Our copywriter guest Trevor "Toecracker" Crook is known for crafting outrageous offers that push the comfort barriers and convert at amazing rates. His last episode on SuperFastBusiness resulted in lots of implementation and plenty of Aha moments for our audience.
We've brought Trevor back to share more of his daring experiences, and hopefully to elicit more Ahas for you as you learn to expand your own marketing boundaries.
03:29 – The headline exercise. Discover how one letter can triple the converting power of your headline.
11:49 – When people refuse to run your ad. Trevor talks about these frustrating copywriter risks.
13:39 – Making promises you can deliver. Sometimes the copy takes it too far.
16:54 – Pushing the boundaries versus playing safe. It’s a bit outrageous, but what if it works?
19:40 – A $70,000 win. Tapping into available yet hidden windfalls
22:26 – A postcard tweak that tripled sales. Sometimes small things make the biggest differences.
26:12 – What is it you want your prospect to do? Is your call to action up to scratch?
28:46 – Leveraging the power of the PS. This much-neglected real estate could make you megabucks.
37:13 – Direct mail marketing – why? Because it works. There’s money to be made with physical mail.
Trevor “Toecracker” Crook first appeared on SuperFastBusiness four months ago, discussing outrageous sales offers that you wouldn’t expect to sell, but do. The episode garnered lots of approval from listeners, some of whom went and rewrote their own offers, with great results.
James has invited him back with the goal of producing as many aha moments for our audience. And Trevor kicks things off with a small activity for James.
The headline exercise
You may not know it, says Trevor, but 80 percent of your sales are won or lost in your headline. You can have the best offer in the world. It counts for nothing if people can’t get past the headline.
His mentor, Ted Nicholas, suggests writing at least 100 to 150 headlines before picking the one or two you want to test.
Here he asks James to pick up a pen and notepad. Draw two same-sized boxes, he instructs. Mark one A, and the other B. Inside both boxes, he has James write the headline and call to action, Put Music in Your Life. Call James now.
Then he asks James to think: where could he add a single letter to the headline in B and change the meaning?
S, says James. Make it, Puts Music in Your Life.
Correct, says Trevor. This was what one of Dan Kennedy’s clients did, and that simple addition tripled the number of calls they received.
What that S does is turns the message into an implied benefit. Put music in your life, well, that mens you’re still going to do the work. Puts music in your life implies all you have to do is make the call. And there are so many words you can do that to, in headlines, sub headings, book titles, emails, stuff to clients. Turn it into an implied benefit, and you’ll get much better results.
With a good understanding of your audience, you can make single letter or single word changes in your headline that will double, quadruple, even multiply by 1000, 1700 times the response to your material.
Say you had, Puts sex in your life, call now – it will get a massive response, if you’re targeting men. For women, you’d do, Puts romance in your life.
So if people are coming out with just the first or second or third headline that springs to mind, they are leaving a lot of money on the table, says Trevor. he recalls one guy who he got to use “makes” in his pay-per-click ad. His click-through rate went up 800 percent in a week.
Dan Kennedy tested some client headlines a few years ago, all of them very similar. He tested three. They were much the same, yet one had 1700 percent better response than the one that came last. And it got a 340 percent better response than the second one he tested.
“It’s worth trying different variations.”
So the big aha, says James, is it’s worth trying different variations.
He remembers a headline he used as an affiliate – one with a negative slant. “I don’t buy _____” (product name). That, he said, would out-click everything. People thinking of buying that product would click to see if they were about to make a mistake. That ad sent the company broke. James sold more product than they could deliver, and they defaulted on his last commission payments as they couldn’t stay in business.
When people refuse to run your ad
Trevor can look back over 20-odd years of writing wins for client. And so many times, they were afraid to run his offer.
Isn’t that a copywriter’s nightmare? asks James. After all the research and effort to make the deadline, you’re denied even the opportunity to see what happens.
It’s frustrating, says Trevor. There was one client he practically came to blows with in a hotel lobby over whether or not to run his copy. Trevor gave his guarantee – if it didn’t work, he’d refund the client’s money. He later had to chase the guy for the results, because the client was A, too embarrassed to contact him, and B, there was so much business coming in, he couldn’t keep up with it.
