platforms. It all contributes to a seamlessness, a consistency that helps the flow of copy, without jarring design elements.
Brand and style guidelines, says James, are the mark of a serious business. They ensure that everything looks and feels integrated. In his Mercedes-Benz days, every single advertisement they ran went to head office for approval. They would check the spacing of the logo, the words and the font. It all had to have a certain look and feel in line with the brand.
“You can’t help people be better off if you can’t get the message across to them.”
All this is part of making it easy for people to consume your message. Selling can be defined as moving people from where they are to a better situation, and you can’t help them be better off if you can’t get your message across to them.
Make it clear what you’re trying to solve
Moving on to the next element, Will asks: How easy is it to identify what you’re trying to solve, or what your offer helps people with?
The way Will likes to express an offer is not about the business who’s putting the offer out there, because, as he puts it, “…it’s not about us at all. For someone to buy what we have, we have to really help them understand, well, what’s their life going to look like? What pains or frustrations or challenges are they going through that we think we can help them solve? So the next thing I look at is immediately looking at the headline, do I get a sense of what you can help me do, or solve, or achieve?”
To guide headline creation, Will likes to use one of a few formulas. One is all about the pain. Are you experiencing this challenge? That naturally hooks them in. You ask them a question, and it’s going to open a mental loop in their mind. They’re always going to want to close that loop and ask the question.
Another one is just by using curiosity or showing what other people have done.
The third one is a benefit statement, like, ‘Hey, could you use more clients in your business?’
For this podcast episode, the headline might be, Are you making these mistakes in your offer? And how do you fix it? This is going to appeal to someone who already has a sales offer or is intending to make an offer, and who would like to have a good offer and avoid making the mistakes. From the headline, it’s clear that you’re resonating with their current situation. And people talk about meeting the customer where they’re at – in that conversation in their head.
It’s got to be truthful
When crafting your copy, there’s a mix of the pain point versus future pacing or hope involved.
It used to be, Will says, you could really hammer on the pain point. You might also have a made-up backstory of sleeping on couches.
This is where James stops him. Don’t make stuff up. It’s got to be truthful. You can paint a great story out of seemingly small things. He gives the example of a pistachio bar that cost him an extra $5 because getting it made him one minute late getting out of the car park. Potentially a whole blog post about small things having huge consequences.
There are enough rags-to-riches stories out there, as James and Will discussed in the episode before this. The point is, there has got to be something truthful you can use in your story. There are so many experiences you can draw from, even if you don’t have a backstory of pain or suffering. You can always call out the fact that you haven’t gone through that.
Do you go straight to the pain?
In terms of pain as well, Will talks of something he sees a lot in copy audits. People go directly into the pain. ‘Are you feeling fat?’ Or, ‘Are you unhappy with your weight?’ No story to speak of.
It might have worked some time ago, but it no longer does. Good marketing is very story-based now. You obviously want to inspire people to take action, but you don’t want to make them depressed or keep hammering a sore point without a story or some way of helping them get out of it.
Narrowing the focus
Another mistake is focusing on too many different pain points. Coming back to the weight loss example, they might be asking, ‘Are you unhappy because you weigh a lot? But are you also too tired? Is your weight affecting your relationship? And is that in turn affecting your finances?’ There are too many pain points. It pays to be focused on one thing that you’re trying to solve, and one pain point that you’re trying to tackle.
It obviously depends on the person as well. And if you’re marketing to a lot of people, there are a few different pain points that people might be experiencing. But focus in on writing the sales letter for one person, and then test which one works best.
On the SuperFastBusiness.com homepage, James tries to move people into the relevant discussion for the current pain point they’re having, out of four potential and very well-identified pain points that keep coming up for his customers. Then each of those discussions is more tailored to that particular pain point.
That, says Will, is absolutely the right thing to do. From an advertising or marketing perspective, the way that they do that is by having different ads, going to different landing pages, with each of those ads talking about one specific pain point, and letting people choose, depending on the ads they see, what they want to hear more about.
The right way to use scarcity
Next on the list is the idea of false scarcity.
How do we close more often? How do we get people to take action? And one of the things Will sees often is people saying, “Hey, you’ve only got 10 days to take us up on this offer.” Or, “I’m only doing this for the next two people,” when it’s really obvious that it’s not the case.
If you do have that kind of scarcity, by all means, use it. Will, for instance, sent an email to his list saying, “Look, I’m opening up five consulting spots, here’s what we’re going to do, here’s a guarantee.” The only reason he did that was because he could actually physically only take on five more clients.
“Don’t feel like you have to do a scarcity play. Especially, don’t do a false scarcity.”
In onboarding scenarios, James suggests using date deadlines instead of number limits. Instead of, for instance, making an offer for the first hundred members, set a date by which access to membership will be switched off.
Explain why, then work with the people who have come on board by that time. Test every part of the membership, and when it’s all good you can reopen at a future point in time. The reason for this is that you could unexpectedly get response from more than 100 prospects. This will spare you from putting up an artificial, made-up scarcity number.
Will has also been testing internal scarcity. The copy could go something like, ‘I’m actually not going to tell you that time’s running out because it’s just not true. This is an online course, it’s always going to be open. But the thing is, if you don’t do it now, imagine what it could have been in a month’s time if you don’t take action right now. Don’t look back and wonder, what would have happened if I should have done that?’
This can trigger a sort of fear of missing out, but nothing sleazy like a spot limit for an online course.
Copy audits and how they work
Copy audits are part of the consulting product that Growth Labz has. They have a section where clients might have their own marketing team, or they just want somebody externally to help them fix one element of the business. Normally, that might be a three-month engagement, looking at their copy, including ads themselves that haven’t yet been posted.
Will believes in looking at where the client is now, not taking action to move them in any direction until they know where they have to go. So audits form the first part of every single engagement they have.
James recommended their service to a client of his, with said client seeing triple his sales as a result.
According to Will, they rewrote and redesigned the client’s entire funnel.
The copy when they first looked at it wasn’t flowing – there were chunks and gaps in the text. Languaging was different over sections because of different copywriters.
There were too many pain points on the landing page, something like, every single part of your life, does this suck, does this suck? They worked it into something more subtle and specific.
They reworked the sales page as well into something more gentle, not using false scarcity, calling the fact out that people were on the page for a reason. They painted the picture of, ‘Imagine if your life went this way, what would things look like?’ and then painted the after story.
Basically they took a more subtle approach to pain, applied a better design, and wrote the copy with a more consistent voice.
The role of psychology in marketing
The checklist Will has shared can actually be applied to your ads, your homepage, your sales offer page, your shopping cart page, abandonment follow up emails, retargeting. It’s very simple, and can help you achieve a very coherent picture and message that just flows.
Will credits it to his obsession with the way people think. His checklists, he says, are more about psychology than you have to have this font, or you have to have X many pages or this many words. He feels like those things change so much, especially as advertising platforms or technology change. Whereas if you understood the psychology of humans, you’ll always find a way to make things work.
James agrees strongly. He thinks a huge part of what we do is psychology, and as a parent, former pet owner and coach has been very interested in mentalism and Darren Brown. He also used to speak to NLP folks, though never much for it himself. He and Pete Shaw discuss this in a previous episode.
As a quick sign-off…
Will leaves us with one last quick point: have one consistent call to action. Don’t try to get people to read your blog, listen to podcasts, do all this and that. What’s the one thing you want people to do after they see your offer? Identify that and stick to it
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