All sorts of smart looking people come out of the woodwork when you’re marrying a doctor.
WAIT. I’m not getting married, and I’m not the doctor, so save your relief /joy over my marital status for a later episode.
I was THERE, that’s my point here. One of the women asks around the table and says: Would you rather hear the ugly truth about what’s going wrong in your relationship, or would you rather be lied to?
And everyone, men and women both, UNANIMOUSLY say they want to hear the truth. That sure, other people prefer comforting lies in their love life, but they’re made of sterner stuff. They can handle pain, rejection, arguments, as long as it’s The Truth.
The room comes to me and I say: “Well, I like to think I’d like to hear the truth, because that fits my self-image. But I’m very selective about what I choose to believe in.”
And then I just kind of tilt my head, like it’s the punchline to a Norm MacDonald joke. Everyone sort’ve… looks at each other. Maybe I was in a unique gathering, a convention of the world’s most level headed and reasonable people.
But it’s more likely that every single person in that room was lying to themselves.
Look, nobody wants to be lied to. But very few people are willing to believe things that cut against our identity.
Everything is nasty, brutish, and emotional.
Anyone who considers themselves an exception, a “rational person” in an age where there are reams and reams of information out there is probably a liar. Most of your “rational ideas” about culture and how the world works is a reaction to what you hear, where you’re from and what your circumstances are.
You can make “rational decisions” based on reading Pepe LeCentipede’s Alt-Right Blogstravaganza and have shockingly different opinions than someone who reads Mother Jones even if you’ve got the same thought process.
People who are DEAD SET against government spending and pitch a fit against disaster relief are suddenly all for it when a hurricane knocks over the house next door to them. People who want to build a giant wall and deport all the gay people suddenly change their tune when their son is a gay Mexican vegetable farmer. Politicians that filibuster Supreme Court nominees get elected President and are shocked and dismayed when the same thing happens to them. Whoops.
Personal politics is a reflection of how we feel about the world. It has to be, because no matter what happens to technology, nobody really experiencing every facet of the country. You might read some never ending patronizing blogpiece on how things are going in East Kentucky, but odds are good you don’t have anything in common with that experience.
Our purchasing choices are just as emotional. What we buy reflects how we feel about ourselves. We can think up the rational reasons to justify it later, but the emotion is always at the ROOT of it.
That’s why when we sell something, we need to be simple, memorable, and emotional.
Start Writing Before You Make The Product
Often, we do things in the opposite order the customer is going to experience it.
We do research the customer will NEVER see, we create a product the customer won’t see until they buy in, and then we write the sales letters, the emails, all this stuff that seems like “supporting material” but is where the money actually meets the road.
When we write the sales material first, we keep our priorities where they need to be: on making the strongest product possible. When you’re actually experiencing the sales process and writing it, you’ll be thinking of ways to make things easier, faster, and less expensive. And you’ll make changes to your product based on that!
That’s the benefit of putting emotions first.
Here’s a side benefit. You’re also going to be able to test the conversion for your product before you sell any of it. Your adoring public can read your sales letter and click the buy button before you’ve even lifted a finger on the product! Of course, once they hit that big red button, you need to make it up to them. Add them to a waiting list. Depending on the size of the ad buy, you might give them a deep discount or give them an entirely free copy.
It’s also a good opportunity to test your traffic sources. If your test is a disaster, you’re saving a lot of money and a lot of grief!
Write Headlines That Work
And that might take a long time. Everybody has a different method when it comes to writing headlines, but personally it’s something I do near the end of the process. Especially when you’re writing something that’s long-form, you’re going to write a lot and say a lot. So as you’re going through the process of spelling out all these benefits, you’ll possibly stumble across a good turn of phrase that fits as a headline, or is at least a good prospect for a headline.
One of the things that separates mediocre copy from really good copy (or mediocre anything from really good anything else) is a willingness to chuck your first idea in the garbage. When you can REALLY dig into your ideas and go through twenty different headlines and produce the best one, your copy really comes to life. You can also test three or four powerful headlines against each other.
We’re talking about headlines for a reason – if people lose interest there, they aren’t going to go anywhere else with you. So your headline needs to take up 50% of your energy, even if you’re making an epic piece of copy that stretches halfway to China.
Think about your benefits and write them down. The best way to compose them is in the style of bullet points. Write them in a way that’s suspenseful, bold, sales-oriented. When you’ve written up all your strongest benefits and proof elements, try to rank them. Your 2 or 3 strongest concepts are going to go into your headline – spend a few hours knocking them out and comparing your best ones.
Introduce Yourself Powerfully
How long should your copy be? Well…
Size doesn’t matter. Cover the main objections, state the case your your product, and don’t ever, ever be boring. Every single paragraph in your copy is an opportunity for your potential customer to say “to hell with this” and go back to reading Facebook.
In fact, I like to imagine that at every paragraph, my prospect stops scanning the page and asks themselves “why am I still reading this?”
And your work has got to have an answer.
Whether that’s a suspenseful story…
An amazing benefit…
Explaining the pain, risk, and humiliation they’re going to face if they tune you out…
Or explaining the potential rewards if they stay, read, and buy.
Every paragraph needs to be exciting and entertaining. If you can look at one paragraph and say that it’s “boring”, you need to rewrite it until it shines.
There’s no room to dawdle if you approach your copy this way. You’re going to keep people focused and keep them reading…
You Do That By Keeping It Simple
This isn’t a place for you to show off your intellect. I bet you’ve NEVER bought anything thinking “wow, you know, I was on the fence, but that salesman was so SMART. I mean, I think he was smart… he used big words,and he talked for SUCH A LONG TIME.”
Keep your paragraphs short. We’re talking three or four lines a pop. And keep it readable, too. If you read it out loud and there are words that are making your stumble, don’t publish it. When you’re rewriting, lower your word count.
Remove redundancies and exaggerations.
Long copy isn’t impressive – it’s just LONG.
Think Emotionally About Evidence
We take in evidence emotionally, and we do it for emotional reasons.
People online nowadays shop for truth like they shop for toys on Amazon. There are so many different things happening in the world that you choose what you want to believe and have plenty of evidence that points towards it being real. Or real enough.
The issue isn’t the VERITY of the evidence, it’s the COMPLETENESS of the evidence. And who has the time to have a complete understanding of more than a couple of subjects? Even the President doesn’t have that – he’s got a small army of advisers who give him the broad strokes so he can make a decision.
So what about your proof elements? Are you just showing people a name and a picture? Or does your testimonial have a real story involved that speaks to people’s needs, questions, objections? Do they know who this person is? Are they a respected expert in the field and are they talking about something that’s actually relevant to your product?
I could go on forever. But this applies to everything – your design, your graphics, your followup sequences. Do they make people want to believe in you? The more you know about your customer, the easier that will get.