Making promises you can deliver
On the flip side, says James, there is the copywriter who goes ham, well beyond safe, into illegal territory, even. So some big companies have a legal department to check everything before it goes out.
“Can you deliver on your promises? Can you increase your promises?”
You’ve got to make sure you’re not making false promises, that you can actually deliver.
James recalls when he was learning copywriting and wanted to test a marketing campaign. He printed out four different ads for his dry cleaner, with coupons to bring into the shop. He had 3,000 or 4,000 fliers dropped into the suburb.
The cleaner later complained of too many customers. James gathered the coupons they’d redeemed, and found that one accounted for two thirds, another was a fraction of that, and the last two barely made a showing.
That’s one thing that is probably hardly mentioned, says James. Before you go out there with your offer, make sure you can handle the business it’s going to bring.
Pushing the boundaries versus playing safe
A valid point, says Trevor.
But, also, when he’s had clients who are just that little bit scared to run, what if it works? And when they are pushed, it’s like smashing a Babe Ruth homerun for them, which is always very pleasing.
Trevor recalls being hired by Agora’s International Living to write their sales letter to sell International Living Magazine. It was his first experience where every claim he made had to go through the legal boys, a daunting experience at first.
And he found an angle that was out there, and he didn’t want to play it safe. The risk for him as a copywriter was they wouldn’t run it. He wouldn’t get the balance of his contract, or his royalties. But he was prepared to back himself on it. And he had the control for three years.
The headline he came up with was: The secret retirement society the government does not want you to know about. Discover how payout to just over $770 million a year go to people who have already taken advantage of this tightlipped insider retirement society. It’s a perfect safeguard against a disappearing age pension. And almost every Australian can access this insider secret society legally, including you.
It just smashed it, says Trevor. But that came from the research, which is important when you’re writing your own copy. He spends about one third of his time doing research.
He was nervous when they ran the letter, but the legal department signed off on everything, which apparently was unheard of, especially the first time you wrote for them.
A $70,000 win
That brings to James’s mind a member of his, who shared one of her recent wins with him. She’d gotten $70,000 from something she’d heard him talking about with another customer. It was about the Australian government giving money to Australian businesses to help them with their marketing.
James has been using that program and has helped a lot of other people with it. It pays for coaching, and it can pay for Facebook ads, Google ads, marketing materials, etc. Not many people know about this. He gave his member the exact key contact to talk to. She filled in some paperwork and the money was put into her account. So he thinks Trevor’s headline would probably be repurposable for that.
A postcard tweak that tripled sales
Some of the time, Trevor has tweaked copy for clients to up perceived value.
He had a travel club client who targeted people ripped off by the timeshare industry. They’d sell them their travel club membership and send out weekly postcards. If the people came in for the presentation but didn’t buy anything, they’d get a five-night, six-day cruise for two, Royal Caribbean or Carnival, they had $1100. The only catch was they had to pay the port pack 99 bucks.
They asked Trevor to see if he could improve the postcard, just as we was about to leave for the airport. He spent literally 10 minutes on it. He tweaked the headline, and put a call to action, first 97 people who respond by the expiration date stamped in red only.
They went from 20,000 in average weekly sales to 76,400 the next, and stayed around 75 grand for a long time, by a simple headline tweak.
What is it you want your prospect to do?
A proper call to action is probably missing from a lot of marketing communications, observes James.
Oh, absolutely, says Trevor. There’s no clear call to action, or what’s there is so lame, it’s just a joke. You’ve likely seen this from a fast food place or restaurant: buy one pizza, get one free, or get a free bottle of coke, etc.
And they put such a long expiration date on it, there’s no point. They think it’s cheaper than constantly doing new ones with shorter expiration dates, but they’re ripping themselves off.
That’s better than some James has heard on FM radio, from big brands like car dealers: Don’t hesitate to call us, or something similar. James hates the double negative. It’s the same with cafe attendants: Not a problem. You could change that, he says, to, Okay, great, or sounds good.
What’s a red hot call to action that Trevor can suggest?
Well, there’s the limited number, he says. You’ve got to be careful with that. Too low, and people think they’ve missed out. Too high, and there’s no urgency. So it’ll be something like 27, 47, 67. Hurry. The first 27 customers only. If you’re number 28, I’m sorry, you’ve missed out. And you put an expiration date.
First 27 customers who respond by the expiration date stamped in red – it’s very clear, they can’t really get that wrong. And then he’ll repeat it in the PS.
Leveraging the power of the PS
Trevor has a good call to action for a PS. PSs are the second most-read part of your copy, he says, so if you’re not putting a PS on everything you do, you’re leaving money. Whether it’s a blog post, or your sales letter, your email, put in a PS or two.
PS. Where will you be in X number of days from now, or X number of months from now, if you choose to not invest in my offer? No doubt, you’re still – and you just rattle off the pain points you know they’re going through, which your offer has a solution to. And you call them out on that.
So the PS is a micro summary of the offer that they’ve already read in the mail, says James.
Yeah, says Trevor. But it’s calling them out. It’s like the old definition of insanity, if you don’t do anything, nothing’s going to change.
Trevor loves lumpy mail. He calls it the forgotten millions, direct mail. And he takes some of the three-step direct mail letter sequences, and adapts them for email. Email three, which he’s currently testing for an offer, is closing at about 80 percent at the moment. It’s a very, very clear, strong call to action.
But what you want to do is have a number, limit that number, and you have a clear expiration date in your offer. And if you put 27 in, you tell them, if you’re 28, you miss out.
James’s sales cart abandonment training, available as a product at SuperFastResults, or free inside SuperFastBusiness, is a plug-in series of emails for people to access backend money sitting there. Not everyone’s going to buy the first time to the sales page. However, when you send the right sort of emails in a specific sequence that’s been hard tested, there’s revenue to be made.
He’s sort of blown away, he says, that not everyone knows about the PS. But then, it is often missing from people’s emails. And coupons are magic. They give you the opportunity to have a limit per number or a limit per time.
Some great tips: limited number, clear expiration date, very clear wording on what to do. And of course, reminding people what life’s going to look like if they don’t take action.
Direct mail – why? Because it works
When Trevor teaches his clients to do a three-step direct mail sequence, it’s three letters over 30 days. Letter one goes out, or offer one goes out, strong call to action, limited number, expiration date of seven days from when they will receive it. So they’ve got a full week.
And that works. And when you have your offers, and you do the additional follow-ups, generally in direct mail, whatever sales you get out of level one, you will double your results by letter three, just by doing the additional follow-ups.
Trevor always leaves an ace up his sleeve in letter three, or email three, that there’s something additional, like the offer’s extended. But there’s some unannounced bonus that wasn’t there before to drag them across the line, and that works very, very well.
Trevor recalls a client and his mother who was trying to sell their catering business, as well as make some money off it. He said they needed to do some direct mail.
He structured a two-page letter for them and they sent it out as lumpy mail to where all the business was. They tested 25 letters, offering basically $100 worth of food – if people thought the food was good, they could book a party. Limited number.
Three people took up the offer, and two booked. The client did $10,500 on those first 25 letters. It cost him $161 all up in the postage printing and his food cost, with a 40 percent profit.
A landscaping client of Trevor’s was mailing a million pieces of direct mail a year. Why? Because the copy was working. And he went from small operator to the biggest in the entire state of Colorado.
“More profits? There’s a lot to be said for the instant gains of great copy.”
As long as you track your numbers and keep sending your letters out, says Trevor, there’s so much money waiting for people, if they just get more in tune with what their audience wants, and package and offer it in such a way that it’s a no-brainer, they have to respond and put their hand up.
It’s the sort of stuff he loves doing. He’d love to just sit and create offers for clients all day as long as they wanted to pay the freight.
James could talk to Toecracker all day on the topic. But he’ll have to bring him back another time for more ahas.
Trevor has a website, unlimitedsuccessclub.com, where he hangs out and helps people.
If you’re listening to this and you liked it, let James and Trevor know. Tell them on the socials, or send James an email, [email protected].
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